Accepted Paper:

How an innovative student association can emerge in a context of constraint? The case of Addec, the Cameroon Students' Rights Association  


Cindy Morillas (LAM-Sciences Po Bordeaux)

Paper short abstract:

The “Cameroon Students’ Rights Association” innovates by its claims, actions and duration among student movements in Cameroon. This paper underlines social conditions and processes which allowed the emergence of this autonomous space of expression for student claims despite authorities’ hostility.

Paper long abstract:

Since the beginning of the economic crises in the middle 1980's, a lot of young Africans suffer from a drop in their social and economic status (Cruise O'Brien, 1996). In some African countries, the hostility of regimes against youth movements worsens this situation (Mbembe, 1985) and contributes to collective demobilization (Pommerolle, 2008). Higher education, undermined by the constant rise of the number of students since 1990's, is directly affected. Nevertheless, some students manage to create autonomous organizations to free themselves from structural constraints. We will focus on the "Cameroon Students' Rights Association" ("Addec", "Association pour la Défense des Droits des Étudiants du Cameroun"), created in 2004 in Yaoundé.

Addec is an autonomous and innovative student association in the history of student movements in Cameroun for several reasons. It initiated hunger strikes as a means of action in Cameroon as well as the national student unrest of 2005. This one is the most important in terms of territorial expansion and duration since 1990's mobilizations led by another students group, the "Parliament". Contrary to the latter, Addec has a long-lasting existence and is still dynamic. Moreover, the biennial renewal of its leaders contrasts with the longevity of political and associative national leaders. With its innovative discourses and contentious repertoires, Addec contributes to modifying power struggle between students and authorities.

Based on press, associative archives and in-depth interviews with founders and leaders of Addec, this paper analyzes the conditions, social processes, strategies and tactics that allowed the emergence of Addec and its durability.

Panel P165
Novel spaces for African youth: creativity, entrepreneurship and political action