The Bakweri people live on the southern slopes of Mount Cameroon, near the Atlantic coast in the southwest. During the German and British colonization, their most fertile land was taken for huge plantations, a loss they still lament. Few can read or write, which hampers personal and cultural improvement.
The economy included agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting , fishing and food gathering. The different methods applied to agriculture included the slash and burn. Most people practiced subsistence farming which included careful land management techniques like intensive farming because the land of the mountain slopes were very fertile. Generally, tools use include digging sticks, hoes, and matches. Fire was also used to clear the bush. Sometimes, fences were constructed to guard against animal incursion and destruction. Before formal agriculture, the early people practiced fishing, hunting and food gatherings. They used spears, clubs and other implements to hunt game in the mountain, forest and slopes.
The presence of plantations brought in a change in economy and commerce as the traditional commerce which was characterized by trade by batter came to an end. The market economy was introduced in which every transaction was in terms of German mark. Before the introduction of plantation agriculture, the natives were involved in subsistence agriculture in which food crops such as cocoyam, plantains, beans, maize and yams were grown. The introduction of plantations led the natives to undertake cash crop production in crops like cocoa, palm products and coffee for export. With the introduction of cash crops it led to the creation of Botanical garden in Victoria by Governor Von Soden who was charged with the research plants suitable for the plantations. Dr Preuss was the principal officer in charge of the Garden. This research centre controlled other stations in the interior. Over a thousand different plants were tested soil studies carried out and meteorological information tabulated. Investigations in this garden included the control of cocoa diseases? It was these botanical gardens that gave inspiration to the creation of the Cameroon Development Corporation the research centre at Ekona and many other government research stations in Cameroon.
In spite of the above mentioned advantaged that the plantations brought into the Bakweri land, it was certain that it equally brought some setbacks which could be examined in different perspective.
Source of income
They practice mixed farming and they hunt. Crops mostly cultivated are cocoyam, palm fruit but they mostly live on cocoyams. They sell the excess of their production. Through the rearing of animal. Those who possessed many animals where consider as rich. They reared animals like pigs and bush cows, but they do not rear nor eat sheep. Between 1850 and 1890, the Bakweri became rich in other ways. By trading food stuffs to the coast, and blocking the way of expedition into the interior, they had acquired considerable trade goods. Servants where taken inside the tribe, they were not payed but had free food.
There is a sexual division of labour (SDL) in bakweri in which there is the delegation of different tasks between men and women. Among food foragers, men and women target different types of food and share them with each other for a mutual or familial benefit. In some villages, men and women eat slightly different foods, and in some other, men and women routinely share the same food.
In the Bakweri soceity, there is no particular form of of leveling mechanism. Everybody owns his/her farm, and everybody minds his or her business. The only situatin where sharing is needed is during the period of rituals, where every individual must give a share of his pig to every one who comes across his/her.
Art and craft
The Bakweri still practice arts and crafts handed down for generations. The Bakweri are known to be skilled weavers of hats and shirts, for example. They also construct armoires, chairs, and tables.
Bakweri dances serve a number of purposes. The Bakweri Male Dance, for example, demonstrates the performers’ virility. Other dances are purely for enjoyment, such as the maringa and the ashiko, which arose in the 1930s, and the makossa and ambasse bey dances that accompany those musical styles.
The greatest venue for Bakweri music and dance are the two major festivals that take place each year in December. The Ngondo is a traditional festival of the Duala, although today all of Cameroon’s coastal Sawa peoples are invited to participate. It originated as a means of training Duala children the skills of warfare. Now, however, the main focus is on communicating with the ancestors and asking them for guidance and protection for the future. The festivities also include armed combat, beauty pageants, pirogue races, and traditional wrestling.
The Mpo’o brings together the Bakoko, Bakweri, and Limba at Edéa. The festival commemorates the ancestors and allows the participants to consider the problems facing the groups and humanity as a whole. Lively music, dancing, theatre, and recitals accompany the celebration
Role of education
Education is not taken very serious, especially for the women because of early marriages. The men stopped school after 7 years. Their higher diplome they obtained is O/L