The United Nations-organised plebiscite on 11 February 1961 was one of the most significant events in the history of the southern and northern parts of the British-administered trust territory in Cameroon. John Percival was sent by the then Colonial Office as part of the team to oversee the process.
This book captures the story of the plebiscite in all its dimensions and intricacies and celebrates the author’s admiration for things African through a series of reminiscences of what life was like in the 1960s, both for the Africans themselves and for John Percival as a very young man. The complex story is also a series of reflections about the effect of the modern world on Africa. It is a thorough, insightful, rich and enlightening first-hand source on a political landmark that has never been told before in this way.
In a vivid style with a great sense of humour, Percival’s witty, cogent, eyewitness and active-participant account deconstructs the rumours and misrepresentations about the February 1961 Plebiscite which was a prelude to reunification and to the present day politics of ‘belonging’ in Cameroon.
“One of the major merits of this book is to provide us with a deeper insight into the role of those actors who have never been the subject of plebiscite studies, namely the Plebiscite Supervisory Officers.” - Piet Konings,African Studies Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands
John Percival—Anthropologist, Writer, Television Broadcaster of many innovative BBC series on the environment, history and anthropology. As a young graduate he was recruited and sent to serve in the Southern Cameroons as a Plesbiscite Supervisory Offi cer in 1961. He died in 2005 after a recent return visit to Cameroon with Nigel Wenban-Smith who writes an epilogue. This posthumous memoir has been edited by his wife, Lalage Neal.