The fascinating story of the African king with 100 wives and 500 children
In north-west Cameroon, there is a kingdom called Bafut, whose leader has 100 wives and 500 children.
His name is Abumbi II, the 11th king of the Bafut.
When his father, King Achirimbi II died in 1968, Abumbi II ascended the throne as his successor and inherited his 72 wives, according to tradition.
With 28 wives already, King Abumbi ended up with 100 queens and 500 children.
Queen Constance, Abumbi’s third wife, told news site CNN: “Behind every successful man must be a very successful, staunch woman.
“Our tradition has it that when you are king, the elderly wives remain to hand down the tradition to the younger wives, and also to teach the king the tradition because the king had been a prince, not a king.”
The queens are well spoken and educated, with the older wives occupying what has been described as a rather masculine role in other parts of the world.
But for King Abumbi, his wives are very important to him and it is his duty to preserve the culture of his people and their local traditions.
“During colonialism, other values came in, of governance, different from the traditional values we had and therefore there is this constant conflict between the traditional values and modern western values.
“My role is to blend them, to find the way forward so my subjects can enjoy the fruits of development and modernity without destroying their culture. Without a culture, you are not a human being, you are an animal. And therefore the chieftaincy institution is the guarantor of our culture,” he said.
The palace of the Fon, called Ntoh, is a major tourist attraction and listed as one of the world’s most endangered sites.
In pre-colonial Cameroon, the fon performed a number of functions. He controlled external relations and internally made laws; he was the final court of appeal and had the power of life and death over his subjects; and he offered sacrifices to his ancestors and interceded with them for the welfare of the people.
Currently, the Fon of Bafut is still a local ruler, but under the jurisdiction of the Government of Cameroon, and a board of Fons.