8. British/French Cameroon (1948-1961)


Crisis Phase (April 10, 1948-December 17, 1956):  Cameroon nationalists headed by Ruben Um Nyobé, Dr. Félix-Roland Moumié, Ernest Ouandié, and Abel Kingué established the Union of Cameroonian Peoples (Union des Populations du Cameroon – UPC) in Douala on April 10, 1948. The UPC advocated the unification of British Cameroon and French Cameroon, and advocated the independence of Cameroon under the terms of the United Nations Charter. The UN Assembly approved a trusteeship agreement for French and British administration of the Cameroons in 1949.  Legislative elections were held in March 1952, and the Cameroonian Democratic Bloc (Bloc Democratique Camerounais – BDC) won most of the seats in the Territorial Assembly. One individual was killed in political violence in May 1952. Government police and demonstrators clashed in Douala, Yaoundé, Bafoussam, Meiganga, and other cities on May 22-30, 1955, resulting in the deaths of 26 individuals. The French government issued a decree banning the UPC on July 13, 1955. On August 2, 1956, the French government agreed to allow the UPC to participate in legislative elections scheduled for December 23, 1956.

Conflict Phase (December 18, 1956-October 1, 1961):  Members of the Union of Cameroonian Peoples (Union des Populations du Cameroon – UPC) rebelled against the French government beginning on December 18, 1956.  Legislative elections were held in French Cameroon on December 23, 1956, and the Cameroon Union (Union Camerounaise – UC) won 30 out of 70 seats in the Legislative Assembly.  The Cameroonian Party of Democrats (Parti des Démocrates Camerounais – PDC) won 20 seats in the Legislative Assembly.  The French government deployed additional troops to French Cameroon on January 5, 1958. Some 2,000 individuals were killed in political violence in the Sanaga maritime region between December 1956 and January 1957. The Legislative Assembly convened on January 28, 1957, and the assembly approved the Statute of the Cameroon on February 22, 1957.  Andre-Marie Mbida was appointed as prime minister (head of government) in French Cameroon on May 12, 1957.  Seven individuals were killed in political violence near Bafoussam on December 15, 1957.  Jean Ramadier was appointed as French High Commissioner for French Cameroon on February 5, 1958.  The French National Assembly approved an amnesty for UPC rebels on February 7, 1958. Prime Minister Mbida resigned on February 17, 1958, and Ahmadou Ahidjo of the UC, formed a government as prime minister on February 19, 1958.  Ruben Um Nyobé, leader of the UPC, was killed by government police near Boumnyebel on September 13, 1958.  Some 2,000 UPC rebels surrendered to French troops between September 14 and December 31, 1958. Some 75 civilians and 370 UPC rebels were killed in political violence between September 5, 1957 and October 31, 1958. The UN General Assembly sent a four-member fact-finding mission (Haiti, India, New Zealand, US) headed by Benjamin Gerig of the U.S. to the Cameroons between October 29 and December 6, 1958. The UN fact-finding mission issued a report to the UN General Assembly on February 20, 1959.  On March 13, 1959, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for the independence of French Cameroon.  UPC rebels led by Tankeu Noé attacked the Mboppi military camp in Douala.  Five UPC rebels were executed in Bafoussam on July 10, 1959.  Government police and UPC rebels clashed on September 14, 1959, resulting in the deaths of nine individuals.  French Cameroon formally achieved its independence from France on January 1, 1960.  UPC rebels killed five individuals in Yaoundé on January 1, 1960.  Following independence, Prime Minister Ahmadou Ahidjo requested French military assistance to combat the UPC rebellion.  A constitution was approved in a referendum on February 21, 1960. Ghana, Guinea, and Liberia recognized the independence of Cameroon on February 25, 1960.  Prime Minister Ahidjo lifted the ban on the Union of Cameroonian Peoples (Union des Populations du Cameroon – UPC) on February 25, 1960.  Government police clashed with UPC rebels in Douala on April 7, 1960, resulting in the deaths of 25 rebels and four government policemen.  Legislative elections were held on April 10, 1960, and the Cameroon Union (Union Camerounaise – UC) headed by Prime Minister Ahmadou Ahidjo won 60 out of 106 seats in the National Assembly. The UPC won 22 seats in the National Assembly.  Government troops attacked a rebel stronghold in Douala on April 24, 1960, resulting in the deaths of 19 individuals.  Some 5,000 individuals were displaced as a result of the attack.  Ahmadou Ahidjo was elected president of Cameroon by the National Assembly on May 5, 1960.  Dr. Félix-Roland Moumié, leader of the UPC, was assassinated by French agents in Geneva, Switzerland on November 3, 1960.  Some 3,000 UPC rebels and 30 French soldiers were killed during the conflict in 1960.  The United Nations held a plebiscite in British Cameroon on February 11-12, 1961. French Cameroon and the southern part of British Cameroon were united as the Federal Republic of Cameroon on October 1, 1961.  Several thousand individuals were killed during the conflict.

[Sources: Butterworth, 1976, 193-194; Clodfelter, 1992, 1013; Facts on File, January 9-15, 1958, October 16-22, 1958, September 24-30, 1959; Jessup, 1998, 105-106; Joseph, 1974, 428-448; Keesing’s Record of World Events, May 23-30, 1959, January 23-30, 1960, March 12-19, 1960, May 7-14, 1960; Langer, 1972, 1268; Tillema, 1991, 70-72.]


Selected Bibliography

Chiabi, Emmanuel. 1997. The Making of Modern Cameroon: A History of Substate Nationalism and Disparate Union, 1914-1961.

LeVine, Victor T. 1964. The Cameroons from Mandate to Independence. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, Publishers.

Mortimer, Edward. 1969. France and the Africans, 1944-1960: A Political History. New York: Walker and Company.