Between Mosque and Palace
Mark Dike DeLancey
Open Edition Journals
Year of Publication
Entre la mosquée et le palace. Définir l'identité à travers les rituels Ngaoundéré
This article examines the relationship of architecture and ritual practice during Friday Prayer in the northern Cameroonian city of Ngaoundéré. Every Friday, the ruler of Ngaoundéré, a sub-emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate in contemporary Cameroon, makes his way at the appointed hour across the public square that lies before his palace to lead prayer in the central mosque. Following the prayer, the ruler returns to the palace surrounded by great fanfare and pageantry after which he receives the assembled nobility for a council meeting. The mosque and the palace which physically bracket these weekly ceremonies represent the principal populations of Ngaoundéré—the formerly nomadic, pastoral, Muslim Fulɓe and the sedentary, agricultural, non-Muslim Mboum. The connection of mosque to palace through ritual reflects the role of the ruler as unifier of the populations represented by these monuments, and as the fulcrum for the construction of a unique local identity.