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THE ROLE OF ETHNIC DIVERSITY IN SHAPING POLITICAL STABILITY AND GOVERNANCE IN CAMEROON

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THE ROLE OF ETHNIC DIVERSITY IN SHAPING POLITICAL STABILITY AND GOVERNANCE IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

The political landscape of Cameroon is now beset by a multitude of issues. These outcomes arise from the convergence of colonial impositions, delineations, and our inability to effectively govern ethnic variety in the pursuit of nation-building. Cameroon is home to more than 250 ethnic groups and has a colonial history influenced by German, French, and British cultures (Lewis, 2015). Prior to colonial invasion and the advent of multiparty politics in 1990, the multi-ethnic society lived in peaceful coexistence. However, after these events, conflicts emerged as individuals vied for political dominance and control over resources. While there is constitutional equality across ethnic groups, the last three decades have seen one particular ethnic group strategically using political opportunities, which has resulted in significant antagonism. Every kind of variety has historical backgrounds, with a significant number of them being narratives of colonisation and subjugation (Bachus, 2019). Across Africa, ethnicity continues to have significant influence, but with variations over time and across rural and urban regions (Bathuure, Brobbey & Bawa, 2020). The cultural variety of Cameroon may be categorised into three distinct periods: pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial. During the pre-colonial period, ethnic groups mostly resided in rural areas and exhibited a greater degree of homogeneity. They coexisted together with less resource-related rivalry. During the colonial period, minor ethnic groups were compelled to amalgamate regardless of linguistic, cultural, and geographical disparities. During the post-colonial period, there exists a mixture of foreign and native cultural values. Hence, ethnicity has a significant influence on the political landscape and process of nation-building in Cameroon. The notion of a "electoral village," in which urban residents vote based on ethnic affiliations, suggests that the village or ethnic group plays a crucial role in the political system (Bello, 2018).

Cameroon, located in Central Africa, is renowned for its abundant variety of races, languages, and traditions, which positions it as one of the most ethnically diverse nations on the continent. Cameroon's political stability and administration face possible challenges due to its diverse ethnic makeup, consisting of more than 250 different ethnic groups, each with its own unique customs, dialects, and social systems. Cameroon has managed an intricate political environment since achieving independence from colonial domination in 1960, marked by a fragile equilibrium of authority among its numerous ethnic groups (Gadjanova, 2017). The enduring impact of colonisation, characterised by arbitrary demarcations and the imposition of Western-style administrative systems, has collided with pre-existing ethnic affiliations, resulting in a dynamic interaction between ethnic allegiances and national cohesion.

To comprehend the impact of ethnic diversity on political stability and governance in Cameroon, a comprehensive examination from several perspectives is necessary. Ethnic variety enhances the cultural composition of the nation, promoting a feeling of plurality and inclusiveness. Cameroon's social and political life is enhanced by the many viewpoints, expertise, and traditions brought by various ethnic groups, fostering inclusive public debate and fostering tolerance (Hassan, 2020). Nevertheless, ethnic variety may pose obstacles to the maintenance of political stability and effective government. The competition for money, representation, and power sometimes overlaps with ethnic identities, resulting in tensions, disputes, and even bloodshed. The tensions between various ethnic groups are intensified by historical grievances, feelings of marginalisation, and uneven access to opportunities, leading to increased mistrust and animosity (Kumase, 2018).

The period after Cameroon's independence has been marked by an intricate interaction of political processes, including authoritarian governance, endeavours towards democratisation, and conflicts over power and resources. Leaders sometimes use ethnic divides as a means of consolidating power or retaining authority, therefore using ethnicity as a weapon for political manipulation. The use of ethnicity for political purposes has resulted in a recurring pattern of instability and difficulties in governance, which hampers the progress towards establishing a unified and all-encompassing national identity. Furthermore, the administration of ethnic diversity overlaps with wider concerns of governance, including corruption, inequality, and inadequate institutional capability. The absence of sufficient procedures for resolving conflicts, restricted availability of legal remedies, and an absence of efficient decentralisation further intensify tensions arising from ethnic variety, impeding endeavours to attain lasting peace and development (Mills, 2018). Given this context, it is essential for policymakers, researchers, and practitioners to comprehend the complex interplay between ethnic diversity, political stability, and governance in Cameroon. This study aims to analyse the factors, mechanisms, and consequences of ethnic diversity on political processes and governance outcomes in Cameroon. Its objective is to provide valuable insights for evidence-based interventions that can enhance social cohesion, encourage inclusive governance, and reduce the likelihood of ethnic tensions and conflicts.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Cameroon, a nation recognised for its rich cultural tapestry and ethnic variety, grapples with recurrent issues relating to political stability and efficient government. The complicated interaction between ethnic variety and political dynamics raises critical concerns concerning the degree to which diversity effects the stability of the political landscape and the efficiency of governance structures(Mişcoiu, S., & Kakdeu, 2021). Despite the acceptance of ethnic variety as a basic component of Cameroonian society, there is a major gap in understanding how this diversity impacts political processes, institutions, and results. Cameroon's unique ethnic diversity, consisting of over 250 ethnic groups, creates a complicated environment where opposing interests and identities sometimes cross. The dispersion of the citizenry along ethnic lines may offer obstacles to the formation of coherent political institutions and the preservation of national unity. Understanding the degree to which ethnic diversity influences political cohesiveness is vital for designing methods to enhance inclusion and social harmony(Nyaura, 2018). Cameroon has suffered frequent outbreaks of intercommunal violence and separatist movements, typically motivated by concerns founded in ethnic identity and perceived marginalization. The influence of ethnicity in increasing or reducing conflict dynamics remains a key field of investigation. Understanding how ethnic identities mix with socioeconomic inequities and political grievances may influence conflict resolution techniques and help to the preservation of peace and stability(Nyaura, 2018). By examining these linked concerns, this study intends to expand our knowledge of the significance of ethnic diversity in generating political stability and governance in Cameroon. Through a multidimensional study, it strives to give insights that might drive policy interventions targeted at enhancing social cohesion, inclusive governance, and sustainable development in a varied and dynamic society. Hence, the study examine the role of ethnic diversity in shaping political stability and governance in Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to examine the role of ethnic diversity in shaping political stability and governance in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

Investigate the impact of ethnic diversity on political stability in Cameroon

Examine the level of ethnic representation in Cameroon

Assess strategies for promoting inclusive governance in Cameroon

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the impact of ethnic diversity on political stability in Cameroon?

What is the level of  ethnic representation in Cameroon?

What are the strategies for promoting inclusive governance in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Policy makers: Research findings can inform policy interventions aimed at promoting social cohesion, inclusive governance, and conflict resolution. By understanding how ethnic diversity shapes political dynamics, policymakers can develop more targeted and effective policies to address the challenges associated with diversity and promote peaceful coexistence.

Academia: the findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on the role of ethnic diversity in shaping political stability and governance in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will the impact of ethnic diversity on political stability in Cameroon, examine the level of governance structures and ethnic representation in Cameroon and assess strategies for promoting inclusive governance in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitation 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

Ethnic diversity:the existence of people from a variety of cultural and diverse backgrounds within a single area

Political stability: a situation characterized by the preservation of an intact and smoothly functioning government or political system, avoiding significant disruptions or changes over an extended duration


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