非洲的亲情经济
Africa’s affection economy
795字
2019-12-27 10:45
76阅读
火星译客

    A GAGGLE OF children play outside Dorothy Nabitaka’s front door on the outskirts of Kampala, the Ugandan capital. She shares her home with 17 people: her mother, child, sisters, nephews, nieces, cousins, and several children she has taken in simply because they had nowhere else to stay. She helps others pay school fees with the money she earns selling animal feed. In all she gives away around four-fifths of her income, she reckons, though she is not really counting. “I don’t like seeing people suffering,” she explains.

乌干达首都坎帕拉郊外,一群喧闹的孩子在Dorothy Nabitaka家的前门外玩耍。她的家里有17口人:她的母亲、孩子、姐妹、外甥、外甥女、表兄弟,以及她领回家的几个孩子。她把这几个孩子领回家,只是因为他们无处可去。她用卖饲料挣来的钱帮他们交学费。虽说她不会真的去算到底花了多少钱,但她大致估计了一下,这些学费大约是她五分之四的收入。她解释道“我见不得别人受苦。”

    Sharing within social networks is central to economic life in much of Africa. Although kinship systems vary, obligations typically extend beyond the nuclear family to include the children of siblings as well as cousins, or sometimes larger units such as clans. People turn to friends and relations for help with school fees, hospital bills, or for a place to stay. Where formal institutions are weak, the family is bank, business partner and welfare state.

在非洲大部分地区,社交网络内的共享是经济生活的中心。虽说亲属关系各不相同,但抚养照管义务却超出了核心家庭的范围,扩展到兄弟姐妹以及堂/表兄弟姐妹的子女,有时甚至扩大到整个家族。当地的人们投亲靠友,希望亲友们能帮自己支付学费、住院费,或是给自己提供一个栖身之所。在公共机构指望不上的地方,亲朋好友就是银行、商业伙伴和福利机构。

    At times the pressure to share can be stifling. “People make you feel guilty when they see you with a house, car or even a good dress,” says one Ugandan journalist. Black South Africans talk about paying a “black tax” to support a web of dependents. In Ethiopia, Pentecostal Christianity has taken off, in part because it offers an escape from traditional kinship obligations.

有时这种不得不和别人分享的压力会令人窒息。一名乌干达记者说:“如果你有房、有车,或者甚至于有一件漂亮衣服,被别人看见了,他们就会使你产生负罪感”。南非黑人说,要养活一大群投靠你的人,就得付“黑人税”。在埃塞俄比亚,五旬节派基督教已经兴起,部分原因是它提供了一种逃离传统亲属义务的方式。

    One way to keep hold of your money is to hide it. Zainab Lamin, a housekeeper in Sierra Leone, tells her sisters she is unemployed. “If they know I have a job,” she says, “they will be sending their children to me—to pay for school fees” In experiments, recipients of a cash windfall, such as a raffle prize, will often take less to keep their winnings under wraps. In Cameroon people take out loans they do not need so that relatives think they are hard-up.

要想保住钱,有一个办法,那就是把钱藏起来。塞拉利昂的Zainab Lamin是一位主妇,她告诉自己的姐妹,自己失业了。“如果她们知道我有工作,就会把她们的孩子送到我这儿,让我替她们交学费。”实验证明,那些突发横财,比如彩票中奖的人,会少拿出一些钱,以隐瞒他们获得的巨额奖金。在喀麦隆,人们常常在不必要的情况下去取得贷款,以使亲戚们相信他们也很困难。

    Kinship networks can grease the wheels of commerce with loans or by creating trust when contracts are hard to enforce. But they also come with an “extra bill” that can “slow down the growth of a business”, says Ronald Mukasa, who trains Ugandan entrepreneurs. Cash flows are diverted into weddings and funerals. Managers hire relatives, who are not always up to the job.

亲戚网络是生意场上的润滑剂。有了这种关系,借钱就变得容易了。又或者,在合同难以履行的情况下,信任依然存在。但这种关系也会产生“额外的帐单”,“使商业增长缓慢”,为乌干达企业家做培训的Ronald Mukasa如是说。现金流转向流到了婚礼和葬礼上。经理们聘用自己的亲戚,可他们未必能胜任那份工作。

    Yet family life is far more than an accounting exercise. In South Africa under apartheid, racist residence restrictions forced black workers to leave children in the care of others while they migrated to towns for work. Habits of sharing are now a bulwark against inequality. The term “black tax” is a misnomer, says Niq Mhlongo, the editor of a new book on the subject. He grew up in Soweto, a township, sharing a room with seven others. After the death of his father, his brother’s salary put him through school. As an adult, it was his turn to pay university fees for the same brother’s son. “It means that I had to postpone marriage,” he says, just as his brother had once done for him. “But is that a tax? No, it’s a family responsibility.”

不过,家庭生活绝不能只算经济帐。在种族隔离时期的南非,由于种族主义的居留限制,黑人工人们不得不将自己的孩子托付给其他亲友,而自己到镇上去上班。分享的习惯此时却是对抗不平等的坚实堡垒。 Niq Mhlongo是关于此类主题的一部新书的编辑,他说“黑人税”这个词用词不当。他从小在一个叫做Soweto的黑人城镇长大,和其他七个人同住一个房间。自从父亲死后,他哥哥用自己的工资供他上完学。成年后,又轮到他来回报他的这位哥哥——为侄子交大学学费。“这意味着我不得不推迟结婚”,他说,这正如当年他哥哥为他所做的那样。“但这能叫‘交税’吗?不,这是家庭的责任”。

    Mutual help acts as insurance against sudden shocks, such as illness or the loss of a job. One study in Kenya found that contributions from friends and family made up a quarter of income for poor rural households, mitigating swings in other earnings.

在遭受突如其来的打击时,比如生病或是失业,这种互助关系便起到了保险的作用。在肯尼亚所做的一项研究发现,乡村贫困家庭的收入,有四分之一来自亲友的资助,亲友的资助缓解了他们在其它收入上的不稳定状况。

    Kinship cannot replace the welfare state. Sharing breaks down in the face of big shocks, such as drought, which hit everybody at once. And the neediest people often have the weakest networks. But informal groups, such as savings circles, can connect to larger institutions.

亲属关系不能取代福利制度。面临重大打击时,这种共享关系就会失灵。比如旱灾,会立刻影响到每个人。况且最穷困的家庭,其关系网络往往最薄弱。但是储蓄圈等非正式组织,可以与更大的机构联系。

    As horizons expand, social networks do too. Nigerians encourage their relatives to go abroad to support the family, says Olayinka Akanle of the University of Ibadan. Emigrants sometimes invest in schools or businesses back home, and ask kin to oversee them in their absence. Remittances to Nigeria now exceed oil revenues: last year they brought in about $24bn, 11 times more than all foreign direct investment.

随着眼界的扩大,社交网络也在扩展。伊巴丹大学的Olayinka Akanle 说,尼日利亚人鼓励自己的亲戚去国外发展以养家糊口。有时移民国外者会回国投资,创办学校、企业,当他们不在国内时就委托亲戚管理。寄回尼日利亚的汇款总额已经超过了该国的石油收入。去年尼日利亚人向国内汇款大约240亿美元,是所有外国直接投资总额的11倍还要多。

    Urbanisation, consumerism and rising inequality may strain kinship ties, but they have not yet broken them. In a trendy café in Kampala, two sisters discuss the middle-class dilemma. “How do you save up when your salary doesn’t just look after you?” asks one. She cannot afford to go travelling as much as she would like. Yet sharing is her culture, and she would have it no other way. “Your savings are in people,” her sister elaborates. “So when I have a bad day I cannot starve.”

城市化、消费主义以及日益严重的不平等可能会使这种亲情关系变得紧张起来,但至今却未曾打破这种关系。在坎帕拉一家时尚的小餐馆里,一对姐妹正在讨论中产阶级的困境。其中一个问道:“工资都不够自己花,还怎么攒钱?”对她来说,想去哪儿旅行就去哪儿旅行根本办不到。然而,由于她一直生活在这种以分享为价值观的文化背景下,她对此只能接受而别无选择。“攒的钱在大家手中”,她姐姐接过话头,“万一哪天我混背了,我还不至于挨饿”。

0 条评论
评论不能为空