Belonging away from home: building community and virtual intimacies amongst frontier Pinyin migrants in Cape Town and Cameroon
Henrietta Nyamnjoh (University of Cape Town)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how as frontier people, hometown associations have appropriated ICTs to enable the organisation of development projects in the home village and to enable diaspora members to discuss and have a say in village and cultural politics and participate in development projects.
Paper long abstract:
To be mobile in Africa is to assume, enhance and maintain complex relationships to places, spaces, people and various forms of sociality. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are practical toolkits in the fulfilment of such aspirations and expectations. This paper takes a closer look at one such mode of participation and belonging -'home village' associations - the continuation and maintenance of which, by and among the Pinyin migrant community of Cameroonian in Cape Town is significantly facilitated by ICTs. Focusing on Pinyin Family Meeting (PIFAM) that represents the Pinyin Community in Cape Town and the Pinyin News Forum (PNF) that is an Internet-mediated virtual forum/association and the Pinyin Development Organisation (PDO) the 'mother association' in the home country, this paper explores how as frontier people PIFAM, through participating in PNF and PDO participates in the organisation of development projects in the home village and to give a voice to local and international migrants to discuss and have a say in village and cultural politics and participate in development projects. By the same token, the paper examines how PIFAM is a vehicle of migrants' integration into the host society through charity and social events. The paper argues that migrants' connectivity, virtual presence and integration to the host country and home village is mediated and managed through associations and Internet-mediated forums, which give migrants the possibility to express their hybrid identities.