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Background of the Study

Across the globe, ethnicity and regionalism have significantly influenced the political landscapes of several nations . These dynamics often serve as defining characteristics, exerting influence over political loyalties, governmental frameworks, and public agendas. Ubah (2022) asserts that the origins of ethnic and regional dynamics may frequently be attributed to the historical development of nations. Long-standing cultural, linguistic, and tribal connections can last for millennia, influencing the development of political systems in a lasting manner. Other factors include the process of state formation and boundary delineation which can either amplify or alleviate these processes. 

Evidently, Cameroon, located in Central Africa, is known for its diverse range of ethnic groups and geographical differences, which add to the intricacy of its political environment. Cameroon harbours more than 250 discrete ethnic groups, each with its own cultural legacy, customs, and languages. Prominent ethnic groupings including the Bamileke, Fulani, Bantu-speaking tribes, as well as the Anglophone and Francophone populations. The variety is a representation of several identities that originated from pre-colonial institutions and interactions, forming a mosaic.Cameroon was subject to the influence of both the French and British powers throughout the colonial era. As a result, unique administrative and educational systems were established in the Francophone and Anglophone areas, respectively. This historical tradition has played a significant role in the development of many languages and cultures, which in turn influence current political processes. Cameroon achieved independence from French and British colonial administration in 1960 and 1961, respectively, resulting in the formation of a centralized state. The Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) has exerted significant influence over the political sphere, with President Paul Biya at the helm since 1982. The political systems, on the other hand, have struggled with difficulties arising from ethnic and regional inequalities. Familusi (2020) posited that ethnic and regional politics aims to empower these communities by recognizing and confronting the influence of social identities on individuals' experiences, opportunities, and prospects in life. Cameroon gained independence from colonial rule in 1960 and 1961, but, the influence of ethnic and regional loyalties persisted in the period after independence. The objective of establishing a unitary state was to strengthen the many ethnic groups, but the political discourse has frequently been shaped by the ongoing interaction of regional identities and language differences.

On the other hand, Adebanwi (2018) argued that the objective of ethnic and regional politics is to establish fairer systems, a viewpoint shared by other scholars like hooks (1981). Hooks emphasizes that cultural criticism has the potential to unveil and expose the mechanisms of domination, thus facilitating transformation. Nevertheless, opponents of identity politics contend that it fosters a type of tribalism that incites conflict between various groups and undermines the overarching objectives of liberal democracy (Lilla, 2018). They contend that identity politics promotes an emphasis on individual social identities rather than collective ideals and objectives, resulting in a disintegration of political and social cohesion.

Recently, there has been a noticeable shift in Cameroon’s national politics towards emphasizing ethnicity and rural areas, as well as a growing connection between the political and economic realms (Monga, 2020). Following the privatization process, entrepreneurs are increasingly engaging in politics to safeguard their financial holdings, while politicians and government officials are leveraging their positions of power and public perception to cultivate a corporate portfolio. These many pieces, each with their distinct yet interconnected paths, combine to form specific patterns of regionalism.

Statement of the Problem

Ethnic and regional dynamics have become integral to the formation of political allegiances and party affiliations. Political parties have, at times, aligned themselves along ethnic lines to secure support, leading to concerns about the potential exclusion of certain groups from the political process. The complexities of these dynamics often influence electoral outcomes and political strategies.according to Fafunwa (2023), the linguistic division between the Anglophone and Francophone regions has introduced a unique dimension to Cameroon's political discourse. The historical divide, stemming from distinct colonial legacies, has given rise to distinct political narratives, sometimes leading to tensions over questions of representation, governance structures, and the equitable distribution of resources.

Conversely, Kasfir (2019) noted that the allocation of resources and developmental initiatives across different regions has been a source of contention. Disparities in infrastructure development, access to education, and the provision of public services have contributed to perceptions of marginalization, creating challenges for equitable socio-economic development. While ethnic and regional dynamics pose challenges to the unity and stability of Cameroon, they also present opportunities for fostering inclusivity, embracing diversity, and strengthening national identity. Understanding the nuanced ways in which these dynamics shape the political system is imperative for navigating the complexities inherent in the governance structures of this diverse nation.

Quite apart from this, the voices of dissension and tribalism have penetrated the country’s mosaic made up of more than 200 tribes, and over 130 political parties. It is paradoxical that the ethnic and linguistic diversity that should have been Cameroon’s greatest asset has backfired to the extent of becoming one of the main obstacles to its development given the threat it constitutes to national unity and integration. Although studies abound on identity politics in other West African countries like Nigeria and Ghana, in recent times little attention has been give to Cameroon context, paucity of studies exist, upon this premise the study seeks to  examine ethnic and regional dynamics in Cameroon's political system.

Objective of the Study

The objective of the  ethnic and regional dynamics in Cameroon's political system. Specifically, the study seeks to:

To examine the prevalence of  ethnic and regional dynamics in Cameroon's political system.

To ascertain whether  ethnic and regional affiliations influences decision-making processes and shape the political landscape of Cameroon.

To investigate whether contemporary manifestations ethnic and regional affiliations impact on governance and political stability in Cameroon.

Research Questions

The study will be guided by the following questions;

What is the prevalence of  ethnic and regional dynamics in Cameroon's political system?

Does ethnic and regional affiliations influences decision-making processes and shape the political landscape of Cameroon?

Does contemporary manifestations ethnic and regional affiliations impact on governance and political stability in Cameroon?

Research Hypothesis

Ho: There is no significance effect of  ethnic and regional dynamics on Cameroon's political system. 

Hi: There is a significance effect of  ethnic and regional dynamics on Cameroon's political system. 

Significance of the Study

Understanding ethnic and regional dynamics in Cameroon's political system is crucial for policymakers, scholars, and stakeholders alike. The study's findings may inform strategies for fostering national unity, promoting inclusive governance, and addressing the challenges associated with ethnic and regional disparities, contributing to the building of a more harmonious and equitable political environment in Cameroon. By exploring these dynamics, the study not only contributes to academic discourse but also holds practical implications for policymakers, civic leaders, and citizens in fostering a political environment that cherishes diversity and works towards a united, equitable, and inclusive future for Cameroon. Empirically, the study will contribute to body of knowledge and serve as a reference material to student and scholars who wishes to conduct further studies in related field. 

Scope of the Study

The scope of this study  delve into the multifaceted aspects of ethnic and regional dynamics within Cameroon's political system.  Empirically, by scrutinizing historical antecedents, contemporary manifestations, and the impact on governance and political stability, the research aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of how ethnic and regional affiliations influence decision-making processes and shape the political landscape of Cameroon. Geographically, te study will draw its participant from Yaoundé, Capital in Cameroon.

Limitation of the Study

The study may face limitations in accessing comprehensive and reliable data on ethnic and regional dynamics within Cameroon's political system. Due to the sensitive nature of ethnic and regional dynamics, there might be challenges in obtaining candid and unbiased perspectives from political actors and stakeholders. Fear of reprisals or political repercussions could influence the openness of respondents. More so, Cameroon's linguistic diversity, with both English and French as official languages, may pose language barriers during data collection. Limited proficiency in one of the official languages could hinder effective communication with respondents. Howbeit despite the constraint  encountered during the  research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Election: An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. 

Ethnicity: An ethnicity or region  is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of perceived shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. It is a social formation predicated on culturally specific practices and unique symbols.

Political System: Political system refers broadly to the process by which laws are made and public resources allocated in a society, and to the relationships among those involved in making these decisions.

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

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  • Reference(s):

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  • Methodology: Yes available

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