The Civility of Incivility: Grassroots Political Activism, Female Farmers, and The Cameroon State
This essay examines the cultural symbolism underpinning “Takembeng,” a contemporary, rural-based social movement of female farmers in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. It argues that the power and success of women's activism, in the context of national opposition party politics and the “new struggles” for democracy, are embedded in an institutional history and culturally legitimate etiquette of moral censure. It also suggests that the highly disruptive but mystically charged nature of these mobilizations makes them effective because they open spaces for popular dissent on the national stage. Understanding the “civility” associated with the apparent incivility of activists is indispensable to understanding the dynamism of grassroots political activism.