Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Cheryl Duckworth

Second Advisor

Evan Hoffman


African literature, African studies, alternative dispute resolution, bafanji wars, balikumbat wars, land conflict, land disputes, land wars, tribal land wars


Balikumbat and Bafanji are the names of two villages in the Northwest Region of Cameroon that have been warring against one another over Bangang, a tract of fertile land. The conflict hinges on perceived differences about who should have access to this fertile land. Both villages claim ownership. This conflict has persisted from colonial times to the present with no tangible resolution. Understanding the place of land within the political, social, and economic fabric of the lives of both villages prior to and after the arrival of the colonial administration is the centerpiece of this research endeavor. This study sheds light on why the conflict persists. The land tenure decree of 1973, which was later promulgated into Cameroon law in 1984, is the most recent attempt at resolving disputes over land. It did not resolve this conflict. A clash of cultures between the indigenous population and the European colonizers may have triggered a legacy of land conflict between these two communities. This study unravels and seeks to explain when the Balikumbat and Bafanji villages transitioned from being two loving neighbors, capable of sharing their use of and kinship to the land, to hostile enemies ready to fight and kill one another at the earliest opportunity. In this study, interviews, observations, journal intakes, field notes, as well as document reviews, are pivotal tools used in justifying the claims highlighted in the research.