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FROM THE OUTPOSTS.

NJOYA OF BAMUN.

ON the evening of December 1, 1916, a small British column lay resting beside a river in Central Cameroons.

It was a nondescript force, consisting entirely of native troops with a few white officers and non-commissioned officers to leaven the lump, and the usual motley crowd of porters to give the appearance of numbers, but in reality to add to the difficulties of the situation. For in front lay the river, unfordable and unbridged, with the Boche firmly entrenched on the other bank. Supplies were short and communications unreliable, while the country ahead was a terra incognita, and the reports of the Intelligence Department as conflicting as such reports usually are.

But to British columns engaged in "side-shows" during the years of grace 1914-1918 there usually appeared a deus ex machina of some sort or the other-in this case in the shape of a bedraggled but yet dignified-looking African, whose unceremonious entrance before the Commanding Officer and his Intelligence Officer was caused, and doubtless expedited, by the grinning native orderly who followed him.

"I done catch this bushman by river-side, sar. I tink he be spy, sar.'

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"Put him in the guardroom and I'll see him to

morrow.

What the deuce do you mean by interrupting me at this time of night."

"He talk Hausa, sar. say some king done send him to speak to English white man, sar."

Here the Intelligence Officer broke in with a few remarks in Hausa, to which the captive replied in the same language. A long conversation followed, till finally the prisoner, shaking himself free from the orderly, who throughout the proceedings had held firmly to his prize, broke out into a long and impassioned speech, of which the gist was as follows.

He, Isumanu, was the Prime Minister and Chief Councillor of Njoys, Chief of the Bamuns, whose territory lay across the river. The Germans occupied the country, with their headquarters at Fumban the capital, and had threatened to hang the Chief and ten of his principal headmen on the least sign of sympathy with the advancing British. Njoya, however, did not love the Germans, and had heard much that was good concerning the British and their rule in Nigeria.

He had, therefore, sent his Chief Councillor to explain the situation, and to give such personal assistance, either as guide or intelligence agent, as might seem good to those in authority. But he wished it to be made quite

olear that he could give no other active assistance, as he powerless against the armed and disciplined German troops within his town, and his main desire was to ensure the safety of his people, and that the British should know that he meant them well.

Now, offers of assistance from the people of Cameroons were no new thing. The Boche was not loved by the African either in Cameroons or elsewhere, and as the British columns advanced through the country, protestations of all sorts were plentiful. But experience had taught that they were frequently unreliable, and that conorete promises often failed to fructify when the giver was faced by the consequences which his action would entail at the hands of the unforgiving Boche. Njoya of Bamun was known to be a big chief, whose authority and reputation extended far beyond the limits of his own territory. He had hitherto proved loyal to his German masters, some of the best soldiers in the German ranks were Bamuns, and his emissary might well be a spy detailed for the very purpose of leading the British inte a carefully prepared ambush. On the other hand, his message was quite frank. He promised nothing, except the services of the bearer, and the latter stood his cross-examination with a dignity and confidence which much impressed his hearers. His evident trust and respect for his Chief was remarkable. "Njoya of Bamun does not lie to the English white men,"

VOL. CCVII.-NO. MCCLIII.

was his final remark as he was removed in eustody for the night; "he is not like the Dualas who lie, and promise all things to all men; what he says so he will do, and we who are his people trust him."

The morning brought no change in the situation. Patrols sent up and down stream could find no ford, and an immediate move of some sort was rendered necessary by the supply situation. Finally it was decided to trust Isumanu, and to employ him as guide to the ford some miles up-stream, which he asserted would bring the column in rear of the Germans holding the river.

Confidence was not misplaced. After a weary trek through swamps and jungles the ford was reached, and crossed without opposition. The Boche, finding himself outflanked, withdrew hurriedly towards Fumban, with the British on his heels; then, leaving only a rearguard to held up the advance, abandoned the town, and made off hurriedly to the east.

On December 5, the British advance-guard came in sight of Fumban. It was the height of the dry season, and the hot dust laden dust laden harmattan was blowing strongly. Hidden in a fold of the open rolling downs, the town appeared suddenly like some immense easis in the desert of parohed and sun-scorched grass. First came the outer wall of sundried mud, some twenty feet high by thirteen feet thick, and with a total circumference

2 c

and promptness rare among African chieftains of whatever type.

of some ten to thirteen miles, as they were demanded. And stretching in an uneven circle they were given with a willingalmost as far as the eye could ness reach. Within lay the houses of the inhabitants-clusters of tall thatched huts, dotted irregularly among trees and banana groves, whose vivid greenness gave 8 sense of welcome restfulness. The roads and paths joining the separate portions of the town were marked by lines of palms and hedges of flowering shrubs, while in the distance a cirole of huge rubber-trees, towering far above their neighbours, marked the boundaries of the marketplace and the central focus of

the town.

An immense concourse of people awaited the arrival of the British. At their head rode a figure in dark-blue turban and flowing robes of white, closely surrounded by some fifty gowned and beturbaned spearmen, evidently the royal bodyguard. Njoya, Chief of Bamun, had led out his people to greet the inooming British, and to place himself and all he had at their disposal. The next few months were to show how whole-heartedly he interpreted his promises of loyalty to the new régime, and with what energy and ability he carried out the many and inevitable demands which were made upon him and his people.

To the power of organisation possessed by this remarkable man is due in no small measure the successful termination of the campaign in that portion of Cameroons. Food, carriers, supplies of all sorts, information-all were given as freely

Njoya of Bamun was, and is, a remarkable man. Of typical negro appearance, thick-lipped, squat -nosed, heavy-featured, and inclined to fat, he was about thirty-five years of age, and had ruled for some dozen years or so. He spoke a little English and understood Hausa, but preferred to speak through an interpreter, a post held by his fidus Aehates, Isumanu, who spoke many languages fluently, including German and English (of the "pidgin" type). The people loved and all but worshipped him. Autooratio in method and unforgiving to those who failed him, he was equally generous to his most trusted and reliable retainers. But-strange anomaly in an African tribe-his real hold lay among the common people the "talakawa," who carried out his instructions with a thoroughness and alaority which was most certainly not due to fear alone. Bamun tribe is not a large one. It does not exceed 100,000 souls all told. Their country lies in the grasslands of Central Cameroons, in the zone which separates the Mahommedan element of the north from the purely pagan southern tribes of the coast. The Bamuns, as typified by Njoya their chief, have retained their individuality and have neither succumbed to the northern Mahommedan wave nor sunk to the level of the fetish worshipping com

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history of the tribe yet remains to be written, and it would be idle to speculate whence they derive their very un-African characteristics. The intense patriotism of Njoya, his breadth of view, and his originality were alike remarkable. He had ideas on every subject, and delighted to air them before a sympathetic listener, while he did not hesitate to convert theory into practice- often with somewhat quaint results. Njoya had invented a language of his own, and characters in which that language was to be written. The Bamun tongue was little known outside the boundaries of his kingdom. His people were consequently at a disadvantage when when they traded in distant parts. Ergo, a language must be invented which would gradually take the place of the Bamun tongue, and which, containing as many words as possible similar, if not identical, with those of the better-known languages of the Cameroons, would enable his people to make themselves understood more easily on their journeyings, In time, perhaps, other countries would adopt it!! The necessity of writing this language became urgent, and so the invention of symbols followed as a matter of course. The resulting language and writing were taught in all his schools, and under his system of education all parents were obliged to keep one out of every two children at school, except during the planting and reaping seasons.

As in secular so in religious matters. His views on the latter were unorthodox, and all the efforts expended upon him by the German missionaries had proved unavailing. The latter The latter were at perfect liberty to start their schools within his territory-objection would in any case have been futile, for the militant German missionary had always the Prussian official at his back; but Bamun schools existed side by side with them, and in these schools was conducted surely the most naïve and original system of education which can well exist. The form of religious teaching was somewhat obscure. Njoya himself was in a quandary. His explanation, almost word for word as given by himself, is worth quoting. "I know the Mahemmedans, and many of them are good people. But they pray too much. They care more for their religion than for their country, and I wish my people to be Bamuns from their heads to their feet. The pagans, who worship 'jaju,' are fools. The Christians, I am told, are good. But the German white men are Christians and they are not good. I want to make a religion for my people. Can you tell me a good one? I do not understand why the English, who are good people, and the Germans, who are very bad people, are both Christians. I told the German missionary that I wanted a new religion, and he cursed me because I was not a Christian. So I tell my

teachers to make the children

worship the big God whom all of Manchester. From the balChristians and Mahommedans oony of the house overlooking talk about, and if, meantime, a broad stretch of the Mban I hear that there are really river, completely shaded even other gods as well I will have at midday from the tropical them learnt too." But the sun, in long chairs of locally problem of suggesting an alter- constructed wickerwork, it was native religion was too much hard to believe that one was for the somewhat imperfect in Central Africa and enjoying Christian to whom the query the hospitality of a "heathen was addressed. savage, for whose salvation countless good people in Europe and elsewhere would doubtless be praying were they so much as aware of his existence.

Arts and crafts were not neglected in Bamun. Njoya himself had established a State experimental farm some fifteen miles from Fumban, whither he betook himself twice a year. On the banks of the Mban river, in a grove of immense rubber and mahogany trees, he had built himself a large two-storied edifice of beautifully carved and ornamented wood. Broad sanded paths lined with raffia palms led up to the main entrance, and to right and left in a semicircle lay ordered rows of houses for his wives and retainers. Outside the grove and along the river bank lay several hundred acres of farms, not merely in corn and ordinary native products, but planted experimentally with cotton, rice, tobacco, rubber, kola, palms, and every sort of tropical fruit. Here was grown the cotton for the weaving industry in Fumban, an industry which employed several hundred hands, and which turned out, on the crude yet ingenious native spindles, cloth of a texture and variety which could vie with the best products of Kano, and for durability, if not for cost, left far behind the trade cotton goods

To look back on the few months spent with Njoys of Bamun - brief interlude in five strenuous years of campaigning—is to invoke many memories, all of them pleasant and some of them unforgettable. The great hunt organised in celebration of the elose of the campaign and in honour of the General, when every man or boy who could wield a spear or hold a dane gun formed a gigantic army of beaters, and as the game was driven towards the spot where the "guns" were stationed, completely lost their heads, and, wild with excitement, charged madly forward, firing in every direction, te the imminent danger of all concerned and the immense amusement of Njoya and the General. The subsequent return te oamp long after dark through lines of flaring torches posted at intervals up the mountain track by which the return route lay. The dances in the moonlit market - place, when Njoya, seated at the gate of his "palace," presided over the revels of his

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