Gender and Religion

Traditional Bamileke religious practice focuses on the care and reverence of ancestors and on etiquette surrounding the sacred chief. All Bamileke share obligations to sacrifice to the skulls of their patrilineal and matrilineal ancestors. A complex calculation determines the extent (in terms of generations of antecedents) to which male heirs and nonheirs are responsible for sacrifices to patrilineal ancestors. All matrilineal ancestors can hold sway over their descendents, and thus require placation through sacrifice and prayer. Heirs and heiresses, as custodians of ancestral skulls, can sometimes wield considerable power over their noninheriting relations who need access to the skulls to perform sacrifices. The secret society ba nda nsi, or the people of the house of god, is a male title society associated with the ritual aspects of royalty and with maintaining the spiritual health of the entire chiefdom. Spirit mediums, by contrast, are usually women. Bamileke women are very involved in a variety of Christian churches, with the great majority being either Protestant (Evangelical Church of Cameroon) or Roman Catholic. However, men hold the highest positions of authority within church hierarchies.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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