photo courtesy of Royal Bamum Palace
Mfon Mforifoum Mbombo Njoya Mouhammad Nabil, who graduated from St. John’s University in 2015, was crowned King and Sultan of the Bamum Kingdom on October 10 before a crowd of 20,000.
Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President, St. John’s University, offered his congratulations to the new king on behalf of the entire University. Konrad Tuchscherer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of History, served as the king’s research mentor and advisor during his time at St. John’s and represented the University at the coronation. The event was broadcast live on national television and attended by members of government, diplomatic missions, and delegations from around the globe.
King Njoya, 28, is the 20th king in a ruling dynasty dating back to the late 14th century. The Bamum Kingdom is among the most famous traditional kingdoms on the African continent; they have the historical distinction of having invented, at the end of the 19th century, their own phonetic script. Some estimates put the number of Bamum worldwide at 1.25 million people.
The kingdom is situated in northwest Cameroon and is larger than the state of Delaware. The previous king, El-Hadj Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya, ruled from 1992 until his death in September. The new king is the late king’s eldest son.
At St. John’s, King Njoya was a member of the Ozanam Scholars program and majored in Networking and Telecommunications with a minor in Social Justice Theory. As an Ozanam Scholar, he traveled to Ecuador, France, and Puerto Rico, engaging in community development programs. His capstone thesis explored the sustainability of cultural patrimony programs in Cameroon, with an emphasis on the archival repository at the Bamum Palace, home to sub-Saharan Africa’s largest collection of manuscripts in an African-invented writing system. The king’s brother, Faisal Umaru, graduated from St. John’s in 2014.
Upon graduation, King Njoya attended the University of Yaoundé-SOA for graduate studies and completed administrative training for government service at the L’école nationale d’administration et de Magistrature (ENAM). He then worked for Cameroon’s national Ministry of Territorial Administration. With his coronation as the new ruler, King Njoya will reign for the rest of his life.