George N. Njung, O’Neil, Robert J.: Born under the Gun. A History of Kamerun, WWI, Christian Missions, and the Internment Camps of Fernando Po. New York: The Crossroad Publishing, 2018. 185 pp. ISBN 978-​0-​8245-​9962-​1. Price: $ 34.95 in:

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Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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achieving superior long term absolute returnsʼ” (74). Toleranz würdigt Adam Nobis mit folgenden Worten: “Irena Cheng writes that Eduard Shevardnadze viewed the Great Silk Road not only in terms of the economy but also as a ʽroute of tolerance.ʼ The Vision insists that the new project ʽadvocates tolerance among civiliza‐ tions, respects the paths and modes of development cho‐ sen by different countriesʼ” (106). Ein ausführlicher Kommentar zu solchen Lexikoneinträgen erübrigt sich wohl, wobei immerhin positiv anzumerken ist, dass we‐ nigstens Literaturverweise angefügt sind. Die Darlegungen von Adam Nobis in diesem “Nach‐ schlagewerk” erscheinen durchgehend vollständig un‐ kritisch ihrem Gegenstand gegenüber und die zahlrei‐ chen ebenfalls unkritischen Verweise auf die hochum‐ strittene Politaktivistin Helga Zepp-LaRouche irritieren (72, 73, 75, 79, 87, 112). Wer sich mit dem Thema Neue Seidenstraße befasst, sollte seine Recherchezeit ander‐ weitig nutzen als für dieses Buch. Im Internet wird er oder sie in kurzer Zeit umfangreichere und besser aus‐ balancierte Informationen zum Thema finden. Harald Grauer ( O’Neil, Robert J.: Born under the Gun. A History of Kamerun, WWI, Christian Missions, and the Internment Camps of Fernando Po. New York: The Crossroad Pub‐ lishing, 2018. 185 pp. ISBN 978-0-8245-9962-1. Price: $ 34.95 The history of Cameroon suffers from sufficiently un‐ explored aspects, not least amongst which is the micro‐ histories of the First World War. This book explores a century-long neglected micro-historical aspect of the war in Cameroon – the religio-historical relevance of the Cameroonians who followed the defeated Germans in refuge in the neighboring Spanish colony in 1916. The book’s main thesis is that the abrupt termination and expulsion of pro-German Christian missionaries in Cameroon by the Allies had the boomerang but fortu‐ itous effect of helping to instead expand the evangeliza‐ tion of the Catholic Christian faith into the rural grass‐ lands of Cameroon. He does so by tracking how pro- German Cameroonian soldiers who were interned in Spanish Guinea with the Germans gained exposure to convert to Christianity, and when they returned to their respective villages in Cameroon in 1919, they became the flag bearers of the religion in those villages. The book is organised in five chapters, plus the intro‐ duction and conclusion. Each chapter opens with quotes that form the basis of the narrative to follow. Chapter 1 is a textbook-like general survey of European scramble for Africa, the German colonization of Cameroon, and the history of the Christian missions in Cameroon. Chapter 2 details the war in Cameroon, highlighting German war strategies, tactics, and objectives. Chapter 3 then takes up the defeat of the Germans in Cameroon and their flight to the Spanish colony where they took asylum as war in‐ ternees. It discusses the resettlement of the internees, sketches the history of Fernando Po, and explains the stra‐ tegic importance of Spanish Guinea to the Germans and to Cameroon. Meanwhile, chapter 4 focuses on the in‐ ternees in the internment camps. Most importantly is the evangelization that happened in the camps, which would later have an impact upon the internees’ return to Cameroon. Finally, chapter 5 focuses on the repatriation of the internees to Cameroon in 1919, the means of trans‐ portation of the returnees to their various communities back in Cameroon are provided. Robert J. O’Neil’s main thesis is original, sound, in‐ novative, and convincingly illustrated. When in 1916 the Germans were defeated after an eighteen-month ar‐ duous WW1 campaign in their Cameroon colony by the joint Anglo-French African forces, they, including all German missionaries either fled or were expelled to the neighboring Spanish colony and were given asylum there as Spain maintained neutrality in the war. Before fleeing to that colony, the Germans were accompanied by several thousands of Cameroonian soldiers who had fought for the Germans, alongside with their families. They then lived in internment camps in Spanish Guinea for three years until 1919. The book argues and demon‐ strates how this situation provided an opportunity for the proliferation of the Catholic Church in Cameroon by Cameroonians themselves. When expelled German missionaries interned in the Spanish colony with the Cameroonians had taken stock of the Cameroonian internees at the beginning of intern‐ ment, the number of Christians among the Cameroo‐ nians was almost insignificant. At the end of the threeyear period, however, the vast majority had been con‐ verted, and ready to return to Cameroon and become agents of the faith in their respective communities. When these Christians returned to Cameroon in 1919, they evangelized at a geometric rate. In fact, when in 1925 the British allowed all German missionaries to re‐ turn to Cameroon, they discovered that the number of Christians had instead increased and that in the North West Region of Cameroon, the number of Christians “had multiplied twenty-three times” (117). The author cites from relevant authorities on the field, who have as‐ certained that the returnees who had become Catholic Christians became agents of the proliferation of the Catholic Church in parts of the British Cameroons. Even more convincing is the ability of O’Neil to use oral sources of the actors themselves to demonstrate the specific role that some of the identified Christian re‐ turnees played in their respective communities in prolif‐ erating the Catholic faith there. Examples are many, but some of the most outstanding ones include: Michael Timneng of Kom, who had become a Catholic Christian while interned in Fernando Po and after returning in 1919, became the pillar of the Catholic faith in the Kom village of Fujua (121); Matthew Fobang who returned in 1919 to start a Catholic Church in Bali-Nyonga (125); and Augustine Kiyouh who returned in 1919 to found the Catholic Church in his home village of Funfu‐ ka because while in Fernando Po “a German missionary Book Reviews 255 Anthropos 115.2020 had instructed him to bring what he had learned about Jesus back to his people” (131 f.). The book accomplishes several other things, includ‐ ing identification of potential research areas. One area of research hinted by the book is wartime violence against Cameroonians, which, as the author points out, was committed both by the Allies and the Germans (51– 53). Investigating more of this is crucial, especially as it challenges Allied propaganda during the war in the ter‐ ritory that seemed to blame the Germans only. Another important area of research revealed by the book is the role that African refugees have played in the economic development and social life of their host African coun‐ tries, as the author goes on to detail such role by the Cameroonian internees while in Fernando Po. A third area suggested by the author is “if many of the interned remained on Fernando Po after 1919” and that such “would make an interesting study” (130). The book raises important issues that are deserving of some attention. One example is the case in point where a cemetery, which initially existed in Malabo with graves of several hundred Cameroonians who died dur‐ ing internment there, has been erased and in its place the international airport of Malabo erected (3). This shows the extent to which African governments con‐ tribute to the erasure of their own history. And to think that the Cameroon government has done virtually noth‐ ing to represent the history of these people in public memory is even more troubling. It is therefore a timely and salutary effort by O’Neil to try to bring out of obliv‐ ion and silencing the history of these important makers of history. Amidst the chaos of war and terror, the au‐ thor occasionally exhibits a sense of dramatic humor, as at one point when a German priest hilariously conse‐ crates the marriage of an anxious young Cameroonian couple, while the priest and other German missionaries are being marched off by Allied soldiers for deportation from Cameroon (57). Whereas most accounts on the war in Cameron avail‐ able to English readers are Anglo-Saxon, having been rendered through the lenses of predominantly English sources, the author’s version differs in that it uses main‐ ly sources and records of German missionaries. In a way, therefore, this is a German version of the war in Cameroon, made available to English readers. It is thus a pro-German account, written in English. The research was conducted in multiple archives in Cameroon and the U. K., and with multiple ethnographic interviewees. Eye-witness testimonies of interviewees are reproduced on pages 133–149. By so doing, the author has success‐ fully attempted to not only tell the story he has told but “preserve from anonymity the unique lives of many who have lived that past” (133). The book includes two relevant appendix documents, one on “Testimony of Cameroonians” and the other on “Stories of Kamerun and Fernando Po.” There are, however, a couple of critiques. First, the book is replete with the implicit assumption that Chris‐ tianity as brought to Africa by the Europeans was benevolent, soul-saving, and indispensable to the African. There is no historical evidence to back up this assumption nor does the reality of the situation backs it up. Worse of all, the assumption overlooks the fact that European Christianity and European colonialism in Africa went hand in glove. There is no doubt that Chris‐ tian missionaries sometimes clashed with colonial gov‐ ernment policies and poor treatment of Africans. The author even points out several many instances. The case of the Pallottine German priest Fr. Karl Hoegn who be‐ came “a voice of the voiceless” and complained about the exploitation of Cameroonians as forced laborers to the German colonial administration, and went to the ex‐ tent of taking German top colonial officials to court on the matter is but one example out of many others (35). However, the author’s romantization of Western Chris‐ tian missionary activities in Africa and faulty assump‐ tions are well noted. Lastly, the author’s interpretation of events and argument sometimes defeat the facts. For example, he asserts that the main reason why the Ger‐ mans capitulated in Cameroon and fled to Spanish colony was because they did not want to destroy the ter‐ ritory and expected to come back, yet his own narrative and presentation of facts tend to suggest that there were indeed stronger reasons for that action, including the fact that the Germans were running out of ammunition and supplies; and that they were fighting a war on a ter‐ ritory that was, although their own, generally hostile to‐ wards them and uncooperative. Notwithstanding the above flaws, I strongly recom‐ mend the book as a must read to undergraduate and postgraduate students, teachers, historians, the general reader, humanists, social scientists, and African scholars on Cameroon. George N. Njung ( Onken, Hinnerk: Ambivalente Bilder. Fotografien und Bildpostkarten aus Südamerika im Deutschen Reich (1880–1930). Bielefeld: transcript, 2019. 504 pp. ISBN 978-3-8376-4341-1. (Histoire, 137) Preis: € 54,99 In seinem Buch “Ambivalente Bilder” liefert Hinnerk Onken eine anschauliche Darstellung der fotografischen Repräsentation Südamerikas im Deutschen Reich in der Zeit zwischen ca. 1880 und 1930. Die Arbeit konzen‐ triert sich dabei auf die Vorstellung und Analyse der ab den 1890-er Jahren weit verbreiteten Bildpostkarten so‐ wie auf Fotografien, die in wissenschaftlichen Büchern und Artikeln sowie in populären Reiseberichten oder Länderführern veröffentlicht wurden. Um der Menge der vorhandenen Bilder Herr zu werden, spart sie ein‐ zelne Bereiche – wie beispielsweise das Feld der Missi‐ onsfotografie – aus. Die gut lesbar geschriebene und umfangreich bebilderte Arbeit fragt neben den vorherr‐ schenden Motiven vor allem nach den Diskursen und Vorstellungswelten, in die die über die genannten Medi‐ en verbreiteten Bildmotive eingebettet waren. Hierfür ergänzt sie die reine Bildbetrachtung um textliche Quel‐ 256 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.