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Home Nos activités Recherches Actions Relation between youth and traditional leaders: discussions engaged

Relation between youth and traditional leaders: discussions engaged

Since ages chieftaincies and their leaders (chiefs) have an important place in Cameroonian society and in many places they still do. In other cases the importance of and respect for traditional leaders seem to decrease and sometimes partly replaced by the official administrative system implemented by the State. Whereas in the early days the roles of everybody in a village were clearly defined and the chief had absolute power, the social relations are changing by the current global developments.

Traditional norms and values are not always lived up to anymore, many young people leave the villages to look for opportunities in the town, and frictions or misunderstanding between the young and older generation might result.

Youths of Abang-BikokWorld Dynamics of Young People (WDYP) is interested in this subject because we strive to a full participation of young people within local development and decision-making. The suspicion that this is not always the reality in the traditional power structure would make the improvement of the relationship between young people and traditional leaders a valuable question to work on.  To get a deeper understanding of the subject, WDYP has been engaged in several discussions with the youth and traditional chiefs in different locations within the Central Province of Cameroon. The aim of the gatherings is to get a clear view of the current relationships and the problems or obstacles that exist. On the basis of the information resulting from the group and individual discussions WDYP will assess the usefulness and content of a project on this topic.

In the past months the staff of WDYP has visited Ngoumou, Bikok and Mbankomo villages among other locations, in the neighbourhood of Yaoundé, to talk to several groups of young people and traditional leaders. During these discussions it became clear that there are differences between chieftaincies, for example in the sense of involvement of the young people, the possibilities for girls and woman to participate and the number of activities organised with and for the youth. Most chiefs indicate that they take into account the problems and needs of the youth whereas not all young people feel that their concerns are considered. The most often given way of improving the relation between them and traditional chiefs is to give them more influence in the decision-making process. The opinions of the youth about the place and role of chieftaincies differ from ‘still very important’ to ‘more symbolic. Some have lost their value and are replaced by the administrative system. In the coming time we will continue our discussions and evaluate the possibility to create real dialogue between the youth and the chief, for them to become real partners in the realisation of social development of villages and cities.