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The name of the country derives from the term used by Portuguese explorers to designate the Wouri River. Reaching the coast of Cameroon near the modern port city of Douala around 1472, these explorers named the river Rio dos Camaroes ("River of Shrimp") because of the variety of crayfish they found there. This name was later applied to the coastal area between Mount Cameroon and the Rio Muni.

Cameroon has distinct regional cultural, religious and political traditions, as well as ethnic variety. The division of the country into two League of Nations mandates, one British and the other French, after the First World War created English- and French-speaking regions. The English-speaking region consists of the South West and North West provinces, where Pidgin English (Wes Cos) is the lingua franca and English is taught in schools. The educational system and legal practices are inspired by those of England. The French-speaking region includes the remaining eight provinces, where French is the lingua franca, the French school system is used, and the legal system is based on the written law of continental Europe. This region is dominant in number and power. Tensions between the two regions increased after the introduction of a multi-party political system in the 1990s.

The English-speaking region is divided into two cultural regions. The Grassfields peoples of the North-West Province are made up of nearly one hundred chiefdoms, each ruled by a divine king (Fon). Most of these chiefdoms have patrilineal or dual descent kinship systems, although some groups, such as the Kom, are matrilineal. Polygyny and fertility are important cultural values, although this varies by wealth and education. The social organization and culture of the Grassfielders are closely linked to those of the French-speaking Bamiléké of the Western Province. Like the Bamilékés, the Grassfielders are often in opposition to the central government.

The people of the South West Province had less hierarchical systems of governance and social organization. The British appointed proxy chiefs to facilitate their colonial rule, and in many cases the population rallied behind these chiefs in the postcolonial period. The peoples of the South West Province include the Bakweri, who live along the slopes of Mount Cameroon. The Bakweri practice healing and initiation rites in associations of spirit mediums which distinguish male and female roles and between the village and the bush.

In the French-speaking zone, the north, predominantly Muslim, is culturally distinguished from the south, predominantly Christian and animist. The northern zone includes three provinces: Adamoua, North, and Far North. Since the jihad led by an Islamic cleric in 1804, the northern region has been culturally dominated by the Fulani. The urban Fulani are known to be clerics of the Sunni branch of Islam. Most Fulani are cattle herders. An important subgroup is the Bororo'en, known for the size of their cattle herds. With their Hausa colleagues, they trade livestock over long distances. Other northern ethnic groups include the Mandara, Kokoto and Arab Choa. The main crops are cotton and millet.

Most southern populations are Christian or have traditional animist religious practices. The Central, Southern and Eastern provinces are characterized by dense tropical forest. The Center and South are culturally dominated by the Beti people, who include the Ewondo, Eton and Bulu, and are linguistically and culturally related to the Fang of Gabon. They are patrilineal, grow root crops and peanuts for their own consumption, and grow cocoa as a cash crop. The Ewondo converted to Catholicism very early. The current president is Bulu, and many prominent authors are Beti. Eastern peoples include the Maka and the Gbaya, both of whom have relatively egalitarian forms of social organization in which reciprocity is a key value.

Forestry and tobacco cultivation are important sources of income. The Eastern Province is also home to the Baka, a group of rainforest pygmies (foragers) of approximately thirty thousand to forty thousand people living in small encampments who trade forest products with neighboring farmers. The Littoral Province lies in the coastal rainforest region in the southwest. It includes the largest city, the port of Douala, and the industrial, hydroelectric and bauxite mining zone near Edéa. The main ethnic groups are the Duala and the Bassa.

The southern part of the French-speaking zone includes the high plateaux region of the West Province, where the Bamiléké and Bamoun live. Both are culturally close to the Grassfielders. The Bamiléké represent approximately 25% of the population. On the rich volcanic soils, they grow food crops and coffee. The population is dense, and the Bamiléké served as a labor reserve in the 20th century, resulting in a large urban population of entrepreneurial emigrants. This large urban population is very present in commerce and higher education. Since the conversion of Sultan Njoya to Islam at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Bamouns have been a largely Muslim people. Sultan Njoya, a man of extraordinary intelligence, developed an original alphabet and wrote a history of his people and his dynasty.

The feeling of a common national culture was created through shared history, schooling, national holidays and symbols, and enthusiasm for football. However, ethnic distinctiveness remains, and ethnic identity has become an increasingly important source of social capital during the 1990s.

Location and Geography of Cameroon

Cameroon is located on the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa. Its area is 179,527 square miles (465,000 square kilometers). Nigeria lies to the west, Chad and the Central African Republic to the east, and the People's Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to the south. The climate is hot and humid in the southern and western forest regions, cooler in the Grassfields region of the western and north-western provinces, and hotter and drier in the northern savannah and sahel. . The capital, Yaoundé, is located in the Center province. It experienced rapid growth and increasing conflicts between immigrant groups (particularly the Bamilékés) and the indigenous Beti.


The population in 1987 was 10,498,655; it was estimated at nearly 14 million in 1997. In 1987, 46% of the population was under fifteen years old. The population is growing at an average annual rate of nearly 3%, with declining mortality and high fertility. Thirty-eight percent of the population lives in urban centers.

There are no reliable population figures for major cultural groups. The Bamileke make up about 25% of the total population, and the northerners, including the Fulani, about 20%. These two groups also have the highest fertility rates.

Linguistic affiliation

French and English are the official languages. The approximately two hundred and fifty local languages ​​include Ewondo and Bulu, Duala, Bamiléké languages ​​and Fulfulde. Among the less educated, the Wes Cos dialect of Pidgin English functions as a lingua franca in the English-speaking area and in many areas of Douala. Both French and English are taught at school, but only those with secondary education master them. Most people speak at least one local language and one official language, and many people are multilingual.

National Symbols

The flag has three equal vertical stripes of green, red and yellow, with a golden five-pointed star in the center of the red stripe. The bands represent the three major geographical areas: green for the tropical forest, red for the laterite soils of the savannah and yellow for the sands of the Sahel. The national anthem begins with the words O Cameroun, cradle of our ancestors ("Oh, Cameroon, cradle of our ancestors"), reflecting the importance of ancestors and kinship and the desire to forge an imagined community with common ancestry . The feeling of national unity is strongest among schoolchildren and has been emphasized since the end of the Cold War.


Emergence of the Nation

Before colonization, Cameroon was a territory composed of diverse climatic zones, populated by a variety of peoples and polities. Northern Muslim states traded with trans-Saharan merchants and Arab peoples. Southern coastal peoples traded with Portuguese and Dutch sailors from the late 15th century. In 1884, Cameroon became a German protectorate (Kamerun). The Germans were defeated by British and French forces in 1916, and the territory was divided between these nations in 1916. In 1922, the French and British zones became League of Nations mandates, with the French controlling over 80%. of the national territory. These areas were transformed into United Nations trusteeships in 1946. The border between the French and British zones crossed the territories of several ethnic groups, notably the Bamiléké and the Grassfields of the western highlands. This served as the impetus for the reunification of these areas at the time of independence. French Cameroon (Cameroon) became independent in 1960, and after a plebiscite in 1961, British Cameroon gained independence. The southern part of the British territory joins the Federal Republic of Cameroon, while the northern part, ethnically united with the Hausa city states, joins Nigeria. In 1965, Cameroon came under single-party rule. It was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984.

National Identity

A national culture was first formed by outside powers through colonization. Even regional cultural differences originally emerged during mandate and trusteeship periods. The sense of common national identity is particularly strong in major institutions of socialization such as schools and during international football matches, visits by foreign dignitaries and periods of international conflict. Ahmadou Ahidjo, a Muslim from the northern town of Guider who served as independence president until 1982, attempted to foster national integration by posting civil servants to regions outside their country of origin. His successor, Paul Biya, is a Catholic from the Bulu (Beti) people of the Southern Province. In 1983 and 1984, alleged coup attempts by Ahidjo loyalists led to martial law and ethnic tensions between groups in the northern and southern regions. Since the legalization of the multiparty system in 1992, political parties are increasingly associated with specific ethnic groups or regions.

Ethnic relations

In addition to regional and ethnic distinctions, coalitions and tensions exist at the local level. People from the northern regions are collectively called "northerners" by their southern compatriots and share certain cultural attributes related to their Islamic religion. The English-speaking and French-speaking peoples of the Grassfields (Grassfielders, Bamiléké, and Bamoun) share common attributes and have practiced their own inter-household diplomacy for several centuries. In February 1992, violence between the Choa and Kokoto Arab ethnic groups during registration on the electoral lists led to the death of more than a hundred people. Violence resurfaced two years later, leading more than a thousand people to seek refuge in Chad. In the Grassfields of the North-West and Western Provinces, interdependence and conflicts between farmers and herders coincide with ethnicity. The ethnicization of party politics and the increasing importance of ethnicity in relation to economic demands have led to conflicts between "autochthonous" (indigenous) populations and migrant populations.


The main cities are Douala (the maritime and industrial center), Yaoundé (the capital), Nkongsamba (the arrival point of the railway through the southern plantations of the colonial period), Maroua and Garoua, Bafoussam and Bamenda ( the provincial capitals of the Western and North-West provinces), Kumba and Limbe. Yaoundé has several monuments to national unity.

Most villages and small towns in rural areas have a market in a central location that may host a weekly, biweekly, or daily market, depending on their size. Most markets have separate areas for women's products (fruits and vegetables and palm oil) and men's products (livestock and bushmeat). Official buildings are often located near these markets or along the central axis that runs through small towns.

The architecture varies depending on the region. In the rainforest and Grassfields, rectangular buildings of poto-poto (earth plaster on a wooden structure) and mud bricks with a palm thatch or corrugated iron roof are common. The traditional architecture of the Grassfields was built from "bamboo" (the thorns of raffia palm leaves); square or rectangular buildings with sliding doors were topped with conical thatched roofs. The posts of the royal gates were decorated with elaborate carvings. Traditional northern architecture includes round mud-earth buildings topped with thatch. Walled enclosures generally include a separate attic. Across the country, structures built of concrete bricks, with corrugated iron roofs and iron grills, have replaced other forms of housing.

Much of daily life takes place in public spaces such as the courtyards of polygynous complexes. Intimacy is often suspect, especially among people who strongly believe in malevolent and occult powers.


Food in daily life. Sharing cooked food is one of the primary ways of cementing social relationships and expressing the high value placed on human companionship. Sharing food and drink shows hospitality and trust. Social support networks between relatives and friends, particularly between rural dwellers and their urban-dwelling relatives, are held together symbolically through donations of cooked and uncooked food.

You can see bags of beans, corn or peanuts “from home” on the roof of bush taxis that travel between the countryside and urban centers.
Meals consist of a cooked cereal or root accompanied by a sauce or stew. In the southern regions, the main staple foods are roots such as cassava, cocoyam and plantains; in the humid savannah and grasslands, corn and plantains; and in the arid north, sorghum and millet. Rice and pasta became popular. Staple foods can be boiled, pounded or fried; most often they are made into a thick mush shaped into oblong balls. The sauces are generally based on palm oil and ground peanuts. Vegetables such as greens, okra and squash are common. Chili peppers, onions, ginger and tomatoes are popular condiments. Dried or fresh fish or meat can be included in the sauce. Uncooked fruits like bananas, mangoes, papayas, oranges and avocados are popular snacks and desserts; they are not considered part of meals.

In many areas, men and guests eat before women and children. Hand washing is part of dining etiquette. Whether from a separate dish or a common pot, a small ball of porridge is formed by three fingers of the right hand, then dipped in the sauce. Westernization has led to families eating together around a common table, using separate cutlery and cutlery.

Food taboos vary according to ethnic groups. The Bassa of Littoral Province serve a gourmet dish of viper steaks in black sauce, but only the oldest men of the Ewondo (Beti) of Central Province can eat viper. The totems of certain clans, healers or royal dynasties are taboo for some members of certain ethnic groups.

Food customs during ceremonies

During the visit of a guest of honor, a wedding or a funeral, a chicken, a goat, a sheep or an ox is served to the guests. Special drinks, such as palm wine and millet beer, as well as bottled soft drinks, beer and wine, are served on these occasions. Among the Bamiléké, as part of the coronation festivities, the newly installed supreme chief ceremoniously serves each subject a handful of beans mixed with palm oil to symbolize the chief's ability to ensure food and fertility in his kingdom .

Basic economy

The country is basically self-sufficient in food, although food distribution is variable. Seasonal famines occur in the arid north. The gross national product (GNP) per capita was $610 in 1996. From 1990 to 1996, GNP declined and has seen slight increases since then. Cameroon has a trade surplus but is drowning in debt. Agriculture, including the production of food and cash crops such as coffee, cocoa and cotton, employs almost two-thirds of the workforce. Many people produce mainly for themselves, selling the "surplus" in local markets.

Land tenure and ownership

Among the Fulani, land is inherited patrilineally. In the Grassfields, land is held by the Fons, with usage rights vested in specific patrilineages and matrilineages. Throughout the country, the privatization of land ownership is increasing. Access to private land titles depends on money, understanding bureaucracy and connections. Women, the main producers of food crops, are often disadvantaged when land is privatized.

Commercial activities

In towns, there are grocery stores and dry goods stores. Restaurants and bars, taxis and domestic work involve a growing proportion of the workforce.

Main industries

Major industries include aluminum mining and processing, forestry, and beverage manufacturing. Oil is an important source of national income.


Timber, coffee, cocoa, cotton and palm oil are the main exports. Trading partners are France, Nigeria, the United States and Germany. The main imports include consumer goods, semi-finished products, minerals, industrial and transport equipment, food, beverages and tobacco.

The division of labor

The division of labor is largely determined by formal education (for civil servants) and gender. There is some specialization by ethnic group, such as animal husbandry by the Fulani, butchery and meat trading by the Hausa, and transport by the Bamiléké.


Classes and castes

There is a high degree of social inequality. Among the Peuls, Grassfields, Bamilékés and Bamouns, traditional social organization included hierarchical relationships between members of different status groups (royalty, nobility, commoners and slaves). Other ethnic groups have a more egalitarian social organization in which age and gender are the main factors of social stratification. New forms of social inequality based on access to political power and level of formal education coexist with indigenous forms of stratification. Although a cosmopolitan lifestyle has developed among the wealthy and intelligentsia, markers of cultural specificity and obligations to kin and ethnic compatriots remain. There are also regional differences in wealth: regions in the far north and east have less access to wealth and infrastructure.

Symbols of social stratification.

Housing styles differ by social class, both in urban and rural areas. The richest people have concrete houses painted in bright colors and surrounded by high walls. These houses have flower gardens and interior furnishings such as upholstered furniture and cabinets. The poorest live in mud houses with thatched or corrugated iron roofs, sparsely furnished with beds and stools made from local materials. Clothing styles also vary depending on social class; the richer can afford Italian leather shoes to accompany the latest European and African outfits, while the poorer wear cloth wraps and European-style second-hand clothes. The richest tend to speak French or English even at home, while the poorest speak local languages ​​and Pidgin English.



Since the amendment of the constitution in 1992, Cameroon has been a multi-party state. Executive power is held by the president, who serves for seven years and, since 1992, for a maximum of two terms.

Leadership and political leaders

The twenty-seven-year period of one-party rule left a legacy of an authoritarian political culture. At the national level, the direction of government is provided by the president and his cabinet. At the local level, the prefect (district manager) and the sub-prefect are the most powerful administrative officials. Government positions are determined by a combination of expertise, party loyalty, and ethnic and regional origin. In many regions, local and national forms of leadership coexist. For example, the chiefdoms of the North West and West provinces form states within a state, with the Fons sharing power with government officials. Some leaders served as rallying points for opposition groups during the political crises of the 1990s.

Social problems and control

There are several police forces, including the internal security police, gendarmes and military police. The legal system combines the jurisprudence system of the British and the written law system of the French. Theft is a common crime, and the US State Department regularly issues warnings about bandits in tourist areas of the northern provinces.

Local chiefs serve as justices of the peace and receive a small salary. Officially, criminal law is no longer their responsibility, but they often settle disputes concerning theft, trespass, bodily harm or attacks by witchcraft.
Customary law combines forms of conflict resolution ranging from reconciliation rituals to prohibition and capital punishment. A combination of discussion and oracles is still used in most cultures. Since the colonial era, the jurisdiction of local chiefs and councils has eroded. Informal mechanisms of social control include gossip, ostracism, and fear of occult, ancestral, or divine punishment for wrongdoing.

Military activity

Cameroon has a bilateral defense agreement with France. In the 1980s and 1990s, the army was involved in border conflicts with Nigeria over the Bakassi Peninsula.


The government sponsors many social assistance programs, mainly through the community development and extension services of the Ministry of Agriculture. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are increasingly involved in social welfare and the development of civil society. Their importance increased as government functions were reduced during a period of economic and political crisis.


Most NGOs are of two types: those that focus on social issues such as AIDS awareness, condom distribution and street children; and ethnic development associations that connect urban migrants to their villages of origin, build hospitals, schools, and bridges “back home,” and organize urban ethnic festivals. Ethnic associations are often organized as rotating credit associations, building on a long tradition of mutual aid in rural and urban areas. They reflect the growing importance of ethnicity in national and local politics.


Division of labor by gender

In most regions, women are responsible for feeding their families. They grow basic foods, while men clear the land and provide meat, oil and salt. Men cultivate cash crops. Among pastoral populations, men herd livestock and women process dairy products.

Relative status of women and men

In general, men have a higher social status than women. They have more rights regarding marriage, divorce, and land ownership in most local systems of social organization and have greater access to the government bureaucracy and courts. However, women may have informal power within households, reinforced by their control of subsistence activities and their role as intermediaries with female ancestors. Many women occupy important positions in higher education and government ministries.



In many ethnic groups, first marriages were historically arranged with varying degrees of veto from the prospective bride and groom, but individual choice emphasizing companionship is becoming more common. Most southern groups prefer exogamous marriages, while the Fulani tend to be endogamous. Polygyny is a goal in many groups, but it is not always financially feasible. Some women prefer small-scale polygyny for the companionship and mutual support a co-wife can provide.

Domestic unit

Domestic organization varies greatly across Cameroon. Rural polygynous complexes are made up of a male head of household surrounded by his wives and their children. Wives and children generally sleep in separate accommodations within the community. In urban and rural areas, raising children by a close relative (a type of foster family) is common.


The organization of kinship varies greatly, as do the local rules of inheritance. The inheritance of land is often separated from that of movable property. Wives' inheritance can serve as old-age insurance for women without adult children, since marriage provides access to land. In many groups, traditional titles and honors can be inherited.

Kinship groups

Most northern groups, such as the Fulani, are patrilineal. The kinship organization of most Grassfields, Bamilékés and Bamouns is variously described as patrilineal or dual descent. The Kom of the Grassfields are a notable matrilineal exception. Most forest peoples are patrilineal.


Infant Care

Procreation is highly valued and infants are the subject of great daily and ritual attention. Typically, infants are kept close to their mothers and breastfed on demand. As soon as they can hold their heads up, they are carried by their siblings. Infants usually sleep with their mothers. The arrival of a baby is the occasion for visits during which the newborn is cuddled, bounced, bathed, and spoken to.

Children's education

Beliefs and practices regarding childrearing vary among ethnic groups. Commonalities include the importance of learning by example and through play and imitating adult tasks. Children are taught to observe astutely but to remain reserved and careful in what they report. Remembering one's ancestors, elders and origins is a growing concern of parents whose children spend long hours in public schools and often leave their native lands to find work in urban centers and on industrial plantations.

Since independence, the country has achieved a high level of school attendance. In 1994, 88% of children were enrolled in primary education. Secondary education is much less common (27%), with boys attending secondary school more frequently than girls. Teaching is in French and English, although the second national language is usually only introduced at secondary level. Primary education lasts six years in French-speaking areas and seven years in English-speaking areas. Secondary education lasts seven years longer. School attendance is highest in cities, particularly Yaoundé and Douala, and lowest in rural areas. Despite the relatively high level of school attendance, 21 percent of men and 35 percent of women had no formal education in 1998.

Higher Education

Although less than 3% of men and 1% of women attend higher education institutions, higher education is widely seen as a path to upward mobility. Originally, the University of Yaoundé was the only comprehensive university, while regional universities specialized in particular fields. Yaoundé was also home to the University Center for Health Sciences, a medical school serving several African countries. In the 1990s, the University of Yaoundé was divided into several campuses, each devoted to a different area of ​​study. Regional universities have become more comprehensive, leading to some decentralization of higher education. Many people pursue a doctorate abroad.


Greetings, the use of proper names, and the use of laudatory names are important parts of daily etiquette in many parts of Cameroon. During meetings, each person should be greeted by name or with a handshake. Serving and receiving food graciously is an important symbol of hospitality and trust throughout the country. Respect is given to elders throughout Cameroon. The protocol regarding speaking and sitting during an audience with a chief is very developed in regions where the culture is hierarchical (Fulani, Bamilékés, Banouns and Grassfields).


Religious beliefs

Cameroonians have a variety of religious beliefs, and many individuals combine the beliefs and practices of world religions with those of their own cultural groups. About 53% of the population are members of Christian denominations, about 25% practice primarily "traditional" religions, and about 22% are Muslims. Most Christians live in the southern regions, and most Muslims in the north. Christian missions constituted an informal second layer of colonialism.

Traditional religions are systems of practices and beliefs that adapt to changing social conditions. Most involve the veneration of ancestors and the belief that people, animals, and natural objects are invested with spiritual power.

Practitioners of religion

In addition to Christian and Muslim clerics, religious practitioners include ritual specialists of cultural groups. These specialists may be political leaders, spiritual mediums or healers. Their spiritual power can be inherited, learned, or acquired through their own afflictions and healings. Typically, they combine their religious activities with other forms of livelihood.

Practitioners of religion

For Muslims, the pilgrimage to Mecca is a source of honor. Among animists, holy places often include sacred trees or groves, unusual rock formations, and the burial sites of ancestors. These places are often sites of propitiatory offerings to ancestors or spirits.

Offerings include special foods, palm oil, palm wine libations and chickens. Among the Grassfield monarchies, sacred places include the sites of ancient palaces where rituals are performed that promote the fertility and good fortune of the chiefdom.

Death and afterlife

Several cultures, including the Bamiléké in the west and the Maka in the east, practice divination and/or public autopsies to determine the cause of death. These people are particularly concerned by deaths caused by witchcraft. In many cultures, a death is announced by the public wailing of women. Prairie people bury their dead quickly but observe a week of public mourning called cry-die. Close relatives shave their heads. About a year later, lavish death celebrations honor the deceased, who has become an ancestor. Death is the occasion for the most important ceremonies of groups of forest foragers (Baka, Kola and Medzan). The forest spirit is believed to participate in death ceremonies by dancing under a raffia mask. Honor and veneration of ancestors is common to almost all groups. Ancestors may be remembered in oral literature (the Fulani), buried in elaborate tombs in the family courtyard (the Catholic Ewondo), or reburied and given offerings of prayer, food and shelter (the Bamiléké). . The Fulani, like other Muslims, believe in an afterlife, with material rewards for those who obey Allah's laws.


Health care consists of biomedical treatments, traditional practices (often closely linked to traditional religion), and Islamic medicine, in various combinations that depend on belief, cost, proximity, and advice from parents and relatives. neighbors.

Biomedical care facilities are provided by the national government and Christian missions, as well as private physicians. There are health centers, maternal and child health centers (offering prenatal care, childbirth, health of babies and children under five), as well as private, general and central hospitals. In rural health centers, nurses often play a direct role in diagnosis and treatment, and perform surgeries. Pharmacists are an important source of biomedical advice. Prescription drug sellers also provide advice to patients and their families, although their understanding of the disease may differ from that of doctors and pharmacists.

Traditional practitioners include herbalists, bonesetters, diviners, and ritual specialists who can implore spirits or ancestors. These practitioners adapt to changing conditions by incorporating new ideas and medications into their practices. There is a trend towards the predominance of herbalists and individual treatments, to the detriment of specialists in rituals and community treatments. Many practitioners specialize in treating particular conditions. Patients readily consult practitioners from different cultural groups.

The Islamic medical system is derived from Arabic and Greco-Roman sources. These practitioners are not only important sources of treatment for Northern Muslims, but they are also popular among other peoples. Many non-Muslims seek to protect themselves from harm by displaying symbols of Islamic blessings in their homes.


Secular celebrations such as New Year (January 1), Youth Day (February 11), Labor Day (May 1), and National Day (May 20) include public parades attended by civil servants, loyalists of the party dressed in commemorative fabrics bearing the party insignia, schoolchildren and dance troupes.


Support for the Arts

Artists are mostly self-sufficient, although 7% of the national budget was spent on recreational and cultural activities in 1996 and 1997.


The Fulani are known for their oral literature: poetry, history, tales, legends, proverbs, magic formulas and riddles. Since the colonial period, written literature has had a strong history in the southern regions. Authors from Ewondo and Douala have contributed to the classics of modern African literature.

Graphic arts

Many groups produce pottery, textiles, and sculptures that are used as everyday household objects. The Grassfielders (including the Bamiléké and Bamoun) are renowned for their royal blue and white fabrics, richly beaded gourds and sculptures including royal reliquaries. The Bamoun are known for their lost wax bronze sculptures. The graphic arts of pastoral groups such as the Fulani and Hausa are largely linked to livestock herding.

Performing Arts

Music and dance styles are essential in the celebration of funerals, weddings and succession to high positions.


In addition to the university system, there are a number of applied and basic research institutions in the physical and social sciences. Many are managed and funded in coordination with research institutions in donor countries, the United Nations or NGOs. Social sciences are popular among university students. Due to insufficient library resources, students formed their own organizations to create subject-specific libraries, run entirely by students.

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