Colonial Treaties in Africa: The Germano – Duala Treaty of 12 July 1884

Flag of Kamerun, German colony

A few years back, I met some German colleagues who did not know that Germany had African colonies. I was astounded, especially given that some of these colonies (territories, people, cultures) were broken into two as a result of Germany’s loss of World War I: Great Britain and France divided Kamerun (Cameroons) and Togoland. Belgium gained Ruanda-Urundi (Rwanda and Burundi) in northwestern German East Africa, while Great Britain obtained the greater land mass of German East Africa (Tanzania), Portugal received the Kionga Triangle, a sliver of German East Africa, and South Africa gained German South-West Africa (Namibia). It is like getting punished for someone else’s sins: Africans had no say in it! Here is one of those treacherous colonial treaties Africans had to sign, and then overnight became a ‘COLONY‘, in this case a German colony. On 12 July 1884, King Ndumbé Lobé Bell and King Akwa of Cameroons River (Wouri River, Douala) signed a treaty in which they assigned sovereign rights, legislation and administration of their country in full to the German firms of Adolph Woermann and Jantzen & Thormählen. The treaty included conditions that existing contracts and property rights be maintained, existing customs respected and the German administration continue to make “comey”, or trading tax, payments to the kings as before.

King Bell in later life

Prior to signing this ‘famous’ Germano-Duala treaty of 12th July 1884, the Duala kings had the German consul sign a pre-treaty in which their rights were preserved. Little did they know that none of these clauses will be respected by the German party afterwards. The original text is found below; for more information, check out the amazing work of the Pr. Kum’a Ndumbe III of the Afric’Avenir foundation, who has done a marvelous job researching these German treaties and impact in Cameroon.

We, the undersigned independent Kings and Chiefs of the country called Cameroons situated on the Cameroons River, between the River Bimbia on the North Side, the River Qua-Qua on the South Side and up to 4°10’ North Lat. have in a meeting held today in the German factory on King Aqua’s Beach, voluntarily concluded as follows:

We give this day our rights of Sovereignty, the Legislation and Management of this our country entirely to Mr. Edouard Schmidt acting for the C. Woermann and Mr. Johannes Voss acting for Misters Jantzen & Thormahlen, both in Hamburg, and for many years trading in this River.

We have conveyed our rights of Sovereignty, the Legislation and Management of this our country to the firms mentioned under the following reservation:

Wouri estuary in 1850s
  1. Under reservation of rights of third persons
  2. Reserving that all friendship and commercial treaties made before with other foreign governments shall have full power
  3. That the land cultivated by us now and the places, the towns are built on shall be property of present owners and their successors
  4. That the Coumie shall be paid annually as it has been paid to the Kings and Chiefs before
  5. That during the first time of establishing an administration here, our country fashions will be respected.

Cameroons the twelfth day of July thousand eight hundred and eighty four.

Source: L’Afrique s’annonce au rendez-vous, la tête haute! Du Pr. Kum’a Ndumbe III, P. 147-148, Ed. AfricAvenir/Exchange & Dialogue 2012

Pictured here is the treaty signed on 15 July 1884 by the chiefs of Jibarret (Djebale) and Sorrokow (Sodiko), Cameroons

Blague Africaine: Les Jumeaux / African Joke: The Twins


Deux hommes discutent dans un bar.
T’es né où toi ?
A Paris
C’est marrant ça ! Moi aussi, et en quelle année ?
En 1973
C’est drôle ça ! Moi aussi, et quel mois ?
Ça alors ! Moi aussi, et quel jour ?
Le 28
INCROYABLE ! Moi aussi !!...
Et là, un troisième homme entre dans le bar et s’adresse au patron
Salut patron, quoi de neuf ?
Oh pas grand chose, juste les jumeaux qui sont encore bourrés…

twin-boys1Two men are talking at a bar.
Where were you born?
That’s funny! Me too, and what year?
In 1973
That’s funny! Me too, and what month?
Wow! Me too, and what day?
The 28th
Unbelievable! Me too!! …
A third man then enters a bar and talks to the owner,
Hello boss, what’s up?
Not much, just the twins who are drunk again …

The Lion’s Whiskers (and Marriage)

Senegalese couple (, Bade 1996)

Many years ago, there lived a young married couple in a small village in Africa. In the beginning, the husband and the wife were very happy in their marriage and loved spending time with each other. However, of late, things had changed a lot. The husband started staying a little unhappy and never returned home on time, unlike before. The wife loved her husband very much and thought that he was the most wonderful man in the world, but of late, the husband’s behavior made the wife really sad and miserable.

One day, she decided to visit a wise old man in the village, to get some advice about her marriage. The old man had got this couple married just a few years back and had thought that it would last forever. He was very sad to hear that they were unhappy in their marriage.

The old man said that he could end their marriage, but he asked the wife for one last time, if she really wanted to end this marriage and marry someone else.


I want my husband to be loving and caring like before and even I want to be like that,” the wife replied sadly. The old man replied, “If that is what you really want then I think I can help you. I can make a secret potion. Once your husband has the potion, he will turn into a very loving and caring man.” “Really?” the wife exclaimed. “Then please prepare it and give it to me at once,” she said impatiently.

I can make the potion but you have to get me a very special ingredient for it,” the old man said to the wife.
I will get you whatever you want,” the wife said.
Alright then, please get me a single whisker from the body of a living lion.”
The wife was shocked to hear about the ingredient. But she wanted to save her marriage so badly that she promised the old man that she would get the whisker.

The next day, the wife bought a huge chunk of meat and waited near the river where the lions often came to drink water. As she saw a lion approaching from a distance, she dropped the meat on the ground and hid behind a tree. The lion saw the meat on the ground and finished it in one single bite. The lion knew that the wife was there. She was shivering with fear, waiting for the lion to leave.

After a while, the lion left quietly.

PirogueThe next day the wife did the same thing. Only this time the lion came quickly to eat the meat. This continued for about a month and every day the woman kept moving closer and closer to the lion.
After a month, the wife decided to move really close to the lion and one day, she actually went and sat beside the lion while he was eating the piece of meat. Shaking with fear the wife slowly pulled out a whisker from the lion’s chin. The lion turned its huge head and took a look at her. She almost froze with fear. But the lion turned back its head and continued to eat.

The wife waited for the lion to leave and then ran to the old man with the lion’s whisker. The old man was awestruck to hear the story of the wife. He said, “It requires immense courage, patience and perseverance to accomplish a task like that. If you can show even half the amount of patience and courage in your marriage, I am sure you can change your husband with that.”

African couple (Wikimedia Commons)

What about the potion?” The wife asked eagerly.
The old man replied, “I can certainly make the potion. But that wouldn’t last forever. But if you try, you can change your husband into a loving man with the help of your love, understanding and patience. Make him feel loved and wanted and share all his problems. I am sure he will change into a better man.”

The wife followed the advice of the old man and within a month the husband’s behavior changed towards her. He became more caring and loving and was never late from work. Thus, they lived a happily married life forever.

A Traditional San story

What Should Reparations for Slavery Entail?

Slave capture

In my series on Reclaiming African History, I came across this article by Ama Biney on Pambazuka about reparations for slavery, which I found very pertinent. I decided to share parts of it. I particularly liked the ending paragraph, “… in addressing the issue of reparations, we must also address transforming the system of capitalism which slavery gave birth to. A rupture with this unequal and exploitative system is fundamental in eliminating oppression that remains with us in the twenty-first century in reconfigured forms“. For the full article, go to Pambazuka.


… what should reparations entail?


Acknowledging the atrocity and enormity of this experience is necessary in an official apology. Commentators have observed how the Maoris received an apology from the British Queen in 1995. [2] In 2008 the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized in parliament to all Aborigines for laws and policies that “inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss”. [3] It appears when it comes to Africans our lives, bodies and history do not matter. Racism will find various rationalizations (or excuses) to deny that enslavement of Africans merits an apology and reparations. Yet, we cannot erase the collective historical memory and experiences of enslavement that was wrought on people of African descent and continues with the covert and overt forms of racial discrimination that they still experience in the 21st century. …

Slave ships

Whilst it is the case that no amount of financial compensation can address the psychological and emotional scars of enslavement of people of African descent, nor the horrors of the Middle Passage, nor those who remain buried in the Atlantic Ocean as a consequence of suicide, nor the 132 Africans deliberately thrown overboard in 1786 on the slave ship Zong — in order that the ship owners could claim the insurance — a comprehensive economic package needs to address the fact that the current economic and technological underdevelopment of Africa and the Caribbean is symptomatic of the impact of 400 years of enslavement. This enslavement was followed by the brief but no less damaging interlude of colonialism and must be recognized as central to any form of reparations.

There are those who refuse to accept the fact that the economic wealth of Europe was built on the sweat, blood and toil of African people to the detriment of Africa. Yet, let us be clear that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was not a “trade.” The meaning of “trade” supposes equal benefit to both parties. It was not “trade” but the looting of Africa in which Europe benefited at the expense of Africa as Walter Rodney graphically illustrates in his acclaimed book, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.” The consequence for Africa was and remains that “the African economy taken as a whole was diverted away from its previous line of development and became distorted.” [4]

Slaves on board a ship

Reparations is therefore a quest to repair the economic damage of underdevelopment wrought by the process of enslavement and colonialism. This economic redress will be symbolic for it may run into trillions of dollars, for one can never place an economic value on the millions of Africans whose lives were lost in the slave raids, or as they died in the long march to the forts on the coast. How many died on such journeys? Can we account for those enslaved women who secretly aborted or killed their child to prevent them from experiencing slavery? And should we not include the medical experimentations carried out on the bodies of enslaved African women graphically documented in the books From Midwives to Medicine and Medical Apartheid? [5]

… Also, it is important for us to remember that on the ending of slavery in the British colonies, the British government were able to compensate the slave owners £20 million (£20 billion in today’s money). There was no compensation for the former enslaved African men and women. In the USA there were pledges to the freed men and women of “forty acres and a mule” that never materialized across the board. [6]

What should reparations for slavery entail? It should address the following:

First, an apology to all continental Africans and people of African descent for the immorality of slavery, for merely stating “regret” — as the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair did in 2007 — is mere cant. [7]

Pendant Ivory mask representing Queen Idia, Iyoba of Benin City (16th Century)
Pendant Ivory mask representing Queen Idia, Iyoba of Benin City (16th Century)

Second, we must demand that all Western governments instruct Western museums and citizens to hand over to African countries illicitly acquired African artifacts languishing both publicly and privately in their hidden vaults. They must also provide the training and facilities for African countries to host, display and conserve these returned items. This includes thousands of artifacts, among them being the more famous and well known 400 Ethiopian treasures looted by British soldiers during the 1868 Magdala expedition. [9] There are also the Benin bronzes looted in the British invasion of the Nigerian kingdom of Benin in 1896. [10]

Third, as mentioned above, the brain drain of African and African Caribbean professionals should be halted by offering these professionals the same salaries to voluntarily return to Africa and the Caribbean in order to assist in the building of new schools, universities, hospitals and clinics that would be set up and financed by a comprehensive reparations economic program.

Debt cancellation would free up these critical funds to address the real needs of African citizens.

capitalism2Fourth, cancellation of all debt incurred by the Caribbean and African nations on the grounds that they are odious and were not incurred by the ordinary citizens of Africa and the Caribbean but rather their ruling classes. … In short, aid is simply a paltry and ineffective band aid that keeps African economies in a continued process of economic subordination to neoliberal capitalism under the illusion that there will be “trickle down growth.” …

… Ultimately, in addressing the issue of reparations, we must also address transforming the system of capitalism which slavery gave birth to. A rupture with this unequal and exploitative system is fundamental in eliminating oppression that remains with us in the twenty-first century in reconfigured forms.

African Naming Tradition


Africa has a rich naming tradition, which varies across the continent.This article by the BBC goes over some of the African naming traditions. I added a few more, and removed their ‘celebrity culture’ section, given that naming children after celebrities is not an African thing but a world thing, and dates as far back as the world. Don’t forget to check out the article I wrote on ‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe. You can read the full article on BBC.


Traditional African names often have unique stories behind them. From the day or time a baby is born to the circumstances surrounding the birth, several factors influence the names parents choose for their children. Whichever ethnic group you look at, these local names reveal a wealth of information about the bearer. Here are [eight] different ways African parents name their children:

Events surrounding birth

African Woman

Among several ethnic groups, picking out names can be influenced by positive or negative circumstances the family finds themselves in around the time a child is born. Often, such names are complete sentences.

  • Ayodele (joy has come home) is a unisex name for a baby whose birth brought happiness to their Yoruba parents in Nigeria.
  • Adetokunbo (crown/wealth has come back home) is a unisex Yoruba name often given to a child born abroad.
  • Ajuji (born on a rubbish heap) is a Hausa name given to a baby after those born before it failed to survive. It is believed that giving the child a “terrible” name will deceive evil spirits into thinking the child is not loved and as a result, allow it to live.
  • Kgomotso and Pumza (comfort) are given to babies born shortly after a death or tragedy in Sesotho and Xhosa families in South Africa.
  • Kiptanui and Cheptanui are often given to babies whose mothers may have suffered extreme difficulties during childbirth among the Kalenjin ethnic group in Kenya.
  • Lindiwe (we have waited) is an isiZulu name often given to a baby girl after a long line of boys.

Emotional warnings

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

Some names, especially in Zimbabwe, [and Nigeria] reflect the mood or circumstance of the family at the time of birth. Some of them serve as warnings or rebukes.

  • Nhamo means misfortune
  • Maidei asks the question “What did you want?”
  • Manyara tells someone “You have been humbled
  • Yananiso means bringing the family together

  But this is not unique to Zimbabwe. [It can be found across the continent, from Malawi, to Nigeria, to Ghana, etc.]

Order of birth

In many African cultures, there is no need for someone to explain whether they are the eldest or youngest of their siblings. This is because their names can reveal that much. This is especially true of twins.


If you meet a Ugandan boy or man called Kakuru or Wasswa, he is likely to be an elder twin. The younger male twin is usually called Kato. These are names specially reserved for twins.

Similarly, the Kalenjins in Kenya refer to the first born as Yator (first to open the way) and the last born Towett meaning last.

The Yorubas call the first twin Taiwo (taste the world) and the second Kehinde (came after).

In Ghana, the unisex names Panyin and Kakra, which basically mean older and younger, are used for twins.

[In Cameroon, in the Bamileke culture, the child who follows directly after twins is given names such as Kenfack, Kengne or Kammagni. While the parents of twins are given the special names of Magne (mother of twins) and Tagne (father of twins), and the Magne used to have a special place in the society just like the twins. Moreover, babies born breach are also given a particular name, Tcheutchoua, to show how difficult the delivery had been.]

Day-born names

calendar Among some Ghanaian [and Ivorian] ethnic groups like the Akan, Ga, Ewe and Nzema, a name is automatically assigned based on the day the child is born. These day names correspond to the day of the week someone is born and so by default, everybody has one – though the name may not necessarily appear on official documents.

  • MondayKojo (male), Adwoa (female)
  • TuesdayKwabena (male), Abena (female)
  • WednesdayKwaku (male) [Kouakou in Cote d’Ivoire], Ekua (female)
  • ThursdayYaw (male) [Yao in Cote d’Ivoire], Yaa (female)
  • FridayKofi (male), Efua (female), [Kafui (unisex)]
  • Saturday – Kwame (male) [Kouame in Cote d’Ivoire], Ama (female)
  • SundayAkwesi (male), Akosua, (female)

These day names can vary slightly depending on the ethnic group.

Faith-based names

Across the continent, several local names have religious links. Among the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups in Nigeria, a name that starts or ends with Chi (Igbo), Chukwu (Igbo) or Oluwa (Yoruba) has some kind of reference to God.

  • Olusegun means God conquers (Yoruba, Nigeria)
  • Hailemariam means the power of Mary (Ethiopia)
  • Makafui means I will praise God (Ewe ethnic group in Togo, Ghana, Benin)

Day and night

Among some groups in eastern and southern Africa, certain names are selected depending on the time of the day or season a child is born.

  • Kibet means day and Kiplagat means night (Kalenjin in Kenya)
  • Mumbua and Wambua means rainy season for boys and girls (Kamba in Kenya) …
  • Yunwa means hunger or time of famine (Hausa)
African tree at dusk
African tree at dusk

While the Luos are very specific:

  • Omondi (dawn)
  • Okinyi (morning)
  • Onyango (mid-morning)
  • Ochieng‘ (sunny midday)
  • Otieno (night)
  • Oduor (midnight)

Girls are given the same names but starting with an A instead of an O. [For instance, Atieno (night).]

Meet the ancestors

Respected elders of the family may be dead but they continue to live on through their grandchildren. Parents often name babies after senior members of the clan whether dead or alive. But it is considered disrespectful to casually shout or call out the name of a senior family member that has been given to a child, so instead it is common to hear a child affectionately called Ouma (grandma) or Oupa (grandpa) in southern Africa.

Similarly in Senegal, a child who is named after a grandfather tends to bear the grandfather’s nickname as well. So a baby boy often ends up being called Vieux (old man), [or Pape, or Papa].

An antelope at dusk
An antelope at dusk, with the African sun

Rude nicknames

Somalia has a unique system. Most people have three namesthe ones they were given, as well as that of their father and grandfather [same in Sudan]. But many also have nicknames, which are so common that they can find their way onto official ID cards.

These nicknames often pick on the negative physical traits of the bearer, if he is male. Some common nicknames for men include Langare (limpy), Coryaan (handicapped), Lugay (one leg) or Genay (missing tooth).

Women, however, mostly get flattering nicknames like Lul (diamond), Macanay (sweet), Cod Weyne (rich voiced), Dahable (golden) and Indho Daraleey (gazelle eyes).

Happy 2017!

Fellow readers, I wish you all an AMAZING new year, may the year 2017 mark the fulfillment of old and new dreams that will last a lifetime. I would like to express my profound gratitude to all those who visited my blog, reblogged articles, commented, and to all future visitors. 2016 was a beautiful year: had lots of new views, new subscribers, and many articles getting reblogged on multiple sites. We also ended the year with a book getting published on Kindle, and started new collaborations. For 2017, I wish you wonders without borders, peace, joy, and love.

The 5 top posts of 2016 can be seen below. For this new year, we will bring you even more amazing, fun, and rich articles. Keep trusting, reading, sharing, reblogging, and liking. Keep your heads up, and may your year be as beautiful as the petals of this flower! As always, like Agostinho Neto said, “A luta continua … a vitória é certa!

Happy 2017!

1. Adinkra Symbols and the Rich Akan Culture

2. ‘Love Poem for My Country’ by Sandile Dikeni

3. Samori Toure: African leader and Resistant to French Imperialism

4. History of African Fabrics and Textiles

5. Timbuktu, one of the world’s first and oldest university