An “Infantilization” of Our Nation: Shaping Cameroonian Audiences' Perceptions of America Through Mediated Metaphors and Allusions

An “Infantilization” of Our Nation: Shaping Cameroonian Audiences' Perceptions of America Through Mediated Metaphors and Allusions

Eugenie Grace Essoh (University of Calabar, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9312-6.ch005
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This chapter examines the cognitive and social functions played by metaphors and allusions in Cameroonian media discourse on U.S. diplomacy in Cameroon. The chapter specifically focuses on how such metaphors and allusions were used in newspaper articles devoted to a U.S.-Cameroon diplomatic crisis triggered in mid May 2018 by U.S. Ambassador Henry Barlerin's advice to President Paul Biya (in power since 1982) to relinquish power and think of his legacy. The analysis reveals that the crisis was metaphorically constructed in the media as War, Neocolonialism, Slavery, Animals, Intrusion and “Infantilization” (of the Cameroonian nation) mostly in a bid to negatively represent U.S. diplomacy in Cameroon in particular, and the U.S. as a whole. These metaphors and allusions functioned more as conceptual tools simplifying or hiding specific aspects of reality and foregrounding controversial facets of U.S. diplomacy in Cameroon. They thus aimed at appealing to Cameroonian audiences' emotions and creating feelings of indignation vis-à-vis Mr. Barlerin's pronouncement.
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For many decades now, America has been championing the cause for representative democracy and human rights promotion in the world. This self-imposed mission has made her adopt various approaches ranging from peaceful diplomatic tactics to muscled paradigms such as threat and military campaigns (notably American military engagement in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan in view of spreading US-styled democracy). In a bid to push for the spread of the American model of democracy and promote human rights in many Third World countries, the American government has sometimes deployed threat to discontinue its aid to these counties. In some other contexts, she has simply deployed strongly-worded exhortations and recommendations aimed at these Third World economies. All these approaches have not always been taken in good faith by her Third World counterparts. In effect, most American governments’ political counsels/statements addressed to Third World countries on issues of good governance, democracy and human rights protections have in several instances been interpreted as signs of America’s arrogance, politico-cultural imperialism and interference into the internal affairs of sovereign Third World countries (Chika 2014; Gevisser, 2014). For instance, Obama's crusade for LGBT rights and anti-homophobia in African countries during his second mandate made him to deploy a more or less imperialistic discourse and rhetoric causing him to lose popularity and be regarded in most African conservative quarters as the incarnation of evil on earth. Obama’s muscled action was promptly interpreted as one of the multiple facets of America-driven neocolonialism in Africa (Endong, 2016; Porter, 2014).

The Obama administration’s resort to pressure in view of pushing its pro LGBT foreign policy in Africa made him and his country (The United States of America) to be perceived as agents of neo-colonialism, illegitimate gendarmes of the world and intruders into the internal affairs of African countries (Chika, 2014). With reference to the Obama administration’s threat to discontinue its aid to Nigeria if the latter did not reverse its stance on its anti-LGBT legislation (the Same Sex Prohibition Act of 2014), former President of the Nigerian Senate David Mark declared that:

If there is any country that wants to stop giving us aid because we want to pass the bill on same sex that country can go ahead. We are a sovereign nation and we have the rights to decide for ourselves because no country can interfere in the way we run our country. Same sex marriage is against our own culture and tradition and against our beliefs.” (Cited in Ajayi, 2015, p.11)

David Mark’s statement vividly illustrates how Obama’s pro-gay foreign policy was received in Nigerian political and cultural circles and how many members of the Nigerian intelligentsia and political class interpreted Obama’s threat as yet another sign of America’s neo-colonial moves in Africa.

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