Last week, this map, created by the Nigerian Survey Department in 1949, sparked the questions “Where is this?” and “What’s going on?” We discovered it the drawer of maps of Nigeria as we worked through to shift part of the collection.
Beginning in the early 1880’s, Germany held as a protectorate an area called Kamerun. It was larger than current Cameroon, including parts of Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, and Nigeria.
During the First World War, Kamerun was occupied by British, French, and Belgian troops. The area was divided by the League of Nations into two mandated territories, British Cameroons (Northern and Southern) and French Cameroun in 1922.
In 1946, mandated territories became United Nations Trust Territories.
Map publishers seem to have both highlighted and downplayed the British Cameroons. In this map published by the National Geographic society in July 1960, the British Cameroons are clearly separate from both Nigeria and Cameroun.
Yet in this map, also published in 1960, by George Cram, the British Cameroons are subsumed into Nigeria. You need to look very carefully to see the darker pink line in eastern Nigeria marking the British Cameroons boundaries.
In 1961, a plebiscite was held to determine whether the British Cameroons would unite with Nigeria or Cameroun; both had attained independence in 1960. Northern Cameroon (discontiguous brown, green and yellow in top map) voted to unify with Nigeria while Southern Cameroon (pink in top map) voted for Cameroon.