n Journal of African Foreign Affairs - The 'love' and 'deception' methods : the strategies of chanters

Volume 3, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN : 2056-564X
  • E-ISSN: 2056-5658


Young urban Gambians frequent cybercafés largely to use the Internet as a way to orchestrate encounters with foreigners as part of a strategy of accumulating economic capital. This form of 'hustling' is part of a poverty reduction strategy that is generally conducted through the appropriation of new technologies. This form of ICT use is in some disjuncture with the developmental theories of ICTs. Most significantly, such theories foreground use of the internet to meet information needs whereas the users in this study engage in the contextual and non-developmental use ICTs.

Drawing on data collected from ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2013 and 2014 in Brikama, the Gambia, where internet use in cybercafés has rapidly grown over the past two decades, I use the cases 'chanters' (cyber hustlers) to shed light on the life-trajectories of young marginalised urban Gambians. In particular, I examine the narratives of young Gambians who engage in internet mediated encounters with foreigners as a livelihood strategy. The study explores the income generating strategies employed by the youths through these encounters and the opportunities it provides for them and their families. It suggest that, young urban Gambians accumulate wealth by employing various methods and ruses in their interactions with toubabs (white westerners) through internet-mediated encounters.

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