Monsieur René Lemarchand

African Peasantries, Reciprocity and the Market. The Economy of Affection Reconsidered.
In: Cahiers d'études africaines. Vol. 29 N°113. 1989. pp. 33-67.

Résumé R. Lemarchand — Paysanneries africaines, réciprocité et marché : l'économie de l'affection réexaminée. Voulant être un concept opératoire, l'économie de l'affection nous donne des paysanneries africaines une vision par trop totalisante et atemporelle pour en cerner les dynamismes face à l'économie de marché. Le concept d'échange social, par contre, met davantage l'accent sur les termes des transactions qui régissent les rapports d'accommodement et de conflit entre acteurs sociaux. C'est dans une perspective à la fois historique et anthropologique que cette discussion s'efforce de faire le point sur les rapports entre les coûts et les bénéfices qui naissent de l'influence des économies capitalistes. Tout en proposant une remise en question du concept d'économie de l'affection, l'article s'efforce d'approfondir la signification des phénomènes d'échange dans la genèse et le maintien de l'ordre social.

Citer ce document / Cite this document : Lemarchand René. African Peasantries, Reciprocity and the Market. The Economy of Affection Reconsidered. In: Cahiers d'études africaines. Vol. 29 N°113. 1989. pp. 33-67. doi : 10.3406/cea.1989.2135

René Lemarchand

African Peasantries Reciprocity and the Market* The Economy of Affection Reconsidered

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Turnbull 1972 ago. Few concepts have crossed the boundary between economic anthropology and political science with greater impunity than the economy of affec tion For the success of this smuggling operation much of the credit or blame goes to Göran Hyden 1980 whose classic work on villagization in Tanzania Beyond jaama in Tanzania Underdevelopment and an Uncaptured Peasantry provides the clearest exposition of whatever of importance the phenomenon reveals about African rural societies In it and elsewhere Hyden iQS 1985 1988 the author makes compelling case for incorporating logic of social solidarity in the analysis of the peasant mode of production In so doing it shifts the ground of debate away from the well-trodden paths of neo-Marxist and mainstream analyses to level of discourse where normative orientations indigenous to Africa are given pride of place Through the suggestive metaphor of an uncapturel peasantry the book focusses attention on range of survival and self-help strategies which otherwise would remain undetected or misapprehended wish to record my indebtedness to Peter Geschiere Joel Barkan Sara Berry Dick Stryker John Harbison Don Williams and the anonymous reader of this review for their comments and criticisms of an earlier draft claim full discredit for whatever blemishes are left in the argument Cahiers tudes africaines 113 XXIX-i ig8c) pp 33-6



paradigm thus poses fundamental challenge to the vision that most social scientists have of African rural societies As shown the critical commentaries it has received not the least of its merits is to invite serious reconsideration of some of the key concepts and theories surrounding the problematic of rural change in contemporary Africa Reduced to their simplest characterization criticisms of the Hyden argument tend to zero in on two major areas of vulnerability the assumed capacity of African peasants to evade the reach of the State and where such capacity exists the motives behind it Thus while Kasnr 1986 would seriously question the empirical validity of an uncaptured peas antry and instead point to the structural constraints inherent in rural and urban class differentiations Bates 1986 on the other hand draws attention to the rational choices involved in withdrawal from the State Both criticisms need to be taken seriously They lie at the very heart of the issues raised by the economy of affection in that they call into question two of its basic premises viz the autonomy of the peasantry and the underlying moral or cultural imperatives that impinge upon its economic choices They can also be taken too seriously however and end up throwing the baby out with the bath water The affective dimension of peasant economies cannot be ruled out on principle any more than the existence of withdrawal strategies The critical issue is not whether affectivity enters into rural or urban-based economic transactions but under what specific circumstances it is most likely to persist or evaporate It is at this level that paradigm despite its considerable heuristic value reveals its limitations The first and most obvious of such limitations derives from its holistic qualities which make it singularly unserviceable for capturing the range and diversity of phenomena that might conceivably be subsumed under the rubric of the economy of affection For this reason its explanatory force is very much in doubt Paraphrasing Coleman 1977 we would suggest that like all such global aggregative concepts the economy of affection cannot be operationalized or used in theoretical models designed for the purpose of testing propositions such concepts are weak in explanatory power and their indiscriminate use tends to degenerate into neo-scholasticism Another weakness is that it is static concept Only if we accept the view that economies of affection may under certain circumstances transform themselves into economies of disaffec tion can the concept become operational in other words only by taking into account the situations from which it departs can it be used as tool for the analysis of what it purports to demonstrate What is conspic uously missing from formulation in short is an appreciation of the reversibility of his conceptual frame Finally and as an unintended consequence of the foregoing in its extreme form the economy of affection paradigm carries ideological overtones strangely reminiscent of the philosophies and principles set



forth by African ideologues official or non-official in their ceaseless quest for legitimacy Whether referred to as Nyayoism Moi 1986) tuism or Ubuntuism Samkange Samkange 1980 to mention only the more intriguing versions these philosophies emphatically stress the affective-cum-communitarian underpinnings of traditional African soci eties To quote President Daniel Moi of Kenya Moi 1986 Nyayoism is neither foreign nor unfamiliar to traditional Africa but it is new as philosophy for the trans-tribal management of nation ... The philosophy and practice of sharing both the fortunes and calamities of the extended family clan or tribe are guided and fortified by nothing else but love It is love which makes such grave burdens as caring for the old and the invalid light and Thus by curious irony concept initially designed to free our vision of the constraints of Western ideologies ends up providing intel lectual fodder for yet another brand of ideology To these weaknesses and vulnerabilities we shall return in due course What follows in essence is an attempt to refocus the debate surrounding the economy of affection on what we believe to be the critical issues at stake first to what extent are social solidarities based on affection compatible with or superseded by self-interested exchanges second under what circumstances are economies of affection liable to transform themselves into economies of disaffection third in what ways and to what degree are affective ties likely to act as disincentive to or as an inducement for involvement in the market economy Before venturing some plausible answers and as point of entry into this discussion let us briefly consider the broad theoretical parameters within which the economy of affection seeks to expand our horizons of enquiry The Parameters of Comparative Discourse What is sometimes referred to as the peasant social movement literature unfolds within fairly well delineated parameters whose boundaries are set by the ongoing controversy between the proponents of rational choice and moral economy models identified respectively with the names of Samuel Popkin 1979 and James Scott 1976 Substituting the names of Bates for Popkin and Hyden for Scott we get fairly close approxima tion among Africanists of the debate that has been going on for some time among Asianists For Hyden as for Scott traditional peasant societies operate within moral universe where subsistence concerns tend to predominate Both recognize their intellectual debt to view of household economy which excludes profit-maximization as the central motive of peasant behavior and both insist on the moral obligation to meet the basic needs of the kin group Yet as articulated by Scott and contrary



to both the Hyden thesis and what casual inference of critique might suggest the moral economy argument does not rule out the possi bility of rational choice what it does emphatically suggest is the need to evaluate the rationality of peasant choices in the light of their normative orientations of which the safety-nrst principle is central component As Bates puts it he Scott makes very nice use of very simple model of risk aversion and rationalizes all sorts of peasant behavior which hitherto appeared .1 Calculations of peasant rationality based on their own real-life situations and chances of economic survival both of which figure prominently in argument are largely missing from formulation however His theoretical stance carries far heavier normative load and thus departs even more explicitly from the core assumption underlying the research agenda of rational choice theorists that peasant behavior is essentially reducible to self-interested calculus of costs and benefits Thus to insistence that African peasants evade the market but not the State and do so on the basis of highly rational motive Hyden replies by the counter-argument that peasant rationality in this case is not that of economic man as defined for conven tional use but reflects other i.e non economic variables including risk and security for the household as whole Hyden 689 Here as in the Malinowskian weitanschauung the social integument structures the material flows and accounts for the moral attributes whether strong or weak of any transaction including market transactions Bohannan Dalton 1962 4) To most historians and economic anthropologists the debate has familiar ring It brings to mind the old controversy between substantivists associated with the name of Karl Polanyi and formalists.2 While the former insist on viewing primitive economic behavior in the light of embedded non-economic norms including reciprocity and redistribution through gift-giving the latter would ascribe overriding importance to the play of market forces in regulating economic choices retro spective assessment of the substantivist üs formalist controversy 1984:14 would apply equally well to the tone of the debate between rational choice theorists and advocates of the economy of affection The controversy has not been especially enlightening Some substantivists write as though formalists believe their theorerical models are reality rather than mere representations of some aspects of reality Some formalists in turn write as though the substantivists deny any role at all to the play of market forces In fact the best social scientists on either side recognize that both market and other forms of exchange have role to play The problem is to measure the influence of each in specific Robert Bates personal communication July 1987 For valuable re-examination of the formalist/substantivist debate see the special section on Karl Polanyi in Telos GISLAIN 1987)



last statement confronts us with what is perhaps the most problematic issue about the economy of affection how to measure its influence in specific situations Unlike safety-first which provides the basic point of reference for assessing peasant strategies no such yardstick applies to universe of peasant choices How risks and benefits are anticipated by bush peasants is up to the reader to figure out Problems of Definition What then is the economy of affection answer to this question has remained remarkably consistent and consistently vague It denotes network of group support communication and interaction among structurally defined groups connected by blood kin community or other affinities i.e religion) What it is not is hardly more illuminating It is not backyard phenomenon Nor is it an expression of fond emotions Such as it is the economy of affection serves to link systematically variety of subsets or discrete units which in other regards may be autonomous ibid. Excavating the building blocks of the economy of affection from such broad definition is not an easy task It would seem to apply equally well to patronage mobi lized ethnicity or traditional forms of social exchange as between patron and client The underlying assumption is that affective or solidary bonds provide the necessary social cement to hold individuals and communities together in variety of exchange situations Such bonds are inseparable from the principle of reciprocity embedded in customary rules The kinds of cooperative links established through the economy of affection at any rate are said to be the normal consequence of the peasant mode of production characterized by rudimentary division of labor In these conditions each unit of production is small and because there is virtually no product specialization there is very little exchange between the various units of production There is no structural interde pendence bringing them into reciprocal relations with each other and leading to the development of the means of production* ibid. 6) From this unabashedly latitudinarian definition an equally wide range of inferences can be made about the functional impacts of the economy of affection on the State-society nexus As an organizing concept it presumably uncovers the embedded informal mechanisms which stand in the way of viable State system and cumulatively conspire to the creation of the soft-State syndrome it explains the capacity of rural-based societies to remain uncaptured in the face of State efforts to regulate their economies and it brings into focus the social solidarities by which rural energies can be mobilized against the State or alterna tively on behalf of State-sponsored schemes Furthermore because




its influence stretches right from the grass-roots to the apex of society den 1983 9) the economy of affection helps us understand various forms of corruption at the top including banking scandals and real estate killings as well as cooperative efforts at the grass-roots The plethora of explanations and interpretation derived from the concept raises legitimate questions about its value as an analytical tool These doubts are only reinforced by its ambivalent role in colonial and post-colonial settings In contemporary Africa it is viewed as having dampening effect on the revolutionary potential of peasants and on the other hand it is described as the most important factor that has facilitated the liberation or the struggle for independence in African countries and it was probably the lack of appreciation of this economy among the colonial powers that actually made them in the long run lose the battle Hyden 1985 55 Why the economy of affection should both stimulate and restrain the liberation efforts of African peasantries remains unclear The theoretical implications are no less puzzling In Beyond jamao Marxist analysts receive most sympathetic hearing Hyden 1980 249) In spite of the criticism that can be directed against many advocates of the Marxist scheme of analysis there is little doubt that its fundamental components can be used in overcoming the gap that now characterizes our knowledge of Africa Statements such as these must have inspired intriguing tribute on the dust cover of Beyond Ujamaa hope it will not be considered blasphemous to suggest that Marx might well have welcomed the freshness of this approach By the time No Shortcuts to Progress came out in print in 1983 Lof chie accolade seemed all the more incongruous Hyden recanted 98 24) in spite of its shortcomings is for several reasons more likely than socialism to hold the key to development in Africa over the decades to come His intellectual commitment to the capitalist ethic comes through even more forcefully in the concluding chapter Historically Africa is at present at point where the next breakthrough must be bourgeois revolution ibid. 212 That such radically different conclusions could be reached from the same initial postulate only adds to the mystifying qualities of the concept The concept makes up for its lack of analytic precision by the extensiveness of its connotations it is so broad as to include almost everything on affective landscape Patron-client ties rotating credit associations self-help schemes kin-centered networks market and parochial forms of corruption all of these and more are presumably candidates for admission into the charmed circle of the economy of affection Besides casting his net so wide as to include more than can be reasonably handled definition of the phenomenon brings it safely beyond the range of empirical verification Or to put it in Popperian terms few if any of his propositions concerning the economy



of affection leave room for falsification The insistence on casting African social solidarities into uniform conceptual mold reflects his own vision of African social and political systems in which he detects great deal more uniformity than diversity recurrent theme of his discourse is the absence of feudal tradition Africa lacks history of effective government control of agricultural and with the exception of the colonial experiences in North and South Africa and Ethiopia the continent provides no comparative evidence of differential patterns of peasant subordination by other .3 This is not the place to re-examine the relevance or irrelevance of feudal traditions to the African experience Suffice it to note that discourse unfolds in social universe almost totally divorced from the cultural and historical diversity of African societies That fair number of African societies do in fact depart from his model of largely undifferentiated rural classes as shown by such deviant cases as Buganda Ankole Rwanda Burundi Kaném northern Nigeria Senegal Swaziland simply cannot be ignored any more than the sheer diversity of social ties subsumed under the rubric of the economy of affection.4 The point would hardly be worth mentioning if it were not for the fact that it raises further questions about the usefulness of the principle of reciprocity as the basic conceptual referent for analyzing peasant behavior Besides suggesting greater degree of behavioral uniformity than can be reasonably warranted the expression as one commentator puts it MacCormack 1976 90) carries somewhat baffling mist of

The Limits of Altruism The social logic of reciprocity is unquestionably the most significant defining characteristic of the economy of affection In the economy of according to Hyden 1980 19) an element of reciprocity exists that is structurally unless otherwise qualified however the assumption of reciprocity is not unlike Jourdain discovering that he speaks prose The phenomenon after all is by no means unique to agrarian societies nor confined to any particular social system What makes the analysis of reciprocity troublesome is not just that it is ubiquitous phenomenon but that it confronts us with number of difficult issues most notably at the epistemological level Is reciprocity HYDEN and also igSoa 680 Failure to appreciate the processes of internal rural differentiation that have accompanied the penetration of capitalist economies is one of the major weaknesses of efforts at conceptualizing peasant mode of production For sharply different view of peasant societies and the problems they raise for description and analysis see Terence RANGER 1978



an explanatory concept or is it behavioral norm If used as an explanatory concept how do we know that it will adequately translate the point of view As part of an explanatory scheme reciprocity may project view of social exchange that has little to do with the motivations of the parties involved That reciprocation may occur as response to fear of retalia tion rather than as structurally induced form of altruism is not to be discounted This is indeed the principal lesson drawn by Elizabeth Colson from her observation of gift of grain on the homestead of an elderly couple among the Gwenbe Tonga gift which seemed in the best tradition of Tonga hospitality Her subsequent questioning yielded very different interpretation It became she writes that each one on the homestead accepted the premise that given the impossi bility of knowing whether someone had the power to injure you each request should be treated as though it came from someone who might be dangerous It seemed perfectly reasonable to them that one should give to avoid possible retaliation Colson 1974 49 Commenting on the utilitarian premise underlying the reciprocally rewarding character of the activities of interacting she goes on to suggest that This optismistic view is apparently not one shared by people living in societies said to be governed by reciprocity who may well think of themselves as operating as much in terms of fear of penalties as expectations of rewards Reciprocity works well enough as concept if our attention is concentrated on flow of exchanges within dyadic relationships It is much less satisfactory if we attempt to use it as general theory of social control unless we also recognize that it depends on fear of penalties as well as hope of reward ibid. 46) This optimistic view also colors much of the structurally induced patterns of reciprocation that are said to characterize the economy of affection Another difficulty stems from failure to specify the levels at which reciprocity operates and hence the strength and extensiveness of its morally binding qualities Is reciprocity rule which obtains in specific contexts or is it widely shared behavioral norm It is one thing to say that members of rotating credit association abide by the rule of reciproc ity and make regular cash contributions to common fund the proceeds of which will be handed in whole or in part to each member in rotation it is quite another to assume with Mauss and Malinowski that the principle of reciprocity is the organizing force of society The former is well established and empirically verifiable the latter takes for granted what needs to be demonstrated namely that people reciprocate out of cultural or psychological compulsion rather than for self-interested motives The dangers of uncritical extrapolation are nowhere more cruelly revealed than in Martin attempt 1966 272 to use the principle



of reciprocity as the basis of an overarching explanatory model of Sierra Leonian politics Starting from perfectly sensible though largely unqualified premise i.e that reciprocity in terms of service and respect is the primary norm governing male friendship Kilson ends up reducing party politics in the icoos to an all-embracing Maussian syndrome where the principle of reciprocity implicit in gift exchange explains almost everything including associational strategies parliamentary alliances mergers and extra-parliamentary coalitions That the model is fatally flawed by its reductionist bias is all too clear By seeking to explain everything of consequence by invoking the invisible hand of reciprocity discussion is more in the nature of sustained incantation of Maussian themes than serious effort at explanation Though never carried to this extreme argument as we shall see in moment is not entirely free of this reductionist quality While most observers would agree that reciprocity operates at different levels sharp disagreements persist as to its underlying motivations Is it to be treated as culturally induced moral obligation or as the expres sion of rational calculus of costs and benefits Merely to raise this questions calls to mind two distinctive intellectual traditions in exchange theory One traceable to Durkheim Mauss and Malinowski stresses the normative underpinnings of reciprocity the other associated with the names of Easton Barth Sahlins and Blau puts primary emphasis on the self-interested utilitarian interests involved in social exchange see Easton 1972 Sahlins 1972 One sees in reciprocity set of sentiments or folk beliefs Gouldner 1973 231 from which arises moral obligation to reciprocate the other views this obligation as conditional and con tingent As noted earlier the whole drift of argument puts him unambiguously in the mainstream of the Durkheimian tradition To quote the economy of affection has little if anything in common with utilitarianism ... For this reason policy analysis based on utilitarian assumptions is out of place in societies where the economy of affection is still an important phenomenon Hyden 1988 123 It is perhaps not out of place however to ask whether affection automatically excludes utilitarian or self-interested motives Is there any empirical or logical reason to assume that the rural dweller who contributes part of his time and income to the construction of dispensary or school does not respond to the anticipation of material benefits as well as to sense of shared loyalty to the local community Does the trust that rural client puts in his patron rule out an awareness of the benefits derived from this relationship ranging from access to land exoneration of taxes in time of penury or payment of school fees for his children And if these benefits are no longer forthcoming what is the empirical basis for assuming that trust will nevertheless persist Just as there are limiting cases to reciproc ity there are limits to how far non-economic motives can be said to



regulate social exchange insistence ibid. 126 on reading evidences of affectivity in situations involving the most brazen forms of self-interest including thoroughly corrupt behavior can only result in highly distorted view of political exchange phenomena warning 1973 231 provides useful corrective to view of reciprocity cannot be merely hypothesized that reciprocity will operate in every case its occurrence must instead be documented empirically ... Relations with little or no reciprocity may for example occur when power disparities allow one party to coerce the other Nor can it be posited priori that affection and self-interest are mutually exclusive more fruitful approach is to visualize each as extreme ends of spectrum extending from predominantly altruistic to predominantly self-interested exchanges with what Sahlins 1972 174 calls balanced exchange located somewhere in the middle It makes sense from this perspective to conceive of reciprocity in terms of varia tions or movements from one end to the other of the spectrum Just how much affectivity or utilitarianism enters into any particular transac tion is an empirical question If so the analysis of reciprocity suggests the need to steer clear of two major fallacies what Gouldner 1973 231 calls the Pollyanna fallacy which optimistically assumes that structures securing satisfactions from others will invariably be grateful and will always and on the other hand what am tempted to call the rational cynicism taking my cue from Oscar definition of cynic one who knows the price of everything and the value of Recognition that social exchange includes variable proportions of normative and negotiable benefits and may eventually result in negative as when the participants confront each other as opposed interests each looking to maximize utility at the Sahlins 1972 195 raises further questions When does balanced exchange give way to negative Who is to tell how much affectivity enters into any given type of exchange Is stability of exchange patterns proof of mutually rewarding transactions The answers to these questions are more often than not inferred from the assumptions one makes about social systems than tested against empirical realities Testing the evidence is by no means free of ambiguity Estimates that African peasants make of fair exchange may well be at variance with the standards of fairness and equity used by outside observers What the latter may see as evidence of normative sanctions the former will denounce if given chance as exploitation The likelihood of misperceiving the context of social exchange is all the more real when dominant social actors legitimize their position by reference to ideologies that explicitly stress harmony and reciprocity In short if the economy of affection is to be more than catchphrase it is imperative to see what empirical links if any can be established



between the notion of reciprocity and the varieties of social exchange which it entails Varieties of Social Exchange Certain basic analytical distinctions can be drawn at the outset by asking ourselves the following questions first how much specificity or diffuseness is involved in social exchange second what is the extent of social distance and/or power discrepancies among social actors third what is the degree of institutionalization of particular forms of social exchange In raising these questions we do not mean to suggest that the answers are unequivocally clear the variations they suggest are relative not absolute Nor do we wish to imply that the patterns of exchange are immutable point to be discussed more fully at later stage The aim here is to provide certain basic reference points for clarifying the meaning of social exchange This can best be accomplished by looking at those forms of exchange which transcend or combine with the solidarities associated with kinship or household units The diffuseness-specificity continuum does not call into question the existence of reciprocity all it does is suggest different motivations behind exchange patterns some being more heavily dependent on perceptions of utilitarian needs than others Labor cooperation arrangements rotating credit associations livestock loan agreements for example are all clearly based on expectations of specific and mutually rewarding benefits As such they differ markedly from the more diffuse whole person relation ships which typically obtain between rural client and his patron What is sometimes referred to in the literature on clientelism as generalized exchange is the hallmark of this relationship closer look at the evidence however reveals important nuances in the extent to which one type of exchange can be said to differ from the other At the core of labor cooperation agreements lies the anticipation of mutual benefits Such forms of cooperation are widespread throughout Africa In recent times they have proliferated to meet variety of material needs What is involved here is an arrangement whereby members of rural community join together to perform task or series of tasks for beneficiary whose relationship to the group is other than that of employer to employee Swindell 1985 130 Ploughing terracing mulching clearing or weeding are all activities susceptible to such cooperative arrangements Interviews with farmers reveal the utilitarian motives for cooperating ibid. 131) Participant farmers stated that these workgroups were the means of getting the jobs done faster and in more congenial manner than individually] Although the record shows considerable variation in the patterns of work degrees of sociability status differences and forms of reciprocity involved they



are all designed to perform very specific tasks And they are all part of strategies designed to reduce risks and maximize profit The relative ease with which some of these traditional forms of cooperation have been incorporated within the framework of agrarian capitalism as in the rice farming areas of northern Ghana Van Hear 1984 bears testimony to their adaptability to market demands Rotating credit associations are again organized for very specific purpose i.e to make available to each member at regular intervals sum of money which under normal circumstances would be beyond their reach As such they serve as the functional equivalents of institutional ized money markets sometimes effectively competing with local banks Known as usu among the Yoruba djapa among the Fang adaski among the Yoruba and tontines in the Cameroun where they are most widespread and strongly institutionalized) they are perhaps best described as device by means of which traditionalistic forms of social relationships are mobilized to fulfill non-traditionalistic economic functions Geertz 1962 24 Given their syncretistic quality participation in such associations cannot be reduced solely to economic motives As Shirley Ardener 1964 22o emphasizes rotating credit associations may enhance social status of the participants Sometimes it is the organizer who gains status by demonstrating his power of leadership and administrative ability Sometimes it is acquired by members who join an association in order to assist the organizer Sometimes mere membership confers prestige This said there can be little question that economic rationality is indeed the prime motive behind the spectacular growth of the tontine phenomenon in the Cameroun and elsewhere in West Africa The investment and business opportunities afforded through the tontines go far in explaining the rags-to-riches stories that provide some of the footnotes to the economic history of the Cameroun Gaillard 1980) Much the same mixture of economic and social rewards attaches to the contracting of livestock loan agreements among the Pulani of Niger Boror Here as in the previous example economic self-interest is the irreducible common denominator of the relations between lender and borrower As Dupire 1962 345 notes next to inheritance cattle contract is the most efficacious way of acquiring herd The lender grants heifer most often three-year old until she has thrice dropped calf according to pre-established agreement This increase belongs to the borrower who will thereafter lead the heifer back to the camp of his benefactor The utilitarian implications of the contract are inseparable from the social value attached to cattle ownership first as guarantee of immediate material second as insurance for the and third as reservoir of gifts and exchanges supple mental form of security since reciprocity is an elemental rule ibid.) No such specificity enters the patron-client nexus As has been repeatedly shown the relation of patron to client is in its ideal form



based on mutual trust and deference It is both asymmetrical and many-stranded see Sandbrook 1972 Eisenstadt Lemarchand 1981 Wolf 1966 Just as the services expected of the client are likely to run wide gamut so are the obligations of the patron toward his client Patron-client as Eric Wolf 1966 88 reminds us involve multiple facets of the actors involved not merely the segmental singleinterest of the moment In sense patron-client ties are the archetypal institutional manifestation of the economy of affection the sense that trust and deference set the tone for patron-client interactions.5 Yet as has been demonstrated time and again the affectivity that normally enters the relationship is highly variable as is indeed the ratio of services given to services reciprocated Scott 1976) Which brings us to the next question is social exchange taking place among equals or unequals At issue here are the conditions of stability and predicability of exchange systems If patron-client ties are indeed the locus classicus for the analysis of unequal exchange social inequalities between patrons and clients are neither constant nor random This is even more true of societal outcomes At the broadest level of generalization convincing case can be made for the view that the more lopsided the relationship that is the wider the power discrepancies between patrons and clients the greater the potential for breakdowns in reciprocity Where reciprocity operates among equals or near equals chances are that trust and self-interest will combine to reinforce each other and pave the way for mutually rewarding forms of exchange threats of negative on the other hand are never more real than in situations of sharp and persistent inequalities The point is cogently argued by Scott in his discussion of reciprocity and subsistence as So long as the reciprocating parties are of more or less equal standing the exchange tends to be balanced and stable Neither can impose his will upon the other but must in Ms own interest be forthcoming if he hopes to continue to evoke the services he needs Once substantial power differences are introduced however this invisible hand disappears and exploitation may enter For inequalities in society mean above all unequal control over the scarce resources of the community and it is this difference alone that provides one party with the bargaining or coercive strength to impose an unequal exchange that violates the widely shared sense of fair How substantial power differences are introduced among social actors is indeed the key to an understanding of the dynamics of patronclient ties full treatment of the phenomenon is clearly beyond the scope of this discussion only brief reference will be made here to what must be viewed as the more relevant intervening variables For fascinating discussion of the meaning of trust in the context of patronclient ties see AGIER 1983 and also GAMBETTA 1988 SCOTT 1976 170 Italics are mine



The rst and most obvious concerns the role of the State in altering clientelistic patterns of exchange Whether or not patron-client nets are incorporated into the formal apparatus of the State along with the manner in which incorporation takes place are bound to have decisive impact on the bargaining position of patrons and clients Where patrons are able to manipulate traditional mechanisms of exchange on behalf of the State while relying on the full backing of its coercive apparatus to extract maximum labor and revenue from their clients there can be little doubt about the oppressiveness of the relationship Oppression is but the symptom of growing power disparities between patrons and clients the former acting as agents of the State the latter as its milch cow Where the kinship system fails to provide alternative sources of protection and where land scarcity and demographic pressure rule out the exit option the State-backed patrons are likely to be the prime target of peasant upheavals This is nowhere more dramatically illustrated than by the history of rural class relations in colonial Rwanda the subject of pioneering study by Catharine Newbury 1989 Many of her insights apply to the violent history of patron-client relations in Zanzibar and Ethiopia The restructuring of traditional whole-person relationships into an increasingly exploitative class-based system of dependence has been characteristic feature of the recent evolution of clientship in Rwanda Zanzibar and Ethiopia and lies at the heart of the revolutionary upheavals experienced by each State The repressiveness of the State came to be viewed as synonymous with the oppressiveness of clientship the dismantling of one could only be accomplished by destroying the other On the other hand countless examples can be cited of patron-client ties developing in insolation from and sometimes against the State in environments where patrons were wholly exonerated from the constraints and indignities of State affiliations The landlord-tenant relations that have accompanied the expansion of cocoa estates in southern Ghana is one example among others of type of clientship that has proved remark ably resilient and on the face of the evidence mustered by Polly Hill mutually rewarding for the cocoa farmers and their abusa-men.7 The same applies to the networks of mutual trust and personalized See Polly HILL 1986 As she points out to refer to the abusa-va-avL as share-cropper is misnomer the man she insists is pseudo-farmer because he brings his wife and children with him to work on the cocoa farms and is allotted house or house site by his master as well as farmland on which he may grow food for self-consumption or sale Viewed in this terms the abusa-ma.ïi is indeed highly privileged tenant so much so that one wonders whether the term tenant is really appropriate For an interesting inter pretation of the evolution of the abusa contract see ROBERTSON 1982 Accord ing to him The phylogenetic development of abusa confirms to some extent image of the development of capitalism yet the ontogenetic pattern strongly evokes account of the structure and persistence of the peasant economy ibid. 473)



relations that link the Hausa cattle traders of northern Nigeria to their urban hosts mai gida in Ibadan Cohen 1977 Equally point here is the case of northern Ethiopia the continuing assistance of the northern landlords to the 1975 land reform testifies to the remarkable vitality of type of clientage relationships that still claims considerable legitimacy in sharp contrast with what can be observed in the southern provinces Ottaway 1978 phenomenon to which we shall return The intrusiveness of the State in the sphere of patron-client ties is directly related to their serviceability in the extraction of economic and fiscal resources Where peasant production plays relatively small part in the transfer of revenue to the State chances are that the rural networks will operate under fewer constraints and with greater flexibility in patronclient exchanges This is the crux of the argument advanced by Paul Richards 1986 49 in explaining the durability of clientelism in Sierra pointing out that for many years the State has derived the bulk of its revenues from an enclave mining sector and in consequence has not found it necessary to intervene very strongly in rural affairs Thus clientelism has thrived in an atmosphere of relative benign neglect ibid) The benign neglect argument takes on further plausibility in the light of the evidence from Niger Until 1975 when uranium sales to France shot up and provided the State with the bulk of its revenue every effort was made to squeeze maximum returns from peasant production through the combined efforts of party officials and rural notables account of what he calls the conflictual dynamic of social relationships leaves little doubt as to the scale of rural exploitation enforced through the harnessing of village communities to the State It was not uncommon to see heads of households chained and flogged for failing to meet their fiscal obligations and village chiefs thrown in jail for not being able to obtain from their people the amount of taxes they were expected to pay Raynaut 1987 103 Unequal exchange is almost euphemism to describe what was in fact thoroughly exploit ative form of State-sponsored clientelism While it certainly played key role in prompting Kountche to seize power in 1974 the more impor tant point to note is that the Kountche era introduced radical trans formation of the structure of dependence in the countryside The growing volume of uranium sales to France did more than open up alternative sources of revenue while reinforcing the external dependence of the State) as the State became less and less dependent on peasant production to meet its revenue requirements benign neglect of the rural sectors created an environment in which rural clients faced fewer constraints and higher rewards Ironically and contrary to what might have been expected disengagement from the State during the Kountche era went hand in hand with the strengthening of its economic dependence on the metropolitan patron third and more elusive variable has to do with the influence of

RENE LEMARCHAND moral restraints in shaping the patterns of exchange between patron and clients This is where the issue of institutionalization takes on special relevance to this discussion and gives the moral economy thesis much of its persuasiveness Where the exchange relationship is highly institu tionalized i.e rooted in cultural code that helps validate the norm of reciprocity the social pressures militating in favor of fair exchange are difficult to resist Fair exchange in this case does not exclude unequal exchange what it means in essence is that there are consensual limits as to how much inequality is allowed to intrude into the exchange rela tionship Especially illuminating here is John Willis discussion of the play of moral sanctions in pre-colonial Ufipa which he describes as consensual State based on exchange albeit imbalanced exchange between persons and social categories of unequal status and The villagers power to destroy rank was an institutionalized expression of the continuing obligation owed by the privileged householders to the poorer house holders including their own kin with whom they were linked in an imbalanced exchange and obligation that could affect the privileged householders own imbal anced exchange with the king If this higher-order exchange was generally disapproved the ordinary villagers could act to change its terms by having the offender removed from office Willis 1981 ä) The case of Ufipa is by no means unique historically The villagers power to destroy rank is only the specific manifestation of more general phenomenon i.e the prevalence of moral norms militating against the oppression of the weak by the wealthy and the powerful As general proposition then it is reasonable to assume that the more institutionalized the exchange relationship the greater the likelihood of moral safeguards counteracting the propensity of the system towards economic exploitation Equally plain is that the effectiveness of such safeguards is bound to vary in time and space That they may carry considerable moral compulsion in some areas and virtually none in others is by now fairly well established Ethiopia is classic example it is primarily in the southern and western provinces where landlord-tenant relations were of relatively recent vintage poorly institutionalized and notoriously exploitative that the Mengistu-inspired land reform of 1975 was received with the greatest enthusiasm The northern provinces by contrast where tenancy carried radically different implications offered the stiffest resistance Much the same conclusion emerges from the record of peasant upheavals in Rwanda in the northern sectors where the landlord-tenant relation bore striking similarities with its equivalent in southern Ethiopia Tutsi rule reaped its bitterest harvest in the south by contrast fair number of Hutu clients followed their Tutsi patrons in exile Lemarchand 1966) Where religious norms are generally supportive of expectations of fair exchange powerful additional moral sanction enters the patronclient nexus Senegal is an obvious case in point While there can be



little question that Islam is the most potent source of legitimacy for Saintly patron-client ties disagrements persist as to whether it does more than legitimize the social oppression of the Sun brotherhoods of which the Mounds are the most illustrious representatives For some the persistence of the sheikh-talibe relations is as much commentary on the perceived saintliness of the Mourid patrons as it is tangible evidence of the mutual benefits arising from these ties For others it is but thinly disguised form of oppression rooted in the false consciousness of the peasantry Clearly the Mourid brotherhood is nothing like Parsonian Valhalla to use Briens phrase whether it can also be described as vehicle of class oppression is very much open to debate Although some observers have consistently portrayed the Senegalese peasants as victims of economic exploitation rather different and far more convincing picture emerges from Donai Cruise Briens classic analysis of the brotherhood 1975 75) The element of force or physical constraint is entirely lacking in saintly authority over the disciples Economic tribute from the disciples is in fact roughly proportional to the real material services provided by the saints agrarian pioneers give the most ten years of their lives but also receive the most field ultimately wrested from the previous owners of the land It is also true that all disciples are in principle potential beneficiaries of the social security which the brotherhood Summarizing the outcome of social exchange within the brotherhood Brien concludes The disciples over the years have been in position to do their own unarticulated cost-benefit analysis of saintly leader ship and the balance up to now appears on the whole positive ibid. 81 The case of northern Nigeria is of considerable comparative interest in this regard As in Senegal Islam provided the hegemonic frame within which the ruling class sarauta legitimized its intervention in the production system and its hegemony remained undiminished by its alliance with the colonial authorities If anything the result has been to greatly reinforce its hegemonic position As in the case of the Mourids in Senegal the sarauta provided the thin edge of the wedge for the pene tration of capitalism into the countryside as well as the critical vectors for siphoning off taxes and revenue from peasant producers talakawa Yet there is no counterpart in northern Nigeria for the all-encompassing maraboutic framework of the Sufi brotherhoods or for the complex forms of social exchange institutionalized through the sheikh-talibe nexus Sarauta hegemony thus carried connotations of class domination to an extent unparalleled in Senegal Rural exploitation encountered fewer obstacles whether in the form of normative sanctions or of individual protection The system of Native Authorities as Watts 1987 140 explains preserved the forin of peasant production yet transformed the




conditions of summarizing the effect of commodity pro duction on Hausa society he goes on to note Commoditization moved hand in hand with the decline of extended households the dissolution of collective work groups the disappearance of supra-household institutions like särkin noma and the gradual transformation of these horizontal social linkages which assisted the reproduction of individual households In this sense the demise of moral economy was replaced by highly individuated petty commodity system in which households increasingly confronted the market as individuals ibid.) In these conditions and given the unevenness of capitalist develop ment rural exploitation though itself rooted in class domination never quite materialized into rural class consciousness Such peasant protest as occurred during the colonial era took the form of individual resistance against the most immediate and visible instruments of rural oppression ranging from theft and sabotage to commodity holdups and smuggling.8 What Scott 19851987 refers to as everyday forms of peasant resistance is thus dominant motif of the colonial history of rural class relations in Hausaland and one for which there are few equivalents in Senegal Nor is there any parallel in Senegal to the populist-cum-millenarian uprisings that swept across several cities of northern Nigeria in the i98os the so-called Yân Tatsine riots Although the potential for similar forms of protest is by no means lacking primarily in the form of inté grisme Senegal has yet to experience the social tensions and profound economic inequalities that have accompanied oil boom and which as Burke and Lübeck have shown9 have directly contributed to the attractiveness of Mohammed puritanical antihierarchical teachings Furthermore unlike what can be seen in Senegal where maraboutic nets reach out into the urban arenas the Islamic urban networks of northern Nigeria have been penetrated by yet never Individual resistance as WATTS 1987 shows was only one of several peasant strategies associated with dissent from including withdrawal and disinformation He writes ibid. 138) By withdrawal refer largely to the process of tax avoidance by migration or flight evasive tactics on the part of Fulani herders in hiding animals leasing cattle to kin in French or German territory or simply increasing their statement entirely consonant with withdrawal from the State argument BURKE BECK 1987 651 If the evidence from Gongola State is any index the proceeds of the oil boom have led to massive land expropriations in this case involving the active participation of traditional authorities The involvement from the emir of Mun Abba Tukur in land designed to transfer 25000 hectares of land to real estate corporation Al-Hilal Agrie Process Industries Ltd.) in return for handsome kickback resulted in his removal from office by the State Governor and decision to bar traditional rulers from being members of land allocation committees Ostensibly aimed at promoting large-scale mechanized farming and food processing in the Tau region the deal would have resulted in the displacement of hundreds of small holders For further details see Sacking of the Newswatch Sept 1986



fully incorporated in the structures of domination Burke Lübeck 1987 647) they never qualified as recipients of patronage and thus were never able to cash on the benefits of the oil boom It is no accident that those elements who turned out to be most receptive to the incitements of Yân Tatsine i.e the scholar-disciple or mallam-garadawa nets were also those who were least likely to share in the rewards of the oil boom Behind the more widely publicized aspects of the Yân Tatsine riots the number of human lives lost and property destroyed lies the historically recurrent theme of Mahdist-inspired movements the quest for social order free of unbelievers meant not to adapt to modernity but to resist it.10 Besides suggesting the usefulness of certain broad conceptual distinc tions within the even broader concept of the economy of affection the foregoing analysis should serve as corrective to the dubious claim that it incorporates simultaneously both paternalistic and populist ideology The ideology of the economy of according to Hyden 1988 is populist in that it emphasizes the shared interest of both rich and poor in the development of particular community or region That there is perceived and permanent commonality of interests between rich and poor is what remains to be demonstrated An alternative formulation would point to the populist ideology that animates peasant movements against the paternalistic underpinnings of clientage structures in situations where the balance of exchange has decisively shifted against the interests of rural clients.11 The phenomenon is familiar to students of rural politics Uganda Rwanda and Ethiopia and appears in somewhat more ambivalent form in Nigeria Populist effervescence was indeed the hallmark of the Baaka-led peasant revolt against Buganda chiefs in the 1940s Low 1964) of the Hutu revolt against Tutsi chiefs in Rwanda in the early i96os Newbury 1989) of the rural disturbances in southern Ethiopia after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1974 And it also figures prominently in the record of social upheavals both religious and secular experienced by Nigeria in the post-independence years from the Agbekoya revolt of i96os in Yorubaland to the NEPU12inspired protests and Yân Tatsine riots of the 1970s and i98os in Hausaland If rural class antagonisms are seldom incorporated into the economy of affection framework the role of the State in fostering these tensions and confrontations is likewise more often eluded than elucidated Let us then take closer look at the impact of the colonial State on African

10 For an outstanding inquest into the doctrinal underpinnings and historical roots of the Yân Tatsine movement see CHRISTELOW 1985 11 For an illuminating exploration of the theme of paternalism and its relation ship with patronage see GOODELL 1985 12 Nigerian Elements Progressive Union




economies leaving to others the more arduous task of extending the discussion into the post-colonial era Economies of Disaffection An altruistic writes David Parkin 1976 187) including the notion of pure gift achieves conceptual and semantic distinctiveness only by standing in an opposed relationship to negotiable/exploitative ideology So also with the economy of affection Its distinctiveness is perhaps best understood by reference to its antithesis the economy of disaffection Although the expression conveys much the same sort of vagueness as its conceptual opposite it nevertheless draws attention to range of phenomena that are precisely the reverse of those associated with the economy of affection Specifically it brings into focus the processes through which lineage or kinship-based forms of subsistence security are eroded thereby giving way to new social fields of competition and confrontation The shift of perspective also implies reconceptualization of the role of the State Rather than postulating its remoteness through the metaphor of balloon-like entity suspended in mid-air and accepting as corollary the presence of an uncaptured more realistic approach is to hypothesize the centrality of the State in creating rural class differentiations and intergroup conflict So broad is the range of variations in the scope and depth of State intervention however that it can best be used as an orienting focus for comparative analysis rather than self-evident proposition From this vantage point the colonial State emerges not as an invariant monolith but as an apparatus of control involving varying degrees of coercion and collaboration Although the imperatives of colonial rule were everywhere the same to set up viable bureaucratic framework for extracting revenue and to assist the penetration of merchant capitalism into the rural sectors the strategies of penetration differed profoundly in time and space reflecting in part the difference ideological postulates and idiosyncrasies of colonial administrators and in part variations in the degree of adaptability and responsiveness of African societies to the demands made upon them demands for revenue and labor Our basic argument here is that the severity of the economic disloca tions suffered by African societies is related in some crucial ways to the extent to which African societies offered opportunities for political and economic intermediation to the different types of disciplines agraires associated with compulsory crop cultivation to the effect of labor migra tions on household economics and to the extent to which indigenous forms of capitalism came conflict with European capitalism



The first of these variables calls attention to the structures accueil or to use term 1985 113 through which the colonial State endeavored to carry out each of the imperatives noted above The imperative of administrative efficiency was most easily met where chiefs and subchiefs could be incorporated into the bureaucratic apparatus of the colonial State process nowhere more vividly portrayed than in Lloyd Fallers account13 of the bureaucratization of the role in colonial Busoga Uganda The phenomenon carries implications that go far beyond the exigencies of bureaucratic efficiency It lays bare the basic mechanisms behind the relative success of the colonial State in mobilizing traditional forms of social exchange on behalf of an expanding capitalist economy The sbeikh-talibe nexus in Senegal proved highly serviceable in expanding and intensifying peanut production the dyula networks in Mali provided the necessary connections for organizing the économie de traite the sarauta class in northern Nigeria serves as the crucial linkage through which wealthy merchant families moved into the export or grain trade either independently or as agents of European firms Watts 1987 130 Comparing this state of affairs with situations where no such facilitating structures were available as in the Cameroon) Geschiere convincingly argues 1985 113 that they played key role in lessening the coercive impact of the colonial State To quote where such possibilities of intermediation are extremely restricted as was the case in the forest of southern Cameroon entrepreneurs become more dependent on intervention by the State employing its coercive means to break open the old production communities and adapt them to the demands of the capitalist Even so the question remains as to whether vertical solidarities may not transform themselves into vehicles of social oppression and economic exploitation Here again the role of the State appears critical Nothing is more instructive in this respect than the contrasting fortunes of patronclient ties in Rwanda and Buganda during the colonial era Although each polity underwent fundamental streamlining of its traditional authority structures there was no equivalent in Rwanda for the stringent limitations placed on Ganda landlords by the so-called husulü and nvujjo laws of 1927 both of which gave tenants security of tenure as well 13 FALLERS 1958 The village reactions to the decision of the British administration in 1936 to abolish tribute and replace it with tax paid to the local government treasury provide striking illustration to the behavioral norms that underlie the economy of affection The headmen says FALLERS ibid. 173-174) refused to accept salaries reasoning with quite profound insight that to do so would make them subject to transfer and bureaucratic discipline One village headman explained his dilemma If you pay me to wash my table it will then become your others argued from the same premise that they would rather be allowed to collect one shilling year from each peasant as personal tribute than be paid salary equivalent to twice that




as guarantees of fair .14 In the absence of such limitations and in response to the incessant demands of the Belgian tutelle chiefly landlordism in Rwanda became synonymous with Tutsi oppression even though only tiny fraction of the Tutsi population occupied the roles of chiefs and subchiefs In time the shift from patrimonial to repressive forms of clientelism paved the way for drastic reordering of peasant solidarities the perceived commonalities of class and ethnicity provided the social ballast of revolutionary upheaval that went far beyond the delinking of Hutu clients from Tutsi patrons In Buganda by contrast the points of friction between landlords and tenants were resolved at an early date through the appropriation of landlords estates by their clients and the bakopi-inspired populism of the 1940s was quickly absorbed into the framework of common ethnic solidarities Young 1977 Lemarchand 1977) Quite aside from whether or not appropriate structures of intermedia tion were available to the colonial State it is the cumulative weight of the obligations placed upon them that enables us to comprehend the scale of the disruptions forced upon African peasantries Among such obliga tions compulsory crop cultivation cash crops as well as new famine resistant crops figured prominently on the agenda of the colonial State Some crops however are infinitely more demanding than others in terms of time and labor Cotton far more so than coffee and coffee more than cocoa Again whether cultivation took place within the framework of concessionary system or plantation economy on paysannat or an individual plot implied greater or lesser constraints.15 From the standpoint of the disciplines agraires associated with colonial capitalism none has been more bitterly resented and more disruptive of household economies than the one enforced through the expansion of cotton production Aside from the fact that it is one of the most labor intensive in most parts of Africa cotton production interferes with food crops it thus creates severe labor shortages at the critical juncture when basic food crops need to be harvested It is not matter of coincidence if throughout Africa areas of intensive cotton production are precisely 14 See RICHARDS 1963 273 and WRIGLEY 1964 42 As WRIGLEY notes the busulu and nvujjo laws which he calls Peasant were passed in spite of great deal of opposition of the Great Lukiko or parliament whose members were for the most part landowners from 1927 on at any rate it was provided that obligations should be restricted to tribute or quit rent busulu of ten shillings year and tithe nvujjo of four shillings for each acre of cotton or coffee plus small levies on beer brewed barkcloth and nsh and that he should be guaranteed against eviction so long as he maintained effective occupation of his holding paid the aforesaid dues and behaved towards the landowner with customary obedience and 15 The hellish conditions that have accompanied forced cotton production on large-scale colonial plantations in northern Mozambique are graphically ana lyzed by ISAACMAN et al 1980 for radically different situation reflective of small-scale capitalist mode of production see KAUMI 1949



those where the colonial State also reaped its bitterest harvest of nation alist resistance Southern Chad northern Mozambique eastern Zaire are cases point The scale social disruptions that followed in the wake of forced cotton cultivation in northern Mozambique is amply documented It is estima ted that in 1951 between 3000 and 4000 cotton producers were reported to have died of famine in confronted with such devastating opportunity costs it is easy to see why to avoid the tyranny of the cotton regime many peasants deserted to neighbouring countries or fled to relatively uncontrolled areas in the backwater regions of the colony Isaacman et al 1980 593 Similar withdrawal strategies have taken place in other areas most notably Chad and the Central African Republic In the case of Chad and the CAR however withdrawal was made more difficult by the sheer density of the control network established through the hierarchy of chefs de canton chefs de village boys-coton conducteurs and moniteurs all of whom were actively mobilized on behalf of the compagnies cotonnières through system of bonuses or primes propor tionate to their diligence in recruiting African labor Dampierre 1960 For this and other reasons including the reluctance of African peasants to break all links with their kin and relatives withdrawal from the State has not always been feasible option very different form of withdrawal is of course involved in labor migration The attractiveness of rewards in cash rather than the penalties of compulsory labor is what causes migrant workers to leave their homelands to seek employment in mines or plantations As Bill Freund reminds us 1984 134) the extent to which labor migration disrupted or actually assisted the viability of household production varied enormously not the least on the specific conditions of each individ ual Nonetheless significant distinction can be drawn between cases where migrant worker settles on farm as sharecropper brings his family along and develops mutually rewarding ties of social exchange with his master as is typically the case with the abusa-men of Ghana and on the other hand situations where the migrant worker has no choice but to trek to an industrial labor market to earn some extra cash to sustain his peasant household back home This latter type of situation is the subject of an illuminating discussion by Jelle Van den Berg 1987) based on field data from southern Mozambique He shows that while labor migration to South Africa came about in response to the exigencies of wage-dependent agriculture the great majority of peasant households had to use wage income for the hiring of the injection of cash into peasant households did not significantly affect traditional forms of social exchange including unpaid forms of labor exchange and co operation among families ibid. 387 Again according to Berg the domestic and capitalist modes of production became articulated with each other Family heads played an intermediary role in this process



They lost their income from trade and the export of ivory but through the monetization of bridewealth they monopolized income from labor migration and so maintained their position ibid. 385-386 While the foregoing suggests the existence of mutually reinforcing interactions between economies of affection what Van den Berg the domestic mode of and capitalist economies it also brings to light significant variations in the way in which one articulates with the other More importantly it focusses attention on the relationships between the transformation of peasant agriculture and labor migrations Just as the capitalization of smallholder production may generate the economic pressures that force rural producers into industrial labor circuits the reverse process is no less important Avoidance of labor recruitment may indeed enhance the attractiveness of cash crop and subsistence options At this point depending on variety of factors including pricing policies and land scarcities self-exploitation or agricultural involution becomes distinct possibility It is at this juncture also that the conflict between indigenous and settler capitalism is likely to express itself in its most acute form creating the conditions for the rise of peasant phenomenon ably analyzed by Terence Ranger 1985 in his exploration of the colonial roots of guerilla war in Zimbabwe Although the depth of antagonisms between African and expatriate capitalists cannot be overestimated of more immediate relevance to this discussion are the processes of internal differentiation and conflict that have attended the expansion of settler capitalism In this respect the case of Kenya appears to deviate signif icantly from that of Zimbabwe As recent historical research makes clear long before the outbreak of Mau-Mau Kikuyuland had been the scene of growing internal tensions traceable to capitalist accumulation within Kikuyu society The main points of tension as Lonsdale 1982 sq. shows were between rural accumulators and middle peasants the latter being forced out of their rural homelands by the accumulators between off-farm wage laborers and labor tenants or squatters and between the aspirant bourgeoisie of farmers-traders-teachers and virtually all other categories with the exception of the first The critical factor behind Mau-Mau was not simply the alienation of land to the white settlers but the two-fold process of land concentration within Kikuyu society and the massive exodus of landless elements to the White High lands It is estimated that by the late 1940S approximately one third of the Kikuyu population was thus converted into farm tenants on the Highlands Again to quote from Lonsdale ibid. 6) It was this double peculiarity of the Kikuyu land concentration at home and farm tenantry outside which determined that they and they only would be the seat of violent agrarian revolt which not only set Africans against whites but Kikuyu against Just as the Kenya debate has laid bare process of internal social



differentiation that had gone virtually unnoticed by previous analysts16 the economy of affection debate needs to be recast along similar lines taking full account of the constraints placed upon African peasantries by processes of rural class formation Equally important is the need to assess the impact of the economic and fiscal crises of colonial capitalism on indigenous African institutions.17 The foregoing is merely intended to sketch some possible avenues of investigation To carry the discussion into the post-colonial epoch would take us too far aneld and into journey for which there are as yet too few reliable maps By way of conclusion we shall limit ourselves to brief consideration of peasant responses to market economies Peasant Responses to Market Economies Asked why they declined the invitation to move to paysannat where they could double their income in 1954 group of peasant cotton growers from the Central African Republic then Ubangui-Chari gave the fol lowing answer We earn enough for the time being Enough to pay our taxes What more do you want We are not interested in producing more and my four wives have received CFA irs 25000 for our cotton all we need need to buy truck need brick house with corrugated iron on top want to live in my daub and wattle hut like my father ... need sawing machine Of course my children are sick sometimes but need quinine to cure them Dampierre 1960 146) So much for the profit-maximizing peasant And yet there is little question that different circumstances peasant productivity does tend to rise in response to price incentives The evidence thus appears to substantiate two divergent lines of reasoning that of Hyden which posits certain normative and structural incompatibilities between the economy of affection and the requirements of capitalist economy and that of Bates which stresses the element of economic rationality in peasant behavior careful reading of the works of Elliott 1969 and Scott 1976 shows that the contradiction is more apparent than real The important issue is not whether African peasants are inherently receptive or averse 16 The terms of the debate are excellently summarized by KITCHING 1985 17 For an outstanding example of historical research along these lines see KLEIN ROBERTS 1986 The authors conclusively demonstrate the close correlation between the spectacular increase in pawning practices among the Malinké and the rising fiscal demands forced upon them during the depression in particular the unrelenting demand for cash to pay taxes and to pay for necessities no longer produced locally ibid. 12 am grateful to Kathy Green for drawing my attention to this source



to capitalist economies but the terms on which they are incorporated into such economies The critical variable as Scott has conclusively demonstrated lies the nature of the risks involved in capitalist produc tion The basic choice confronting peasants everywhere is not so much between risk-avoidance and profit-making but how much pront is compat ible with the range of social obligations associated with membership in kinship groups As Hyden correctly argues 1980 192) The most important effect of the economy of affection is not at the political but at the social level It performs an important welfare function in that within the social networks based on the principles of that economy unofficial redistribution of wealth takes Vital as it is this welfare function presupposes significant social investment on the part of individuals primarily in the form of time spent servicing the social networks Thus the marginal utility of cash income must be calculated against the social costs entailed by possible neglect of traditional social obligations Although the amount of time spent in meeting these obligations is bound to vary enormously depending on individual status positions within any given society the more impor tant point is that the introduction of capitalist mode of production almost always entails social and economic risks How much time can be spent on cash cropping as against maintaining kinship bonds giving and receiving status gifts transacting legal proceedings and generally servicing the intricate fabric of their society Elliott 1969 125 is part and parcel of basic social accounting confronting most commodity producers Along with the imperative of the subsistence ethic then the ethics of social obligations to clan client or kin provide the basic parameters within which risk factors are calculated Together they help us under stand why the history of peasant involvement in capitalist economies carried radically different implications from one territory to the next why the introduction of the same cash crop elicited enthusiasm in one case and resistance in the other why changes over time in the organiza tion of cropping patterns were paralleled by dramatic shifts in peasant responses and why so far from inhibiting peasant involvement in capital ist production the welfare function of economy of affection has at times directly contributed to its growth Where the introduction of cash crops preceded the formal imposition of colonial rule developed autonomously among Africans in response to profit incentives and in circumstances that involved few risks for the rural entrepreneurs rural capitalism flourished The spectacular growth of cocoa farming in the Gold Coast and southern Nigeria in the late i9th century is classic and indeed unique example unlike what usually happened elsewhere in the continent cocoa farming Ghana and Nigeria had little to do with revenue collection in the form of head or poll-taxes it was spearheaded by migrant workers and through the intervention of



traditional social structures which as Hopkins notes 1973 217 proved to be an asset rather than and as noted earlier the social networks that developed on the cocoa estates formed the basis of mutually rewarding forms of exchange between landlord and tenants Seldom anywhere has cash cropping encountered more favorable combination of circumstances Elsewhere risk factors assumed far greater significance as in the Ivory Coast where cocoa was introduced as compulsory crop to increase revenue along with forced labor to meet the manpower requirements of the expatriate cocoa and coffee planters The threats posed to the subsistence needs and social obligations of rural Africans explain their overwhelmingly negative reaction to the pressures and incitements of the colonial administration By 1908 cocoa production in the Gold Coast reached 20000 tons as against tons in the Ivory Coast.18 Countless examples could be cited of situations where the encroachment of capi talism entailed prohibitive risks for African producers Such indeed was the case among the Luos in Kenya where the relative disinclination of the rational farmer to grow cotton was increased by the fact that the opportunity cost of growing cotton was growing food and was especially high when the main rains failed Elliott 1969 136 By contrast however cotton cultivation in Buganda met with far more enthusiastic response Kaumi 1949) in part because of heavy reliance for subsistence on an easily grown low labor input crop namely plantain Elliott 1969 137) as against maize which in Kenya required greater labor inputs in part because of substantial flow of cheap labor from Rwanda and last but not least because of better ecological and climatic conditions which greatly lessened the probability of crop failure It is not matter of coincidence if post-war efforts to substitute material inducements for physical constraint have resulted in correspond ing shifts in peasant responses The abolition of forced labor in the Ivory Coast in 1946 signalled major reduction of the social and economic risks faced by cocoa and coffee producers and ushered in period of increased productivity In southern Chad the introduction of forced cotton cultivation in 1928 was made all the more burdensome by the massive labor recruitment that accompanied the construction of the Congo-Ocean rail link the post-war years however saw major reorgani zation of cotton production involving drastic reduction of the size of the production units the introduction of intercropping and substantial increase in the price paid to rural producers As one observer noted

18 KOBBEN 1956 ly By 1908 force was standard feature of French agricultural policies in the Ivory Coast reflecting Governor assumption that vis-à-vis des indigènes de la Côte Ivoire le conseil est inopérant et seul ordre possède une vertu efficace est grâce obligation que la culture du cacaoyer peut se répandre ibid. 18)




la contrainte rigoureuse fait place au lendemain de la guerre la politique de persuasion Gilg 1970 173 Not until the introduction of policies designed to reduce social risks and increase material inducements could persuasion be envisaged as feasible option To posit as matter of principle basic incompatibility between the economy of affection and the ethics of capitalism is clearly untenable In many instances precisely the opposite appears to be the case The point emerges with striking clarity from Nicholas Van discussion 1984 of the expansion of rice-farming in northern Ghana So far from evading opportunities for wage employment rice workers have used the welfare function of their household economies as safety net for pressing their demands for higher wages and better working conditions prompting the author to conclude ibid. 55) Given reasonably viable peasant economy the household may act as refuge into which wage laborers may withdraw if the terms of wage labor are considered poor The viability of the household economy may therefore give workers bargaining strength to press for higher wages and better conditions As result of this men and women in the rural areas can to large extent determine the degree and timing of their incorporation into wage labor ibid. Which brings us back to the point made earlier that peasants are not inevitably drawn kicking and screaming into the Gulags of rural capitalism the conditions of their incorporation including questions of timing and degree are essential variables To carry the argument step further one might also conceive of situations where the normative pressures of the traditional order act as major incentives for involvement in the capitalist economy Rather than the economy of affection providing margin of security for extracting higher benefits from capitalist employers here the shoe is on the other foot with the rewards of the capitalist economy providing the guarantees as it were of continuing or increasing high social standing in traditional milieux In this sense the feedback of the capitalist economy into traditional social networks can only help reinforce their hold on society As has been shown repeatedly by students of Hausa commu nities their involvement in merchant capitalism has done little to diminish the strength of what Nicolas 1969 1968 refers to as économie obiettive In fact ostentatious gift-giving has become more widespread with the expansion of credit facilities and banking giving birth to an increasingly arcane network of dependencies between modern and tradi tional economic sectors While the exigencies of conspicuous consump tion more often than not in the form of biki offerings stimulate involvement in commerce and banking another consequence of the économie oblative has been to generate new forms of dependence as between civil servants and money lenders or merchants the former trading on their political clout to extract loans from the latter and new sources of inequality as between politicians civil servants and



rural notables on the one hand and their respective peasant clienteles on the other Involvement in the money economy does more than help lubricate the wheels of the affective economy it also carries high potential for social conflict For if it is beyond the capacity of the bush peasant to emulate the wealth and prestige of the merchant class Alhazai or the influence of the civil servants the dominant class characteristics and quasi-hegemonic position are not easily chal lenged or mitigated by the effects or affects of the economy of affection That the terms of incorporation into the capitalist economy may differ significantly from one social category to another that the feelings of trust that predominate at one level may translate into mutual distrust at another and that the imperatives of traditional norms may generate their own perverse effects these are some of the more critical questions that need to be addressed if we are to move beyond the realm of metaphor into the domain of comparative political anthropology Commenting on the myth of Caring Africa according to which African societies. had kind of moral grandeur in that the extended family system would always provide for the widow and the orphan and so there would be no one who was conspicuously poorer than anyone else Roland Oliver 1988 571 notes that this myth was built into the research outlook of most social anthropologist while figuring strongly among the key ideas of African Socialism and African Humanism propounded by so many of the political leaders of the independence period That something of this myth is also built into the economy of affection paradigm is undeniable And yet as Oliver himself admits it is myth which does bear some relationship to reality It is this relationship that we have tried to explore in the preceding pages Even though the weight of evidence argues for considerable caution in the handling of the paradigm the questions it raises cannot be ignored As is by now clear not ev erything about the economy of affection is reducible to myth but unless an attempt is made to clarify its meaning pin down its analytic virtues and shortcomings and test its relevance to concrete situations it may well end up reinforcing the appeal of the Caring Africa mythology University of Florida Department of Political Science Gainesville io8<)

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