Sabine Schultz: The Game of Personal Politics or How to Rule a Kingdom. The State of Affairs in Rey Bouba/North-East Cameroon.

PhD-Project, Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel

The thesis concerns an examination of the political, administrative and social organization in the lamidat (kingdom) of Rey Bouba and its implications for the various actors involved. The lamidat forms a state within the state of Cameroon, a hybrid political system in which the customs and pattern of patrimonialism coexist with rational-legal constitutions.


For more than 200 years the autochthone inhabitants of this vast empire (approx. 36’000 km2) have been dominated by the Muslim Fulbe dynasty of the Yillaga line. Due to the lamidat’s remote geographic location as well as to the political, social and cultural isolation enforced by the despotic rulers, the established distinctive structures were to a large extent passed on to the present.

Specific Objectives/Research Questions

The project aims at a thorough study of the lamido’s personal rule, the court society and the extended network of servants/administrators. It will furthermore analyse the points of contact between the “traditional” and governmental administration and how the power is distributed. As the population is gradually coming into contact with mobile communication, internet and other media, the strictly hierarchical social framework is disbanding. How does this social transformation become apparent in every-day life? Does people’s burgeoning political awareness and open criticism have an impact on the lamido’s claim of leadership?


Mapping the actors of the various interest groups, evaluating the interdependences and analysing social discourses as well as the normative and actual social reality.