Dualla - Encyclopedia

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DUALLA, one of the principal negro peoples of Cameroon estuary, West Africa. When the Germans established themselves in that region, the Dualla were under many petty chiefs, whose domains were usually restricted to one village. Over these were two greater chiefs, Bell (Mbeli) and Akwa, representing the principal families of the tribe. The Dualla are physically a fine race. They are proud of their racial purity, and it was formerly usual for all half-caste children to be strangled at birth. The Dualla tattoo themselves, the women the whole body, the men the face only. They also pull out their eyelashes, which they believe prevent sharp sight. The monarchical system is more developed among the Dualla than any other of the peoples of Cameroon. The kings, many of whom have grown rich through trade, retain part of their former power, subject to the German government. The Dualla, who are laborious, industrious and capable of great physical endurance, are great traders and are proportionately prosperous. The average price for a wife among the Dualla is from 90 to izo; but sometimes a great deal more is paid. Girls are usually betrothed young and may be divorced if sterile. The penalty for adultery is a fine imposed on the seducer; if he cannot pay he becomes the husband's slave. Cannibalism as a religious rite was formerly common among the Dualla. All accessions to power were preceded by a sacrifice, a king having no authority till his hands were stained with blood. The religion is fetish blended with ancestor-worship, and certain secret societies exist among them which seem to have a religious connexion. The dead are buried within the hut, which is abandoned shortly afterwards; slaves were formerly buried with men of importance. Missionary efforts have yielded many converts, and some churches have been built. Many of the natives can read. The Dualla are in possession of an interesting code, in accordance with which messages can be sent and even conversations maintained by means of drums, or rather gongs, giving two notes. (See CAMEROON.)

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