On 12 December 2017 Francis Fogue Kuate defended his dissertation Médias et coexistenceentre musulmans et chrétiens au nord-Cameroun : de la période coloniale française au débutdu XXIème siècle at Utrecht University. Written in French, it offers a detailed, long-term analysis of the use of mass media, especially radio, as a state-employed instrument to shaperelations between Muslims and Christians in North Cameroon. The thesis was supervised byProf Dr Gilbert Taguem Fah and Prof Dr Birgit Meyer.
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This thesis explores the interplay between media, politics and religion in Northern Cameroon,from the French colonial period (1916-1960) to the beginning of the 21 st century. Invoking post-colonial theory (Mbembe 2000), the political economy of communication theory (Mosco2008), and neo-patrimonialism (Médard 2000), the analysis seeks to trace the influence of broadcasting on the religious and political spheres in a context characterized -since the 19th century- by the Fulani hegemony over the non-Muslims also known as Kirdi. It contributes to both the literature on the political role of media in Cameroon and the debate on Muslims and non-Muslims relations in multi-religious settings. The work is grounded in qualitative and quantitative data collected through interviews, observations and questionnaires in the main cities of Northern Cameroon (Ngaoundere, Garoua and Maroua). Through its six chapters, the thesis argues that since the French colonial period there have been reciprocal influences between the media-sphere and the relationships between Muslims and Christians in Northern Cameroon. The first chapter lays emphasis on the processes through which Northern Cameroon became a multi-religious setting in the aftermath of the Jihad (19th century) and the arrival of Christian missions (1920s). Subsequently, the second chapter shows how Radio Garoua was created in 1958 by the French colonial administration, in order to support its policy towards Islam. This paved the way for the influence of mass media in framing Muslim-Christian relationships. When Cameroon earned its independence in 1960 with Ahmadou Ahidjo -a Muslim from Garoua- as the first President, Radio Garoua became vital in reinforcing the ongoing Islamic hegemony in Northern Cameroon. But with the resignation of Ahidjo (1982) and the coming to power of Paul Biya –a Christian from the South- and the 1984 coup attempt that followed, Muslims lost control over Radio Garoua. In 1984, Biya’s regime reduced the influence of this radio station by creating two other stations in Ngaoundere and Maroua, as discussed in chapter three. In 1987, these state-radio station sbecame part of the national media body known as Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV). The latter inaugurated a collaboration with Sawtu Linjiila; an audiovisual production house founded in 1962 in Ngaoundere with the aim of facilitating the acceptance of Christians by Muslims and also restricting the spread of Islam southwards (chapter four). The fifth chapter demonstrates how this collaboration underlayed the marginalization of Muslims in radio programs and the agency of non-Muslims. Unlike Ahidjo, Biya appointed essentially Christian top managers and Christian programs were promoted to the detriment of Islam. Informed by political rationales, this marginalization policy of Islam reinforced the neo-patrimonialisation of broadcasting in Northern Cameroon. Focusing on some community based radio stations (Radio Dana, FM Bénoué), and some confessional media (Sawtu Linjiila,Radio Bonne Nouvelle, Radio Salaaman and Radio Annour), the last chapter deals with the involvement of non-state- run radios in the coexistence between Muslims and Christians. This involvement goes along with the borrowing of religious forms, as Muslims adopted radio for religious purposes after Christians.