Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of by Mahmood Mamdani

By Mahmood Mamdani

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In interpreting the hindrances to democratization in publish- independence Africa, Mahmood Mamdani bargains a daring, insightful account of colonialism's legacy--a bifurcated strength that mediated racial domination via tribally geared up neighborhood experts, reproducing racial identification in electorate and ethnic identification in topics. Many writers have understood colonial rule as both "direct" (French) or "indirect" (British), with a 3rd variant--apartheid--as remarkable. This benign terminology, Mamdani indicates, mask the truth that those have been truly versions of a despotism. whereas direct rule denied rights to topics on racial grounds, oblique rule included them right into a "customary" mode of rule, with state-appointed local experts defining customized. through tapping authoritarian percentages in tradition, and by way of giving tradition an authoritarian bent, oblique rule (decentralized despotism) set the speed for Africa; the French go well with via altering from direct to oblique management, whereas apartheid emerged rather later. Apartheid, Mamdani indicates, used to be truly the established type of the colonial country in Africa.

Through case reports of rural (Uganda) and concrete (South Africa) resistance activities, we learn the way those institutional positive aspects fragment resistance and the way states are inclined to play off reform in a single region opposed to repression within the different. Reforming an influence that institutionally enforces pressure among city and kingdom, and among ethnicities, is the major problem for somebody drawn to democratic reform in Africa.


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41 More than forced labor, forced contributions were the real stuff of extralegal extortion that chiefs resorted to for personal enrichment. " The point was to ensure that the chief in question be able to purchase a house and an American car and finance a pilgrimage to Mecca. 42 In her review of case reports from Native Authority courts in Kilimanjaro-from a period when chiefs were already paid regular salariesSally Falk Moore concluded that "to an important extent the court must be seen as having once been an arm of personal chiefly power"; for instance, a man who failed to come to the baraza (public assembly) to pay tax was sentenced to five strokes.

We will later analyze the conditions that made this possible; but the point at this juncture is that apartheid neither repudiated nor changed the basic thrust of the system of native control in place by 1927. For with the passage of the 1927 Native Administration Act, two elements of the triple consensus that would define native policy under apartheid were already in place: rule by decree and customary law. The first had held together the 1910 Union, and the second was effected through the 1927 act.

We will see that indirect rule was never just a commonsense, pragmatic, and cost-efficient administrative strategy that utilized local personnel to fill its lowest tiers. Its point was to create a dependent but autonomous system of rule, one that combined accountability to superiors with a flexible response to the subject population, a capacity to implement central directives with one to absorb local shocks. The distinction between civic and customary power appeared at all levels. Institutionally, civic power was organized along the principle of differentiation, the customary on the basis of the fusion of power.

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