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British: 1914 to 1961

Kamerun Cameroun People
Kamerun French Congo Meeting

A major consequence of her defeat in World War I was that Germany, as provided in the Treaties of Versailles 1919, renounced and relinquished title and right to all her colonial possessions. The possessions in question included the Kamerun territory which had been seized in 1916 by Britain and France as war booty according to the Laws of War at the time. The territory was partitioned between the two Powers along what became known as the Milner-Simon Line. Britain retained the whole area it had overrun in 1914 at the onset of the War and it became known as the British Cameroons. To sooth French pain and humiliation resulting from the crushing defeat of France by Germany in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, France was allowed to take the original German Kamerun protectorate proclaimed in 1884, naming it French Cameroun.

The Anglo-French Treaty of 1916 (the Milner-Simon Declaration) defined the international boundary between the British Cameroons and French Cameroun. This boundary was subsequently confirmed by the League of Nations in 1922 when the two territories were separately placed under the Mandates System. The territorial alignment between Southern Cameroons and French Cameroun was further confirmed by the Anglo-French Treaty of 9 January 1931, signed by the Governor-General of Nigeria and the Governor of French Cameroun.

Out of the extinct German colony emerged two separate and distinct legal and political entities, British Cameroons and French Cameroun. Each of these two political entities was placed under the mandate system, the goal being ultimate independence of the natives of each mandated territory. In 1922, the League of Nations granted to Britain a mandate over the British Cameroons and a mandate to France over French Cameroun. In doing so the League confirmed the 1916 Anglo-French partition put in treaty form in the 1919 Anglo-French boundary treaty between the British Cameroons and French Cameroun (Milner-Simon Declaration). The frontier alignment between the British Cameroons and French Cameroun, as defined by the 1919 boundary treaty, was more particularly determined in the 1931 Anglo-French boundary treaty (Graeme-Marchand Declaration) and confirmed once again in 1946 by the United Nations in the Trusteeship Agreement relative to the British Cameroons and the one relative to French Cameroun.

The British Cameroons and French Cameroun were separate, new, legal and political entities created in 1922 by the political force represented by the mandate system. The juridical basis of their respective existence and the international basis of the frontier between the two countries are the mandate system, transmuted into the trusteeship system after World War Two. France granted independence to French Cameroun on 1st January 1960 and sponsored the new state’s admission to membership of the United Nations in September that year. The United Kingdom, by contrast, dilly-dallied, spoke with a forked tongue on the subject of independence for the Southern British Cameroons, and actively opposed independence for the Trust Territory.

The Southern Cameroons is not the southern or any part of French Cameroun/Republic of Cameroun. The name Southern Cameroons comes from the fact that the British Order in Council of 26 June 1923 divided the Mandated Territory of the British Cameroons into two parts, a southern part known as the Southern Cameroons and a northern part known as the Northern Cameroons. Each part was tagged onto Nigeria in an administrative union and administered as though it formed an integral part of Nigeria. By this act of the Administering Authority, the Southern British Cameroons became a distinct territory from the Northern British Cameroons within the international system and a distinct unit of self-determination.

The British administration of the Southern Cameroons from 1858 to 1887, and then from 1915 to 1961, bequeathed to it an Anglo-Saxon heritage: the official language being English, and its educational, legal, administrative, political, governance and institutional culture and value systems being all English-derived. On 1 October 1960, the Southern Cameroons was separated from Nigeria and by 1961, the Southern Cameroons had attained a full measure of self-government in its Government of Southern Cameroons, except on matters of defense and foreign affairs that remained under Britain as provided in the Southern Cameroons Constitution Order in Council

At the 849th meeting of the Fourth Committee of the UN on 25th February 1959, Mr. Ahmadou Ahidjo of La Republique du Cameroun solemnly assured the UN: “We are not annexationists. … If our brothers of the British zone wish to unite with independent Cameroun, we are ready to discuss the matter with them, but we will do so on a footing of equality.”

The Plebiscite and the Independence of Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) in 1961

People People

On 11 February 1961, the UN held a plebiscite in which the choice of attaining independence as a sovereign nation was eliminated from the ballot against the will of the people of Southern Cameroons, and the said people voted to achieve independence by joining La Republique du Cameroun on precise terms.

The said terms of Southern Cameroons’ achievement of independence by joining La Republique du Cameroun as provided in “The Two Alternatives” pre-plebiscite pamphlet included:

  • • The Southern Cameroons and Republique du Cameroun would unite to create a Federal State to be called the ‘Federal United Cameroon Republic’, outside the British Commonwealth and the French Community;
  • • The component states of the Federation would be the Southern Cameroons and Republique du Cameroun, legally equal in status;
  • • Each federated state would continue to conduct its affairs consistently with its colonially-inherited state-culture, with only a limited number of subject matters conceded to the Union government;
  • • Nationals of the federated states would enjoy Federal Cameroon nationality;
  • • The Federation would have a bicameral Parliament consisting of a Federal Senate and a Federal National Assembly;
  • • Federal laws will only be enacted in such a way that no measures contrary to the interests of one state will be imposed upon it by the majority.
  • • Constitutional arrangements would be worked out after the plebiscite by a post-plebiscite conference comprising representative delegations of equal status from the Southern Cameroons and Republique du Cameroun, in association with the United Kingdom Government and the United Nations;
  • • The post-plebiscite conference would have its goal as the fixing of time limits and conditions for the transfer of sovereignty powers to an organization representing the future federation; and
  • • Those entrusted with the affairs of the United Cameroon would put the would-be federal constitution to the people of the Southern Cameroons and Republique du Cameroun to pronounce themselves on it;

On April 21, 1961, the United Nations in Resolution 1608 (XV) recognized the results of the plebiscite and asked that the British Government, the Government of Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun urgently meet and discuss with a view to finalizing the post-plebiscite arrangements by which the agreed and declared policies of the parties concerned will be implemented before Southern Cameroons could join La Republique du Cameroun following the former’s achievement of independence on October 1, 1961.

La Republique du Cameroun voted “No!” to UN Resolution 1608 (XV), thereby declaring it neither intended to nor could it be compelled by the UN to enter a union with Southern Cameroons.

The said ‘agreed and declared policies’ were not and have never been finalized and declared to make British Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun one country.

The Foumban Conference held in La Republique du Cameroun from the 17th to the 21st of July 1961 between the Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun to finalize, agree upon and declare the terms of the agreement scattered because of manipulative bad faith on the part of La Republique du Cameroun, and the absence of the government of the United Kingdom contrary to the provision of UN Resolution 1608 (XV) (5).