Bibliographic data

Batey, George Eno: Effective modern history for colleges. NAB Ventures, 3rd ed. [3. Aufl.], 2012 [2008], 25, 30-32, 39, 40.

"German imperial Rule in Cameroon"

[p. 25]



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Cameroon became a German protectorate in July 1884. After the Berlin West African conference of 1884-85, the Germans secured the diplomatic transfer of the coastline from Rio del Rey to Campo from the British and French. The Germans adopted peaceful and forceful methods expanding from the coastline to the interior. The indigenous population reacted to the German imperial rule by resistance and collaboration. By 1906, the German rule was consolidated. The various German governors promoted political, economic and social developments in the territory until 1916, when the Germans were defeated and ousted from Cameroon by the Allied Powers.


[p. 30]

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2.8 Achievements of the German Explorers

  • They discovered trade routes and helped to prevent trade from being diverted by the British and French.
  • They discovered new trading areas , especially in the interior.
  • They discovered fertile soils for plantation agriculture.
  • They discovered areas rich in raw materials like Ivory, Palm oil and kernel.
  • They helped in the conscription of labourers and carriers for the German planters and traders.
  • They provided useful information which eased colonial administration and the suppression of anti German [sic.] revolts.
  • They provided good information which helped the Germans to map the territory .

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  • They provided useful information which eased the collection of taxes in the territory.
  • They provided useful information which eased the development of transport by the German engineers to construct roads, railways, bridges, telephone lines etc.
  • They provided useful information on the settlement of the various ethnic groups and the creation of a modern state of Cameroon .

2.9 A Summary of Native reaction to the German colonial rule, 1885-1916

The reaction was negative ( resistance ) and positive ( collaboration )

Negative reaction-resistance

  • Anti German demonstrations staged in some places like Douala, Fontem etc.
  • Refused to accept German rule such as the Nso. a
  • Violence against the Germans such as the killing of a German military officer, Gravenreuth by the Bakweri people. b
  • Refusal to do forced labour such as by some Duala people c who escaped to the sea to become fishermen.
  • Secret mobilisation towards an anti German [sic.] National Resistance Movement organised by Rudolf Manga Bell and Martin Paul Samba. d
  • Negotiation for foreign help to fight against the Germans e. g. Rudolf Manga Bell contacted the British while Martin Paul Samba contacted the French, for arms.
  • Petition to the German government and parliament e.g. by the Duala against the expropriation of their lands. e
  • Some abandoned work in the plantations and escaped to remote places such as the Bakweri to Mountainous areas, the, Duala to the Wouri Creeks, the Ejagham f to Nigeria.
  • Some escaped to neighbouring colonies e.g. the Bulu g to Spanish Guinea and Gabon.

[p. 31]

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  • Fought wars with the Germans such as the Bakweri, Nso, Bangwa etc.

Positive Reaction-collaboration

  • Some of the ethnic groups collaborated such as King Njoya of Bamum, h Fon Galega I of Bali, i Karl Atangana of Ewondo. j
  • Signed friendship pacts with the Germans such as the blood pact between Zintgraff and Fon Galega I of Bali in August 1891 k
  • Assisted the Germans with fighters to crush anti German [sic.] rebellious tribes e.g. Bamum l helped them against the Nso.
  • Conscripted labourers for the German plantation e.g. Fon Galega I of Bali, was a major supplier of labourers to the German plantations especially in the Western coast.
  • Conscripted Porters to transport German goods e.g. Fon Galega I of Bali.
  • Assisted the Germans as Tax collectors e.g. Bali, Bamum etc.
  • Helped the Germans with useful information to penetrate the interior e.g. Karl Atangana helped the Germans to enter the North, Fon Galega I helped the Germans to penetrate the Western Grassland.
  • Served the German as consultants on African affairs e.g. King Njoya of Bamum.
  • Betrayed those planning rebellion against the Germans e.g. King Njoya betrayed Rudolf Manga Bell struggling to form an Anti German [sic.] Resistance Movement. He declared that the Germans were his masters.
  • Supported the German culture, and went to Germany for further studies such as Martin Paul Samba, Alfred Bell, Rudolf Bell, Mpondo Akwa.


[p. 32]

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2.11 Reasons why Native Resistance failed

  • The Germans fought the Natives with professional soldiers better trained in modern warfare than the Natives, whose fighters were farmers.
  • The Germans had reserve soldiers for reinforcement unlike the Natives who lacked fighters.
  • The Germans fought the Natives with modern and superior weapons unlike the Natives who fought with Dane guns, m superstition, stones etc.
  • The Germans had reserve weapons and had the right to import weapons for reinforcement unlike the Natives.
  • The Natives lived in small scattered villages and it was easier for the Germans to defeat one village after the other.
  • The white colour of the Germans frightened the Natives psychologically, and reduced their fighting morale.
  • Some tribes collaborated with the Germans such as the Bali against the Mankon n and Bafut, o the Bamum against the Nso.
  • The low level of Nationalism of the Natives, hindered unity against the Germans.
  • The Absence of a National Resistance Front against the Germans, made it easier for the Germans to crush them.
  • The lack of external European support to the Natives, against the Germans as a result of the Brussel Act of 1890 which prohibited European Alliance with African states and the supply of weapons to the Africans was disadvantageous to the natives to win the Germans.
  • The poverty of the Natives , made it difficult for them to fight prolonged war against the

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  • Most of the Native fighters were farmers ; hence they could not abandon their farms for long.


[p. 39]

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Some tribes in Cameroon collaborated with the Germans such as the Bali, p (Fon Galega I) the Ewondo q (Charles Atarigana) the Barnum (King Njoya).

2.21 Reasons for collaboration

  • They were afraid of the German troops well trained and equipped with modern weapons that could cause severe human and material destruction.

[p. 39, right column]

  • Some collaborated because they regarded the German as superior human beings.
  • Some needed German aid to be liberated. The small and weak states in the Central Grassland like the Nkambe and Ndu, wanted the Germans to liberate them from Fulbe rule. r
  • Some needed German assistance to revenge past humiliation. The Bamum needed the Germans to help them revenge the defeat they suffered from the Nso.
  • Others like the Bali, needed German protection against their enemies , like the Mankon and Bafut.
  • Collaboration was influenced by the need to use the Germans to expand their influence and hegemony in the region. The Bali needed the Germans to establish their hegemony in the Western Grassland.
  • Some tribes collaborated because they wanted direct contact with German traders and to buy cheaper, and avoid exploitation from middlemen, who were expensive.
  • The need for more German gifts also influenced the Bamum, Ewondo, and Bali etc to collaborate.
  • The wanted to escape harsh German rule by pleasing the Germans.
  • Some collaborated in order to please the Germans and avoid being ill-treated as German Porters and labourers, brutality especially public flogging
  • They wanted to please the Germans and attract German investments such as schools, health centres etc.

2.22 Results of collaboration

  • They were exempted from severe harsh labour. They helped the Germans to recruit labourers e.g. the Bali helped in the recruitment of labourers in the Western Grassland
  • They were exempted from severe taxes and they served the Germans as tax collectors such as the Bamum, Bali, Ewondo
  • They enjoyed German protection against their neighbours such as the Bali against the

[p. 40]

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Mankon and Bafut.

  • The Germans helped them to extend their influence and the authority of their leaders such as Fon Galega I of Bali who was made the paramount ruler of the Western Grassland.
  • It facilitated the German expansion to the interior because the Germans were helped with fighters, spies, labourers and information.
  • It led to the promotion of German trade into the interior.

[a] Editor´s note: The Nso are a people originating from the grasslands of Bamenda in north western Cameroon.

[b] Editor´s note: The Bakweri or Kwe are an ethnic group from south western Cameroon.

[c] Editor´s note: The Duala are one of the most populous ethnic groups in Cameroon.

[d] Editor´s note: King Rudolf Manga Bell is revered today as a national hero. He mobilized the indigenous ruling elites to peaceful resistance against the resettlement of the Douala from the banks of the Cameroon River in order for German factories to be built. He was convicted of high treason and hanged in 1914. Martin Paul Samba, who was born as Mebenga m’Ebono, initially cooperated with the German colonizers and was even sent to Germany for military training. After serving in the German military in Cameroon for some time he decided to leave as a result of the poor treatment he received from his superiors. He was caught attempting to obtain weapons from the British for a resistance movement motivated by the mistreatment of the Bulu by the Germans. He was also hanged in 1914.

[e] Editor´s note: On page 36 Batey describes the resistance of the Douala between 1902 and 1914. The main reasons behind this resistance were high taxes, the dispossession of land and mistreatment of the Douala by the Germans. After petitions and letters were ignored Rudolf Manga Bell and Martin Paul Samba joined forces with other Cameroonian rulers. King Njoya, who is referred to in a later section, acted treacherously in the affair. Relations between the Germans and the Douala were very fraught, to the extent that the Douala willingly joined the allied powers against the Germans in 1914.

[f] Editor´s note: The Ejagham, also known as Ekoi, are an ethnic group whose Cameroonian people originate from the region near the Nigerian border.

[g] Editor´s note: The Bulu are an ethic group from central and southern Cameroon.

[h] Editor´s note: King Njoya, also known as Njoya the Great in German ( Njoya der Große ) ruled from 1883 to 1931. During the German colonial period he voluntarily placed the Bamun kingdom under the protection of the German colonial powers. In 1897 he and his court converted to Islam and he then took the title of Sultan.

[i] Editor´s note: Fon is a title for a ruler, similar to a king. The Bali are an ethnic group from the north west of Cameroon.

[j] Editor´s note: Karl Atangana, whose full name is Karl Friedrich Otto Atangana Ntchama, was the son of the Ewondo chief Essomba. He grew up in the Pallotine Mission in Kribi, and entered the service of the German colonial administration in 1900 where he worked as an interpreter and presided over the ‘Indigenous Courts’. In 1912 and 1913 he worked as a language assistant at the Hamburg Colonial Institute. Upon his return he was appointed the ‘High Chief of the Jaunde (Ewondo) and Bane’ by the colonial administration.

[k] Editor´s note: The full stop is missing from the end of the sentence.

[l] Editor´s note: The Bamum or Bamun are an ethnic group that live predominantly in the kingdom of Bamum in western central Cameroon.

[m] Editor´s note: Dane guns are long-barrelled, flintlock muskets that were imported by Danish traders in West Africa prior to the nineteenth century.

[n] Editor´s note: The Mankon populate a large part of Bamenda in north western Cameroon.

[o] Editor´s note: The Kingdom of Bafut lies to the north of Bamenda.

[p] Editor´s note: Drawing error present in original.

[q] Editor´s note: The Ewondo, or Jaunde, are an ethnic group from the south of Cameroon.

[r] Editor´s note: The Fulbe were originally a nomadic people from West Africa. A section of the Fulbe that settled converted to Islam and established numerous kingdoms during a Jihad in the eighteenth century. The majority of the Fulbe practised the Islamic faith into the nineteenth century; they created the Caliphate of Sokoto in present-day Niger. From there ‘Holy Warriors’ conquered other regions.

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