When Cameroon became a German Protectorate in 1884, the Germans realized that the area around Mount Cameroon, home of the indigenous Bakweri ethnic group, was an agricultural paradise. They immediately instituted a policy of wholesale confiscation of native lands for large-scale commercial agriculture. Through the use of coercion, brute force, and a series of repressive laws, the German colonial Government forced local indigenous communities to give up vast expanses of native lands without compensation.
The German colonial Government also instituted the notorious and inhumane policy of packing the Bakweri into inaccessible, disease infested and inhospitable Native Reserves. Through this policy, thousands of Bakweri were forcefully displaced from their original villages and herded off onto strange and unfriendly patches of lands around the plantations. In one swoop, the Bakweri, who prior to the arrival of the Germans were described as aggressive, independent and dynamic, were transformed into a dejected, despondent, lethargic and dependent people. Ripped from familiar surroundings on which their entire traditional culture derived its strength the Bakweri began an alarming downward spiral that would continue for over half a century – a fate no different from that of Native Americans.
In total, the Germans alienated about 400 square miles of the most fertile land around the Mount Fako area alone, and stripped the Bakweri of over 200,000 acres of their most fertile lands with tragic results. According to the 1922 British Annual Report to the League of Nations:
“Uprooted from the homes of their forebears, settled willy-nilly on strange soil, deprived of their old-time hunting grounds, and fishing rights, the Bakweri have retained but a small sense of tribal unity or cohesion.”