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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Royal concubinage in Ngaoundere, northern Cameroon, ca.1900-1960
Author:Bogen Sinderud, MarteISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Geographic term:Cameroon
Subjects:traditional rulers
Islamic law
Abstract:Concubinage was a large-scale phenomenon in Fulani ruled Ngaoundere (present-day northern Cameroon), and the palace of the 'laamiido', the local Muslim ruler, probably contained one of the largest harems in Islamic West Africa. Approximately 300 concubines still resided inside the palace walls as recently as the mid-1950s. This article examines the circumstances, roles, and experiences of the royal concubines in the palace at Ngaoundere in the period ca. 1900-1960. It is based on interviews with former concubines who spent parts of their lives in the secluded palace interior, supplemented by written sources from colonial and missionary archives. Under the headings 'the palace harem', 'the acquisition of royal concubines', 'the legal and social structure of the palace harem', 'the sexual dimension of royal concubinage', and 'daily life in the palace harem', the author describes the legal status of concubines in Islam and their situation in the palace. Under the final heading 'royal concubinage - privilege or deprivation' she addresses the possible influence of concubines on political decisionmaking, arguing that this influence should not be overrated. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]