Abstract: Smugglers and Livelihood Strategies in the Southwestern Cameroon-Nigeria Border, 1961-1994: A Historical Study of Risk Navigation in the Margin of the State

Nixon Kahjum Takor


In spite of the presence of an international boundary, the postcolonial period signalled intense contraband trading activities on the state margin between Cameroon and Nigeria. This paper explores the different ways by which traders appropriated livelihood after the putting in place of the line of demarcation between the two countries. It engages the contention that, in order to by-pass border controls, traders exploited rather than fell prey to risk situations. It is argued further that the constraints inherent in the international margin between Cameroon and Nigeria allowed for actor creativity and inventiveness in shock mitigation. The paper summarily re-interrogates the drives to risk and examines how they were negotiated and exploited as sources of livelihood in the Cameroon-Nigeria border trade. The data collected for the study was drawn mainly from primary and secondary sources. Primary sources constituted some life histories through which information on the motivations of traders, the decisions they made, and the reasons for them, how they coped with the vicissitudes of constrained circumstances, their networks, were collected. For secondary sources, facts were gleaned from earlier published research findings, especially, on commercial border interactions. The data interpretation method, in the main, is qualitative.