The Ways of the Mandara Mountains

The Ways of the Mandara Mountains

ISBN 978-3-89645-464-5

The Ways of the Mandara Mountains

A Comparative Regional Approach

Author: Judith Sterner. Series edited by: Herrmann Jungraithmayr, Norbert Cyffer, Rainer Voßen.

Series: Westafrikanische Studien Volume 28

12 pp. Roman, 317 pp.
4 maps, 2 illustrations, 20 tables, appendix: Sources on the Mandara Mountains, Information on Ethnic Groups
Text language(s): English
Format: 160 x 240 mm
540 g
€ 34.80

The Mandara mountains, a mountain range that extends over the border to northern Cameroon and north-eastern Nigeria, are commonly known within ethnographic literature as a research field that stands out for its strong heterogeneous cultural situation. The present work presents the results of two years of field research of the author during 1984 and 1996. In the first place, her interest for the region was focused on archaeological research, but soon turned into a newly discovered cultural interest.

Influenced by different historical situations of French colonization on the one hand and of English colonization on the other, the Mandara mountains seem to be destined for a comparative regional study. Judith Sterner chose the villages of Sirak in Cameroon and Sukur in Nigeria to be the centre of her research.

After the embedding of the concerning societies into their historical and regional context, they are opposed to each other in their social (smithy / potters), political (chiefs / dignitary), and religious (rain maker) organisations and are explained by further aspects of material culture (houses / containers) and different traditional ceremonies (initiation, cattle, and cleaning ceremonies).

In the appendix this study offers numerous charts of kinship terminology, traditional ceremonies, ritual objects, functions and titles of dignitaries, origins of honorary titles, functions within the royal household, as well as sketch-maps of farmsteads and a detailed appendix about the situation of written sources in the region.

The present edition was derived from the PhD thesis of the author at the School of Oriental and African Studies SOAS, University of London.



Her enthusiasm and devotion to the subject show. The book works well at several levels, both as regional synthesis and as a demonstration of how different types of analysis can reinforce and illuminate each other.

David Zeitlyn in African Studies Review, 47/2, 2004, pp. 147-148

Since the book contains a lot of quite encyclopaedic data, it constitutes a source material on the region in question. It may be especially useful for students of African studies interested in cultural studies and for all those seeking knowledge of that particular region, its culture, history and customs from the point of view of the region as a whole. The effort made by the author to capture and deal with the mixed nature of the Mandara Mountains communities and to describe their interactions was a difficult one, however this approach sheds a different and fuller light on these societies, especially in comparison with other ethnographic works, which focus on one place or one society only. [...] This book is the most comprehensive work available on the peoples of the Mandara Mountains.

Anna Siemiatkowska in Afrika und Übersee, 87/2004, pp. 311-312

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