Treatment of members of the Bamileke tribe by the authorities, and the language spoken and written by this tribe [CMR35757.FE]

No information on the treatment of members of the Bamileke tribe by the authorities in Cameroon could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

As for the language spoken and written by the Bamileke, a July 1999 article published on the Website of France's Department of Culture provided the following information:

Bamileke is one of 300 languages or dialects spoken in Cameroon, a country in central Africa with a population of 13.6 million (1996 data). The capital of Cameroon is Yaoundé and the official languages are English and French. Bamileke is spoken by a tribe of the same name (approximately two million speakers). Members of this agricultural tribe from southwest Cameroon have often emigrated to other African countries, where many work in teaching, science professions and commerce. Today, only half of the two million Bamileke live in their traditional highlands.
Bamileke belongs to the Mbam-Nkam group of Graffi languages, whose attachment to the Bantu division is still disputed. While some consider it a Bantu or semi-Bantu language, others prefer to include Bamileke in the Niger-Congo group. Bamileke is not a unique language. It seems that Bamileke Medumba stems from ancient Egyptian and is the root language for many other Bamileke variants.
Though more often spoken than written, Bamileke has a Latin alphabet complicated by numerous diacritical marks to render its phonetics more accurately; 31 consonants, 3 semi-vowels and 10 vowels are used in its orthography, which is still highly variable. In addition to its complex alphabet, the language poses another difficulty: its system of tones. There are five: high, low, neutral, rising (mid to high) and falling (high to low), but contrary to the Chinese tonal system, these tones are not restricted to specific syllables.

For more information on the Bamileke tribe, please see CMR34023.E of 27 March 2000.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


France, ministère de la Culture, Délégation générale à la langue française (DGLF). July 1999. "Bamileke." [Accessed 7 Dec. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential

Africa Research Bulletin

L'autre Afrique. 2000

IRB Databases

La Lettre hebdomadaire de la FIDH. 2000


Resource Centre country file: Cameroon

West Africa. 2000

Internet sites including:

Africa Confidential


Amnesty International

Arts and Life in Africa

FIDH online

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

International Crisis Group (IGC)

Missionnary Service News Agency (MISNA)

Relief Web

World News Connection (WNC)

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