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The Grassfields of Cameroon

 
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From a kingdom to a republic

In 1884 and 1885, European nations held the Berlin Conference and divided Africa into Belgian, British, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish colonies. The Grassfields became part of the newly-created German colony of Cameroon.

In 1902 the Germans arrived to unify the Bamum kingdom with the rest of Cameroon. They met King Njoya and were impressed by Bamum art and politics. As the years passed, the Germans and Njoya tolerated each other.

After the German defeat in World War I, the French took over most of Cameroon, including the Bamum kingdom. In 1930 they sent Njoya into exile to break his power. Njoya never saw his people again.

 When the French took over the colony of Cameroon, they tried to destroy the Bamum kingdom. As French soldiers threw the most sacred Bamum objects into the street, many people fled, afraid that their nation was gone forever.

 Njimoluh, son of Njoya, became king through an agreement between Bamum nobles and French officials. Quietly, he worked to preserve his people's heritage. As soon as the French left Cameroon in 1960, Njimoluh gathered up all the sacred objects and put them back where they were safe. Not long after, many Bamum returned to their kingdom.

 King Njimoluh ruled from 1933 to 1992.

 Today Cameroon is a republic. The Bamum king no longer has the political power he had before Europeans arrived. However, he continues to watch over and protect the heritage of his people. 

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