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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Bafut under Colonial Administration, 1900-1949
Author:Niba, Mathias L.
Geographic terms:Northern Cameroons
Great Britain
Subjects:political systems
indirect rule
Bafut polity
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40341693
Abstract:This paper examines how the administrative policies of the British and German colonial authorities worked out in practice in Bafut, northwest of Bamenda, northwest Cameroon, between 1900 and 1949. The indigenous government of Bafut was a complex web of relations of kinship, loyalty and tribute centred on the palace of the Fon (chief), which also housed the powerful 'Kwifor' (council of elders). The establishment of colonial rule had far-reaching effects on the system. The principle policy of the German administration in the Bamenda area consisted of propping up friendly chiefs wherever they could be found and placing as many smaller chiefs under them as vassals. When the British took over after World War I they claimed that the German policy, which the British termed 'direct rule', was responsible for the destruction of indigenous institutions. They introduced the policy of 'indirect rule', which delegated some powers to chiefs or groups of individuals termed 'native authorities', whose task was to maintain law and order through native courts, and to collect taxes. By 1949 the delicate balance of the Bafut political system had been upset by the loss of sovereignty. The power of the Fon depended on the colonial authorities, and public confidence in him fell as it became evident that he was no longer adequately guided by Kwifor counsel. Bibliogr., notes, ref.