Cameroonian feymania and Nigerian '419' email scammers: two examples of Africa's reinvention of the global capitalism

Seminar date: 
23 June 2008
Speaker(s): Basil Ndjio (ASC visiting fellow)

The main objective of this paper is to show through the example of Nigerian email scammers and Cameroonian international swindlers how since the mid 1990s, young marginalized African youths have been endeavouring, not only to make the most of accumulative opportunities provided by the present global capitalism, but also to remodel this dominant mode of capitalization of riches; that is, to corrupt its conventional norms and systems of values. This study will show that one of the schemes developed by these young African 'criminal' entrepreneurs and adventure businessmen consists in converting the global capitalism into a global economy of crime, swindle and fraud. Another manoeuvre involves the denaturalization of the global capitalist system into what Comaroff and Comaroff (1999; 2000: 291-343) coin as 'occult economies.' These economies of the occult account for the effort to create wealth, 'by appeal to techniques that transgress conventional, rational and moral principles,' as these authors (2000: 298) have explained.