This article explores the social and political connections between youths and political elites from Manyu Division in South-Western Cameroon. Unlike several recent studies on youths in Africa, it focuses on educated youths from Manyu, exploring their strategies to secure greater political inclusion and better chances for upward social mobility. With a critical attention to their discourses and practices, the article examines the disjuncture between the promise of Cameroon’s patrimonial state as an inclusive structure of political action and the sense of exclusion, anxiety, and uncertainty felt by many actors. It argues that this tension generates relations of mutuality and interdependence between elite and nonelite actors. Yet, the article finds that while the logics of political intimacy between Manyu students and their political elites in Cameroon are mediated by kinship, ethnicity, and patronage, these do not always guarantee inclusion and success in social mobility for the youthful actors. For these youths, they felt their exclusion to be more a result of the obstructive character of middle-aged elites who were reticent to acknowledge the values of kinship, ethnicity, and patronage as valid basis for granting opportunities to their younger kinsmen.
Cultural Dynamics, 2013, Vol 25, Issue 3, p. 269-290
Belonging; Cameroon; Manyu Division; Mutuality; Political elites; Youths;