In 1884, King Bell of the Duala people, along with leaders of other ethnic groups in Cameroon, signed a "protection treaty" with German trading companies that effectively made Cameroon a German colony.
In 1888, Wilhelm II was sworn in as Emperor of the German Empire and became a staunch defender of the colonial empire that Bismarck had established at the Berlin Conference in 1884-85.
King Bell's grandson Rudolf Duala Manga Bell was sent to Germany by his father to study the language and became a lover and admirer of German literature and music. As a law student in Bonn, he also became a staunch supporter of the German legal system. In 1910, Manga Bell was crowned King of the Duala as heir to the throne. He was then appointed by the Empire as a liaison between the German colonial administration and the local population.
To counter the increasingly brutal abuses of the Germans in Cameroon, Manga Bell always opted for settling disputes according to the rule of law, for example by repeatedly submitting petitions to the German Reichstag. He was firmly convinced that Germany would honor the treaty his grandfather had signed. Only when the German Reich under Kaiser Wilhelm II, after largely ignoring his pleas, sought to establish an apartheid system in the town of Duala by forcibly expropriating and expelling the population, did he - after all legal means had been exhausted - resort to rebellion. The Germans summarily put him on trial for treason without due process and executed him, along with several other leaders, by hanging.
The next day, another 200 people were hanged. Manga Bell's body was left hanging for three days to set an example.
In Cameroon, Rudolf Manga Bell, who had largely been forgotten there for many years, is now revered as a national hero. In Germany, however, he has not been rehabilitated to this day