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INVESTIGATING THE ROOT CAUSES OF REGIONAL CONFLICTS IN CAMEROON

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INVESTIGATING THE ROOT CAUSES OF REGIONAL CONFLICTS IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  1. Background of the study

The alliance between the two Cameroons, one characterised by English-speaking inhabitants or Anglophone, and the other by French-speaking inhabitants or Francophone, was solidified at the Foumban Conference in July 1961. The establishment of the new country was founded on the principle of a federal system, consisting of two states and two distinct administrations. Awasom (2020) states that the agreement on the union was ambiguous, specifying that it should be both federal and loosely structured, with some matters falling within the jurisdiction of the federal government. The federal system operated until 1972, when it was abolished after a vote. Following its cancellation, a consolidated structure of governance was established (Awasom, 2020; Bouopda, 2018). Nevertheless, the distinctions between English-speaking Cameroon and French-speaking Cameroon persisted, namely in the realms of education and law (Bouopda, 2018). In 1984, the incumbent Francophone president enacted legislation to amend the constitution and rename the United Republic of Cameroon as the Republic of Cameroon. The majority of English-speaking Cameroonians opposed the shift as it symbolised the systematic erasure of their language and culture (Awasom, 2020; Bouopda, 2018; Bajaj, 2018). Subsequently, there have been recurrent demonstrations in the English-speaking region, particularly occurring annually on October 1st, which marks the day of reunification. This decision engendered a feeling of social, economic, and political inferiority among four English-speaking individuals, who have since advocated for a restoration of the federal constitution. (Awasom, 2020; Bouopda, 2018). Moreover, the Republic of Cameroon has several ethnic groups that sometimes face challenges in cohabiting their territories (Clarke-Habibi, 2019). The historical and contextual basis necessitates the government to establish a peacebuilding programme. Due to persistent cultural and educational disparities, there have emerged inequities between the two colonial cultures that have led to crises. The initial campaign initiated by attorneys and teachers with the aim of achieving equitable treatment for Anglophone schools and courts has gradually transformed into an armed war (Dionne, 2018). On October 1, 2017, the separatists declared the independence of the Anglophone region of the nation, naming it the Federal Republic of Ambazonia (Lyare & Essomba, 2017). The situation became more intense as a result. According to the International Crisis Group (2019), the English-speaking region of Cameroon had around 3,000 fatalities and the displacement of 500,000 people inside the country at the conclusion of 2019. The conflict in the English-speaking area of Cameroon is attributed to political abuses, dominance, injustices, the violation of human rights, and the cultural and linguistic differences resulting from colonialism, according to reputable non-governmental organisations such as the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), International Crisis Group, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the Cameroonian Civil society (Nsapu, 2017; Vogel & Arias, 2020). The problem in Cameroon's Anglophone region is rooted in political and economic factors. Ngala (2020) asserts that it has an impact on schooling as well. According to him, this violent struggle is deeply connected to Cameroon's colonial past and has a direct impact on the implementation of the country's bilingual policy, particularly in regards to the teaching of both French and English. Given the circumstances, it is imperative to implement a peacebuilding programme in schools in Cameroon (Ngala, 2020). Schools serve as a social setting where individuals may strategize and advance initiatives aimed at fostering peace and sustainability. As stated by Bajaj (2018), schools have a crucial role in determining the future of a country by addressing important issues such as cultural diversity, inclusivity, migration, and people's liberation. "Their methods of socialisation," he states, "should include the cultural and ethnic diversity that is a fundamental aspect of the democratic dedication to human dignity" (Bajaj, 2018). Similarly, education in Cameroon should actively foster peacebuilding to proactively avoid and effectively resolve crises like the Anglophone issue.

The recent conflict in Cameroon has mostly been characterised as the Anglophone crisis. This issue began in 2016 when several attorneys, union members, and teachers in the Anglophone region of Cameroon demonstrated against the policies of the Francophone-dominated administration (Gigova 2016). The government reportedly forcefully crushed these rallies, resulting in a subsequent cycle of violence and counter-violence involving several factions. While the crisis is often attributed to 2016, this research contends that the problem and the underlying reasons that caused the current violence had already been there long before then. Only by eliminating the divisions between conflict and peace can we see the broader forces that give rise to and contribute to the violence in a conflict. During this investigation, the distinctions between war and peace become indistinguishable (Vogel & Arias, 2020), and a chronological account of the conflict develops that challenges the narrative presented by the Cameroonian government, separatist leaders, and international entities. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate the root causes of regional conflicts in Cameroon.

    1. Statement of the problem

The regional conflicts in Cameroon have several and intricate fundamental causes, frequently originating from a blend of historical, political, economic, and social issues. Cameroon's history is characterised by the imposition of colonial rule and the consolidation of areas with heterogeneous ethnic, linguistic, and cultural heritages. The persistence of historical injustices, such as the systematic marginalisation and discrimination faced by certain ethnic groups, is a significant source of animosity and conflict (Vogel & Arias, 2020). The concentration of authority within the government in Yaoundé has resulted in sentiments of political marginalisation among certain regions, notably in Anglophone areas such as the Northwest and Southwest regions (Bouopda, 2018). Demands for more self-governance or even separation have arisen as a reaction to the perception of being marginalised. Nevertheless, variations in economic growth and resource accessibility at the regional level lead to social inequality and dissatisfaction. Several regions, especially in the northern areas, have significant levels of poverty, unemployment, and underdevelopment, which might serve as conducive conditions for violence. Hence, the need to investigate the root causes of regional conflicts in Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate the root causes of regional conflicts in Cameroon. The specific obectives is as follows

  1. Investigate the role of ethnic and cultural factors in regional conflicts in Cameroon.

  2. Investigate the impact of external actors, such as neighboring countries or international organizations, on regional conflicts in Cameroon.

  3. Analyze the impact of political marginalization as a factor in regional conflicts in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study

  1. What is the role of ethnic and cultural factors in regional conflicts in Cameroon?

  2. What is the impact of external actors, such as neighboring countries or international organizations, on regional conflicts in Cameroon?

  3. What is the impact of political marginalization as a factor in regional conflicts in Cameroon?

1.6 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the Cameroonian government as it will reveal the factors that contributed to the regional conflicts that engulfed Cameroon, the study will thereby, propose recommendation on how to resolve the conflict in other for it not to repeat it self.

The findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature on te subject matter.

1.7 Scope of the study

The study focuses on investigating the root causes of regional conflicts in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will investigate the role of ethnic and cultural factors in regional conflicts in Cameroon, investigate the impact of external actors, such as neighboring countries or international organizations, on regional conflicts in Cameroon and analyze the impact of political marginalization as a factor in regional conflicts in Cameroon.

Geographically, the study will be delimited to Cameroon

1.7 Research Methodology

Research methodology deals with the different ways or methods the researcher applied in order to carry out the research as well as the instrument used for gathering the data. There are several research methodologies appropriate for answering the research questions. The type of research methodology used in this research to gather data and relevant information is the historical research. This will involve the making of oral interviews and collections of materials from secondary sources, such as books, journal articles, magazines, internet sources, international and national conference proceedings, published and unpublished articles.

1.9 Definition of terms

Conflict : a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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