Writings by Ruben Um Nyobe: Political Constant of Unity Practiced by Ruben Um Nyobe – 1959

Ruben Um Nyobé
Ruben Um Nyobé

In celebration of the life of  Ruben Um Nyobé, I chose to share with you his writings below on this day, 13 September, the day of his assassination in 1958 by French troops in Cameroon. These writings by  Ruben Um Nyobé, leader of the UPC, were published in 1959. The book was published as “Constante politique d’unité pratiquée par Ruben Um Nyobe – 1959,” by Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC). The text below by Ruben Um Nyobe served as a preface to the book, and has been translated to English by Dr. Y. Afrolegends.com . For the original, go to gallica.fr


Flag of the UPC
Flag of the UPC

Political Constant of Unity practiced by Ruben Um Nyobe – 1959

 Author: Union des Populations du Cameroon

Inform to Enlighten by Ruben Um Nyobe, General Secretary of the Union the Populations du Cameroun (UPC), Leader of the National Resistance for the Liberation of Cameroon

The national aspiration, which has just cumulated in the recognition of our independence, Is the concrete and objective expression of the result of the struggle of our people. No one can claim that independence has been granted to us, we have conquered it. All those who fought for this national liberty, whether dead or alive, have sealed their names in the history of our motherland, their glory will be immortal! But now at the term of a crowned struggle, instead of concord uniting all members of the coalition, a storm of jealousy and hatred, still sweep over our poor little country. Until when obscene passions and the most execrable hypocrisies cease to brave virtue and honesty! Why will cruel selfishness and blind ambitions not recoil before the honor and national dignity? In this flood of provocations and hatreds, where is the future of our children, the tranquility of our homes, the future of the country? Is it possible to build a country without its population? Is there independence without independent citizens? Answer! Yes answer! All those who oppress our people and those who aim to exploit it.

I say that we must give the people the means to hope and the opportunity to have confidence in them. To reach that goal we have some preliminary work to do.

  1. Present the people with clear options for his future.
  2. Prepare for the people a climate of cordiality and put an end to insecurity.
  3. Train the people’s judgment through civic and political culture / instruction.

All this is feasible/possible, so long as it is wanted. No need to dodge the work by creating tribal oppositions.   

Kamerun_Map 1901-1960
Map of Kamerun from 1901 to 1960 (Wikipedia)

I add that all those who sow hatred and call for crimes, throw the boomerang, which unfortunately does not clarify the future. In politics, there is good sense and virtue, notwithstanding the apprentices of Machiavelli! In politics, truth is also necessary, even if it hurts and displeases because we do not define the future of the people in lies and slanders! Yes, we have to be realistic! To all my compatriots, I formally repeat this: our enemies in this crucial hour of our history, are those who divide us, because they expose us weakened to the solicitations and appetites of the foreigner…

When one reflects on current events, one reaches a first observation: it is the conception of power and sovereignty which is at stake. If it is true (and it cannot be otherwise) that power comes from the people, is it not up to the people to freely designate their interlocutors? Why pretend to take the place of the people? Why seek to abuse and deceives the masses? To get elected and impose a dictatorship, isn’t it? Finally, we believe that the events of the past should make the darkest adventurers retreat. It is only in ignorance that a dictatorship can be imposed, even if it is subtle. In these conditions our task is clear: to enlighten the people. We must do it and we will do it against all adventures. Our goal is to safeguard the national dignity and sovereignty of Kamerun.

Colonial Treaties in Africa: 15 July 1884 treaty in Cameroons

Here is the text of the 15 July 1884 treaty signed between the Chiefs of Jibarret (Djebale) and Sorrokow (Sodiko) and the German merchants of the Adolph Woermann and Jantzen & Thormählen firms in Cameroons. It basically does not show the entire text, but rather cites the treaty signed on 12 July 1884 between Kings Bell and Akwa and the Germans. It is pictured here:

We the undersigned chiefs of Jibarret and Sorrokow, under King Bell’s juridiction declare herewith that we are perfectly agreeing with the treaty made by Mr. Edouard Schmidt acting for the company C. Woermann and Mr. John VoK acting for Misters Jantzen & Thormählen both of Hamburg, with the said King Bell.

The treaty has been properly explained to us and we have signed this paper as follows.

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

Source: Abretungs-Urkunde Jibarret und Sorrokow, 15-7-1884 DZA-potsdam 4204 f.192.

Cameroon_Traite Germano Douala.jpg
15 July 1884 treaty between the Chiefs of Jibarret (Djebale) and Sorrokow (Sodiko), and the German merchants

Colonial Treaties in Africa: Pre-treaty to the 12th July 1884 Germano-Duala Treaty

Cameroon_Kamerun 12 Juillet 1884.jpg
German flag on the Joss plateau in Cameroons Town (Douala) on 14 July 1884

Here is the text to the Pre-treaty approved by King Ndumbé Lobé Bell and King Akwa of Cameroons River (Wouri River, Douala) before agreeing to signing the 12th July 1884 Germano-Duala treaty. It is called the “Wünsche der Kamerun” (or the Cameroonians’ wishes) and was signed by the German consul. Note that only the German consul signed to engage his country into this pre-treaty; and no Cameroonian party signed it.  It is only once this was done, that the Kings Bell, and Akwa signed the treaty of sovereignty. Here is the text of the pre-treaty.

Cameroons River, July 12th, 1884

Our wish is that white men should not go up and trade with the Bushmen, nothing to do with our markets; they must stay here in this River, and then give us trust so that we will trade with our Bushmen.

We need no protection; we should like our country to annex with the government of any European Power.

We need no alteration about our marriages, we shall marry as we are doing now.

Our cultivated ground must not be taken from us, for we are not able to buy and sell as other countries.

We need no Duty or Custom House in our country.

We shall keep bullocks, pigs, goats, fowls as it is now and also no duty on them.

No man should take another man’s wife by force or else a heavy fine.

We need no fighting and beating without fault and no imprisonment on paying the trust without notice and no man should be put to Iron for the trust.

We are the Chiefs of Cameroons.

The Imperial German Consul

Emil Schulze

Source: L’Afrique s’annonce au rendez-vous, la tête haute! Du Pr. Kum’a Ndumbe III, P. 145-146, Ed. AfricAvenir/Exchange & Dialogue 2012

Rudolf Douala Manga Bell: One of Cameroon’s first Resistant

Rudolf Douala Manga Bell - ca 1900s
Rudolf Douala Manga Bell – ca 1900s

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.

Kamerun (German Cameroon)
Kamerun (German Cameroon)

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, BambokoIsubu (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.

Rudolf Douala Manga Bell, Leader of Douala people
Rudolf Douala Manga Bell, Leader of Douala people

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.

Adolf Ngosso Din, Assistant to Rudolf Manga Bell
Adolf Ngoso Din, Assistant to Rudolf Manga Bell

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 YaoundéCharles 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.