Ibrahim Njoya

Sultan Ibrahim Njoya, (Wikipedia, public domain)On 30 May 1933, Sultan Ibrahim Njoya, the 17th ruler of the Bamun, a large ethnic group located within what is now western Cameroon, died in exile in Yaoundé at the age of 66. He is foremost known for the invention of the Bamun script.

Ibrahim Njoya was born presumably in Fumban in 1876. He was only three years old when his father Nsangou died on the battlefield. From 1879 to 1887, his mother Na Njapdnunke acted as regent together with the honorable servant Gbetnkom Ndombu. Though Ibrahim Njoya acceded to the throne when the Germans were imposing themselves in Cameroon, he managed to reign with relative freedom. While relations between the Germans and the Bamun were generally smooth, the situation changed with the arrival of the French at the end of World War I. The French administration terminated his reign by deporting him to Yaoundé.

Before Njoya’s reign, the long history of the Bamum people was preserved primarily through oral transmission. Recognising the inherent danger of important historical facts being omitted or corrupted, he set out to establish a means of written recording of Bamum history. When his work was completed, his alphabet, called, 'A-ka-u-ku' based on its first four signs, contained 73 signs in total. Sultan Njoya also wrote fifteen books (including romance novels) and an encyclopedia about traditional pharmacopeia. Furthermore, he invented a machine to grind corn. The palace built by Ibrahim Njoya has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

(Source: WikipediaNjoya Ibrahim: Cameroon's inventive king / Deutsche Welle, 12.05.2021)

Selected publications

Bamum Script: An African Writing System / Library of Congress Research Guides, ca. 2021.
Includes video presentation 'Africa: Writing Beyond Writing', Tim Brookes, 2021

In: Cahiers d'e´tudes africaines , vol. 55, cah. 217, p. 45-66, 2015
In: Annales de la Faculté des Arts, Lettres et Sciences Humaines , vol. 1, no. 12, p. 237-251 : foto, 2011
In: African anthropology : journal of the Pan African Anthropological Association = Anthropologie africaine : revue de l'Association panafricaine de l'anthropologie, 2009, Vol.16 (1-2), p.69-92
In: Paideuma : Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde , Bd. 36, p. 303-317, 1990
Njoya : réformateur du royaume Bamoun / Adamou Ndam Njoya. - P [9, rue du Château-d'Eau, 75010)] : A.B.C. [Afrique biblio-club] ; Dakar ; Abidjan : N.E.A. [Nouvelles éditions africaines], 1977
See also audio and video on  Njoya Ibrahim: Cameroon's inventive king / Deutsche Welle, 12.05.2021.

Timeline of Cameroonian traditonal rulers via DBpedia and Wikidata