The War Tower used by the Kotoko of Cameroon to ensure their 500-year survival against invasions

Stephen Nartey October 12, 2022
Goto-Goulfey tower. Photo: YouTube/Africa News

The architecture of the Goto-Goulfey tower only goes to confirm the military dexterity and strategy laid in mud walls to protect the subjects of the Kotoko people of Cameroon. They faced many military invasions and attacks but the crafty design of their fortress enabled them to survive the incursions and launch counterattacks on their enemies.

For five centuries, the people of Kotoko weaned themselves from raging attacks after erecting the tower. The high mud walls gave them a bird’s-eye view advantage of where attacking neighbors were stationed and predicted their war strategy to diffuse it before they launched their campaign.

The war tower which has attained UNESCO status has been converted into a museum to preserve the weaponry used by the Kotoko warriors and preserve their mastery of military strategies, according to adf magazine. The Kotoko people relied on bows and spears to wage their battles and maim their enemies after they have anticipated their movements. These weapons were caved out of iron and designed to counter any insurrection.

One such attack is the military expedition waged by Sudanese warlord Rabah in 1800 who was on a jihadist mission to convert inhabitants of neighboring countries to Islam. He was not happy about the traditional cult practices of the Kotoko people which are believed to offer them spiritual protection. The warlord was notorious for capturing people as slaves, killing and getting kingdoms to submit to the Bornu empire.

When the Kotoko people noticed the warlord’s army approaching, they picked their weapons, exited the tower and attacked the jihadists. The war tower created a diversion for the people to successfully neutralize the attack on them.

Museum tour guide Mahamat Abame, delving into the history, said the Kotoko people did not have modern weaponry but they were never defeated in any civil strife. All they had were clubs made of sticks as well as bows and arrows which they used as weapons.

In recent times, the war museum has not attracted many tourists because of the civil unrest in Northern Cameroon. Abame indicated that there is no one who would argue that a lot went into designing the architecture and structure in the wake of the many wars at the time. Its surviving centuries of war and prevailing shows how fortified the tower was and the confidence the inhabitants had in it.

The war museum, which is a 12-meter-tall wall made of clay, symbolizes the depth and masterpiece thinking that went into ensuring every inhabitant is safe.

According to Africa News, it has become a center of learning for historians and the younger generation who are interested in the rich culture of the Kotoko people. The city emerged during the 16th and 18th centuries at a time when Arab invasions were regular in the African region. The leader of the people, Rabat, is seen as the founder of the Goulfey. With the assistance of the French, they won many wars waged by the Arabs.

Oral tradition has always praised the Kotoko people for their mastery of war techniques and warfare.

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