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Abstract

This article examines rituals and ceremonies associated with food sustainability, sufficiency, and/or insufficiency among the Laimbwe people of Boyo and Menchum Divisions of northwest Cameroon from earliest times to the 21st century. Food is important to sustainable livelihood in many rural communities in Cameroon and explains the organization of elaborate food-related ceremonies and rituals. Cameroon’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has recognized the importance of food and has recently embarked on the modernization of farming techniques and practices throughout the country in its “Second Generation” agriculture program. The population is mobilized annually through an official launching of the farming season in a chosen locality in the country. This annual event has brought together different stakeholders in the agricultural and related sectors. Government’s effort in the promotion of food self-sufficiency complements those of villages including Laimbwe. The Laimbwe people have performed rituals and ceremonies to increase food production. Among their several farming related ceremonies is the Ih’neem. It is performed by the zhehfuai or Queen Mother in the company of other elderly women during the start of the dry season farming. Through focus group discussions, personal interviews, conversations, observation, and written documents this ceremony/ritual is examined in relation to food production to solve the problem of food crisis. The study concludes that an important ritual like the Ih’neem has generally declined in importance. It should be valorized and made to complement government’s efforts at increasing food production for sustainable livelihood.

Author Bio(s)

Henry Kam Kah is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Buea, Cameroon. Email: henry.kah@ubuea.cm, ndangso@yahoo.com.