Wednesday, 23 July 2014


The colonial period of the 19th century and its intensification in the first half of the 20th century had a profound impact on the African women position. Women were ignored and deprived of their power. All colonial officials believed women’s role were that of house hold and help mate to men. They believe that women were outside the realm of politics, they never try to manipulate female leaders because they did not know that female leaders existed.
Women formed voluntary association in which they come to promote their economic and social interest. The reliance of women in informal women’s group around the family or ethnic affiliation and operating on mutual reciprocity to provide welfare and increase income generating activities. Staudt agreed that many women initially rejected and or withdraw from the state and redefined political order during the early period of colonial rule like in the case of Nigeria, Tanzania and Cameroon.
The Igbo women had a mechanism for exercising their influence in free colonial times. Their institutions of “sitting on a man” were transferred to a redefined politics. In 1929, in the Igbo land a zealous District officer decided to recount the household to verify them for the tax records. The recounts came at a time when rumors were out that the government was going to increase was going to increase taxes and might as well tax women’s property. The District Officer entering one homestead, the officer got into her scuffle. Word spread of the encounter and the Igbo Riots were launched. The riot was the term which the British chose to apply because they did not understand either origin or structure resulting to such disorder. When the tax collector and the women tangled, the women punished him according to custom.
They sounded the traditional alarm, assembled and march to government head quarters were they brought in their strongest sanctioning mechanism (“sitting on a man” or “making a war”). With this, the women were dressed in loin cloths carrying palm-wrapped sticks. The women extended and elaborated upon the use of their political powers which led to the burning down of houses, broken into jail and prisoners released, native courts attacked and sometimes destroyed and European stores and trading centers attacked and looted. Thousands of women were involved over an area on 6000 square miles. The military was involved and over 50 women killed and 50 women injured. No colonial officer was injured in the riot. The situations grow worse as men came into assistance.
The tax riot in the Pare District brought women into modern politics. The riot grew out of a Pare District council decision to levy a graduated income tax on the advice of the British District Officer. By 1942 to 1943, the colonizers instituted a council compose of the nine male chief or native authority who decided to institute a tax in addition to pool tax already enforce. The new revenue was to be used exclusively for development project in the District which was the district course of the riot since in amounted to confusion arousing out of the imprecise and nuclear procedure for tax, assessment and collection.   
As such people demanded more information about the bases of assessment and objected the use of traditional name and form for the taxes. Pare men were in a resentful position that people have the legitimate right to question the government when the chief on their part sensed that people were attacking their and not simply their stand on the tax. They became determine to impose the tax without any modification as evidence of their authority. Due to this, men left Pare District to the head quarters announcing their intentions to remain there until the tax was abolished. After the departure of most of the Pare men, the chief then moved too as well.  
Several meetings were held amongst the people’s representatives, the native authorities and the officers of the colonial government but little progress was made. Several months later the mobilization of women began in one Sub-Division were the wives, daughters, sisters and mothers of the demonstrators march 25 miles to the District Headquarters to show their support for the stand which the men had taken. The women presented themselves as delegation to the District Officers and demanded him to either effect a settlement or allow the men to return to their homes, farms and jobs or he himself should impregnate all of them. The women claim that the situation has disrupted their life cycle and if not they will abandon the Pare District to meet their husbands.
The women asked the British Officer to assure the roles of their husbands because for them the officer symbolizes the deadlock between their husband and the native authority structure. When the local officer for saw no easy resolution to the tax problem, he requested assistance from both provincial and territorial governments. When the National Officer arrived in Pare in 1946, they were stoned by angry women. The chief saw that the situation has taken a new and uncontrollable dimension; they relented that the tax should be levied but concerted a form of assessment.
Still dissatisfied, more than 2000 Pare tax payers pay their 1946 tax in the neighboring District of Kilimanjaro even though the rate there was higher than that of Pare. Informants recalling the events claim that the tax payers wanted to prove to the British that they were willing to pay the tax but the manner in which the tax was levied was their problem.
The involvement of Pare women was essentially a conservative reaction. During the tax riot, women asked for their rights to be restored, they wanted their men home and dispute settle. By asking to be impregnated they were asking for a continuation of life was it was. 

       Amongst the Kom of formal British Cameroon, the involvement of women in politics during the first part of the nationalist period stemmed from the utilization of a traditional practice which was transformed in to a tool of customary power (Kaberry 1952). The custom of Anlu was used by women to bring community shame on offending individuals by dressing in vines and singing insulting songs. In 1957 Anlu was transformed in to a modern political organization. Grievances against the colonial government such as the rumor that land were to be sol, failure to restrain the invading cattle of neighboring and inadequate enforcement of a contour farming program were all felt acutely by the Kom women. The women formed an organization using the traditional mechanism. Within a year, the organization grew to include all Kom women. They proceeded to seize authority from the representative council and exercise its mass public meeting. By mid 1958, the premier visited the area and was face with an Anlu reception. Walking with the District Officer, he convinced 6000 women to mobilize for the occasion that there was no substance as to the rumor that their lands were to be sold and that contour farming would be postponed.
In other parts of the country like in the South West the Bakwerians living on the slope of Mount Cameroon also have a similar traditional organization were the rights of women can be protected. Such group includes the “LIENGU” and “TITICOLI”. Titicoli is a traditional organization which protected women who were offended or insulted by their male counterpart. In this way women’s right and their woman hood was secured and protected while titicoli was a female cult which gave women a lot of spiritual powers almost equal to their opposite sex. 
Looking in to the above three riots construed by women, one can see that acknowledge that traditional organization did evolved into modern politics which gave women an upper hand in decision making. Johnson (1982) examines that the three women’s organizations highlights the important of several factors in women’s organization and new forms which emerged under colonial rule; the impact of increasing social differentiation which meant that setting groups of women has a different relation to the state; and the relationship of women organizing with the emerging nationalist movement. African women resisted colonial encroachment on their prerogatives. The cases do demonstrate that African women had indigenous institutions which were powerful and that when they utilized them they were able to challenge the new institutions been imposed upon them.       


Mindful of the fact that Cameroon shares boundary  with some sub Saharan countries in the western and north eastern part of the country  with a pacific transit on the south west and littoral region, makes Cameroon a cosmopolitan country since neighboring countries do rely on our marine transport or  and other communication net work.
            In this regard, we should as well be assured that Cameroon is also becoming vulnerable following the uprising in the neighboring countries. Following the unstable nature of some African countries, plenty of their citizens have resort to settle in other stable countries thus leading to population explosion, malnutrition in some countries, and to an extend increase vandalism.
            On like Cameroon were there has been a series of gun conflict and kidnapping along the borders, we still witness a lot of immigration from some unstable state like Nigeria, Congo, Gabon etc. the situation in Cameroon is still very different from that of other African countries in the sense that even with the increasing population, Cameroon has not yet record any food or health crisis or a serious economic disaster.
            Also, the conflict along the borders has not got any serious effect on the daily Activities of every Cameroonian, business men/women and visitors as the government of Cameroon is doing everything possible to maintain peace through the forces of law and order.
In this regard, it is also advisable that visitors should have reliable contacts before, during and after their visit (when leaving). Likewise, tourists should always try to get reliable information before visiting areas around the borders. That said Cameroon remains a stable and reliable country to visit and even for investors.       


Gender and Culture in the Bakweri Community
The Bakwerians are found at the foot and the slope of mount Cameroon. The Bakwerians like any other tribe has a culture or tradition which to a greater extend stands as a guardian principle to the gender relationship.
The Bakweri culture of today has been one of a great evolution. This is to say the Bakweri culture of today is not like that of yesterday even though it still has some gender discrimination but it is different of that of yesterday. Before I begin with the with the gender relationship of the Bakwerians, I will like to talk on the gender diversity amongst them. The Bakweri man was entitle to wrapper and shirt or sometimes tie the wrapper round their waist passing it through his body and finally a scarf round the neck. This goes equally for their male children while a Bakweri woman puts on the Kaba with a head scarf and their female children follow suit.
            The men often sit together and share ideas like family issues, hunting strategies, cultural issues etc. There did exist another group of men; those who could sit and talk on cultural issues (the elders of the land). They belonged to the village council or traditional council/court. Then, the young ones (boys) would go outside and to play or sit and talk about common issues affecting them. The women (old and young) had little or no time to discuss because they were always in the kitchen and at times they only ask for permission before visiting.  
            Now talking on a gender relationship between the Bakwerians in relation to culture, a Bakweri man could hand his daughter into marriage from the time of birth as soon as the husband  of any age could starts paying the bride price of the girl and when she comes of age, she is then sent to meet her husband. In this regard, the girl child during her upbringing was always around her mother doing some house cleaning or some house hold chores.  The girl child was not allowed to go to school because she was seen as a liability or at times as an asset. It is with such reason that they were been given out for marriage at early age. If a girl was allowed to school, it would be a temporal education pending on the time when a suitor will seek her hand in marriage.
            Again, girls were never been allowed to socialize with boys. This could be seen from the fact that some of the girls were married women while others were been prepared for marriage as such they were always busy with their household chores. With such reason girls had little or no right to challenge their elders especially men. This was to train her to be submissive to her husband.
            Women were never allowed to inherit property from their father if there is a male child in the family. But at times, girls will inherit property from their father if there happen to be no male child in the family or could still inherit their fathers’ property if they had no child but if they have the woman inherits behind her children.
            Women, when in their matrimonial home are never allowed to participate in public affairs as they are only allowed to focus only in private sphere. When it concern farm work, the woman does the tilling, planting, weeding, harvesting and transportation.
            Women were not allowed to eat certain meat due to some cultural laws. These laws mostly affected the pregnant women. Because they believe that if the pregnant women eat Sleeping Deer, she will face difficulties during delivery. They claim it will be as a result that the child becomes week and sleeps in her mother’s womb. Women were never allowed to watch certain traditional dances reason been that the baby may look ugly like the masquerade.
            The Bakwerians never gave a woman the chance to become a member of the village council and neither could she become a chief. Women were never allowed to go hunting neither were they allowed to give ideas to men.  If a woman loses her husband, she was never given the opportunity to remarry out of her late husband lineage but from her late husband lineage.
            The Bakwerians on the other hand believe that the man is the bread winner of the family as such; he could get married at any time. This required the boy child to be around his father at all times as he joins his father to learn masculinity. Thus, the boy child assists the father after school and at times only during weekends because the boy child has to school since he belongs to the public sphere.
The boy child had several advantages over the girl child in the Bakweri land because he inherit properties, open to all cultural activities, could go out to play when convenient for him, he had the right to all choice of meat. He can participate in the private sphere if he wishes to for example, carrying of water and splitting of wood. More over a boy can become a chief and can be a member of the village council. A boy can marry his brother or kinsmen wife.
Even though men had the above differences from women they all suffered the same consequences if they loss either partner for example if the woman/man loosed the spouse, at the time when there were no mortuaries the surviving spouse were forced to sleep on dry plantain leaves holding a knife and concoction on the other hand until the spouse is buried. After burial he/she then began the mourning process with blue cloth for nine months after which she is been taken into the bush with her hair been shaved including her pubic hairs. This process is been carried out with the help of other widows or widowers for men. After this, he or she then puts on the black sack cloth which she alone decides the time to be taken off depending on the bond which they had with their loved ones.