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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.
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The following pages, initially prepared for limited circulation in 1961, contain brief extracts and summaries of those parts of Eugen Zintgraffís book NORD-KAMERUN (1895), of most interest concerning the colonial Bamenda and Wum Division. Zintgraffís book, the first by a European about the Grassfields, has not been translated and is hard to get second-hand. In using these notes the following points should be borne in mind: Zintgraffís knowledge of Bali (Mungaka) and Hausa was very slight, and his discussions of character, motives and political institutions are consequently superficial and open to criticisms. He had no means of checking what he was told, or thought he was told. He had no previous knowledge of any similar culture and no training in ethnographical method. He was, however, a good observer, and his descriptions of tools, dress, weapons and the like, can be regarded as fairly reliable. Finally, it must be remembered that Zintgraff wrote the book to justify his own actions and to support that small but influential section of public opinion in Germany which favoured rapid imperial expansion. A full account of the actions and motives of Zintgraffís opponents in the Kamerun Government and in the Colonial Bureau of the German Foreign Office has not been written: we only have one side of the story. But there are some suggestive points made in Rudinís GERMANS IN THE CAMEROONS and others referred to in these notes. What is perhaps most striking about Zintgraffís account is the fact that the people of the Western Grassfields were not so isolated from one another or their neighbours as might be thought. A network of trade-friendships covered the country and big men exchanged gifts over long distances. These links must be set beside the inse¨curity due to raids and slave-catching, and are well worth investigation.