Les Mbengis - Migration, Gender, and Family
441 Pages
English
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Les Mbengis - Migration, Gender, and Family

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441 Pages
English

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This book is about transnational migration (familiarly called “bushfalling”) and remittance flows to Cameroon. With the current dire economic state, Cameroonians increasingly aspire to go abroad to make a living. Migrants achieve this through a collective (family) strategy and with the help of migration brokers. Relations between migrants and the family that stays in Cameroon can be characterized as follows: Families raise and educate their children to become adults. In return to giving their children the “gift of life”, families expect reciprocity, best secured through economic success abroad and the sending of remittances by migrants. As families in Cameroon heavily contribute to the funding of migration trajectories, often by selling properties such as land or houses or borrowing money, they also expect a return on their investments.
All that constitutes this study explores under the notion of the moral economy of transnational remittances. In this study, remittances are understood to be a composite of financial, material, and cultural flows—maintaining and transforming social and kinship ties. The book proposes also a large exploration of themes in relation to transnational migration: why and how Cameroonians migrate (the role of the operational family in terms of decision and funding; the role of migration brokers through the identification of “lines” and the provision of the necessary papers); the moral justification for migration; the ways social relations and customs are changed by status gained through migration; the ways people explain the failure of migration projects, the difficulties to stay abroad; the matrimonial strategies to go and stay abroad. This is an empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated study that takes thinking on transnational migration informed by African strategies and experiences a step further.

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Published 19 July 2017
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EAN13 9789956762583
Language English
Document size 10 MB

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“Les Mbengis”—Migration, Gender, and Family: The Moral Economy of Transnational Cameroonian Migrants’ Remittances Christina Atekmangoh
L a ng a a R esea rch & P u blishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher:LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.com www.langaa-rpcig.net Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookscollective.com ISBN-10: 9956-762-93-8 ISBN-13: 978-9956-762-93-4 ©Christina Atekmangoh 2017All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or be stored in any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher
Dedication To my parents Rosemary Manka Che, Lucas Wambong Che, Magdelen Ami, Moses Agejoh Ami, and especially to my dearest sister Violet Sirri Che for everything you have sacrificed for me to get to where I am. And To all the African migrants who die on their journey in the quest for a better life.
Table of contents Summary……………………………………………………..xi Acknowledgements………………………………….………xv List of acronyms…………………………………………….xviii Chapter 1: Introduction…………...…………………………1 Mbeng, mbengis, bush and bushfallers………………………... 1 Remittances……………………………………………………4 Book outline…………..……………………………………… 10 Chapter 2: Migration and remittances: an overview………. 15 Introduction………………..…………………………….…… 15 “Ouvrez les frontières”: State-of-the art in migration studies……………………………………………… 15 Remittances: the developmentalist view…….………………… 22 Remittance determinants and motives………………………… 26 Identifying some gaps in the existing literature. ……….……… 27 Remittances: the moral economy perspective……………….… 31 Introduction to the concept of moral economy……………..… 31 Moral economy in the study of Cameroonian transnational migration and remittance flows. ………...……… 36 Remittances and transnational ties: towards a moral economy of flows. ……………………………..……… 40 Remittances flow as exchanges…………………………..…… 41 Theories on transnational migration and remittances……..……43 Network theory……………………………………………..… 44 New Economics theory of Migration (NEM) …………………46 Transnationalism………………………………………………47 Feminist theory: the intersectionality of transnational migration………………………...……………… 49 Chapter 3: Cameroonian transnational migration and remittances: a pluri-local research agenda…………………………………..………… 53 v
Introduction……………………………………..…………… 53 Researcher and informant: a note on positionality…..………… 54 Methodological framework: qualitative method— pluri-local ethnography…………….……………… 61 Life histories……………………………………..…………… 62 Applied methods in research locations: Sweden and Switzerland……………………….……………… 64 Research in Cameroon……………………….…..…………… 74 Fieldwork………………………………………...…………… 75 Cyber cafes…………………………………………………… 77 Money transfer agencies………………….…………………… 78 Virtual ethnography……………………….………..………… 80 Location and selection of key informants: snowballing and purposive sampling………..………………… 82 Interviews…………………………………..………………… 85 Research challenges……………………………………………87 Chapter 4. Contextual background: the socio-cultural, historical, geographical, and political features of Cameroon and Cameroonian migration.………………………………91 Socio-cultural, economic, geographic, and political landscape of Cameroon……………………………… 91 A note on ethnicity and kinship relations………...…………… 94 Ethnicity……………………………………………………… 94 On kinship relations…………………………..….…………… 100 Building on a history of migration: plantation agriculture and internal mobility in Cameroon…………………103 A gender analysis on early migration patterns in Cameroon…………………………….……………109 Chapter 5: Why Cameroonians migrate: The socio-cultural, moral, and economic…………….…… 115 ‘Been tos’, ‘America wandas’, and mbengis/bushfallers……….. 115 Bushfalling fantasies……………………….………..………… 122 ‘Coming home big’: bushfallers ostentation…………………… 125
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Encounters at Brussels and Douala airports. …………….…… 125 “Bush is like heaven and Cameroon is like hell”: Facebook images and perceptions/interpretations of a good life…………………………………………..……… 135 “Kontri don spoil”: popular discontents and Cameroonian transnational migration……..……………… 142 Socio-economic crises and transnational migration: the enduring allure of bushfalling………………..… 150 A routinised state of crises…………………………….……… 150 Having a ‘godfather’ and its implication for out migration……. 154 Sexual orientation as a motive for transnational Cameroonian migration………………………… 159 Chapter 6: How Cameroonians migrate………..……..……161 Introduction……………………………………..…….……… 161 Family as a domestic unit and its role in transnational migration…………………………..….………… 161 Families…………………………………………….….……… 163 The ‘operational’ family and the ‘general’ family……….……… 163 Families investing in migration projects: decision, gender, financing, secrecy and trust……….………… 165 Brokers………………………………………….……..………172 Migration brokerage………………………………...………… 172 Background on migration brokerage in Cameroon….………… 177 Informal migration brokers and their “lines” …………….…… 183 The emergence of Mr. Bix as a migration broker………………183 The relationship between informal migration brokers and their clients…………………….....………….…… 188 ‘Falling bush’ through informal brokers: transforming an aspiring migrant to a migrant………………… 189 The case of Nchuding………………………………………… 189 Cynthia and her broker…………………………..….………… 189 Celestine gets a student visa………………………..….……… 191 Formal migration brokers…………………………..….……… 194 ‘Falling bush’ through a formal migration agency……....………199 Challenges faced by migration brokers in Cameroon….….…… 203
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Commentary notes on migration brokerage in Cameroon and beyond…………………..……………….…… 205 Divine brokerage or praying for visas? “One needs the intervention of God to get a visa” ……………207 “L’Europe l’a dépassé”: returned migration and the social stigma of deportation……………………..….… 212 Migration brokerage as the ‘illegal’ production of migrant legality………………………………..……………216 Chapter 7: Understanding marriage, birth and death practices in the context of Cameroonian Migration and remittances……….…………………………223 Introduction……………….………..………………………… 223 Marriage………………………………………….…………… 224 The birth celebration of a bushfaller’s child: bushfaller “born-house” ………………………………………255 The monetisation of funerals: bushfaller “cry-die” …………… 258 Chapter 8: “I am not a money-making machine”: on the moral economy of remittances………………………265 Introduction…………………………………...……………… 265 Challenges upon arrival and beyond…………...……………… 267 The difficulties of living in bush……………………………… 269 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of trust”: remittance channels, receivers, and conflicts……………...…… 274 Primordial ties and the persistence of remittance ‘giving’………284 The migrant as an ‘elder’ (piggybank): the case of Paul………... 294 “This girl wanted to turn my son into her money-sucking machine”: Families at home choosing wives for their migrants………………...…………… 299 Migrants and their remittance patterns: frequent flows and ‘occasional help’……………..……….…… 303 Migrants as money-making machines? …………..……….…… 307 “We don’t eat degrees”: the figure of a successful migrant……. 310 Understanding migration successes and failures: the social capital of migration………………….……………… 314
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Chapter 9: Sorcery threats in migration and remittance flows……………………………….…….………317 Introduction………………………………..……….………… 317 A note on terminology…………………...…………………… 318 Witchcraft (nyongo) and remittance flows………….……….… 319 Witchcraft pressures and non-(re)distribution: remittances and the weakness of strong ties…………...….…… 326 Containing witchcraft adversities in Cameroonian migration and remittances……………………… 344 Chapter 10: Conclusion…………………...…………………351 Bibliography…………………………………………………365 Appendix……………………………………………………..403 Appendix 1: sequence of migration flow……………………… 403 Appendix 2: statistics of Cameroonians in Switzerland…..……. 404 Appendix 3: statistics of remittances flow to Cameroon between 1996-2006……………………..………. 405 Appendix 4: Money&Com remittance sender’s receipt……..…. 406 Appendix 5: newspaper article on remittances flow from Switzerland in 2013………………………..……….. 407 Appendix 6: interview guide, pilot study Sweden…………..….. 408 Appendix 7: interview guide, research in Switzerland & Sweden (January-November 2014)…………….. 410 Appendix 8: interview guide, migrants’ families in Cameroon…………………………………………………...413 Appendix 9: list of bride wealth payment………………....…… 414 Appendix 10: flyer of a formal migration agency……………… 416 Appendix 11: traditional wedding photos……………….…….. 417 Appendix 12: photos of undocumented border crossing and a broker’s flyer……………………………419
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