Martin Z. Njeuma


Effective occupation of British Cameroon by British authority required a form of governance with which the Cameroonians would comply willingly, rather than coercively. This imperative led to the indigenization of the colonial state through the adoption of the system of indirect rule. The post-colonial state, too, embraced indirect rule, albeit in a modified form. A corollary of this process of colonial and post-colonial state construction has been a redefinition of power relations at state level. It has also had significant repercussions at the material level. This paper is a study of indirect rule in the North-West Province of Cameroon. The present analysis adopts a multidisciplinary approach focusing on questions of political economy, which complements E.M. Chilver's analysis of indirect rule in the same region between 1902 and 1954 (1963).

Since 1916 when the British and French partitioned German Kamerun, the reunification of Cameroon has been an important political issue. In modern times many politicians have risen and fallen depending on their skill in handling the implications of reunification. The point is that the very survival of Cameroon, in terms of national integration and harmonious development, depends largely on a profound understanding of the role that the quest for reunification has played in Cameroon's political history. The history of the reunification movement has been recounted elsewhere from many perspectives (Ardener 1967; Johnson 1970; Kofele-Kale 1980; Bayart 1989). It is the purpose of this paper to highlight how reunification affected the development of an independent Cameroon. A major hypothesis is that reunification conditioned how the principal political actors perceived independence.
Already by 1894 the Treaties setting up the entire international frontier of German Kamerun had been signed with Britain and France respectively (Hertslet 1967; Rudin 1938). However, the political configuration of Kamerun changed suddenly between 1914 and 1916 when the allied forces of Britain and France, with assistance from the Belgians, ousted the Germans and partitioned the country. The partition Treaty gave Britain one quarter and France three quarters of the territory and inhabitants, including the important towns of Douala, Kribi, Garoua and Yaoundé. This fact, from the start, made French influence preponderant in Cameroon.
Reunification was a desire to return to the German territorial frontiers before the First World War. This desire varied in strength from one part of the country to the other (Fanso 1982). In the predominantly Moslem north no local and self-sustaining movement emerged to fight for reunification. There was little interest in reunification because religious and linguistic solidarity over a wide area bred permissive habits towards frontier regulations. In contrast, the struggle for reunification was strongest in West Cameroon and the adjacent French territories because the European powers were keen to protect European investment and sources of revenue in the region against native traders who ignored the frontier restrictions.
The campaigns for reunification were interlinked with those for independence but there were essential differences in final objectives. For example, as a slogan to win political support at the United Nations (UN) and mobilise the masses in Cameroon, reunification overshadowed both the demand and the education for independence. Thus the notions of personal liberty, political democracy, national freedom, cultural self-expression and economic development, which were ideas concomitant with independence, received less attention. To begin with, reunification was advanced as a solution to irksome frontier restrictions and harassments which disorganised traditional activities in the political, economic and cultural fields. For this reason, the Anglo-French frontier presented a significant target for the primary resistance movements. By far the strongest challenge to the frontier's existence was the imperative to remain Cameroonian and to restore the full Cameroonian identity even under a system of dual governance. During the mandate period some attempts were made to assuage the ill-effects of the frontier on the population in both forest and savannah regions, but these did not go far enough to reduce the cry against a divided Cameroon.
The Cameroonian voices for change became organised after the Second World War when the European powers, Britain and France in particular, accepted the principle of transfer of power to Cameroonians. This decision set the stage for several Cameroonian leaders to emerge and distinguish themselves by forming political parties. There was little that was original in their actions as they were either imitating or being prompted by politicians in the metropolitan countries. The raison d'être of these parties was simply to compete with one another to replace the outgoing colonial rulers. A sort of free-for-all political careerism was installed.
Political consciousness had not developed evenly all over the country but had its fullest impact around the capital, Yaoundé, and the coastal regions where the Douala peoples were prominent. Initially, rapid progress in political participation came to rely greatly on Douala elite leadership (Derrick 1989) which had demonstrated great political astuteness in the face of large-scale German expropriation of land. The Douala first entered contemporary politics before the Second World War, as members of the Jeunesse Camerounaise Française (Jeucafra) in response to Hitler's bid to regain Germany's colonial empire. At that time the French authorities sponsored Soppo Priso to lead Jeucafra (Joseph 1975; Zang-Atangana 1989: 75).
However, when the German threat was over and Jeucafra dissolved, Soppo Priso turned around to demand liberty and human dignity for all Cameroonians. He was aware that the degree of suppression of political liberties under colonial rule was such that the French authorities would not tolerate unwelcome political actions. Recourse to the issue of reunification seemed the most convenient strategy that camouflaged his real ambitions. He was familiar with how the issue of reunification among the Ewe in Togoland had been favourably received at the United Nations Councils, had drawn attention to, and advanced, the territory politically. Since Cameroon was not legally a colony but a trust territory of the UN, he put forward reunification as the cornerstone of his newly formed party, the Rassemblement Camerounais (Racam) in 1947 (Zang-Atangana 1989: 78).
In doing so, Soppo Priso hoped to locate the legal battlefield outside Cameroon, in the UN He used the UN to challenge French assimilation policies in Cameroon in light of the strong anti-colonial lobbies in that world body (Gardinier 1963). However, the stumbling block was the Cold War that polarised political views (see Langhëë in this volume). Though relatively moderate in its general political orientation vis à vis France, Racam was considered revolutionary.
However, the UN had little effective power, and the Council of the Trusteeship held that it could only make recommendations to the administering powers and could not oblige them to obey its decisions. Indeed the danger was that since the issues of Cameroon's political development could not be settled directly in the UN, in Cameroon itself the bid for reunification fell into the category of revolutionary politics and anti-French activities. As expected, the proponents came under heavy intelligence surveillance, and were to be combated and extirpated in the same way as communists.
However, the idea of reunification was differently expressed in East and West Cameroon in parallel with differences in concepts of independence or political change. In East Cameroon radical nationalism was ranged against the French and force was freely used. Reunification was a revolutionary idea and only radicals adhered to it. As the leading radical party, the successor party to Racam, the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) took up the banner in 1948 with reunification high on its agenda (Joseph 1977; Um Nyobe 1989). It did not, however, define or give any content to reunification but assumed that its audience had a common understanding of its message. In West Cameroon the bogey was Nigerian sub-imperialism; but in the early days at least, reunification was invoked to solve local problems and preceded the formation of locally based political parties.
In the political wake of the Second World War, the UPC's advocacy of 'immediate reunification' ought to be seen more as a strategy than as a programme of action. Firstly, as for Racam, it was a ploy to get the UN to allow reunification before independence, which would permit the party foremost in advocating that platform to carry the day in the struggle for power. Secondly, reunification was expected to neutralise both French and British influence in Cameroon to the territories' advantage. It was reckoned that the two powers would compete with each other for a new hegemony in a reunified Cameroon, and that the Cameroonians would be able to dictate their own terms of co-operation.
The UPC used the political arguments for reunification to establish common ground between politicians of East and West Cameroon. Furthermore, they ignored the international frontier and went ahead to campaign and win supporters for the UPC in West Cameroon (Um Nyobe 1989: 83-84; Joseph 1977: 188ff; Zang-Atangana 1989: 272). Such trans-frontier activities gave the party the reputation among the population of constituting the real opposition to colonialism. However, their strident criticism of the French provoked the French authorities to force the leading political figures to declare whether or not they wanted French participation in the development of Cameroon following independence (Joseph 1977: 248). As long as reunification remained the virtual monopoly of the UPC and was expressed in what were considered revolutionary terms, opponents of the UPC entrenched themselves in the French camp as an easy way of furthering their political careers.
As the 1960s approached, both French and British colonial diplomacy accepted that independence was inevitable and that France and Britain should seek to channel the independent States into structures such as the French Community and the British Commonwealth. Thus independence was gained but within the western capitalist alliance. This did not coincide with the UPC's vision of independence. The party distrusted an independence which depended on the goodwill of the colonial powers. The result was that the pursuit of reunification became entangled in a ruthless confrontation between the UPC and the colonial powers. The entire resources of the State were ranged against the UPC, reducing it to a shambles in less than two years. The fall of the UPC took the steam out of the reunification movement.
In West Cameroon reunification entered party politics as a result of political events in East Cameroon. The idea at first won adherents because populations were split by the frontier and also East Cameroonians were present in several principal towns. The latter had taken up permanent residence after the First World War or had emigrated to avoid the oppressive French indigénat system.
These migrants fell into two categories. The first were the German trained elites, mostly from the Douala and Yaoundé regions and residing in Buea, Tiko, Victoria and Kumba districts. An important link was R.J.K. Dibonge, a Douala by birth, who had served in both the German and French administrations. Retired in 1947, he returned to take up permanent residence in Buea in 1949. He proceeded to use his political experience to build support for reunification and to keep this issue in focus in West Cameroon. The second category was composed of traders, mostly Bamileke and Bamum. They exploited a dynamic commercial traffic across the frontier, a cardinal aspect of which was the existence of relatives and support systems on both sides of the frontier. One important figure was Joseph Ngu of Kumba, a successful businessman who used his wealth and influence to host meetings that promoted reunification and to keep up a stream of petitions to the UN. Both Dibonge and Ngu had been active in creating the French Cameroon Welfare Union which promoted the idea of reunification. This type of grassroots linkage strengthened trans-frontier ties. The idea spread through private initiatives, diffused and unstructured channels, and not through a political platform with a central source. Hence, its enemies could not easily kill it.
The foundation of the Cameroon National Federation (CNF) in 1949 by the West Cameroon political elite created a wider forum for the French Cameroonian Welfare Union to win support from the indigenes in the political struggle for reunification. However, despite formal commitment to reunification, the CNF focused more, if not entirely, on the internal issues of West Cameroon. Their leader, Endeley, for instance, saw a brighter future in pressing for workers' rights, representation in the Nigerian legislative organs and reform of the 'Land and Native Rights Ordinance' rather than in 'reduction of frontier difficulties'. This unclear stand on reunification led the 'French Cameroonian' activists to break away to form the Kamerun United National Congress (KUNC).
The long-term political implications of this split may not have been perceived at the time. Nevertheless, it marked the beginning of the contest between two crucial movements - i.e. for closer ties either with Nigeria or with East Cameroon - which has persisted in West Cameroon politics. Before this time, it was possible to pursue both objectives at once; but the KUNC insisted on adherence either to one or the other. It is curious that reunification had been the platform of a minority in East as well as in West Cameroon, but survived as a compelling force for major political changes seemingly above party politics.
The KUNC was born in Kumba where popular political options centred around reunification. The new party combined anti-colonial demands with a dynamic stand on reunification. In light of the UPC support of these demands the KUNC welcomed the latter's financial and logistical support. However, while pushing reunification to the fore of West Cameroon politics, collaboration with UPC activists always bore the threat of a UPC takeover. As it was, the UPC members introduced new forms of patronage and authoritarian leadership that presaged new forms of domination.
If West Cameroonian politicians learned any lessons at all from the period 1948 to 1952 when the UPC was the chief promoter of reunification in both East and West Cameroon, it was that neither 'immediate reunification', nor merely 'reunification before independence', were in West Cameroon's long-term interests. This was reflected, for instance, in Mbile's about-turn in support of the further integration of West Cameroon into Nigeria. He founded the Kamerun People's Party (KPP) to fight an election on this platform. In 1953, the leading political figures in West Cameroon regrouped around Endeley's Kamerun National Congress party (KNC) and placed reunification as an ultimate but not an immediate goal. Indeed, the immediate goal was the antithesis of reunification, i.e. regional status within Nigeria. Rejection of reunification seemed to reach a peak after the KNC's resounding victory in the 1954 election in West Cameroon. However, the reaction was immediate and a substantial faction of the party broke away in 1955 to form a new party, the Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP). Its leader, John Foncha, brought reunification back onto the platform of mainstream West Cameroon politics.
Foncha, like the Fon of Bafut, envisaged East Cameroon as fire, because of the civil war that raged there, and Nigeria as water. He abhorred the violence in East Cameroon, but judged that it would be short-lived and that reunification would still be possible. He therefore built a broad political platform so that by the beginning of 1959, 'immediate reunification' as a slogan to mobilise the masses against imperialism had lost its savour. The UPC had been banned in West Cameroon and its successor, the One Kamerun Party (OK), had not been able to withstand the massive opposition to its policies on reunification. Reunification had been couched in revolutionary language, and represented a unfamiliar political culture to the average West Cameroonian whose attachment to the rule of law was strong. The UPC and OK leadership had wrongly thought that the West Cameroonians' lack of special attachment to France would bolster up their own efforts against France. Ironically, the closer East and West Cameroonians tried to work together, the more they were pushed apart by linguistic, cultural and political differences cultivated separately for over forty years under French and British rule.
1959 was a decisive point in the political history of French and English speaking Cameroons. In West Cameroon, Foncha defeated Endeley in the elections of January 1959, elections which were also a test of the popularity of Foncha's brand of reunification. In East Cameroon the government passed from André-Marie Mbida to Ahmadou Ahidjo, but without solving the problems of widespread terrorism and strong French involvement in the country's affairs. Reunification now depended on Foncha and Ahidjo but neither had been in at the outset of the idea; they had simply picked it up as a convenient slogan but had never bothered to work out a programme.
The imminent end of United Nations trusteeship in East Cameroon in January 1960 forced both leaders to consider reunification and give content to what had been merely an electioneering slogan. The nationalists in each State knew little or nothing of each other. They had faced different problems in their history. In these circumstances, each leader gave reunification a meaning appropriate to his own internal conditions and political goals. Ahidjo was never excited about reunification, and so played down its structural implications. His political programme dealt exclusively with East Cameroonian politics. But the one thing he did that made all things possible was to insulate reunification from party politics. This was achieved by getting the East Cameroon Assembly of Deputies to approve a motion in September 1958 accepting reunification with West Cameroon whenever the latter was ready (Ahidjo 1964). From this and other statements it can be seen that reunification was never an imposition from East Cameroon. In fact, Ahidjo and the East Cameroon population were largely indifferent to it because the ultimate form of independence of his part of Cameroon had already been decided by the end of 1958.
In West Cameroon, the political leadership was under great pressure to define reunification in concrete terms since reunification was at the top of the political agenda. However, this instead led to much tension and political polarisation. The dominant issues were on the one hand, association with Nigeria, advocated by Endeley's party with the tacit approval of the British authorities, and on the other hand, secession from Nigeria and reunification with East Cameroon advocated by Foncha's party. It was generally understood that the victor in the elections would proceed to negotiate the terms of union with either Nigerian or East Cameroonian leaders.
Foncha's party won the election by 14 to 12 seats, receiving over half the popular vote. Immediately several basic problems arose. Firstly, the victory gave the West Cameroon government the constitutional power to pursue reunification. Secondly, Endeley (and the British) ceased moves towards the further integration of West Cameroon into Nigeria. Indeed, reunification became for the first time a State to State affair. Foncha had fought the elections on a platform of secession from Nigeria and reunification with East Cameroon outside both the French Community and the British Commonwealth. He could, therefore, scarcely count on British co-operation. Moreover, the British authorities had expected Endeley to win the election in the belief that the West Cameroonian elite would rally to protect their British culture and values. When Foncha won, the British feared increased widespread hostilities and so they maintained close links with Endeley's opposition party in the hope that it would provide the necessary balance and, perhaps, actually make a come-back to power.
The British authorities decided to act fast to kill reunification and refused to sanction the 1959 election results. Foncha, they claimed, had won the elections on parochial and vague promises to the electorate. They observed that reunification had become so unpopular that none of the successful politicians had explicitly canvassed for reunification. Indeed, Foncha's party had ceased to advocate reunification in public and, instead, stressed secession from Nigeria followed by a period of trusteeship before independence. The British authorities could not hold another general election immediately. The democratic solution was to use the United Nations to organise plebiscites in the British Cameroons to determine the people's wishes on how to end British trusteeship. However, this went awry when the plebiscite limited the choice to gaining independence either by joining East Cameroon or by maintaining their connection with Nigeria (see Chem-Langhëë this volume).
Throughout 1959 British officials increased pressure on Foncha to abandon reunification. They organised several meetings in West Cameroon, Nigeria, Britain and the United Nations. Under the spell of the personalities of Endeley and Mbile, they minimised Foncha and failed to take cognisance of the soaring popularity of the KNDP after the 1959 elections, and Endeley's waning fortunes among the leading politicians. There were signs that Foncha was willing to abandon reunification provided that the British extended the period of trusteeship and stopped insisting on an even more unpopular option for West Cameroonians, the Nigerianisation of Cameroon. Nevertheless, the British employedmmuch arm-twisting at the UN to line up western and anti-communist representatives to block Foncha's bid to make secession the second question in the British-inspired plebiscite.
However, the more the British and Endeley tried to push Foncha towards immediate reunification, the more he resisted by, for example, imposing party discipline on his followers to win the plebiscite. A further effect was that Foncha drifted irretrievably into the hands of Ahidjo and his French allies. While this had been foreseen, what was not expected was that the people would follow Foncha. Foncha's dilemma was how to hold his constituency intact while winning support from Endeley's followers. Foncha's solution was to transform the concept of reunification into one of federation. At this time federation was an attractive catch-word which seemed to guarantee autonomous development in a unified Cameroon. Thus by unification Foncha meant a loose federation of States:
Joining the Republic of Cameroon means federating with the Republic of Cameroon in a new federation to be formed immediately after the plebiscite. In this federation, the Republic of Cameroon and either the British Cameroons as a whole or Southern Cameroons will enter as members on equal terms... (Foncha to the Special Session of the House of Chiefs - Kamerun Times 22/12/1960.)
The new formula also bore the seeds of destruction for British policy in West Cameroon. It was a constitutional formula which was based on the principle that negotiations for a federal constitution were a matter for the ruling parties and eventually for the East and West Cameroon governments to work out the details. It claimed an equal voice for West Cameroon in the making of the 'new federation' while preserving the West Cameroon identity. The loose federation formula allayed the fears of the doubting West Cameroonians about the absorption of their State and people in reunified Cameroon. Under this system they felt they still had a chance to preserve their much valued British heritage and at the same time pursue West Cameroon's specific needs for independently attracting foreign aid for development.
However, the British, along with Endeley and his followers, did not perceive the potency of the federal formulation used by Foncha. Indeed, Mbile's and Endeley, as leaders of the Cameroon People's National Congress (CPNC), continued to fight a losing battle based on the earlier conception of reunification as an extremist and vague notion. The consequence of Endeley's weak campaign showing was that Foncha, as premier of West Cameroon, now felt confident to negotiate reunification, or the specifics of federation, with Ahidjo single-handed, without first seeking general consensus in his party, the KNDP, let alone amongst the population of West Cameroon.
Although Foncha spoke of a Federal Cameroon outside the British Commonwealth and the French Community, the French were satisfied that by cutting links with the UPC and by not behaving overtly as a political enemy, Foncha, and less so the Foncha-Ahidjo alliance, would not be detrimental to French interests in a reunified Cameroon. Moreover, it seemed clear that 'federalism' had many conservative elements that revolved around the maintenance of the status quo in each State. Also, the loose federal formula omitted one of the most radical aspects of reunification as far as East Cameroon politics were concerned, the issue of achieving reunification before independence. The French also felt secure since East Cameroonians would constitute the majority element and would therefore be better placed to dominate events in a reunified Cameroon. Consequently they put no obstacle to the massive support Foncha received from East Cameroonians for a federal Union.
However, the years 1960 and 1961 saw a steady erosion of the idea of reunification as a loose federation. On the 1 st January 1960 East Cameroon became a sovereign State, and a member of the United Nations. There was no prior agreement on the formulation of a federal constitution with West Cameroon. The UN had ruled out separate sovereignty for West Cameroon and imposed the choice between independence by joining Nigeria or by reuniting with the Cameroon Republic. Hence, equality of status between East and West Cameroon in subsequent negotiations was rendered impracticable. Unwittingly, West Cameroon had stayed behind the tide of reason and common sense; henceforth the current moved resolutely against federalism. Also, civil strife caused much insecurity at the time East Cameroon gained independence and the necessity to co-operate closely with France to stabilise the regime did not augur well for a loose federal formula.
Political opportunism, cut-throat competition between West Cameroonian politicians and the threat of an immediate British withdrawal dealt the final blow to the idea of a loose federation. Foncha and Endeley remained at daggers drawn before and after the plebiscite. Dirty politics was the order of the day and only the presence of British security forces imposed some restraint. It was certainly not in Foncha's political interest to involve Endeley's party closely in the process of federalising the union between East and West Cameroon. Foncha feared that the opposition in West Cameroon would put a wedge between him and Ahidjo. Accordingly, Foncha restricted the joint East and West Cameroon constitutional discussions to the two governing parties.
However, this did not go unchallenged even within Foncha's party. His deputy, Augustin Ngom Jua, led a faction of the KNDP who felt that Foncha had gone too far in isolating the opposition on a matter that concerned all West Cameroonians. Opposition to Foncha's leadership both within and outside his party was so strong that Ahidjo passed from being a negotiating partner to an arbitrator between disputing West Cameroon politicians. Thus the fact that Foncha could not dominate politics in West Cameroon, as Ahidjo had done in East Cameroon, was a serious handicap to equality in any constitutional negotiations. It left Ahidjo as the single strong man in the political life of Cameroon, free to apply his own interpretation to the federal notion.
Four months after the plebiscite results in favour of reunification between East and West Cameroon became known, Ahidjo summoned the Foumban Constitutional Conference (Johnson 1970: 169-185). The Conference was to discuss and agree on a federal constitution which would bind all Cameroonians with effect from the 1 st October 1961. It offered one last chance for the protagonists of the loose federal system. But the fact that it was Ahidjo who had chosen the timing and setting of the Conference, fixed the agenda, and summoned the delegates, made the meeting to all intents and purposes Ahidjo's Conference.
The central issue at the Conference concerned the nature of the central government and its relationship with the state governments. Ahidjo was unwilling to accept suggestions which weakened the dominant position he had already acquired in the constitution of the Republic of Cameroon. Only a constitution with a strong central government was acceptable in view of current political unrest and threats to national sovereignty by Ahidjo's political opponents (Johnson 1970: 180). He further insisted that national interest should take precedence over sectional interest.
A major problem which destabilised the West Cameroon delegation was the fact that they were seeing, for the first time, Ahidjo's constitutional package for a strong central government, with only residual powers for the federated State. Overwhelmed by 'brotherly sentiments', the West Cameroon delegates ignored their embarrassment and agreed to examine the proposals on the spot. As if further to humiliate them, the West Cameroonians were obliged to meet in separate sessions from the East Cameroon delegates for the five days that they were in Foumban. Under such circumstances there was no serious bargaining. There was too little time and agreement was expected immediately. Coming so soon after the plebiscite campaigns, the West Cameroonian representatives approached the deliberations at the Conference from established party positions and relied too little on experts. Moreover, there was complete unanimity in the East Cameroon delegation for a strong central government. In many ways, then, the Foumban Conference was used to persuade the protagonists of a loose federation to accept a strong central government for a united government which was already a fait accompli .
Ahidjo's actions were predicated on the readiness of France to participate in the socio-economic development of the federal Republic. Cameroon was one of France's most important trading partners in Central Africa, with long-range economic prospects. Since World War II, Cameroon had received huge French investments. At independence France had a relatively large colony and controlled the economy. The UPC challenge to French rule had necessitated a direct French military build-up in the territory. The new Cameroon government largely depended on French aid to maintain stability and peace (Bayart 1979: 240). Also, Ahidjo had signed secret military and intelligence pacts with France which would increase reunified Cameroon's dependence on France. France subsidised the Republic's budget by over 70% and for the most part ran the educational system. Hence, it was unthinkable for the ruling East Cameroonians to cut the umbilical cord with France so soon after independence, no matter how much pressure was brought from West Cameroon and anti-imperialist elements in the country.
The British left West Cameroon being unwilling to subsidise what they saw as a financially weak state. The Foncha government never undertook research into the economic issues to prove the contrary. This point, more than any other, worked against delegates fully pressing their case for a loose federation since they had to determine how their ideas were to be financed. The weakest point in favour of the loose federation at the constitutional 'negotiation' was therefore economic.
Nevertheless, the constitutional debates scarcely touched on economic issues. Too much time and effort was spent on political problems; trying to avert a totalitarian regime and what appeared to be French neo-colonialism. Indeed, the debates were carried out in an economic void, perhaps because it was felt that once political issues were resolved all the rest would follow on. This neglect is surprising since at base was the idea that reunification would serve as a catalyst for rapid economic development. Apart from the unfavourable Phillipson report (1959), there were no studies available to enable West Cameroon participants to make an accurate appraisal of the economic potential of West Cameroon. On the contrary, all believed that West Cameroon was a financial liability and the constitutional arrangements had to take this into account.
In summary, we have seen that reunification was a potent political force which seriously affected the development of Cameroonian nationalism from the end of the Second World War until October 1961. It provided the leitmotif to attract co-operation between politicians in East and West Cameroon throughout the period. The concept of reunification developed from vague slogans to precise political structures bringing together East and West Cameroon in either a loose federal or a strong central government. The latter structure was finally adopted on the 1 st October 1961. Cameroonians have since lived under the unitary system irrespective of their colonial and cultural backgrounds. The achievements so far registered constitute one of the themes of Cameroon's contemporary history.
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