LSE Civil society Seminar What steers the character of associational life? Examples from the history of hometown associations in Cameroon 1916-2000 Draft Introduction 1. What are home associations Home associations are a form of civil–society organisation whose voluntary membership is united by a shared affinity to a particular homeplace. They are clubs which bring together migrants who have left a shared hometown, home village or home region so that they can socialise and support each other in the new place where they find themselves living. Home associations are found all over the world: The Welsh Association in London meets in the Greys Inn Road, there are numerous Polish associations in London, Mexican home associations in California and, the concern of this paper, numerous different African home associations both within African cities and now beyond the continent too. These organisations often began within a nation or region and have followed patterns of migration so that now as well as having a national dimension they have an international dimension. Typically such associations provide (1) a social venue where migrants can meet, (2) welfare services to support new migrants and those who have fallen on hard times, (3) political representation by engaging with state institutions in the place where migrants congregate and (4) less formally they provide spaces in which individuals can achieve advancement through making contacts. Sometimes this list of functions has been extended to include the development of the homeplace itself – for example groups of migrants who come together to provide scholarships for children from their home, or to contribute financially towards the construction of public services at home. It is for this reason that home associations have emerged in recent years within the development studies agenda, as they appear to provide one institutional mechanism through which grouped remittances can be steered productively between North and South. There is a widespread assumption that the kind of associations analysed in this paper are primarily a West African phenomenon and are not found in East Africa. Home associations are indeed a more visible, elaborate and significant institution in parts of West Africa, however historically they were present in parts of East Africa and are now re-emerging there because of the limits of state capacity to deliver rural development. Certainly they are different in form and character, but in broad outline there are some commonalities between East and West. 2. The research and research methods 1. The research and research methods The project on which this paper is based set out to look at four case study home associations: two in Cameroon and two in Tanzania. In each country we selected one case study that looked at a „home‟ characterised by good transport links, heirarchical social structures, and a long history of education and one case study of a „home‟ that was enclaved, had more horizontal social structures and where western style education only became established later. In Cameroon these associations are known as „Cultural and Development Associations in Tanzania they are known as „District Development Trusts‟. The research began in the four homeplaces and then spread outwards following the routes taken by migrants in order to locate their meeting groups. This process meant undertaking fieldwork first in the „branches‟ of the associations outside homeplaces, but within Africa and subsequently in the relevant groups in the UK. This gave a sense of the shape and structure of the associations in different places, and highlighted the disconnections between those locations as well as the connections. Bali sub-division Manyu division Rungwe district Newala district, North West South-West Southern South Tanzania Cameroon Cameroon Highlands, TZ BANDECA MECA RUDET NDF Bali Nyonga Manyu Elements Rungwe District Newala Development and Cultural Association Education Trust Development Cultural Association Foundation Village Development Rungwe East Associations Development Fund Subdivisional Shirika la Associations maendeleo ya Busokelo Selya Development Foundation Bali Cultural and Mamfe Central Banyakyusa Cultural Development Development Trust Fund Association, UK Association UK (and others) Bali Cultural MECA USA, Tanzania Association Association, USA NOMA USA Localised Tanzanian self-help associations In terms of their structure it is inappropriate to imagine these associations as unitary transnational networks seemlessly linking home with the national and international diaspora. The reality is much more fractured with multiple, often autonomous, associations relating to any one home place, and uneven and irregular flows of information and capital being exchanged through some of the links. In short some places are much better connected to their diaspora than others. The research was predominantly qualitative and based on interviews with association leaders and members, other community members, relevant civil servants and politicians. In addition to formal interviews as much time as possible was spent participating in the meetings and activities of the associations and wider communities. These observations were important to give a sense of how home associations work in practice and the role they play within the broader framework of community life. A social survey of 2274 people was also undertaken in the four case study areas and among their diasporas in towns and cities in Cameroon and Tanzania. It aimed to gather opinions from those people who were often not actively involved in running case study associations and who might not even count themselves as members. It supplemented our qualitative research with additional information about association membership, migration and remittances, and opinions about home associations and development. The historical material, which is crucial to this particular paper was derived from archival research in the National Archives in Dar es Salaam, Buea and Bamenda. 3. What steers/shapes the character of home association? By character I mean form and function, so in order to identify the key factors that shape the characters of these associations it is necessary first to follow the histories of their forms and functions in both Cameroon and Tanzania. The empirical aim is to try and analyse the ebb and flow of home associations in two places over time and to see when their characters converge and diverge and why. 3.1 Why does this question interest me? I happen to find the stories of these associations inherently interesting, but I recognise that this is probably an inadequate rationale for reporting on them to an audience who aren‟t Cameroon or Tanzania specialists so instead I want to justify this historical exercise in terms of thinking about the way we make categories or typologies of civil society organisations in terms of first: locating creativity and second, difference within categories. One of the interesting things about these home associations seems to be their durability over time. Though they change in importance, scale, public acceptability and activity they do seem to have persisted for at least six decades in both Cameroon and Tanzania – despite dramatic changes in social, political and economic circumstances. As I will show they are hard for governments to repress and easy for governments to amplify. To coin a phrase from the current development governance literature it seems that „they go with the grain‟ (Kelsall, 2008 i) of the societies in which occur because they have been successful in providing public goods and solving collective problems. This durability is significant for two reasons. First, this capacity to reproduce the association seems to me to imply something about the internal creativity of the membership and the character of the process of accommodating to changing circumstances. This matters because the literature on African associational life (especially in Southern Africa) gets caught between debates about whether (as historians asserted) African associations are a reaction to colonial circumstances (ie such African initiative as there is, is responsive) or whether (as anthropologists from the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute used to assert) historians had over-emphasized the reactive character of African associational life because of (a) their sources and (b) their political intellectual investment in teleological narratives about proletarianization and nationalism, which are „external‟ to African history both as ideas and as concrete narratives. This seems to me to be something of a false dichotomy since the longevity of these home associations must surely be premised on the relatively autonomous choices of their members and therefore there is no need to deny the dramatic impact of context (geography) or events (history) merely to evade the accusation that African agency is presented as inferior because it is reactive. Though buffetted by a long sequence of „external‟ events to the extent that their form and functions changes dramatically the fact these home associations persist over several generations suggests the creativity lies ultimately internally with their members. The list of factors I‟m trying to develop to explain the character of associations includes internal and external factors, but prioritizes neither instead seeing them as inherently relational and hybrid – hopefully to the point where the division between internal and external factors is seen to be a heuristic rather than concrete. Second, and with some trepidation, I would propose that home associations persist because of a universal desire for secure social attachment, which is sublimated in some cases through an ideology of home and group belonging. The founders, leaders and members who make home associations happen seek to overcome a universal human dilemma described by Lacan in terms of the tension between the Imaginary and the Symbolic orders. Desire is a motive force and is understood as the subject‟s wish to be whole (ie to be an individual subject – the Imaginary order) but this impossible since desire can only be articulated by sacrificing part of your wholeness in order to enter into the intersubjective realm of language and the flux of multiple subjects – the Symbolic order. To try to overcome this dilemma the home (embodied as the home association) stands in for, or is a metaphor for, or is an approximation of the subject. [Is this some weird kind of inverted synecdoche in which the „whole‟ (home) stands for the „part‟ (the inevitably divided subject)?] So whatever the context some people will always feel a need for home associations. The paradox is that the public act of announcing that you belong to a home by becoming a member of an association (thereby embracing an „identity‟) is never a perfect fit for the private desire to be an individual (understood as „subjectivity‟), and it is this that disjuncture that ensures that home associations keep constantly changing whilst always remaining the same. Unlikely as it seems this paradox helps me with a practical empirical problem – namely how to deal with difference, sameness and categories of civil society organisation. Our study spends a lot of time analysing the empirical differences between these four case studies, yet all the while claims to be studying one thing: home associations. Because the essence of home associations is that they are caught in the slippage between identity and subjectivity [a public-private dichotomy?] they never settle to a single character but yet can plausibly remain a coherent category despite the differences because they have an essence. [History is often used to show social scientists why their categories are reified, perhaps this is a way to reply to that accusation?]. 3.2 The history of home associations in Cameroon From 1916 to 1961 the part of Cameroon where this research was carried out was governed first as a League of Nations mandated territory and then after 1945 as a United Nations mandated territory (Delancey and Mokeba, 1988). In effect, however, it was treated as an extension of the Eastern Provinces of the colony of Nigeria. The colonial administration in Cameroon appears to have had little interest in the way Africans associated in the 1920s. However, the reverse was not true and throughout the colonial period it is possible to find evidence of African associations seeking endorsement from the state. The following is the earliest evidence we have, it is a request for legal recognition made to the District Officer in Victoria (present day Limbe) in 1929 by the Le Likumba Society and signed by „P. de Kombe‟. We know nothing more about this group, but can infer that it is connected to the Likumba Plantation (one of the coastal plantations dating from the German colonial period) and (on the basis of the name) that the author of the letter was Bakweri (the ethnic group in the same area): Sir, we have the honour most respectfully to put the following complaint before you, which we hope will meet you in good consideration. (1) For your information, we beg to state you that we made a certain club in our town, which we hope ourselves to be love each anothers. It is not made by following the Government‟s laws. (2) In our rulebook, there are some laws fixed by us, we beg the DO to look after them, if any against the Government, select it and may be scratched. (3) We beg the DO not to refuse this our present of 5/- send to him, is a thing all the members in the society present to him to look that, all agreed in one opinion to make this club.ii The attached club rulebook (which sadly has not survived) clearly baffled the DO whose note on the letter described the club‟s laws as „weird‟, however, the association was neither proscribed nor registered. The DO‟s only actions were to return the 5/- and to insist that the club did not have the legal right to extract monetary fines from members, but that its only legal sanction against defaulters was expulsion. From this example we can take only a few certain points: (1) the club was primarily concerned with mutual support of its members, (2) the rule book followed an African logic and (3) the plantations were the crucible for this form of association. By the end of the 1930s the attitude of the colonial state had changed and it started to take an interest in African associations. This shift was driven by the politicization of African associational life in Lagos, as a result of which in July 1936 a general circular was issued via the Criminal Investigations Department, which required District Officers to undertake a survey of African associations across Nigeria (and therefore also in the British mandated territories of the Cameroons). The archival record is not complete, but we have the returns from Victoria (Limbe) and Bamenda. In Limbe the DO identified an unnumbered (and by implication a large) quantity of small rotating savings and credit associations and funeral savings clubs (referred to as isusu but closely related to the njangi of today). Again these are associations premised on a rationale of mutual aid for members, but the source gives no indication of the membership. In addition he lists seventeen dance, music and sports clubs. iii In Bamenda the DO drew a distinction between „clubs that owe their existence to native cultures and custom‟ (which he assumed were of no interest to the authorities) and „the exotic type of club or society such as the Young Men‟s Society in Lagos‟ (of which there were none as far as he was aware in Bamenda). iv Assuming he was correct in saying that there were no „modern associations‟ in Bamenda in 1936 it is possible to conclude that at this time „modern‟ associations were largely confined to the migrant workers on the plantations of the coast. The distinction drawn by colonial officials between „modern‟ associations and „traditional‟ ones is crucial for this paper. As colonial anthropologists had already established the political, social and religious lives of Cameroonian communities were held together by a wide range of pre-colonial associations: secret societies, palace regulatory societies, dance groups, age-grade associations and others. In other words the „modern associations‟ that were being organised in the plantations would have had numerous pre-colonial templates of what an association could look like, how an association was led and organised, how association members were disciplined by codes and rules. Furthermore in several of our case studies it was clear that such traditional associations had histories, that is to see there was consciousness of the way these pre-colonial associations had changed. In Bali-Nyonga for example, the Voma association had been introduced in the late 1890s or early 1900s as part of a project of asserting the Chamba identity which Bali claimed, so this was a new and evolving association albeit a traditional one. The point to be made is that the associations formed amongst mirants in the plantations on the coast did not emerge out of nothing. The first record of an explicitly ethnic modern association that conforms to the basic model for a home association we have found in the archives in Cameroon is from 1937 when the Ibo Tribal Union wrote to the DO in Victoria (Limbe). The Limbe branch of the Union (which by 1941 had over 100 paid-up members) was founded in 1935 with the self-declared aim of „the advancement of goodwill and mutual understanding between its members‟.v The Ibos were migrants (or „strangers‟ to use the term in the archives) who had come from Nigeria to the mandate territory of Cameroon either to trade or work in the plantations. The letter lists the Union‟s work in bearing the funeral costs of members, feeding Ibos who fall sick and repatriating stranded Ibos back to their home in eastern Nigeria. Within a couple of years the Union had also started lobbying on more contentious issues, requesting a seat on the Victoria Federated Native Authority and a role as the official body collecting tax among Ibos in Victoria District.vi Both requests were refused by the DO. The record also shows that the Union brought together smaller Ibo family groups which met on the different plantations and sent delegates to the main Union, which was in the process of constructing a meeting hall in Victoria. vii By 1953 there were eleven separate branches of the Union in the coastal areas of Cameroon. viii There is a long history of anti-Ibo sentiment in Cameroon, but nevertheless it seems impossible to dismiss the idea that the Ibo Tribal Union provided a second template on which Cameroonian home associations modelled themselves. Evidence suggests that individual colonial officials were initially broadly sympathetic to these migrants‟ associationsix Relations between the Native Authority and the Ibo Tribal Union also seem to have been good at the time with local African officials grateful for the role played by the Union in maintaining discipline among Ibos in Victoria.x But within a few years these associations were causing the administration some anxiety precisely because they enabled particular groups to achieve a degree of unity and autonomy. As a later DO in Victoria wrote to the Ibo Union „I ask you to remember that you are strangers in the Cameroons; that you have been permitted to live, trade and farm here by the local inhabitants, and that it is your duty therefore to conform to local customary laws, and not to set yourselves up as independent people.‟xi Nevertheless the colonial state saw the Ibo Unions as a useful vehicle for governing migrant populations of labourers and traders in the context of increasing hostility between „natives‟ and „strangers‟xii. For example the DO in Buea writes that the Ibo Union „has behaved with commendable moderation and good sense during a trying period, and its influence has been salutary and widespread.‟ xiii So through tacit recognition by the colonial state, home associations such as this found a conducive environment in which to become established. By the early 1940s the model and nomenclature of the tribal improvement unions had percolated from Nigerian to Cameroonian migrant communities and a long list of such associations leave shallow traces in the archives (Figure 1). Buea Tribal Improvement Union (1943), Mamfe Improvement Union (1943), Bassa Tribal Union (from French Cameroon) (1948), Bamenda Improvement Union (1949), Mbom Keng Tribal Union (1950), Bangwa Tribal Union (1950), Banyang Tribal Improvement Union (1950), Tadkon-Widikum Union (1950), Bakweri Improvement Union (1950), Kom Tribal Improvement Union (1950), Bafut Tribal Union (1951), Ejagham Tribal Improvement Union (1952), Mbue Improvement Union (1953), Mamfe Overside Improvement Union (1953) Mubakoh [the four Mubako speaking Balis] Tribal Improvement Union (1954) Figure 1 Several of these give a head office address in Lagos with branches in the coastal plantations of Cameroon – most often Tiko or Victoria (Limbe). It is clear that these associations began away from „home‟. „Almost all the tribal unions now existing in Nigeria were found, not in the very towns of the tribes represented, but outside their own villages, and sometimes their own tribal territories‟ (Offidele, 1947). Whilst they depended on keeping the connection with those villages they were undoubtedly primarily the product of migrant activity. The tribal unions generally had similar stated objectives - the 1948 Bassa Union is paradigmatic: The aims of the Union shall be as follows: a) to promote mutual interest of all members as real brothers of the same race and clan. b) To settle disputes between members. c) To regulate financial assistance to one another in cases of accidents, disablement, death and ill health. d) To further the education of orphans who are direct issues of ardent members. e) To further the general improvement and advancement of our fatherland Babimbi (Bassa) educationally, politically, socially and economically. xiv We know that in the 1940s these associations were collecting money from their members to fund scholarships, including sending children to the UK for their education. We can also infer that some individuals were using the unions as platforms to promote themselves within their community and achieve fame.xv In 1947 Lord Hailey‟s visit to Nigeria prompted another covert survey of associations and political organizations in Cameroon by colonial officials during which the tribal unions were described as „self-help societies, and if engaged in political activities at all, it is only in connection with their own hometowns.‟xvi The relational quality of these associations is illustrated by the desire of their African leaders to be registered and the desire of the colonial state to resist registration. The British colonial government in Cameroon in the 1940s was always a minimalist administration operating with a skeleton staff so this attitude to registration was driven by a logic of practicality rather than principle. Ultimately a policy was established by the colonial state that maintained that since the Tribal Improvement Unions were private clubs they were not government‟s concern. „A Resident or any Govt. officer is not required to approve a private union‟s rules and aims or to provide a “legal guide”, which is a way to trap Government‟s support of the Union.‟xvii The advice given to DOs was that they should refer the requests from the Tribal Unions on to the relevant Native Authority in the area where the Unions met. A typical example of how indirect administration enabled officials to displace bureaucratic problems. Around the same period the nascent nationalist political associations start to emerge (often under the label of „welfare‟ and „cultural‟ associations) amongst the urban and educated population. The Cameroon Welfare Union (1942) is particularly significant (Ebune, 1992). Their history, along with those of other groups that ultimately morphed into political parties is relatively well known and is covered in most text books on Cameroonian history (LeVine 1964, 1971; Mbuagbaw et al 1987; Fanso 1989, 1999; Ngoh 2001). The point here is that in terms of model they co-evolved with the tribal unions, whose leaders were often also civil servants. From the early 1950s the migrant‟s associations start to drop the terms „tribal‟ and „improvement‟ from their name and include the term „welfare‟ or „development.‟ These Unions often had significant „international‟ memberships – the Akum Welfare Movement for example had branches in Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Enugu and Douala as well as Victoria, Tiko, and Kumba.xviii From the same period we start to get evidence that the Cameroonian associations were collecting money among their members in the plantations on the coast in order to fund the construction of town halls, roads and maternity units back in their home areas. For example in September 1950 the Bangwa Improvement Union (which claimed a membership of 300 people originally from Mamfe District) applied for a permit to carry out a public collection moving from village to village in the Kumba area. xix Colonial officials expressed some anxiety about whether these collections were entirely voluntary but also expressed sympathy for their developmental aims. xx The Unions also became active in lobbying government and sending petitions to colonial officials requesting government services in their home areas, xxi prompting the DO in Victoria to comment in 1953 „it is remarkable that it is so many of those away from their hometowns who ask for post offices [back in the rural areas].‟xxii In the 1950s the home associations had an ambiguous political function, or as a British official put it in 1958 they were „semi-social and semi-political‟.xxiii In so far as these Unions were fundamentally about recreation and mutual support among members they could reasonably claim to be apolitical. On the other hand, however, because they brought people together to discuss their home areas they inevitably began to articulate political complaints about the non-delivery of services and non- representation of Africans in decision-making processes. For example, in a 1958 document (which also draws freely from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the Tubah Clan Union in Bafut declared, „The Union shall be the mouthpiece of the people of this clan as no means or space is provided in the Administration for the people to express their grievances and wishes.‟xxiv It is also possible to see the depoliticizing role of „development‟ at work in the 1950s. The Ekona Lelu Development Association for example write that „the purpose of the association is to see about the development of the village. It is completely non- political.‟ xxv Yet within the same correspondence with the SDO in Buea they complain that they pay tax, but see no benefit. Ultimately they are forced to collect money from their own members in order to plot the route of the road because the colonial state was unable or unwilling to do so. Whilst it would be easy to conclude that some Unions took a more political role than others as a result of the beliefs of their leadership it is more accurate to say that as they all started to get more interested in the question of development they also all started to take a de facto political role, even as they denied it. For the first five years of independence modern associational life was illustrated by continuity in many respects. However, there was another round of name changes with home associations now describing themselves as „family unions‟ or „progressive unions‟ though often continuing to use an geo-ethnic label as the key descriptive aspect of the name for example Bafang Family Meeting (1963), Bafia Family meeting (1963) and Baynagam Family Meeting (1963). As with the colonial administration before them the new government saw some value in the unions as a means of policing specific communities and as such endorsed their work and the associations themselves justified there existance to the new post-colonial government in these terms.xxvi As the Mbaise Progressive Union in Tiko claimed „There is no doubt that the formation of such a Union is the easiest way of gathering the people and thereby simplifying the task of government.‟xxvii Furthermore „Community Development‟ in which local contributions of money and labour were combined with technical support from government and international NGOs remained the standard strategy for rural development. The home associations were a crucial element in the success of this policy since they were often the institution used to organise the local response and to collect the required money from the beneficiary community. However, this trend of continuity is abruptly broken in 1967 when a federal lawxxviii required all associations to be declared and formally registered at the local DO‟s office. Associations had to complete a form with the association‟s name and purpose and give the names of the office holders. 179 different associations filed registration documents in Bamenda; the majority of were for njangis (rotating savings and credit associations) and many are also for individual death celebrations. Of all the 179 applications, 85 have geo-ethnic elements in their name. It is not always possible to tell whether those labels refer to migrants groups or the location of the meeting itself – but many clearly are migrants‟ associations because they say that their members are the indigenes of a particular place who are living in the Bamenda area. The application from the Moghamo Union in February 1967 sets out typical objectives: our aim is to bring together all the indigenes of Moghamo; emphasize on the importance of socialism [socializing]. To practise native dances and native customs. We also contribute an amount of money, part of which we use in burying or conveying to his/her home any member or Moghamo person who dies and who has nobody to help, part for the purchase of native dance equipment and the other for the celebration of Christmas.xxix In line with the nation-building project of the time: „associations of exclusively tribal or clan character as well as those founded in aid of a cause or in view of an illicit purpose, which are in opposition to the law or public decency, or whose purpose is to undermine the integrity of the Federal State or the form of Government shall be null and void.‟xxx Associations were judged to be of a tribal or clan character not only if they restricted membership to individuals from a particular clan or tribe but also if, despite having open membership, they were in fact pursuing goals that were considered in opposition to national unity. After the introduction of the 1967 law there is a slow decline in „tribal‟ labels for groups applying for permits in Bamenda and there is also sometimes an explicit denial of their tribal character within the application. After 1968 Cameroonian groups also start to have permits refused on the grounds that they were tribal – for example the SDO Bamenda replied to an application from the Bangwa Social Meeting in Mankon that „I regret that tribal meetings are not to be encouraged.‟xxxi In order to ensure that associations were not tribal, covert surveillance of home associations by the police was introduced. xxxii For example, covert special branch surveillance of the Bakweri Come-down Sympathetic Association in Tiko reported that: These associations of the Bakweri elements are being spearheaded by the former members of the defunct CPNCxxxiii party and do not favour members of others tribes resident in Tiko. Although the aims and objectives of these associations are humanly and socially good, yet it is feared that they may in the near future turn to be tribalistic… It is strongly suggested that all tribal associations of this nature in Tiko and other parts of the country which have underground aims and objectives based on the foundation of sectionalism be stopped immediately, except that the membership of such associations consists of people of mixed tribes of West Cameroon…xxxiv In September 1969 the DO in Victoria (Limbe) called 22 such associations to a meeting (which was also under special branch surveillance). The DO said that the associations were good „because contributions are made there for self help in time of need‟ but that they were illegal because they were tribal and because some of them criticized the government. He advised them to change their names so that they didn‟t sound tribalistic and to open membership to anyone. „Discrimination and tribalism should not exist in Cameroon he observed.‟xxxv The Bakweri Come-down Sympathetic Association changed its name to the Tiko Association, however the police were still unimpressed observing „changing the names of such associations from the original to the other names means changing only the calabash… leaving the contents undiluted.‟xxxvi In effect the 1967 law had the effects of either opening up the membership to multiple groups (for example the „Mixed Meeting of Tiko‟ had Meta, Ibo, Bafut, Ijaw and Bamileke membersxxxvii) or more commonly driving associations underground. Ultimately the state‟s need for institutions meant that such associations were effectively sanctioned despite being formally illegal. In 1972 Cameroon became a one-party state under the leadership of the President Ahmadou Ahidjo and the Cameroon National Union (CNU) (Amazee, 1994) . Home associations responded by again changing their names either to incorporate the CNU into their title alongside terms like „cultural‟ and „development‟ in their title. A new rhetorical formula was established in the 1970s to express the relationship between home associations and governments in which home associations and the urban elites who supplied the leadership justified their existence by claiming to be conduits of information between rural communities and government. As one parliamentarian put it when addressing his own association: the Balong Cultural and Development Association „is no institution outside our national party the CNU. It is our home institution to plan the priorities of our areas for better presentation to the President of our party, His Excellency Ahmadou Ahidjo.‟ xxxviii Associations continued with the same basic functions but they showed they could adapt to changing political times. The Cameroonian government was able to walk a fine line between on the one hand proscribing tribal associations as part of the nation-building project and on the other explicitly expecting migrants to take on the responsibility of developing their hometown. As one of the organisers of the Bachuo Development Committee in the plantation town of Tiko complained when arrested for organising a tribal meeting The CNU, our national political party and the Cameroon Government have been campaigning for militants and citizens to organize themselves in social groups for the development of their towns and villages. In this respect the sons and daughters of Bachuo resident in Fako and Meme Divisions considered it duty bound to assist the Bachuo Village Council with financial aid because they cannot put in their own labour physically in any project.xxxix The administration was even sometimes prepared to help associations that sought to prosecute those who migrants who refused to donate to home associations for development projects. While it was increasingly unacceptable to talk about „tribe‟ in the 1970s and 80s it was also expected that those living „outside‟ should take a role in the development of their homeplace by organising an association and contributing to it. By the 1980s the Government‟s official position continued to declare the importance of nation-building and the decline of ethnic identity (Kofele-Kale, 1981). The new President, Paul Biya, touring the country spoke repeatedly about the need to move away from tribal identities: „We must show greater determination to replace the narrow-minded solidarity based on ethnic and religious affinities with solidarity based on ideas. By so doing, we will gradually move from a juxtaposition of our tribal groups to their effective integration within what will then become a real nation.‟xl Yet from both our Cameroonian case studies we know that home associations continued to work throughout this period – apparently with the blessing of the state. Furthermore by the time this goal was articulated, the deteriorating economic conditions meant that the state‟s capacity to deliver rural development was declining and its policy of endlessly expanding the civil service with graduates as a means of subsequently delivering rural development through neo-patrimonial structures was becoming impossible to sustain. The 1990s and the early years of the twenty-first century have seen a public efflorescence of home associations – now almost uniformly called „cultural and development associations.‟ This revival is a consequence of several factors: First, the 1967 law was repealed and a new more liberal law of association introduced in 1990 – a precursor to the subsequent episode of political openness.xli. To register, an association now has to write to the Senior Divisional Officer giving its constitution, rules and regulations, seat, the names of the executive, minutes and place of first meeting, and pay 5,000 CFA francs. It is then issued with an authorization to operate. Second, the state has largely moved away from any serious commitment to a nation- building project that seeks also to eliminate tribal loyalties. The official (if generally implicit) removal of the taboo around public declarations of ethnic affiliation was compounded by an emerging politics of hieghtened ethnic competition, in which the central state played different areas (often represented by home associations) off against one another to compete for the limited resources of the central government (Jua 1997; Nkwi and Socpa 1997; Gabriel 1999; Nyamnjoh, 1999, Geschiere and Nyamnjoh, 2000; Konings 2001; Fonchingong, 2004; Oben and Okoko, 2004). Such a policy had always been present under the guise of „regional balance‟ but it reached a new pitch of intensity in the 1990s. Ultimately this re-ethnicization process found expression in the new 1997 constitution with its requirement that ID cards should carry an individual‟s ethnic affiliation (Jua, 2006). As a result the over-arching idiom used to describe relations between different home associations in Cameroon today is one of „healthy competition‟ – on the one hand this is a stimulus for mobilizing migrants to become engaged, on the other it compounds the sense that politics is a zero-sum game in which one group‟s achievements must always be at the expense of somebody else. This strategy has effectively undermined the development of any effective national political opposition in Cameroon. Third, the value of home associations from the perspective of the state in the context of the re-emergence of multi-party politics was that they could become a vehicle through which individuals over whom the governing party had leverage (such as successful migrants with good positions in the civil service) could attempt to influence the rural electorate. Relatively small amounts of money disbursed via these associations could help bind community leaders and the electorates they could influence into the extant political system and the governing party that benefited from it. Fourth, the declining national economic conditions meant that the state‟s capacity to deliver development goods was severely constrained. In this context, the kind of „self- reliant‟ „community development‟ strategies used by hometown associations became an important means by which the limited capacity of the state could be glossed over. It was because government services were declining that hometown associations had to step into the breach to prevent complete stagnation. In order not to draw attention to the failures of the state to deliver rural development most hometown associations today use the formula that their development work complements that undertaken by government, the association is not a rival source of development goods, but a co- worker in that process working within a governmental framework. So at the present time Cameroonian cultural and development associations find themselves to be a prominent feature on the social, developmental and political landscape. 4. Conclusion 4.1 To recap the periodization is something like this: 1930s and 40s – Home associations serving the needs and interests of migrants in Cameroon form in the plantations of the coast, based on templates drawn from pre- colonial associations, from Nigerian associations and perhaps from colonial clubs. They are never formally registered, but are implicitly endorsed by the colonial state as a means of controlling migrant populations in cosmopolitan urban and agro-industrial centres. 1950s to early 60s– Home associations start to get involved in political lobbying for their home areas and practical development of their own areas. Community Development strategies in which local communities contribute money, labour and raw materials in exchange for manufactured materials and technical expertise foster the development function of home associations, but some development activity predates this and is independent of the state. Communities with effective associations benefit the most. 1967 – mid 1980s The nation-building project, which is premised on erasing tribal loyalties initially drives home associations underground. However, the value of their development function introduces a contradiction that is never fully resolved between the ethnic basis of the group and the use of such associations as a conduit between the central state and rural communities and a mechanism for raising development finance. Effectively the post-colonial state endorses the association, though it seeks to absorb them within the governing party. Mid 1980s to present. Continued economic crisis undermines the capacity of the state to deliver rural development further. The capacity of the state to absorb surplus labour also declines. In response home town associations provide a means through which the state can orchestrate a competition between regions identified with particular ethnic identities. The taboo on public affinity to an ethnic homeland is effectively removed and associations become ever more influential, not least because they can be used to undermine the development of national opposition parties. 4.2 Key Factors 1. Pre-colonial associations: In both countries there is long history of pre- colonial associations in the form of secret societies, regulatory societies, dance groups, age-grade associations and other types of group. For convenience we we retian the colonial term „traditional associations‟, though we should emphasize that they have a dynamic quality: they are not fixed or timeless but evolve. Our argument is that within specific locations these traditional associations form one of the key templates on which home associations are modelled. the Manyu secret society Ekpe and the Bali Nyong‟a secret society Voma (each of which provides a template for associational life in each place) have a great deal in common.xlii Such a claim would be anathema both to those anthropologists whose careful exegesis of such associations is concerned to draw out their distinctive nuances and also to their Cameroonian members for whom such associations are an outward sign of the fundamental differences between communities. Yet from our perspective it seems reasonable to claim that the long history of ranked membership societies in these separate places provides a shared model on which to base „modern‟ home associations. 2. Capacity to take advantage of nation-building – education, geography. 3. Particularly in the post-colonial era national policy on freedom of association and the legal framework governing associational life acts as a significant force in shaping different forms of home association in Cameroon and Tanzania. Tanzania for example is widely perceived to have had one of the most effective nation-building policies in postcolonial Africa, whereas Cameroon has not and this has a significant bearing on attitudes to home associations. 4. Similar structural conditions (in terms of political-economy) in the two countries can effectively erase these differences. The most important similarity between the four case studies is that neither the governments of Cameroon nor Tanzania can deliver rural development at the rate and scale desired by their citizens because of economic constraints. The common consequence has been a shift of responsibility onto African individuals and local communities to develop their own localities (particularly rural areas) in order to compensate for the limits of state capacity. This is not new – 1950s self-help community development followed the same logic – but it is widespread. The result is that home associations of some kind are now a common feature of social life in many different places. Such global economic structural elements have erased some of the differences between Cameroon and Tanzania and between Bali, Manyu, Rungwe and Newala. 5. The important leadership and mobilization role played by a few motivated, dynamic and committed individuals (who invariably seem to be involved in the organization of multiple different associations) is another key factor that shapes the form associations take in particular places has uncanny echoes of associational life in Britain. There are always a few people („associational entrepreneurs‟) in every community who are the ones who make associations happen. 6. variation in Social organization, political structures of leadership: Heirarchy/horizontal. Where there is a strong traditional hierarchy there is less variety in the organisation. So within Cameroon BANDECA has a more unified structure, whereas MECA gives branches more autonomy. However though there is only one BANDECA in Cameroon (at home and in all branches) the international branches form autonomous organisations. Whereas though every MECA in Cameroon is different and there is no home branch, there is MECA in the UK and USA 7. The relationship between the main home association and smaller, older units (either family groups in MECA or ndakums in BANDECA) is crucial to organising the membership, communication and fundraising. 8. The national dimension is more important than the international dimension at the moment in terms of number of members, level of engagement and the amount of money raised. i Kelsall, T. (2008) Going with the grain in African development? Politics and Power in Africa Programme, Discussion Paper 1. (http://www.institutions-africa.org/). ii From the Director of Le Likumba Club to DO Victoria, 2 nd October 1929, Cameroon National Archives, Buea, File Si 1935/1 iii DO Victoria, 7th July 1936, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1935/1 iv DO Bamenda to Commissioner of Police, 22nd July 1936, Cameroon National Archives Bamenda File NW/Si.1936/1 v Hon. Sec. Ibo Tribal Union to DO Victoria, 26 th September 1937, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1941/1 vi 12th June 1941, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1941/1 vii 1947, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1948/1 viii 1953, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si (1942)1 ix DO Victoria (HCA Bryant) to Ibo International Union Club, 1939, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1941/1 x President Victoria Federated Council to Ibo Tribal Union, 27 th January 1943, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1941/1 xi DO Victoria to Ibo Union, 17th September 1945, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1942/1 xii As well as associations that brought specific migrant groups together there is some evidence that the longer term residents (or „natives‟) were also organizing themselves into modern associations to defend their interests. For example, in Muyuka in 1938 the strangers complain that they are being excluded from a Union representing the interests of cocoa farmers. Petition to DO Victoria, 14th July 1938, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1938/2 xiii DO Buea to SDO Victoria, 24th March 1948, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1941/1 xiv Soli Baba (Bassa Union), 2nd July 1948, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1935/1 xv Tadkon-Widikum Improvment Union, description of office holders, 13 th April 1950, Cameroon National Archives Bamenda File NW/Si.1936/1 xvi rd 3 September 1947, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si(1939)2a xvii Minute from Enugu, 19th June 1951, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si(1951)11 xviii From Akum Welfare Movement, Yaba Lagos to DO Bamenda, 17 th December 1957, Cameroon National Archives Bamenda, File NW /Si1936/1 xix 30th September 1950, Cameroon National Archives Buea File, Si 1948/1 xx SDO to Ossing Development Organization Union (Agbor Stephen), 20 th June 1951, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si/1951/3 xxi Victoria Improvement Union, October 1956, Cameroon National Archives Buea, File Si 1957/2 xxii DO Victoria to Resident Buea, 8th August 1953, Cameroon National Archives Buea, File Si 1948/2 xxiii Minute on the proposal for a Widikum State Union, 22 nd March 1958, Cameroon National Archives Bamenda, File NW/Si1936/1 xxiv Tubah Clan (Bafut) Union Aims and Constitution, 3rd June 1958, Cameroon National Archives Bamenda, File NW/Si1936/1 xxv th 4 June 1958, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si (1958)7 xxvi In 1964 the Bamileleke Welfare Union agreed with the SDO Victoria to police the Bamileke community and search for „undesirable elements‟. Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si (1959)1 xxvii Mbaise Progressive Union application for registration, 11 th June 1963, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si (1948)3 xxviii The law states that it replaced earlier laws of July 1901 and April 1946. As has already been shown these were not enforced in relation to the British Mandate territory. xxix February 1967, Cameroon National Archives Bamenda, File NW/Si.1966/1 xxx 12th June 1967, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1967/1 xxxi August 1968, Cameroon National Archives Bamenda, File NW/Si.1966/1 xxxii It should also be recalled that at this period the internal violent conflict with the UPC rebels was still a significant feature of political life in Cameroon and such authoritarian practices were common as a result. xxxiii The Cameroon People‟s National Convention was a political party founded in May 1960. It was the main opposition part and opposed reunification of the anglophone Southern Cameroons with francophone Cameroun. xxxiv Special branch report, 27th July 1969, Cameroon National Archives, Buea, File Si 1969/6 xxxv Special Branch report, 6th September 1969, Cameroon National Archives Buea File Si 1969/6 xxxvi Special Branch report, 27th July 1969, Cameroon National Archives, Buea, File Si 1969/6 xxxvii Application for permit to SDO Victoria, 23rd March 1968, Cameroon National Archives, Buea, File Si(1968)4 xxxviii Hon Tabilangason, 8th December 1978, Cameroon National Archives, Buea, File Si/1978/1 xxxix Andrew B Ashu, 2nd March 1971, Cameroon National Archives, Buea, File Si 1969/6 xl Paul Biya, 22nd March 1985, New Deal Congress, General Policy Report, Cameroon National Archives, Buea. xli Freedom of Association, law no. 90/053, 19 December 1990. xlii Both are male membership associations with a series of ranks where initiation is made by payment, where discipline is maintained through fines and where esoteric knowledge of paraphernalia, terminology and secret signs are used to articulate the hierarchy. Both are closely associated with performance (dance, masquerade and music) that has a semi-secret quality through which their authority over non-initiates is demonstrated. Both exercise the important functions of protecting members‟ rights (for example over property) and providing a venue for socializing. Both secret societies have a history of moving between communities over time and being changed as they do so. It would be as easy to produce a list of their differences too.
Pages to are hidden for
"there is a widespread assumption that the kind of associations "Please download to view full document