“Agriculture is a part of me”: A History and Personal Narratives of Farming in Cameroon

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Louisa Lombard
Essay Abstract: 
Cameroon is a country with a unique colonial history, having been colonized by not one but three different European countries within a century. The Germans, French, and British established Cameroon as an agricultural powerhouse with the establishment and maintenance of plantations, but at the cost of forced labor and the loss of many Cameroonian lives. Even through independence, however, Cameroonian farmers have been generally neglected by governing bodies in the agricultural chain, with the vast majority acting as just producers and not as processors or manufacturers. These economic factors and the spread of Western ideals have caused many young people to leave their homes in rural areas and seek education and employment in urban areas and even in other countries. I was interested in this phenomenon and the stories of Cameroonians who decided to leave their rural villages to pursue other endeavors. By investigating Cameroon’s political and agricultural history since colonial rule and interviews with two men in their 60s and 70s who spent their childhoods in rural Cameroon, I put personal stories to the political history of Cameroon. I was heartened to find that some Cameroonians still have fondness towards agriculture despite many uncertainties during their childhoods.