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INVESTIGATION ON THE IMPACT OF COLONIALISM ON POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS IN CAMEROON

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INVESTIGATION ON THE IMPACT OF COLONIALISM ON POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

The economic instability and relatively low wealth of Africa after gaining independence have often been linked to inadequate governance, namely the persistent existence of authoritarian regimes. What is the origin of these autocratic political institutions? Current research provides two overarching viewpoints. The colonial era is highly valued by many. According to colonial-authoritarianism theories, the colonisers established authoritarian systems by altering native institutions, which served as the foundation for the creation of extensive and decentralised colonial governments. As an example, Baldwin (2015) asserts that the British, like to other colonial powers, operated within a unified framework of customary authority in precolonial Africa. The model had characteristics of monarchy, patriarchy, and authoritarianism. The statement suggests that in every political entity, there is an assumption of a monarch as the central figure, a chief overseeing administrative areas, and a patriarch in each household or kraal. According to Baldwin (2015) and Stasavage (2020), Britain and other colonisers often strengthened autocratic leaders by removing the many restrictions on their power that were common throughout the precolonial era.

Some individuals downplay the significance of colonisation. According to precolonial-authoritarianism narratives, European control in the past only maintained the already established native institutions, which are described as authoritarian. Precolonial Africa had low population densities, and the lack of written languages and advanced agricultural methods hindered the formation of robust nations (Bangura & Joseph, 2017). As a result, the political and social processes that often gave civil society organisations influence and made governments more representative and accountable were never started (Bolt and Leigh, 2020). Although Europeans had more sophisticated tools, they had difficulties in exerting their influence across vast, thinly inhabited regions. European colonisers administered Africa with a limited number of metropolitan officials in order to save colonial expenses (Butcher, Charles, Ryan & Griffiths, 2020) - a strategy referred to as the "thin white line" (Day, 2016). Consequently, European rule failed to counteract the historical patterns that favoured authoritarian regimes. The study of the influence of colonialism on political institutions in Cameroon is a multidimensional and intricate field that explores the historical, social, and political dynamics of the region. Cameroon, situated in Central Africa, had a diverse history marked by the existence of several indigenous ethnic groups and kingdoms before the advent of European colonial forces in the late 19th century(Day, 2016).

The onset of colonialism in Cameroon occurred when German explorers and merchants arrived in the late 19th century, ultimately resulting in the formation of German colonial governance in the region referred to as Kamerun. The German colonial government implemented a centralised bureaucratic form of governance, asserting its control over the many indigenous communities by levying taxes, enforcing labour, and repressing native customs and traditions. After Germany's loss in World War I, Cameroon was divided between the French and British as a result of League of Nations mandates. The partition led to the establishment of two separate colonial administrations: French Cameroon (Cameroun) and British Cameroon (Southern Cameroons and Northern Cameroons). During the period of French colonialism, the existing political systems of the indigenous people were mostly taken apart, and a method of governing called indirect rule was put into place. This included incorporating traditional chiefs and leaders within the colonial administrative framework (Eldredge & Elizabeth, 2018). This approach facilitated the concentration of authority among French administrators and maintained a hierarchical political structure that marginalised the participation of indigenous voices and institutions.

Conversely, British Cameroon underwent a distinct kind of colonial governance, characterised by a stronger focus on indirect governance and the preservation of existing political structures. Nevertheless, the British colonial policies exerted substantial influence on local governance structures, leading to the creation of administrative systems and legal frameworks that often prioritised British interests while suppressing indigenous sovereignty (Karekwaivanane & George, 2017).

The decolonization of Cameroon took place throughout the 1960s. French Cameroon gained independence in 1960, while British Cameroon achieved independence and later decided to join the Republic of Cameroon in 1961. Nevertheless, the enduring impact of colonialism continues to influence the contemporary political terrain of Cameroon. The influence of colonialism on political institutions in Cameroon is apparent in several facets of governance, including the state's framework, power allocation, legal system, and the state-citizen interaction. Furthermore, the lasting effects of colonial rule have played a significant role in the emergence of problems like as ethnic conflicts, uneven development across regions, and obstacles to the establishment of democratic systems and political stability (Kelly & Jill, 2015). Analysing the modern political dynamics and tackling chronic difficulties connected to governance, representation, and social justice in Cameroon requires a fundamental understanding of the historical origins of the country's political institutions throughout colonialism. This research aims to investigate and analyse the long-lasting impact of colonialism on political institutions in Cameroon, specifically in relation to state-building, democratisation, and the pursuit of inclusive and fair governance. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate the impact of colonialism on political institutions in Cameroon. 

1.2 Statement of the problem

Colonialism, a historical occurrence, has had lasting impacts worldwide, notably shaping the political, social, and economic aspects of former colonies. Cameroon, a nation rich in cultural variety and historical intricacy, is influenced by the enduring impact of colonial domination on its political institutions and governance frameworks. Nevertheless, despite its deep consequences, there exists a notable deficiency in comprehending the intricate ways in which colonialism has shaped and still shapes political establishments in Cameroon (Paine, 2019).

The issue at hand involves thoroughly analysing the many effects of colonialism on political institutions in present-day Cameroon. This entails discerning the precise processes by which colonial policies, administrative structures, and ideologies have influenced the formation and operation of political institutions in the post-colonial period. Moreover, it requires an examination of the enduring obstacles and intricacies arising from the colonial heritage, including matters of governance, power relations, and representation (Paine, 2019).

Furthermore, it is essential to consider the ramifications of these colonial inheritances on the processes of democratisation, political stability, and socio-economic growth in Cameroon. It is essential to comprehend the enduring impact of historical injustices, power inequalities, and cultural assimilation initiatives from colonial times on contemporary political institutions. This understanding is vital for developing successful policy interventions and promoting sustainable governance practices (Paine, 2019).

Hence, the primary objective of this study is to examine the complex interaction between colonialism and political institutions in Cameroon, specifically by exploring the historical origins, current expressions, and future directions of this connection. This research seeks to enhance comprehension of the lasting effects of colonialism on Cameroon's political environment by clarifying these processes. Additionally, it attempts to provide valuable perspectives for promoting governance systems that are more inclusive, egalitarian, and robust. Hence, the study investigate the impact of colonialism on political institutions in Cameroon. 

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate the impact of colonialism on political institutions in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To analyze the historical trajectory of colonialism in Cameroon and its influence on the establishment and evolution of political institutions.

To assess the extent to which colonial policies, such as indirect rule or assimilation, shaped the structure and functioning of political institutions in Cameroon.

To explore the implications of colonial legacies on contemporary political dynamics and governance challenges in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to further guide the study

How did the colonial powers, particularly France and Germany, influence the development of political institutions in Cameroon during their respective periods of colonization?

What were the main strategies employed by colonial administrators in shaping the structure and functioning of political institutions in Cameroon?

To what extent do colonial legacies, including boundary delineation, administrative structures, and governance practices, continue to shape political institutions in present-day Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

Cameroon government: The study of colonialism's impact on political institutions in Cameroon contributes to broader discussions about governance and democracy in post-colonial African nations. It allows scholars and policymakers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of existing political systems and identify areas for reform.

Ministry of Social Justice and Equity: Colonialism often exacerbated inequalities and marginalized certain groups within society. Analyzing its effects on political institutions helps to identify historical injustices and advocate for policies aimed at promoting social justice, inclusivity, and equity.

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 impact of colonialism on political institutions in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will analyze the historical trajectory of colonialism in Cameroon and its influence on the establishment and evolution of political institutions, assess the extent to which colonial policies, such as indirect rule or assimilation, shaped the structure and functioning of political institutions in Cameroon and explore the implications of colonial legacies on contemporary political dynamics and governance challenges 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

Colonialism:the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.

Political institution: Political institutions are the organizations in a government that create, enforce, and apply laws.


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