In both Qur'anic and public schools in Maroua, Cameroon, the development of competence in a second language is fundamental, and rote learning is the primary mode of teaching and learning in both types of schooling. Through the lens of language socialization theory, I have examined rote learning as it is practiced in Maroua schools and reframed it as a tradition of learning and teaching I call 'guided repetition'. In this article I discuss similarities and differences in how and why guided repetition is done, linking interactional patterns with the second-language competencies and the ways of being that children are expected or hoped to develop through Qur'anic and public schooling. While the use of guided repetition in both types of schooling is rooted in very similar goals for and ideologies of second-language acquisition, it is accomplished in culturally distinct ways to socialize novices into 'traditional' and 'modern' subjectivities.
The Case of the Baka of Southeast Cameroon—A Variation on the Habitual Mobility–Immobility Nexus
Harrison Esam Awuh
This article demonstrates how conservation-induced immobilization affects the movement of knowledge and practices. I employ the case study of the Baka of East Cameroon to show how spatial immobility, or forced anthropostasis, among the Baka influences the flow of some kinds of knowledge and practices. This study also offers a critique of the view that, when hunter-gatherers settle in towns or permanent villages, their access to new knowledge and practices will be improved, thereby making their lives better. Rather, the loss of local medical knowledge, increased alcohol abuse, and an increasing destabilization of the ecological environment are the main detrimental consequences of new forms of knowledge that Baka are acquiring in villages as a result of contacts with the state, absorption into a capitalist society, and the influence of western-based nongovernmental organizations.
The Impacts of a Water Crisis on Girls' Sexual Health in Semi-urban Cameroon
Jennifer A. Thompson, Fidelis Folifac and Susan J. Gaskin
In sub-Saharan Africa, girls' daily household chores often involve fetching water for their households. This article addresses the impact of uncertain water access in semi-urban Cameroon given the problems of rapid urbanization and increasing demands for water. A school competition engaged youth and key water sector actors in a dialogue about the water crisis in Buea town, and this resulted in the publication of the water distribution schedule. The event also drew attention to the gendered implications of the crisis in relation to girls' sexual health. Our analysis suggests that girls fetching water face multiple layers of risk that include gender-based violence and blame resulting from the gendered stigma attached to young people's behavior—particularly that of girls. All this serves to increase the moral panic surrounding youth sexualities. We explicitly use the term sexualities (plural) here to recognize the multiple ways in which sexualities may be expressed, constructed and experienced (Arnfred 2005). This research points to the dire need to better understand and consider within water management strategies how girls cope with and confront these risks.
A Study in Cameroon
The aim of this study was (a) to use anthropological research tools to produce a thorough description of health providers' working conditions in a low-income country; (b) sketch the impact of a specific dimension of the national HIV/AIDS programme on this environment and (c) sketch the existence and examine the extent of burnout among health workers. We conducted intensive fieldwork in a large public hospital in one major town of the far-north region. We relied on three research tools: observations, in-depth interviews and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). The data were analysed manually. We found a working environment characterised by an acute lack of equipment, lack of recognition and equity, lack of community and fairness, and value conflict, all of which are factors implicated in burnout. This was exacerbated by the implementation of a psychosocial dimension in care for people with HIV/AIDS, which created exclusion and reinforced feelings of unfairness. However, despite their challenging working environment, health-care providers were not 'burned out', leading us to suggest that burnout is a syndrome of 'rigid' working environments, as opposed to 'porous' working environments.
Rival Catholic Visions for Humanitarian Practice at the End of Empire
This paper explores the conflict between local expressions of Christian charity and new theories of scientific humanitarianism in the final years of French rule in Africa. Compassionate phenomena inspired by Catholic social organizing had transformed everyday life throughout French Cameroon's cities and villages in the interwar and postwar years, and yet, in 1950, poverty, crime, poor public health, and social tensions remained prevalent. Seeking a more deeply transformative approach to social rehabilitation, ecclesiastical leaders in the Catholic Church in Europe and French foreign missionary societies in Africa partnered with international medical and scientific organizations to invigorate charity with technical expertise. Revised ethics and practices departed sharply from preexisting models of collective social action, as European leaders lacked confidence in the intentions as well as the outcomes of African-led religious organizing. European humanitarian approaches conceived after World War II demanded a new focus on particular African subjects, namely the child and the family, which alienated indigenous Christian principals, who, along with large and diverse African Christian communities, had previously determined the direction of Catholic social action on the continent.
By looking at the numerous small palace museums founded in the Cameroonian Grassfields since the early 2000s, this article interrogates the meaning and function of displays of objects and narratives in the shifting social, political, and economic landscape of contemporary Cameroon. Museums in postcolonial Africa stem from very specific colonial premises, which are still relevant to the understanding of national narratives and displays. However, palace museums in the Grassfields engage in a different and somewhat contrasting use of objects and collections to present a more nuanced and complicated image of local societies. Through their eclectic and non-canonical display, these museums challenge ethnographic taxonomies and linear narratives, while serving effectively as ways to enhance the visibility and prestige of local kingdoms both nationally and internationally.
Étude de cas des associations en milieu urbain
Solange Ngo Yebga
*Full article is in French
English abstract: The notion of civil society became popular and generalized in Africa during the 1990s, through the initiatives of international bodies like the World Bank and agencies for international development. In Cameroon, the economic recession caused by the deterioration of exchange rates and falling prices of agricultural raw materials (coffee, cocoa, and co on) has favored the emergence of these actors alongside the state in managing and improving the living conditions of those urban populations. In the field of reproductive health, civil society, through associations, is pursuing public orientation through services of education, promotion, and diffusion. Observing the Association for the Struggle against Violence against Women (ALFV in French) ALFV and Women, Health, and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (FESADE in French) shows how a health policy is operationalized via endogenous initiatives. This research, which is mainly empirical, was conducted between 2006 and 2009 with institutional health managers and managers of associative structures in Yaoundé and throughout Cameroon.
Spanish abstract: La noción de sociedad civil se populariza y vulgariza en África hacia los años 90 bajo la iniciativa de instancias internacionales como el Banco Mundial y las agencias de desarrollo. En Camerún, la recesión económica debida a la caída de las tasas de cambio y a la baja en las materias primas agrícolas (café, cacao, algodón) favoreció la emergencia de dicha sociedad paralelamente al Estado en la gestión y mejoramiento de las condiciones de vida de las poblaciones urbanas. Por ejemplo, en el campo de la salud reproductiva, la sociedad civil, en la forma de asociaciones, lleva a cabo acciones públicas a través de los servicios de educación, promoción y difusión. La observación de los ejemplos de la Asociación para la Lucha contra la Violencia contra la Mujer (ALVF en francés) y de Mujer, Salud y Desarrollo en el África subsahariana (FESADE en francés) permite ver cómo se operativiza una política de salud a través de iniciativas endógenas. Esta investigación esencialmente empírica fue desarrollada entre 2006 y 2009 con los responsables institucionales de salud y con los responsables de las estructuras asociativas de Yaoundé y Camerún.
French abstract: La notion de société civile se popularise et se vulgarise en Afrique vers les années 90 à l'initiative d'instances internationales comme la Banque mondiale et des agences d'aide au développement. Au Cameroun, la récession économique due à la détérioration des termes de l'échange et à la chute des prix des matières premières agricoles (café, cacao, coton) a favorisé l'émergence de cet intervenant aux côtés de l'Etat dans la gestion et l'amélioration des conditions de vie des populations urbaines. Dans le domaine de la santé reproductive, la société civile, sous la forme d'associations par exemple, poursuit les orientations publiques à travers des services d'éducation, de promotion et de diffusion. En observant les exemples de l'ALVF et de la FESADE, nous étudions comment s'opérationnalise une politique de santé à travers des initiatives endogènes. Ce e recherche, essentiellement empirique, a été menée entre 2006 et 2009 auprès de responsables institutionnels de santé et de responsables des structures associatives à Yaoundé et dans d'autres villes du Cameroun.
Performance Characteristics among the Balengou
Ngambouk V. Pemunta
This article examines the 'gendered field' of kaolinite clay production and its integration into the local socio-cultural universe of the Balengou of the Western region of Cameroon. Kaolinite clay is produced and ingested mainly by women, especially during pregnancy so as to ensure that their children are born 'clean'. Used as a herbal additive, the clay is also believed to be imbued with sacred qualities and has a symbolic role in various communal rituals. Although geophagy—the practice of eating earth—is associated with harmful health effects, the various affordances offered by kaolinite clay as a valuable object of material culture constitute a specific entanglement of nature and culture. This study makes a modest contribution to the literature on the 'politics of value' and on the relationality of human/non-human interactions.
Mbororo Nomads Facing and Adapting to Conflict in Central Africa
Mbororo nomadic pastoralists have fled the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2003 because of atrocities perpetrated against them. Conflict has, in fact, always been a major motor behind nomadism for the Mbororo, along with the quest for pasture. The “normal” severity of Mbororo life, however, has been compounded by the “exceptional” severity caused by the situation in the CAR. This article analyzes the way in which the Mbororo distinguish between the two types of severity, and how these different forms of experienced hardship are accommodated in the pastoralists’ way of life. I show how historical trajectories with conflict and nomadic hardship allow refugee Mbororo to adjust to recurrent hardship by adapting their pathways and livelihood strategies. This illustrates the way in which duress is central in nomadic society.
In the call for articles for this special issue on girls’ health, we highlighted that “[g]irls’ health is an ongoing and evolving issue with ties that go beyond medical analyses to include a wide array of social, educational, political, and environmental discourses (among others!).” Th at a number of different perspectives might contribute to or strengthen the interdisciplinary focus of an issue as crucial as girls’ health was important to me as guest editor. Th is issue demonstrates that the relationship of girlhood to health—sexual health, in particular—is of critical concern to us all. It is an area full of challenges and barriers, most of them, as is evident in this issue, understood and often expressed by girls themselves. The articles presented here point to the many perspectives from which to approach this topic. Girls’ sexual health is linked to an array of intersecting issues including the pedagogical influences of popular romance literature; the ways in which girls use blogs to construct counter narratives about their sexual identity; how girls’ increased inclusion in citizenship discourses can increase their capacity to address sexual objectification; what girls do to negotiate power within their heterosexual relationships; how barriers to water access in Africa can lead to the awareness of the risks—which range from being perceived to be promiscuous to being raped—that young women face; as well as how the (mis)management of menstruation can affect girls’ education. This issue points to the global and local specifics of sexual health, and to health more generally. Th e concerns discussed here are geographically wide-ranging: Cameroon, Lesotho, Australia, the United States, and Canada provide the settings—some urban and others rural. Th e authors present a wide range of methodologies from which they explore girls’ health: literary analysis; autoethnography; and participatory methods such as digital storytelling, mediamaking, listening to what young people have to say in various research paradigms, blogging, and photovoice.