André-Marie Mbida Biography

Andre-Marie Mbida, the first head of state of Cameroon, was born into a privileged and influential family in the northern region of the country. With a strong focus on education, he attended prestigious schools and built valuable connections. After a brief teaching career, Mbida ventured into business and established a powerful network across the nation. Utilizing his linguistic skills, he joined a colonial political party and became the first native person from his homeland to be elected to the occupier’s parliament. Eventually, he rose to become the head of his country’s quasi-independent government. However, his clash with the colonial power’s commissioner led to his resignation, though he remained deeply involved in domestic politics. Despite suffering imprisonment and enduring severe hardships, Mbida fought to regain his health and sought treatment abroad. Tragically, upon his return to Cameroon, he was arrested again and ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Andre-Marie Mbida
  • Died At Age: 62
  • Died on: 1980
  • Ideology: Democrats

Childhood & Early Life

Andre Marie Mbida was born on January 1, 1917 in Edinding in the Nyong and Sanaga region of Cameroon. Andre’s father was Simon Monbele Ongo Nanga, the chief of the Ngo Iougou tribe. His mother was Ngono Veronique.

As a boy, Andre attended a primary school in Erok. From 1929 to 1935, he studied at the ‘Minor Seminary’ in Akono. His curriculum included courses on mathematics and Latin.

From 1935 to 1943, he studied at the ‘Major Seminary’ in Mvolye. While enrolled in the school, he befriended two future presidents of African nations.

Career

In 1943, Mbida graduated from the seminary. He chose a secular job as Head Teacher of a school in Balessing.

While working as a teacher, Mbida continued his studies. In 1945, he became a lawyer. He was briefly hired to work in the treasury in Yaounde.

Later in 1945, he worked for the private sector, as a business representative, alternating between Yaounde and Ebolowa. He would hold this position for the next nine years.

In 1950, he began working with the ‘French Socialist Party’ (SFIO). Although it was based in France, the political party SFIO was active in Cameroon, then under French administration.

In 1952, he ran for office and was successfully elected to the Territorial Assembly.

On October 10, 1953, he was appointed as an official adviser to the French Union.

Mbida resigned from the party, in 1954. He then co-founded ‘COCOCAM’, the ‘Coordinating Committee of Cameroon’.

In 1955, an armed uprising against colonial occupation was brutally repressed. Although Andre did not participate, he led a campaign to free people imprisoned for their role in the uprising.

On January 2, 1956, the ambitious young man ran for election to the French Parliament. He won a narrow victory to become the first native Cameroonian elected to the French Parliament.

On January 31, 1956, Mbida was appointed to two key parliamentary committees. He used his membership to work towards the independence of his homeland.

On April 16, 1957, Cameroon became an autonomous state, a quasi-sovereign entity.

On May 12, 1957, he was elected by the Council of Ministers to become their President. This effectively made him the head of the autonomous state.

In September 1957, the nationalist leader traveled to the United Nations to give an important speech. He stated that Cameroon was a “pilot” state.

On October 24, 1957, he introduced a bill to design the national emblem and national anthem of Cameroon.

On January 12, 1958, he formed the ‘Cameroonian Party of Democrats’. Their motto was “the watchful and brave cock”.

On May 5, 1958, he resigned from his position in the government after a contentious disagreement with the ‘French High Commissioner for Cameroon’.

In 1960, Cameroon became a fully independent country.

On June 23, 1962, a coalition of Cameroonian politicians, including Mbida, signed a manifesto protesting a single-party state. They were all imprisoned. The politician soon became quite ill and mostly blind.

In 1965, he was released from prison. Mbida was given permission to travel to France for medical treatment, in 1966.

On August 3, 1968, Mbida returned to Cameroon. He was immediately placed on house arrest.

On May 30, 1972, the political leader was freed from arrest.

Major Works

Andre-Marie Mbida was the first Head of State of Cameroon from May 12, 1957 to February 16, 1958. He used his position and power to free his homeland from the crutches of the colonial French Government.

Personal Life & Legacy

On August 14, 1946 Andre-Marie Mbida married Marguerite Embolo, the daughter of a powerful tribal chief. Mbida and his wife had six children together.

One of his sons, Louis Tobie Mbida, is currently the head of the Cameroonian Party of Democrats. Another son, Simon Pierre Omgba Mbida, is a Cameroonian diplomat.

In 1980, the political leader became grievously ill. He traveled to France for treatment and died in a hospital on May 2.

Trivia

This eminent politician was a devout Catholic his entire life. He was the second native African head of state in the modern era. The famous leader was the first Cameroonian to be a political prisoner post-independence.

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