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Middlemen of the Cameroons Rivers
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 (ISBN-13: 9780511059360 | ISBN-10: 0511059361)

The Duala people entered the international scene as merchant-brokers for precolonial trade in ivory, slaves and palm products. Under colonial rule they used the advantages gained from earlier riverain trade to develop cocoa plantations and provide their children with exceptional levels of European education. At the same time they came into early conflict with both German and French regimes and played a leading - if ultimately unsuccessful - role in anti-colonial politics. In tracing these changing economic and political roles, this book also examines the growing consciousness of the Duala as an ethnic group and uses their history to shed light on the history of 'middleman' communities in surrounding regions of West and Central Africa. The authors draw upon a wide range of written and oral sources, including indigenous accounts of the past conflicting with their own findings but illuminate local conceptions of social hierarchy and their relationship to spiritual beliefs.

• Camerounian colonial history is of special interest because of its combination, and succession, of German, British and French rule • Follows a single and critical community, middlemen par excellence over three hundred years, from precolonial history, through German and French colonial rule, to the end of colonialism • First author, Ralph Austen, is a leading economic historian of Africa, an important figure in the field


1. Introduction; 2. From fishermen to middlemen: the Duala inland and on the coast in the formative period, c.1600–1830; 3. Hegemony without control: the Duala, Europeans and the littoral hinterland in the era of legitimate/free trade c.1830–84; 4. Mythic transformation and historical continuity: Duala middlemen and German colonial rule, 1884–1914; 5. Middlemen as ethnic elite: the Duala under Grench mandate rule, 1914–41; 6. Between colonialism and radical nationalism: middlemen in the era of decolonization, c.1941–c.1960.

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