Academic journal article Journal of Global South Studies

Cameroon: The Continuous Search for National Integration

Academic journal article Journal of Global South Studies

Cameroon: The Continuous Search for National Integration

Article excerpt

The federal constitution of 1961 stated that the Federal Republic of Cameroon shall be constituted from the territory of the Republic of Cameroon, hereafter to be styled East Cameroon, and the territory of the Southern Cameroons, formerly under British trusteeship, hereafter to be styled West Cameroon. Thus, the constitution established a federation that embraced two different political and cultural systems, English and French. Taking this view into consideration, it is not surprising that the operations of the federal systems in East and West Cameroon were different. The implementation of the federal constitution had far greater implications for the political process in West Cameroon than it did in East Cameroon. As an independent state, the Republic of Cameroon made only minor institutional adjustments to absorb West Cameroon, as the line between the institutions of the state of East Cameroon and those of the federation was quite blurred. In forging ahead with a new nation, the Republic of Cameroon is still struggling with the implementation of national integration policies that will cater to the diverse nature of the country. Today, Cameroonians of English extraction feel that the government's position that Cameroon is one and indivisible is contrary to the federal constitution of 1961, which guaranteed the rights of the two Cameroons to coexist as separate entities. Through systematic state machinery, the government has tried to neutralize any attempts by Southern Cameroons to assert themselves as equal partners with East Cameroon in the new state.

INTRODUCTION

Historically, Cameroon is a German creation. The territory was annexed in 1884. In the aftermath of World War I and the defeat of the Germans by the Allied forces, German Cameroon was partitioned between Britain and France. France received four fifths of the country and Britain two separate areas bordering Nigeria. (1) Each colonial power proceeded to establish a separate and distinct system of government, a condition hardly favorable for later reunification. This division created the foundation of a future Anglophone minority and a Francophone majority in the country. (2) British Cameroons went into a union of equal states with French Cameroon. After reunification of the two Cameroons, the task was to implement a policy of national integration to accommodate the differences existing between West Cameroon (formerly British Cameroons) and East Cameroon (formerly French Cameroon). The task to unite a people under a government and create an enabling environment in which their cultural, economic, and political aspirations could be met is undoubtedly an enormous one.

In an effort to better address the challenge of national integration in Cameroon, it is important that an operational definition of the term be provided, because the term "integration" is often loosely interpreted. National integration is frequently seen as a process leading to political cohesion and sentiments of loyalty toward central political institutions. According to Myron Weiner, the term integration is a process that unites culturally and socially discrete groups into a territorial unit. In this way, the established national identity is helpful to overcome the problems between central authority and subordinate political groups. In addition to that, it links the government with the governed. (3) Given the rather loose interpretation of integration, Myron Weiner concluded that national integration should therefore be examined along the lines of territorial integration, value integration, elite-mass integration, and integrative behavior. The word "integration," he further suggests, should be used only when one is referring to the generalized form of holding a system together. (4)

Karl Deutsch et al. in Ojo defines national integration as "the attainment, within a territory of a 'sense of community' and of institutions and practices strong enough and widespread enough to assure, for a long time dependable expectations of peaceful community. …

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