British Cameroons

British Cameroons was a British Mandate territory in British West Africa. Today, the territory forms parts of Northern Nigeria in West Africa and Cameroon in Central Africa.

British Cameroons

StatusMandate of the United Kingdom
Common languagesEnglish (official)
Duaka, Oroko, Grassfields, Fula, Kanuri widely spoken
Christianity (southern area)
Islam (northern area)
Historical eraWorld War I
• Kamerun partitioned
July 20 1922
• Integration into Nigeria and Cameroon
October 1 1961
CurrencyBritish West Africa pound
ISO 3166 codeCM
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Today part of Cameroon


Cameroon boundary changes
Cameroon 1901–1972
  German Kamerun
  British Cameroons
  Republic of Cameroon

The area of present-day Cameroon was claimed by Germany as a protectorate during the "Scramble for Africa" at the end of the 19th century. The German Empire named the territory Kamerun.

League of Nations Mandate

During the First World War, it was occupied by British, French and Belgian troops, and a later League of Nations Mandate to Great Britain and France by the League of Nations in 1922. The French mandate was known as Cameroun and the British territory was administered as two areas, Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons. Northern Cameroons consisted of two non-contiguous sections, divided by a point where the Nigerian and Cameroun borders met. In the 1930s, most of the white population consisted of Germans with Nazi sympathies; they were interned in British camps starting in June 1940. The native population of 400,000 showed little interest in volunteering for the British forces; only 3,500 men did so.[1]

Trust territory

When the League of Nations ceased to exist in 1946, most of the mandate territories were reclassified as UN trust territories, henceforth administered through the UN Trusteeship Council. The object of trusteeship was to prepare the lands for eventual independence. The United Nations approved the Trusteeship Agreements for British Cameroons to be governed by Britain on 6 December 1946.


French Cameroun became independent, as Cameroun or Cameroon, in January 1960, and Nigeria was scheduled for independence later that same year, which raised question of what to do with the British territory. After some discussion (which had been going on since 1959), a plebiscite was agreed to, and held on 11 February 1961. The Muslim-majority Northern area opted for union with Nigeria, and the Southern area voted to join Cameroon.[2]

Northern Cameroons became the Sardauna Province of Northern Nigeria[3] on 31 May 1961, while Southern Cameroons became West Cameroon, a constituent state of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, later that year on 1 October 1961.

See also


  1. ^ I.C.B Dear, ed, The Oxford Companion to World War II (1995) p 163
  2. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p177 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  3. ^ Parties and Politics in Northern Nigeria, Routlege, 1968, page 155

External links

Media related to British Cameroons at Wikimedia Commons

1957 British Cameroons parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in British Cameroons in March 1957. The Kamerun National Congress emerged as the largest party, winning six of the 13 seats in the House of Representatives.

1959 British Cameroons parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in British Cameroons on 24 January 1959. The result was a victory for the Kamerun National Democratic Party, which won 14 of the 26 seats in the House of Assembly.

1959 Northern Cameroons referendum

A referendum on becoming part of Nigeria was held in Northern Cameroons in November 1959. Voters were given the choice between a union with Nigeria and postponing the decision. Voters favoured the latter, with 62.25% voting to postpone the decision. A second referendum was held in 1961, with 60% voting to join Nigeria and 40% voting to join Cameroon.

1961 British Cameroons parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in British Cameroons on 30 December 1961. The result was a victory for the Kamerun National Democratic Party, which won 24 of the 37 seats in the House of Assembly.

1961 British Cameroons referendum

A referendum was held in British Cameroons on 11 February 1961 to determine whether the territory should join neighbouring Cameroon or Nigeria. The option of independence having been opposed by Andrew Cohen, the UK representative to the UN Trusteeship Council, it was not presented as an option. Ultimately the Muslim-majority Northern Cameroons saw a majority of 60% in favour of joining Nigeria, whilst the Christian-majority Southern Cameroons saw 70.5% in favour of integration with Cameroon. Northern Cameroon officially became part of Nigeria on 1 June, whilst Southern Cameroons became part of Cameroon on 1 October.

A Zoo in My Luggage

A Zoo in My Luggage by British naturalist Gerald Durrell is the story of Durrell's 1957 animal collecting trip to British Cameroon, the northwestern corner of present-day Cameroon. First published in 1960, it is one of a half-dozen books about animal collecting trips that Durrell wrote. The book tells the story of how Gerald Durrell went to the Cameroons of Africa and spent six months collecting various animals, referred to as beef in Pidgin English, and took part in various expeditions, like going to catch a python in a narrow cave, the encounter with the hippopotamus while traveling on the Cross River and so on.

Cameroon People's National Convention

The Cameroon People's National Convention (CPNC) was a political party in British Cameroons.

E. M. L. Endeley

Emmanuel Mbela Lifafa Endeley (10 April 1916 – June 1988) was a Cameroonian politician who led Southern Cameroonian representatives out of the Eastern Nigerian House of Assembly in Enugu and negotiated the creation of the autonomous region of Southern Cameroons in 1954.

French Cameroons

French Cameroons (French: Cameroun), or Cameroun, was a League of Nations Mandate territory in Central Africa. It now forms part of the independent country of Cameroon.

John Ngu Foncha

John Ngu Foncha (21 June 1916, Bamenda – 10 April 1999) was a Cameroonian politician, who served as 5th Prime Minister of Cameroon.

He founded the Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP) in 1955 and became Premier of the British Cameroons on 1 February 1959. He held that position until 1 October 1961, when the region merged into a federation with Francophone Cameroon.

From 1 October 1961 to 13 May 1965, Foncha concurrently served as 5th Prime Minister of Cameroon and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon. He held the latter title until 1970.

In 1994, he led a delegation of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) to the United Nations to request its backing of the movement's drive for greater autonomy in Cameroon's two English-speaking provinces. His grandson is Jean-Christian Foncha.

He died in Bamenda on 10 April 1999 at the age of 82.

Kamerun National Congress

The Kamerun National Congress (KNC) was a political party in British Cameroons.

Kamerun National Democratic Party

Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP) was a pro-independence political party active in Southern Cameroons during the period of British Mandate rule.

List of colonial governors of Cameroon

This article lists the colonial governors of Cameroon. It encompasses the period when the country was under colonial rule of the German Empire (as Kamerun), occupation of the territory by the Allies during World War I (Kamerun Campaign), as well as the period when it was under the administration of France (as French Cameroons) and the United Kingdom (as British Cameroons) respectively.

List of heads of government of British Cameroons

This is a list of Heads of Government of British Cameroons

Postage stamps and postal history of the British Cameroons

This article is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of the British Cameroons. It falls into two essential parts: the occupation of German Kamerun by Anglo-French forces in 1915, when German Colonial stamps were issued with an overprint and surcharge; and the situation following a 1961 plebiscite, after which British Cameroons was divided between Cameroon and Nigeria.

Southern Cameroons

Southern Cameroons was the southern part of the British Mandate territory of British Cameroons in West Africa. Since 1961 it has been part of the Republic of Cameroon, where it makes up the Northwest Region and Southwest Region. Since 1994, pressure groups in the territory have sought independence from the Republic of Cameroon, and the Republic of Ambazonia was declared by the Southern Cameroons Peoples Organisation (SCAPO) on 31 August 2006.

The Bafut Beagles

The Bafut Beagles by British naturalist Gerald Durrell tells the story of Durrell's collecting expedition to the Cameroons, made in 1949, with Kenneth Smith.Published in 1954, it was Durrell's third book for popular audiences.

Particularly notable was his depiction of a native ruler, the Fon of Bafut, who proved so popular that Durrell visited him again in A Zoo in My Luggage. The Fon, although not named, was Achirimbi II.

The Overloaded Ark

The Overloaded Ark, first published in 1953, is the debut book by British naturalist Gerald Durrell. It is the chronicle of a six months collecting trip to the West African colony of British Cameroon - now Cameroon - (Dec 1947 - Aug 1948) - that Durrell made with the highly regarded aviculturist and ornithologist John Yealland.

Their reasons for going on the trip were twofold: "to collect and bring back alive some of the fascinating animals, birds, and reptiles that inhabit the region," and secondly, for both men to realise a long cherished dream to see Africa.

Its combination of comic exaggeration and environmental accuracy, portrayed in Durrell's light, clever prose, made it a great success. It launched Durrell's career as a writer of both non-fiction and fiction, which in turn financed his work as a zookeeper and conservationist.

The Bafut Beagles and A Zoo in My Luggage are sequels of sorts, telling of his later returns to the region.

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