THE EUROPEANS ARRIVE
1472 Portuguese expedition lead by Fernando Po are the first Europeans to reach the coast of Cameroon. They reach Douala and then sails up the Wouri River. They name it “Rio dos Camarões – the Prawn River -by that giving the name to the country.
1520 A few Portuguese settlers start plantations and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Pastoral Nomads are still immigrating from Nigeria again pushing the indigenous people. The constant fight for territory produces refugees vulnerable for the slave traders.
1600’s The Dutch takes over the slave trade in Cameroon.
1700’s The London Baptist Missionary Society creates a Christian colony in Victoria (Today: Limbe). The first inhabitants of Limbe are freed slaves from Jamaica, Ghana and Liberia. Also Africans who has converted to Christianity settle in Victoria.
1845 The trade between Cameroon and Europe gradually develops. The first larger European settlement is founded by the English navy engineer and missionary Alfred Saker. Saker starts building schools and churches in Douala at the mouth of Wouri River.
1858: Alfred Saker founds the first European settlements in Victoria. He sees great strategic/financial possibilities in the settlements and tries to convince the English government for making the area a crown colony.
KAMERUN – GERMAN COLONY
July 12, 1884 Gustav Nachtigal signs a treaty with the Chiefs of Doula on behalf of the German Kaiser Wilhelm. In return for trade advantages the chiefs accept a German protectorate. The names of the chiefs (Bell, Akwa and Deïdo) lives on in Cameroon today
1886 The European colonial powers divides Africa between them at a conference in Berlin. The Europeans agrees to the new borders for the entire African continent. The borders are drawn without considering differences in culture and language for the inhabitants.
1885 Baron von Soden becomes governor of the new German colony: “Kamerun”. His biggest task is fighting rebellious tribes inside the country.
1888 Explorer Georg Zenker founds the German settlement in the mountains later developing to the Capital of Yaoundé.
1907 The second German Governor, Von Puttkamer, constructs a railway into the country. With brutality and forced labour he also starts developing the colony with roads, schools and hospitals. The major town changes name from Kamerunstadt to Douala.
1914: Chief Rudolph Douala Manga Bell and military officer Martin-Paul Samba, two early nationalists resisting the German power, are executed.
BRITISH AND FRENCH CAMEROON
1916 World War I breaks out putting a temporary stop to the development of the German colony. As a result of the war and battles in Kamerun, Britain and France finally forces Germany out of the territory.
1919: Following the war, a declaration splits up Cameroon between Britain and France. The border is drawn roughly following the line of mountains. This administrative and linguistic division of the country has been the cause of tensions and problems up until today.
Administration in British Cameroon stops the use of forced labour (thereby also slowing down the development of the area). French Cameroon continues to use forced labour until 1945.
1922: Cameroon is now officially shared between Britain and France. France now occupies the largest area and Britain keeps the area bordering their colony in Nigeria. British Cameroon and Nigeria are now being administered as one colony, but most British attention and efforts goes to development of Nigeria. British Cameroon is neglected and German settlers return to Victoria making private plantations. The French colony continues to grow with infrastructure, a bigger port in Douala and more export.
1930s: Many German settlers join their plantations and business in support of Nazi-Germany.
1939/1940 As World War II breaks out, all German plantations are confiscated.
1945: The British and French mandates to the colonies in Cameroon are renewed by UN after WWII. British Cameroon continues to be ruled from Nigeria.
January 1, 1960: Ahidjo proclaims independence of the Republic of Cameroon in the former French Cameroon. He is inaugurated as president and starts working to reunite the British and French territories.
October, 1961: A unique referendum in British Cameroon is carried out with support from UN. The Northern part of British Cameroon votes to join Nigeria, while the South wants to join the French speaking Cameroun.
May 20, 1972: The federal structure is dissolved and a new constitution is made with the formation of the United Republic of Cameroon.