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Research Paper (postgraduate), 2016
THE RESEARCH PROBLEM/QUESTION
PURPOSE OF STUDY
1.1.1 CULTURAL DOMINATION
1.1.2 NATION BUILDING
1.2 BRIEF HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL BACKGROUND OF CAMEROON
1.3 CASE STUDY
1.4 ANALYSIS OF THE CASE STUDY
2.1 LANGUAGE AND CULTURE IN POST COLONIAL CAMEROON
Chapter 3 LANGUAGE STRATEGIES AND TRANSFORMATIVE MODELS FOR NATION-BUILDING IN CAMEROON
3.1 FROM CULTURAL DOMINATION TO CULTURAL AUTONOMY
3.2 THE SPACE IN-BETWEEN: BILINGUALISM AND NATION BUILDING
3.3 THE AFRICAN LINGUA FRANCA MODEL
3.4 TRANSFORMATIVE STRATEGIES FOR NATION BUILDING: THE UBUNTU MODEL FOR AFRICANS
3.5 MODEL FROM OTHER MULTILINGUAL CONTEXTS
The motivation to discuss an ethical position within the context of Cameroon has been as a result of the fact that I have been inspired by Bernard V. Brady’s idea that stories can carry and convey some ethical issues. For him, “there is something more to narratives than just that they might be pleasing to us…, narratives form and inform our values, our dispositions and how we ‘see’ the world.” Since I did not know how to bring to light some critical issues of ethical nature within the context of Cameroon, I found that events, if well re-told and explained, can in themselves expose and open up a reflection on some important subject matters. I am motivated to present a unique story in which there are many ethical issues raised because there is need for the public to begin to speak against the impunity with which the state of Cameroon administers justice to its people. I am motivated by the desire to see that the Cameroonian society which I consider as blessed by its cultural heritage should be able to nurture and not destroy what it took some people many years to build. Recent events in Cameroon undergoing street protests against the marginalization of Anglophones are the results of the inability of the nation to set up structures that could maintain the expected unity between the many cultures that make up the country. The result is that one of the cultures finally felt too dominated by the government system in function and has gone to the streets to cry foe. I am pushed by the fear that if something is not done now or implanted in to the youths of this nation, then the future will become more rotten that what we have today. The cry for the separation of the two Cameroons by the SCNC (secessionist movement) may one day come to a reality which to me may be another huge mistake. There is need for transformation within all the sectors or arms of the government in Cameroon so that the country may remain united. I intend at the end of this paper to point out some of those aspects that if taken into consideration may provide a lasting unity among the Cameroonian people.
Cameroon is a multi-cultural nation of two different linguistic group of peoples that were brought together at the time the colonial masters were handing off Africa as a whole. These were the English speakers known politically as the Anglophones and the French speakers known as the Francophones. They were a set of people with different styles of administration and language and identities. Language is just a component of what makes up a culture but it plays an important role because it is the means by which a culture is expressed. In this paper, we are looking at cultural domination exerted through the use of language but which has also influence the existence of other aspects of domination and consequent marginalization of one of the groups of peoples in Cameroon. The attempt by one of the dominant language structure (and all the components that follow in it such as legal and educational systems), to assimilate or swallow up the other under the guise of national integration is the cause of the current problem within the context of Cameroon. That is to say that the dominant French system or culture (being impose by the government) has attempted to swallow up the minority English system in the country. There are many factors that have led to this conclusion and we will examine cases and cite examples to substantiate this claim.
The problem that concerns this research is the issue of assimilation of the Anglophone inherited colonial culture by the established Francophone leading government of the country of Cameroon. The insistent abuse and brutality of citizens of the English speaking part of Cameroon who cannot express themselves in French. The careful plan to subside the English system of education and judiciary to replace it with the French system. The deliberate desire to reduce the dual cultural heritage of the colonial masters to a new supremacy of a culture. Within this problem, many questions raised are such as; does the English system pose a threat to the French in Cameroon? Is the battle between the two operating systems as a result of neo-colonial influence or it is as a result of the feeling of cultural superiority by the French speaking Cameroon? If the Anglophone Cameroonian feels dominated, then in what aspects of daily life are these aspects of dominance seen within the context of Cameroon
The method I have used for this research consists of an insider perspective where I had lived the menace of the dominance inflicted by the French imposition all over Cameroon. Terre Blanche says critical hermeneutic is a method of research which “treats people as though their thoughts, feelings and experiences were the product of systems of meaning that exist at a social…level” as this is gotten from observation. He also adds that there is something about a people’s experience that when well incorporated can give some meaning in a research process. This research will consider the above methodology and will also fall under the framework of qualitative research method in which most analyses are made from observation. Terre Blanche holds that these are “…methods that try to describe and interpret people’s feelings and experiences in human terms…” Of course another method that will be applied together with the others is the epistemological method which is; “making sense of people’s experiences by interacting and listening carefully to what they tell us…” The author of this paper has gone through this process of listening to others also speak of their experience. However, there are other general sources that are applied through written material.
The purpose of this study is to help bring to the fore the true situation of Cameroon, a country assumed to be peaceful over the years. This is not in any way to promote hostility where there is calm, but to show that there is a difference between the peace of a cemetery and that of a happy people. Brutality had let to the internalization of deplorable and dehumanizing situation within a country meant to be united and operating in unity.
Secondly there is need to show that what Cameroon is about to destroy is a cherished heritage for most parts of the world. There is need to understand and appreciate the little we could benefit from colonialism which is such an international culture rather than promote one and destroy the other. There is need for an increase spirit of patriotism and common national bond. There is need to indicate that the dominating days of colonialism are no more possible for a nation after 56 years of independence.
John Tomlinson has held that the concept of cultural domination is a difficult one to define in the general sense except taken based on the situation to be discussed. This means that there can only be working definitions on the subject matter. In the case of this study, cultural domination can also be referred to as cultural hegemony whereby a ruling class or a small group of people manipulate the society in its values and explanations such that what they intend to pass becomes as norms for the rest to follow. In another case it may still be referred to as cultural imperialism which is “the practice of promoting and imposing a culture, usually that of a politically powerful nation, over a less powerful society”; and in this case we may add the politically powerful group. In some cases, the dominant culture can be in the majority or even in the minority.
Within the Cameroonian context, I will use the issue of language domination as a cover term that may serve as a pointer to other aspects of a cultural dominance. From language dominance other injustices creep in and may affect the educational and the judicial systems or even the political and economic buildup of the country. It must be noted that this country had had issues of local tribes trying to dominate the other and the attempt to impose on a people another culture. This often happened by tracing a negative history of a group of people considered as slaves and desired to continue as such.
Nation - building is constructing or structuring a national identity using the power of the state. Here I chose to talk about nation building which is not state building. All the structures of state building and governance are available in Cameroon from the executive downward. National identity may refer here to many aspects such as language, culture in general, sport, political and legal systems and educational structures. Nation building may be the responsibility of the powers that be but it is the collective effort of all citizens to see to it that the identity of a nation is asserted. The idea alone of a nation building is suggestive of two facts; either the nation has just gained independence from a colonial past or is just recovering from a great threat and calamity such as war, hunger, plagues and disasters etc. These mentioned phenomena are usually the causes of the collapse of a nation. In certain cases, the management and prevention of such crisis may save a nation from the stress of rebuilding all the time.
But it seems there are also internally generated events that may be of great hindrance to the process of maintaining a rising nation such that it may fall back into a deplorable stage. When a nation that does not suffer from any calamities finds itself in the process of rebuilding all the time, then it may be suggestive of the fact that there is something wrong with the existing system of governance. Such is the case of the Republic of Cameroon. A survey into the political background of this country will prove that it is either the colonial masters who deliberately set the country into division before leaving or the system of governance now in the country is not appreciating or even understanding the dual cultural heritage from the colonial masters.
The political history of the Cameroons is quite an interesting history wherein there have been four colonial powers who named and administered the country in four different ways. They were the Portuguese (Rio dos Cameros), the Germans (Kamerun), the English (Cameroon) and the French (Cameroun). Of these four, the last two were the ones that shaped the final component of the country as it is today. They divided the country in to two separate part and linguistic groups and governed by two different forms of governments and systems. The French governed the eastern part of the country by a policy called “assimilation” by which the colony was prepared to be absorbed into the French life in everything. The people of the colony had to think, behave, speak, eat, dance and governed as in France and everything had to be changed to and expressed in French. It is very important to note here that the aim of the assimilation was at the same time to wipe out anything German in the colony so that they were completely forgotten and French dominion established against any Germanophilia.
 Brady, V Bernard. The Moral of Bond Community. Justice and Discourse in Christian Morality. ( Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 1998).
 The Berlin Conference of 1884/85 had brought Cameroon under Germany but after WW1, in a condominium between the French and the English, the country was governed as two separate territories until 1960 and 61 when the both territories had independence and came together as one nation.
 Terre, M. Blanche & Durrheim, K (eds). Research in Practice. Applied Methods for the Social Sciences. 3rd ed. (Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press, 2006)
 John Tomlinson. Cultural Imperialism: A critical introduction. (Great Britain, Continuum, 1991) Available from Google scholar
 Pamir Peri, “Nationalism, Ethnicity and Democracy: Contemporary Manifestations” . In The International Journal of Peace studies. http://www.gmu.edu/programs/icar/ijps/vol2_2/pamir.htm (accessed January 8th, 2016, pg. 1-3).
 Karl Wolfgang Deutsch, William J. Folt, (eds.), Nation Building in Comparative Contexts, (New York, Atherton, 1966).
 Wikipedia contributors. History of Cameroon, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_Cameroon&oldid=752782742 (3 December 2016 08:04 UTC)
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