Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Colonial borders. Does Africa have a choice?


Lord Lugard, founder of Nigeria

The lines of Europe’s carve up of Africa were finally taking shape. On March 11, 1913, Britain and Germany agreed who got which bits of a swampy corner of the continent that few in either of the cold and distant countries had heard of.

Two states that did not exist at that time put the border agreement into effect again on Thursday with Nigeria formally handing over the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon.

That followed a ruling by the World Court in 2002 for which both countries supplied copies of yellowing colonial-era documents to justify claims to territory that had brought them to the brink of war.


Neither might have had as much interest had it not been for the expectation that there is oil there, but it again highlighted Africa’s commitment to colonial borders drawn without consideration for those actually living there.