Memories of the hanging of Rudolf Douala Manga Bell for resisting German colonisation is still fresh in the minds of his decedents over a century after.
August 8, 2020 marks the 106th anniversary of that tragic August 8, 1914 in the life of the Duala people.
106 years later, Douala Manga Bell is still celebrated as a national hero who contributed in the fight to independence.
Who was Rudolf Douala Manga Bell?
Born in 1872, Rudolf Douala Manga Bell was the first son of King Manga Ndumbe Bell of Douala.
He took over from his father in September 1908.
Douala Manga Bell did part of his secondary education in Cameroon and later Lycée Aalen in Bonn, Germany.
He then studied law in Germany.
Douala Manga Bell got married to Emily Engine Dayas in 1896.
He had one child, Alexandre Douala Manga Bell.
Battle with Germans
In 1910 the then German Governor of Cameroon, Theodor Seitz carried out an urbanisation project which led to the locals ceding their lands to the Germans.
Separate habitats were to be set up for the Germans away from the Dualas.
The locals were upset and expressed their frustrations to their King, Douala Manga Bell.
Douala Manga Bell confronted the Germans and insisted that the treaty signed in 1884 did not talk of the expulsion of the locals from their lands. He added that the separation was a form of apartheid.
After a series of hurdles, Douala Manga Bell succeeded to rally the support of some European and African countries as well as some villages in Cameroon in his stance against the Germans.
Unfortunately for him however, the records have it that in Foumban, the Sultan of the Bamum, Ibrahim Njoya informed the Basel Mission in April 1914 that Manga Bell was planning a rebellion against the Germans.
The missionaries alerted the Germans who arrested Douala Manga Bell and one of his close aides, Ngoso Din May 10, 1914.
They were both charged with high treason and tried on August 7, 1914.
They were later executed by hanging on August 8, 2020.
Many Historians insist that if their trial had tarried due to the onset of the First World War, they may not have been executed since the Germans lossed the war in Cameroon and were ousted.
Rudolf Douala Manga Bell, the Legend Lives on
Rudolf Douala Manga Bell will always be remembered for his martyrdom, standing against colonial excesses.
Many Historians not only call him a hero but insist that he is one of those who built the foundation of Cameroon’s journey to independence.
His deeds have been celebrated in many books and articles proof of the mark he has left behind, over a century after.
Eleanor Ayuketah Ngochi