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Date of Award


Document Type

Master's report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Rhetoric and Technical Communication (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Humanities

First Advisor

Craig Waddell


In 2002, motivated largely by the uncontested belief that the private sector would operate more efficiently than the government, the government of Cameroon initiated a major effort to privatize some of Cameroon’s largest, state-run industries. One of the economic sectors affected by this privatization was tea production. In October 2002, the Cameroon Tea Estate (CTE), a privately owned, tea-cultivating organization, bought the Tole Tea Estate from the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), a government-owned entity. This led to an increase in the quantity of tea production; however, the government and CTE management appear not to have fully considered the risks of privatization. Using classical rhetorical theory, Richard Weaver’s conception of “god terms” (or “uncontested terms”), and John Ikerd’s ethical approach to risk communication, this study examines risks to which Tole Tea Estate workers were exposed and explores rhetorical strategies that workers employed in expressing their discontent. Sources for this study include online newspapers, which were selected on the basis of their reputation and popularity in Cameroon. Analysis of the data shows that, as a consequence of privatization, Tole Tea Estate workers were exposed to three basic risks: marginalization, unfulfilled promises, and poor working conditions. Workers’ reactions to these risks tended to grow more emotional as management appeared to ignore their demands. The study recommends that respect for labor law, constructive dialogue among stakeholders, and transparency might serve as guiding principles in responding to the politics of privatization in developing countries.