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The College of William & Mary

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Cameroon: Social Pluralism and Development


Every year, donor countries pour billions of dollars of foreign aid into developing recipient countries. Humanitarian and “win-win” rhetoric generally accompanies the grant, hospital, school, or sports stadium. To a realist international relations scholar, it is highly unlikely that powerful nations like the United States and China donate anything without political or economic strategic interests in mind. How do American and Chinese strategic interests affect the quality of development aid? This paper seeks to answer this question in the context of Cameroon, a Central African state rich in resources and young minds but whose growth is hampered by its colonial past and its stagnant political environment. This study also seeks to understand what Cameroonians, the intended targets of foreign assistance, think of these donors’ development projects. Based on interviews with government officials and citizens in Yaoundé, Cameroonians are frustrated with the United States’ lack of infrastructural projects and the transformative effect its political interests have on Cameroonian culture. Cameroonians appreciate the visibility of Chinese infrastructural projects but are wary of what economic or political power China might wield over Cameroon in the future. If development aid continues this way, it will be difficult for Cameroon to reach its potential.


African Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Growth and Development | Inequality and Stratification | International and Intercultural Communication | Politics and Social Change


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