The main argument of this article lies in its conceptual framing which is a contextualisation of the problem of exception in the colonial and ‘postcolonial’ period of Cameroon. The country was technically colonised by Germany and following the Versailles treaty, was later transferred to France and Britain under a mandate of the League of Nations. Following legal and historical investigations, I assess how the permanent recourse to a state of exception within the colony was central to Europeans’ tactics in their strategies of control and domination of colonised people. I further examine how the country’s colonial past strongly influences current state structures through a basic reliance on emergency laws which have become normalised to a point where the law’s force has been reduced to the zero point of its own content.
This is the full version of a paper presented at the conference ‘Law between global and colonial: techniques of empire’ held at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki, Finland 3–5 October 2016.