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ETHNIC DIVERSITY AND ITS INFLUENCE ON POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT OF CAMEROON

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ETHNIC DIVERSITY AND ITS INFLUENCE ON POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT OF  CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Located in the region of Central Africa, Cameroon is well known for its rich cultural and ethnic diversity, including over 250 distinct ethnic groups. The coexistence of several cultures has not only enhanced the cultural vibrancy of the country, but has also had a significant influence on shaping its political landscape. Scholars have extensively examined and engaged in socio-political debates on the intricate interplay between ethnicity and politics in Cameroon over an extended period of time (Bachus, 2019).  In order to have a comprehensive understanding of the impact of ethnic diversity on politicians in Cameroon, it is essential to conduct a comprehensive examination of the historical, social, and political contexts. The establishment of the nation-state's complex network of ethnic identities may be attributed to the colonial past of the country, during which European powers arbitrarily demarcated borders. Following its attainment of independence in 1960, Cameroon had the challenges associated with establishing a cohesive nation among many linguistic, cultural, and ethnic factions (Bathuure, Brobbey & Bawa, 2020).  Ethnicity has constantly had effect on election dynamics, governance structures, and intergroup relations in Cameroonian politics. According to Bello (2018), political organisations often establish their structures by using ethnic identification as a means to garner support and consolidate their authority. Moreover, the allocation of resources, including governmental roles and development endeavours, has been shaped by ethnic factors, leading to the perception of marginalisation and exclusion among certain demographic groups. 

According to Gadjanova (2017), the long-lasting effects of ethno-political tensions have not only affected voting processes but have also manifested in occasional instances of hostility and conflicts between various populations. The Anglophone problem in Cameroon pertains to the intricate interplay of ethnicity, politics, and socio-economic disparities, as shown by historical grievances and the apparent marginalisation of Anglophone regions (Hassan, 2020). 

Scholars and politicians alike recognise the significance of addressing ethnic diversity and its implications for political stability, social cohesion, and inclusive governance in Cameroon. However, existing academic research often presents divergent perspectives about the nature and extent of ethnic influence on political processes, therefore necessitating more empirical inquiry and meticulous analysis (Kumase, 2018). This research endeavour seeks to contribute to the existing scholarly conversation by doing an empirical assessment of the relationship between ethnic diversity and politics in the context of Cameroon. The objective of this research is to comprehend the impact of ethnicity on political conduct, institutions, and outcomes in Cameroon. The strategy used in this study incorporates a diverse range of academic methods, including quantitative data analysis, qualitative research procedures, and comparative case studies (Lewis, 2015). The objective of this study is to provide significant perspectives that might inform evidence-based policy interventions aimed at fostering inclusive governance, mitigating interethnic conflicts, and fostering national cohesion in Cameroon. The presence of ethnic variety in Cameroon has often served as both a source of resilience and a cause of disagreement. On the one hand, it has made a significant contribution to the cultural diversity and resilience of the nation, therefore cultivating a collective feeling of identity and belonging among its heterogeneous populace. Conversely, it has also engendered societal stratification, resource competitiveness, and political strains, sometimes culminating in confrontational situations. Ethnic diversity in Cameroon has a significant impact on political growth, which is shown in several ways. First and foremost, political mobilisation and involvement are influenced by ethnic factors, since various ethnic groups often align themselves based on ethnic affiliations in order to further their own interests and objectives. This may result in the emergence of political parties and movements based on ethnicity, which can either foster inclusiveness or intensify societal tensions. 

Furthermore, the presence of ethnic diversity has a significant impact on the allocation of power and resources within the political framework. The historical dominance of several ethnic groups in Cameroon has resulted in their increased influence and control over political institutions and economic possibilities. Consequently, this has given rise to views of marginalisation and inequality among other communities. The unequal allocation of power has the potential to exacerbate feelings of resentment and weaken endeavours aimed at fostering national unity and cohesiveness. Moreover, the presence of ethnic variety has an impact on the development and execution of governmental policies, since leaders often encounter intricate interethnic relations in order to secure backing and establish credibility. This may lead to the formulation of policies that either cater to a wide range of interests and foster social unity, or perpetuate current disparities and intensify ethnic divisions. Furthermore, it is crucial to acknowledge the significant impact of ethnic diversity on the formation of political identities and attitudes. The political ideas, affiliations, and behaviours of individuals may be greatly influenced by their opinions of themselves and others in connection to their ethnic origins. A comprehensive comprehension of these dynamics is crucial in formulating governance policies that are both inclusive and successful, aligning with the varied goals of Cameroon's populace. This study aims to investigate the complex correlation between ethnic diversity and political growth in Cameroon, taking into account the aforementioned factors. This research seeks to illuminate the intricate dynamics and provide ideas for promoting inclusive governance, social cohesion, and sustainable development in the nation by analysing historical patterns, current issues, and future potential. Therefore, the researcher sought to assess ethnic diversity and its influence on political development of  Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Cameroon, a country characterised by its cultural richness and ethnic diversity, finds itself at a pivotal moment when the political dynamics are significantly influenced by the presence of several ethnic groups (Hassan, 2020). Despite the recognition of the importance of ethnic variety in shaping Cameroon's national identity, there is a lack of comprehensive knowledge about the specific impact of ethnic diversity on its political progress. The primary objective of this study is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complex interplay between ethnic diversity and political growth in Cameroon. There exists a dearth of comprehensive research that delves into the many dimensions of this connection (Mişcoiu & Kakdeu, 2021). Multiple studies have highlighted the potential of ethnic diversity to bolster democratic representation and foster inclusive governance. Conversely, other perspectives highlight the propensity of ethnic diversity to foster factionalism, ethnocentrism, and political marginalisation (Bello, 2018). Furthermore, the absence of a comprehensive framework for evaluating the influence of ethnic diversity on political processes hinders the development of evidence-based policies aimed at promoting national unity, equitable representation, and sustainable economic progress.  Hence, the study assess ethnic diversity and its influence on political development of  Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to assess ethnic diversity and its influence on political development of  Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To assess the evolution of ethnic diversity in Cameroon.

To assess the impact of ethnic diversity on  governance structures in Cameroon.

To examine the extent at which ethnic diversity influences political stability in Cameroon

To investigate the role of ethnic identity politics in shaping political development  in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the level of ethnic diversity on political development of  Cameroon?

To assess the impact of ethnic diversity on  governance structures in Cameroon.

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

What is the role of ethnic identity politics in shaping political participation and decision-making processes in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study is significant to the following

The findings of the study will be significant to the government as ethnic diversity can either be a source of strength or a potential fault line in a nation's social fabric. By studying its impact on politics, researchers can identify factors that either exacerbate ethnic tensions or promote social cohesion. This knowledge can inform policies aimed at building inclusive institutions, promoting inter-ethnic dialogue, and mitigating conflicts, thus contributing to long-term stability and harmony.

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 assessing ethnic diversity and its influence on political development of  Cameroon.  Empirically, the study will assess the evolution of ethnic diversity in Cameroon, assess the impact of ethnic diversity on  governance structures in Cameroon, examine the extent at which ethnic diversity influences political stability in Cameroon and investigate the role of ethnic identity politics in shaping political development  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

Politics: the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.


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