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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Njoya's alphabet: the Sultan of Bamum and French colonial reactions to the 'A ka u ku' script
Author:Orosz, Kenneth J.ISNI
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines (ISSN 0008-0055)
Geographic terms:Cameroon
writing systems
colonial administration
About person:Njoya#Sultan of the Bamun# (1867-1933)
Abstract:Shortly before the turn of the century Sultan Njoya of Bamum developed an independent written script to record the history of his people and provide a secure means of communication for royal affairs. The final version of his script, dubbed 'A ka u ku', was hailed by German colonial authorities as a symbol of intelligence and Njoya's progressive character. The French initially held equally positive visions of Njoya when they replaced the Germans as Cameroon's new colonial master in the wake of WWI. By the 1920s, however, their regard for Njoya was replaced by a growing antipathy which eventually led to the sultan's arrest and exile to Yaoundé. Since the use of 'A ka u ku' declined in the same period scholars have argued incorrectly for decades that it must have been outlawed by local French authorities as part of their campaign to undermine Njoya and curtail his power. In reality, Njoya's script simply fell victim to inter-war politics and the clear material advantages to those Bamum who acquired literacy in French. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]