Author Topic: Cameroon  (Read 65 times)


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« on: June 29, 2022, 09:19:34 pm »

Kamerun was an African colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1916 in the region of today's Republic of Cameroon. Kamerun also included northern parts of Gabon and the Congo with western parts of the Central African Republic, southwestern parts of Chad and far eastern parts of Nigeria.
The Cameroon territory was under the informal control of the British Empire throughout the years preceding 1884, with substantial British trading operations as well.[5]

Eventually, these companies would begin agitating for royal protection. By 1884, Adolph Woermann, as spokesman for all West African companies, petitioned the imperial foreign office for "protection" by the German Empire.[4]
The most notable of the German governors, and the man who would come to define the German legacy in Cameroon, would be Jesko Von Puttkammer, who governed from 1895-1906 (and for a few shorter times before).[11] It was Puttkammer who began the German behaviors that lend them a reputation of brutality and harshness as colonizers. During his time, he oversaw a number of military campaigns against local peoples like the Bali, forcing those who rebuffed German attempts at a "treaty" that supposedly justified German expansion.[12] Oftentimes, he would not act directly against these people, instead relying on empowering other rival local powers and establishing them as "protected by Germany" and arming them.[11] These groups would then use their newfound power and armaments to conquer dissenting peoples, without the Germans themselves actually ever getting involved.

When the Germans did become involved, however, it was brutal, often going out of their way to punish those who surrendered to them if their leader still refused, and taking a tithe of people from conquered peoples as essentially slaves, though they did not call them such.[12]

This leads into the second prominent feature of Puttkamer's governorship, his expansion and support for the plantations. This became a problem, as the plantations had more fields than they did workers, so there was a labor shortage. To address this, Puttkamer instituted the "man tithes" mentioned above, in addition to just taking people whenever they conquered new territories or had to put down a rebellion.[11] These people would then be made to do harsh forced labor, with extremely high rates of death.[11] Extreme forms of discipline were practiced too, including the cutting of hands, genitals, gouging of eyes and decapitations. Severed limbs were often collected and shown to local authorities as proof of death.[12]

These practices, which continued even after Puttkammer retired from his position, would define the German colonial legacy.[13]
At the outbreak of World War I, French, Belgian and British troops invaded the German colony in 1914 and fully occupied it during the Kamerun campaign.[16] Following Germany's defeat, the Treaty of Versailles divided the territory into two League of Nations mandates (Class B) under the administration of Great Britain and France.[16]

French racism became prevalent throughout the colony rather quickly, and anti-French sentiment followed and would be strengthened in the late 1940s.
The Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC), an anti-colonialist party created in 1948 and which struggled for unification of both Cameroons and for independence was outlawed in 1955. A colonial war then started and lasted for at least seven years, with the French Fourth Republic leading a harsh repression of the anti-colonialist movement.

In British Cameroon, European immigrants were subject to the laws of their home country while natives of Cameroon were held to customary law which was typically overseen by British administrators.[5]
As French Cameroon gained independence, “British Cameroon was still under the administration of Nigeria.".[9] French Cameroun became independent, as Cameroun or Cameroon, on January 1, 1960, and Nigeria was scheduled for independence later that same year, which raised the question of what to do with the British territory. As colonizers of Nigeria, the British desired for the two to be united.[10] After some discussion (which had been going on since 1959), a UN-administered plebiscite was agreed to and held on 11 February 1961. The Muslim-majority Northern area opted for union with Nigeria, and the Southern area voted to join Cameroon.[11]


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