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State of a Union

The Half Century of Cameroonís Bicultural Experience

Emmanuel Yenshu Vubo

Publication Year: 2012

The bicultural polity of Cameroon has become problematic over the years. In addition to the increasing marginalization experienced by its English speaking component in many domains (politics, administration, economy, culture), it is facing mounting inequality and disarray despite the nation-building aspirations at reunification in 1961. This book examines the very basis of the union crisis by tracing the causes to the asymmetrical nature of negotiations between the contracting partners ñ the founding fathers of the union ñ and the politics of guile and force that has characterized the regimes in YaoundÈ. From a federal model that takes the equality of the contracting parties as a given, the polity has developed into an ethno-regional patchwork designed by its architects to be essentially unequal in nature. Consequently, the segmented Anglophone community can exist only in contradiction within itself. They have been worked into the regimeís statecraft of consciously maintaining or re-activating ethnic boundaries inherited from colonialism. An analysis of the cultural and linguistic dimension of the union shows contrasting drives between the assimilation/attempts to dominate by the French-speaking component and resistance by Anglophones. The analyses further show the projected harmonization and rollback by the State, the creative blends and the crystallization around continuing or reproduced colonial experiences, a fierce competition between elites with a drive to impose the culture of the demographically dominant and a refusal to accept the idea of a linguistic minority. The contentious experience, Yenshu Vubo argues, can still be remedied by reforms in a politics of possibilities.These reforms must be ready to re-examine the constitutional basis of the union by revisiting the often dismissed question of the form of the state defined as ìone and indivisibleî (a new federal architecture as requested by several political voices). Institutions should be restructured to attend to diversity issues and essential linguistic differences while consolidating any strategic gains of the union such as the creative blends and the acceptance of specifi cities of each community, statutory equality of citizenship and the essential clauses of the fi rst federation.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. iii-

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Preface

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pp. v-

These critical reflections were first put in writing during the weekend of the 10th to the 12th of November 2006 in Strasbourg, then expanded upon during my stay of nearly two months in Besançon that covered the rest of November and December of the same year. At that period, I was preparing my pre-professorial qualification, the Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (HDR). ...

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Introduction

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pp. vii-xv

In 1961 the southern fragment of one of the territories of the former German colony of Kamerun, which had been administered after the outcome of the First World War in association with the British colony of Nigeria under the name of Southern Cameroons, opted to join the newly independent French speaking Republic of Cameroon in a plebiscite...

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1. Utopia and Disenchantment in the Making of the Bicultural Polity

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pp. 1-31

The birth of the bicultural polity of Cameroon is one of those surprising twists of history that took hardly twelve years to become a reality. No one could predict (and indeed no one did predict) that the tiny section of the German colony of Kamerun, which had been attached to the Eastern Region of the British protectorate of Nigeria after the First World War, would ever...

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2. The Making of Ethnic Frontiers as Statecraft

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pp. 33-52

One question that apparently looks simple but which is complex is that of how ethnic spaces become political spaces in the modern period or how politics in the modern period is played in the ethnic domain whereas the rules of the game indicate that it has to be played in neutral trans-ethnic spaces. A related question will be that of understanding why peoples once...

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3. Language and the Linguistic Question in the Bicultural Project

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pp. 53-77

If other social phenomena can easily fuse or dissolve into each other easily language is the one of the most impermeable, the most resilient to compromise and the most distinguishing feature of human communities in the tendency for human societies to acquire distinctive identities or adopt attitudes of particularism. It is therefore normal that language becomes a key...

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4. Between Assimilation and Roll Back In Harmonisation Projects

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pp. 79-103

One of the contentious issues which have bedevilled Cameroon since the onset of the union experience is the question of harmonization of certain core areas of public life, which by dint of their differentiating nature, tended to necessitate or place an imperative on consensual mergers. The prime concern here is with some of those areas where harmonization was either...

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5. Towards An Anthropology of Conviviality and a Politics of Possibilities

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pp. 105-144

The peculiar situation of Cameroon and its development necessitate an anthropology of conviviality within its polity. This anthropology will be comprehensive as it implies an analysis of all social dimensions of the polity (politics, economy, social relations, culture, language) that shape conviviality. The principal question is: how does the ordinary citizen live this situation of...

References

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pp. 145-155

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Appendix I

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pp. 157-164

Politics in some parts of the South has earned for itself the tag of a “dirty game”. One would not be idealising to say that competitive politics based on popular sovereignty has reached a stage of refinement in the North. Proof of this is the willingness of politicians to step down when confronted with a vote of no confidence, a scandal, the loss of popularity or failure to win...

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Appendix II

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pp. 165-171

It is painful to stand here today to bear testimony to the works of a friend who was everything to me. He was a brother in every true sense of the word to the extent that everybody that knew him associated me with him or him with me. It is not painful that he died because he died. It is rather painful that he died so young. Dying so young for a talented man like Joe...


E-ISBN-13: 9789956727964
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956726714

Page Count: 190
Publication Year: 2012