1961 British Cameroons referendum

a) Do you wish to achieve independence by joining the independent Federation of Nigeria or,

b) Do you wish to achieve independence by joining the independent Republic of Cameroon?
Northern Cameroons
Federation of Nigeria
Republic of Cameroon
Southern Cameroons
Federation of Nigeria
Republic of Cameroon

A United Nations referendum was held in the British Cameroons on 11 February 1961 to determine whether the territory should join neighbouring Cameroon or Nigeria. This followed an earlier plebiscite in the Northern Cameroons in 1959 which voted to postpone a decision. The option of full independence was not on the ballot, having been opposed by Andrew Cohen, the UK representative to the UN Trusteeship Council, as well as African and anti-colonial delegations, notably by E. M. L. Endeley, who favoured independence by joining Nigeria, and John Ngu Foncha, who favoured independence by joining Francophone Cameroon.[1]

The Muslim-majority Northern Cameroons saw a majority of 60% in favour of joining Nigeria, whilst the Christian-majority Southern Cameroons saw 70.5% in favour of joining Cameroon.[2] Northern Cameroon officially became Sardauna Province, a part of the Northern Region of Nigeria, on 1 June, whilst the Southern Cameroons became West Cameroon, one of the two federated states of the Federal Republic of Cameroon, on 1 October.


Choice Northern Cameroons Southern Cameroons
Votes % Votes %
Independence by joining Cameroon 97,659 40.0 233,571 70.5
Independence by joining Nigeria 146,296 60.0 97,741 29.5
Invalid/blank votes
Total 243,955 100 331,312 100
Registered voters/turnout 292,985 349,652
Source: Nohlen et al., African Elections Database


  1. ^ Nyamnjoh, Francis (2003). Negotiating an Anglophone Identity. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill. p. 15. ISBN 9004132953.
  2. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Michael Krennerich, & Bernhard Thibaut (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p. 177 ISBN 0-19-829645-2

Further reading