Colonial Administrative Integration of African Territories: Identity and Resistance in Nigeria’s Southern Cameroons, 1922–1961

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Author: Reymond Njingti Budi, The University of Bamenda, Cameroon
Email: budzi54@yahoo.com
Published: June 26, 2019
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.6.1.09

Citation: Budi, R. N. (2019). Colonial Administrative Integration of African Territories: Identity and Resistance in Nigeria’s Southern Cameroons, 1922–1961. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.6.1.09


Abstract

British administrative policy in Africa, and particularly in Cameroon, was generally misguided. Encyclopedia Britannica supports this largely undisputed perspective, declaring that “British rule was a period of neglect, and this, coupled with the influx of numerous Nigerians, caused great resentment. […] At independence, French Cameroun had a much higher gross national product per capita, higher education levels, better health care, and better infrastructure than British Cameroons” (“Cameroon”, 2019, para. 2–3). This state of affairs is likely the result of the decision to administer the British portion of Cameroon as a constituent part of Britain’s Nigerian colony. This arrangement dictated the course of events in the Southern Cameroons territory from 1922 to 1961. From this basic premise, this paper argues that the administration of British Southern Cameroons as part of the British Nigerian Colony brought about an identity crisis in which Southern Cameroonians, albeit integrated into Nigeria, predominantly chose to maintain their identity as a distinct, separate group of people. As such, the allocation of their territory to Nigeria exposed them to alien political domination, as most of the administrators in the Southern Cameroons were Nigerian. Consequently, Southern Cameroonians formed political pressure groups, created political parties and wrote petitions to the British Government as well as to the United Nations in an effort to resist the authority of what they considered to be an intrusive foreign entity. A corollary to this state of affairs was the vote in the 1961 plebiscite. With the great majority of voters choosing to sever their ties with Nigeria, Southern Cameroonians reasserted their distinct identity and called for an end to the political domination that resulted from their unsolicited association with Nigeria.

Keywords

Southern Cameroons, Southern Cameroonians, identity, Nigeria, politics, political domination, resistance, integration, British Nigerian Colony