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|Leiden University catalogue
|Structures of Control and Power and the Implications for Social Change in a Western Grassfields Chiefdom
|Simo, J.A. Mope
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
|While structural changes, including increasing specialization and commoditization of land, labour, agricultural products and symbolic capital, are occurring in Bamunka (Western Grassfields of Cameroon), 'big men' are unwilling to relinquish customary rights (e.g. titles and status), patriarchal gender divisions and traditional power relations. All forms of customary Grassfields power relations and social control begin and end with the Fon (chief) and all that is associated with royalty. Fons throughout the Western Grassfields still enjoy extensive rights over marriageable girls. Royal wives enjoy a high status that is, however, not reflected in their low economic position. Three case studies of royal wives in Bamunka illustrate the difficulties these women encounter in the rapidly changing world around them. Next, attention is paid to the Bamunka secret society, 'Nggwase', as a mode of domination and stability in Bamunka society and new dimensions of the symbolic power of title-holding. Finally, the continuity of male domination in Bamunka is shown on the basis of some day-to-day experiences.