Cameroonian Americans

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Cameroonian Americans
Adrian Awasom 2007.jpg
Cyrus Kouandjio at Alabama.jpg
Ndamukong Suh 2012.jpg
Leif Erickson Yaphet Kotto The High Chaparral 1968.JPG
Total population
(16,894 (Cameroonian ancestry or ethnic origin. 2010 American Community Survey)[1]
39,721 (Cameroonian-born, 2013) [2])
Regions with significant populations
Found in Chicago, Southern California, Houston (Texas), Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania)
Muslims, Christians and Practitioners of traditional religion of Cameroon.
Related ethnic groups
Cameroonian people

Cameroonian American are Americans of Cameroonian descent. According to the census of 2010, in the United States there were 16,894 Americans of Cameroonian origin.[1] Many people from present-day Cameroon arrived in the United States as slaves during the antebellum period. Consequently, many African Americans today have discovered through DNA analysis that they are mainly or at least partly descended from Cameroonian slaves.[3][4] The American DNA Company discovered that many of the 6,000 African Americans whose DNA they analyzed had at least one ancestor from current-day Cameroon.[4] In addition, according to the 2007-2011 American Community Survey there are 33,181 Cameroonian-born people living in the United States.[2]


The first peoples from the modern Cameroon area to arrive in the United States, came as captured Africans, sold into the British colonies, during the colonial period, as DNA testing suggests.[3] So, the first documented "enslaved" African, in what was to become the US, probably originating from modern day Cameroon and imported to the colonial United States for serving as a "slave" or some other forced laborer, was John Punch. Punch arrived in Virginia in about 1640. Hen is also considered, by some genealogists and historians, like the author of the article "the first African documented to be enslaved for life in what would eventually become the United States."[5] as the first documented servant, African or European, to be relegated to the status of "slave for life".

According to DNA testing records, the ethnicities of the Cameroonian slaves in the modern United States were those of Tikar, Ewondo, Babungo, Bamileke, Bamum, Masa, Mafa, Udemes, Kotoko, Fulani and Hausa from Cameroon; however, many Hausa also came from other places, such as Nigeria).[3] In what is referred to as "the whole of the Americas", we find that the majority of captured Africans, sold to the European slave merchants, on the Cameroon coast, came from the inland places; where they were captured by other ethnic groups, through the invasions of these zones, and sold to the Europeans. They came from the people Batagan, Bassa, and Bulu. So, most of the slaves carried out of the River and from Bimbia in those years, were from Tikari, Douala[6]-Bimbia,[4] Banyangi and Bakossi. Most of them were Bamileke (who accounted for 62 percent of the people).

The predominant slave-trading middlemen in modern Cameroon was Douala, but most of the slaves of modern Cameroon who were delivered to Europeans, regardless of the specific origin of them, were sold to the Fernando Po collection center, from where the European merchants took them to the Americas.[6]

Most of the slaves regarded as Cameroonian are of Bight of Biafra, which included countries located at the Bight of Bonny, which is Nigeria (eastern coast), Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea (Bioko Island and Rio Muni), and Gabon (northern coast) "with many of them hailing from the Cameroon itself" These African "captures" arrived in the modern United States and were sold in Virginia (which had 60% of the slaves of that region, of the then United States. In addition Virginia and South Carolina accounted for 34% of the Africans arriving from Bight of Biafra. Virginia and South Carolina together held 30,000 slaves, hailing from the Bight. These colonies were followed mainly by, Maryland (where another 4% of the Biafra´s captives arrived in the United States, representing another more than 1,000 people of the Bight). Normally, the slaves from current Cameroon were bought cheap, because these slaves preferred to die rather than accept slavery.[7]

The first Cameroonians who voluntarily arrived in the US immigrated to this country in the 1960s, pursuing educational opportunities which were lacking in their own country. During the 1990s many other Cameroonians immigrated as political refugees, fleeing political turmoil. To avoid imprisonment, torture and political repression, many citizens decided to emigrate.

Most Cameroonian immigrants who arrived in the United States were licensed professionals since they were the ones most likely to obtain visas. It is easier for licensed professionals to obtain visas than any other group in Cameroon. Many of them had criticized the government, making them more vulnerable to political repression. Thus, the majority of Cameroonians who settled permanently in the United States were doctors, engineers, nurses, pharmacists, and computer programmers. There are also many Cameroonians who are blue collar workers.[8]


According to the census of 2010, in the United States there 16,894 Americans of Cameroonian origin.[1] In addition, according to the 2007-2011 American Community Survey there are 33,181 Cameroonian-born living in the United States.[2] The Cameroonian immigrants have communities in places such as Illinois, Southern California (in cities such as Los Angeles), Houston (Texas) and Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania). The Cameroonian community of Pittsburgh is considered to be one of the better organized African communities in this city.[9]


Cameroonians have been active in activism movements in the United States. One notable example is the set of political movements in favor of Cameroon, developed in Chicago. So, in 1991, Cameroonians from that city were held in outside wing of the Social Democratic Front from Cameroon in support for political pluralism. After his success in Chicago, the SDF party eventually established several subsidiaries in other US cities. The group managed to raise funds to support the political movement of Cameroon, and lobbied the US Senate and United Nations and stops the advance of the sale of weapons to the government of Cameroon, i.e. to prevent that the sale of arms can continue exerting between this government and the US government. Soon after, another group of Cameroonians of Chicago, mainly francophone, organized a wing of the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement, driving his own campaign to support the government of Cameroon.[8]


There many Cameroonian organizations in the US. Among these is the American Association of Cameroonians (Amacam). It promotes friendship between the Cameroonians and develop of appropriate measures to improve their rights, developing the potential of Cameroonians in US and in Cameroon in all areas of the economic, cultural, social, academic, or help to the US.

Another organization is CAMSOLA, an organization, located in Southern California, which recognizes those Cameroonians and Cameroonian-American individuals, groups or businesses that have influenced in the Cameroonian immigrant community and the general populace in Southern California.

The organization teaches aspects of life in Cameroon and connects Cameroonian-Americans living in California with Cameroon. Furthermore, CAMSOLA premiered in 2011 the Scholarship Fund Youth Development and Youth Leadership Club in Los Angeles. While most of the organization's members are native Cameroonians, the club has also tried to assist African Americans who trace some of their origins to Cameroon.[10]

Cameroon Group USA (CAMGUSA) is an organization form by members of the various cultural groups in Los Angeles. The association tries, among other things, relate and encourage respect among all Cameroonians living in the metropolitan area of Los Angeles and California, teaches them to respect the laws of the State and the United States of America, helps individuals and families need, helps communities, government agencies, social groups and various associations in the United States and other countries, working with them to improve the lives of Cameroon in particular and humanity in general and participate in charitable activities of other organizations.[11]

The organization Cameroon American Community of Houston (CAMCOH), established in Houston, Texas, have as goal, among other things, encourages the creation of Sustainable Networks and Communication among the Cameroonians in the city, propels to Cameroonian immigrants to emigrate in Houston by the Guidance and Council, empowers youth through Programs for Children and Youth Educational Activities, defends the needs of Cameroonians in Houston and creates and manages the Community Center.[12]

The Association of Cameroonians, founded in Illinois, is an association aimed to help and lend assistance to Cameroonians in the state, regardless of their political leanings. Moreover, the association also represents the Cameroonians in the government of Chicago, the largest city in the state. The community also commemorates annual celebrations, including Cameroonian Independence Day, celebrated on May 20.[8]

The Cameroonian Community in Pittsburgh (CCP) teaches and promotes the culture, customs and values of Cameroon, especially for non-Cameroonians. It does this through solidarity and tradition. The organization also promotes educational opportunities, employment, business and training for Cameroonians.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2010". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-09-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "PLACE OF BIRTH FOR THE FOREIGN-BORN POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES, Universe: Foreign-born population excluding population born at sea, 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 16 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 African Americans Reclaim Their Ancestral Heritage in Cameroon. Wrote by Robert Morrissey.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 African Americans travel to Cameroon to discover their origins. Posted by Sam Mbale on 7 Jan 2011 06:14.
  5. Anastasia Harman, Natalie D. Cottrill, Paul C. Reed, and Joseph Shumway, "Documenting President Barack Obama’s Maternal African-American Ancestry: Tracing His Mother’s Bunch Ancestry to the First Slave in America",, 16 July 2012, p. 19.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Global bush tratour: Cameroon Slave trade Route
  7. Histoire du Cameroun: aux origines... (History of Cameroon. The origins...)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Encyclopedia of Chicago: Cameroonian, by Robert Morrissey.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Cameroonian Community in Pittsburgh
  10. African-American who traced ancestry to Cameroon to be honored by L.A.’s Cameroonian community.
  11. Cameroon Group USA
  12. Cameroon American Community of Houston (CAMCOH) Celebrates its 3rd Annual Thanksgiving and Cultural Festival. Posted By Ata Nchomba in November 12, 2012.

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