Bridging Mobilities
319 Pages
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Bridging Mobilities


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319 Pages


This is a study on the creative appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by mobile Africans and the communities to which they belong, home and away. With a focus on Cameroonian migrants from Pinyin and Mankon who are currently living in Cape Town and the Netherlands, this book examines the workings of the social fabric of mobile communities. It sheds light on how these communities are crafting lives for themselves in the host country and simultaneously linking up with the home country thanks to advances in ICTs and road and air transport. ICTs and mobilities have complemented social relational interaction and provide migrants today with opportunities to partake in cultural practices that express their Pinyin-ness and Mankon-ness. Pinyin and Mankon migrants are still as rooted in the past as they are in the present. They were born into a community with its own sense of home, moral ethos and cultural pride but live in a context of accelerated ICTs and mobility that is fast changing the way they live their lives. Drawing on this detailed ethnographic case study and related literature, Henrietta Nyamnjoh argues that while ICTs continue to enhance mobility for those who move and for those who stay put, they have become inextricably linked in forging networks and reconfiguring existing ones. Contrary to earlier studies that predicted radical social change and the passing of traditional societies in the face of new technologies, ICTs have been appropriated to enhance the workings of existing social relations and ways of life while simultaneously pointing to new directions in ever more creative and innovative ways.



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Published 06 December 2013
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EAN13 9789956791187
Language English
Document size 11 MB

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Bridging Mobilities ICTs Appropriation by Cameroonians in South Africa and The Netherlands
Henrietta M. Nyamnjoh
Bridging Mobilities
Langaa & African Studies Centre
Bridging Mobilities ICTs appropriation by Cameroonians in South Africa and The Netherlands
Henrietta Mambo Nyamnjoh
Langaa Research and Publishing Common Initiative Group PO Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Phone +237 33 07 34 69 / 33 36 14 02
African Studies Centre P.O. Box 9555 2300 RB Leiden The Netherlands http// Photos: Henrietta Nyamnjoh Cover photo: Pinyin and Mankon members at a cry-die celebration in Cape Town ISBN:9956-791-51-2© Langaa and African Studies Centre, 2014
List of map, figures and photos viiiAcknowledgements x1. INTRODUCTION1 Setting the scene1 Mobility4 Transnationalism or ... ?6 Pinyin and Mankon as frontier people9 ‘Tuyau’ and ‘lines’: Social and kinship networks12 Society and technology15 Habitual practice17 Belonging and home19 Research questions and outline of the book21
2.METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS AND DATA COLLECTION25 Introduction25 Methodological reflections27 Methods32 Life histories45 Archival research47 Conclusion48
3.MOBILITY AND MIGRATION AT THE CROSSROADS:MOBILE COMMUNITY50 Introduction50 Mobility trends in Cameroon from colonial times to the current wave  of migration to South Africa53 Mobile society62 Migration to South Africa and The Netherlands69 Migration governance or governance fragmentation?72  Conclusion77
4.ANEW FORM OF MADNESS IN THE VILLAGE:THE ARRIVAL OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES(ICTS)79Introduction79Overview of current debates on ICTs81Phoning before the proliferation of mobile phones (1980s-1999)85Conceptualizing ICTs in Pinyin and Mankon87The Internet and social media93Appropriation of ICTs before and after the revolution of  communication technologies95Navigating the conundrums of the mobile phone102Conclusion105
5.NETWORKS AND SHIFTING RELATIONS:SOCIAL AND KINSHIP NETWORKS AND THE FORMATION OF A NETWORKSOCIETY108Introduction108Overview of network in migration process110Network intrigues113Studying networks115Networking amongst mobile communities119Kinship relations and social networks122Networking through marriage126Gender social and kinship network relations128Negotiatingngunda: Social networks within asylum/refugee circles  in Cape Town130Conclusion134
6. “GOING TO THE FIELD”:PITCHING AND MIGRANTSECONOMIC ACTIVITIES136Introduction136Informal economy138Encounters141The role of women in the informal economy143Pitching: An overview of economic activities in Cape Town143Mobility and social networking in the informal economy149The notion of success and material wealth155 Commodification of relationship161Discussion and conclusion164
7.YOUR MAMI AND PAPA FOR THIS COUNTRY NA MEETING’:PIFAM AND MACUDA AS AGENCY IN A TRANSNATIONAL WORLD168Introduction168Overview and characters of PIFAM and MACUDA170Overview of trends179Associations as agents of development181Status and social hierarchies towards elite formation188Social life of PIFAM and MACUDA191Inter-cultural communication and associational networking195 Exchange visits between associations196Transnational/trans-virtual associational networks198Conclusion203
8.AMOBILE COMMUNITY AS A FORTRESS:REINFORCING THE NOTION OF BELONGING THROUGHLIFE CRISIS205 Introduction205Understanding rituals and ceremonies206Birth208Marriage212Death214ICTs as evidence of ritual autopsy227Rituals as communication and the embodiment of society229Conclusion233
9. ‘IDI BEEP NA FOR BEEP,THEM DI CALL’:STRADDLING RELATIONSHIPSHOME AND HOST COUNTRY AMONGST KIN AND KITH BETWEEN 235 Introduction235Negotiating transcultural social fields236Remittances239Partaking in virtual and transcultural funerals242Channelling emotions246 Mediating long distance relationship (LDRs) and co-presence255Perpetuating perceived notions of witchcraft260Pentecostalism and recasting witchcraft262Discussion and conclusion267
List of photographs, maps and diagrams
2.1 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4/4.5 4.6 4.7
5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5
6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6
6.7 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5
7.6 7.7 7.8
7.9 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4
Researcher’s host mother in Pinyin preparing the evening meal37Pa Joshua making a call from the road where there is network reception  in Pinyin90Everyone’s phones are inside this bag90Taken at the same spot when electricity had been installed90Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) adverts showing the proliferation of  mobile technology91Advert for Orange service provider91Mobile phones and medication sent with this researcher to relatives  in Pinyin and Mankon102Arrival of Pinyin members at the airport to welcome the wife  of a member127Arrival of the wife127Husband and wife together127Reception at the home of a Pinyin elder127Migrants at the asylum centre seeking an extension to their  refugee permit132Chris at work, pirating DVDs138DVDs on sale at Parow flea market138Pitcher-man ready to go to the field144A pitcher-man in the field144The car as a mobile shop144Phoning to inform fellow traders about the arrival of grey  knitted caps at Parow151Charles’s house in Mankon village159A PIFAM meeting in a rented hall172A PIFAM meeting at a member’s home172A MACUDA meeting at the ‘meeting house’174A new member introducing himself174The church in Mamben, Pinyin that the MAKON sub-association  in Cape Town raised funds to complete183Eatingachuduring one of the festivities192A cross section of members at PIFAM party193Members of the winning team present the trophy to  the sub-association’s elite194Researcher present a prize to one of the teams194Jane’s mother about to bless the child with her breath210Ron in his shop attending to clients and on the phone216Ron’s grave beside his uncompleted house in Pinyin216Ron’s uncompleted house in Pinyin216
8.5 8.6 8.7 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4
9.5 9.6 Map 1.1
T-shirt printed by PIFAM in honour of Ron217T-shirt carrying photos of the deceased219Members bidding farewell to the bodies of three young PIFAM men219Joyce’s children in Pinyin252Joyce printing out photos from this researcher’s memory card252Max, just before boarding a flight from Cameroon to South Africa252Most of Max’s family travelled to Douala to see him off  at the airport252Emile’s mother looking at the photos of her grandson254Photos posted in church by relations for prayer sessions263
Map of the North West Region showing field sites of Pinyin and Mankon3
Diagram 5.1 Network chart showing network connection and expansion123