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Bridging Mobilities

ICTs Appropriation by Cameroonians in South Africa and The Netherlands

Henrietta M. Nyamnjoh

Publication Year: 2013

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.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vii

List of photographs, maps and diagrams

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pp. viii-ix


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pp. x-xiv

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-24

As a child growing up in the Grassfields of Bamenda, the provincial capital of the North West Region, I recall vividly how I would be woken up early in the morning by one of my parents to go and see a certain person to deliver a short note, a verbal message or simply to inform them that one of my family would...

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2. Methodological considerations and data collection

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pp. 25-49

This study is part of a larger research project entitled ‘Mobile Africa Revisited’ that has been examining the appropriation of ICTs and how mobile migrant communities are shaping and being shaped by them. The study is an ensemble of conversations, my observations and interaction in the various field sites as well...

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3. Mobility and migration at the crossroads: Mobile communities

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pp. 50-78

Bianca’s story
When I finished high school I refused to study law at the University of Yaoundé. I just went into business. I was trading, buying beans from Ndu, Babessi and Ndop and I sold them in Douala. At one point I had a connection and I sent beans to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. So that’s how I worked and raised money. Then my first cousin, who is in Johannesburg, ...

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4. A new form of madness in the village: The arrival of information and communications technologies (ICTs)

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pp. 79-107

The arrival of mobile technology was received with awe by most and also seen as a must-have. But for others it was a new form of madness that had arrived in the village; with the few people who owned mobile phones running up hills, climbing trees or standing in the middle of the road where reception was good to take...

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5. Networks and shifting relations: Social and kinship networks and the formation of a network society

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pp. 108-135

The last two chapters showed how mobility and migration are not new and also how they are deeply engrained in human history. However what is new today is the form and dynamism that they have taken as a result of the advances in ICTs and transport networks. This has led to new mobile societies that are characterized by mobile flows and ‘miniaturized mobilities’ (Elliott & Urry 2010: 28)...

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6. ‘Going to the field’: Pitching and migrants’ economic activities

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pp. 136-167

Chris’s story
I sell pirated DVDs made by me and it is thanks to the Internet that I can do all of this. I have Internet at home on a USB, but I use it late at night when the rates are low. I often go to the cyber because it costs R3 an hour, where I download movies and their labels onto my USB key, and nobody sees what I am doing. Back at home, (as you can see, I have two computers...

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7. ‘Your mami and papa for this country na meeting’: PIFAM and MACUDA as agency in a transnational world

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pp. 168-204

The ubiquitous ‘home town’ associations are another example of the efficacy of ideologies of homes in ordering communal responses to modernization. These associations bind together individuals from across socioeconomic stations and in spaces far away from their ancestral communities. They serve as powerful vehicles for the mobilization of resources, through levies on their members or prying of access to state resources, in order to promote the ‘development’ of their home villages. (Eyoh 1999: 291)...

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8. A mobile community as a fortress: Reinforcing the notion of belonging through ‘life crisis’

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pp. 205-234

Chapters 6 and 7 discussed migrants’ economic activities, their associational lives and how these are constructed in spatiality of place. They also considered how migrants seek to maintain their Pinyin and Mankon identities through the ties they maintain within the migrant spaces in the host country and ultimately...

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9. ‘I di beep na for beep, them di call’: Straddling relationships between the home and host country amongst kin and kith

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pp. 235-269

This chapter focuses on migrants’ moral obligations regarding remittances and their virtual presence in the family circle they leave behind. It considers the micro individual experiences of migrants’ kinship relations that highlight personalized ties towards kin and kith and the community. It moves away from the PIFAM and MACUDA communities and pays particular attention to the individual...

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10. Conclusion: Mobilities, transcultural communities and transcultural habitus

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pp. 270-284

This study set out to understand the workings of the Pinyin and Mankon mobile communities in the context of accelerated mobility and ICTs. In an attempt to show how they function, I conceptualized mobilities in Chapter 3, ICTs in Chapter 4 and networks in Chapter 5 given that these concepts underscore the social fabric of every society, including mobile communities. These chapters (3, 4 and...


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pp. 285-303

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956791187
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956791514

Page Count: 318
Publication Year: 2013