Bibliographic data

Tazanu, Mangula Lucas; Etumbe, Kome Lovert: Ordinary Level History for Cameroon Schools. Buea: Anucam, 2. Aufl., 2006, 49–51.

"Cameroon and the First World War (1914-1918)"

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Unit Eight


The First World War was fought in Cameroon for eighteen months (August 1914 - February 1916). It opposed the Germans on the one hand and the British and the French (who were supported by the Belgians) on the other hand. The end of the fighting saw the defeat and the expulsion of the Germans from the territory of Cameroon.

This chapter shows how and explains why the First World War was fought in Cameroon. In the process of examining the aspects of the war, it shows how the people of Cameroon participated in the war. Secondly, why the Germans resisted the Allies (British and French) for so long and the reasons why the Allies finally defeated the Germans are examined. Thirdly, the reasons why Cameroon was partitioned and how the partition was carried out are outlined. Fourthly, the issue of the condominium (joint administration) that was suggested for establishment by the British and the French and the reasons why the idea was dropped are also examined. Finally, the effects or the consequences of the partition of Cameroon conclude the chapter.

Why the war was fought in Cameroon

The reasons for the fighting in Cameroon between the Germans and the Allied powers ranged from the need to defeat an enemy, to the selfish intentions of each of the warring parties. It must be noted that the war broke out in Europe and did not concern the people of Cameroon in any direct way. Fighting started in Cameroon mainly because the territory was a colony of Germany, an enemy to Britain and France (the Allies or Allied powers).

Below are some reasons why there was fighting in Cameroon between 1914 and 1916:

1) Britain and France wanted to defeat their enemy Germany in her colony Cameroon so as to weaken the latter militarily.

2) The Allied powers hoped to capture Cameroon from Germany so that they would use the resources inside the territory to fight the Germans in other areas. This would also deprive the Germans of these resources.

3) Another reason why the Allied forces invaded the territory was the need to capture Cameroon and use the territory to reinforce their bargaining position at a peace conference after the war.

4) Britain wanted to avenge the fact that Germany had overtaken her in the scramble to annex Cameroon in 1884.

5) France on her part wanted to defeat the Germans and nullify the treaty of 1911 by which she gave territory to Germany to add to Cameroon - and then win back the territory.

6) Both Britain and France wanted to seize Cameroon, partition it, and then add it to expand their colonial empires in Africa.

7) The cruelty of German rule in Africa prompted the Allies to wage war to seize German colonies under the pretext of rescuing the indigenes from the harshness of German rule.

8) Fighting between the Allies and the Germans in Cameroon can best be understood by looking at the rivalry between both parties over colonies in Africa in the early 1900's: the Agadir crises of 1904 and 1911 are clear examples of such rivalry.

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How the war was fought in Cameroon

Fighting lasted for eighteen months and was marked by a number of events between August 1914 and February 1916. The British forces were commanded by General Charles Dobell (who later on was made commander of all the Allied forces in Cameroon) – they attacked from Nigeria in the West. French forces were commanded by General Joseph Aymerich. They were assisted by the Belgians and attacked from the North, East and South. German forces were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Zimmermann and defended the territory against attacks from Allied forces. ·

[Caption] Military Campaigns during the First World War in Cameroon


Briefly, below are the major events of the war in Cameroon:

1) Fighting started when British forces from Nigeria attacked German Cameroon in the North, in August 1914, capturing Garoua. They were subsequently driven back by the German forces. Another attempt was made in the southwest where the British fought a battle at Nsanakang with the Germans and were pushed back. During this first phase of fighting, German resistance was very stiff, as the French did not find it easy penetrating Cameroon from the East. As a result, the Allies unified their command under General Charles Dobell.

2) This phase saw the capture of Douala in September 1914. It also saw the capture of Nsanakang from the Germans. The capture of other coastal areas like Buea, Kribi and Victoria followed as the Allies closed in on the Germans from the East, West, North and South.

3) The last major battles of the war were fought at Yabassi and Yaounde in late 1915 and early 1916. During this phase, a group of 600 German soldiers including Governor Ebermaier escaped to Spanish Guinea through the South. The capture of Yaounde on January 1, 1916 and the surrender of the remaining German officials marked the end of the war in Cameroon. But, very important was the fighting around

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the German fort at Mora in February 1916. The German commander, Von Raben surrendered, marking the defeat of Germany in Cameroon.

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