Swindlers in Cameroon, with expensive cars and flashy clothes, are the embodiment of occult economies. These nouveau rich mostly come from poor backgrounds with few prospects. "Feymania," as the Cameroonians refer to the swindling practices, are often interpreted in terms of magic and witchcraft. And as they are so rich many hold them in awe, to the extent that the new generation has even adopted them as role models.
The feymen are mostly young Bamileke immigrants from the mountain regions of Cameroon. Their unorthodox way of working goes against the general ethics and economic ethos of the Bamileke people. Both the Cameroonian officials and Bamileke authorities are –in their own ways- trying to 'tame' these young people by cooperating with them.
Spread to Europe
Ndjio discovered that the swindlers respond in two different ways to the state's efforts to contain their practices. Some do good business with the state and extend their practices with the help of their friends in political circles. Others would rather remain independent. They settle abroad in countries like France and the United Kingdom, as they do not believe in the future of their home country.
Negative image of Cameroon
By permitting feymania, the government of Cameroon would appear to be hindering the development of its own country, which has been in an economic crisis since the 1990s. Moreover, this stance is undermining their own attempts to control corruption and criminality. Cameroon is seen as the most corrupt and criminalised country in the world. And the spread of this type of swindling practice across Europe, is only serving to strengthen the negative image of Cameroonians as dishonest and immoral people.
Basile Ndjio's research was funded by NWO.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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