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Slow going: The mortuary, modernity and the hometown association in Bali-Nyonga, Cameroon

Page, B; (2007) Slow going: The mortuary, modernity and the hometown association in Bali-Nyonga, Cameroon. AFRICA , 77 (3) 419 - 441. 10.3366/afr.2007.0059. Green open access

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Abstract

The article describes a new mortuary in Cameroon, which has been constructed in a government hospital by the Bali-Nyonga Development and Cultural Association (BANDECA). The history and character of this hometown association is analysed and the article then argues that the mortuary has changed the temporality of death celebrations, and that this change is largely driven by the needs of national and international migrants. It claims that the association and the traditional authorities are attempting to steer recent changes within a longer historical process of 'modernizing' burial. The construction of the mortuary reveals some of the tensions within the community and the challenges these present to the association's leadership. In particular it illustrates the potential conflicts of interest between the hometown association and the national government that result from this form of self-help development project. Finally, the article shows that, despite the increased mobility of the Bali-Nyonga population, it is becoming more important, not less, to be buried at 'home', and that the mortuary and remittances are contributing to this process. Since the mortuary enables burials to take place at home, BANDECA is unwittingly reinscribing ethnic territoriality and thereby contributing to a political process of deepening the sense of ethnic belonging in Cameroon.

Type: Article
Title: Slow going: The mortuary, modernity and the hometown association in Bali-Nyonga, Cameroon
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3366/afr.2007.0059
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/afr.2007.0059
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © International African Institute 2007
Keywords: POLITICS, SOCIETY, NIGERIA, ELITES
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/140744
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