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SOCIO-POLITICAL INSTABILITY AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AFRICA: THE CASE STUDY OF CAMEROON

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SOCIO-POLITICAL INSTABILITY AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AFRICA: THE CASE STUDY OF CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 Background of the study

Cameroon is located in the Gulf of West and Central Africa. Boasts an ethnically varied population with over 250 ethnic groupings. Cameroon, like many African nations, continues to grapple with socio-political instability. In 1916, Britain and France defeated the Germans, leading to the division of the region. France acquired the majority of the land, while Britain received a lesser portion. The British section of the region was referred to as Southern Cameroon, whereas the French section was known as The Republic of Cameroon (Appiah, 2020). Cameroon was a mandated territory of the League of Nations, meaning that Britain acted as a caretaker and was tasked with preparing the region for independence. France enjoyed full sovereignty over its designated region. 

Prior to the independence period, British Southern Cameroon was presented with the option of either entering a federation with the Republic of Cameroon as an equal state or joining Nigeria to form federal states. They supported forming a federation with The Republic of Cameroon (Andrew, 2019). In 1961, a referendum was held in which Southern Cameroonians opted to unite with the Republic of Cameroon as one federal state. The United Nations resolution 1608 established October 1st, 1961, as the day of independence for Cameroon by merging with the Republic of Cameroon to become the Federal Republic of Cameroon (Aziza, 2017). French Cameroon and British former Southern Cameroon convened in Foumban to negotiate the terms of their union. Following the meeting, the former British Southern Cameroon left feeling disheartened, expressing that the discussions were dominated by a pre-prepared constitution put forth by the French experts. This was a pivotal moment in the life of all former British Southern Cameroonians. 

From 1961 until 1972, the unity between British and French Cameroon was highly problematic. Southern Cameroon felt they were not regarded as equals in the union, leading to resentment and hostility in their federal system. Anglophones were underrepresented in administrative appointments in the federal government and local governing bodies (Awolowich, 2015). Southern Cameroon was underdeveloped in terms of developmental initiatives, leading Southern Cameroonians to lament the choice to become a federal state. 

For years, Anglophones have been marginalised and viewed as less significant than Francophones in a government where the majority Francophones employ repression, violation of the constitution, and coercion as their principal tools of administration. The book "Betrayal of Two Trusting People" by Dawitt (2016) discusses the enduring longing for self-determination among the people of Southern Cameroon. 

In early October 2016, the two English-speaking areas established a protest movement comprised of teachers and attorneys. The residents of the Northwest and Southwest regions participated in a peaceful demonstration to express their dissatisfaction and ensure their opinions were acknowledged. The majority of official papers were written in French, establishing a fully francophone union, which led to the notion of marginalisation (Ekwealor & Uzodike, 2016). French-speaking professors were sent to English-speaking areas, but they and their pupils faced linguistic barriers, making it difficult to learn. 

Moreover, the anticipated peaceful demonstration escalated into violence as military officers violently handled teachers and attorneys on the streets. Taxi drivers, motorcyclists, and university students all protested against the administration, filling the streets of both the Northwest and Southwest regions. Under the leadership of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, Southern Cameroonians announced the independence of Ambazonia in October 2017 with an interim government already in place. The President of the Republic of Cameroon initiated a conflict against the Anglophone separatists on December 31, 2017, resulting in the current socio-political unrest (Ekwealor, 2015). 

The previous paragraphs highlight the current socio-political instability in both the Northwest and Southwest areas of Cameroon. The peace rally that started in 2016 has escalated into a ferocious conflict where the military is facing a separatist group of about equal numbers. The unrestricted movement of people has caused significant harm in both areas, resulting in property devastation, loss of life, relocation, and several other socio-political consequences.The escalation of the anglophone crisis from nonviolence to violent confrontation has facilitated the criminal trade of abduction and ransom demands (Enuka, 2015). Many Anglophone Cameroonians turned to trading as a way to protect their family assets. However, the government's harsh response to the 2016 peaceful protest escalated the crisis, leading to increased socio-political instability and conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate socio-political instability and conflict resolution in Africa: the case study of Cameroon.

 Statement of the problem

Africa has faced ongoing socio-political instability and wars, which have presented substantial obstacles to its growth and stability. Cameroon is a relevant case study because of its varied ethnic makeup, past conflicts, and current socio-political issues (Enuka, 2015). Cameroon still faces internal struggle, including as separatist groups, political turbulence, and socio-economic inequities, despite attempts to resolve these concerns. This hinders growth and jeopardises peace. The investigation will focus on analysing the underlying causes, dynamics, and outcomes of socio-political instability in Cameroon, and evaluating the efficacy of current conflict resolution methods.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate socio-political instability and conflict resolution in Africa: the case study of Cameroon

To analyze the socio-political factors contributing to instability in Cameroon

To assess the effectiveness of existing conflict resolution mechanisms in Cameroon

To propose recommendations for enhancing conflict resolution and socio-political stability in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study

What are the socio-political factors contributing to instability and conflicts in Cameroon?

How effective have the existing conflict resolution mechanisms been in addressing conflicts and promoting stability in Cameroon?

What recommendations can be made to improve conflict resolution efforts and enhance socio-political stability in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The study will be significant to the following;

Policymakers: Understanding the socio-political landscape and conflict resolution mechanisms in Cameroon can inform policymakers, both within the country and internationally, about effective strategies for promoting peace and stability. Insights from this research can guide the development of tailored policies and interventions aimed at addressing underlying grievances and preventing future conflicts.

Academia: This research adds to the body of knowledge on conflict resolution and socio-political dynamics in Africa, particularly in the context of Cameroon. By conducting an in-depth analysis, researchers can contribute valuable insights into the root causes, triggers, and potential solutions to conflicts in the region.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on  socio-political instability and conflict resolution in Africa: the case study of Cameroon. Empirically, the study will analyze the socio-political factors contributing to instability in Cameroon, assess the effectiveness of existing conflict resolution mechanisms in Cameroon and propose recommendations for enhancing conflict resolution and socio-political stability in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitations of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Instability: the state of being unstable; lack of stability.

Conflict resolution:  the process of ending a dispute and reaching an agreement that satisfies all parties involved. 


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