The unwritten history of ethnic co-existence in colonial Africa: An example from Douala, Cameroon

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Cities of colonial African have been described as sites of competition and ‘hardened rivalries’ between ethnic groups (Anderson and Rathbone 2000: 8). In the case of Douala, Cameroon, this has resulted in historiographic emphasis on ethnic identity politics and violent conflicts in the years leading to independence. The outcome is the shadowing of the dynamic of ethnic co-existence and the pervasiveness of non-violence in the period leading up to and including the final stage of colonialism. The political expressions of ethnic identify formation have interested historians as part of a broader narrative of nation-building in colonial Africa. The narratives presented in nationalist histories are narratives of conflict, often detailing acts of violence between local populations and colonial rulers, and between specific interest groups within local populations. But these histories of nationalist organizing and uprising overlook alternative communities and trajectories of experience and do not usually represent the majority of African experiences in the period of decolonization. The search for what has been left out can lead us to a more inclusive understanding of local experiences in the later years of colonial rule. The effort to outline African experiences outside the nationalist paradigm can also help us understand post-colonial mobilizations, as the social and cultural networks imagined and established by Africans under colonialism have persisted over time and continue to enable ‘wide dialogue and common action among people with diverse pasts’ (Cooper 1994: 1545).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViolence and Non-Violence in Africa
EditorsRuth Ginio, Louise Bethleham, Pal Ahluwalia
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780203964132
ISBN (Print)9780415405140, 9780415664103
StatePublished - 8 Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)


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