We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Gender and Plantation Labour in Africa

The Story of Tea Pluckers' Struggles in Cameroon

Piet Konings

Publication Year: 2012

This book explores the relationship between plantation labour and gender in Africa. Such a study is the more opportune because most of the existing works on plantation labour in Africa seem to have either under-studied or even ignored the changing conceptions of gender on the continent in recent times. One of the book’s major concerns is to demonstrate that the introduction of plantation labour during colonial rule in Africa has had significant consequences for gender roles and relations within and beyond the capitalist labour process. The book focuses on two tea estates in Anglophone Cameroon. A study of these estates is particularly interesting in that one of them employs mainly female pluckers while the other employs mainly male pluckers. This allows for an examination of any variations in male and female workers’ modes of resistance to the control and exploitation they meet in the labour process. Such a comparative analysis is helpful in assessing the widespread managerial assumption on tea estates that female pluckers tend to be more productive and docile than male pluckers.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (34.8 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (71.6 KB)
pp. v-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (36.5 KB)
pp. ix-x

During several fieldwork periods I became indebted to a great number of people, and unfortunately there is room to mention only a few of them. Without the help of the management and the workers on the Anglophone Cameroon’s tea estates, this book would never have seen the light of day. ...

List of Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF (37.5 KB)
pp. xi-xii


pdf iconDownload PDF (57.5 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv

Map of the Republic of Cameroon

pdf iconDownload PDF (171.5 KB)
pp. xv-xvi

read more

Chapter 1. Gender and labour on Cameroon’s tea estates

pdf iconDownload PDF (106.7 KB)
pp. 1-20

This book explores the relationship between gender and plantation labour in Africa in general, and Cameroon in particular. Although gender has become one of the most dynamic areas of Africanist research today, as evidenced by a growing number of books and articles dedicated to the subject ...

read more

Chapter 2. Production and marketing policies on Cameroon’s tea estates

pdf iconDownload PDF (107.1 KB)
pp. 21-36

This chapter provides a brief historical review of tea production and marketing in Cameroon. The first section argues that tea production in Cameroon has some distinctive features. First of all, it started quite late in the colonially established plantation economy in the area and then remained concentrated in the Anglophone part of the country for a long time. ...

Part I: The Tole Tea Estate

read more

Chapter 3. Female workers

pdf iconDownload PDF (164.0 KB)
pp. 39-74

The construction of the Tole Estate in 1954 marked a turning point in the history of the CDC. It was the first estate to produce tea. And even more important, it was the first estate to recruit predominantly female labour. Although female employment was no new phenomenon on its estates, estate work had remained virtually a male preserve. ...

read more

Chapter 4. Management of female workers

pdf iconDownload PDF (103.9 KB)
pp. 75-90

The existence of exploitative relations of production in the labour process poses the problem of control. The management can only appropriate and maximise the surplus value produced by labour by subordinating workers to its authority over the labour process and intensifying their labour productivity. ...

read more

Chapter 5. Female workers and trade unionism

pdf iconDownload PDF (146.8 KB)
pp. 91-124

In the previous chapters I argued that female workers have become largely dependent on plantation labour for the reproduction of their families, yet are poorly remunerated for their hard work and are subject to intensive control in the labour process. In the next two chapters I examine whether these women have engaged ...

read more

Chapter 6. Informal and collective actions of female workers

pdf iconDownload PDF (111.0 KB)
pp. 125-142

African women have clearly demonstrated a capacity to protect their interests individually and collectively. Collective actions of women have occurred in several African countries (Ardener 1975; O’Barr 1984; Parpart 1988b). Some of such actions have been documented in the Bamenda Grassfields, ...

Part II: The Ndu Tea Estate

read more

Chapter 7. Male workers

pdf iconDownload PDF (127.2 KB)
pp. 145-168

In 1957 the Estates and Agency Company Ltd (EAC), a British-Indian multinational enterprise, started construction of a tea estate at Ndu, a chiefdom situated in the Donga-Mantung Division, one of the more isolated areas in the Bamenda Grassfields. The creation of this estate had a significant impact on local and regional development. ...

read more

Chapter 8. Management of male workers and their informal modes of resistance

pdf iconDownload PDF (110.5 KB)
pp. 169-186

The physical organisation of production and managerial strategies of labour control on the Ndu Estate show great similarities with those prevailing on the Tole Estate (see Chapter 4). In this chapter I shall therefore focus on the differences in labour control regimes between both estates. ...

read more

Chapter 9. Male workers and trade unionism

pdf iconDownload PDF (188.8 KB)
pp. 187-234

The establishment and development of trade unionism on the Ndu Estate has not been an easy process, since most Ndu workers were initially not acquainted with trade unionism. The initiative to create a trade union on the estate was taken by what Millen (1963) has called an ‘outside’ leader. ...

Part III: The Cameroon tea estates

read more

Chapter 10. Privatisation and labour militancy: The case of Cameroon’s tea estates

pdf iconDownload PDF (129.2 KB)
pp. 237-262

Privatisation is an essential part of an overall neo-liberal reform package aimed at creating transparency and accountability in the management of national affairs as well as a favourable environment for opening up African economies to market forces and private-sector development (World Bank 1989, 1992; Sandbrook 2000). ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (91.1 KB)
pp. 263-278


pdf iconDownload PDF (282.7 KB)
pp. 279-289

E-ISBN-13: 9789956728251
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956728251

Page Count: 306
Publication Year: 2012