Royal Concubinage in Ngaoundere, Northern Cameroon, ca. 1900–1960

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Abstract: The article discusses royal concubinage in Ngaoundere, northern Cameroon. In Ngaoundere, formerly a sub-emirate within the Sokoto-Caliphate, concubinage was a large-scale phenomenon; more than 300 concubines were still residing inside the palace walls as recent as the mid-1950s. Based on both oral and written sources, it examines the circumstances, roles and experiences of royal concubines in 20th century Ngaoundere. Even though concubinage involved legal privileges, the rights of concubines were not always respected. Their situation varied considerably, but the general impression given by palace interlocutors was that for many, harem life implied hardship and misfortune.