Bamum is a Unicode block containing the characters used for the modern script of the Bamum language (western Cameroon). The characters for old spellings (stages A-F) are in the Bamum supplement block.

The Bamum scripts are a series of six scripts created for the Bamum language by King Njoya of Cameroon in the early twentieth century. They are notable for evolving from a pictographic system to an alphabetic syllabic writing over 14 years, from 1896 to 1910. The Bamum alphabet was introduced in 1918, but the script died out in 1931.

It's a really funny fact that Njoya was not satisfied with the writing and changed it 6 times. If the first variant was purely ideographic, the last was a syllabic script. At first, the signs were just drawings, then gradually they began to be used as riddles until their lexical meaning was lost.

The goal of the writing reforms was to reduce the number of signs. However, Njoya did not think about the side effects of this decision. For example, he ignored that Bamum is a tonal language. As a result, many homographs appeared in the text. Homographs are words that were spelled the same way but differed in pronunciation due to tones, which, therefore, led to semantic confusion.

After the French arrived in Cameroon in 1918, they treated Njoya badly, as he had a good relationship with the German administration. That's why Njoya went to the greatest exile, and the Bamum alphabet was banned. The writing is currently on the verge of extinction.


Range A6A0–A6FF
Characters 96

List of Characters

Table of Characters