How many Cameroonians have heard of Joseph Merrick? The Jamaican and first missionary to create a mission on the coast of Cameroon? Most people are used to hearing about the British missionary Alfred Saker who “brought” christianity to the coastal towns of Cameroon, and is often referred to as the pioneer, even though he was first hired as a ship mechanic, millwright, and naval engineer before becoming a missionary upon his arrival. So there are thousands of schools and streets named after this “great” white man in Cameroon: College Alfred Saker and Boulangerie Saker in Douala, Saker Baptist College in Limbe, to name just a few; there is even a monument to this man in downtown Limbe. Can you imagine my surprise when I learned that Alfred Saker was not the “pioneer” I had been made to believe, but rather a later pioneer following on the footsteps of others? Yes… Alfred Saker came after others had started sewing the seeds of Christianity on Cameroonian soil, and his main advantage was that he was a European (let’s call a spade a spade). The real man who should be considered missionary pioneer to the coastal towns of Cameroon was the Jamaican Baptist missionary, Joseph Merrick, who, assisted by another Jamaican Joseph Jackson Fuller, established the first successful mission on the Cameroonian coast of Africa.
Who was Joseph Merrick? Joseph Merrick was a Black Jamaican, who began preaching in 1837 in Jamaica and was ordained a full missionary in 1838. The work of the Baptist Society in Cameroons was an outcome of the freeing of the slaves in Jamaica. Many thousands of these freed slaves were members of Baptist Churches in that island, and the first-fruits of their new found liberty was the desire to help their own people in Africa, the land of their origin. Thus, Joseph Merrick had been recruited by the Baptist Missionary Society of London who was looking for Jamaicans to preach in Africa. Merrick, accompanied by his wife, arrived in Spanish-controlled Santa Isabel (then Clarence, and today known as Malabo) on the island of Fernando Po (Bioko) in 1843. In 1844, he visited Bimbia (near Limbe) and spoke to King William (William of Bimbia) of the Isubu people to request permission to establish a church on the mainland. After the initial resistance, he was granted permission, and in 1844-1845 he founded the Jubilee Mission. Over the next 5 years, he set up to translate parts of the New Testament in the Isubu language, set up a brick-making machine, a printing press, and translated the bible, and wrote a textbook for teaching in Isubu.
Adventurous, Merrick made several excursions into the interior from the coast, and climbed Mount Cameroon, thus becoming the first non-African to visit the Bakoko people.
Unfortunately, in 1849 he got sick, and set off to England with his wife for treatment but died at sea. Upon his death, Joseph Jackson Fuller took charge of the mission station and congregation at Bimbia. Merrick’s efforts also paved the way for Alfred Saker to make further progress – he made use of Merrick’s printing press to translate and print the Bible in Duala. Joseph Merrick can be seen as the pioneer of the missionary work in Cameroon. He had a talent for learning languages and within a short time he preached in both Isubu and Duala.
In essence Joseph Merrick is the man who should be celebrated, just as much as Alfred Saker, if not more, particularly in the Limbe region. Why has Joseph Merrick been forgotten? Is it because he was Black?
Have you ever wondered about the meaning of the name of the largest city of Cameroon, Douala? For the longest time, I always wondered why it was named after the people of the locality, the Douala people, and it seemed odd that a people arriving somewhere would name the locality after themselves as a group, not the king, not something to do with the environment, but themselves… I wondered if the name was not a heritage of the European colonization instead.
Before falling under German rule in 1884, the town was known as Cameroons Town, and later became Kamerunstadt (Cameroon city), the capital of German Kamerun. On January 1st 1901, the city was renamed Douala by decree of the German governor of the colony, and the original name Kamerunstadt was transfered to the entire territory of Kamerun.
For many of the indigenous inhabitants of the city of Douala, the name comes from a phonetic change of the name of their ancestor Ewalé, who upon arriving on the shores of the Wouri River around the 16th century called it Madu M’Ewalé or the mouth of the watercourse of Ewalé. Madu M’Ewalé is the plural form of Dul’Ewalé which later became Duala. Yet others believe that Duala comes from the exclamation “Dua, Ala!” (“Start, go!”) which has nothing to do with the arrival of Ewalé.
On 12 July 1884, the Germano – Duala Treaty was signed between the Douala kings and a representative of the German firm Woermann. On 14 July 1884, Gustav Nachtigal landed in Cameroons Town to take possession of the territory. The city then became known as Kamerunstadt, the capital of the territory from 1885 to 1901.
Today, Douala is the largest city of the country, and its economic capital; it is in essence the economic lung of the entire country, and is one of the major cities of the CEMAC zone. If you ever visit Douala, do not forget to go by the port, and visit Bonanjo with all its relics from colonial times, a blend from German, French, and modern architectures. Also, on a clear day, one can catch a glimpse of Mt Cameroon, Africa’s 3rd tallest mountain.
During the last elections held on 30 December 2018 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi was pronounced winner . He defeated another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu, as well as Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who was supported by term-limited outgoing president Joseph Kabila. Immediately, the ‘international community (I.C.)’ pounced on Tshisekedi claiming that he could not have won, and that it was but Martin Fayulu the second who had won. There were even threats by the ‘international community’ via the French government through her Ambassador to the Congolese government. Tshisekedi’s victory has since then been upheld by the constitutional court of the DRC, and he was installed as president on 24 January 2019.
In Cameroon, the story is a fair tale. After the 7 October 2018 presidential elections, opposition candidate Maurice Kamto, from all indications, came out winner of the elections against outgoing president, Paul Biya, who has been in power for the past 37 years… It was total silence by the I.C., in the case of Cameroon, who saw nothing wrong with a man who had been in power 37 years! They clapped and called those elections a standard of democracy! In the western media, there was no mention of Maurice Kamto, and the international community saw nothing wrong with the results of a presidential election being read 2 weeks after polling took place! This is the same international community that was so eager to get the results out in a timely manner in other countries such as the DRC, Madagascar, etc. Yet, Maurice Kamto won the elections and no mention of what happened to him took place. For Kabila in the DRC, the international community, via its medias, spent long time telling the world how Kabila had been in power for 18 years, and how anti-democratic that was. Yet in Cameroon, Paul Biya has been in power for 37 years, and they are clapping and calling the electoral hold-up democratic!
Since then, Cameroon has further descended into the abyss that it slipped into 37 years ago. Not only is the Cameroon territorial integrity in question: Boko Haram in the North has cut off the 2 northernmost regions from the rest of the country, the 2 English-speaking regions are cut off from the country ; in the East of the country, armed bands coming from the Central African Republic (CAR) are terrorizing the population, and in the Adamawa Region, armed groups coming from CAR are kidnapping people for ransom including traditional chiefs and stealing cattle; there are refugees both inside and outside the country, and post-electoral violence has ushered in a profound exacerbation of tribalism leading to the politics of divide-and-conquer. It looks like the ultimate objective is dividing Cameroon, like in Sudan, with an exacerbation of ethnic differences with a further push toward chaos for better exploitation of the country’s resources and emptying it of its youths.
If the I.C. can scream for DRC, and publish articles about Martin Fayulu being the winner in its media the day after publication of results, with the catholic church complaining about results, why does it not show any indignation or some concern for Cameroon? How can a 37-year-old rulein Cameroon be applauded and referred to as being democratic by the I.C., while an 18-year rule in DRC is called a dictatorship? Why is 85-year-old Paul Biya’s 37-year rule being applauded when Mugabe in Zimbabwe was vilified? How can Biya, with nothing to show for his stewardship, not even the integrity of his territory, not even roads, but total chaos and backwardness, be applauded by BBC, RFI, The Guardian, and France 24? How can a president purposely destroy its country including its resources and be applauded by this so-called democratic I.C.? Well, because he serves the interests of the I.C., and has been a good student and puppet in helping the I.C. pillage the resources of his country. Cameroon is so rich in natural resources: oil, cocoa (6th producer), coffee, natural gas, gold, diamond, etc. In the robbery that is so synonymous with France’s predatory behavior in Africa (particularly in its so called “pré-carré”), why should this be a surprise? France’s nature in Africa, and the I.C.’s in general, has been and remain predatory.
In Cameroon today, there is a strong dictatorship. The mafia that is synonymous with this regime has been repressing in blood all peaceful demonstrations and marches for the upholding of the genuine electoral results. All protest marches calling for the electoral records to be published are either banned or have seen the winner of the elections Maurice Kamto and his team arrested, including many innocents who have been screaming for a change, for a chance to have better life, roads, jobs, better healthcare, etc. People in the English-speaking provinces have been, hurt, beaten or killed, for simple claims which are basic human rights. A lot of them are currently displaced… people in the north provinces have been displaced, and hurt by Boko Haram… yet BBC, RFI, and the likes of them say nothing! Instead they applaud a government which refuses to negotiate with its own people. We do not ask them to intervene, but if those medias are supposed to be impartial, then they should be impartial, otherwise they should clearly state their agenda: portrayal of Africa as poor and in need of help, pillaging of African resources, promotion of wars on the African continent to help their cronies those western multinationals destroy and get all resources for nothing.
We, Africans, should recognize that we are not, and never were independent. We should protest and fight pacifically like this is our last fight.A mother sending her child to school, a father being able to feed his family, university graduates finding jobs in countries where everything is yet to be built, roads, water, electricity, basic human rights to respect, all of that are rights… and it looks like we will have to earn them ourselves. Like Thomas Sankara said, “the slave who is not capable of assuming his rebellion does not deserve that we feel sorry for him. This slave will respond only to his misfortune if he is deluding himself about the suspect condescension of a master who claims to free him. Only struggle liberates…[ …l’esclave qui n’est pas capable d’assumer sa révolte ne mérite pas que l’on s’apitoie sur son sort.Cet esclave répondra seul de son malheur s’il se fait des illusions sur la condescendance suspecte d’un maître qui prétend l’affranchir.Seule la lutte libère …(Discours de Sankara à l’ONU le 4 octobre 1984 (texte intégral) Speech delivered on October 4, 1984 during the UN general Assembly)].” DO NOT trust this condescending I.C., DO NOT trust their media that is very partial, and were all against Laurent Gbagbo, who today has been acquitted from crimes invented by this I.C. and its cronies. We have to fight for our own rights, our own freedom, acknowledge that we are in charge of our own destinies, and never expect some partial Western media to report on the truth!
I was quite proud of the Cameroonian team who succeeded in going through the first round of the 2015 Women FIFA’s World Cup in Canada. This was Cameroon’s first World Cup participation. With no government support, barely any equipment, and little organization, they managed to do well with so little. Here is a quote by the Cameroonian coach Enow Ngachu, “The day we prepare and organize very well, I think an African nation will one day win the World Cup. … We just hope that with our performance many things will change in Cameroon and in Africa.”
On June 20th, China PR survived a tough examination from Cameroon with a lone early strike from Wang Shanshan, thus ending the Lionnes of Cameroon’s journey. Both teams played with high-tempo and intensity from the opening whistle in Edmonton with chances aplenty at either end, but it was the Chinese who remained resilient at the back to advance into the last-eight. We are very proud of these Cameroonian sisters who showed that African women, and women in general, can play very good, entertaining, and amazing football/soccer, and should be equally cared for by their governments and people. My hat to Gaelle Enganamouit, Madeleine Ngono Mani, Christine Manie, Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene, and all the other sisters who made us proud. Indomitable Lioness Gaelle Enganamouit became the first African to score a hat-trick at the Women’s World Cup. Below is a highlight from the game Cameroon – Switzerland, which was quite intense and beautiful to watch. Enjoy!
Tomorrow, the world will vibrate to the rhythm of samba, carnivals, and Copacabana… Yes tomorrow, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will start in Brazil, and 32 of the best soccer nations will compete at this great planetary event. This will one month of soccer, pure joy, fun, and above all talent; Talent expressed by players from around the globe. Legends will be made, new faces discovered, and dreams will take off.
Five African teams will grace the tournament: Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria.
We do hope that at least one African team will advance into the round of 16, and beyond. Here are some of the African stars to watch out for.
Samuel Eto’o Fils, captain of Cameroon’s Indomitaple Lions, is incontestably one of the best forwards on the planet, and one of the greatest strikers of his generation. This might be his last world cup, and Cameroon’s first in 8 years. The Pichichi, and winner of several honors including African Ballon d’Or, will have to be ready to affront Brazil, the host country, Mexico, and Croatia in group A.
Didier Drogba, captain of Cote d’Ivoire’s Elephants, like Eto’o is also one of the best on the planet. After playing for Chelsea and winning countless trophies, he is now in Turkey with Galatasaray FC. This will probably be his last world cup. We wish him, and the Ivorian team the very best. They qualified with gusto to this competition. They have a relatively easy group with Colombia, Japan, and Greece. I will put my money on them moving to the next round in the tournament.
The Black Stars of Ghana were fancied to repeat, or even improve on, their run to the quarter-finals in 2010 in South Africa. That was until the draw was made and they were pitted with the world’s second and third-ranked sides. Asamoah Gyan and his teammates will play against Germany, Portugal, and the United States. This is the “group of death”. Ghana is a very good team; if they manage to make it to the round of 16, then they will quite far at the World Cup. We wish them the very best in the competition.
Throughout the years, I have placed high hopes on African teams and have always been disappointed. I might once again be disappointed. However, this is planetary tournament, and the fun of it makes one root for any good team. For the world cup winner, I believe Brazil, the host country has home court advantage, as well as a pool of great talents. Let us hope that will be enough to make them winners. I also think Argentina of Lionel Messi will be a really great contender, as well as Spain, the last world cup winners. Overall, let the world cup start, with all the fun, and may the best team win!!!
Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon and its second largest city after Douala, is often known as “the city with the seven hills” because of the hills surrounding it… but what does it really mean? Does its name refer to its hills?
In Béti, Yaoundé is often called, Ongolo-Ewondo, or the Ewondos’ enclosure (la clôture des Ewondos). The city was born around 1889, when the German traders implanted a camp in the Ewondo region and called it Sono station after a local Ewondo chief Essono Ela who had offered them hospitality (the Germans had encountered a strong resistance in the Vouté and Eton regions). Hearing locals from the coast refer to it as Ya-Ewondo or Among the Ewondo (chez les Ewondos), the Germans called it ‘Jaunde’ and it later turned into ‘Yaunde’, and in French Yaoundé. The station later turned into an administrative region under the leadership of the botanist Zenker who established a detailed map of the area in 1890. Upon its creation, it was first a scientific post (probably because of the botanist), and later in 1895 became a military and trading post for ivory and rubber.
Yaoundé was not always the country’s capital. After the 1909 volcanic eruption of Mt Cameroon in Buéa (Gbéa) which was then the capital, and the humid climate of Douala, the Germans decided to move the capital to Yaoundé because of its central location and its milder climate (and of course, no volcano). After Germany’s defeat in World War I, Cameroon was placed under French (the eastern regions) and British protectorate (the western regions). Yaoundé consequently became the capital of French Cameroon, and continued as the capital of the Republic of Cameroon after independence (it was first the Federal Republic of Cameroon in 1961, then The United Republic of Cameroon in 1972, which then officially became the Republic of Cameroon in 1984). From 100 inhabitants on 2 acres on land at the end of the 19th century, Yaoundé is today a vibrant city home to almost 2 million inhabitants.
Yaoundé lies at the center of the nation, at about 600 – 1000 m above sea level. The city first grew around the Mfoundi river. A network of hills make up its landscape such as Mts Mbam Minkom (1295 m), Nkolodom (1221 m), Messa, Fébé, Akokdoué in the North and West, and Mt Eloumden (1159 m) in the south. The rivers are the Mfoundi, Ekozoa, Biyeme, and Mefou. Today, Yaoundé is the siege of power, the presidential palace, the house of parliament, all ministries and embassies. Please enjoy this song of one of Cameroon’s great singers: André-Marie Tala about Yaoundé, and its beauty. What I have always liked about Yaoundé are its hills (and the red soil): from the top of one them, other parts of the city can be seen; it gives a feeling of “breathing in” or “taking in” the beauty of the entire city. Feel the joy of visiting this city which, like Rome has 7 hills. Enjoy the Rome of Africa!
Today, I would like to talk about one of the heroes of Cameroonian history, Rudolf Douala Manga Bell, who stood against the Germans in the 1910s in Kamerun. His courage, and strong determination earned him the right of martyr and hero in the history of the Douala (or Duala) people, and thus of Cameroon.
Rudolf Douala Manga Bell was born in 1872, and studied in Cameroontown (modern-day Douala). He was the first son of King Manga Ndumbe Bell, of the Douala people. After completing his primary education and part of his secondary school in Cameroon, he went to study at the Lycée of Aalen in Bonn (Germany) finishing secondary school. He later went on to study law at the university there.
Manga Bell married Emily Engome Dayas, the daughter of an English trader and a Douala woman after his return home in 1896. He also became a civil servant. On 2 September 1908, he succeeded to his father as Paramount Chief (Chef Supérieur) of the Bell dynasty (founded since 1792) which encompassed the Bonamandone, Bonapriso, Bonadoumbe, all owners and inhabitants of the Plateau Joss in Douala. In those days, Douala was composed of several tribes: Bakole, Bakweri, Bamboko, Isubu (or Isuwu), Limba (or Malimba), Mungo, and Wovea. Among those chiefs, some of them including the famous King Akwa, signed a Germano-Douala treaty on 2 July 1884, which placed Cameroon under German protection. Cameroontown thus became Kamerunstadt.
In 1910, the German governor of Cameroon, Theodor Seitz, approved an urbanization project for the city of Douala (Kamerunstadt had been renamed Douala) set to turn it into one of the largest ports of Africa. The project outlined a plan to relocate the Douala people inland from the Wouri river to allow European-only settlement of the area. Neighborhoods such as Neu Bell, Neu Akwa, and Neu Deido were to be created for the indigenous people; these new allotments were going to be separated from the ‘European city’ by a barrier 1km wide (early version of apartheid!). The expropriations affected most of the Douala clans, who were angered and formed a united front behind Manga Bell. Rudolf Douala immediately refused, and told the Germans that the treaty signed in 1884 did not stipulate the removal/expulsion of the locals from their lands, and that this separation constituted a form of apartheid. Manga Bell then enlisted the help of Hellmut von Gerlach, a German journalist. Gerlach managed to secure a suspension order from the Reichstag Budget Commission in March, but the order was overturned when Colonial Secretary Wilhelm Solf convinced elements of the press, businessmen in the colony, politicians, and other groups to finally rally behind the expropriation. Manga Bell and the Douala requested permission to send envoys to Germany to plead their case, but the authorities denied them. In secret, Manga Bell sent Adolf Ngoso Din to Germany to hire a lawyer for the Douala and pursue the matter in court.
Manga Bell then turned to other European governments and to leaders of other African ethnic groups for support. His envoys to other Cameroonian leaders reached Bali, Balong, Dschang, Foumban, Ngaoundéré, Yabassi, and Yaoundé. Charles Atangana (Karl Atangana), leader of the Ewondo and Bane peoples, kept Manga Bell’s plan secret but urged the Douala leader to reconsider. In Bulu lands on the other hand, Martin-Paul Samba agreed to contact the French for military support if Manga Bell petitioned the British. However, there is no evidence that Manga Bell ever did so. In Foumban, Ibrahim Njoya, sultan of the Bamum people, rejected the plan and informed the Basel Mission on 27 April 1914 that Manga Bell was planning a pan-Kamerun rebellion. The missionaries alerted the Germans.
Noticing the German lack of respect of the signed law, who started removing locals from their lands, Bell allied with other chiefs of Cameroon to counter the colonial plans. During the mutiny, the Germans arrested the Douala leader and Ngoso Din on 10 May 1914 accusing him of high treason. Their trial was held on 7 August 1914. World War I had just begun, and an attack by the Allied West Africa Campaign in Kamerun was imminent; accordingly, the trial was rushed. On 8 August 1914, Rudolf Douala Manga Bell and Ngoso Din were hanged.
Let us all celebrate Rudolph Douala Manga Bell, the Tét’èkombo (the king of kings in Douala), the first, the uniter of Cameroon (already reaching out to other kings), and one of Cameroon’s biggest resistant. Enjoy this old rendition by Charles Ewandje (probably recorded in the 70′s) of Tet’Ekombo an ode to resistance and to the land. The song was written in 1929 in memory of Rudolf Douala Manga Bell.
“Charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même!” Il est enfin temps que je parle d’un des pères de la nation camerounaise, d’un unique indépendantiste qui s’est battu pour la libération de son pays, et qui a été lâchement assassiné en Suisse (empoisonné) par les services secrets Français: Felix-Roland Moumié! C’est en 2006, que nous decouvrons pour la première fois, l’histoire ou plutôt un bref sommaire relatant les derniers jours de cet indépendantiste à travers un documentaire intitulé “L’assassinat de Felix Moumié- L’Afrique sous contrôle,” réalisé par Frank Garbely.
Felix Moumié, médécin de formation (chirurgien d’ailleurs), deviendra le leader de l’Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) après l’assassinat de Ruben Um Nyobé. Il menera bien le parti et sera assassiné à son tour, empoisonné dans un restaurant de Genève en Suisse. Dans le documentaire que vous verrez ci-dessous, faites attention de ne pas etiquetter Moumié. La chose qui me fait vraiment mal quand je vois ce documentaire, c’est sa veuve, Marthe Ekemeyong Moumié qui pleure et réclame que lumière soit faite sur la mort de son mari, et surtout que son corps lui soit remis afin qu’il puisse être enterré dans son pays natal, le Cameroun.
La chose qui me fait encore plus mal, c’est de savoir que cette dame qui s’est battue pour que la mémoire de son mari soit célébrée fut violée et assassinée au début de l’année (Janvier 2009) à Ebolowa! Pourquoi ce crime ignoble? Qu’est-ce-qu’une pauvre dame inoffensive peut-elle faire à qui que ce soit? Comme quoi il y a encore certaines choses qui méritent d’etre déterrées, et il est important que les Camerounais connaissent leur histoire. Une chose est sûre et certaine, je lève mon chapeau à cette dame qui mérite de faire partie des annales des femmes fortes du continent Africain.