“They say we have peace”: Perceptions and practices of peace in Northern Cameroon

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master in Social Anthropology
Title “They say we have peace”: Perceptions and practices of peace in Northern Cameroon
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL http://bora.uib.no/bitstream/handle/1956/15262/Masteroppgave SANT350_Audhild Steinnes​Heum.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
The lines above were sung by school children from the village of Ngaoubela on May 202
2013, as they were marching in front of the platform where the dignitaries where seated. The
platform had been decorated for the celebration of the national day in Tibati, the
administrative capital of the Department of Djerem. That day, the entire country of Cameroon
was celebrating its 41st National Day.
I had decided to travel to Cameroon to study the subject of peace. I wanted to look at how
peace is understood in a country that does not have a recent history of war or major armed
conflicts. As I prepared for my fieldwork, little did I know that as a result of events that would
happen in the spring of 2013, the topic of peace in Cameroon was about to become relevant in
new ways. Let me go back a few months to some incidents that occurred earlier that year.
“Are you French?” A young man was shouting in my direction at the market known as Petit
Marché in Ngaoundéré3
. He was sitting in the middle of a crowd of other young men playing
ludo on a homemade wooden board. This happened during my first week of fieldwork in
Cameroon and three months prior to the national celebration that I will return to shortly.
Before I had a chance to respond, he continued shouting: “We will send you off to Nigeria!” I
decided to approach the group, telling him I was not French. He continued with an angry
voice: “The Frenchmen has done much harm against the Africans. If I saw a French person
now, I would aim at him and shoot!” His male friends, appearing a bit embarrassed, started to
make excuses on his behalf.

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