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The Grassfields of Cameroon

 
- Who are the Bamum?
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Who are the Bamum (baa-MOOM)?

The Bamum are a group of people who have lived for centuries in the Grassfields region of western Cameroon. Before European colonialization, the Bamum had their own kingdom; today, they are citizens of the republic of Cameroon.

From fathers, the Bamum receive their names, privileges and property. From mothers, the Bamum learn their history and family and community values. Though family ties are strong, the whole community looks after the welfare of each child.

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Where did the Bamum come from?

In the 1600s three princes of Rifum (ree-FOOM) defied their father and set out to form their own kingdoms in neighboring lands.

On the bank of a great river, Prince Nshare left his brothers. He and his followers crossed the river into the land of the Mban. After conquering the local people, Nshare addressed them. "I am now King of the Mban people," he said. "From now on, my people will be called the Bamum." Since then, the capital of the kingdom has been called Fumban, meaning "on the grave of the Mban," and the people have been known as the Bamum.

Learn more about the fon or the kings and queens of the Bamum. 

Where do the Bamum live?

The Bamum live in the grassfields of western Cameroon. To the south are extensive rain forests. To the north are mountains. 

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