Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Tikar People of Cameroon

 

African Ancestry, Inc. found that the DNA sequence in my father's mitochondrial DNA is a 100% match to the Tikar people of Cameroon.  My father's direct matri-lineage has been traced back to his maternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother, his great-great-grandmother Caroline Morris of Warren County, Mississippi.  Further slave ancestral research uncovered that she was likely born in Greensville County, Virginia c. 1815; her enslaver John Hebron transported her and others to Mississippi around 1834. That research discovery is further explained here. Interestingly, Quincy Jones' maternal ancestors also lived in the same vicinity of Warren County; his mtDNA sequence matched the Tikar as well.  Africans from the Bight of Biafra region (Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon) comprised of the largest group (40%) forcibly transported to Virginia ports during the transatlantic slave trade. Recent research by Dr. Lisa Aubrey and her team uncovered 166 slave ships from Cameroon. More info about that discovery can be read here.

Tikar History

A special thanks to Dr. John Q. Williams, who received this information from members of the Tikar ethnic group of Cameroon about their history. A special thanks to HAMADJAM Raphaël Athanase Elisée of Douala, Cameroon for sharing the pictures below with me.

According to the oral and documented history of the Tikar people, they originated in present-day Sudan. It is believed that when they inhabited Sudan, they lived adjacent to two groups. The first group comprised of iron-makers/blacksmiths and carpenters in the Meroe Kindgom; this group (ancestors of the Mende people) later left the Sudan and moved west towards Lake Chad. They eventually traveled to the Mali Empire, and along with the town Fulani and Mande, founded the Kingdom of Mani. The second group - ancestors of the Fulani - arrived in the Sudan from Egypt and Ethiopia. These cattle and goat herders moved west to Lake Chad near present-day Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria before traveling across West Africa. It is believed that when the ancestors of the Tikar were in the Sudan, they lived along the Nile River. There, they developed their cattle grazing, iron-making, horse riding, and fighting skills.

At some point in time, the ancestors of the Tikar moved from the Sudan to the Adamawa Northern Region of present-day Cameroon. They settled in a village they named Ngambe (present-day Bankim District) where they intermarried with selected grassland farmers and animal herders.

During the mixing with selected grassland residents, a powerful chief and eventually king came to power. With the skills brought from the Sudan, the Tikar king was able to rule most of northern and central Cameroon. After the death of the king, his oldest son inherited the throne. Soon afterwards, his second son, Share-Yen, and his followers moved to present-day Mfounbam district and started the Mbamound Clan. Ngouo-Nso, a sister, and her followers moved to present-day Koumbo District and created the Koumbo Clan in the present-day state of Mbanso near Mbamenda. The youngest brother moved further south and created the Mbafia Clan in the present-day Mbam state.

The Tikar Empire had strong political traditions.  At the height of the Tikar Empire, fifteen kingdoms or clans existed; the Ngambe was the largest. Future kings and the ruling class always came from this clan and all clan were headed by a Fon who supervised nobles, large farm producers, military leaders, merchants, and town leaders. With superior weapons and fighting on horseback, Tikar soldiers protected the empire, maintained domestic peace, and collected taxes. A caste system existed, but the standard of living for the Tikar was above those from other ethnic groups. The Tikar people was known for their sophistication in government, war, and the arts - including a bronze casting process for making masks.

While the Tikar lived in Cameroon, most of the people with Tikar ancestry lived the "good life". Vocational training was the norm for Tikar boys, and teachers taught various forms of craft-making, woodcarving, mask carving, and making bronze sculptures. The Tikar people also developed a process for using hot wax to make masks and bronze sculptures. During the height of the Tikar Empire, many Tikar people were also gifted in music, dancing, acting, and writing.

The Tikar people had control over the trade routes between the Fulani and Hausa merchants to the north of the Tikar Empire and coastal ports. Due to the Tikar's advanced ceramic techniques and architecture/iron smelting kilns, products were exported north to the Hausa people and south to coastal ports.

For three centuries, the Tikar ruled present-day Cameroon and Central Africa with sophistication, but with a iron fist and heavy tax burdens on people from other ethnic groups. It was also reported that because of their high standard of living, there were more than one million people with Tikar ancestry by 1800.  However, trouble came.  Research revealed that by 1800, several African ethnic groups had joined the Europeans to fight the Tikar people, who were known for their quick ability to learn and their sophistication and for being hated by surrounding Africans.  The Tikar were unable to obtain modern weapons; they were never able to take control over the coast. So, they were caught in the middle between the coast and the north.

As the Tikar people attempted to abandon their traditional grassy savannahs and the plains where they were easy slave trade targets with no natural protection, they were forced to leave their villages with slave traders on one side and four hostile tribes on the other side seeking revenge. One of the strategies they applied to fight off the enemy was to dig moats around villages; these still exist in at least five kingdoms. However, this strategy failed and the survivors found refuge in the forest.

The transatlantic slave trade drained their brightest and most physically fit young people.  Having been greatly weakened by war and the slave trade, they became vulnerable to neighboring groups who had been subjected by the Tikar for several centuries. During the Middle Passage, most of the Tikar adults and boys killed themselves rather than be sold as slaves.  Still, it has been reported that most of the Tikar captives who arrived in the United States were females.

When slavery ended, there were between 60,000 - 75,000 Tikars in Cameroon, and most of them were hiding in forests from slave traders. Today, less than 100,000 Tikars live in Cameroon. They live as small and scattered related groups in the northwestern highlands near the Nigerian border. Much of the Tikar area lies in Cameroon's Adamawa plateau and the western highlands.

The Tikar are among the most industrious people in Cameroon. Urban Tikar boys score the highest marks on math examinations. Most Tikar children earn the highest grades in school.  Urban Tikar students are reported to be the most gifted in arts and crafts, music, writing, and math.

Popular evening Tikar meals include: (1) chicken and tomatoes served on top of rice, (2) thick soups with hot spicy seasonings served on chicken, and (3) a form of fufu. Thick soups served on yams are often eaten in the morning.

Tikar Chiefs


GAH II Ibrahim, the chief of Bankim, the history capital of the Tikar people. 
There are many Tikar villages - Ngambe, Magba, Ntem, Bandam - but the main Tikar village is Bankim.


GAH II Ibrahim, the actual Chief of Bankim, standing near the crowned lake named "SEM SEM".


Left is the Chief of Ina (Tikar village) and right is the actual Chief of Ngambe (Honore MBGAROUMA).


This is a picture of the late chief of Ngambe. Ngambe is one of the Tikar villages. Around his neck is an ivory collar made of elephant tusks. He carries it only once per year, during the time of the festival called "Sweety". It is a traditional Tikar festival during which one calls upon the spirits of the ancestors and asks them to bless the community.


Copyright © 2014 Melvin J. Collier. All rights reserved.

18 comments:

  1. Melvin, thanks for this article. I have Tikar on my maternal grandmothers maternal line.

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    1. Hello hi Mavis welcome to the great tikar family we are delighted to have you among us please visit us to learn more about your culture or being part of pilgrimage to cameroon where you can get your naming ceremony by a tikar king in a tikar soil
      I can be reach at delwanda@gmail.com
      I am Prince Delaure Delwanda
      www.onetikaronepeople.com

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  2. Thanks for the article brother i am a Tikar from the Tikar Dynasty of Wimbum, you did mentioned Nso clan in the article, when some Tikars left Bankim,and on their Arrival to Nso(Kumbu or Banso) two Brothers had a querrel one stayed and formed the Nso clan while the other one moved on to form the Wimbum clan, all what you mentioned in your article is 100% correct it's considered a shame if a Young man cannot do craft work which include furniture(usally traditional), making of traditional houses etc etc, When growing up we were told we came from Tikari(in other words we are Tikars) but it's after living the Mbum land that it began to appear clear and clear to me how related the Tikars are, their culture is unique from Bankim to Nkambe(wimbum land) to Kumbum(wi Nso land), One issue with the Tikars is that as they where moving they mixed and lost their language along the way, there is still great similarities in the languages especially between the Nso and Wimbum People. Once more thanks for the article brother i think it's high time Tikar Historians document our great history.

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    1. Do you have any information about The Tikar Dynasty in regards to having a spiritual system?

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    2. Good question....that's what I would like to know too.

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    3. welcome to the Tikar family for more information please visit our website at. www.onetikaronepeople.com
      join us in our 24 hour chat room of diasporatikar where you can learn everything about the tikar people of cameroon including going on pilgrimage in cameroon land and having your naming ceremony in tikar land

      Delete
  3. I just found out today that my ancestry is with the Tikar people. I am extremely excited and now I need to know what to do next. Are there any books or literature you can recommend I read to better understand my people?

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    1. welcome to the great tikar family please feel free to contact us so we can link you with other tikar of the world
      I am delaure Delwanda an ambassador of the tikar of the diaspora and born prince of ngambe tikar
      founder of diaspora tikar one tikar one people usa for more information please visit our website at . www.onetikaronepeople.com

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  4. I think it should be highlighted that it's South Sudan and not Sudan. Cameroonians have lineage with ancient South Sudan, there's no reason to call it Sudan because of the 2011 split. Also, South Sudan and Sudan had two different kingdoms functioning during the ancient civilization and Tikar people were nomadic, they resided in South Sudan. So there's some mistakes to be clarified here, also, South Sudan and Sudan shared land but never the same beliefs/culture/kingdom, they co-existed but never intermixed. Two completely different indigenous people living on land that had a non-disputed transparent border.

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    1. Thank you for your great contribution but i still feel that is correct to go by sudan as a whole and not just limit ourselves to political and administrative decisions remember at one point in the history part of Egypt was soudan and the Tikar came from Egypt
      for more information about the tikar people please visit our website at
      www.onetikaronepeople.com
      Prince Delaure justin delwanda
      ambassador of the tikar of the diaspora
      delwanda@gmail.com

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  5. Hi all. My name if Formambuh Mutcho and originally from one of the two English speaking regions (North West region where the Tikar tribe happens to be in) Cameroon. Many African Americans have travelled to Cameroon through a program organized by the Cameroonian embassy in Washington DC. It Will be my pleasure travelling with anyone interested ( I'll pay for my own air fare and provide accommodation and tour guidance to who ever is interested. I live in Minnesota and can initially be reached at Lmuchform@icloud.com.

    Sincerely
    Mutcho Formambuh

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    Replies
    1. Hello brother is always a great pleasure to connect with another brother of cameroon
      just so happy that both of us lived in Minnesota.I am one of the founder of a non profit organization one tikar one people and we have been helping our brothers africans born in USA to reconnect with the motherland cameroon .I am a born prince of Ngambe Tikar kingdom in cameroon triple notable and Ambassador of the Tikar of the Diaspora
      let us get together we are now working to get our brothers back in cameroon for the second pilgimage Festival of the returned for more information visit our website( my email is delwanda@gmail.com) www.onetikaronepeople.com

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  6. The is great information!!!! I have recently be linked through my maternal lineage. I am digging for more information. Any advice or suggestions are welcome.

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    1. welcome to the Tikar land of proud cameroonians feel free to contact us at delwanda@gmail.com
      i am prince Delaure Delwanda
      ambassador of the tikar of the diaspora
      triple notable
      www.onetikaronepeople.com

      Delete
  7. Welcome to the Tikar plaine the land of your ancestors
    We are a non profit organization established in Usa and Cameroon and working to facilitate the pilgrimage and return of the tikars of America's and the Diaspora to the land of their ancestors
    We have a yearly pilgrimage naming ceremonies and empowerment programs each year in Cameroon for more information about the Tikar Festival of the Returned this year please visit us as
    www.onetikaronepeople.com

    For our empowerment programs visit us at
    www.fieldofdreams.vision

    Prince . Delaure Delwanda
    Ambassador of the Diaspora Tikar

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  8. African Ancestry DNA has just confirmed that my matriarchal lineage is a 100 percent match to the Tikar people of Cameroon. I would love to connect with people who have the same lineage as well as those with established connections to Cameroon. If you are interested in connecting, Please contact me at ms.willis.dc@gmail.com. I am empowered by this information and have a vision to act on in the coming year!

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    1. Hello Ms willis I am delighted to be among the first tikar to welcome you inside this great family of loving and proud people of cameroon
      I am a born prince of the tikar tribe of ngambe tikar and founder of the most dynamique group of tikars in the diaspora we have a large base of people just like you working every day to help you reconnect with your people back home
      feel free to reach me at 9529947654 or email me at delwanda@gmail.com
      for more information regarding the tikar please feel free to visit us on facebook at one tikarone people or visit our website at
      www.onetikaronepeople.com

      Delete
  9. Hello, Melvin. I also have ancestry among the Tikar people of Cameroon. I have been thinking about how to focus more on this area in my reunion efforts. This article, along with the comments, is such a great starting point. Thank you.

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