Spaces of inclusion and exclusion: The dynamics of Cameroonian associations in Johannesburg

01 Aug 2016

Global human mobility dislocates families and reconfigures the patterns of live of millions of people, compelling them to reconstruct a new sense of communal habitation and collective identity. This often results in the formation of different migrant organisations, as a way of fostering networks between home and exile, and as a mechanism to deal with challenges of displacement. This article discusses the dynamics and functions of Cameroonian national and cultural associations in Johannesburg, South Africa. It attempts to analyse the configurations of these associations and the implications for the livelihoods of Johannesburg-based Cameroonian migrants. It examines how the different groups stimulate a sense of national identity and ethnic belongingness within this community. The article argues that despite the associations' strategic role in establishing strong socioeconomic networks and forging a sense of solidarity between migrants, they have also been dismembered and devalued by members' discrepant political ideologies and social orientations as well as complex ethnic configurations. Also, these associations have been riddled by members' obsession with power and individual schemes for self-enrichment.