Rudolf Duala Manga Bell

(born 1873 in the Douala region – executed in 1914 in Douala)

"You are hanging innocent blood. You kill me In vain. Damn the Germans. God, I beseech You; hear my last will, that Germans may never again set foot on this soil."

Rudolf Duala Manga Bell denounced the violent treatment of his people under German colonial rule—and was executed for his efforts. 

Manga Bell was king of the Duala ethnic group of the Bonanjo clan. His grandfather, King Bell, had signed the so-called protection treaty for the foundation of the German colony in Cameroon in 1884. Manga Bell attended the German government school in Cameroon and lived in Germany for several years as a “foster son” and guest student. After his return, he took on a mediating role as “high chief” and was tasked with implementing colonial policy. 


Witnessing brutal colonial crimes and realising that German policy was aimed at depriving his people of their livelihood, Manga Bell began to resist. In 1905, he wrote an open letter to the Reich Colonial Office, in which he underlined the interests of his people. His petitions against the German breach of law and the undignified treatment of his people were dismissed by the German side as “impudent”. The hopes he placed in the German public were also bitterly disappointed and the press agitated against him. Manga Bell, in principle willing to cooperate with the German colonial government, wanted to be considered a full citizen. 

His protest against the exploitative and inhumane policies of the German colonial power eventually cost him his life. He was hanged shortly before the onset of the First World War. This judicial murder, not yet fully dealt with in Germany, continues to shape Cameroon’s commemorative culture to this day. 

* „Wie Douala Manga Bell den Glauben an die deutsche Kolonialmacht verlor“, Radiobeitrag Deutsche Welle, 29.11.2014.

Credits: Jean-Pierre Félix-Eyoum, Dorfen