ISBN 9789956558537
Pages 184
Dimensions 244 x 170 mm
Published 2009
Publisher Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon
Format Paperback

Mobile Phones

The New Talking Drums of Everyday Africa

edited by Mirjam de Bruijn, Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Inge Brinkman

'We cannot imagine life now without a mobile phone' is a frequent comment when Africans are asked about mobile phones. They have become part and parcel of the communication landscape in many urban and rural areas of Africa and the growth of mobile telephony is amazing: from 1 in 50 people being users in 2000 to 1 in 3 in 2008. Such growth is impressive but it does not even begin to tell us about the many ways in which mobile phones are being appropriated by Africans and how they are transforming or are being transformed by society in Africa. This volume ventures into such appropriation and mutual shaping. Rich in theoretical innovation and empirical substantiation, it brings together reflections on developments around the mobile phone by scholars of six African countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania) who explore the economic, social and cultural contexts in which the mobile phone is being adopted, adapted and harnessed by mobile Africa.

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“The astounding uptake of the mobile phone in African societies raises a range of interesting and complicated questions. […]This timely book refuses easy answers of the technological determinist kind, but seeks to understand mobile phones as part of the everyday lived experience of Africans in all its precariousness and unpredictability. Its multi-dimensional approach promises a richness that scholars will be able to draw upon for years to come…. The book fills an important gap in the scholarly literature about new media in Africa and contributes a valuable perspective from the margins on global new media debates.”

Herman Wasserman, University of Sheffield, UK and University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Editor of Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies.

“This book goes beyond the technology hype on wireless and mobile. It digs deep in the social roots and relationship patterns that are impacting on Africa’s cultural identity and communication modes. The emerging picture may be troubling for some, and liberating for others. A must read!”

Professor Jan Servaes, Director ‘Communication for Sustainable Social Change’ Center, University of Massachusetts, USA

“An insightful introduction to mobile cultures in Africa and, in particular, the relationship between mobile phones and identity formation in the formal and informal arenas of marginality, its role in disabling tradition and enabling social change. A must read.”

Associate Professor Pradip Thomas, University of Queensland, Australia

"The ‘mobile margins’ of the new – and old – everyday Africa, their interconnected, interactive stories, continue to move and communicate in and across literary text and academic research alike."

rc-nyamnjoh.pdf — PDF document, 273Kb
Barbara Harlow - Race and Class

About the Editors

Mirjam de Bruijn

Mirjam de Bruijn is Professor of Contemporary History and Anthropology of Africa, at Leiden University (The Netherlands). As an anthropologist she has done much interdisciplinary research on the interrelationship between agency, marginality, mobility, communication and technology in West and Central Africa, especially Cameroon, Chad and Mali, leading major research projects on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). In this connection she published numerous articles in scholarly journals and edited the volumes The Social Life of Connectivity in Africa (with Rijk van Dijk, Palgrave Mac Millan 2012) and Side@Ways: Marginality and Communication in Africa (with Inge Brinkman and Francis Nyamnjoh, ASC Leiden and Langaa 2013). 

Francis B. Nyamnjoh

Francis B. Nyamnjoh joined the University of Cape Town in August 2009 as Professor of Social Anthropology from the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar, Senegal, where he served as Head of Publications from July 2003 to July 2009. He has taught sociology, anthropology and communication studies at universities in Cameroon and Botswana, and has researched and written extensively on Cameroon and Botswana. In October 2012 he received a University of Cape Town Excellence Award for “Exceptional Contribution as a Professor in the Faculty of Humanities”. He is recipient of the “ASU African Hero 2013” annual award by the African Students Union, Ohio University, USA. He is: a B1 rated Professor and Researcher by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF); a Fellow of the Cameroon Academy of Science since August 2011; a fellow of the African Academy of Science since December 2014; a fellow of the Academy of Science of South Africa since 2016; and Chair of the Editorial Board of the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Press since January 2011. His scholarly books include: Africa’s Media, Democracy and the Politics of Belonging (2005); Insiders and Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa (2006); “C'est l'homme qui fait l'homme”: Cul-de-Sac Ubuntu-ism in Côte d'Ivoire (2015); and #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa (2016).

Inge Brinkman

Inge Brinkman has been attached to the African Studies Centre since April 2008 while she carries out research into communication technologies and social relations in Angola. She is engaged in studying the historical relations between literacy/orality, elite-formation and the introduction of the mobile phone in Northern Angola, and coordinating a case-study on returnees, 'development' and new ICT in south-east Angola. These case-studies form part of a larger programme, entitled 'Mobile Africa Revisited, aimed at studying the relations between mobile telephony and social hierarchies.

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