A word of congratulations to the freshly baked Doctor Ayonghe Akonwi Nebasifu! He just now defended successfully his PhD dissertation with the title Knowledge Integration in Co-management: A Study on the People of the Mount Cameroon National Park. Thank you to Sabaheta Ramcilovik Suominen for a great 3 hour examination too.
A lot of the discussion circled around this difficult principal question: can you really truly integrate indigenous ways of knowing the land in to management regimes of protected areas that are designed by the state? Is the system that is called co-management so politically correct ever going to be able to lead to honest and equal participation of local people in the governance of their own land? Ayonghe’s work makes clear that a co-management system can’t overcome all the problems of state regimes that extend power relations and inequality between marginalised indigenous dwellers and administrators. But he also shows how there are still niches for participation in such settings and his work celebrates the creativity of people to work within the system or around it for getting access to resources that are culturally meaningful to them, and benefiting from the governance regime in place even where they are at the lower end of unequal power relations. It seems that co-management even on such terms with all its problems is still better than pure state management that would not even pretend to listen to local voices and concerns. Congratulations to Ayonghe!