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Ilsemargret Luttmann:
Oral Tradition in the Context of the Basaa Society

[1]      The Basaa form a population of about 220.000 to 250.000 members mainly confined to the two administrative departments of Sanaga Maritime and Nyon et Kelle in the southern forest zone between Duala and Yaoundé. Living in widely dispersed settlements of village units, the population density is very low varying from between 9 to 15 inhabitants/km. Their main urban center is Edea with approximately 25.000 habitants which they share with the so-called Bakoko. - The Basaa played a central role in the nationalist movement in the 1950s, with regard to its political conceptions as well as to the military struggle, which finally led to independence. Cf. the classical work of Richard Joseph, Radical Nationalism in Cameroun. Social Origins of the UPC Rebellion, Oxford 1977.

[2]      The authors dealing with the Basaa people are almost exclusively of Basaa origin themselves. - Among the works I am referring to are: Robert Ndebi Biya, Etre, pouvoir et génération: le système mbok chez les Basa du Sud-Cameroun; Joseph Mboui, Mbog Liaa, le pays de la grotte ou le savoir social basaa, thèse de 3ème cycle, sociologie, Bordeaux 1967; Simon Njami Nwandi, La morale africaine traditionnelle, thèse de 3ème cycle, théologie protestante, Strasbourg 1970; Etienne Ngué, Structures humaines et vivre-ensemble chrétien, thèse de 3ème cycle, science des religions, Strasbourg 1981; Simon Epea, Message chrétien et visage de l'homme chez les Basa, Bantie du Sud-Cameroun, thèse de 3ème cycle, théologie catholique, Strasbourg 1978.

[3]      This incident is reported by Joseph Mboui (1967).

[4]      This legend has been collected by Joseph Mboui (1967).

[5]      See therefore the authors mentioned in footnote 2.

[6]      This phenomenon of Basaa ethnicity has not as yet been delt with, neither in scientific literature nor any other publication; it is so far my personal point of view which needs to be supported by empirical data.

[7]      See footnote 1.

[8]      See for example Ngok Bilon, edited in Abbia (1967: 18-19), Matibla ma mbak, Njap Makon, edited by Meinhard Hebga, Le concept de métamorphoses d'hommes en animaux chez les Basaa, Duala, Ewondo, Bantu du Cameroun, thèse de 3ème cycle, philosophie, Rennes 1968.

[9]      The more literary and more appropriate category used by the editor and commentator (Pierre Ngijol Ngijol, Les merveilles de hilun: Les fils de Hitong, Yaoundé 1980) is "merveille".

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