During the European colonial era, Bakossiland came under German rule in the 1880s, and then, after World War I, Bakossiland was split between British and French colonies.
The Mungo River, which flows through Bakossi territory, was taken as the southern boundary between the two colonies. Starting in the first half of the 20th century, Bamileke people began to migrate into Bakossi territory, particularly to the Tombel area, where they found work on the plantations and escaped the harsh forced-labor conditions on the French side of the border. They were welcomed by the Bakossi, who gave them land in return for free labor.
In 1953, the Kumba Eastern Area Federation was established as an indigenous authority covering all the Bakossiland. In the period immediately following World War II, Bakossi people enjoyed a period of prosperity. Cocoa prices were high, and the farmers did not have to work since they could employ a sharecropper to tend the crop in return for one third of the earnings. By the 1960s, the people started to realize the need to invest in more important things, particularly education.
Two white settlers, Bakossi children and men on Christmas day, 1901