Africa, Migration and Development: The Lagos Women of Bamenda Grassfields, Cameroon

  • Walter Gam Nkwi
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 71)


This chapter is about migration and its development implications for Africa. Migration is a major issue affecting Africa whether through mass emigration, immigration, remittances, policy backlashes or conflicts. Another major issue, however, is the poor historicity of many existing works on migration and Africa. This chapter will therefore adopt a richly contemporary historical approach to understanding the nexus of migration and development in Africa. An empirical case study approach is also adopted through returned female migrants in Bamenda Grassfields, Cameroon, who lived in Lagos in the 1940s. This is to link the recent gendered migration paths of Africa to the current situations for very enriching chaptered discourse of the problematic. The return of the female migrants in Bamenda Grassfields, Cameroon in this subregion saw the introduction of new things and thus further distinguished them from their peers not only because they had introduced new things but because these led to the development of the region. The chapter has the following broad research questions: What are the mobility norms and discourses around migration in Africa? What are the migration norms, values and trajectories of women in the region? What was considered the norm in terms of women moving with or without a male (husband or chaperone)? What were/are the socioeconomic conditions they left behind and after their sojourn and what type of a society did they find on their return. Did/does migrants’ return intervention fit in with the broader social processes taking place at the time? What specific conditions trigger migration and return?


  1. Adepoju, A. (1998). Linkages between internal and international migration: The African situation. International Social Science Journal, 50(157), 387–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adepoju, A. (2008). Migration in sub-Saharan Africa. Uppsala: Nordic Inst.Google Scholar
  3. Adepoju, A. (2010). International migration within, to and from Africa in a globalized world. Lagos: Sub-Saharan Pub and Traders.Google Scholar
  4. Adepoju, A., Zoomers, A., & van Naerssen, T. (Eds.). (2007). International migration and national development in sub Saharan Africa: Viewpoints and policy initiatives in the countries of origin. Leiden: Brill Academic.Google Scholar
  5. Afsar, R. (2003). Dynamics of poverty, development and population mobility: The Bangladesh case. Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Migration and Development, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Bangkok, August 27–29. Available from
  6. Amin, S. (1974). Modern migrations in Western Africa. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Andersson, L. (2002). Rural-urban linkages in Bolivia: Advantages and disadvantages. Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas, Universidad Catolica Boliviana.Google Scholar
  8. Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. In M. Featherstone (Ed.), Global culture: Nationalism, globalisation and modernity. London and Newbury Park: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Bakewell, O., & de Haas, H. (2007). African migrations: Continuities, discontinuities and recent transformations. In L. de Haan, U. Engel, & P. Chabal (Eds.), African alternatives. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  10. Barnes, T. (2002). Virgin territory? Travel and migration by African women in twentieth-century southern Africa. In J. Allman, S. Geiger, & N. Musisi (Eds.), Women in African colonial histories (pp. 164–185). Indiana: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Chilver, E. M. (1981). Chronological synthesis: The western region, comprising the western grassfields, Bamum, the Bamileke chiefdoms and the central Mbam. In C. Tardits (Ed.), The contribution of ethnological research to the history of Cameroon cultures (pp. 453–475). Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique.Google Scholar
  12. Chilver, E. M., & Kaberry, P. M. (1967). Traditional Bamenda: The pre-colonial history and ethnography of the Bamenda grassfields. Buea: Government Printers.Google Scholar
  13. Clifford, J. (1992). Travelling cultures. In L. Grossberg, C. Nelson, & P. Treinch (Eds.), Cultural studies (pp. 97–98). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. De Bruijn, M., & Van Dijk, H. (2003). Changing population mobility in West Africa: Fulbe pastoralists in Central and South Mali. African Affairs, 102(407), 285–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deshingkar, P., & Start, D. (2000). Seasonal migration for livelihood in India: Coping accumulation and exclusion. InWorking Paper 220. London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  16. Dillon, R. G. (1990). Ranking and resistance: Pre-colonial Cameroonian polity in regional perspective Stanford: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  17. Fielding, H. (1973), Joseph Andrews and Shamela with an Introduction and notes by Arthur Friedman, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  18. Global Migration Group. (2014). Realizing the inclusion of migrants and migration in the post 2015 UN development agenda. October.Google Scholar
  19. Harris, P. (1994). Work, culture and identity: Migrant laborers in Mozambique and South Africa, c. 1860–1910: Social History of Africa. London: James Currey.Google Scholar
  20. International Labour Organisation. (2015). Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  21. Jureidini, R. (2014). Arab Gulf States: Recruitment of Asian workers. GLMM; Explanatory note; 3/2014; Migration Policy Centre.Google Scholar
  22. Kihato, C.W. (2009). Migration, gender and urbanisation in Johannesburg. PhD Thesis submitted to the Department of Sociology, University of South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  23. Klapper, L., & Singer, D. (2014). The opportunities of digitizing payments. World Bank Publication.Google Scholar
  24. Levitt, P. (1998). Social remittances: Migration Driven local-level forms of cultural diffusion. International Migration Review, 32(4), 926–948.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Levitt, P., & Lamba-Nieves, D. (2011). Social remittances revisited. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McDowell, Christopher, and Arjan de Haan. (2004). Migration and sustainable livelihoods: A critical review of literature. IDS Working Paper 65.Google Scholar
  27. Mohieldin, M., & D. Ratha. (2014). Bonds of the Diaspora. Project Syndicate, July.Google Scholar
  28. Murton, J. (1997). Sustainable livelihoods in marginal African environments? The social and economic impacts of agricultural intensification in Makueni District, Kenya. Paper presented at ESRC Conference on Sustainable Livelihoods in Marginal African Environments, University of Sheffield, 10–11 April.Google Scholar
  29. Nelson, J. M. (1976). Sojourners versus new urbanites: Causes and consequences of temporary versus permanent cityward migration in developing countries. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 24, 721–757.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nkwi, P. N., & Warnier, J. P. (1982). Elements for a history of the western grassfields. Yaounde: SOPECAM. Sponsored by the Department of Sociology, University of Yaounde.Google Scholar
  31. Nkwi, W. G. (2010). Voicing the voiceless: Contributions to closing gaps in Cameroon history, 1958–2009. Mankon: Langaa Research and Publishing House.Google Scholar
  32. Nkwi, W. G. (2011). Kfaang and its technologies: Towards a social history of mobility in Kom, Cameroon, 1928–1998. Leiden: ASC Publications.Google Scholar
  33. Nkwi, W. G. (2015). African mobilities and modernities: An historical ethnography of Kom, c. 1800–2008. Mankon. Bamenda: Langaa RCIG.Google Scholar
  34. Nyamnjoh, F. B. (2005). Fishing in troubled waters: Disquettes and thiofs in Dakar. Africa, 75, 295–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Oberai, A., & Singh, H. K. (1980). Migration, remittances and rural development: Findings of a case study in the Indian Punjab. International Labour Review, 119(2), 229–241.Google Scholar
  36. Orozco, M., Porras, I., & Yansura, J. (2015). Trends in remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2014: Inter-American dialogue perspective. Stanford and California: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  37. Petterson, O. (1988). The emerging West Atlantic system: Migration, culture and underdevelopment in the United States and the circum-Carribean Region. In W. Alonso (Ed.), Population in an interacting world. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Ping, H. (2003). China migration country study. Paper presented at the Regional Conference on Migration, Development and Pro-Poor Policy Choices in Asia organized by the Bangladesh Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, Bangladesh/DFID.Google Scholar
  39. Portes, A. (1996). Transnational communities: Their emergence and significance in the contemporary world system. In R. P. Korzeniewicz & W. C. Smith (Eds.), Latin America in the world economy. Connecticut: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  40. Rowlands, M. (1978). Local and long-distance trade and incipient state formation in the Bamenda plateau in the late 19th century. Paideuma, 25, 1–19.Google Scholar
  41. Terretta, M. (2014). Nation of outlaws, state of violence: Nationalism, grassfields tradition and state building in Cameroon. Ohio: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Van Onselen, C. (1980). Chibaro: African mine labour in Southern Rhodesia, 1900–1933. Johannesburg: Ravan Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BueaBueaCameroon

Personalised recommendations