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EXAMINATION OF ETHNICITY AND POLITICS IN CAMEROON: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

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EXAMINATION OF ETHNICITY AND POLITICS IN CAMEROON: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Cameroon, a nation located in Central Africa, is known for its rich cultural heritage and diversity. The country has faced ongoing challenges in navigating the complex relationship between ethnicity and politics. Following its liberation from colonial authority, the nation has seen a multifaceted socio-political environment greatly influenced by its many ethnic communities. Cameroonian culture is strongly intertwined with ethnicity, since it has more than 250 ethnic groups, each with its own unique languages, customs, and social systems (Bachus, 2019).

Ethnicity has had a significant impact on both creating individual identities and affecting political processes in Cameroon. The enduring ethnic conflicts and power struggles that remain today may be attributed to the legacy of colonialism, which is marked by the establishment of arbitrary boundaries and the imposition of Western-style government institutions. Following independence, there was a rise in political parties that often formed based on ethnic affiliations, intensifying divides and intensifying struggle for resources and representation (Bathuure, Brobbey & Bawa, 2020).

To fully grasp the socio-economic growth, governance structures, and democratisation processes in Cameroon, it is essential to know the connection between ethnicity and politics in the nation (Nyaura, 2018). Although there have been attempts to foster national cohesion and inclusivity, ethnicity remains a prominent influence in political discussions, election processes, and policy formulation. The presence of ethnic favouritism, marginalisation, and intergroup disputes presents substantial barriers to achieving effective government and nation-building (Bello, 2018).

Nevertheless, within these difficulties, there are chances to promote inclusive governance, societal harmony, and long-lasting progress. To establish a fair and diverse society, politicians, civil society actors, and international players should recognise and tackle the underlying reasons for racial conflicts. Gadjanova (2017) suggests that implementing initiatives focused on fostering interethnic discourse, ensuring fair allocation of resources, and promoting participatory governance will effectively reduce the negative impacts of ethnic politics and effectively use the varied population of Cameroon. The objective of this research is to thoroughly examine the intricate dynamics between ethnicity and politics in Cameroon. The main aim is to identify the difficulties and potential advantages that arise from this connection (Hassan, 2020). The study seeks to provide useful insights into the mechanisms that shape Cameroon's socio-political environment by using a multidisciplinary approach that includes political science, sociology, anthropology, and public policy analysis. The study aims to contribute to academic discussions and educate policy initiatives that promote inclusive governance and sustainable development in Cameroon, using empirical research, case studies, and comparative analysis.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The complex interaction between ethnicity and politics in Cameroon presents a variety of difficulties and possibilities that have a considerable influence on the country's socio-political environment. Although the nation has a wealth of cultural variety, ethnicity often acts as a two-sided weapon in political discussions, impacting power dynamics, governance systems, and societal unity (Kumase, 2018). Nevertheless, the degree to which ethnicity influences political processes and results continues to be a topic of contention.

The main focus of this study is the intricate correlation between ethnicity and politics in Cameroon and its consequences for democratic government, societal stability, and inclusive development (Lewis, 2015). Although attempts have been made to foster national cohesion and inclusivity, ethnic associations persistently shape political alliances, allocation of resources, and development of policies, hence intensifying conflicts and upholding societal disparities.

Furthermore, the process of making ethnicity a political issue has resulted in the marginalisation of certain ethnic groups, the implementation of exclusionary practices in governing, and the intensification of disputes between different ethnic groups. These factors present considerable obstacles to the efforts of constructing a unified country and achieving sustainable development (Mills, 2018). On the other hand, ethnicity may also provide chances to promote inclusive governance, use cultural variety for the development of a country, and enable marginalised people to engage in political processes. Nevertheless, in order to fully exploit these prospects, it is crucial to possess a thorough comprehension of the intricate relationship between ethnicity and politics, along with implementing specific techniques to tackle the fundamental obstacles (Mişcoiu & Kakdeu, 2021). Hence, it is important to examine the causes, expressions, and outcomes of ethnic politics in Cameroon, while also researching possible strategies to reduce its adverse impacts and leverage its beneficial elements.. Hence, the study will examine ethnicity and politics in cameroon: challenges and opportunities.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to examine ethnicity and politics in cameroon: challenges and opportunities. The specific objectives is as follows

To analyze the role of ethnicity in shaping political dynamics in Cameroon.

To investigate the impact of ethnic diversity on political representation in Cameroon.

To investigate the impact of ethnic diversity on political decision-making processes in Cameroon.

To identify potential strategies and policy recommendations for leveraging ethnic diversity as a source of political strength and national unity in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the role of ethnicity in shaping political dynamics in Cameroon?

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

What is the impact of ethnic diversity on political decision-making processes in Cameroon?

What is potential strategies and policy recommendations for leveraging ethnic diversity as a source of political strength and national unity in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

Research on ethnicity and politics in Cameroon adds to the body of knowledge within political science, sociology, anthropology, and related fields. By conducting rigorous empirical studies and theoretical analyses, scholars can contribute new insights, theories, and methodologies for understanding the complexities of ethnicity and its intersections with politics in diverse contexts. This research not only enriches academic discourse but also informs broader debates on ethnicity, identity, and democracy in Africa and beyond.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on ethnicity and politics in cameroon: challenges and opportunities. Empirically, the study will analyze the role of ethnicity in shaping political dynamics in Cameroon, investigate the impact of ethnic diversity on political representation in Cameroon, investigate the impact of ethnic diversity on political decision-making processes in Cameroon and identify potential strategies and policy recommendations for leveraging ethnic diversity as a source of political strength and national unity 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

Ethnicity :  the quality or fact of belonging to a population group or subgroup made up of people who share a common cultural background or descent.

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


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