Accepted paper:

The reign of Ibrahim Njoya: between administrative and religious colonization


Valentin Moulin (CeReS (Research Center for Semiotics), Université de Limoges)

Paper short abstract:

In 1902, Europeans arrived in the Bamum kingdom. A problem arises for King Njoya: the legitimization of his power in face of his people and the Europeans. He invents a writing, to which missionaries participate, creating a place where royal, colonial and religious power combine.

Paper long abstract:

After a civil war in 1896, King Njoya reigns alone on his people. After this event, and because he discovers the importance of writing, he decides to invent his own. This presentation has for issues to show how Njoya create the bamum writing and its importance in the colonization. Indeed, in 1902, Europeans came in the kingdom and he had to reign with them. I will discuss about the fact that the colonisation, first by Germans, is also religious: The Basel Mission arrived and Njoya accepted them, being friend with the pastor Göhring. He helps him on his writing and in 1910, the king finishes the final phase. After that, he begins to write the history of his people. Translated and publish in 1953, analysis of its book permit to understand how the king consider the « white », colonizer, and how he accepts the colonization. Then, it's important to show how a beginning of a literature take place with the creation of schools in which we can learn the writing and the creation of a printing house without the help of the Europeans. It will then be time to conclude on the post-first world war: French colonization is more present, in disagreement with the king. Njoya gradually loses his power, until he is exiled, the kingdom abolished, and the writing forbidden. A bitter end that is found in his book, notably with the use of "white", which allows us to understand the relationship between power, religion and colonization.

panel P20
Literary approaches to the relationship between colonization, Christianity and civilization