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Background to the study

The purpose of this thesis is to shed light on the role of the Catholic Church in Conflict Resolution especially the role of the Catholic Church in the Cameroon Anglophone war of independence. Conflict occurs in situations where two or more interdependent parties (either individuals or groups) have interests, outcomes, and/or goals that are incompatible in some way (Deutsch, 1973; Deutsch & Coleman, 2000; Kelley et al., 2003; Schelling, 1980). If the parties are completely independent or if their interests, outcomes, and goals are completely compatible, then no conflict can exist because, to put it colloquially, there is nothing to fight about. Conflict can occur in both cooperative and competitive contexts (Deutsch, 1973), as well as in “mixed-motive” contexts that are marked by a combination of competitive and cooperative features (Kelley et al., 2003; Schelling, 1980). When the parties’ interests are generally compatible or positively correlated, then resolving the conflict requires coordination (Kelley et al., 2003; Schelling, 1980). Coordination involves working together to find a solution to a common problem. Consider a situation in which a husband and wife must decide how to spend their evening. The husband would prefer to go to a baseball game while the wife would prefer to go to the movies, but both would rather be accompanied by their spouse than attend either event alone. One possible solution to a conflict of this sort would be coordinated alternation, such that on one evening both go to the husband’s preferred destination, but on the next evening both go to the wife’s preferred destination. Communication, assuming it is trusted, is extremely helpful in resolving coordination conflicts because it allows the parties to work out mutually beneficial agreements (Fisher & Ury, 1981; Schelling, 1980).

In the world, religion has been part and parcel of human experience either for good or for worse. Religion emerged in different forms at different times to eradicate hatred and to promote love, peace and to enlightened people to live a fruitful life Silvestri  Mayall (2015). From the early human civilization, religion played a very strong role in shaping up the society. Over the time the world has witnessed how the focus of religion shifted from peace building to destruction of peace. Although the role of religion in conflict and peace building has mostly been depicted in binary terms: either as a source of violence or of reconciliation, it is quite complex to define the role of religion as there might have a wide array of other factors that might have relevance for a particular conflict Silvestri  Mayall (2015).

From the early human civilization politics and religion are interconnected. In the history of human civilization religion always played an important part in determining the society and political life of the people. Religion’s significance may differ in the perspective of different country or society but its influence and appeal in the social and political sphere in general around the globe. The world has observed in last few decades number of incidents how religious ambition turned the social movement into violent conflict, political rights give rise to religiously aggravated armed conflict, how blind nationalism transformed into a religious-based ideology, therefore, inspires violence and intolerance and more importantly utilization of religion as an instrument to fulfil a political dream. Many conflicts having religion as ‘centrality’ also encompasses strong political dynamics. There are many incidents and situation in history when religion is used as a weapon to implement political desire or social dominance. Use of religion is always been the most powerful weapon to oppress others to gain political dominance or societal control. Most heinous crimes like mass killing, rape, executions or in other words ethnic cleansing were and still approved under the name of religion to retain political control or due to the fear that minority community must be subjected to prejudice otherwise, supremacy will be compromised Morshed, (2017).

An increasing number of conflict resolution experts argue that peace mediation cannot be effective if it doesn’t take into account the underlying conditions that cause conflicts. Today, these conditions are often intertwined with religious and cultural factors. Scott Appleby (2000, 17) claims that approximately two-thirds of contemporary wars are related to issues of religious, ethnic, or national identity. Attempts to resolve these conflicts require new approaches and actors. Moreover, better concepts, theories and assumptions to interpret the impact of culture and religion on international affairs are needed (Scott 2005, 11-12).

Traditionally, religion in Africa has been an individual and collective source of meaning, hope, comfort and deliverance (Tenaw, 2018).  However, despite the high social relevance of religion in Africa and the averred intense religiosity of Africans, several hypotheses still connect religion to conflict in the continent. Religion appears to be associated with conflict in many parts of the world including Africa although concerns have heightened about the sustained violent conflicts in Africa (Essien, 2014).

A group of Cameroonian religious leaders from English-speaking part of Cameroon, both Christian and Muslim, committed themselves as being diplomats of peace in the resolution of the Conflict in Anglophone Cameroon. According to Ezekiel, religious leaders, Christian and Muslims in Cameroon are committed to the cause of peace, justice, tranquillity, reconciliation, and healing in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon,

On the other hand, there are also opportunities to employ the assets of religious leaders and religious institutions to promote peace (Smock, 2006). For instance, the role of Christianity for the enforcement of truth and reconciliation council; peace processes in Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Kenya, Cameroon and others can be good examples to resolve conflicts. But this research studies emphasize the role of religious leaders in conflict resolution taking the case study of the Anglophone conflict in Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Religion touches upon the deepest level of identity. It can mobilize people for war, but also lasting peace. Religion in many parts of the world is contributing to violent conflict although exaggerated in many cases (Smock.2006). But, religion is a source not only of intolerance, human right violations extremist violence but also of non-violent conflict transformation, the defence of the human right, Integrity in government and reconciliation and stability in divided societies (Rasul, 2009). The role of religious leaders in conflict resolution has often been depicted as that which is controversial: it is seen as a source either of violence or reconciliation. This simplification obscures the complexity of the subject and shows that there is no common understanding of the central terms of the role of religious leaders in conflict resolution. As a starting point for a more meaningful analysis, this research paper aims to find the role of the Catholic Church in the resolution of the Anglophone war. Most recent efforts to define religion have focused on how it is understood and experienced by individuals, rather than how it is assessed by institutions or doctrines. By observing how religion operates and interacts with other aspects of human experience at the global, institutional, group and individual levels, we can gain a more nuanced understanding of its role or potential role in both conflict resolution and peace building.

The second problem identified is the fact that the question of the role of the Church in conflict resolution has been systematically neglected in international Conflict resolution and national conflict resolution. This has been for some good reasons, as it is extremely complex. But it is important in many situations of potential and actual conflict to have a more thoughtful and rigorous analysis both of religion as a contributory factor to conflict, and also religious leaders as a potential factor for conflict prevention and resolution. For instance, the President of Nigeria was forceful in saying the Nigerian conflict has nothing to do intrinsically with religion, that religion is used as an excuse by politicians. That is one factor we need to keep in mind. And yet the same day a large survey by the Pew Forum showed that more people in Nigeria than in any other African country believe that religion is a major source of conflict. What this brings us to is the need for more thoughtful appreciation of how and where religion contributes to conflict and a more sophisticated understanding.

Looking to the other side, to the Church as a potential source of conflict prevention and resolution, there are at least four places that we can look. The first is the leaders of the Church (religious leadership). The gifts of a Desmond Tutu, of a Gandhi, the gifts of many of the people who have been drawn into religious leadership have more potential to communicate than social media (though some use the social media) for good and evil. It has been noticed that in Egypt Amr Khaled has 3 million Facebook followers and tremendous influence with young people. These personalities need to be drawn much more into the process of conflict resolution within the state. There are also some very interesting initiatives and ideas and examples of specific intervention techniques. In Sudan, interfaith groups intervene when a church or mosque is burnt, and try to deflect conflict. The third is through education. There is education which consciously provides religious literacy from kinder through to the training of diplomats about religion so people are more comfortable in finding ways to speak about it.  It should be noted reconciliation and forgiveness facilitated by religious leaders are of paramount importance, but the problem faced here is the fact that some religious leaders often take a side during an armed conflict.

1.3 Research Questions of the Study

The research question comprises the main and specific research questions.

1.3.1 Main Research Questions of the Study

What is the role of the Catholic Church in the resolution of the Cameroon Anglophone war of independence?

1.3.2. Specific Research Questions of the Study

The specific research questions of the study are:

  1. What are the causes of the 2016-2021 Anglophone War of independence in Cameroon?
  2. To what extent do religious leaders and the Catholic church contribute to the resolution of the Anglophone war of independence
  3. What are the Mechanisms put in place by the government and other stakeholders to resolve this conflict
  4. What policy recommendation can help both parties to solve the Cameroon Anglophone war of independence

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study comprise the main and specific objectives.

1.4.1 Main Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is to examine the role of the Catholic Church in the resolution of the Anglophone war of independence

1.4.2 Specific Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of the study are to:

  1. To examine the causes of the 2016-2021 Anglophone War of independence in Cameroon;
  2. To Examine the extent to which religious leaders and the Catholic church contribute to the resolution of the Anglophone war of independence
  3. To Evaluate the Mechanism put in place by the government and other stakeholders to resolve the Anglophone war of independence
  4. To propose policy recommendation that can help both parties to solve the Anglophone crisis


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