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The Politics of Personal Relations: Beyond Neopatrimonial Practices in Northern Cameroon

  • Ketil Fred Hansen

Abstract

This article deals with political culture in northern Cameroon. By analysing two happenings—the arrival of a Minister in his home town and his speech to the traditional elites—it shows how neopatrimonial politics is practised in a given locality. Important aspects of neopatrimonialism—such as the personal distribution of public resources and the conflict between different moral obligations which results in illusory appearances—are described and analysed. Yet the complexity of symbols, behaviour and metaphors outlined in these two happenings suggests that we have to go beyond the neopatrimonial model of thinking if we want to gain a better understanding of politics in Cameroon.

Cet article traite de la culture politique dans le Nord du Cameroun. En analysant deux événements à savoir l'arrivée d'un ministre dans sa ville natale et son discours aux élites traditionnelles, il montre comment la politique néo-patrimoniale est pratiquée dans une localité donnée. Il décrit et analyse des aspects importants du néopatrimonialisme, comme la répartition individuelle des ressources publiques et diverses obligations morales conflictuelles engendrant une sorte d'apparence d'illusions. Or, la complexité des symboles, du comportement et des métaphores, mise en lumière dans ces deux événements, suggère qu'il faut aller au-delà du modèle de pensée néopatrimonial pour mieux comprendre la politique au Cameroun.

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The Politics of Personal Relations: Beyond Neopatrimonial Practices in Northern Cameroon

  • Ketil Fred Hansen

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