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Imperialism | Colonial Policy


Atlas of Germany's Colonies and Illustrated Yearbook, edited by the German Colonial Society, 1910, Retrospective on the Development of the Protectorate of Kamerun in 1909
Retrospective on the Development of the Protectorate of Kamerun in 1909

Mighty Mount Kamerun began to become unruly on April 26th 1909. Earthquakes appeared on its eastern slope, which reappeared with rising intensity and in ever (p.15) shorter intervals. The next day the situation seemed to be that threatening, that - leaving only a security guard behind - the seat of government was moved to Duala. The eruption which had been feared to happen occured on April 28th on the northwestern slope of the mountain range. Fortunately the lava stream did not damage the plantations, which at first seemed threatened, and in Buea no losses other than a few tears in the walls of stone buildings have been registered. The earthquakes continued for a while, but after 2 weeks the government activities could resume at the accustomed site, and as an examination has established, there is no danger of an eruption at this site. Still it is remarkable that the 'mountain of gods', which had remained inactive for so long, had become unruly.
The administration hardly faced political tasks in the report year. Early in the year Hauptmann Dominik, with two companies and the Police Force Detachment of Jaunde had to force the Maka tribes to the south of the Njong River to submit. They frequently had attacked boats steaming on the river, and furthermore had not yet been punished for murdering a merchant a few years ago. It was not difficult for the Schutztruppe penetrating the land in patrols, to disperse the natives and to cause the chiefs to submit. The main culprit and murderer of the said merchant, Menepepiti, had fallen in the skirmishes. Policing measures also had been necessary repeatedly in the residenture districts Garua and Kusseri, against disobedient pagan tribes. There has been no movement in the Islamic community. For a so large area such as Kamerun, little penetrated by our civilization, it is a favourable condition if the situation is peaceful. The complete closure of the borders regarding the import of weapons and ammunition has proven effective. We may not close our eyes to the fact that there is a vivid smuggling trade from the neighbouring British, French and Spanish colonies, but we may expect that this will be terminated after the colonial powers interested in West Africa have agreed to accept the Brussels Agreement of February 15th 1909. According to it, the import of guns and ammunition by coloureds and any sale of such to them is forbidden within a certain zone in West Africa. This zone includes all of Kamerun and her neighbouring colonies with the exception of British Nigeria (Cross River to Lake Chad). If the numerous stipulations are obeyed, the number of the wide-spread muzzle loaders will not increase any more, and the powder stores will not be refilled any more. The collection of the firing arms in the country is desirable, but can not be executed at the moment. We have to be content with the expectation, that the aforesaid measure has reduced the fighting force of the natives and with it their tendency to armed rebellions, as compared to earlier, when they have been flooded with all kinds of war materials.
We succeed more and more to cause the coloureds to contribute to the administration. In the tax year 1908/1909 the head tax in the districts of Victoria, Rio-del-Rey, Buea, Dschang, Jabassi, Edea, Kribi, Kampo, Ebolowa, Jaunde, Joko and Dume and the hut tax in the districts of Duala and Johann-Albrechtshohe brought in 650.000 Mark, to which tributes amounting to 54.000 Mark, from the two residentures, are added. It has to be taken into account that the tax introduced by the order of April 15th 1907, because of insufficient assessment, has brought in only a small revenue. The more tax rolls can be established, the further our influence penetrates into the interior, and the more we are able to establish an effective control, the more the tax revenue will rise.
Welfare for the indigenous is not neglected. An order of May 24th 1909 has established new regulations for the recruitment of coloureds by commercial enterprises of any kind, as well as labour contracts etc. The official report comments on other administration activities as follows :
"The activities of the administration, the execution of the new ordinances disregarded, continue as they used to. (p.16) It attempted to maintain law and order, to promote the economic and general development of the country, of which details will be given further below. Everywhere the need to establish a closer relation with the natives is evident. The chiefs form the connecting chain. Their influence and authority, in the jungle areas weak factors, the administration strives to strengthen. On the other hand a permanent connection must be established with the chiefs, especially with those who are unable to regularly visit the stations. For tjis purpose, individual stations have introduced chief policemen; it has to be seen if this institution proves effective. These are men of the respective tribes, which have been given a brief military and administrative training and then are stationed in certain places with the task, as confidants of the station, to keep in contact with the chiefs, to supervise and support their actions. In the grass lands with their larger tribes, a different system is practised. There the Lamidos send a confidant to the station, where he establishes his residence; he has to inform his master of the demands of the station. At other stations, the Lamidos have placed messengers to the station chief's disposal, which maintain the connection between the two parties.
The white population has decreased by one over the last year. This is not that astonishing, as last year's growth had been extraordinary. If the decline effects the planters in Victoria, the cause has to be looked for in the plantation societies' attempts to replace white administrators by cheap coloured personnel.
The decrease of the number of merchants, from 381 to 326, also is remarkable.
This affects exclusively the southern districts of Kribi, Jaunde and Lomie. We have to take into account, that because of the low rubber prices trade languished throughout the report year, so that a number of persons left the protectorate.
As far as the reports on diseases and mortality, regarding the white population, are concerned, a continuing improvement of the health conditions is to be registered for the last years, for this protectorate which used to have a bad fame in this concern. This also benefits the coloured population.
Most threatened are the officials and employees working in the railway construction, living under the most primitive conditions in the African bush. In 1909, finally, a partial stretch of the railway to the Manenguba Mountains, or as it is to be called officially, the Kamerun Nordbahn, has been opened (until km 100). Thanks to a more favourable environment, the construction now progresses faster to the north. The treaty with the concession owning society causes difficulties, as it is granted square allorments of land, according to a chess board system, on both sides of the line. It is considered to grant them larger areas elsewhere.
Construction of the Mittellandbahn (central railroad) could only be begun after the end of the rainy season in October 1908; earth works were commenced only in April 1909. Construction could be begun at three points simultaneously, in Duala, at the crossing of the Dibambu and at the crossing of the Sanaga, because all three locations can be reached by water.
Here, as in the case of the Nordbahn, the government provides the workers; their number in the north averaged 2000, in case of the Mittellandbahn 1300. Regarding the Südbahn (southern railroad) offial reports state that so far no solution has been found. The businesses in the southern district, which have dispatched an expedition in 1908, have given up the plan to construct a railroad at their own expense. We have mentioned earlier, that the financial basis of these enterprises is based largely on the (p.17) Caoutchouc trade, which was unfavourable, at least for the first half of the year. Thanks to a rise in Caoutchouc prices the situation for the end of 1909 has improved, and if the Kamerun caoutchouc exports declined from 1907 to 1908 from 7.6 million Mark to 4.8 million, we can assume with certainty that the loss has veen made up in 1909. As the world economy overall has improved, Kamerun will benefit of it. Unfortunately 1909 saw a steep fall in the prices for cocoa, so that the plantations at Mt. Kamerun had no good figures. The harvests had increased considerably over the last years, but the loss because of falling prices could not be covered by it. Plantation caoutchouc could not yet be harvested in significant amounts, other cultures are yet in experimental stadium. The only other culture bringing in considerable amounts was the oil palm cultuvation of the natives. Kamerun's rich stands in oil palms are hardly utilized because of lacking transportation. Kamerun's stand in oil palms has to be estimated higher than it was believed to be in previous years. It has to be mentioned that a soap factory has been opened in Duala, so that a part of production will find a market in the protectorate herself.
Attention is spent on the investigation of the jungles concerning their botanic composition and utilization. A forestry espedition lead by Prof. Dr. Jentsch and Dr. Buesgen has examined the area of the Mungo and the forests soon to be reached by railroad construction, and has taken about 600 examples to Germany, for further investigation. Preliminary investigation has stated, that on 1.5 acres of forest 70 different tree species appear, and c. 232 cubic meters of lumber of a quality qualifying for export, over 60 cm diameter, are found on average. This large variety on such a small area is a disadvantage, because it is questionable if such an export can be maintained. The tannin contained in the bark of the Kamerun mangrove is too low for extraction and sale to be competituve.
The financial development of the protectorate in 1909 was rather favourable. Kamerun again has been able to repay a considerable part of the loan taken one and a half decades ago, and already is in state to finance the expenses of her civilian administration.

Source: Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch, (Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook), edited by P. Sprigade und M. Moisel, Yearbook and Remarks by Hubert Henoch. Berlin 1910, p.14ff.

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Dokument in deutscher Sprache