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Book chapter Book chapter Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Accumulation and the cultural politics of identity in the Grassfields
Author:Rowlands, MichaelISNI
Book title:Itinéraires d'accumulation au Cameroun = Pathways to accumulation in Cameroon
Editors:Geschiere, Peter
Konings, Piet
City of publisher:Paris
Geographic term:Cameroon
capital formation
Abstract:The current crisis of State-led development in Cameroon has revealed an alternative reality of ethnically defined enterprise. Francophone Bamiléké and anglophone Bamenda businessmen are moving into commercial manufacturing, often by direct employment of expatriate technical support and skill. Such possibilities for accumulation of private capital outside the State seems to be a longer term feature of the economy, in part precisely because of the ethnic/regional politics that has systematically excluded such groups as the Bamiléké and Bamenda Grassfielders from State power. In 1988-1989, the author examined entrepreneurial strategies in Bamenda. He found that what is distinctive of Bamiléké/Bamenda entrepreneurship is their avoidance of the State and their continuing reliance on traditional chiefship and the title systems to regulate competition, principally by controlling the concentration of trading capital through the system of 'tontines' or 'njangis', savings groups, and the credit unions. The Bamiléké and Bamenda have become well-known for such capacities as wealth creation, the avoidance of material excess, constant diligence as to business affairs and a fundamental distrust of close family and business associates as causes of disaccumulation. But while Bamiléké and Bamenda businessmen claim to be now part of a national bourgeoisie, it seems that an essentialist form of pariah capitalist ethos is attached to them that obstructs their role in the development of an independent bourgeoisie.