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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Chieftaincy, labour control and capitalist development in Cameroon
Author:Konings, PietISNI
Year:1996
Periodical:Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law
Issue:37-38
Pages:329-346
Language:English
Geographic term:Cameroon
Subjects:employment
chieftaincy
tea
External link:https://hdl.handle.net/1887/4612
Abstract:Contrary to the studies of ethnic authorities in the Zambian and Ghanaian mines by A.L. Epstein (1958), J. Crisp (1984), and C. Lentz and V. Erlmann (1989), the present study demonstrates that chieftaincy has continued to play an important mediating role between capital and labour in estate tea production at Ndu, a small Wimbum town in the northeastern part of the Bamenda Grassfields in Cameroon, where the author conducted fieldwork in 1991. Capitalism has not yet penetrated deeply in this area and chiefs (or 'Fons') still occupy a powerful, even sacred, position in society. Under these circumstances, estate management has tended to rely on the local chief for both labour recruitment and worker control. While the chief often sided with the management, he also distinguished himself as the custodian of 'tradition' and the champion of the interests of his (Ndu) subjects. He firmly resisted management preference for female labour as a threat to 'traditional' patriarchal control. He was also inclined to endorse his subjects' loyalty to certain 'traditional' norms and values which conflicted with the capitalist work ethic, and to put pressure on management to advance the careers of Ndu men. At the same time, there is evidence that the intermediary role of chieftaincy has weakened as a result of the developing trade unionism on the estate and the emergence of new power holders and several ethnic associations. Bibliogr., ref.
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