CURA: The Mystical Roots of Cameroonian Authoritarianism

  • Starts12:00 pm on Friday, May 5, 2023
  • Ends1:30 pm on Friday, May 5, 2023
CURA Colloqiuium Session with Jacques Ngimbous This paper aims to show that one of the reasons why the Cameroonian president, Paul Biya, has remained in power for forty years is his ability to play on the religious sensibility of his fellow countrymen and women. The ability to manipulate the religious sentiment of Cameroonians and use it to consolidate the autocratic regime he has put in place is seldom emphasized by political scientists working on Cameroon. Yet Paul Biya is weakly contested and is feared because he has persuaded his compatriots that he is protected by spirits and other supernatural forces. This belief is so deeply rooted in Cameroon that it is said no one can cast Paul Biya out of the presidential palace. Therefore, there is no point in attempting to do so. Moreover, the Cameroonian head of state has woven an important network of relations in the country's religious circles. He has made friends with Catholic bishops, imams and influential Protestant pastors. The latter pray publicly for him and sometimes take up his defense if necessary. As a result, the cleric contributes greatly to the maintenance of Paul Biya's regime. Two levels of religion will therefore be considered in this paper: the established religions (Christian and Muslim) and the residual religion, which is certainly shared by most Cameroonians. Cosponsored with the School of Theology Email for a copy of the paper.
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