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Private dialogue in public space

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Abstract

The writing of ‘motions of support’ (in French, ‘motions de soutien’), has become a regular practice in politics not only in Cameroon but in much of French-speaking Africa. ‘Motions of support’ are open letters written by members of political parties, elite associations, regional administrative units, ethnic groups, villages elites, etc. and addressed to the president of the country pledging full support for his person and his policies. This chapter discusses the motions as a form of dialogue between the president and the people, since the people’s open letter serves as a response to a political action or favor carried out by the president. I focus on the structure and the dialogic functions of the different parts of these ‘motions of support’. An interesting aspect of these open letters is that, unlike in Western literature on political discourse where the relevant discourse is produced by powerful people in the political machine, ‘motions of support’ discourses are rather produced by the politically powerless, normal citizens. The authors are not scheming for political power but rather searching for the representation of their group on the political platform of the country.

References

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