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Historical perspectives from traditional Leaders and Elders

By Nkafu Policy Institute (Download full PDF)

Note: The document is the research summary of the project entitled: Free Trade In Precolonial Cameroon: Historical Perspectives From Traditional Leaders And Elders, conducted by the Nkafu Policy Institute from August 2022 to August 2023, thanks to the support of the Initiative for African Trade and Prosperity (IATP). Project Grant Agreement: Project ID#008.


Cameroon is a country estimated to have a population of about 27 million inhabitants, numbered among the most culturally diverse countries in the Central Africa subregion, with over 240 tribes spread over three ethnic groups. Trade activities in Cameroon, from a historical standpoint, have been an integral part of the Cameroon people.
The overall objective of the research digest is to better present a summary of the findings of the free trade project in precolonial Cameroon. More specifically, the research digest of the project seeks to present a brief overview of free trade in the ancient period using the project activities and further present the challenges and opportunities of free trade in precolonial Cameroon. Using a diagnosis analysis of the viewpoint of major Cameroonian traditional leaders, elders, and experts. Findings showed that the precolonial trade was dominated by the barter system and slave trade. Many challenges like insecurity, means of transportation, and tropical diseases were encountered during trade in the precolonial era. Besides, certain opportunities like inter-tribal marriages and cultural diversity limited inter-tribal war and promoted living together.

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