oa Africa Insight - The State, Traditional Rulers and "Another Democracy" in Post-Colonial Cameroon

Volume 32, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



Liberal democracy is privileged as a form of governance because it creates an enabling environment for sustained development. Proof of this is the development of Western economies that embraced this mode of governance in the wake of World War II. Given their track record, and by contrast the poor performance of the Socialist economies, liberal democracy is now prescribed as the panacea for most developing countries. Its introduction and consolidation in Africa, it is argued, will liberate public space that had been circumscribed by the state, which will lead to an increase in the rate of production (of both goods and meaning). In this paper, it is contended that the promulgation of the Liberty Laws of 1990 in Cameroon was supposed to lead to the revalorisation of Cameroonians, thereby enabling their participation in the production of meaning. Given people's psychological involvement in politics, this was important in renewing their sense of political efficacy, and it could help reconfigure power relations in society. While any change in the balance of force is always contested, I would examine the efforts that have been adopted by the state to stymie this shift. It is argued that, since the state used traditional chiefs1 to mediate state-civil society relations in the monolithic party era, this authority could still play this role in a pluralistic political environment.

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