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University Crisis and Student Protests in Africa

Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Piet Konings, Walter Gam Nkwi

Publication Year: 2012

Faced with a deepening crisis in their universities, African students have demonstrated a growing activism and militancy. They have been engaged in numerous, often violent, strikes for improvements in their deteriorating living and study conditions and the introduction of a democratic culture in the universities and society as a whole, including the right to express their views, organise in student unions and participate in university management. This book focuses on a recent violent strike action in Cameroon’s state universities, with special attention to the University of Buea – the only English-speaking university in the country between 1993 and 2011. Such a detailed study on student strikes is still rare in African studies, and maybe even more important, this book pays special attention to certain elements that have been of great significance to the strike but are often overlooked in narratives of other student actions in Africa, namely the use of cell phones, differences in gender roles of student activists, the religious dimensions of the strike, the central role of some public spaces like bars and cafés for the planning and execution of student strikes, and the power of the photocopier. The book goes far beyond simply documenting the various protest actions of students against the state and university authorities. It also provides ample room for comments from journalists and other civil-society members and groups on various aspects of the strike.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title page

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pp. i

Copyright page

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pp. ii


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pp. iii


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pp. v

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Chapter 1 - Irrepressible Dissent: The University as the Bedrock for Political Transformation in Cameroon

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pp. 1-22

This chapter provides an overview of the continental and national contexts of the crisis of higher education in Cameroonian State Universities, highlighting some of the critical factors that have served as impetus to student strikes...

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Chapter 2 - Scholarship Production in Cameroon: Interrogating a Recession

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pp. 23-48

This chapter amongst other things examines the university system in Cameroon. It starts by generally showing a panoramic picture of African universities and proceeds to draw on the fact that the university system in Cameroon is not separated from the politics of the state. The state’s voice...

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Chapter 3 - The University of Yaoundé as Ground Zero for the 2005 Student Protests in Cameroon

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pp. 49-72

Against the backdrop of rising shadow costs in the public university system in Cameroon, suspicion of impending fee hikes, and worsening living conditions on and off campus, the students of the University of Yaoundé I organised under the Cameroon Students’ Rights Association (ADDEC)...

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Chapter 4 - Protest on the Second Front: The University of Buea Joins the Fray

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pp. 73-100

Given the systemic nature of problems within higher education in Cameroon, students at the University of Buea (UB) opted to join their Yaoundé colleagues on strike. They also articulated a long list of demands which included the scrapping of University registration fees, the provision...

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Chapter 5 - The Hurricane of Student Strike Action Sweeps into Douala and Dschang

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pp. 101-122

In early May 2005, the students’ strike which had begun in Yaoundé and spread to Buea slowly engulfed Douala and Dschang. The students of both universities joined their colleagues from the sister universities in solidarity, but also because the issues raised from the outset at the University of Yaoundé...

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Chapter 6 - Use of Force and Loss of Life and Property at the University of Buea

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pp. 123-164

The early introduction of the police and gendarmes into the context of a student strike at the University of Buea quickly bred a dialectic of violence which became the interpretive lens through which actions were viewed by the different collective parties involved...

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Chapter 7 - Reaching Accord: Negotiating Resolution at the University of Yaoundé

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pp. 165-182

The previous chapters have examined the causes and course of the students strike in Cameroon state universities. The next chapters document the various attempts that were carried out by various actors to resolve the strike. The attempts differed from university to university, and recorded successes...

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Chapter 8 - A Bumpy Road to an Untenable Resolution in Buea

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pp. 183-256

This chapter focuses on the attempts by the various actors involved in the student strike in the University of Buea to arrive at a settlement and restore peace on campus. One of the major actors was the revived University of Buea Students’ Union (UBSU), which was charged to steer the affairs...

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Chapter 9 - Civil Society Actors Weigh in on the University Strike

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pp. 257-296

The university does not only serve as an arena within which societal issues are refracted, but given the prevalence of youth political, social and economic cultures, it represents a recruiting ground for different causes. Given the centrality of the university therefore in social mobilisation, civil societies...

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Chapter 10 - Epilogue to a Strike

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pp. 297-326

The epilogue to the strike provides an end to the university students’ strike. This chapter specifically touches on the voices of the man-on-the street, business people and other personalities about the strike. This is found in the sixteen testimonies compiled by the journalists in the newspapers...


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pp. 327-335

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956728961
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956728961

Page Count: 342
Publication Year: 2012