News | Shaping Remembrance through History Education

How is German colonialism depicted in Cameroonian textbooks, and to what end?



Roland Ndille,

Der Bismarckbrunnen in Buea; er wurde im Gedenken an den deutschen Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck aufgestellt. Er steht genau an der Stelle, wo viele Einwohner*innen Bueas 1894 bei der gewaltsamen Militärbesetzung durch deutsche Kolonialisten erschossen wurden.
  CC BY-SA 3.0, Foto: Wikicommons/Mboupda Talla Roger

The Germans are my masters, if they treat me well or not, I shall remain faithful to them….
Sultan Njoya of Bamum to Ndane, the Douala Emissary to Foumban, April 1914

I was born under your empire I am telling you with tears in my eyes I very much like Germany. I would very much wish that you return to Cameroon
Chief Jean Nyap of Ndogbessol-Eseka to Adolf Hitler, 1936

Like all cultural elements that come to us with colonization, “living in the traditions of others” has always been imposed It was not freely chosen and it has been given a place in our imagination [through the neo-colonial school].
Achille Mbembe, Letter to the Germans, 2020 (emphasis added)

Germany annexed Kamerun in July 1884 and administered it until February 1916. This period is extensively explored in Cameroon historiography as well as the school curriculum, but Kamerun has rarely been heard of in debates about responsibility and restitution in German colonial history — despite it being a major theatre of German colonial atrocities. Contending there is a seamless relationship between the approach to history education and the nature of memory, I attempt to answer three salient questions: firstly, how is German colonialization presented in the schools in Cameroon? Secondly, what type of memory does the approach to curriculum engender about German colonization? And thirdly, what implications does it have for the participation of Cameroonians in the current debates about German colonial history?

Roland Ndille is an Associate Professor of History and Education and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Buea in Cameroon, a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Educational rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg, and a member of the Decolonial Research Garden in the School of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand-Johannesburg, South Africa.

In Cameroon, school knowledge is determined by government policy, outlined in national syllabuses. The actual contents are then elaborated in textbooks, some of which are approved for use in schools by the minister of the relevant education department. Such textbooks are the major sources of data for this analysis.[1] History textbooks remain the most important educational medium worldwide used to deliver the knowledge that each society deems relevant enough to pass on to the younger generation. They are known to contain and enshrine underlying norms and values, transmit specific constructs of identity and generate particular patterns of perceiving the world. [2]

German Colonialism in Cameroonian Schools: A One-Sided “Good Germans” Perspective

The study of the history of Cameroon has been a national priority since independence. A significant part of this field is its colonial experience. The scope and sequence may vary according to the level of schooling, but the focus remains significantly unaltered from primary to secondary education. University history departments also emphasize the teaching of the colonial history of Cameroon with a contents outline similar to that of secondary schools.

In most textbooks, chapters are organized in an order somewhat more chronological than thematic and the events are approached in a series of occurrence. Regarding the German colonial period, they often start with the scramble for Cameroon and then move on to the reasons why Britain failed to annex Cameroon before discussing the reasons for Germany’s late entrance in the colonial race. Subsequently, the reasons for Germany’s annexation of Cameroon are presented. This is followed by lessons on the pacification and administration of the territory after which lessons on German socio-economic development are taught.

This phase of the history of Cameroon generally ends with resistances to German rule and World War II in Cameroon. Other topics in which Germany is mentioned include the quest for the return of the Germans in the inter-war years and Cameroon’s foreign policy. The later presents the contemporary relations between Cameroon and Germany and justifies such from the colonial experience.

Teaching Germany’s Colonization as a Form of “Rescue”

Students are introduced to the history of German colonialism in Cameroon with the topic why Germans annexed Cameroon. British and German firms are presented as the most active on the coast of Cameroon in the 1880s with the people having a preference for Britain. Germany’s ultimate acquisition of the territory is depicted as a swift response to an unreciprocated indigenous request for Britain.

Contentious letters cited as having been written by Cameroon kings lamenting that “we are tired of ruling our country” because of “plenty wars … murder and idol worshippers” create a remembrance of the German colonization of Cameroon as a response to a cry for help from Germany. This is depicted in popular modernist phrases like “a selfless sacrifice to furthering the moral and material well-being of the ‘natives’” by “bringing the light of life to the Dark Continent… abolishing idol worship and human sacrifice”.

Such a perspective finds rationale in the lesson on German economic activities in Cameroon, which conveys how such activities “… had important positive consequences for the territory. Points mentioned include the initiation of ‘natives’ to cash crop production and the world market economy with intention to show that the effects were positive for the territory as she now enjoys the position of an important producer of primary products like rubber, cocoa, coffee, timber and palm products,” all thanks to the Germans.

The Eurocentric Approach of the Colonizer as Developer

Regarding plantation agriculture, emphasis is placed on memorizing names of the major German plantations, the areas they were located, the years they were established, and the crops produced. The recruitment of labourers for plantations and other government projects is also studied with focus on sources rather than the recruitment processes and conditions of service. The approach adopted by the textbooks is clearly the Eurocentric approach of the colonizer as developer of colony. For example, they refer to “long term German investments in Cameroon to the tune of 19% of German capital investments in all its colonies in Africa with 39 companies and a capital investment of about 96 million marks”, as if to show how financially sacrificial the Germans were in colonizing Cameroon.

Meanwhile, there is sufficient evidence in Cameroonian historiography that speaks to the fact that the whole essence of German colonialism was economic exploitation. Bismarck had projected that “if the coffee and cotton for which we now pay so much would grow on German lands … like Kamerun, that would increase our national income.”

As if to prove him right, by 1912, Cameroon’s major exports to Germany amounted to 19,636,721 Marks and German imports into Cameroon amounted to only a little above half of the exports — 12, 094, 843 Marks. This notwithstanding, the advantage accrued to Germans for their economic exploitation of Cameroon are not emphasized.

Highlighting “Benefits” of German Colonial Rule

Similarly, rather than focus on the intrigues with which German authorities acquired Cameroon, in the lessons on German Treaty Signing in Cameroon, attention is given to the supposed benefits of accepting German colonialism. Adolf Woermann had termed this “the advantages the chiefs will have when protected by the Kaiser of Germany”. Emphasis is on the gains that natives derived from the German’s “promises of gifts and money” as in the case with the Germano-Duala Treaty of 1884.

This can also be observed in the Blood Pact which the German explorer Eugene Zintgraff signed with King Galega I of Bali in 1891. Textbooks claim that by accepting German colonization, “Galega was to benefit from colonial gifts of firearms” and that he was also “guaranteed recognition and protection as the paramount chief of the surrounding ethnic groups”. In this way, lessons lead to a remembrance that accepting German colonization brought benefits and opposing it led to huge suffering as the lessons on Resistances to German Rule reveal.

An equally critical perspective of colonial treaty signing in Cameroon (which is not revealed in the lessons) exposes the Germano-Cameroon colonial treaties as officiating the dispossession of African chiefly authority and their reduction to lowest-ranking colonial officials. A part of the Zintgraff-Galega pact that receives no attention in textbooks states, “Galega will transfer to Dr. Zintgraff such powers as he at present exercises… [and] … Galega undertakes to give effect to such orders as may be given by Dr. Zintgraff”. In Douala, the Germans had similarly revised the Kings’ condition of wanting to collaborate “with any European country” to “we are today abandoning totally, all our rights relating to sovereignty, legislation and administration of our territory to the Germans … the territory may not be ceded to a third party.”

Emphasizing Local Consent to German Colonial Rule

Apart from the absence of a reading of the implications of such treaties in terms of foreign occupation and subjugation with its consequences, aspects such as altering the geographic specifications of Duala land in the treaty and completely disregarding some terms reveal a character of dubiousness on the part of the Germans who prepared the Germano-Duala Treaty. Rather than capturing this perspective, textbooks drive home the message that the Germans received indigenous consent to occupy Kamerun through treaties of annexation. The books do not raise the issue of the pressures brought to bear on the Kings of Cameroon by the German traders who drafted treaty terms.

Such traders were warned by their superiors in Germany that “the Cameroons must become German before the English have an inkling of it” and tasked “to finish all preparations before the English get wind of them and forestall us.” These not only presents to learners the intensity of the scramble for Cameroon but shows the enormous pressure that the Cameroons kings were under to cede their rights and territories to Germans. Combined with the nature of negotiations in secret nightly meetings and the fact that treaty terms were revised from the Kings wanting to collaborate to ceding their sovereignty, this signifies an enormous European desire for the territory than of the local chiefs being “tired of ruling their country” as the textbooks would make students believe.

As If Resistance Wasn’t Worth It

A similar approach is taken in the lesson on Resistances to German Rule. The impression given is that natives either rejected or flouted colonial edicts to which colonial authorities naturally responded with punitive expeditions which in all cases ended to the disadvantage of the natives in terms of deaths, destruction of homes, loss of land and property, payment of war indemnities in financial terms, in elephant tusks and in hundreds of native forced labourers. In some cases, it included the native loss of the right to wage war and make peace and chiefs being dethroned, exiled or killed by hanging.

The memory entrenched is that, in all situations, resistance to Germans was lost, implying that making war with Germans was senseless since they had superior weapons. Likewise, collaborating chiefs are presented as having accrued huge benefits as if to pass the message that it was just the right thing to do.

In the history of German colonization of Cameroon, German atrocities during such punitive expeditions amount to mass murder and genocide. There are instances where whole villages and populations were decimated as in Hickory Town in 1884–1885 and Buea in 1894. Also, leaders who took a diplomatic approach of lobbying the Reichstag to seek redress for German oppression were sentenced to death by hanging, like Rudolph Duala Manga Bell and his secretary Ngosso Din in Douala in 1914. But the school textbooks hardly approach such events from a “colonial crimes” perspective.

Empathy for Colonial Germany

Germany was forced to leave Kamerun following its defeat in the territory by Britain and France in 1916. However, the memory of a seemingly benevolent, progress-oriented colonial Germany continues to determine the approach to Germany post-World War I in the textbooks. This time an empathetic remembrance is emphasized.

In the lesson on Why Britain and France invaded Germany in Kamerun in 1914, the impression created is that “they wanted to cut Germany off from all her possible areas of supply of raw materials and human resources” and that this strategy, in part, accounts for its defeat in World War I. This added to the image of Germany being excessively punished by the 1919 peace settlements. Textbooks present the War Debt Clause in detail and indicate that no colonial power was free from the colonial atrocities for which Germany was punished. This further entrenches such empathy for it in the inter-war years in Cameroon.

The teaching of the German requests for the return of German colonies in the 1930s and 40s takes a similar approach. The textbook narrative contends that “the Versailles Treaty had deprived Germany of her colonies by illegal and immoral methods“, with adverse effects on the country. Propaganda quotes from Joseph Goebbels cited in their near entirety, capture Germany during this period as “beggars … a suffering nation … a poor nation … with no colonies, no raw materials”. This condition, the textbooks emphasize, helped Cameroonians to support the quest for the return of Cameroon to the Germans through very popular “propaganda groups like the Association of Indigenous Germanophile Cameroonians [Kamerun Eingeborenen Deutsch Gesinnter Verein] and Cameroonians of German Thought [Kamerunen Farbigen fur deutsche Gesinnung Verein]”. This is further enhanced by letters to German personalities like Adolf Hitler, such as that from chief Jean Nyap of Ndogbessol, Eseka in which he vowed that “I was born under your empire. ... I am telling you with tears in my eyes … I very much like Germany. I would very much wish that you return [to Cameroon]: French orders are different from yours.”[3]

With such quotes, textbooks entrench a remembrance that love for Germany had never waned in the territory and that it was the positivity with which the people appreciated German colonialism which inspired their request for Germans to return to Cameroon in the inter-war years. It also accounts for why the perspective is created in textbooks of people in French Cameroon responding with euphoria when Hitler overran France in 1940. Chief Ekongolo Miken of Mpobo Village for instance, is cited as having told his people “to rejoice that the Germans have captured France and that the French who do nothing but mistreat Cameroonians will soon be ousted from Cameroon”.

The “good Germans” perspective is also exemplified in topics dealing with nationalism and political developments in the British colonial period (1916–1961). During that time, most political parties, such as the Kamerun National Congress (KNC), adopted the German appellation Kamerun as a feeling of nostalgia for the German colonial period. This in part stimulated the creation of the Pan-Kamerun movement and the victory of the reunificationists in the plebiscite organized to determine the future of the Southern Cameroons in 1961.

Their ideologies hinged on the belief that the colonial division of German Kamerun made by the British and French was detrimental to the development of the two territories and that a re-made Cameroon within German colonial boundaries and their principles of toughness and hard work would lead to a rapid level of development of the country.

Justifications for the “Good Germans” Perspective and their Implications

The “Good Germans” curriculum approach to historical knowledge continues to sustain a positive memory of German colonialism in Cameroon to this day. Most Cameroonians would concur with Ralph Austen, an eminent historian and teacher of history, when he says that “present day [Cameroonians], in reflecting upon … German rule … see this period as their golden age”.[4]

Far from supporting a right-wing revisionist perspective, it is possible to identify four major reasons for such an approach to curriculum in Cameroon. First, with the benefit of hindsight, a comparison with the subsequent British and French colonial periods. Second, the curriculum ideology of the current powers of agency and their predecessors. Third, and closely linked to the second, the nature of political independence which led to a postcolonial, neo-colonial relationship with the former metropoles. Fourth, the pedagogic approaches which, for history education, have remained uncritically narrative, leading to a high level of memorization of “nice to know” contents and less acquisition of critical historical thinking skills which could inspire alternative views of colonialism.

Comparing German Colonialism to French and British Colonial Rule

As Robert Heinze has argued, there is consensus on German colonialism being in no way inferior to the colonial rule of powers such as France and England in terms of brutality and exploitation. In fact, as I have pointed out above, far too little is said about how strongly colonial everyday life in German Cameroon was characterized by cultural humiliation, political and social discrimination, structural and physical violence, and how profound the effects of this violence on Cameroon are to this day.

This notwithstanding, a prosaic appreciation of developments in the British and French periods in relation to those of the Germans leaves most Cameroonians with the conclusion that Cameroon seemingly reached a higher level of development while under a shorter span of German exploitation (1884–1914).

This is far from acknowledging German colonialism as an essential good but more of a comparison. Besides, German colonialism was longer ago than that of France. Consequently, people tend to remember the more recent past and, with this, the more recent atrocities rather than the ones before.

As Austen has argued, the idea of the “good Germans” is often used as a weapons in the conflict with the subsequent French administration, which is seen as judiciously of little benefit to the indigenes, far more subjugating and exploitative, with even more oppressive laws. These include measures like Capitation, a kind a head tax the French imposed requiring all men, women and children above 12 years to pay. Prestation was a system of forced labour requiring all male to work on government projects compulsorily without pay for ten days every year. Indigenat, for its part, made a distinction between assimilated citizens given civil and political rights identical to persons of French origin and those found not to exhibit any improvement towards being assimilated. Such ordinary people could be jailed without trial for little offences such as refusing to duff a hat while by-passing a European or performing Corvee;another form of forced labour. Such laws show that French Colonialism was not less violent that German but the approach to memory in textbooks is that of a comparatively development oriented colonial Germany than France.

The same perspective holds for those who were in the British administered Cameroon. Mukete testifies that: “the conversations of my father and his friends focused on [what seemed to them at the time to be] remarkable accomplishments of the Germans in terms of economic and infrastructural developments, to which little was being added by the British Colonial administrators. … They were nostalgic for what they considered the German culture of industriousness and discipline, which they associated with efficiency and results on the ground. … In the Cameroons under more than four decades of British administration, there was scarcely any infrastructure development compared to the impressive government buildings, roads, bridges, telegraph lines, ports, built by Germans during their 30-year rule.”[5]

While these may not have been designed for the benefit of the local people but more for the enhancement of colonial exploitation, it is still a popular local belief that durable infrastructure in Cameroon is attributed to the German colonial period, while a tough and practical person is locally termed “German-man”. Again, this is less a validation of the essence of German colonialism over others but more of a comparison with the subsequent British administration of comparatively long duration.

Memory Politics: “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”

The second justification for the “good Germans” approach stems from the phenomenon of the power of agency as educational policy initiator. There is an understanding that educational practices do not take place in isolation but are shaped and directed by particular state ideologies for which the subject history has often been at the centre. Thus, to understand the nature of memory, it is essential to recognize the relationship between ideology and education. Ideology relates to beliefs, assumptions, and expectations. It is a system of [re]presentations that have claim to certain truths aimed at giving direction to social and political action or inculcating a particular form of group consciousness and stereotypes. These then become legitimized through a careful selection and skewing of contents. When this is achieved, it has the potential to capture minds, especially of young people, and sustained as ultimate truth for a long time.

For Cameroon, state ideology on teaching colonial history has generally included projecting the gains rather than the horrors of the past interactions with Europeans with whom they have continued to maintain a postcolonial neo-colonized relationship. That ideology does not cancel out the fact that the state recognizes colonial days were one of the darkest in the history of Africa and should be remembered as such. It simply upholds the need for schooling today to emphasize “the training of citizens … open to the world and respectful of the general interests and the commonwealth.”[6]

Such a training supposes that citizens remembering of the relation between the state and its Northern partners as historic and mutually beneficial is more profitable than that which provokes resentment by evoking the known atrocities of colonialism; a kind of let sleeping dogs lie approach. From the perspective of educational policy makers, it is for this reason that the history of German colonization in Cameroon is brought to learners through an approach to contents that tones down the atrocities and brutality of German colonial rule in the territory. Where events of such malicious magnitudes are mentioned, the narrative is uncritically indifferent to blur such a perception.

It can therefore be argued that such an approach to curriculum is the impact behind the sustained credulous positive memory of the German colonizer in Cameroon. It is also the reason why Cameroonians see their present relationship with Germany, a former colonizer, as one emanating from a colonial developer to a veritable bilateral cooperation partner whose official development assistance is higher than that of Britain, who equally colonized Cameroon. In this light, textbooks indicate how Germano-Cameroon relations have always been “warm and correct” and how continuous German support for Cameroon “showcases Germany’s historical and unwavering commitment to support Cameroon in its perpetual quest for development and testifies the rich and good historical relationship both countries have and continue to share”.[7]

Ensuring Postcolonial Continuity

The third justification holds that while it may be a genuine educational goal for Cameroon to showcase colonial Germany in positive light for reasons of postcolonial benefits, such a curriculum approach is an outcome of the nature and character of colonialism and the decolonization process. It is believed that one of the effects of the modernist colonial curricula is that it produced a set of African educated elites of whom the colonizers were sure would continue running the newly independent states in the same manner as the colonizers had done. This is part of a “great harmony of interests”[8] in which the African neo-colonial leaders guarantees among many things “the fabrication of forgetting”[9] through the sustenance of the modernist hegemonic knowledge of colonization for development and at the same time mitigating any critical perspective which would amount to the lifting of the edge of the carpet to reveal the ‘dirt’ that is the atrocities of colonialism.

In his Letter to the Germans, Achille Mbembe showed that in addition to Christianity, colonialism and the secular (colonial and postcolonial) state have been made to become part of the imagination of African children very early in their lives because it has been made a “construct of truth” or “theology of the absolute”. This is achieved by using the tools of the state such as history textbooks to continue to erase the memory of African colonial suffering and resistance at all costs and replacing it with what we now know as the “good Germans” approach to German colonial history, hence the fabrication of forgetting or the repression of the memories of the defeated in history, the memory of the people of Cameroon.

In return, the former colonizer provides conditional aid and other forms of bilateral cooperation assistance, which includes making available permanent technical assistants and developing a culture of consultancy in which, for our case, German technical organizations continue to play a significant role in the educational sector in Cameroon. As Kwame Nkrumah has argued, in this neo-colonial epoch, control of government policy is secured not by arms but by payments towards the cost of running the state and by provision of experts in positions where they can dictate policy.

Memorization Prevents Critical Analysis

The fourth justification is the pedagogic approach intentionally tilted to sustain memorization rather than critical analysis. Research on the history of education in Africa shows that the “exploitation of the African feat of memorization as against understanding meaning”, in addition to restricting in the schools and the proliferation of literature that negatively presents colonialism, was a characteristic of the colonial school in Cameroon. This has continued to haunt the postcolonial educational system as a result of reforms that ended only at ceremonies where they were declared. To cite but a recent study, “despite the worldwide proliferation of teaching methods that promote critical thinking, and the adoption of the competency-based approach, the traditional methods of teaching are still very present in Cameroon. History teaching in Cameroon has remained classroom centred and a function of the lecture, note copying and note taking practice. This poor knowledge acquisition is a factor of the adopted pedagogic ideology and a weakness of the curriculum reform process implemented in the country since independence.”[10]

This ideology of pedagogical practice does not encourage innovation, creativity ,and reflection, but instead emphasizes cramming and re-calling or what Paolo Freire has called the “banking” concept of knowledge. In addition to the above justifications, therefore, the “good German” perspective is sustained by this uncritical pedagogy and a particular assessment system that emphasizes memory than synthesis, analysis, and evaluation. The effect is that teachers become “mind-fillers” and historiography adopts the uncritical “facts-speak-for-themselves” approach.

Curriculum, German Colonial Memory and Implications for Debates on Colonial Atrocities

What then is the implication of this approach for Cameroon towards remembering on the current debates on colonial atrocities in Germany? As shown above, approaches to curriculum determine the nature of historical memory and contemporary levels of anxiety on conversations of mass-violence, colonial atrocities, responsibility and restitution in German colonial history.

There is no doubt that education and mediatization of German colonial history in Namibia as atrocious and genocidal have contributed to the country’s participation on platforms on colonial crimes. There is also no doubt that exposing German colonial atrocities in Namibia has heightened the advocacy for the German government to take responsibility and to engage in restitution. Results are already evident in this direction. In a broader perspective, elaborating colonial atrocities also pushes the international community to commit to declaring them as crimes against humanity. Again, these would certainly come with implications of responsibility and restitution.

On the other hand, where remembering showcases “good Germans” — as in Cameroon — there is an unlikely possibility that empirical research which presents colonization as critically atrocious and inhumane would be available. Equally, in such places, platforms for discussions about such atrocities would be few if not non-existent. While silences about German colonial crimes in Cameroon are sustained through such an approach to historical memory, and it becomes difficult for Germany to be held responsible for atrocities committed during their exploitation of the territory. Without the temptation of comparing comparisons, such remembering may be erroneously appropriated by right wing revisionist groups, claiming that German colonialism in Cameroon fulfilled its civilizing mission. Already such a propensity to relativize colonial crimes and call for a supposedly “objective” view of colonialism is growing in Germany.

Curriculum ideology in Cameroon ignites a memory that glorifies German colonialism. To a very great extent, this is the result of the nature of history teaching in Cameroon and should not be seen in the light of the “supposedly overwhelming evidence for an allegedly ‘objective’ position of colonialism for revisionist appropriation”, as it does not in any way claim that German colonialism was beneficial to the people of Cameroon. Rooted in the decolonial/postcolonial positionality, the paper condemns colonialism and shows how postcolonial neo-colonial structures continue to shape remembering and thus hem children in a particular way of thinking through narrow and selfish approaches to curriculum and pedagogy. Therefore, it should not be cited as an example of the current academic research that pushes forward the “balance sheet method of German colonialism”.

Particularly for Germany, it in no way legitimizes what Robert Heinze has termed “the new colonial revisionism of the AfD and other international right-wing discourses”. Colonialism and the civilizing missions were never requested by those they claimed to advance. It could therefore never have been a legitimate project. It had nothing to do with fighting slave trade and did not involve civilizing people who didn’t see themselves as the “white man’s burden”.

Until the Germans left in 1914, the Kamerun territorial space was characterized by unending wars of resistance in which Cameroonians suffered huge human casualties, untold suffering, the payment of indemnities in hundreds of forced labourers, thousands of elephant tusks (leading to the decimation of their elephant populations), the burning of whole villages, the exiling and or public hanging of their kings. While such accounts are the subject of another day’s reading, it suffices to indicate that they constitute significant factors for the Cameroonian people’s unappreciation of the German colonial invasion, discontent towards their physical and material exploitation, and show of stiff resistance to the last day of German rule. Even though the curriculum mitigates these, the intention is not to essentialize the question of an objective view of colonial crimes. Consequently, the right-wing “balance sheet approach” remains contemptable in our view.

There is evidence to the fact that the German colonial engagement in the country was not better than that of Tanganyika, or worse still Namibia, where issues of responsibility and restitution are being dealt with for a good number of years now. The challenge for Cameroon, which seems to be left behind with similar experiences, is for its intellectuals to re-engage public and academic conversations from a perspective of repudiating “the fundamental European lie”[11] and exposing the epistemic silences hidden within such articulations of colonization as a vehicle for civilization and development.

 Such an unmasking of coloniality as an underside of modernity would not deny that there were positive consequences of German colonialism in Cameroon, but considers them as side effects of the massive exploitation of the people of Cameroon for the benefit of Germany and should be presented as such in school textbooks in Cameroon. This also implies an urgency of recognition, official apologies, and restitution by Germany.

[1] Cameroon History Textbooks for this analysis and from which direct quotes are drawn include Victor-Julius Ngoh, Cameroon 1884–Present (2018): The History of a people, Limbe: Design House, 2019; Victor-Julius Ngoh, Cameroon 1884­–1985: A Hundred Years of History, Limbe Navi-Group, 1985; Victor-Julius Ngoh, History of Cameroon since 1800, Limbe: Presprint, 1996; Tazifor Tajoche, Cameroon History in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Buea: Education Book Centre, 2003; VG Fanso, Cameroon history for secondary schools and colleges, Limbe: Macmillan Cameroon, 1989.

[2] Eckhart Fuchs and Annekatrin Bock (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Textbook Studies, New York: Palgrave, 2018, p.1.

[3] Leanord Sah, “Presence et Activites allemandes au Cameroun dan la periode de l’entre Deux Guerres (1924-1946)”, Colloque International : cent ans de relations entre l’Afrique et les Allemanges 1884-1985 : le cas du Cameroun, Yaounde: University of Yaounde, 8–14 April 1985.

[4] Ralph Austen, “Duala versus Germans in Cameroon: Dimensions of a political conflict”, Revue Francaise d’historie d’outre-mer,Tome 64 No.237, 4eme trimestre, 1977, p. 478.

[5] Victor E. Mukete, My Odyssey: The Story of Cameroon Reunification, Yaounde: Eagle Publishing, 2013, p.29.

[6] Republic of Cameroon (2008) Law No. 98/004/14 April 1998 to lay Down Guidelines for Education in Cameroon. Part 1: General Provisions. This law is reproduced in Leke Tambom Cameroon National Education Policy since the 1995 Forum, Limbe: Design House, 2003, pp. 121–128.

[7] Cameroon Radio and Television CRTV, “Cameroon diplomatic ties between Cameroon and Germany enhances technical and financial Cooperation”, 2020, [accessed 25/09/2021].

[8] Stephen Ocheni and Basil Nwankwo, “Analysis of Colonialism and its impact in Africa”, Cross Cultural Communication, 8(3), 2012, pp. 46–54,

[9] Achille Mbembe, “Living in the Myths of Others: Letter to the Germans”, Latitude: Rethinking Power Relations for a Decolonized and Non-racial World,

[10] Mala Christophe Nicolas, “Secondary school history curriculum reform in Cameroon and China”, Journal of Education and Practice. 9(10), 2019, pp.8–15. Also see, “Educational Fact sheets: Cameroon”, 2020,

[11] Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism, Translated by Joan Pinkham, with a new introduction by Robin D.G Kelley, New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000, p .84