Political Turbulence and Power Topography in the North West Region of Cameroon, 1990-2000

Abstract

The spirit of liberalism that animated the political landscape in Africa in the 1990s produced varied and confusing reactions especially in states whose governments hitherto, provided little or no space for the functioning of the basic components of rights and freedom (democracy).In the Republic of Cameroon a central African country governed from independence by a tight dictatorial rule, this liberal age combined with home realities and incidentally gave both the governing and the governed sufficient reasons to engage in a chain of an interesting power contest. In effect, all of this brought forth a kind of turbulence which registered serious impacts on other political developments in Cameroon thereafter. In the North West region of this country, this turbulence emerged mostly from the circles of the unemployed and underemployed youths including a bug of people who had lost their jobs following the structural adjustment programme that was ostensibly adopted as a therapy for these crises. In any case, turbulence emerged and expressed itself in form of mob actions, gangsterism and civil strife and disobedience. Interestingly, the state authorities transformed the situation into an interesting power contest by employing most of the time; more than required brute force to counter the uprisings. The consequence of all of this was that; power and authority to lead and govern became largely contested and as such, technically shifted from its original traditional and legitimate fiefs to wander in absurdities for close to a decade. Guarded by an interdisciplinary approach, this paper attempts to tap evidences from primary and secondary sources complimented with oral accounts to bring out the ingredients, shapes and impact of this kind of encounters in this politico-geostrategic niche of Cameroon. It proffers that this phenomenon orchestrated traumatic encounters between the indigenous power barons against governmental structures and authorities. By so doing, it posits that this kind of power and authority drama ignited a general decay in power tenure and collective response from both ends. It further opines that these mixed and confused reactions to the liberal age in Cameroon like elsewhere in Africa destroyed the ligaments of mutual trust that existed between the government and the people on the street and therefore erected a lingering impediment to Cameroon development and this situation has continued to deter development planning and political conduct in Cameroon even lately.

Keywords: Cameroon, North West Region, Political turbulence, Power encounters, liberal age

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 18-35 (Download PDF)

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