King Njoya. An Analysis of a Figure in Cameroonian History


Scientific Essay, 2022

22 Pages


Free online reading

KING NJOYA : AN ANALYSIS OF A FIGURE IN CAMEROONIAN HISTORY

Prince NSANGOU, father of NJOYA and grandfather of NJIMOLUH SEIDOU NJOYA, restored legitimacy by becoming the 15 th king of the dynasty because he succeeded in expelling from power the « Mfon » NGOUWOUO who was in fact the head of the palace guards and was therefore not of the royal line. By his mother NJAPDOUNKÉ, NJOYA was still descended from NCHARE YEN. This wife of King NSANGOU was indeed the great-granddaughter of King NGOULOURE. NJOYA, still very young, succeeded his father who died in the war against the Bansoh, shortly before 1889. During his minority, his mother « Na » NJAPDOUNKE is the regent, with the help of the great servant GBENTKOM NDOMBOUO.

NJOYA had to acquire a traditional formation similar to that of his brothers in this house called « Ntapit » called the « House of Cubs » where the sons of the sovereign entered from the moment they were circumcised. There, their elders served as tutors and taught them the customs of the country and the art of living there. This is what they did in front of the king before starting a « Kuma » warrior race that the Bamoun do with weapons in hand. King NSANGOU, very satisfied, offered them gifts as a reward for their bravery. These princes were then sent according to custom to NJIKAM-MACHU to learn how to make balafons. NJOYA once again had the opportunity to be noticed : he made his musical instrument, learned to play and became the teacher of his brothers. A last anecdote reported this time in the story refers to a cola nut sharing carried out on the orders of NSANGOU in these terms : « You have done so well the sharing of cola nuts, that henceforth it is you who will fulfill this function with your brothers »1.

It was soon after, in the secret society called « Nguri », reserved for princes and rival of the secret society called « Mbansié », open only to the servants of the king, that this « spirit of body » was instilled in the sons of monarchs which was expressed in their solidarity with that which bound the servants constituting the court nobility. According to the traditionalist « Nji » MFONDA, one day King NSANGOU told his seven sons, including NJOYA, that he was going to send them to war. Without further details, he had them taken to « Nji » MFOUAMBE where they were circumcised. As these children left armed as warriors, they had to return triumphantly to the palace.

On the way home, NJOYA told his brothers, “If when we arrive the king asks us for trophies, we will take off our clothes to show him the result of the circumcision.” NJOYA was not yet pubescent when he became the 16 th Bamoun King. His father left a country shaken by a military defeat in which 1500 men perished on the battlefield in a battle against the Bansoh. Probably from 1896, NJOYA had to undertake reforms that would transform the kingdom and arouse the interest and admiration of African and European travellers who visited the region. The Bamouns obviously knew the work of iron, but the blacksmiths of Foumban transformed the old tools that were given to them.

In this way they made the hoes and weapons used by the population. NJOYA also wanted the Bamoun to know how to melt : He had a charcoal-fired blast furnace installed near the palace, which treated the iron sands of the region. The blacksmiths of the city who supply the palace with the armament it needs can get supplies on site… the blast furnace was in operation when Ankermann arrived in 19082.” The technique of lost-wax casting was also practiced, but it was used to make rare objects intended for the palace : it was NJOYA that created the large workshops where it brought together many craftsmen and encouraged production. According to Sultan Seidou NJIMOLUH NJOYA, he had other audacities : When his father saw the cans offered him by German friends, he tried to use the same technique to preserve local products. He ordered his servants to make boxes by the process of casting with lost wax.

They brought him the containers, but as evidently NJOYA had not thought to ask his European friends for precise advice, he put the cooked and seasoned food into the boxes without any other precaution. He knew nothing of sterilization and when the canned goods were covered a few months later, the food was spoiled ; it was indeed a failure, but this experience is worth mentioning.

He did not hesitate to have a cannon made with which he succeeded in destroying some banana trees a hundred meters away. He will instruct the chief of the team of technicians, MONLIPER NJIMONJAP, to make a mill to but. This machine, which had nothing to envy to what the Europeans presented at the time, is now at the Royal Museum of Foumban ». NJOYA asked the same MONLIPER NJIMONJAP to make a printing press.

Here is what TARDITS writes about it : The monarch before embarking on this venture, would have solicited around 1913, the Germans. With no response, he asked a craftsman to think about his project. The latter succeeded in making with lost wax, the process of which the Bamoun knew the process, the eighty characters that the alphabet at the time contained. He then develops a press ; it consists of a tray on which the characters are placed, separated by wooden chopsticks to mark the interline lines ; the tray, which is mounted on a hinge, can be folded on the paper that receives the printing. In 1920, the printing press was ready but NJOYA, harassed by the French administration, made in its fury, melt the characters ». It was during this reign that the Bamoun learned from the Hausa to work with leather, adopted the technique of pedal weaving and began to dye the fabrics.

Ultimately, King NJOYA set up works useful to his people and which greatly contributed to the celebration of his personality by the German colonial administration.

1. The personality of King NJOYA : a major asset for the consolidation of relations between the traditional local power and the German colonial administration

The Germans, the first masters of Cameroon, instituted an indirect system of administration which went in the direction of what the Bamoun could hope. King NJOYA lost some of his prerogatives to the colonial authorities, but he retained sufficient powers to continue to govern the kingdom.

The correspondence of the battalion chief MARTIN addressed to the commander of the Cameroon occupation corps is a strong testimony: “We are in the presence of an indigenous potentate who has played with absolute power without control (…); I have engaged Lieutenant Prestat while continuing to be very firm, very energetic towards Njoya to use him, to guide him, to make him an auxiliary if not devoted at least interested by leaving him a kinship authority over the Bamoun3.

In addition, the head of the French subdivision, Mr. RIPERT, added : NJOYA is a black tyrant, raised in blood, with excessive pride, pursuing foolish dreams, summarily executing his opponents, obliging each family to give him a daughter in marriage. He had come to power after his mother had not hesitated to remove all his brothers.”4 This description sufficiently reflects a strong racism pronounced against King NJOYA. Conversely, the Germans took him for a remarkable leader, intelligent and enterprising, who knew how to make decisions useful for his country. The tribute paid to him by Carl EBERMAIER testifies to this cooperation : “He was the most capable, intelligent and loyal of all the Kamerun chiefs I have ever known ; he brought prosperity to his country and developed agriculture, crafts and commerce and was a model for all.”

Moreover, arriving at Foumban on April 13, 1903, Lieutenant HIRTLER said about the personality of King NJOYA : This man’s personal authority, his relatively large situation, and his way of thinking put him far above other chiefs in the region. His own qualities, the proof of which lies in the resources he draws from a vast and populated country, make him appear both to the propaganda of civilization and to the development of trade. The reception and care I received from him was magnificent. What I saw made an impression of good order, which is the best testimony of the boundless authority enjoyed by Njoya ».

In short, the personality of King NJOYA both flexible vis-à-vis the Germans and enterprising following the various reforms he implemented within his kingdom, allowed his people not to be subjected to the direct and relentless physical violence of foreign conquerors.

However, this “voluntary servitude” can be seen as a reflection of the complex and torn psychological profile of this African monarch. We make the perhaps heretical assumption that NJOYA sacrificed to strategic “voluntary servitude” to circumvent colonial administration. The grafting of the adjective « voluntary » to the term « servitude » usually appears paradoxical ; but this oxymoron offers a tempting reading axis for a sociology of docility. In reality, it is NJOYA that gives up its freedom, not the settler who takes it away.

The sociology of Erving GOFFMAN allows us to scrutinize the interactions between NJOYA and the colonial administration, interactions that are objective in the preventive, protective and restorative « representations » : tact, weighting, avoidance, accommodation, collaboration, compromission are part of a register of strategic opportunities to it offered by conjunctures. This means that in this play structure, there is an unsuspected plasticity that ruins the surface readings.

In contact with the Germans, he shows himself by a rational anticipation that makes him a “mercenary collaboration” : “let us wage war against the whites – “No, the King replied, the whites are my friends !” Thus, the whites settled in the land of the blacks. All the kings who wanted to oppose the whites were defeated ». It is a preventive representation that reveals a transformational leadership that operates through the alchemy of diplomacy and pedagogy, the “civilization of political mores” of a warrior people. We are here in a limited case of « comparative non-zero sum game » where the two protagonists win.

This rational anticipation of the NJOYA king allows the parties to emit signals whose choices eventually converge towards a decision that suits them all. The economic prosperity of the kingdom and the “day-parole” administration are the counterpart. Whether he was fully committed to the German cause, TARDITS remained nuanced in the sense that he never appealed to the Germans as most of the native leaders did. Moreover, his tactical mobility led him to support the English in 1915 probably because of a realistic evaluation of the balance of power. The second rational anticipation relates to its relationship with Christianity. His request for baptisms from pastor GOHRING appears among other interpretations as a facade solicitation, a protective figuration that mask his nostalgic friendships with the Banyo Fulani.

In fact, the Germans treated NJOYA as a German official and gained his attachment by offering him the uniform of a lieutenant of the German Imperial Guard. The respect that Sultan NJOYA had for the Germans appeared in the answer he gave to King Rudolf DUALA MANGA BELL of Douala when he asked for his support in opposition to the expropriation of the Douala lands.

Responding to the request of King Rudolf DUALA MANGA BELL, Sultan NJOYA asked, "The Germans are my fathers, and he (Rudolf DUALA MANGA BELL) is like my brother ; how then could I go to war against them ?"5

- King Njoya, a political strategist : A strategist is a member of the executive power of a Greek city, whether elected or co-opted. It is used in Greek to designate a general military. In the Hellenistic world and the Byzantine Empire, the term was also used to describe a military governor.

In contemporary Greece6, the strategist is a general and has the highest officer rank7. In the Byzantine Empire, from the 7 th century onwards, a strategist was the commander of a theme and his army. He is the holder of civil and military power in that province.

The term “monostrategist”8 refers to a strategist who has authority over several themes9. The origin of the word comes from the Greek “strategos”10 which gave the Latin “stratagema”11, which makes this practice the art of the general. Its modern meaning is twofold, if one chooses to emphasize knowledge or method.

The strategy is defined as the science or art of human action finalized, voluntary and difficult. Finalised, that is, oriented towards precisely identified goals, voluntary insofar as the will of the working unit represents a fundamental condition for the achievement of the objective ; difficult, that is, this achievement requires substantial efforts to overcome obstacles high enough to maintain uncertainty at least for some time12.

The strategy is at the heart of praxeology, it concerns all areas of action in particular the conduct of organizations of all kinds. It is an art that combines with other sociological arts such as war or politics…

- Policy and strategy : two concepts with complex content… General OLLION13 distinguishes three (03) postulates which allow a clearer understanding of the concepts of strategy and policy :

1) The strategy is not confused with politics, it is closely subordinate to it.

First, it is important to situate the strategy in relation to the policy. To show what distinguishes them, we can say that politics is normally carried out through diplomacy, the economy, etc. Such activities shall be adapted to the pursuit of national objectives, so long as no insurmountable obstacles arise for each of them, or a threat to the whole of national life. But if this is the case, a single will must closely coordinate, in a coercive action, all the means of whatever kind that can help to overcome the obstacle or to eliminate the threat.

At the highest level of the State, then, we see a general strategy which gives rise to subordinate levels, not only to a military strategy, but also to specific strategies14, following a hierarchy which is that of the responsibilities actually exercised. Thus the general strategy appears, in its essence, as the application of the policy with an intention of constraint, in the face of an adverse will causing obstacles or threats. There can therefore be no authentic strategy without first defining a policy, and there is no doubt as to the constant subordination of the former to the latter, which constitutes its raison d'être.

2) Necessary coexistence of strategy and policy.

The total nature of modern conflicts leads to the conception of a total strategy and therefore a total policy in which this strategy can find its source.

But it must be emphasized that such a total policy can exist, in the present Western world, only to inspire a total strategy when it is made necessary by the conjuncture ; except in this case, there is only politics in the traditional sense of the word. If, in fact, a country’s policy had a permanent character of a total policy, applied by the methods of a total strategy, all internal and external, public and private activities should be constantly and exclusively directed to that policy. The organization of the State and of all social groups should be designed with this aim in mind.

In the modern world, each country has easy relations with all the others ; none is completely indifferent to the problems of the others and all more or less participate in the settlement of important issues.

Large rival blocs are being formed in which it is necessary to participate in order to benefit from their power without being absorbed to the point of losing its indispensable and legitimate autonomy. It is therefore not doubtful that one must always be prepared to use either normal relations or procedures of conflict and be able at the same time to direct one’s action in the ways of politics vis-à-vis some and the strategic constraint vis-à-vis others.

3) The problem of moving from policy to strategy.

How, in fact, can we conceive of this transition from politics to strategy so that it can be both easy, rapid and reversible, that is, capable of responding to the demand for events that, today, change situations in a very short time ?

How can the means of constraint, that is, of force and even sometimes of armed force, always be available to give this manoeuvre sufficient effectiveness ?

How to finally organize this change of action style so that it is feasible at the time of need ? The strategic perspective also requires the involvement of external, possibly hostile, wills with their possible repercussions on national objectives. It is therefore necessary to enter the world of hypotheses, to classify them, to identify the common factors and at the same time to see the main hazards of a real maneuver and the means which they may require. Military thinking, with its methods and experience, can be a valuable aid in this regard, but only in this regard because it is not in a position to embrace the whole problem.

The main steps of its solution seem to be described as follows – to reach the level of reflection required to always be able to report the various aspects of each activity at the level of responsibility actually authorised to deal with it – to acquire the safety of judgement essential to distinguish suddenly on what does or does not require the use of constraint – to train in a kind of agility of mind that allows in all circumstances to organize the existing means for a particular effort.

Finally, the problem is only likely to be solved if all the personalities likely to participate in the major activities of the State have been brought together to engage in such a work of reflection and training15.

From there, Sultan NJOYA, a true African, had a sense of giving and sharing. But didn’t some European circles consider his gifts calculated ?

- Njoya or implementing a donation strategy The relationship between the Bamoun monarch and Europeans appears to be more complex. NJOYA has in turn had relations with the Germans, the English and the French.

I was struck by the way some African writers like CHRISTRAUD GEARY16 intercepted the gift of the royal throne made to the « Kaiser » in 1908, as well as the promise of a gift made to the English king in 1915 and recorded in an archival document when the latter occupied Foumban for a short period of time.

He ses calculated gifts. GEARY17 seems to present NJOYA as a calculator, offering the trone as a sign of gratitude to the German Kaiser following the attack of 1906 against his neighbors Bansoh and the recovery of part of the remains of his father kept as a trophy18.

Another example of his "game" is given with a photo taken with a German uniform, with epaulettes, an outfit made by his own tailors. On the same note, GEARY writes that when relations with Germany became cold in 1912, he seemed closer to the Foulbé by wearing a Muslim outfit. GEARY not knowing the meaning of the gift to the African also says that the Sultan was disappointed with the gift given in return by the Kaiser : a musical device. Another question that I think is relevant is the interpretation of the relationship between NJOYA and the merchant Rudolph OLDENBURG. In this photograph, he is seen laying his foot on the royal throne on which NJOYA sits.

Figure 1 : King NJOYA and merchant OLDENBURG, photo taken by Hélène OLDENBURG in 1912 in Foumban.

This image has been removed for copyright reasons.

Source : Courtesy Basel Mission Archives. Photo available in “DiARTgonale”, JAMAN, ISSN 2213-7718, November 2012. Article available at https://www.marjolijndijkman.com and accessed April 06, 2021.

In Berlin, a German colleague told me that according to a specialist, this gesture would have angered the Sultan’s close guard. It is the latter who dissuaded her not to correct him. Why ? Is this a sign of lack of respect or familiarity between the two men”19 ?

One can deduce a form of contempt on the part of the German trader who saw in NJOYA only a negro, only an indigenous even if he was a monarch feared and respected by his subjects. It can also be seen as an act of provocation to incite NJOYA to rebel against the German colonial administration and thus justify military acts against this sovereign and his people.

On the side of King NJOYA, we can perceive the desire not to offend the German colonial administration and to preserve his people in the long term. This shows the subtlety of King NJOYA who knew that he could not fight against his invaders at least by weapons but rather by cunning. As HEGEL and FICHTE point out, brutality is the rule in relationships between groups.

Similar ideas can be found in « Jenseits von Gut und Bose »20, NIETZSCHE writes in fact : Here, we must get to the bottom of our thoughts and get rid of all sentimental weakness : life itself is above all appropriation, injury, victory over the stranger and the weakest, oppression, violence, imposition of its own norms, annexation and in the best of case, exploitation (…). Exploitation is not the result of a corrupt and imperfect or primitive society. It is part of the being of all that lives and is its basic organic function, it is the consequence of the will to live.”21

In other words, King NJOYA wanted to take advantage of his encounter with the West. He had sought to appropriate the world of the Other and melt it into his own in an alchemy that would give birth to a new being at the confluence of cultures. And here is NJOYA the African accepting his hybridity as a value of civilization by which he conquers the world and positions himself positively there by stripping himself of the slag, for an intelligent synthesis of values22. Moreover, thanks to King NJOYA and his countless works, we have witnessed the end of the myth of the inferiority of the Black.

2. King Njoya or the end of the myth of the Black’s inferiority

The colonial ideology developed by thinkers such as Count Joseph Arthur DE GOBINEAU23, Friedrich HEGEL24, or the colonial doctor Ludwig KULZ considers the Black as an inferior being, an eternal mentally retarded, devoid of any intellectual capacity : “For nothing in the world,” says Ludwig Kulz, “we should not consider the natives as our brothers, but as our minor child.”25

The theses attributed to DE GOBINEAU are combined with those of DARWIN26, with the results of genetic research to develop a theory on variation, selection, improvement and decay of human groups.

The result is a monistic conception of society in which natural biological laws are detected27. Evolutionism had incorporated into its theory the Darwinian principles of selection, survival of the strongest, disappearance of the weakest, and struggle for life. As ZMARZLIK writes : What could still be considered as the competition of individuals in order to get the most hard-working and morally best was now becoming an uphill battle to assert itself, to increase its power – and this struggle no longer takes place primarily between individuals but between groups : social interest groups, peoples and races.”28

During the phase of colonial domination, black is considered as a being destined for manual labor. It is the policy of the beheading of the native. Sociologists GUMPLOWICZ and RATZENHOFER had already tried to show that all social, religious and political movements of the past were of racial origin29.

- Racist theories as a basis for colonization

For WOLTMANN, the negroes never developed a system of individual competition, the Mongols only did so in certain groups of their race. Only the Germanic peoples have made this principle a fundamental law of social life and thus allowed the greatest development of culture30.

Moreover, only the Germanic breeds have developed according to him this principle of individual competition, they are therefore suitable for culture, the negroes are not. It is in this logic that he defends colonization. It does not consist as among evolutionists in bringing civilization to the Negroes, «it is illusory to want to make the Negroes, «it is illusory to want to make the Negroes and the Indians of America fit for civilization », “Whites will always be the race of lords (Herrenrasse) in the colonies since the northern race is the natural vector of world civilization.”31

What is interesting, then, is that the principle of colonization is seen as a danger for the settler who seems to apprehend the competition of the colonized thus recreated in his image. And it is thus that the principle of competition and selection, initially considered as the natural mode of regulation of society, is abandoned in favor of the principle of the natural primacy of a race called to enslave others. This shift is taking place in the spirit of a fringe of the German intelligentsia at a time when the middle class, to which a large part of the « Bildungsburgertum »32 belongs, is experiencing a serious crisis that threatens its survival as a class. Indeed, the development of capitalism tends to plunge it into poverty by making its modes of production obsolete. The assertion of the racial principle is therefore often a petty-bourgeois anti-capitalist reaction aimed at ensuring the survival of this class33. FROBENIUS shows quite clearly in his book « Auf dem Wege nach Atlantis » that the development of the racist thesis as opposed to the civilizing thesis was linked to the fear of seeing the colonized use the oars of Europeans to turn against his last.

Criticizing French politics in West Africa, he wrote : France wants to educate these black men to make them brothers. This is a bad and depressing idea.”34 The Black was also presented as cannibal, very superstitious, easily influenced by witchcraft and magic.

From his original animist religion, when one did not deny his existence purely and simply, one retained only the outward manifestations, that is to say the amulets, the fetishes and the grey-grey.

Here is for example what Joy CHARNLEY reports in a book whose title « Imaginary Africans » is indicative of the spirit that reigned in the West from the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century: “Whatever trouble I have taken in seeking the slightest appearance of religion among these people, I have never been able to discover the slightest trace of it, or that they had any knowledge of God, Hell, or of the immortality of the soul… It is a terrible stupidity and brutality in all their actions, in all their lives.”35

In short, the vast majority of exotic and colonial writers have been unable to understand the complexity of the various black mythologies and have embraced everything under the word superstitious simplifying36. The exotic and colonial novelists spoke of Africans as minors, unable to govern themselves and manage the natural resources of their countries given their prehistoric mentality.

Indeed, according to FANOUDH-SIEFER, the African monarchs were presented in such a grotesque way that one has to wonder how such leaders were able to obtain respect for their subjects during the long history of Africa, which was also denied.

The kings were presented as being able to sell all of Africa in exchange for a few liters of water of life37. King NJOYA will defeat all these racist theories that considered the black man and especially African as incapable of accomplishing prowess in areas reserved for « Whites ».

- King Njoya or the dread of racist theories

For Governor VON PUTTKAMER, the native is mainly important for manual work, while his counterpart HUBBE-SCHLEIDEN says that « The German has his head to think, the black has a skull to bear the burdens »38.

This is why, by setting up a proper writing system, King NJOYA was breaking all the prejudices advanced since the end of the Middle Ages that make the Negro a being without reason.

Royal writing39, which initially had more than 500 signs at 80 characters, ensured a better dissemination of the writing and brought about an increase in texts written in royal writing, which was taught in schools. NJOYA set up a registry office to register births and marriages.

The judgments of the Royal Court were also recorded in writing. The book of history, laws and traditions of the Bamoun, more than 1,100 pages long, was then written in royal script. His replica is at the Pit-Rivers Museum in Oxford40.

The refutation of the theory of the « beheading » of the native is all the more scathing because it is a camouflage of the theory of the hierarchy of races, the theory according to which the attitude of the Europeans towards the indigenous populations was based.

Not to mention the development of arts and culture recorded to its credit. Particularly attached to the Bamoun culture, the king reserved from the completion of his palace, part of the establishment to the present royal museum and promoted the development of arts, techniques and cultural development. Through these feats of arms, King NJOYA has made a lasting contribution to the ancestral heritage of the Bamoun people.

- King Njoya or valuing the ancestral heritage of the Bamoun people

The importance of the work of King NJOYA touches on several areas in that the possession of writing, a vital instrument of communication, allows the Bamoun King to establish his political authority, to organize methodically economic and commercial activities, to extend its socio-cultural influence beyond the shores of the Noun.

With the arrival of the settlers, he found a way to communicate in his territory with this language, as the Germans could not understand it. It was a way of communicating with his people as before the settlers arrived.”41 In 1895, the first alphabet invented by King NJOYA appeared. It had 510 signs. Over time, the alphabet « a ka u ku » evolved and its last version, in 1930, included only 70 signs42. In the beginning, it was written in any direction until the time when the monarch noticed that Muslims wrote Arabic from right to left. He forbids this meaning because he did not want to appear influenced by strangers. Finally, there were more than a thousand scholars in the kingdom in 1933, including some young people from neighbouring states.

This writing, used between 1896 and 1930, was used to write many books, including the “History of the Laws and Customs of the Bamoun”, written by King NJOYA himself. Print characters have even been created to print them.

The new writing was not yet ready when King Njoya and his collaborators realized all the benefits they could derive from it. A decision was made early in the century to bring together the Bamoun historical traditions.

King NJOYA began to write down some broad lines of the history of his people. As Pastor Henri MARTIN wrote : « From year to year, he (Njoya) increased his documentation, and there are rather important fragments written by his writers several years before the final text »43.

To write this work, the monarch questioned many witnesses who were likely, either by their age or by their functions, to know well the events they recounted or the oral traditions.

This book should be noted because it is a key reference for all researchers interested in Bamoun. The final text was written in 1921, it has 202 chapters and 547 pages.

The copy of the whole book was conducted by various editors. The volume consists of loose sheets gathered in a cover of skin. It is complete and carefully preserved in the archives of the palace44.

It consists of three parts :

The first goes from the origins to the reign of the tenth king, Kouotou, at the beginning of the 17 th century. This period of the past Bamoun was very well restored from the data of collective memory.

To carry out this work, the sovereign has exploited the historical stories, the various songs, the musics of secret societies ; the team of writers of the History” has also used the legends, the proverbs, the names, etc. The history of the founder of the state and dynasty is the richest ; the nine successors of NCHARE have left only their names in dynastic history. NJOYA and its collaborators have the modesty to admit that they knew little about these monotonous reigns.

The second part of this work covers the period of great transformation that begins with the reign of MBOUOMBOUO, the eleventh king. The text benefited from the recollections of the eyewitnesses to whom the king called.

The third part concerns the reign of NJOYA and the texts use the testimonies of those who took part in the history at the beginning of our century45.

Apart from this text, there are many other Shumom manuscripts as the team of editors led by NJOYA tackled a large number of subjects. In 1950, DUGAST and JEFFREYS had listed ninety-one (91) works and various documents46.

Around 1915, around 600 people employed her daily, notably in administration, and she was taught in some 50 schools in the Bamoun kingdom.

King NJOYA would have chosen to invent his own writing system, because he did not want to use the Arabic alphabet and the one used by Europeans did not allow to transcribe his language.

He also invented a secret language that was reserved for the king and his relatives. Only a few texts were written in that language47. The German philosopher HEGEL remained famous in history in that his thought was used to justify the colonial enterprise. For him, because Africa does not have any form of writing, it is a continent without history, culture or civilization. In his course of 1830, HEGEL declared : Africa is not a historical part of the world. It has no movements, no developments to show, no historical movements in it. That is, its northern part belongs to the European or Asian world ; what we mean precisely by Africa is the ahistorical spirit, the undeveloped spirit, still enveloped in natural conditions and which must be presented here only as the threshold of world history »48.

With the invention of the writing « Shumom », King NJOYA wrote a work of revolutionary historical interest in which he recounts the history of his kingdom, migrations, conquests, wars and the different reigns of his predecessors.

The different historical events and all the cultures of the kingdom are now safeguarded, codified; in short, Africa’s past ceases, from the writing «Shumom», to be a myth, but it is rather accessible to all who want to know it thanks to the technical ingenuity of King NJOYA. Because of its visionary and avant-garde character, the «Shumom» will be marginalized or even despised first by the German colonial agents but also by the French conquerors who do not accept that an «indigenous», a «chief of the tropics» can accomplish such feats.

After World War I, the writing of King NJOYA will eventually disappear from the daily life of the Bamoun kingdom49.

The French administration will ban Cameroonian languages and the use of King NJOYA’s writing in particular50. Moreover, in 1912, King NJOYA, 17th King of Bamoun, ordered a cartography of his kingdom, then of his fortified capital, Foumban.

Several survey campaigns were conducted and the Bamoun-written annotated maps invented before the arrival of the Europeans, was completed in 1920.

- Mapping as a valuable testimony to the dexterity of King Njoya

All mapping was done by Ibrahim NJOYA51, the son of a half-brother of Sultan NJOYA’s father. NJOYA also designed Foumban’s agricultural calendar in 1911 (see Appendix 15 : Foumban’s agricultural calendar in 1911). The map drawn up by NJOYA52, which corresponds to Appendix 15, suggests a perfect control of space.

On the one hand, the elements of the natural environment53 correspond to what satellite images currently project to us, on the other hand, graphic semiology addresses a representation of space in four cardinal points, namely the levant, the sunset, the right and the left of the world. This perception calls for a reading of the territory saturated by a set of precepts54.

According to Alexandra LOUMPET-GALITZINE : The specificity of Bamoun cartography is probably due to the fact that politics is perceived here both in other words and at interlinked levels, whether it is intended for internal or external needs. The exterior, redefined by the colonial powers, appears at least double, from the foreign rock (the neighboring micro-states) to the distant foreign, if not both, regional strategy using the new balance of power. King NJOYA’s maps thus represent a new tool for territorial administration that quickly competes with colonial administration.”55

The approach of NJOYA is part of a dynamic and pro-active perspective for a harmonious and strategic development of the territory. The territory appears at the same time as the support, but also as the place of all the activities generated by man, the result of all the relations that allows the different groups, actors, to assert their interests of space56.

The interactions between the actors and the territory described by the nested levels of scales allow to emerge complex structures, sort of territorial arrangements57.

The notion of limit, which is at the base of any defensive or identified territorial division, is the very nature of the human brain. Like the dominant animals that delimit and defend their territory, social institutions mark, limit and control that of the societies from which they emanate. They do not hesitate to tax, through violence if necessary58, to all those who contest in one way or another the legitimacy of its space and its borders59.

For DI MÉO, the territory reflects a deliberate, economic, ideological and political appropriation of the geographical space.

This appropriation is the result of localized social groups that give themselves a particular representation of themselves, their history, their singularity, their identity. The term « territory » indicates first of all a mode of sharing, of control of the terrestrial space guaranteeing the specificity of the permanence, the power, the resources60 and the reproduction of the social entities that occupy it. It is its political or geopolitical dimension61.

The physical aspect deals with the territorial configurations, the area of extension, but also with the physical characteristics related to location. This facet integrates the natural properties that LE BERRE Maryvonne subdivides into potentialities, constraints and material properties62.

Depending on the potential of the territory, the physical properties of the territory are expressed through a specific structure63. The physical functional level makes the difference between the finite space64 and the coveted space65 on the Western Highlands.

Population movements irrigate this area from the citadel to the margins also reflect the specificity and characteristics of the physical environment. The territory thus appears both as the support but also as the place of all the activities generated by man, the result of all the relations that allow the various groups, actors, to assert their interests of space66. It is a vital space on land, air or water that an animal or a group of animals defends as its exclusive property67.

Figure 2 : Map of the Bamoun Kingdom “ordered by Sultan NJOYA around 1920” by Ibrahim NJOYA.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source : L. 930 mm, I. 875 mm. Musée d'ethnographie de Genève (MEG). Photograph by Jonathan WATTS. See A. LOUMPET-GALITZINE, “La cartographie du Roi Njoya (Royaume Bamoun, Ouest Cameroun), CFC, No. 210, December 2011. In International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, p. 114.

Ultimately, King NJOYA will have :

- Developed art and crafts
- Invented writing “A ka u ku” around 1896
- Created a language, the “Shumom” in 1912
- Built a corn mill
- Built a splendid palace (1917-1921)
- Created a syncretistic religion, the “Nuet-Kwete”.

He has also published many books :

- “History and customs of the Bamoun”
- “Spleen and Raccoons”
- “The Bamoun Pharmacopoeia”.

He was a genius, a visionary in every sense of the word and in many fields. That is why he remains in the annals as one of the greatest monarchs of Africa in particular and the world in general.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

- BILDUNGSBURGERTUM (N.D.). Published at www.wikipedia.org and accessed April 02, 2022.
- “STRATEGIST : A MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF A GREEK CITY.” Published at www.wikipedia.fr and accessed on 08 September 2021.
- ARDREY (R.), The territorial imperative. A personal inquiry into the animals origins of property and nations. New York : Altheneum, 1966.
- INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM OF KING NJOYA, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization. Precursor of the African Renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, p. 8.
- DARWIN (C.), On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Translated into French under the title The origin of species through natural selection or the preservation of breeds favored in the struggle for survival, 1859.
- DI MEO (G.), Les territoires du quotidien, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1996. In Colloque international Roi Njoya, LE ROI NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.
- DUGAST (I.) & JEFFREYS (M.D.W.), L'Écriture des Bamoun, 1950, pp. 100–106.
- ETONDE (P.), “Les chefferies traditionnels entre tradition et modernité au Cameroun : le cas du Royaume Bamoun”, Mémoire de Maitrise, Academic Year 2014-2015, p. 87.
- FROBENIUS (L.), Auf dem Wege nach Atlantis Berlin, 1911, p. 116. In Prince KUM'A NDUMBE III, Africa and Germany. From colonization to cooperation: 1884-1896 (The Case of Cameroon), Editions AFRICAVENIR, 1986, p. 198.
- GEARY (C.), “Bamun Thrones and Stools,” African Arts, 14, 1981, pp. 32–43.
- GEARY (C.), “Bamun Two-figures Thrones: additional evidence”, African Arts, volume 16, 4, 1983, pp. 46–53.
- GENERAL OLLION, “Politique et Stratégie (article)”, In POLITIQUE ÉTRANGÈRE, Centre d’Études de Politique Étrangère, Paris, 54, rue de Varennes (Littré 21-55), Year 1965, 30-6, pp. 479-485.
- GUMPLOWICZ, Der Rassenkampf, Innsbruck, 1928, p. 295 ; RATZENHOFER, GrandriB der Sociologie, Leipzig, 1907, p. 165.
- HEGEL (G. W. F.), La Raison dans l'histoire, IV, 3, A, UGE, 1965. F. HEGEL, Leçons sur la philosophie de l'histoire, 1837. The book was published posthumously, based on his own manuscripts and notes taken by his students.
- HERBERT (T.) cited by CHARNLEY (J.) in WYNCHANK (A.) & SALAZAR (P.- J.), Imaginary Africans : Reciprocal Perspectives and Literary Discourses. (Paris : L'Harmattan, 1995), p. 43.
- LABORIT cited by DI MEO, The Social Space, Lecture géographique des sociétés, Armand Colin, 2005, 303 pages.
- LEBERRE (M.), “Territoires.” In A. BAILLY et al., Encyclopédie de géographie, Paris, Economica, 1992.
- LOUMPET-GALITZINE (A.), “The Cartography of King Njoya (Bamoun Kingdom, West Cameroon), CFC, No. 210, December 2011. In International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.
- LOUMPET-GALITZINE (A.), “Objets en exil; Les temporalités parallèles du trône du roi Bamoun Njoya (Ouest Cameroun)”, University of Yaoundé I – Actes du colloque international – Temporalités de l’exil – Groupe de recherche – Poexil.
- MADIBA ESSIBEN, King Njoya, “Shumom” writing, 93.
- MATATEYOU (E.), Le Roi Njoya et son écriture, Salon International de l'Écriture, L'Harmattan, 2015.
- MVENG (E.), Histoire du Cameroun, Tome Premier, Yaoundé: CEPER, 1984, p. 244.
- NAMURUHO BAKURUMPAGI (V.), Deconstruction of the myth of the Negro in the black French-language novel, from Paul Hazoumé to Sony Labou Tansi, PhD Thesis, p. 14.
- NIETZSCHE (F.), “Jenseits von Gut und Bose,” in Werke in Zwei Banden, Bl. II, ed. By IVO FRENZEL, Munchen, para. 269, p. 147.
- NJOYA (I.), the scribe of King Bamoun, the first full-fledged « author » of comics from Africa, an exceptional artist for his time. Born around 1890 in Foumban, he attended the Protestant missionary school and was baptized in 1910 with the Christianized name of Johannes YERIMA, but returned to Islam in 1916 and was renamed Ibrahim Njoya. Published on March 15, 2019 at www.Twitter.com and accessed on September 04, 2021.
- NZAMBA NZAMBA (L.), “Political Strategy”, Mohammed V University – Master 2009. Published on https://www.memoireonline.com and accessed September 09, 2021.
- PEMPEME (I.), a computer engineer from Cameroon, has never forgotten the motto of Ibrahim NJOYA, king of the Bamoun people, that we must integrate wherever we go and share our know-how with others. Article published on February 23, 2021 on the CBC website, Le matin du nord, https://ici.radio-canada.ca. Article consulted on April 02, 2021.
- PRINCE KUM'A NDUMBE III, Africa and Germany. De la colonisation à la coopération : 1884-1896 (Le Cas du Cameroun), Editions AFRICAVENIR, 1986, pp. 195-196.
- SCHMITT- EGNER (P.), Kolonialismus und Faschismus : eine Studie z. histor.u. begriffl. Genesis faschist. Bewusstseinsformen am dt. Beisp, 1975, p. 96.
- Sultan I. NJOYA, “History and Customs of the Bamun, IFAN Memoirs, Series : Population No. 5, 1952, p. 65.
- TARDITS (C.), The Singular History of Bamoun Art, 1972, p. 278.
- TARDITS (C.), Le Royaume Bamoun, Paris, Sorbonne Publication, 1985, p. 254.
- TCHAWA P., “An Approach to the Territorial Dynamics of the Western Highlands through the Space Training Model,” in Annales de la faculté des Arts, Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Volume 6, nouvelle série, 2007, First semester, pp. 159-188.
- WOLTMANN (L.), Political Anthropology : An Investigation of the Influence of the Theory of Descent on the Fiefdom of the Political Development of Volker, 1903, p.
- ZMARZLIK (H.-G.), « Sozaildarwinism and humanization, a contemporary-historical problem », in Freiburg’s Dies Universitas, Vol 10 (1962/63), p. 64.

[...]


1 Sultan I. NJOYA, “History and Customs of the Bamun, IFAN Memoirs, series : Population No. 5, 1952, p. 65.

2 C. TARDITS, The Singular History of Bamoun Art, 1972, p. 278. See A. LOUMPET-GALITZINE, “Objets en exil ; Les temporalités parallèles du trône du roi Bamoun Njoya (Ouest Cameroun)”, University of Yaoundé I – Actes du colloque international – Temporalités de l’exil – Groupe de recherche – Poexil. Ibid., pp. 100-101.

3 Ibid., pp. 100-101.

4 C. TARDITS, Le Royaume Bamoun, Paris, Sorbonne Publication, 1985, p. 254.

5 E. MVENG, History of Cameroon, Tome Premier, Yaoundé : CEPER, 1984, p. 244.

6 19th century until today.

7 “Strategist : member of the executive branch of a Greek city.” Article published on www.wikipedia.fr and consulted on 08 September 2021.

8 Monostrategos, « only general ».

9 “Strategist : member of the executive branch of a Greek city.” Article published on www.wikipedia.fr and consulted on 08 September 2021.

10 Army chief.

11 Ruse.

12 L. NZAMBA NZAMBA, “Political Strategy”, Mohammed V University – Master 2009. Published on https://www.memoireonline.com and accessed September 09, 2021.

13 Doctor of Letters – Lecturer at the Free Faculty of Letters in Lyon, 1908.

14 Economic, diplomatic, cultural, etc.

15 GENERAL OLLION, « Politique et Stratégie (article) », In POLITIQUE ÉTRANGÈRE, Centre d'Études de Politique Étrangère, Paris, 54, rue de Varennes (Littré 21-55), Year 1965, 30-6, pp. 479-485.

16 C. Geary, “Bamun Thrones and Stools,” African Arts, 14, 1981, pp. 32–43.

17 Ibid.

18 The head of his father.

19 C. Geary, “Bamun Thrones and Stools,” African Arts, 14, 1981, pp. 32–43. C. GEARY, “Bamun Two-figures Thrones : additional evidence”, African Arts, volume 16, 4, 1983, pp. 46–53.

20 “Beyond good and evil”.

21 F. NIETZSCHE, “Jenseits von Gut und Bose”, in Werke in Zwei Banden, Bl. II, ed. By IVO FRENZEL, Munchen, paragraph 269, p. 147.

22 International Symposium of King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization. Precursor of the African Renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, p. 8.

23 1816-1882.

24 1770-1831.

25 MADIBA ESSIBEN, King Njoya, “Shumom”, 93.

26 C. Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Translated into French under the title The origin of species through natural selection or the preservation of breeds favored in the struggle for survival, 1859.

27 International Symposium of King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization. Precursor of the African Renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, p. 8.

28 H.-G. ZMARZLIK, “Sozaildarwinismus und Menschenwurde, ein zeitgeschichtliches, Problem,” in Freiburger Dies Universitas, Bd 10 (1962/63), 64.

29 Cf. GUMPLOWICZ, Der Rassenkampf, Innsbruck, 1928, p. 295 ; RATZENHOFER, GrandriB der Sociologie, Leipzig, 1907, p. 165. In Prince KUM'A NDUMBE III, Africa and Germany. De la colonisation à la coopération : 1884-1986 (Le Cas du Cameroun), Editions AFRICAVENIR, 1986, pp. 195-196.

30 L. WOLTMANN, Politische Anthropology : Eine Untersuchung uber den Einfluss der Descendenztheorie auf die Lehere von der politischen Entwicklung der Volker, 1903, p. 297.

31 Ditto.

32 Left bourgeoisie in Germany. It is an influential class of society called the educated middle class or educated citizens (educated class, today also the educated elite), which considers and cultivates humanistic education, literature, science and involvement in the state and the community as very important. See “Bildungsburgertum (n.d.).” Published at www.wikipedia.org and accessed April 02, 2022.

33 See analysis by P. SCHMITT-EGNER, Kolonialismus und Faschismus : eine Studie z. histor.u. begriffl. Genesis faschist. Bewusstseinsformen am dt. Beisp, 1975, p. 96.

34 L. FROBENIUS, Auf dem Wege nach Atlantis Berlin, 1911, p. 116. In Prince KUM'A NDUMBE III, Africa and Germany. From colonization to cooperation : 1884-1986 (The Case of Cameroon), Editions AFRICAVENIR, 1986, p. 198.

35 T. HERBERT quoted by J. CHARNLEY in A. WYNCHANK & P.- J. SALAZAR, Imaginary Africans : Reciprocal Views and Literary Discourses : 17th-20th Century, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1995, p. 43.

36 V. NAMURUHO BAKURUMPAGI, Deconstruction du mythe du nègre dans le roman francophone noir, from Paul Hazoumé to Sony Labou Tansi, PhD Thesis, p. 14.

37 Ibid, pp. 14-15.

38 Ditto.

39 Or writing Bamoun.

40 P. ETONDE, « Les chefferies traditionnelles entre tradition et modernité au Cameroun : le cas du Royaume Bamoun », Mémoire de Maitrise, Academic Year 2014-2015, p. 87.

41 Inoussa PEMPEME, a computer engineer from Cameroon, has never forgotten the motto of Ibrahim NJOYA, king of the Bamoun people, that we must integrate wherever we go and share our know-how with others. Article published on February 23, 2021 on the CBC website, Le matin du nord, https://ici.radio-canada.ca. Article consulted on April 02, 2021.

42 E. MATATEYOU, King Njoya and his writing, Salon International de l'Écriture, L'Harmattan, 2015.

43 P. ETONDE, « Les chefferies traditionnelles entre tradition et modernité au Cameroun : Le cas du Royaume Bamoun », Mémoire de Maitrise, 2014-2015, pp. 54-55.

44 Ibid, p. 55.

45 Ditto.

46 Read I. DUGAST & M.D.W. JEFFREYS, L'Écriture des Bamoun, 1950, pp. 100–106.

47 Ditto.

48 Ditto.

49 G. W. F. HEGEL, La Raison dans l'histoire, IV, 3, A, UGE, 1965. F. HEGEL, Leçons sur la philosophie de l'histoire, 1837. The book was published posthumously, based on his own manuscripts and notes taken by his students.

50 E. MATATEYOU, King Njoya and his writing, Salon International de l'Écriture, Edition L'Harmattan, 2015.

51 Ibrahim NJOYA, the scribe of King Bamoun. First « author » of comics in Africa, an exceptional artist for his time. Born around 1890 in Foumban, he attended the Protestant missionary school and was baptized in 1910 with the Christianized name of Johannes YERIMA, but returned to Islam in 1916 and was renamed Ibrahim Njoya. Published on March 15, 2019 at www.Twitter.com and accessed on September 04, 2021.

52 Figure below.

53 Water courses, reliefs.

54 International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African Renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, pp. 111-118.

55 A. LOUMPET-GALITZINE, “La cartographie du Roi Njoya (Royaume Bamoun, Ouest Cameroun), CFC, No. 210, December 2011. In International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.

56 G. DI MEO, Les territoires du quotidien, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1996. In Colloque international Roi Njoya, LE ROI NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.

57 M. LEBERRE, “Territoires”. In A. BAILLY et al., Encyclopédie de géographie, Paris, Economica, 1992. Cited in International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.

58 Following the example of the pre-colonial wars over the present Bamoun country.

59 LABORIT cited by DI MEO, L'espace social, Lecture géographique des sociétés, Armand Colin, 2005, 303 pages. In International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.

60 Material and symbolic.

61 G. DI MEO, Les territoires du quotidien, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1996. In Colloque international Roi Njoya, LE ROI NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.

62 M. LEBERRE, “Territoires”. In A. BAILLY et al., Encyclopédie de géographie, Paris, Economica, 1992. Cited in International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.

63 P. TCHAWA, “An Approach to the Territorial Dynamics of the Western Highlands through the Model of Space Training”, in Annales de la faculté des Arts, Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Volume 6, nouvelle série, 2007, Premier semester, pp. 159-188. In International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and precursor of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, September 2014, pp. 111-118.

64 Constraints.

65 Potentialities.

66 G. DI MEO, 1996. In King Njoya International Symposium, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and forerunner of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, pp. 111-118.

67 R. Ardrey, The territorial imperative. A personal inquiry into the animals origins of property and nations. New York : Altheneum, 1966. In International Symposium King Njoya, KING NJOYA. Creator of civilization and forerunner of the African renaissance, L'Harmattan Cameroun, pp. 111-118.

22 of 22 pages

Details

Title
King Njoya. An Analysis of a Figure in Cameroonian History
Author
Year
2022
Pages
22
Catalog Number
V1280378
ISBN (Book)
9783346737762
Language
English
Keywords
king, njoya, analysis, figure, cameroonian, history
Quote paper
Patricia Etonde (Author), 2022, King Njoya. An Analysis of a Figure in Cameroonian History, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1280378

Comments

  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: King Njoya. An Analysis of a Figure in Cameroonian History



Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free