MAMDANI.pdf - E D I T O R S Sherry B Ortner Nicholas B...

This preview shows page 1 out of 354 pages.

Unformatted text preview: E D I T O R S Sherry B. Ortner, Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley A LIST OF T IT L E S IN T H I S S E R I E S A P P E A R S AT T H E BACK O F T H E BOOK PRINCETON STUDIES IN CULTURE / POW ER/ HISTORY CITIZEN AND SUBJECT CONTEMPORARY AFRICA A N D T H E L E G A C Y OF LATE C O L O N I A L I S M Mahmood Mamdtmi P R I N C l . T O N I ’NI Vl -RMTY PRESS PRI NOR TON, NP.W Jl-RSHY MPI f. ethnol. Forsch. Halle JV246 Mamd 1996 Copyright © 1996 by Princeton University Press Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540 In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, Chichester, West Sussex All Rights Reserved Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Mamdani, Mahmood, 1946Citizen and subject: contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism / Mahmood Mamdani. p. cm. — (Princeton studies in culture/power/history) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-691-01107-9 (alk. paper) ISBN 0-691-02793-5 (pbk.: alk. paper) 1. Colonies—Africa—Administration. 2, Africa—Colonial influence. 3. Africa—Politics and government. 4. Despotism—Africa. 5. Democracy—Africa. 6. Apartheid—Africa. 7. Indigenous peoples—Africa, I, Title, II. Series. JV246.M35 1996 320.96'09'045—dc20 95-25318 This book has been composed in Galliard Princeton University Press books are printed on acid-free paper and meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources Printed in the United States o f America by Princeton Academic Press 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 For Mira and Zohran _______________ Contents________________ Acknowledgments ix I . Introduction: Thinking through Africa’s Impasse 3 PART I: THE STRUCTURE OF POWER 35 II. Decentralized Despotism 37 III. Indirect Rule: The Politics o f Decentralized Despotism 62 IV. Customary Law: The Theory o f Decentralized Despotism 109 V. The Native Authority and the Free Peasantry 138 PART II: THE ANATOMY OF RESISTANCE 181 V I. The Other Face of Tribalism: Peasant Movements in Equatorial Africa 183 V II. The Rural in the Urban: Migrant Workers in South Africa 218 V III. Conclusion: Linking the Urban and the Rural 285 Notes 303 Index 339 ___________C H A P T E R O N E ___________ Introduction: Thinking through Africa’s Impasse D i s c u s s i o n s on Africa’s present predicament revolve around two clear tendencies: modernist and communitarian. Modernists take inspiration from the East European uprisings o f the late eighties; communitarians decry liberal or left Eurocentrism and call for a return to the source. For modernists, the problem is that civil society is an embryonic and mar­ ginal construct in Africa; for communitarians, it is that real flesh-andblood communitites that comprise Africa are marginalized from public life as so many “tribes.” The liberal solution is to locate politics in civil society, and the Africanist solution is to put Africa’s age-old communi­ ties at the center o f African politics. One side calls for a regime that will champion rights, and the other stands in defense o f culture. The impasse in Africa is not only at the level o f practical politics. It is also a paralysis o f perspective, The solution to this theoretical impasse— between modernists and communitarians, Eurocentrists and Africanists— does not lie in choosing a side and defending an entrenched position. Because both sides to the debate highlight different aspects of the same African dilemma, I will suggest that the way forward lies in sublating both, through a double move that simultaneously critiques and affirms. To arrive at a creative synthesis transcending both positions, one needs to problematize each. To do so, I will analyze in this book two related phenomena: how power is organized and how it tends to fragment resistance in con­ temporary Africa. By locating both the language of rights and that of culture in their historical and institutional context, 1 hope to underline that part of our institutional legacy that continues to be reproduced through the dialectic of state reform and popular resistance. The core legacy, I will suggest, was forged through the colonial experience. In colonial discourse, the problem of stabilizing alien rule was politely referred to as “the native question.” It was a dilemma that confronted every colonial power and a riddle that preoccupied the best of its minds. Therefore it should not be surprising that when a person of the stature o f General Jan Smuts, with an international renown rare for a South African prime minister, was invited to deliver the prestigious Rhodes 4 CHAPTER 1 Memorial Lectures at Oxford in 1929, the native question formed the core of his deliberation. The African, Smuts reminded his British audience, is a special human “type” with “some wonderful characteristics,” which he w ent on to cel­ ebrate: “It has largely remained a child type, with a child psychology and outlook. A child-like human can not be a bad human, for are we n ot in spiritual matters bidden to be like unto little children? Perhaps as a d i­ rect result o f this temperament the African is the only happy human I have come across.” Even if the racism in the language is blinding, w e should be wary o f dismissing Smuts as some South African oddity. Smuts spoke from within an honorable Western tradition. Had n o t H egel’s Philosophy of History mythologized “Africa proper” as “the land o f childhood” ? Did not settlers in British colonies call every African male, regardless o f age, a “boy”—houseboy, shamba-boy, office-boy, ton-boy, mine-boy—no different from their counterparts in Franco­ phone Africa, who used the child-familiar tu when addressing Africans o f any age? “The negro,” opined the venerable Albert Schweitzer o f Gabon fame, “is a child, and with children nothing can be done w ith ou t authority.” In the colonial mind, however, Africans were no ordinary children. They were destined to be so perpetually—in the words o f Christopher Fyfe, “Peter Pan children who can never grow up, a child race.”1 Yet this book is not about the racial legacy o f colonialism. I f I tend to deemphasize the legacy o f colonial racism, it is not only because it has been the subject o f perceptive analyses by militant intellectuals like Frantz Fanon, but because I seek to highlight that part o f the colonial legacy—the institutional—which remains more or less intact. Precisely because deracialization has marked the limits o f postcolonial reform, th e nonracial legacy o f colonialism needs to be brought out into the open s o that it may be the focus o f a public discussion. The point about General Smuts is not the racism that he shared w ith many of his class and race, for Smuts was not simply the unconscious bearer o f a tradition. More than just a sentry standing guard at the cu t­ ting edge o f that tradition, he was, if anything, its standard-bearer. A member o f the British war cabinet, a confidant o f Churchill and R oose­ velt, a one-time chancellor o f Cambridge University, Smuts rose to be one o f the framers o f the League o f Nations Charter in the post-W orld War I era.2 The very image o f an enlightened leader, Smuts opposed slavery and celebrated the “principles of the French Revolution which had emancipated Europe,” but he opposed their application to Africa, for the African, he argued, was o f “a race so unique” that “nothing could be worse for Africa than the application o f a policy” that would INTRO DUCTIO N 5 “de-Africanize the African and turn him either into a beast o f the field or into a pseudo-European.” “And yet in the past,” he lamented, “we have tried both alternatives in our dealings with the Africans.” First we looked upon the African as essentially inferior or sub-human, as having no soul, and as being only fit to be a slave. .. . Then we changed to the opposite extreme. The African now became a man and a brother. Reli­ gion and politics combined to shape this new African policy. The principles of the French Revolution which had emancipated Europe were applied to Africa; liberty, equality and fraternity could turn bad Africans into good Europeans.3 Smuts was at pains to underline the negative consequences o f a policy formulated in ignorance, even if coated in good faith. The political system of the natives was ruthlessly destroyed in order to in­ corporate them as equals into the white system. The African was good as a potential European; his social and political culture was bad, barbarous, and only deserving to be stamped out root and branch. In some of the British possessions in Africa the native just emerged from barbarism was accepted as an equal citizen with full political rights along with the whites. But his native institutions were ruthlessly proscribed and destroyed. The principle of equal rights was applied in its crudest form, and while it gave the native a semblance of equality with whites, which was little good to him, it de­ stroyed the basis of his African system which was his highest good. These are the two extreme native policies which have prevailed in the past, and the second has been only less harmful than the first. If “Africa has to be redeemed” so as “to make her own contribution to the world,” then “we shall have to proceed on different lines and evolve a policy which will not force her institutions into an alien European mould” but “will preserve her unity with her own past” and “build her future progress and civilization on specifically African foundations.” Smuts went on to champion “the new policy” in bold: “The British Em pire does not stand for the assimilation o f its peoples into a com mon type, it docs not stand for standardization, but for the fullest freest d e­ velopment o f its peoples along their own specific lines.” The “fullest freest development of | its] peoples" as opposed to their assimilation “into a common type” required, Smuts argued, “inslitu tional segregation.” Smuts contrasted “institutional segregation” with “ territorial segregation” then in practice in South Africa. The problem with “territorial segregation,” in a nutshell, was that it was based on a policy of institutional homogenization. Natives may be territorially sep­ arated from whites, but native institutions were slowlv but surely giving 6 CHAPTER. 1 way to an alien institutional mold. As the economy became industrial­ ized, it gave rise to “the colour problem,” at the root o f which w ere “urbanized or detribalized natives.” Smuts’s point was not that racial segregation (“territorial segregation”) should be done away w ith , Rather it was that it should be made part o f a broader “institutional s e g ­ regation” and thereby set on a secure footing: “Institutional segregation carries with it territorial segregation.” The way to preserve native in s ti­ tutions while meeting the labor demands o f a growing econom y w a s through the institution o f migrant labor, for “so long as the native fa m ­ ily home is not with the white man but in his own area, so lon g th e native organization will not be materially affected.” It is only when segregation breaks down, when the whole family migrates from the tribal home and out of the tribal jurisdiction to the white man’s farm or the white man’s town, that the tribal bond is snapped, and the traditional system falls into decay. And it is this migration of the native family, of the females and children, to the farms and the towns which should be prevented. As soon as this migration is permitted the process commences which ends in the urbanized detribalized native and the dis­ appearance of the native organization. It is not white employment of native males that works the mischief, but the abandonment of the native tribal home by the women and children.4 Put simply, the problem with territorial segregation was that it rendered racial domination unstable: the more the economy developed, the m o r e it came to depend on the “urbanized or detribalized natives.” As th a t happened, the beneficiaries o f rule appeared an alien minority and it s victims evidently an indigenous majority. The way to stabilize racial domination (territorial segregation) was to ground it in a politically enforced system o f ethnic pluralism (institutional segregation), so th a t everyone, victims no less than beneficiaries, may appear as m inorities. However, with migrant labor providing the day-to-day institutional lin k between native and white society, native institutions—fashioned as s o many rural tribal composites—may be conserved as separate but w ould function as subordinate. At this point, however, Smuts faltered, for, he believed, it was to o iate in the day to implement a policy of institutional segregation in South Africa; urbanization had already proceeded too far. But it was not too late for less developed colonies to the north to learn from the South African experience: “The situation in South Africa is therefore a lesson to all the younger British communities farther north to prevent as m uch as possible the detachment of the native from his tribal connexion, and to enforce from the very start the system of segregation with its conser­ vation of separate native institutions.” INTRO DUCTIO N 7 The Broederbond, however, disagreed, To this brotherhood of Boer supremacists, to stabilize the system of racial domination was a question o f life and death, a matter in which it could never be too late. What Smuts termed institutional segregation the Broederbond called apart­ heid. The context in which apartheid came to be implemented made for its particularly harsh features, for to rule natives through their own insti­ tutions, one first had to push natives back into the confines of native institutions. In the context o f a semi-industrialized and highly urban­ ized South Africa, this meant, on the one hand, the forced removal of those marked unproductive so they may be pushed out o f white areas back into native homelands and, on the other, the forced straddling of those deemed productive between workplace and homeland through an ongoing cycle of annual migrations. To effect these changes required a degree of force and brutality that seemed to place the South African co­ lonial experience in a class of its own. But neither institutional segregation nor apartheid was a South Afri­ can invention. If anything, both idealized a form of rule that the British Colonial Office dubbed “indirect rale” and the French “ association.” Three decades before Smuts, Lord Lugard had pioneered indirect rule in Uganda and Nigeria. And three decades after Smuts, Lord Hailey would sum up the contrast between forms of colonial rule as turning on a distinction between “identity” and “differentiation” in organizing the relationship between Europeans and Africans: “The doctrine o f identity conceives the future social and political institutions of Africans as des­ tined to be basically similar to those o f Europeans; the doctrine of differ­ entiation aims at the evolution of separate institutions appropriate to African conditions and differing both in spirit and in form from those of Europeans.”5 The emphasis on differentiation meant the forging of spe­ cifically “native” institutions through which to rule subjects, but the in­ stitutions so defined and enforced were not racial as much as ethnic, not “native” as much as “tribal.” Racial dualism was thereby anchored in a politically enforced ethnic pluralism. To emphasize their offensive and pejorative nature, 1 put the words native and tribal in quotation marks. But after first use, I have dropped the quotation marks to avoid a cumbersome read, instead relying on the reader’s continued vigilance and good sense. This book, then, is about the regime of differentiation (institutional segregation) as fashioned in colonial Africa—and reformed after inde­ pendence—and the nature of the resistance it bred. Anchored histori­ cally, it is about how Europeans ruled Africa and how Africans re sponded to it. Drawn to the present, it is about the structure of power and the shape of resistance in contemporary Africa. Three sets of ques­ tions have guided my labors. To what extent was the structure of power 8 CHAPTER 1 in contemporary Africa shaped in the colonial period rather than born o f the anticolonial revolt? Was the notion that they introduced the rule o f law to African colonies no more than a cherished illusion o f colonial powers? Second, rather than just uniting diverse ethnic groups in a com ­ mon predicament, was not racial domination actually mediated through a variety o f ethnically organized local powers? I f so, is it not too simple even if tempting to think o f the anticolonial (nationalist) struggle as just a one-sided repudiation o f ethnicity rather than also a series o f ethnic revolts against so many ethnically organized and centrally reinforced local powers— in other words, a string o f ethnic civil wars? In brief, was not ethnicity a dimension o f both power and resistance, o f both th e problem and the solution? Finally, if power reproduced itself by exag­ gerating difference and denying die existence o f an oppressed majority, is not the burden o f protest to transcend these differences without deny­ ing them? I have written this book with four objectives in mind. My first objec­ tive is to question the writing o f history by analogy, a method pervasive in contemporary Africanist studies. Thereby, I seek to establish die h is­ torical legitimacy o f Africa as a unit of analysis. My second objective is to establish that apartheid, usually considered unique to South Africa, is actually the generic form o f the colonial state in Africa. As a form o f rule, apartheid is what Smuts called institutional segregation, the British termed indirect rule, and the French association. It is this com m on state form that I call decentralized despotism. A corollary is to bring some o f the lessons from the study o f Africa to South African studies and vice versa and thereby to question the notion o f South African exceptional ism. A third objective is to underline the contradictory character o f eth ­ nicity. In disentangling its two possibilities, the emancipatory from the authoritarian, my purpose is not to identify emancipatory m ovem ents and avail them for an uncritical embrace. Rather it is to problematize them through a critical analysis. My fourth and final objective is to show that although the bifurcated state created with colonialism was deracialized after independence, it was not democratized. Postindependence re­ form led to diverse outcomes. N o nationalist government was content to reproduce the colonial legacy uncritically. Each sought to reform the bifurcated state that institutionally crystallized a state-enforced separa­ tion, o f the rural from the urban and of one ethnicity from another. But in doing so each reproduced a part of that legacy, thereby creating its own variety o f despotism. These questions and objectives are very much at the root of the dis­ cussion in the chapters that follow. Before sketching in full the outlines o f my argument, however, I find it necessary to clarify my theoretical point of departure. IN TRO DU CTIO N 9 BEYOND A HISTORY BY ANALOGY In the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution, dependency theory emerged as a powerful critique of various forms o f unilinear evolutionism, It re­ jected both the claim that the less developed countries were traditional societies in need of modernization and the conviction that they were backward precapitalist societies on the threshhold of a much-needed bourgeois revolution. Underdevelopment, argued proponents of de­ pendency, was historically produced; as a creation o f modern imperial­ ism, it was as modern as industrial capitalism. Both were outcomes of a process of “accumulation on a world scale,”6 Its emphasis on historical specificity notwithstanding, dependency soon lapsed into yet another form...
View Full Document

  • Spring '16
  • PROFESSOR SAITABAU KARIA
  • Colonialism, Civil society

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern