Symbolism of Place and Cultural Identity in Cameroon
Enongene Mirabeau Sone (University of Burundi, Cameroon)
In his article “CAMEROON: A COUNTRY UNITED BY ETHNIC AMBITION AND DIFFERENCE” Francis Njamnjoh uses socio-political arguments to support the point that “ the only thing that unites Cameroonians is a common sense of ethnic ambition and difference, and the need to pursue this under the patronage of the state( African Affairs,vol.98 no.390, Jan.118). In this paper, we wish to look at the question of unity from a different perspective. We feel that just as Cameroon is trying to conserve its biodiversity so too with a little more effort it can transform its cultural diversity into a cultural identity. We intend to use the symbolism of place to make our point.
Oceans, mountains, forests, grassland, deserts, lakes and rivers form the worlds generalized natural areas. But, for the purposes of this paper, we shall limit ourselves to the five major symbolic regions or ecosystems of the world. Cameroon is one of the few countries in Africa that has been blessed with all the five broad symbolic places. It is in this ecological endowment that must have influenced authorities to refer to Cameroon as Africa in miniature. Since the life and spirit of Cameroonians are invariably affected by the contrasts in the ecosystems, we intend in this paper to demonstrate how a “place” like the mountain can provide and indispensable resonance of symbolization in the cultural evolution of Cameroonians and how the influence of a particular ecosystem like mountains can be used to establish, consolidate and propagate cultural identity in Cameroon. We shall examine the symbology of each of the major ecosystems briefly before concentrating on that of the mountain on that of the mountain.