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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Slavery and Slave Trade in the Kom Kingdom of the 19th Century
Author:Nkwi, Paul N.
Geographic term:Cameroon
Subjects:social inequality
slave trade
Kom polity
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Labor and Employment
Ethnic and Race Relations
Abstract:This paper examines slavery and slave trade in the Kom kingdom of the Western Grassfields of Cameroon in the 19th century. Slaves, who constituted the lowest stratum in Kom society, were people who were either taken in isolated raids, or taken captive in war, marginal individuals sold by notables, persons held as debt pawns or penal subjugates. However, slaves were not openly discriminated against. Attention is paid to slave markets, the worth of slaves, slave raiding, slave dealers, and royal control of the slave trade. The paper demonstrates that slaves in Kom were a transitional social category. Although slaves performed some odd tasks, they were free to participate in most of the activities of their group. They could marry the freeborn, and in the course of time adjust themselves to their new group. They either integrated into existing lineages or clans, or established new lineages or clans. A 'slave', therefore, was a stranger in the process of becoming a kinsman. Since slaves enjoyed a large amount of freedom, the German colonial authorities simply permitted slavery or tacitly approved of it. The paper is based on the author's field trips in 1978 and 1980 and field notes of Elizabeth M. Chilver and Phyllis M. Kaberry (1960). Bibliogr., notes, ref.