The Northern and Southern Cameroons

Chief Commissioner’s Residence, Buea

During the “Scramble for Africa” (c1885) the area of present-day Cameroon was claimed by Germany as its protectorate. But, after Germany was defeated by the allied forces in the First World War, the League of Nations placed the Cameroons under a British Mandate (1922) and later, as a trusteeship territory of the United Nations, with Britain administering it.

The Northern area was administered by the Northern Region of Nigeria and the Southern section (Southern Cameroons) was formally administered as two provinces of the old Eastern Region, and then, from October 1954 it was a quasi Federal Territory within the Nigerian Federation with its own Legislature and it’s own Executive Council.

Southern Cameroons was divided in 1949 into two provinces: Bamenda (capital Bamenda and Southern (capital Buea). 

Following the Ibadan General Conference of 1950, a new constitution for Nigeria devolved more power to the regions. In the subsequent election thirteen Southern Cameroonian representatives were elected to the Eastern Nigerian House of Assembly in Enugu. Citizens of this region had political representation in political parties such as The National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC).

 In 1953, however, the Southern Cameroons representatives, unhappy with the domineering attitude of Nigerian politicians and lack of unity among the ethnic groups in the Eastern Region, declared a “benevolent neutrality” and withdrew from the assembly. 

Dr E.M.L Endeley

At a conference in London in 1953, the Southern Cameroons delegation asked for a separate region of its own. The British agreed, and Southern Cameroons became an autonomous region with its capital still at Buea. Elections were held in 1954 and the parliament met on 1 October 1954, with E.M.L. Endeley as Premier.

As Cameroun and Nigeria prepared for Independence, South Cameroons nationalists debated whether their best interests lay with 1. A union with Cameroun, 2. a union with Nigeria or 3. total independence.  It appeared a new era had dawned. An era whose objectives was the secession from the British Trust Territory, the Southern Cameroons and from the Federation of Nigeria, in an attempt to build the ‘Kamerun’ nation, together with the three million people of the French Cameroons (later Cameroun Republic).

John Ngu Foncha (Harry Pot/ Anefo)

The call for secession came mainly from inland districts. Endeley was defeated in elections on 1 February 1959 by John Ngu Foncha a “diminutive Roman Catholic schoolmaster”. The one man opposition, who surprisingly became premier with only a few years experience as a politician.

The relationship with the Camoorons was a costly one, for example, from 1922 to the outbreak of war in1939 the Nigerian (colonial) government had spent approximately three quarters of a million pounds more than it received in revenues from the territory. Despite the figures (including a proportion of the assistance received from the Colonial Development Fund) the Cameroons still exceeded revenue by about £700,000.

The Federal Minister of Finance said ” we do not begrudge the people of the Cameroon the money that we have invested in their territory, but at the same time we consider it only reasonable that the facts of the matter should be known. Too often have we heard the cry that the Federal Government is neglecting the Southern Cameroon’s and I have therefore taken the opportunity on this occasion, when we are once again considering a motion to the financial advantage of the Trust Territory, to give a short history of our financial relationship with the territory” it’s no surprise that no Nigerian political party or leader gave any assistance in their struggle to remain in the Federation, which was a surprise to the likes of Dr Endeley, whereas their opponents, the secessionists, we’re known to have received outside support.

At the close of colonisation and the independence of most African countries, particularly the British colony Nigeria and the French colony Cameroon in 1960.
The political future of the Northern Cameroon’s was not yet decided until the plebiscite , conducted under the supervision of the United Nations. 

Another plebiscite was held after the two countries had achieved independence allowing the people to choose whether they wished to join Nigeria, or the French Cameroon or to form an independent territory with the Southern British Council.

The plebiscite of 1961 impacted on the cooperate existence of the various ethnic groups and Southern Cameroon split from Nigeria.

Boy Eating Sugar Cane

Since the 1970s Nigeria and Cameroon engaged in boarder disputes over the Bakassi Peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea. The  case was heard by the International Court of Justice, which awarded the Peninsula to Cameroon in 2002.

Areas that were once part of Northern Camerooon include :  Dikwa in Maiduguri State, Gwozo in Borneo State  and Jalingo in Taraba state

The District Office, Victoria

Josiah Olutunji Majekodunmi

Josiah Olutunji Majekodunmi (April 12, 1927 – October 9, 1996) was an athlete from Nigeria.
He competed at the 1950 British Empire Games at Auckland, New Zealand where he won Nigeria’s first medal in any international sports, a silver medal in the Men’s High Jump event. Prior to the Commonwealth games, he captained Abeokuta Grammar School Athletics team to win the prestigious Grier Cup for Nigerian high schools in 1947 for the first and the last time. Majekodunmi was also at the 1948 London Olympics, and placed 9th in the high jump event at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

He was also the father of Miss Olawunmi Majekodunmi, the African Table Tennis champion for most of 1970s and 1980s.

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