Royal Reels: Gambling


The registered First Day Cover had a blue TORONTO, NEW SOUTH WALES registration label, the complete set of the red 2½d, blue 3½d and green 5½d ‘PEACE’ stamps, canceled with TORONTO/ 18 FE 46/ N.S.W postmarks. The black printed cachet showed a dove with olive branch, a flag above a triangle of grave crosses and ‘VICTORY/ SECOND WORLD WAR/ 3RD SEP1939-15TH AUG 1945. It was addressed to Rev. A.I. Good, Ebolowa, Sangmelima and Kribi [all crossed out], with Abong M’bang [substituted], French West Africa, Cameroons. (Figure 1).

The reverse had the same Toronto mark of the front, transits REGISTERED NEWCASTLE/ 730P 18 FE 46/ N.S.W. (2 examples) as well as REGISTERED/ 19 FE 46/ SYDNEY N.S.W and there were four cancellations in Cameroun: EBOLOWA/ 12 JUIN 46/ CAMEROUN, SANGMELIMA/13 JUIN 46/ CAMEROUN, EBOLOWA/ 23 JUIN/ CAMEROUN, and a reception at Abong M’bong/ 3 JUIL 46/ CAMEROUN (Figure 2).

A map of Africa is shown with Cameroun colored in green (on left) and Cameroun with its capital Yaoundé, with surrounding countries, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (names not updated), are seen on right (Figure 3).

A larger map of southern Cameroun is shown with the following 3 towns which had postmarks on the reverse: Ebolowa (green arrow), Sangmélima (black arrow) and Abong M’bong (red arrow). Kribi, the site of the airport which is mentioned only on the face of the envelope can be seen east of Ebolowa, on the coast (Figure 4).

Several attempts to Google the Reverend I.A. Good were totally unhelpful, but Googling ‘Rev. Good, Cameroon’ found a Methodist Missionary named Adolphus Clemens Good (1856-1894) at Batunga, Cameroon who married Lydia B. Walker of the Gabon Mission in 1893. I realised that he might have had a son in the last year of his life, and that his wife decided on a missionary life for the son, and he was the missionary addressed from Australia, with the full name of Albert Irwin Good.

Subsequent Googling of the short-lived Rev. Adolphus Clemens Good confirmed that he was indeed Albert Irwin’s father, and 2 photographs of Adolphus were found. The first was a rustic scene with Adolphus on the left and his assistant Pastor Robert Milligan on the right, and the second showing a close-up of Adolphus, inscribed with “Yours in Christ, A C Good (Figures 5 & 6).

Albert Irwin Good (1884-1975) was appointed to the West African Mission in 1909 and served there until 1949. Most of his career was spent at Maclean Station, Lolodorf, in the Cameroun. He also served at Efuland and Elat Stations, and his service primarily involved teaching and evangelistic work. He published religious books in the native languages. He was deeply interested in science, collected insect and bird specimens and was a fellow of the royal Geographic Society. He married Mary Middlemiss (1893-?) in 1918 and she also served as as an educttional and evangelistic missionary. In 1933 she went back to the USA with their 3 children. Dr. And Mrs. Good retired from church service in 1950.

The territory of present day Cameroon was first settled during the Neolithic period. Portuguese sailors reached the coast in 1472. They noted an abundance of prawns and crayfish in the Wouri River and named it Rio dos Camar es, Portuguese for “River of Prawns”, and the phrase from which Cameroon is derived. Over the following few centuries, European interests regularised trade with the coastal peoples, and Christian missionaries pushed inland. In the early 19th century, Modibo Adama led Fulani soldiers on a jihad in the north against non-Muslim and partially Muslim peoples and established the Adamawa Emirate.

The German Empire claimed the territory as the colony of Kamerun in 1884 and began a steady push inland. They initiated projects to improve the colony’s infrastructure, relying on a harsh system of forced labour. With the defeat of Germany in World War I, Kamerun became a League of Nations mandate territory and was split into French Cameroun and British Cameroons in 1919. The French carefully integrated the economy of Cameroun with that of France and improved the infrastructure with capital investments, skilled workers, and continued forced labour.

The British administered their territory from neighbouring Nigeria. Natives complained that this made them a neglected “colony of a colony”. Nigerian migrant workers flocked to Southern Cameroons, ending forced labour but angering indigenous peoples. The League of Nations mandates were converted into United Nations Trusteeships in 1946, and the question of independence became a pressing issue in French Cameroun. France outlawed the most radical political party, the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), on 13 July 1955. This prompted a long guerrilla war and the assassination of the party’s leader, Ruben Um Nyobé. In British Cameroons, the question was whether to reunify with French Cameroun or join Nigeria.

Ahmadou Ahidjo arrived at Washington, D.C., in July 1982.On 1 January 1960, French Cameroun gained independence from France under President Ahmadou Ahidjo, and on 1 October 1961, the formerly British Southern Cameroons united with its neighbour to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Ahidjo used the ongoing war with the UPC and fears of ethnic conflict to concentrate power in the presidency, continuing with this even after the suppression of the UPC in 1971.

Cameroon has a high level of religious freedom and diversity. Christians are concentrated chiefly in the southern and western regions, and Muslims reside in large numbers in every region but are concentrated in the north. There is significant internal migration. There are currently no active Islamic political parties. Large cities have significant populations of both groups, with mosques and churches often located near each other.

The two Anglophone regions of the west are largely Protestant, and the francophone regions of the southern and western regions are largely Catholic. Southern ethnic groups predominantly follow Christian or animist beliefs, or a syncretic combination of the two. People widely believe in witchcraft, and the government outlaws such practices. Suspected witches are often subject to mob violence.

Addendum (June 2010):  Another First Day Cover has become available for a strip of three red 2 1/2d William Farrer stamps. It has a blue Mount Eliza Victoria registration label and the stamps are poorly postmarked  MT. ELIZA/ VIC with the day of issue 12 July 1948, as confirmed on the reverse.  It is addressed to Rev. A. I. Good, Mission Protestant Americaine, Yaounde, CAMEROUN, West Africa (Figure 7).

The reverse has 2 distinct postmarks, a transit REGISTERED MELBOURNE/ 4/ 10 30P/ 12 JY 48/ VIC AUST, as well as a reception at YAOUNDE/ (  ) AUG 48/ CAMEROUN (Figure 8). 

Yaounde is the capital of the country, and it is clearly shown in Figures 3 & 4, on 2 maps above.