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African Modernities and Mobilities

An Historical Ethnography of Kom, Cameroon, C. 1800-2008

by Walter Gam Nkwi

In this book Walter Gam Nkwi documents the complexities and nuances embedded in African modernities and mobilities which have been overlooked in historical discourses in Africa and Cameroon. Using an ethnographic historical approach and drawing on the intricacies of what it has meant to be and belong in Kom- an ethnic community in the Northwest Region of Cameroon - since 1800, he explores the discourses and practices of kfaang as central to any understanding of mobility and modernity in Kom, Cameroon and Africa at large. The book unveils the emic understanding of modernity through the history and ethnography of kfaang and its technologies and illustrates how these terminologies were conceived and perceived by the Kom people in their social and physical mobilities. It documents and analyzes the historical processes involved in bringing about and making kfaang a defining feature of everyday life in Kom and among Kom subjects.

ISBN 9789956762729 | 432 pages | 244 x 170 mm | B/W Illustrations | 2015 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback



“A distinctive feature of Walter Nkwi’s book is in the extensive and sophisticated use of photography – digging into parish archives, private photo album, mission records, to retrieve and enhance those precious nuggets of historical knowledge. This is an immensely original way of writing history, and it works wonders. Nkwi also uses written documents found in different kinds of archives, including private ones.”

Jean-Pierre Warnier, author of Cameroon Grassfields Civilisation.

“Bringing current social science perspectives to his archival and ethnographic research on the community of Kom, Walter Nkwi covers the convergence zones of Cameroon grassfields customary practices, the apparatus of “newness” from schools and cars to text messages, the scholarship about and experiences of indigenous “belonging” and diasporic identity, and much more. His “epiphanies” revealed as conclusions to this tour de force text will become the reader’s own.”

Milton Krieger, author of Cameroon’s Contemporary Culture and Politics

“The quest to seek an African basis for the continuing relentless progress towards social change is given new language in this book by Walter Nkwi. It helps fills a gap in our knowledge of how all the pieces of modernity fit together in African society, in the context of Northwest Cameroon.”

Steve Howard, Director, Center for International Studies and African Studies Program, Professor, School of Media Arts and Studies, Ohio University



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