Cameroon culture is unique, rich and interesting in many ways, and for various reasons. The country has passed through many different and interesting political eras, that has helped to shape and reshape traditions, customs and belief patterns of the people.
In order to better understand and appreciate the culture of Cameroon, it is important to take a quick look at the history of the country. The country was divided into British and French rule League of Nations Mandate after World War One, a situation that created two distinctive cultural regions: The Anglophone and Francophone Regions.
The Anglophone or English speaking region of Cameroon consist of the South West Region and the North West Regions of Cameroon (provinces until 2008). Here, English is the dominant Language. Pidgin English is the lingua franca. In this region the educational and legal systems are derived from that of the British systems.
The English speaking region has two distinctive cultural regions. One region is the Grassfields people of the North West Region. Here, nearly one hundred chiefdoms exist, and each ruled by a divine chief (Fons). Polygamy is common. A single chief can have dozens of wives as well as children, depending on his capabilities, including financial capabilities.
Chiefs, traditions and customs and other cultural values are highly respected in this region. The culture of the Grassfielders resemble that of the Bamilekes in the Francophone region of Cameroon.
In the other cultural region are mostly the coastal people of the South West region. This region has a less hierarchical system of governance and social organisations, perhaps as a result of colonial rule. The people here include mostly the Bakwerians who live along the slopes of Mount Cameroon.
The Francophone region of Cameroon include the other eight regions of the country that speak mainly French. The culture of this region can also be categorised into distinctive cultural regions.
The northern part of the country is dominated mostly by Muslims, as opposed to the Christian dominated South. This part of the country has three regions: Adamawa, North and Extreme North Regions. Fulanis dominate the culture of these regions. Most fulanis are cattle herders. The Bororo'en are also an important sub group in this region and are noted for their large cattle sizes. They engage in long distance trade involving their cattle.
The Southern Part of French Cameroon is dominated by Christians. The Centre, South and Eastern regions have thick forests and characterised by heavy rainfalls. The Centre and South Regions are dominated by the Betis. The Beti people include the Ewondos, Eton and Bulus. These people grow root crops and peanuts. Cocoa is a cash crop. The Ewondos were early converts into Catholicism.
The people in the Eastern Region include the Maka, Gbaya and Baka (pygmy). This region is mostly forested and forestry is common. Hunting is a very common pastime.
The Littoral region is the region that has had the longest history with Europeans. It has the country's biggest city, airport and seaport and is the economic capital of the country.
In the Western region are the Bamileke and Bamoum people whose culture resemble that of Grassfielders in the North-west region. The Bamilekes are a large ethnic group. They grow food crops and coffee and the Urban population is actively involved in commerce. The Bamoum are a dominantly Muslim population.
As you can see, Cameroon culture is varied and interesting. To actually understand how interesting Cameroon culture is, it's important to participate in some of the cultural festivals in the country such as the one organised by Northern part of the country, the ones organised by the coastal people in Douala and cultural festivals in the Northwest region. Why not visit Foumban Palace and experience the rich culture of the Bamoum people? There is a lot to experience in the country as far as Cameroon culture is concerned.
Despite the differences in Cameroon Culture, Cameroonians are bonded by an all-embracing culture. Cameroonians have a shared history. An all-embracing educational system and government institutions, national symbols such as the National Anthem and National Flag, the love for football and peace has all created a sense of togetherness amongst Cameroonians.
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