In the early 19th century, the present-day Cameroon was claimed by Germany as a protectorate during the ‘Scramble for Africa’.
The area was occupied by Europeans, mainly Portuguese and Dutch slave traders. However, Germany, although entering the area much later, claimed Cameroon and the country became a German colony called ‘Kamerun’.
Towards the middle of the 19th century, the British abolished slave trade and Britain, France and Belgium took over Cameroon. After the World War I, the Germans were defeated by the French and British, and the country was known as “League of Nations” to Great Britain and France in 1922. Later on, the two world powers divided the area into two separate zones. Whereas France took a larger geographical share (four-fifths of the total landmass) which was known as Cameroon, the British Mandate took an area form the sea up to Lake Chad.
The western zone taken by Britain was divided into two areas with two different administrative bodies namely, Southern Cameroon and Northern Cameroon, and was administered under a “League of Nations” mandate. The Northern Cameroon area was divided by a point – this point is where the Nigerian and Cameroon borders met.
While France did administration on their own territory from Paris, Britain governed their territory from Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria.
When the French Cameroon became independent in 1960 after five years of fighting for it, with Nigeria also scheduled for independence later that year, the question begged: What happens to the British territory (or mandate)?
The agreement, therefore, was that, Northern Cameroon joined the northern part of Nigeria, they being a Muslim region and constituting of about two-third of the populace, while Southern Cameroon (the last third) opted to join Cameroon.
Hence, Northern Cameroon became a region of Nigeria on May 31, 1961. They practice Islam and speak Fula and Kanuri.
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