An extract of Deed of Purchase of Victoria District, West Africa reads as follows:
"I William, Chief and known King of Isubu, and sole and lawful owner of a district contiguous to Isubu and known as War Bay and Amboise Bay and Islands belonging thereto, and known to natives as Foo Bay and [blank] Bay - and Islands Mondori, Ndami and Bobia.
"I William, Chief and King of Isubu, now in the presence of these chiefs, and principal men of Isubu do hereby declare my sole right and title to the district above specified and I do in the presence of these the heads and principal men of Isubu declare and by this act do make known that I this day make over and give unto Alfred Saker of Cameroons and of 33 Mooregate Street in the city of London, to his heir, executors and assigns all my right and title to the sovereignty and possession of the district herein specified...
"And I do hereby acknowledge to have received this day a note of hand and demand for payment of the considerations annexed as follows:
1. A promise of Goods of value £50 - within one month from the day of possession
2. A promise of Goods of value £150 - within the 12 months following
3. A promise of Goods of value £1800 - to be paid within the succeeding three years.
In confirmation of this and in the presence of the aforesaid Chiefs I do hereby affix my name and mark this Twenty-third day of August, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Eight.
(signed) William X King
Signed - witnesses)
Four years later another document signed by King William reads thus:
"Bimbia August 6th 1862
'I William King and Chief of Isubu do this day acknowledge to have received from Alfred Saker the possession of a New House, built by him, as the completion of the consideration money agreed to be paid by him, for the territory and district known as Amboise Bay.
William X King
Witness: E. J, Peacock"
Although it is true that many African chiefs did in fact affix their thumb prints on shady documents whose contents were completely unknown to them, and which led to the wholesale alienation of indigenous lands, the case of King William of Bimbia and the sale of Victoria (present-day Limbe) is quite different.
King William' story is that of a shrewd African Chief who knew how to go head-to-head with the British to get what he wanted. Not only did he successfully extract a recognition of sovereignty from the British along with the title of “King”, he was also able to sell land which he actually did not own and at a price which by 19th century standards, was extremely high - a mind boggling feat that no other Coastal chief could repeat in successive years.
While being in the Bimbia sphere of influence, the territory that later became known as Victoria was quite distinct from Bimbia itself. Even at the height of its power, Bimbia proper was made up of only three villages; Dikolo, Wonyangomba and Wonyabile, the latter also known as Williamtown. This explains the protests of Bakweri chiefs (well documented by Alfred Saker and Fuller) after what they considered William's act of duplicity.)
The Deed of Purchase for Victoria was merely one in a series of strategic treaties that King William of Bimbia signed with the British as he tried to expand his sphere of influence beyond Bimbia proper.
King William was able to spread his influence in the coastal region thanks to astute treaties with the British that gave him suzerainty over neighboring territories. In fact, in 1856, King William successfully solicited the service of the British during the Bimbia-Bubi war. The people of Bubi were cowed into submission by bombardment of their Island by the British warship, the Wilberforce. This was followed by two peace treaties in which the hitherto independent Bubi promised never to rebel against their "lawful sovereign"!
*A copy of the Deed of Purchase for Victoria is in the archives of the Baptist Missionary Society in London. Another copy is also found in Shirley Ardener's excellent 1968 publication, Eye-witness to the Annexation of Cameroon 1883-1887.