Who were the first residents of Cameroon?
In what is now Cameroon, the Baka people were probably the first to settle here. In the rainforests of the south, societies without hierarchy emerged. The population density was low, the area difficult to penetrate. Bantu peoples like the Ewondo, Bassa or Bulu lived (and live) here.
In the west and north, other societies emerged with a stronger education of social classes. Small kingdoms emerged, such as the Kingdom of Bamum in 1394 or the Kingdom of Mandara around 1500, both of which still exist within the state of Cameroon today with a sultan at the head. Other peoples such as the Bamileke developed a different form of tribal structure.
The crab land
The first Europeans came to the area in 1472. Portuguese sailors explored the Wouri River, which flows into the sea at what is now Douala. Because they found so many crabs in the river, they named it the Crab River. That means Rio de Camarões in Portuguese. After that the whole country was later named: Cameroon.
Soon the Portuguese began a brisk trade with the peoples of the coastal region. Above all ivory and sugar cane, but also palm oil and slaves, were popular with the Europeans. Soon the first missionaries came to convert the Cameroonians to Christianity. Another settlement, especially in the interior, did not take place at first. Europeans were also afraid of malaria, which killed many settlers. It wasn’t until 1850 that anti-malarial drugs were available that Europeans advanced.
In the early 19th century, the Fulani Islamic people advanced south. The emirate of Adamaua, founded by Modibo Adama, emerged on the territory of the present-day states of Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. It existed until 1902.
Cameroon as a German Colony (1884-1919)
In 1884 the German consul general Gustav Nachtigal named Cameroon a German colony. He concluded several “protection treaties” with tribal chiefs on the coast. The hinterland was only gradually taken over the next few decades. Numerous roads were built and railway lines were set up to provide access. Along with palm oil, cocoa and rubber became new, sought-after products that were sold in Europe. Again and again there was brutal repression of the local population. Many were forced to work.
Franco-British Mandate (1919-1960)
When Germany was defeated in World War I, it had to give up its colonies in Togo and Cameroon. The Versailles Treaty regulated the handover to the League of Nations, which in turn divided the area between France and Great Britain. There was now French Cameroon and British Cameroon. France received the greater part of the country with four fifths, while Great Britain received a smaller area in the southwest.
After the Second World War, the areas were converted into trustee mandates by the United Nations (UN). The aim was that Cameroon should govern itself more and more. Unrest occurred again and again, especially in the French area. Efforts towards independence grew louder. The UN mandate expired and a referendum brought French Cameroon independence on January 1, 1960.
British Cameroon also voted. On October 1, 1961, the northern area joined Nigeria, the southern area joined Cameroon. This southern area is the present day northwest and southwest provinces. English is the official language there to this day.
In 1960 the French territory became independent, followed by the British territory in 1961. Ahmadou Ahidjo, previously Prime Minister, has now also become President. He founded a unity party, gradually banned all other parties and established a dictatorship. He was re-elected several times and remained in office until 1982.
Ahidjo resigned for health reasons. His successor was Paul Biya, who, like Ahidjo, continued to rule with a unity party and press censorship. Increased unrest led to the first free elections in 1992. Paul Biya was re-elected several times, most recently in 2018, and he is still in office.
Football is the most popular sport in Cameroon, a country located in Africa according to thereligionfaqs. You play it everywhere, on the street and in open spaces. But the Cameroonians are also drawn to the football stadium as spectators. After all, her team managed to qualify for the World Cup in 2010 and 2014. Although they were eliminated both times in the preliminary round, the joy prevailed. In 1990, the team was even able to reach the quarter-finals and was only eliminated in extra time against England.
Music: Makossa and Bikutsi
Two styles of music are particularly popular in Cameroon. Makossa comes from the coastal region around Douala. The name is derived from kossa, a traditional dance of the Duala people. Typical for Makossa is the alternation between a singer and a choir and the use of brass. A well-known Makossa song is “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango. You can listen to it here.
Bikutsi, on the other hand, comes from the area around the capital Yaoundé. Instruments for bikutsi are xylophones, log drums and the rod zither, which is called mvet here. Since the 1980s there has also been a modern version with guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. Sally Nyolo is a well-known representative of the Bikutsi. Listen to them here.
Colorful clothes and hats
While the people of Cameroon also wear modern clothing such as jeans and t-shirts, they also love their traditional clothing. Women in particular are often seen in dresses with colorful patterns. In addition, traditional clothing is often used at festivals. Since there are very many ethnic groups in Cameroon, the clothes also look very different. Under “Children in Cameroon” and under “People” you can find lots of pictures!