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History of Cameroon




Pre-Colonial Era

The earliest inhabitants of Cameroon were probably the Baka, also known as the Pygmies. The pygmiesstill inhabit the forests of the southern provinces and east of Cameroon.

1st Millennium (BC)

The south-western area of current Cameroon and south eastern Nigeria was considered as the hub of the Bantus.

5th Century (BC)

According to some historians, the Mount Cameroon was named “Chariot of the gods’’ by a Carthaginian called Hannon. Other schools of historian reject this theory arguing that there is no proof of his passage to Cameroon and conditions of the time would not have allowed him an expedition to Cameroon which is extremely far from Carthage

African Historical Background

The south-western area of current Cameroon and south eastern Nigeria is considered as the cradle of the Bantu people before our era.

The Tikars, the Bamouns and the Bamilékés settled on the high lands of Cameroon through migration. In the north the civilization of Saos, not so popular settled in the Lake Chad Basin. This region was formed in the 16th century under the control of the empire of Kanem-BornouKanem-Bornou is said to be the to be the first known state which developed around Lake Chad from the 19th century era. He became Muslim in the 11th century and reached its peak in the late 16th and 17th century. It imposed its sovereignty on the majority of Cameroonian territory. He constantly crushed people who resisted him and small Cameroonian kingdoms including Kotoko and Mandara Kingdoms.

At the end of the 16th century, the great wave of migration of the Fulani (Fulbe and Peul who are sub groups of Fulani) people of nomadic pastorals moved from west to east from the Macina, to settle at Lake Chad. In subsequent centuries, the Fulani established themselves at the present day Adamawa, contributing to the spread of Islam. They organized small theocratic Muslim states, led by a “Lamido’’, who was both their political and spiritual leader.

The Bamoun kingdom was founded in the late 16th century and soared during the reign of Mboumbouo Mandu at the end of the 18th century. It extended its territory by force of arms and then worked to consolidate his power. Early the 19th century, the Muslim state spread and consolidated their power.

In 1804, Usman Dan Fodio and the Fulani of Nigeria launched a holy war against the Hausa Toucouleurto extend the kingdom. Building on this example, the Fulani south rallied their cause and propagated Jihad in their region. Adama, chief of the Southern Fulani took the title of Sheikh, and the Islamic routes of the south took the name of “Adamawa”. Their capital Yola was on the BenueLamido Adama died in 1847 and the Bamoun kingdom had to battle against the Fulani expansion.

From the 15th to the 19th century - Origins

It was in 1472 that a Portuguese, Fernando Pô and his shipmen entered the estuary of the river Wouri, and they were amazed by discovering so much shrimps in the river while finding their way to India. They emphatically named it “Rio dos Camaroes’’ (shrimps river). This defines the origin of the name Cameroon.

The Dutchs and the Germans came after the Portuguese. Later in 1532, the Germans and Dutchcollaborated with the Doualas’ to engage in slavery as a form of trade. However, these Europeans could not establish themselves like they did in Luanda (Angola) or Saint Louis (Senegal) because of the difficult access to the marshy coast which was heavily infested with the tropical ailment malaria.

In the 18th century, the Fulani preachers came from the west and reserved the Kirdis and Massas out of the plain of Diamaré between Logone and Benue. They converted the southern region into Islam. Their leader Ousman Dan Fodio sent his warrior Adam to Islamize south areas and renamed it Adamawa. He was unsuccessful at the point when they were stopped by the Bamun kingdom. The islamization of the Bamun kingdom was done under the leadership of King NjoyaKing Njoya remained famous for the composition of alphabet from ideograms that he created and the map of the country he prepared.

Around the 1700’s, diverse populations from unknown origins settled in the west grass fields occupied by the Bamileke ethnic group.The1827’s was noted forBritain-Cameroonian exploration and Biafra. The year 1845 saw the early evangelism by the Baptist Missionary Coast Society of London. Then in 1847,Lamido Adama died. After his death the capital of Adamawa, (Yola) located on the Benue was founded.1868 records the era of German merchants and 1884marked, the Douala’s signing of an assistance treaty with Germany to acknowledge its proclaimed sovereignty over the “Kamerun”. Finally in 1890,the advent of the Societas Apostolus Catholici (evangelism) was recorded.


Cameroon’s contact with the Europeans began with the commercial deals and trades, including slave trade. This brought about the introduction of Christianity and the gradual dismantling of the existing local rule (such as the Bamun Kingdom)

German Kamerun (1845 – 1884)

In 1845, the British Baptist missionaries settled in Cameroon with a prime motive of evangelism. This was followed by trade with the Britons. It did not last very long though since in 1868 a German counter was opened near Douala by Woerman a merchant from Hamburg.

The objective of the British was to develop their business and put an end to slavery in the region, which was not in the interest of the Doualan leaders of the time. They even wrote a letter to Queen Victoria to express their displeasure.

From 1860-1870, the French and the Germans began to take an interest in Cameroon. The German government sent Gustave Nachtigal to negotiate the implementation under German supervision of Cameroon with Doualan leaders. As a result, treaties were signed in this regard with the leaders of the Wouri estuary also called “Cameroon River’’. These were called German-Douala treaties. One of them dated July 12 of 1884 marks the birth of modern international Cameroon.

On 14th July of 1884 the German flag was hoisted in “Cameroon Town’’ as their first place of settlement thus the name “Kamerun’’. The town later became known as Douala; the German colony of “Kamerun’’

1884 - 1922

German colonization began in 1884 with the signing of a treaty between the king of Bell and Gustav Nachtigal in July 1884. (Gustav Nachtigal was a German explorer of Central and Western Africa). Despite the opposition of the Douala leaders, the protectorate was extended from Lake Chad in the north to the shores of the Sangha southeast. Along their journey toward the East, the Germans had clashed with local people who felt their trade was threatened.

Kamerun Schutzgebiet (Protectorate of Cameroon) was placed under the authority of a governor representing the Reich Chancellor. He also made divisions based on stations and those stations led to smaller administrative units; Bezirk (in the south) and Residentur (in the north).

From 1885 to 1901, Douala was first chosen to host the governor’s residence and offices. Then from 1901 to 1909 Buea was chosen by Governor von Puttkamer for its cooler climate. The eruption of Mount Cameroon in 1908 put a premature end to the reign of Buea. The Germans then went back to Douala to settle once more at the governor’s residence and offices but this time they faced a revolt from Doualanswho resisted the expulsion from their own land.

Considered as an operation area for Germans, the Protectorate of Kamerun was highlighted by its new master on agricultural and infrastructural plans. Regarding agriculture, the Germans established large plantations of export commodities like cocoa, coffee, bananas, rubber, palm oil, most of which were found on the slopes of Mount Cameroon.  To ease Transport problems the Germans opened many roads, ports, bridges and built especially railways. The Germans set up the first telegraph, telephone and wireless telegraph facilities. The natives were then subjected to forced labor and corporal punishment.

Series of revolts broke out on plantations in the region of Douala, until the tax strike period. Nevertheless, the German mastery was not shaken by these events.

Besides the signing of the “German-Duala Treaty”, the Germans faced the resistance and revolts in their attempt to conquer the hinterland of Cameroon. They got help in their conquests by traditional leaders; the most famous of them were Fon Galega the 1st chief of Balithe Bamun Sultan Ibrahim Njoya and Charles Atangana who was later appointed Oberhauptling (senior leader) of Yaounde and Bane.

After the bloody wars which broke down the Fulani States and the Mandara Kingdom (already weakened against the endless wars against the Fulani and the Kanem Bornou Kingdom) they reached Adamawa in 1899 and Lake Chad in 1902. Only Bamun Kingdom with his Sovereign Njoya avoided the war by negotiating with the Germans. Sultan Njoya opened his territory to political and economic innovations they proposed for him in exchange for his power. In 1911 the territory of Kamerun expanded a part of the Congo given by France (duck’s beak area on the Cameroon map because it gave access to the River Congo).

In the southern forest, the German army seized Kribi on the 15th of October 1887. In the south, Major Hans Dominik established his military post in Yaounde in 1894 and friendly relationship was established with several leaders like Charles Atangana and Nanga Eboko. The East was to be colonized only in 1907 by Major Hans Dominik.

In 1908, the capital was moved to Douala. In 1911, according to the treaty of Fez for the dispute to be paid on Morocco (see article: Coup d’Agadir), the French surrendered some of their territories of Equatorial Africa to the Germans who immediately named it Neukamerun (“New Cameroon’’). The German lost their colony because of their defeat in the World War in 1918.

During the First World War when Cameroon was conquered by the Franco British forces ally’s troops entered Yaounde on 1 January, 1916 ending the rule by German colony. In 1922 German colony was then divided into two territories mandate entrusted by the League of Nations (Societe Des Nations - SDN). France was given the largest part of it; precisely, 4/5 which became the French Cameroon and the rest was given to the UK which became the British Cameroon. Each of these two countries ruled his country as it deemed fit; France adopted the “policy of assimilation” while the United Kingdom adopted the “indirect rule”.


The French Cameroon (East Cameroon) was part of the former German colony of Cameroon (in German: Deutsche Kolonie Kamerun) administrated by France in 1916 (in practice) but in 1919 (de jure) to 1960; it was first acknowledged as “mandated territory” of the League of Nations (SDN), then as “trust territory” of the United Nations (UN), and also as a member of the French Union. It became associate territory, state trust land Cameroon and finally a member of the Community.

Similar to Eastern Togo, Cameroon has never been a French colony in the legal sense as it is often written; even if the colonial style and colonial administration methods were applied to him.

This part of Cameroon was given to France by the League of Nations after the First World War. This part was the largest (431 000 km2), yet sparsely populated (about 2, 000 000 inhabitants).

France practiced a policy of assimilation like what they did in their other colonies. They established Cameroon as a Commissioner of the Autonomous Republic, which means a non FEA (French Equatorial Africa) integrated territory.

This part of Cameroon was then headed by a High Commissioner and was placed under the colonial indigenous regime to let the natives handle problems relative to them by themselves through their traditional authorities. The capital of French Cameroon was transferred to Yaounde.

The French authorities led the people of Cameroon to forget that they had ever been under German Protectorate.  They started teaching them how to love France and become French. Several measures were taken to achieve this goal:

·         Teaching French: Teaching of French was implemented throughout the whole territory of Cameroon

·         Assimilation: French authorities imposed the French legislation on Cameroon

·         Economic development: A program for the development for Cameroon’s economic resources was laid out

·         Authority: Indigenous policy customary law remains with traditional leaders, but France maintains a strong hold on the judiciary and the police

·         Medical development: Management of population as in Epidemic (For instance, the case of Dr. Eugene Jamot in the fight against sleeping sickness) was also laid out

·         Francophiles Promotion: Charles Atangana and other indigenous leaders were invited to go to France. Paul Soppo Priso waspromoted to be the president of the FCY (French Cameroonian Youth)

·         Destruction of German Infrastructural remains: The French authorities employed people to destroy all the remaining German mark and to show their hostility toward all Germanophiles populations

The French colonial authorities cultivated cash crops including rubber plantations, cocoa, bananas and palm oil. The railway line from Douala to Yaounde which was already begun by the Germans was completed. In addition, many roads were built to connect the main cities together, and various infrastructures such as bridges and airports were constructed.

During the night of 25th to 26th of August 1940, Captain Leclerc and 22 (twenty-two) of his men invaded the marshes of Douala that connected the detachment of Captain Louis Dio. The regular French army in Cameroon who planned for the cause of free France was returning from Fort-Lamy (Ndjamena-Chad)with a detachment of Senegalese riflemen. They began the Legion of Cameroon; ancestor of the 2ndArmored Division. The city and the colonial administration fell into the hands of General Leclerc during their rallying to the detachment of Captain Louis Dio. On October 8, General De Gaulle arrived in Douala to prepare the conquest of Gabon.

WARDSHIP (1945 – 1960)

After the Second World War, the UN changed Cameroon’s status to protectorate as his guardianship, but was still integrated into France just as the other French colonies.

By the 1940s, the colonial authorities encouraged agricultural diversification. This brought about the emergence of new cash crops such as coffee or cotton in the North. Farming and logging took on a new dimension with new routes for transportation. By the trusteeship agreement of 13th December, 1946 the French Cameroon became a “trust territory’’

The French Cameroon member of the French Union

According to the French Constitution of 27th October 1946, the French Cameroon became an “associated territory’’, member of the French Union. A union of international law including the French Republic on one hand and on the other hand territories and condition associated therewith.

The French Cameroon - Associated Territory

Being an “associate territory’’ placed the French Cameroon in an intermediate position of the “overseas territories’’ of the French Republic on one hand, and the ‘’associate states’’ on the other hand.

As an “overseas territory,’’ French Cameroon was not considered a state. As a result, it was not represented at the High Council of French Union under the first paragraph of Article 65 of the constitution of 27th October 1946. It was made under the chairmanship of the president of the Union. A delegation from the French government and representation requesting each partner’s right to be nominated to become president of the Union was presented. This led to the French Cameroon being represented in the parliament of the French Republic. Law No. 46-2383 of 27th October 1946 on the composition and election of the council of the Republic allowed its representation on the Board; making Cameroon an “associate state’’ instead of “overseas territories’’.

The French Cameroon was thereafter made a territorial unit of the French Republic and a member of the French Union. Thus he was then represented in the assembly of the French Union. The Constitution of 27th October 1947 did not provide for the representation of  “associate territory’’ to the assembly of the French Union: Article 66 provided that the assembly of the French Union as composed of equal number of members representing the France and equal number of members representing the department of both the overseas territories and Associated States. But the law No. 46-2385 of 27th October 1946 on the composition and election of the Assembly of the French Union provided him representation in the Assembly of the French Union.

In 1946, a Representative Assembly of Cameroon (ARCAM) was established and Louis Paul Aujoulatand Alexandre Douala Manga became deputies to the French National Assembly.

This period was the period of the opening of new public and private schools, as well  as several secondary schools including  the famous High school General Leclerc in Yaounde.

The colonial authorities began sending the best students from Dakar to France to pursue higher education. Around the same time electrification and water supply in major cities also began. In 1952 the congregation changed its name and became Territorial Assembly of Cameroon (TACAM).

In 1955 the UPC (Union des Populations Camerounaise – United Populations of Cameroon) National Party under Marxist inspiration wanted the unification of the British and French Cameroon and also the immediate independence, was banned after violent movements.

The French Cameroon, autonomous state

In 1956, France granted internal autonomy and the assembly became Legislative Assembly of Cameroon (LACAM).

In 1957, Andre Marie Mbida became Prime Minister and Ahmadou Ahidjo also became deputy Prime Minister. By decree No. 57-501 of 16th April 1957 posting Cameroon status, the Guy Mollet’s French government built the French Cameroon as an “associated territory’’ in a state under the name of “State Trust of Cameroon’’.

Despite the intervention of Ruben Um Nyobe (UPC Leader) the new government refused to lift the ban on the UPC, they then decided to go underground. In 1958 Andre Marie Mbida was forced to resign and was replaced by Ahmadou Ahidjo. Um Nyobe died during this battle.

Towards Independence

On the 12th June of 1958, the Legislative Assembly of Cameroon took a first resolution “affirming the option of the state of Cameroon for independence after the guardianship’’

On 24th October 1958, the Legislative Assembly of Cameroon took a second resolution “declaring including the willingness of the people to see the Cameroonian state (guardianship) of Cameroon’s access to full independence on January 1st of 1960.


Dismember ship to the Community

The French Union was dissolved by the French Constitution of 4th October 1958. In place of the French union, Title XII was replaced with the Community Union Law including the French Republic on one hand, and some of its former overseas territories on the other hand.

The French Cameroon was never a Member State of the Community. By Ordinance No. 58-1375 of 30 December of 1958 on the Cameroon’s status the Michel Debre French government changed the “under supervision state of Cameroon’’ into “State of Cameroon’’


Termination of the Trusteeship

On January 1st 1960, Cameroon became independent under French tutelage and took the name of “Republic of Cameroon’’. Cameroon became the first of the 18 African colonies to gain their independence.


British Cameroon was a distinguished territory of the League of Nations entrusted to the British Empire in Central Africa, currently divided between Nigeria and Cameroon. The territory was administered by the British colony of Eastern Nigeria until 1954.

The British administratively segmented the territory into two regions, Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons. The territory was under indirect rule.

Indigenous authorities (native-Authorities) had the task of managing the local people according to their customs except when they were in contradiction with the principles of British civilization. British authorities determined the main directions and left the implementation to indigenous authorities. In addition, the British authorities kept a strong hold on trade, economic exploitation and mining resources as well as the administration of national Europeans. In 1946, the former German plantations were collected by the British in one company known as CDC (Cameroon Development Corporation). CDC allowed the development of the river port of Mamfe on the Manyo River. Lumbering was prevalent in the southwest region.

Unlike the French Cameroon, few students were sent to study in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as the British Cameroon teaching was done in the local language (English language)

The Southern Cameroons were divided into four districts headed by a District Officer. Their capitals were Victoria (actual Limbe), Kumba, Mamfe and Bamenda.

In 1944 the National Council for Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) was founded as a department of self-government. After the Second World War, the British Cameroon was placed under UN trusteeship instead of League of Nations mandate. In 1951, the Kamerun National Council (KNC) led by Dr. Endeley was founded. In 1954, the British Cameroon adopted its own administration and established its capital in Buea. In 1958, Dr. Endeley became Prime Minister of the “self Government” of British Cameroon. He favored integration with Nigeria, rather than unifying the two Cameroon seggregation. Opposition to integration created the Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP) directed by John Ngu Foncha. In 1959, John NguFoncha became a Prime Minister.

The UN got a referendum which enabled the populace to choose between integration in Nigeria and reunification with French Cameroon. When the French Cameroon and Nigeria became independent in 1960, the question of what to do with Cameroons arose.

After many discussions and a referendum from 1959 to 1961, it was decided that the region of Northern Cameroons Muslim will be attached May 31 of 1961 to Nigeria, while the Southern Cameroons merged with the former French Cameroon (now also independent since January 1, 1960 under the name "Republic of Cameroon").

On 1st June of 1961, the North Kamerun became independent and joined Nigeria. On 1st October of 1961, the Southern Cameroon became independent and joined the Republic of Cameroon to form the FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON.


The aftermath of the Second World War placed Cameroon under the supervision of the United Nations, which deputized the administration to France and England.

The adoption of the Constitutions of 1946 and 1958 by France allowed local people to participate in the management of the country, local assemblies were then created. First, the Representative Assembly of Cameroon (RACAM) in 1946, which became the Territorial Assembly of Cameroon (TACAM) in 1952 and finally, in 1956, France granted internal autonomy to French Cameroon making it the Legislative Assembly of Cameroon (LACAM).

Apart from the adoption, the elected Cameroonians were sent to France to represent their country at the French National Assembly, the Assembly of the French Union and the Economic Council. This is also the beginning of the indigenous unions.

During the inter-war years, the issue of independence proposal was once again posed by the UPC (Union des Populations Camerounaises – United Populations of Cameroon) formed in April 10, 1948 in Douala. Elected Secretary General of the UPC in November 1948; Ruben Um Nyobe became the figurehead of the movement. Although the colonial authorities publicly described the UPC as “communist’’, the French police were obliged to observe secret reports that Um Nyobe was a man of exception.

The petition toward the independence of Cameroon was rejected by the French authorities and by the officials in the country. Following the Conference of Brazaville, they created Association of Settlers of Cameroon (ASCAM) on 15th April, 1945 in order to defend their interests and to prevent social progress controlled by unions. Violent battles took place between the more radical members of the colonists and the natives in September 1945. According to records found by the authors of “Kamerun’’, many Cameroonians were shot in the back with shotguns on this occasion.

Having managed to take over the “settlers fight’’, the colonial administration favored the creation of political parties opposed to the UPC like ESOCAM (Evolution Sociale du Cameroun), the INDECAM (Coordination des Independants Camerounais) etc. Favored by electoral fraud, these “administrative parties’’ prevented the UPC from having the majority in the territorial assembly. It would take a book to complete the identification of forces that collaborate with the power to fight our organization will comment on Um Nyobe in 1954.


In May 1955, violent demonstrations led many Cameroonian to their death. The UPC was then accused of having organized the war and the French government in the Council of Ministers decided to ban the UPC and its branches making UPC then go under siege.

Shortly after the Gaston Defferre law was created, a state guardianship (Cameroon autonomous government), Andre Marie Mbida was appointed Head of State and Prime Minister of this government. Pierre Messmer, High Commissioner of Cameroon (representing the French government) sought a compromise with Ruben Um Nyobe, a UPC leader to stop their violence. This approach was rejected by the leader of UPC and violence aggravated from bad to worst.

This refusal of dialogue led to the French government to find a way to independence without the UPC. Andre Marie Mbida didn’t agree with that and resigned in 1958. Ahmadou Ahidjo was then appointed Prime Minister. Ruben Um Nyobe was killed by the French Army during a battle in the “Maquis Bassa” September 13 of 1958.The leaders of UPC then fled to abroad.

On January 1st of 1960, Ahmadou Ahidjo finally declared: “Fellow Cameroonians, Cameroon is free and independent’’. By then Cameroon was provided with a constitution issued for the purpose of pluralist multi-party system.

According to historian Bernard Droz, the events from the period 1955 to 1959 led to the death of tens thousands, resulting from the colonial and military repression infighting at the UPC. Historian Marc Michelwho had studied the specific question of the independence of Cameroon, said that most of the fighting took place after independence. He believed that “most likely, the war had left ten thousand’s dead, mainly victims of civil war after independence.

Cameroon under British Administration

The aftermath of the Second World War placed Cameroon under British administration and saw the emergence of segregation and reunification movements.

In May 1949, Dr Emmanuel Endeley created Cameroons National Federation (CNF) which is fighting for the independence and the separation of British Cameroon from Nigerian federation.

CNF dissidents founded the Kamerun United National Congress (KUNC) judging CNF as too cautious on the subject of the claim. KUNC’s proposal is simple; the restoration of the “big Kamerun’’ the time of the German colonial empire. At the same period the UPC was also re-established in southern British Cameroon.

In 1953 CNF and KNUC merged to find the Kamerun National Congress (KNC) who will win in the 1953 elections. These autonomous or independent political parties were headed by the British authorities who modified the institutions after the “Mamfe conference” in 1950 and the Lancaster House conference in 1959 under the auspices of the UN.

In 1954, the British Cameroon adopts its own administration and established his capital in Buea in the southwest region of Cameroon.

In 1958 Dr. Endeley became the Prime Minister of the British Cameroon “self-government’’. In 1959 John Ngu Foncha became Prime Minister of British Cameroon.

To permanently resolve the problem of independence and reunification, British authorities consulted the people in a referendum. The consultation took place on February 11th of 1961 and the option for independence with reunification of both Cameroons prevailed in the Southern Cameroons, while Northern Cameroon was suggesting its integration into the Nigerian federation.

The independent French Cameroon complained of fraud and asserted that the Northern Cameroons should also be attached to it.

The French Cameroon gained independence on 1st January 1960 and became the Republic of Cameroon, immediately recognized by the United States of America and the Soviet Union. The elections in the territory under French rule were marred by ethnic riots including Bamileke ethnic group. Different ethnic groups were fighting for their independence.

During June 1961 in Bamenda, and July 1961 in Fumban and finally in August 1961 in Yaounde,representatives of the former French Cameroon and Southern Cameroons met to adjust the details relating to the reunification.

The British Colony was then divided into two after a self-determination referendum. Northern region mainly Muslims chose to integrate Nigeria, while southern mostly Christian chose to join the Republic of Cameroon.

On 1st June 1961, the Northern Cameroons became independent and joined Nigeria. On 1st October 1961, the Southern Cameroons also became independent and was immediately reunited with former French Cameroon. They then formed the Federal Republic of Cameroon. John Ngu Foncha became Prime Minister of West Cameroon and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon.

Federal Republic of Cameroon

Ahmadou Ahidjo was elected president of Cameroon on May 5 of 1960. The 1st October of 1961 gave birth to the Federal Republic of Cameroon from the reunification of French Cameroon and British Southern Cameroons. Two stars were added on the French Cameroon flag to symbolize the federation.

In 1962, the CFA franc became the official currency of the country (in both areas). A government order was made that same year and strongly regulated political parties.

During this period, a strong repression was carried out in the western countries against the guerrillas of the UPC. This war led to the death of thousands of Cameroonians. According to François-Xavier Verschave some French soldiers were involved in the operation which led to“genocide”. Although most history books on Cameroon do not mention this version in general. According to the UPC leaders in the early 1980s, the Cameroonian troops recorded “thousands” of deaths. Mongo Beti in 1982 will speak about thousands of missing victims of “Black Pinochet”; (Ahidjo).

In January 1962, when the two wings of the UPC met at their first congress after rehabilitation, Ahidjosent his army to end it. The members were then dispersed with bayonets. After the call of April 27 of 1962, the MP and former Head of State André-Marie Mbida and other opposition leaders as Bebey-Eyidi(Secretary General of the Cameroon Labour Party), Okala Charles, Rene Guy (secretary Cameroonian Socialist Party) and Théodore Mayi-Matip (Union of the Populations of Cameroon - UPC) were arrested, making Mbidathe first political prisoner of independent Cameroon, from 29th June 1962 to 29th June 1965.

In April 1964 Mbida Margaret aged 36 and wife of political prisoner Andre Marie Mbida who were sentenced to three years in prison, appeared as the head of the list of PDC (Partie Democrate Camerounais – Democrates Cameroonian Party) in April 1964 elections. The PDC is the only political party to have dared to represent the opposition in these elections. The Cameroonian opinion leaders of that time were either in exile or in prison. The results of these elections according to reliable sources gave a massive victory to PDC in what was then called the Nyong and Sanaga region. This electoral victory was to be confiscated in the name of national unity and in the name of the single party created. Voters were refused their victory expressed as stolen votes in this election. The Cameroonian government of 1964 sent the police to villages to have protesters massively arrested and deported to the infamous concentration camps of Mantoum, Tcholliré and Mokolo.

September 1st of 1966, Ahmadou Ahidjo merged all political parties in Western Cameroon except for PDC and UPC - and some Eastern Cameroon parties formed the Cameroon Union (CU), a draft single party. It was later renamed Cameroon National Union (CNU). Everything was to be implemented to achieve the unitary state and to end federalism.

Following independence, the UPC pushed away from power, insinuating the independence granted by the French was a facade (terminated earlier by Mbida when he refused to join the Ahidjogovernment) and that Ahmadou Ahidjo was a servant of the settlement, and thus he should be fought. The leaders of the UPC therefore triggered a revolt at the time of independence to attempt a conquest of power. There were many excesses and the rebellion soon led to the rise of robberies and gangland. This insurrection is put down by Ahmadou Ahidjo, helped by French military advisers. The leaders of the UPC in exile will be killed one after another, like Dr. Felix Moumie poisoned in Geneva (Switzerland). The last of them, returned to Cameroon to organize the armed struggle from the inside. Ernest OUANDIE was arrested and judged in the trial called OUANDIE-NdongmoOuandie was sentenced to death and was shot on January 15 of 1971.

Revolt and Repression

In April 1964, Marguerite Mbida emerged as the head of the list of PDC to April 1964 elections. The PDC is the only political party to have dared to present these elections. The Cameroonian opinion leaders of that time were either in exile or in prison. PDC voters demonstrated their victory being stolen in the elections. The Cameroonian government of 1964 sent the police to villages and protesters were arrested and sent to the infamous concentration camps of Mantoum, Tcholliré and Mokolo.  The Ahmadou Ahidjogovernment continued the fight against the UPC and its armed wing (KNLA). He signed defense agreements with France, the French personnel were responsible for conducting the organization, supervision and instruction of Cameroonian armed forces." This triggered a bloody violent riot at the Bamileke and Bassa region.

Controversy over the number of victims

About the number of victims who were involved in this atrocity, opinions differ. The French helicopter pilot Max Bardet, who operated in Cameroon at that time they allegedly committed this Genocide declared: “In two years, the army took the Bamileke country from south to north, and completely devastated it. They killed about three or four hundred thousand Bamileke and almost rendering this group almost extinct. Spears against automatic weapons, Bamilékés had no chance. The villages had been ramshackled. Like Attila, “You come, you leave nothing’’. Few French intervened directly, of these, I’ve known three or four, that’s all”.

In 2001, the Cameroonian writer Mongo Beti stated: “Estimates ranged from as low as sixty thousand dead. The figures were brandished by the official leaders, to record four hundred thousand statistically as claimed by radical nationalist leaders. It was well known, the executioners always minimized as the victims always MAXIMIZED”.

However, the historian Marc Michel, who had studied the specific question of the independence of Cameroon, said that most of the fighting took place after independence. He believed that “most likely, the war claimed tens of thousands of people, mostly victims of the civil war after independence”.

For the historian, Bernard Droz, author of a book on decolonization, the events of the period from1955 to1959 will be of the order of tens of thousands of deaths, whether colonial military repression or internal struggles with the UPC. The Cameroonian schools history textbooks refer to these happenings as “a harsh repression”.

Misinformation and denial of agitators to these happening are mostly marked as the pre and post independence periods. Some ethnic groups tried to affiliate themselves to the victimization as the affected group of this struggle, while in reality all the people of Cameroon were involved.


In 1972, the Federal Republic was replaced by a unitary state. Ahmadou Ahidjo won the elections of 1975 and 1980. It was in November 1982 that he resigned for “health reasons” and was replaced by former Prime Minister, Paul Biya a South Christian. Ahidjo later regretted his choice, and, after a failed “coup d’etat” by his supporters, he was forced into exile in 1984.


Ahidjo's reign was from (1960-1982) - The Federal Republic of Cameroon

Ahmadou Ahidjo was elected president of Cameroon in 1960 and John Ngu Foncha became his vice president. In 1961, during the unification of the British and French Cameroon, the country became known as the “Federal Republic of Cameroon.” They added two stars on the flag of Cameroon French to symbolize the federation. In 1962, the CFA franc became the official currency of the country in both areas.

Multi-partism was banned, and the single party was called CNU (Cameroon National Union). In 1970, Solomon Tandeng Muna was replaced by A.N. Jua as the first British Cameroon Minister and was elected vice-president of the federal republic.

The United Republic of Cameroon

On 20th May 1972, President Ahidjo held a referendum to end the federal system in force until that time. The referendum was largely won on the 20th May became National Day of a new Cameroon now called “United Republic of Cameroon.”

At the same time, President Ahidjo adopted the new economic doctrine of Cameroon, “planned liberalism’’ that was implemented few years later as a way of over-indebtedness to the country. 


The creation of the post of Prime Minister

President Ahidjo held a new referendum to revise the 1975 constitutions. He won the referendum. The revision allowed the creation of the post of Prime Minister and Paul Biya, a Young Southern Christian, was nominated.

It was in November 1982 that he resigned for “health reasons” and was replaced by former Prime Minister, Paul BiyaAhidjo later regretted his choice, and, after a failed “coup d’etat” by his supporters, he was forced into exile in 1984.


The empire of Paul Biya (1982-present) – The take over and modernization

Paul Biya, Cameroon's new president who was appointed by Prime Minister Bello Bouba Maïgari before removing the post of Prime Minister from the system of government a year later. This palace revolution put an end to a regime that was blamed on too much power to the executive assisted by a single party that badly framed the population.

On 4 February 1984 the country was renamed “Republic of Cameroon’’ after a revision of the constitution adopted by the National Assembly.



President Biyamade attempts to gradually remedy the ills created by his predecessors by completely renewing the frameworks and structures of the single party and renamed it Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) in 1985. He even managed to win some of his opponents to his side. The opening also marked when multiparty municipal elections in October 1987 under the single party. A few months later, Biya was re-elected president, while nearly all deputies were beaten by newcomers in the legislative.

However, with the violent clashes in Yaoundeby students versus police in December 1987, the economic situation worsened, series of social unrest broke out in 1989. On the 5th December 1990, the National Assembly passed series of laws designed to control the creation of new parties, while the Constitution explicitly provided for the multiparty. Several parties “close to power” were recognized without problems, but most of the opposition parties in the country or in exile, refused to endorse this “under control multiparty”.

From the month of April 1991, the “dead cities” operations, riots and protests spread throughout the country. In order to resolve the political crisis, President Paul Biya restored the post of Prime Minister, announced the elections and constitutional reform. In the face of this situation of chaos a state of emergency was declared with the establishment in May 1991 of “operational military commanders” to pacify the country. President Biya announced the parliamentary elections for 16th February 1992, the Prime Minister, Sadou Hayatou opened October 30 , 1991, the “tripartite’’ (government-opposition-population) intended to define the electoral framework and access to public media conference. The opposition was separated into supporters prior to a national conference and those who were in favor of an immediate participation in the electoral competition.

In 1992, multi-party presidential elections were held. Paul Biya was re-elected president (39.9%) to JohnFru Ndi (35.9%), candidate of the Social Democratic Front (SDF). The results were highly competitive; following protests and incidents in the region of Bamenda. Consequently, the state of emergency was declared. On January 21, 1996 the first multiparty municipal elections were held. The CPDM carried 65% of urban district but lost the large and strategic cities like Douala to SDF. On February 10, 1996, the SawaDouala people protested against the appointment of non-sawa mayors in the district councils that was won by SDF as agreed.

On 27th February 1996, a presidential decree set up a dozen of the largest cities in “urban district special regime”, most of which were won by the opposition to seize power in town halls. The opposition strongly condemned this and launched in May 1996, the “dead cities” operations relatively were not followed by the population.