In 1947, most of the former German plantations at the coast of Cameroon were brought under the umbrella of a statutory body, the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC). Like the former German planters, the CDC management faced enormous difficulties in maintaining a stable labor force on its estates. As a result, it decided to recruit women on a permanent rather than casual basis as a strategy of keeping male workers and their families within the plantation locale and to put an end to the short spells of work by migrant laborers in the estates. Unfortunately, women's favorable response to the call for recruitment in the plantations met with stiff resistance from some of their male kin. Against this background, this paper argues that in spite of attempted male obstruction, a number of women, especially from the Grassfields, defied the odds to force their way through the barriers of the established patriarchal order into the so-called "men's reserve." In seeking wage labor, women hoped to change the status quo with the ambition of gaining financial independence, which would eventually serve as backbone to their social and economic empowerment and emancipation.


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pp. 31-52
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