Cameroon - Afrique en Miniature

Cameroon (/ka.mə.ʁun/ or /kam.ʁun/), in long form the Republic of Cameroon (in English: Cameroon and Republic of Cameroon), is a country in Central Africa, located between Nigeria in the north North-West, Chad to the North-North-East, the Central African Republic to the East, the Republic of Congo to the South-East, Gabon to the South, Equatorial Guinea to the South-West and the Gulf of Guinea to the South -Where is. The official languages ​​are French and English for a country which has a multitude of local languages. Before the colonial period, the inhabitants did not form a single homogeneous group and presented several forms of social organizations ranging from structured kingdoms to nomadic ethnic groups. The ancient kingdoms (Bamoun, Bodjongo, Adamaoua, Garoua) succeeded in the nineteenth century the German colony which placed Cameroon under protectorate. At the end of the First World War, Cameroon was placed under the supervision of the League of Nations and entrusted to the administration of France for its eastern part and of the United Kingdom for its western part. The former UN mandate under French administration gained independence under the name of Republic of Cameroon on January 1, 1960. It was joined by Southern Cameroon (part of the territory under British administration) in October 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon which, on May 20, 1972, was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon, then Republic of Cameroon in 1984. Like most African states, the country's current borders result from European colonization which separated same ethnic groups such as the Fang-Beti which are found in Cameroon and Gabon. Cameroon is now an ex officio member of the International Organization of the Francophonie, of the Commonwealth and of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Cameroon is nicknamed “Africa in miniature” because of its climatological, mining, geographic, human, linguistic and cultural diversity. The west of the country has an important volcanic chain dominated by Mount Cameroon.


The first inhabitants of Cameroon are probably the Baka hunter-gatherers, Pygmy nomads. But, from the 1st millennium BC. AD, sedentary societies of farmers-herders developed, perhaps from the Sahara then in the process of desertification and the Baka were pushed back into the forests of the southern and eastern provinces where they are still found. . Among the sedentary, those of southwestern present-day Cameroon and southeastern Nigeria are the oldest documented as using Bantu languages. These languages ​​then spread across much of western sub-Saharan Africa to South Africa, probably at the same time as agriculture6. The first historical allusion to the Cameroonian coast is found in the story known as Hannon's Periplus, in a much debated Greek text. In the fifth century BC. AD, this Carthaginian reached Mount Cameroon, which he called the Chariot of the Gods. But this text is controversial for its approximate translation from the Phoenician and especially because there is no archaeological proof that the Carthaginians went south of Essaouira.

Um Nyobe's Tomb

On the other hand, we are certain that, in 1472, the Portuguese sailors of the navigator Fernando Pó entered the Wouri estuary, raving about the abundance of shrimp in the river that they immediately called Rio dos. Camarões (river of shrimps). English sailors adopted this name by anglicising it (Cameroons), hence the current name of Cameroon.


After the Portuguese come the Dutch then the Germans. Through contacts with Europeans and Sahelians (kingdom of Kanem-Bornou) regular commercial exchanges began. The development of the slave trade, either western or eastern, the spread of Christianity by the south and of Islam by the north, profoundly change the societies of Cameroon, favoring structured groups having adopted a monotheistic religion and able to obtain firearms, to the detriment of the previous political organization (such as the Bamoun kingdom).


Cameroon is a presidential type republic. Power is concentrated in the hands of the President of the Republic recognized by the constitution as the one who "defines the policy of the nation" (Title II, Chapter 1, article 5, paragraph).The Yaoundé convention center Paul Biya face to face with the President of the National Assembly Mr. Kavayé Yégué Dibril. Legislative power is exercised by Parliament. It is composed of two chambers, the National Assembly (where there are 180 deputies) and the Senate (composed of 100 senators), the Senate has been in place since May 14, 2013. President Paul Biya face to face with the opponent Jean Jacques Ekindi. The regime is often referred to as being a “democrature” insofar as Cameroon's political system is more akin to a procedural democracy; Behind the institutions which operate a priori democratic, the reality of the exercise of power is that of a dictatorship which forcefully represses any hint of political or social protest. The imprisonments of journalists, writers, trade unionists and activists are frequent15. On April 10, 2008, the National Assembly adopted the bill on constitutional revision with 157 votes in favor, against and  non-voters. This adopted project is very criticized by the political parties of the opposition since it allows Paul Biya to claim a fourth term at the end of his term in 2011.

Maurice Kamto, Cameroonian opponent.

On October 9, 2011, Paul Biya was re-elected through presidential elections in the first ballot and with 77.99% of the vote. On December 9, 2011, there is a new government headed by Prime Minister Philemon Yang, who succeeds himself. On January 4, 2019, Joseph Dion Ngute was appointed Prime Minister. Across the country, traditional leaders retain real power and are consulted by central authorities. In addition to modern legal codes emanating from international legislation, legal regulations are based on customary law which allows Cameroonians to maintain their original cultures. It is not uncommon for the sons of royal dynasties, lamibé or sultans, to exercise ministerial responsibilities in Yaoundé. Cameroon is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie. The extract from Bill 962 / PPJL / AN adopted by the National Assembly and punishing with the death penalty who dares to oppose the regime by demonstration of any type whatsoever, classifies Cameroon in a dictatorial type government.


The equatorial domain is characterized by abundant precipitation, high and stable temperatures and vegetation degrading as one moves away from the equator. We distinguish the central and southern plateaus with four distinct seasons: small rainy season (from March to June), small dry season (July and August), rainy season (from September to November), large dry season (December to February), and the western zone (Coast, mountains of the South-West and highlands of the West) with its superabundant rains which fall for nine months in a row from March to November.


Tropical area

Palm grove in Cameroon

The tropical domain is distinguished by high temperatures and scanty rains, either Sudanese (a rainy season from May to October, a dry season from November to April), or Sahelian, marked by very irregular rains, but absent from December to March. The lowest temperatures are 17-18 ° C and the highest 30-32 ° C.


Cameroonian culture is characterized by a great ethnic, linguistic, religious and culinary diversity linked to its history and geography. This diversity allows the development of a creativity of great richness in all artistic fields.

Cultural diversity


Main article: ethnic groups in Cameroon.

Different socio-cultural groups are represented within the Cameroonian population. Like its contrasting natural environments, Cameroon is of great human diversity. Three main groups can be identified: Bamileke traditional dance hat in western Cameroon

Messenger Sawa during the Ngodo festival

In the far north, there are mainly two large groups. The Peuls (or foulbés) and the “Kirdis”. Among these “Kirdis”, the mountains of Cameroon from the Garoua region to Mora are home to a wide variety of non-Muslim ethnic groups. The Mofu, Mafa, Toupouri, Moundang, Guiziga, Massa, etc. Also, the Fulani of the savannas of the North often organized themselves into Lamidats led by a lamido, the equivalent of a village chief. Their constructions are still visible to this day and their customs continue. The populations of the Center and the South also have their customs, characterized by a very great linguistic diversity. The dwellings of the old traditional chiefs have almost disappeared in favor of modern constructions, the area being the most developed in the country, but several commemorative monuments are erected there.

Bamiléké chiefdom in Cameroon

Bamoun costume in western Cameroon

Sultan Ibrahim Mbobouo Njoya, King Sultan of Bamoun

In the great west, are present the Bamilékés (dynamic group in trade, where they excel), the largest ethnic group in the country, alongside the Tikar (descendants of populations from the north) as well as the Bamouns (renowned for their history - especially political and military - and their artistic creations). These groups have developed an original civilization, based on chiefdoms which are all small kingdoms

A secret society "the Nkou Ngang" among the Bamileke of Cameroon

Princely accoutrement among the Bamileke in Cameroon

In the far south, the main groups are the Beti (main group in the central, southern and eastern forest zone), the Eton, the Manguissa, the Ewondo, the Boulou, who are attached to the Bantu world. The Betis / Boulou, an ethnic group to which President Paul Biya belongs, have held de facto power since 198245. The Bassa, the Yabassi, the Dibom (in the center-west and the geographical coast of the country), and the Sawa and related (people the coastal zone) are the other main peoples. The Bassa are predominantly settled in several towns, starting with Éséka, passing through Edéa to Yabassi and a little in Moungo and Wouri. The Bassa are structured in several small groups. The Gbaya, majority occupants of more than six administrative units in the East and Adamaoua regions. The Gbaya, weakly represented in the political class, are speakers of several dialects: laii (Bétaré-Oya), do'oka (Garoua-Boulaï), yayoué (Meiganga) Bodomo… The pygmies of the South live mainly in the forest.


Main article: Languages ​​in Cameroon.

Bassa alphabet signs.

There are 30, languages ​​in Cameroon, including Ngumba, Gbaya comprising several dialects: laii (Bétaré-Oya), do'oka (Garoua-Boulaï), yayoué (Meiganga, Ngaoundal, Dir, Tibati), bBodomo, bamoun, le tikar, bankon, tunen, eton, ewondo, douala, bassa, yabassi, dibom, mbang, ntumu (Vallée-du-Ntem), bakweri, boulou, peul or foufouldé, mofu-gudur, northern mofu, Hausa, psikye, guidar, moundang, mousgoum, toupouri, massa, guiziga - guiziga from the north and guiziga from the south -, Bamileke languages ​​composed of several subsets such as the nufi (in Bafang), the ghomalaʼ (in Bafoussam, Baham, Bahouan, Bamendjou, Pète-Bandjoun, Batié, Bansoa, Bandenkop, Batoufam ...), the nuguru, the bafia, the medumba (in Bangangté) , the yemba (in Dschang), the ngomba (in Bamesso), the ngiemboon (in Mbouda), and many others. Unlike the majority of African countries, Cameroon therefore does not have a dominant or common regional language. This variety also makes Cameroon one of the 25 countries in the world with a “linguistic megadiversity” with 7th place in the world, but 2nd in Africa after Nigeria.

In addition to these languages, several Creole languages ​​have developed since the beginning of modern European explorations and colonization. This has led to a mixing of populations, particularly since the beginning of the twentieth century. Even today, urban youth have created a complex form of slang called Camfranglais (a mixture of French, English, Cameroonian dialect expressions and Verlan) which varies from city to city.


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