Historical background of Cameroon


Historical background of Cameroon.
Portuguese explores on their expedition navigating across the world came to the estuary of the Wouri River in 1472, spotting mud lobsters in the water. The explorers named them “Rio dos cameroes” Portuguese for River of Prowns thus the birth of the name. Portuguese were later on followed by Dutch, French, Spanish and the British explores who traded salt, fabrics liquor and firearms in exchange for palm oil, fish and slaves. German traders arrived in 1862 and in 1884 German empire signed agreement with King Bell and Akwa under which Kamerun German for Cameroon became a German protectorate (Dwell 2017).France and British aligned against Germany when World War 1 broke out, early 1916 Britain and France are in control of both Germany colonies: Togo land and Cameroon. Through the treaty of Versailles in 1919 Germany renounces soverenity over all her African colonies, the issue of who shall rule over leading to the reference of the matter to the League of Nations.
In 1922 mandate granted by the league of nation confirmed a working division already established between Britain and France. Britain occupied a small share to later be referred as British Cameroon, France occupied the remaining part of the territory being the larger share to be named French Cameroun. French Cameroun enjoyed rapid economic and political development than British Cameroon, this is easily explained due to the vast resource at the peril of French Cameroon as compared to British Cameroon. As waves of independence swept across the African continent after the end of the second world war, the French from 1956 are confronted by a powerful uprising orchestrated by a nationalist party, the UPC (Union des population du Cameroun) demanding immediate independence(US department of state 2018). US department of state puts it out that independence was granted in 1 Jan 1960 but the ruling party the union Camerounaise founded in 1958 by Ahmadou Ahidjo is in favor of retaining strong links with France. Cameroon was no different from other African state which the founders of the parties that lead them to independence later turned out to be their presidents. Ahmadou Ahidjo indeed became the first president of independent Cameroon republic. Question begin to be asked concerning the fate of British Cameroon whether to join Nigeria or the already established independent Cameroon republic. British Cameroon had division among itself the north opted to join Nigeria because most of them were Muslims and the south who were Christians to the choice to join the independent Cameroun republic on a condition that it was to be renamed Federal republic of Cameroon.
Ahidjo ruled for 22 years and then hand the presidency peacefully in 1982 to a successor of his choice Paul Biya who at that time was the prime minister. President Biya continued to rule under one party rule forming his own new party Cameroon People’s Republic democratic movement.
Political structure
Cameroon is a republic multiparty presidential regime which is structured on a French model, coping a lot from the French political structure hence concluding that the French really did a job in the case of socially constructing the local to be like them. Power distribution starts from the president who is the head of state (Independence day.com). The executive branch of government is made of the president who is elected after a term of 7 years, the prime minister who is appointed by the president and is head of government and hence works closely with cabinet ministers who are also appointed by the president. The country is divided into ten regions: east region, far north region, littoral, south region, center region, southwest region, north region and west region all supervised by governors who co-ordinate divisional officers and sub divisional officers.
The legislature is a bicameral consisting of the senate and national assembly, the senate has 70 elected members and 30 appointed by the president. The national assembly has 180 members who serve for 5 years term, they represent 49 constituencies or electoral districts. The judicial branch was developed based on British laws, French civil codes and local customs. The Supreme Court is the highest court of the land and acts as the final court of appeal. Justices to the Supreme Court are appointed by the president (Periona 2017).
Nationalism
Sergent defines an ideology as a system of values and beliefs regarding the various institutions and processes of society that is acceptable as fact by a group of people. An ideology provides the believer a picture of the world both as it is and as it should be and in doing so it organizes the tremendous complexity of the world into something fairly simple and understandable. He goes on to discuss that ideology is not the only thing that divides or unites people: race, ethnicity, religion, gender, class, national ; regional identity, and many other. Different views from parents, friends, TV, radio, internet shape peoples thinking seeing governments try to limit access to varied sources of information.
Nationalism according to Sergent is national consciousness or awareness of oneself as part of a group, national identity or identification with the group. Geographical identification or identification with a place with notable exceptions, patriotism or love of the group and demand for action to enhance the group. A group in Sergents case ids defined as identifying with or belonging to by birth, upbringing identification. Thus if one doesn’t agree to something they will continue to reject it even if it means death is the last solution. One party rule was allowed and demand necessary to provide the unity and stability needed to forge a new nation.
Cameroon has for a long time been facing a bilingual crisis, while other states across the world view bilingualism as an asset to Cameroon it is a crisis(Okereke 2018).The Anglophones who speak English are the minority over a majority Francophone who speak French. The government comes from the majority francophone nation. An attempt to assimilate the Anglophone to francophone system have turned futile with resistance from the Anglophones who want to retain their culture. Huntington states that limit of political participation and the creation of political movements are often around religion and ethnicity rather than class. He quotes Walker conner, the process by which states attempt to assimilate, absorb or crush ethnic groups that do not accept the legitimacy of the state within existing boundaries.
Scholars hope that consociatinal power sharing among divergent ethnic elites might provide the basis for stable authority. Ethnic hegemony has been exercised in a variety of ways from the repression of ethnic and religious minorities to the more benign use of state power to give preference in education and employment. Social media is considered as technology of freedom that has given the voiceless the opportunity to express their view and have access to the global sphere. Teachers and lawyers went to strike in protest of having to use French in schools and court rooms in the previous British Cameroon. This was regarded as forced Anglophone assimilation, protesters were arrested some were shot to death during the demonstrations. The government atrocities were brought out to the world in real time thanks to social media (Okereke 2018).
Weiner& Huntington conjoin political dominance by the military does not does not of course make for a strong state. Indeed in much of Africa the military itself is a weak institution capable of repression but little else the military in many African countries is not a disciplined praetorian force, a corporate entity: they armies lack command and discipline, organization, professionalism and spirit decors. They add on to state that the military lives off the state not for the state thus should be fair in its dealings and actions in the state. Few developing states permit free competitive elections, most impose restrictions or ban political parties and organizations opposed to the government. Governments with few exceptions have destroyed institutions intended to facilitate popular political participation in political processes.
According to the US department of state, in the early 1990’s in Cameroon calls for constitutional change lead to elections in 1992 which was narrowly won by president Biya and his party. In 1997 they win again but this time now with a wider margin, both occasions were accompanied by electoral fraud. Parliament amends the constitution in April 2008 allowing president Biya to run for a third seven years term in 2011. He won the election with a landslide taking 78% of the votes. His opponents and international observers alleged that the election was unfair (Info please).
If people, groups are repressed and blocked this would lead to large scale opposition, extremist movements and revolutionary upheavals. Widespread political movements during the past decade were not organized around class or for that matter economic issues but centered around religion or ethnicity (Weiner; Huntington 1994). Governing elite use their control over the state to extract resources for their personal use than adopting policies intended to accelerate growth or improve income distribution to the poor. Corruption proliferates as producers pay bribes to gain the benefit from state policies. Weiner; Huntington are of the view that character of the people shapes a political system, it is clear that the political system and the policies pursued by government can and do shape the character of a people. President Biya’s leadership style of being absent and staying overseas usually to Switzerland has escalated acts of corrupt dealing in his absence and also those in government wanting to be categorized into various social classes in society. Through corruption it becomes easier to rise to those classes and even sustain ones status in society (Okereke 2018).
Political change
Change may be revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary. Change characterized by its speed and intensity and by the extent to which it changes the political system. Evolutionary change involves the gradual replacement of existing political institutions and processes while maintaining the fundamental characteristics of the system. Economic and social factor is among the causes for political change. Political structures and processes are a consequence of economic relationships. Marxist view of political change rest on what is often called the materialist conception of history. Human beings are essentially social beings molded by particular stages of economic and social developments.
Values and attitude of individuals are in particular products of the economic class to which they belong to while the class itself defines the relationship within the society to the means of production. Economic power indeed yields political power (Ball& Peters 2000). This is seen not only in Cameroon but across the world , that whoever owns the means of production ultimately has political favors’ ahead of him or he/she has already started using the to enhance their survival. Japan is a good example as it illustrates the distribution and relations within the state, economy and legislature through what is referred to as a revolving door.
War and foreign interventions, effectiveness of the government do cause political change. There is a close relationship between the performance of political regimes and their survival. President Biya’s regime has had ups and downs and as earlier state electoral fraud has continued to put him in power this fueling actions of throwing him out of government and secession by the Anglophones.
Individuals, groups and political elites have been in the front line for secession by the Anglophone community in Cameroon. Influential figures in the push for secession are in Europe and USA, thus using social media to give directions for the progress by the Anglophone nation. This saw the government led by president Biya resort to shutting down the internet so as to cut off communications. Agbor Balla declared civil disobedience on January 9 2017 declared operation ghost town resistance characterized by strict compliance to sit at home ritually every Monday and Tuesday or any other day that that was declared by the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium{CACSC}.
CACSC championed for initial demands for Anglophone community: end of marginalization, return of two state federation in the management of public affairs, preservation of the cherished legal and education system of Anglophone Cameroon, release of over 100 Cameroonian in connection with protests and immediate restoration of the internet services throughout the Anglophone region (Okereke 2018).
Ball& Peter conclude that no matter how wealth, democratic and effective a political system may be there appears to be a human need to attempt to improve. Cameroon in this case shouldn’t attempt but must change the political starting with the governance or else country will go down a slippery slope in which attempts to come out will turn out to be futile. And if they do come out development will have happened across developing states and all it will have to do is seat back and watch as development games are played waiting on the sidelines for support from generous player, whom will also have interest in the relation.

REFERENCE
Alan R. Ball ; B. Guy Peter, Modern Politics and Government: Change in Political System, 2000, Palgrave, New York.
Amber Periona, www.worldatlas.com, what type of government does Cameroon have, 1 August 2017
C. Nna-Emeka Okereke, Analysing Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis, Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, Vol. 10, No. 3 (March 2018), pp. 8-12.
History world, www.historyworld.net/history of Cameroon.
Info please, www.infoplease.com/country/cameroon.
Lyman Tower Sargent, Contemporary Political Systems, 2009, Wadsworth, USA.
Mark Cal dwell, www.dw.com/en/cameroon-colonial-past-and-present-frictions/a-3734489, DW, 31 January 2017.
Myron Weiner & Samuel.P. Hutington, Understanding Political Development: Political change Asia, Africa& Middle East, 1994, Waveland press, USA.
Piet Konings and Francis B. Nyamnjoh, the Anglophone Problem in Cameroon, The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 207-229.
US department of State, Thought CO: A brief history of Cameroon, www.thoughtco.com, 24 August 2018.