FREEDOM AND SUSTAINABILITY:
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF PLANNED AND SPONTANEOUS
SETTLEMENT IN TOGO
PAMELA F. POZARNY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
my eternal mentor and friend
and to my parents
all of whom guided me
toward my own independence and freedom
through trust, enduring support,
tolerance, and example.
The ideas and scholarship embedded in this study are largely the result of
seven years' guidance and collaboration with my Chair and major professor, Ronald
Cohen, who has channelled my transformation in perspective of development in
Africa from what he refers to as my "appealing naivete," to a much more
sophisticated, analytical, and critical level of understanding. While encouraging me to
hold onto my bursting enthusiasm, he expanded my sensitivity to grassroots Africa to
wider and deeper boundaries. With the tools of inquiry and knowledge, he has
inspired me to continue reaching for theoretical understanding of everyday life in
I thank my committee members, specifically my cochair Art Hansen, for
assuming support and leadership during the critical completion period of the
dissertation, and for offering concrete advice and direction for my fieldwork on
settlement. Goran Hyden has continually provided invaluable exposure and direction
to my theoretical understanding of Africa throughout my graduate training. He has
been a key, but often quiet player in stimulating my understanding of the relationship
between local-level action and governance. His ideas are woven throughout this study,
particularly influencing my views of participation. Chris Andrew has been a
concerned, and reliably objective critic of my work and approach to African
development. His candid counseling on prioritizing, organizing and managing my
work and life will have an enduring after-life. I also appreciate the contribution of
Deirdre Crumbley, who has understood well the challenges to completing the degree.
The Center for African Studies and Director Peter Schmidt have been
immensely supportive assisting me throughout my graduate program. The teaching
opportunities during write-up, in particular, have been invaluable sources for
presenting and defending my ideas, and helping me synthesize and share my own
interest and concerns, commitment, and zeal for Africa. The Department of
Anthropology, including the Chair John Moore, and the administrative staff, Lois,
Pat, and Karen, have relentlessly encouraged my progress through diverse, voluntary
assistance, all delivered with sincere and personal attention.
The fieldwork study in Togo was possible by a Fulbright grant awarded by the
Board of Scholarships and USIA in collaboration with Benin Universit6. At the
university, Rector Komlavi Seddoh was helpful in paving my way into the halls of
Togolese academia, librarian Director E.E. Amah exposed me to key resources, and
scholars G.N. Kenkou and Koffi Akibod6 assisted me in refining my research
methods and analyses.
I am indebted to a number of key individuals ho facilitated my research in the
field. In Mo, S6d6gnan Kedagni, Director of Plan-Central, relentlessly contributed to
advancing my fieldwork through logistical and theoretical support. He enriched and
advanced my data analysis, becoming a genuine partner in my studies of Mo
development, and a warm friend. Napo Tanghanwaye, Director of National Parks, a
longtime friend and colleague, was predictably resourceful in assisting my entry and
settlement into Mo through hiatuses in Binaparba, and invariably interested and
enthusiastic throughout my research. Our friendship matures and ripens steadily
through time. I am also indebted to the Mo chefs secteurs, Napo and Ketatal6, for
providing unwavering assistance and friendship. While forging rivers, trekking hills,
and sharing meals, our exchanges transformed from mutual curiosity to investment
and sincere respect and concern. Chiefs of Boulo and Tagba enriched my
understanding of Mo immensely, and illustrated the boundlessness of Mo-farmer
generosity and pride. Prefet of Soutouboua Kouami Pounpouni offered sensitive
insight, especially from an ethno-historical perspective, from which I benefitted
immensely. I also thank my loyal assistant Dream, who contributed much more than
interpretation of daily and rare events encountered, enabling me to enter the heartbeat
of Mo through opening his own world to me. My dear friend and "family" Fili was
an unwavering and welcome face at the end of everyday, sustaining my Mo existence
in style. FED-Bassar, specifically, Directors Moreau Lorrent and Allasane Traor6,
and Paulin Ewovor also were helpful in expediting my work in Mo.
In FED, Ahounde Tendoh, chef-secteur of Broukou, was indispensable to my
fieldwork. His patience and adeptness for problem-solving merits him the status of a
true diplomat. I am forever grateful to him. Sustained advocacy and attention for my
research from FED Directors, Eklou, Nebona, Tinka, and particularly Dogbe,
provided me rich insight to the longitudinal changes in FED through animated debate
concerning development in Africa. Both my FED assistants, Innocent and Claude,
enhanced my understanding of the project and of anthropological fieldwork, more by
their own beliefs and behaviors than the interview information they transmitted. Their
hard efforts warrant my sincere appreciation. Most important, with no uncertainty, the
Lombena family opened their hearts to me in blind trust, sharing the privacy of their
lives and beliefs. This family shaped the soul of this dissertation by enabling and
encouraging my own participation as a settler child. I especially thank Ladi, who
understood much more than she lead on.
In Lome, the Adjavon family rendered continuous generosity and warmth
during my visits, and always supplied open and honest criticisms of my work. I
appreciate the staff of ORSTOM, SOTED, FED, and UB for assisting my
documentation research and pointing out to me other more obscure works of interest.
Many other friends throughout Togo, of which there are too many to mention here,
selflessly offered support and motivation throughout my fieldwork.
Many friends in local networks have encouraged my progress and
unconditionally supported me during my writing. Each in their own way gave me
inspiration and confidence. I am especially grateful for concerned, relentless support
from the Cohens, Agnes Leslie, and Deb, who helped me spin my wheels. My
deepest appreciation and gratitude is extended to Anne Todd-Bockarie for helping me
with the most essential element of my work, myself. I also want to acknowledge the
fine assistance and editing work of Margaret Joyner, who added dimension to the
"final days," and Chuck Kincaid, for his keen interest in my research and patience in
the cadence of my grasp of numbers.
Finally, I want to thank my siblings, Eddie and Jill, and again my parents, for
sustaining confidence in me and motivating me toward successfully completing my
goal. Inquiry, social adaptation, freedom and independence have been the fodder of
our family hearth. These attributes underlie this dissertation and my continuing pursuit
What is the appropriate role of the state in rural development in Africa today?
What degree of directed government assistance versus spontaneous farmer initiative
best ensures sustainable community development combined with stewardship and
responsibility toward the natural resource base? These are the fundamental questions
directing this research. My goal in this research is to examine the processes that lead
to understanding real needs for more incorporation or more disengagement of
individuals with the state and vice versa. The longer-term goal of such research is to
understand how to develop more responsive and effective state institutions which
incorporate a participatory approach.
The contribution that case-study, local-level analysis of the effectiveness the state
in rural development in current Africa should not be underestimated. Theoretical
understanding of state-society relations is gained through examination of the degree
and incorporation of participatory versus top-down models in actual development
programs. In this study, the research design relies on empirical research of state-
society relations by comparison of cases of spontaneous and planned settlement in
Togo, West Africa. In illustrating dramatic differences of state control on rural
settlement, I then analyze their immediate and long-term results. My aim is to
interpret and explain outcomes of the two settlements to garner key lessons from each
which inform future policy toward settlement, migration, and development at large.
Organization of the Dissertation
Organization of this dissertation is comprised of three main sections: (1)
Introduction; (2) Research findings; and (3) Conclusion. Section one includes three
chapters: (1) an examination of the theoretical focus of this research study (including
a review of "residues" from former perspectives leading to my own theoretical
framework), and an introduction to key issues in settlement studies relevant to this
research; (2) Background to the Kabye (primary settler group), the Mo plain
(spontaneous settlement), and the FED project (planned settlement); and (3) an
account of methods applied in conducting and analyzing findings from this research.
Section two includes five chapters, each comprised of data presentation and analysis
comparing sites. These chapters concern: (4) state support regarding infrastructural
development and government presence; (5) relations between settlers; (6) relations
between autocthones and settlers; (7) agricultural and natural resource management
systems (including agroeconomic outcomes); and (8) levels of satisfaction among
settlers, and their prospects and intentions toward the future. Section three is
comprised exclusively of a final summary and conclusion.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ... ............................... iii
PREFACE ......................................... viii
LIST OF TABLES .... ................. ................ xii
LIST OF FIGURES ..... ......................... ....... xiv
ABSTRACT ................................. ... ...... xv
1 RESIDUES TOWARD FREEDOM: THEORIES OF AFRICAN
DEVELOPMENT APPLIED TO STUDIES OF SETTLEMENT ....... 1
Theories of African Development .......................... 1
Key Issues in Studies of Settlement ....................... 21
2 BACKGROUND TO SETTLERS AND SITES ................. 43
The Kabye ....................................... 44
The Mo Plain: The Spontaneous Settlement .................. 81
The FED Project: Planned Settlement ...................... 96
3 METHODS OF RESEARCH .. ....................... .. 117
Inductive and Deductive Research Approaches ............... 118
Research Design ................................... 122
4 PRESENCE OF STATE SUPPORT .......................
Infrastructural Conditions and Maintenance ..................
Government Representation ............................
5 SOCIAL ORGANIZATION AND SETTLER RELATIONS ........
Social Processes for Mo Plain Settlers . . . ..... 173
Social Processes for FED Settlers ................ ........ 205
6 SETTLER-AUTOCTHONE RELATIONS: A QUESTION OF LAND .
Relations in the Mo Plain .............................
Relations in the FED Project ...........................
7 AGRICULTURAL AND NATURAL RESOURCE SYSTEMS: LESSONS
FROM SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SETTLEMENTS ............
Agricultural Practices in the Mo Plain ....................
Agricultural Practices in FED ..........................
8 SATISFACTION: DETERMINANTS TOWARDS SUCCESS .......
Settler Satisfaction .................................
Forecast for the Future ...............................
Speaking with Their Feet .............................
Role of Autonomy .................................
9 CONCLUSIONS: COMMITMENT TO SUCCESS .............
Summary of Research Findings ..........................
Appendix A: Outline of Semi-Structured Questionnaire ...........
Appendix B: Questions Defining Compound Variable of Autonomy ....
REFERENCES ................... .....................
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................
LIST OF TABLES
2-1. Population increase and density ............................ 60
2-2. M igration patterns .................................... 61
5-1. Comparison of sources of settler information and sponsorship . ... 174
5-2. Comparison of participation in labor and credit associations . ... 191
7-1. Comparison of sources and availability of land . . . ..... 256
7-2. Comparison of perceptions and management of natural resources ...... .258
7-3. Comparison of labor systems ................... ......... 261
7-4. Comparison of cropping systems and production levels . . .... 264
7-5. Comparison of extension policy, services offered, and outcomes ....... 267
7-6. Comparison of annual production and consumption of maize and sorghum 282
7-7. Crop production yields in FED over time . . . ... ....... 288
7-8. Comparison of income generating activities . . . ..... 298
7-9. Comparison of animal ownership and annual income generated by
sale of animals ..................................... 298
8-1. Comparison of settler satisfaction (reported better off, as percent of sample) 321
8-2. Comparison between home village and settlement ................ 322
8-3. Effects of duration in settlement on settler attitudes and behavior . 323
8-4. Income and socioeconomic status as reflected in purchases of material goods 324
8-5. Socioeconomic status by farmer status as reflected in purchases of
material goods ..................................... 326
8-6. Settler status and income (CFA) ................................. 327
8-7. Comparison of estimated average annual gross and net household incomes (CFA) 327
8-8. Comparison of household financial responsibility (% of respondents) . 339
8-9. Comparison of duration of settlers in settlement and perception of
responsibility for development ........................... 346
8-10. Comparison of settler opinions on defection (% of respondents) ....... 362
8-11. Comparative analysis of compound variables using both t-test and
W ilcoxon Sum test .................................. 377
LIST OF FIGURES
1-1. Settlement sites in Togo .................................. 42
2-1. Comparison of population growth over time ................... 64
2-2. The spontaneous settlement site on the Mo Plain ................ 82
2-3. The planned settlement site of the Fonds Europ6en de D6veloppement
(FED ) . . . . . . . . . . 101
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
FREEDOM AND SUSTAINABILITY:
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF PLANNED AND SPONTANEOUS
SETTLEMENT IN TOGO
Pamela F. Pozarny
Chairman: Ronald Cohen
Cochairman: Art Hansen
Major Department: Anthropology
Failure of the African state, manifested in increasing economic, political and
environmental problems, has drawn researchers to rethink state-society relations,
particularly the society factor in the equation. The focus of this research is an
examination of the effects of varying degrees of incorporation of rural people into
structures of the modern state. Scholars differ in their perspectives of the appropriate
role of the state, ranging from the state-centric, centralized model, to one of classic
liberalism assuming uncertainty in development. Although scholars debate the most
effective role of the African state in terms of economic, political and social outcomes,
there is little research on the detailed effects of state control on rural farmers.
By examining farmers relocating to new lands under varying degrees of
government intervention, one a spontaneous settlement, the other, a government-
planned agricultural settlement, both in Togo, West Africa, this research focuses on
the extent of farmer articulation with the central government resulting in development
successes and failures to identify appropriate conditions wherein government
assistance leads to empowerment, autonomy, and sustainability.
Findings of this research indicate that a participatory approach to development,
and settlement in specific, ensures the greatest degree of settler investment and
permanence leading to long-term stewardship and sustainability of the environment.
Where settlers maintain greater responsibility and decision-making power over the
social and physical conditions and development of their landscapes, they are better
prepared to confront uncertain and challenging difficulties common to rural farmers in
Africa. In contrast, where authoritarian governments limit farmer participation by
providing "total" environments largely sponsored and designed by Westerners, overly
rigid, unresponsive, often inappropriate projects ensue, preventing farmer initiative
and flexibility essential for sustainable development.
This research illustrates that marriage between state-support and farmer
autonomy is the most effective means to sustainable growth and development in
Africa. When state assistance is conceived in collaboration with local populations, it
should result in appropriate long-term benefits for infrastructure, environmental
protection, and agricultural development. The legacy of overly centralized dirigisme
provokes project failures and dependency; farmer freedom generates creative energy
for problem-solving and success.
RESIDUES TOWARD FREEDOM:
THEORIES OF AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT APPLIED
TO STUDIES OF SETTLEMENT
The utility of any theory is to make sense out of otherwise random events
(W.F. Ilchman, Rising Expectations and the Revolution in Development,
Even if the government thinks it knows what ought to be done, it will
try to do so in the worst possible way, which is to say uniformly,
systematically, politically and ignorantly. The last is an argument for
localizing-even for privatizing- the management of welfare and other
social programs, on the notion that encouraging a variety of approaches
is the best hope for learning what works in any particular place. But it
is also an acknowledgement that we haven't learned it yet (William
Raspberry, Gainesville Sun, January 4, 1995:8A).
Theories of African Development
What exactly should be the role of the state in Africa is hazy in both detail and
even macro ideological terms. It is still poorly understood primarily because of the
haziness of actual state-society relations. I believe this is largely due to researchers'
use of assumptions based on ideologically informed approaches that have obscured
real world conditions of state-society interdependence. The state has not been
RESIDUES TOWARD FREEDOM:
THEORIES OF AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT APPLIED
TO STUDIES OF SETTLEMENT
The utility of any theory is to make sense out of otherwise random events
(W.F. Ilchman, Rising Expectations and the Revolution in Development,
Even if the government thinks it knows what ought to be done, it will
try to do so in the worst possible way, which is to say uniformly,
systematically, politically and ignorantly. The last is an argument for
localizing-even for privatizing- the management of welfare and other
social programs, on the notion that encouraging a variety of approaches
is the best hope for learning what works in any particular place. But it
is also an acknowledgement that we haven't learned it yet (William
Raspberry, Gainesville Sun, January 4, 1995:8A).
Theories of African Development
What exactly should be the role of the state in Africa is hazy in both detail and
even macro ideological terms. It is still poorly understood primarily because of the
haziness of actual state-society relations. I believe this is largely due to researchers'
use of assumptions based on ideologically informed approaches that have obscured
real world conditions of state-society interdependence. The state has not been
Failure of the African state (Wunsch and Olowu 1990), manifested in
increasing economic, political, and environmental problems, has drawn researchers to
rethink state-society relations, particularly the society factor in the equation. Among
scholars, there is little consensus on the appropriate role of African populations in
state governance. Although scholars have been debating the most effective role of the
state in terms of economic and political factors and outcomes, there is limited actual
research on the detailed effects of state control on society, of societal use of state
resources, or the nexus between the two.
Former theories and perspectives on African development that have stood the
challenge of time and hard criticism serve as residues informing current state-society
models. In this chapter, I analyze how former theories have addressed and contributed
to debates over state-society relations. I ask the question: What have been their
perspectives, what are their theoretical weaknesses and flaws, how can we improve
upon and contribute to their analyses to gain greater insight of current state-society
relations in Africa?
I follow this lofty theoretical analysis with a real-world application. I introduce
the direction of this research by providing essential background to the study of
settlements,1 presenting key elements of settlement operations, and discussing overall
settlement weaknesses and concerns held among scholars of settlement.
1Not surprisingly, key findings and issues which emerge from my own research coincide with the main
foci of studies on settlement.
In this section, I analyze perspectives of state-society relations from four broad
theories of African development: modernization theory, dependency theory, Marxism,
and liberalism. In reality, these theories are not mutually exclusive, but rather similar
and overlapping, particularly dependency and Marxism. I have nonetheless distin-
guished the four as separate to gain analytical depth and clarity in this discussion.
Modernization theory. The central theme of modernization theory was built
upon the belief that growth through industrialization equalled development (Rostow
1960). A new, autonomous African independent nation was to emerge through
creating a more rational economic system and modernized social and cultural people.
This goal was to be achieved by promoting import substitution through
industrialization and export agricultural production. Industrialization was to expand in
effort to increase exports (including agriculture and commercial goods), thus
increasing foreign revenue to stimulate the internal economy.2 During this period, in
consequence, a number of large-scale agricultural programs were initiated (such as
settlement schemes) for export cash-crop production using the philosophy and
technologies of modernization.
The recipe for industrialization required social and political institutional
changes as well as changes in economic policy. The modern industrial work
environment required a behavioral shift from the traditional African work style, one
2 Modernization theorists assumed (falsely) that food production in Africa was self-sufficient and
capable of expanding to support increased urban populations created by modernization. This would drain
off the underemployed, leaving rural producers to increase efficiency and gain greater income. Greater
urban food needs would also benefit rural sectors and be paid for by industrialization (Lipton 1976).
of intermittent, varied intensity and often collective and shared labor, to a more
Western industrial system characterized by regularity, consistency, dependability,
punctuality, and individual work (Apter 1965; Inkeles and Smith 1974; Lerner 1958).
To be modern was not just a set of dynamic conditions, but a state of mind. Social
change held a personal meaning for individuals. The "modern man" (Inkeles and
Smith 1974) was expected to shed former behaviors and attitudes to adopt a
progressive, modernizing work ethic that was believed to be necessary in stimulating
the growth of the national economy.3
Modernization theorists viewed development and growth as the release and
growth of productive forces in society. The role of the state, therefore, was to
provide the conditions to "enable" the capacity for growth and progress in both rural
and urban areas (Apter 1965). Rural areas, however, bore the pains of national
economic growth. Little government incentive or concern was directed toward
understanding the actual state of rural conditions. Emphasis on industrialization and
urbanization created a bias against the rural sector causing inequities and injustices in
the name of "development" (Lipton 1976). This created discrimination against rural
sectors, squeezing rural poor into worsened conditions, while urban migration lead to
further imbalance (Lipton 1976).4 Allocated resources, available through export
3 The rural farmer viewed as a program beneficiary, or executor, of project goals is one result of this
4 Rural taxation, artificially suppressing prices to producers for food production, and minimum
infrastructural development (except to ensure food transport to the urban centers) are examples of strategies
applied by urban-based political elites to economically squeeze rural farmers in favor of satisfying the more
critical, potentially threatening, urban populations.
revenues or foreign assistance, were rarely directed toward rural areas (as was well
illustrated in the Mo plain).5
National integration and unification became the dominant theme of many
African nations during the modernization period (such as Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria,
Cameroon, Togo) (Ake 1967; Emerson 1962; Hodgkin 1957). Extensive state
involvement in all national affairs led by a political elite was believed to provide the
appropriate economic and social atmosphere leading to industrial modernization
(Huntington 1987).6 The political system of modernizing nations was, following the
model of the colonial rule, authoritarian and structured into a unified one-party
regime (defended as culturally African because it was "communitarian," rather than
democratic). Although the political system of nationalization was cloaked in African
dress, it bore the skeletal framework of former colonial rule. Traditional, familiar,
deep-rooted African cultural symbols and beliefs were used by politicians to
"promote" new, national economic goals. Yet for most rural African farmers, the
state appeared unchanged. It maintained the same dominant, intervening, imposing
character that the colonial regime had formerly held.
Identification and association with ethnicity, lineage, and region were to be
secondary to nationhood.7 The individual was to transform into the "modern person."8
5 Urban food prices were kept low and stabilized from price fluctuations by government policies and
regulations, such as marketing boards.
6 The strength and fervor of the nationalizationeffort was largely motivated by the personal interests
of members of the political elite and urban populations, many of whom were Western-trained.
7 Phrases such as "die for the clan, live for the nation," used by the first President of Cameroon,
Ahmadu Ahidjo, reflect the atmosphere during this period of development and modernization.
Through greater awareness and exchange of ideas, people were to develop opinions
about government and society. Formulation of opinion would stimulate people's
greater participation in politics. People's values regarding traditional cultural practices
and beliefs, however, were to change. Ideas about community, family, and gender
roles were to be reshaped. Modern man was to be liberated from traditional bonds by
becoming more mobile, individualistic, and empathetic toward other modern
individuals (exemplified in the persona required of settlers who entered the FED
scheme). Increased education and exposure built expectations among people to capture
better opportunities and improve their lives. Unmet expectations lead to
disillusionment and frustration.
To attempt to minimize or erase the reality of pre-existing identities and values
and build a unified, umbrella nation-state was ineffective and unrealistic. Groups
formed by state authorities (such as those in the planned settlement) were often
inoperative because they were unfounded. The strength of indigenous associations and
weaknesses ("softness") of government hindered the progress and further development
of industrialization and modernization. During this period, Third World dependence
on financial and technical assistance from developed countries, seen as a necessary
"temporary" step toward greater autonomy and independence, was an assumption
seriously challenged by dependency theorists whose work also began to emerge at this
8 Reshaping the individual through the spread of literacy and media were considered critical elements
to the modernization progression (Inkeles and Smith 1974; Lerner 1958).
Dependency theory. In opposition to the modernization perspective,
dependency theorists challenged the concept of the African nation as isolated and
independent, and placed the blame for Third World poverty, dependency, and
unattained goals on external factors outside the new nation-state (Cardoso 1972;
Fanon 1963; Frank 1969; Leys 1975; Myrdal 1969; Rodney 1972). The causes of
poverty, according to dependency theorists, lie in power differences between wealthy
core and peripheral poor countries. Exploitation through resource extraction and
unequal trade prices have allowed richer, more powerful developed countries to
dominate and control the economic life of less developed Third World nations for
their own interests.9 This unequal relationship has existed for centuries, argue
proponents of dependency, which makes a break with core-peripheral relations all the
more revolutionary and difficult, yet necessary.
In order to cut the tie, Third World nations needed to gain greater autonomy
through self-sufficiency and reduced foreign dependence. African nations needed to be
liberated from foreign dominance (Fanon 1963; Myrdal 1969; Rodney 1972). Rather
than imperialistic foreign-owned and -operated, the dependency theorists
enthusiastically supported increased control and ownership of banks, industries, and
According to dependency theorists, agricultural export based on the concept of "comparative advantage"
was a false notion, placing the less developed nations in severe economic straits. Western countries
captured control of the world market to maintain cheap prices of goods and food imported from Third
World nations. By selling exports high and importing cheap, Western nations were able to maintain an
unequal, exploitative balance of trade between themselves and less developed nations.
larger business operations by the state.10 As the only viable and capable institution to
manage national affairs, they believed the state must be the lead player in barring
foreign exploitation and stimulating internal growth.
Ironically, dependency theorists paralleled modernization theorists by
considering the state the most powerful and effective source able to change and
improve national and international conditions. The state was seen as dedicated to
"real" development (meaning welfare as well as growth), while the private sector was
by definition oriented to growth alone." Political elites gained increased opportunities
to entrench the one-party state regime and further build on the foundations of a
centralized controlling state already set in place by modernization proponents.
I hasten to point out that scholars have identified both positive and negative
outcomes of capitalist penetration of the urban and rural sectors (Warren 1980; World
Bank 1981). Although it is true that groups have remained peripheral or not captured
by capitalist investments and state welfare policies, it is invalid to suggest that little or
no development or growth occurred in Third World nations during this period.
Foreign investment increased Third World development by increasing cash crop
production, improving urban and rural welfare conditions, including improving health
conditions, providing infrastructural support through roads and water supplies.
'o State parastatal agencies were thought to provide effective means to overcoming foreign-dominated
In parallel, cultural imperialism was combatted with an "indigenization" of African values and
behavior. "Africanization" of society was to override the Western influences which had penetrated during
the modernization period.
Marxist-Socialism. Fundamental to the Marxist perspective in Africa was that
elimination of capitalism would allow for Marxist state control, for example, through
Marxist-Leninist socialist governments which would create a development polity
ensuring social justice and prosperity in the interest of the masses (Young 1982). This
centralized planning would entail nationalization of most sectors and activities in
society, including agriculture, business, banking, transportation, education, and social
services, including health care. The critical element to Marxist nationalization is the
one-party state where the party represented the people. The notion of traditional
African society conveniently fit into the Marxian class-based model.12 Similar to the
dependency school, one expression or branch of Marxist thought, Marxist-Leninism,
in Africa meant a strong and ruling state (administered by an elite political class).
The Marxist state is a bird's eye perspective. It follows a top-down,
scientifically planned and operated blueprint approach to government. In the Marxist
state, the polity has synoptic knowledge of societal activities, capable of directing all
national activities from central state headquarters. In attempting to remove itself from
society, however, the state loses communication, understanding, and control of
society, and becomes increasingly paranoid and vulnerable to corruption (see Beetham
1994 on positives and negatives of this approach).3 State leaders cannot respond
effectively to local needs when they are not in position to hear them.
12 For Marx, class "consciousness" is essential to class action. A class must be of and for itself to act
as a unit.
3 Authoritarian, centrallycontrolledpolitiesare highly exposed and vulnerable to going "soft" (corrupt
and inefficient) due to waste, corruption, inefficiency, and poor planning.
The strong role of the state has been considered ineffective in providing for
"all" members of the nation. The welfare state was to provide for the collective needs
of all, but many people, particularly the rural poor, did not always receive adequate
support.14 Overly authoritarian state control is myopic, resulting in top-down,
inoperative states reflecting little of actual state-society conditions. The state-centric
approach not only inhibits growth of local initiatives. Too often it also increases
coercion and injustice. Coercive means of control limit the spontaneous responses to
information and opportunities required for development and economic growth.
The absence of secured welfare has led people to focus on meeting their own
minimal needs through traditional, widely diverse groups and associations based on
relations lying outside state control. The powerful strength and persistence of these
traditional networks, what Hyden (1980) calls the "economy of affection," largely lies
in the secondary, parallel, informal economy. These relations, it has been shown
(Hyden 1980; Rothchild and Chazan 1988), provide a more secure means of survival
for many rural peoples who find it easy to use their isolation and lack of state
effectiveness to carry on a semi-autonomous way of life within states unable to
implement their mobilization policies (relations among farmers of the spontaneous
settlement particularly function in this manner).5
14 Results of Marxist governments have been mixed: economic growth has shown to be below levels
of other, capitalist-oriented, African states; Marxist rhetoric to create equality has largely eluded Marxist
states; human rights violations and generally coercive regimes have been found to be as repressive and
unjust as in other African states; and overall capacity and performance of the Marxist state has led to over-
developed governments and corrupt, predatory regimes (Young 1982).
15 President Julius Nyerere's Tanzania Ujaama villagizationprogram (Hyden 1983) exemplifies how
a nationalization effort of centralized settlement fell short of its goal of peasant incorporation to the state
By admitting the failure of state-directed programs, the societal factor could no
longer be ignored. The complexity of societal groups was seen to complement or even
bypass state rule. The state was no longer believed to be a unifying and centralized
institution, but rather a porous political system comprised of individuals and specific
groups vying for power and authorized control within and outside of the official
political arena (Migdal 1987).
The failure of the state in Africa has been analyzed recently by scholars such
as Hyden and Bratton (1992), Rothchild and Chazan (1988), and Wunsch and Olowu
(1990). They conclude that the strong centralized African state paradigm is ineffective
and in crisis. Personal and group interests, plus the marketability of state decisions
(Cohen 1988) combined with diminishing available resources, have led political actors
to deceit and corruption. Economic crises have led in turn to a crisis of legitimation,
a fundamental questioning of the effectiveness, acceptability, and moral rectitude of
the African state.
In parallel, increasing international interdependency among nations (including
developing nations) has encouraged an opening up of political systems and a turn to
more dialogue between nations. Centralized regimes obstruct the participation, free
movement of goods and people, and creativity by members of society which are
theorized to be necessary for growth and development. Certainly, at a gross or macro-
level this is an emerging assumption of the 1990s (as witnessed in the "opening" of
centralized nations, notably Russia or South Africa).
due to farmers' continued employment of an exit option where a "dual or parallel economy" expanded
beyond the reach of the central state.
Western liberalism. A fundamental contrast between conceptions of the liberal
and the Marxist-Leninist centralized state lies in the varying degree of control and
planned state intervention which occurs in each. Liberal state leaders do not assume
that progress demands control and synoptic knowledge over society. Marxian-oriented
leaders, in contrast, believe in a common Weltanschauung, the possibility of absolute
penetration of ideology and regulation to form a one-party, unified state (Lindblom
1977). According to liberals, society is not a homogeneous unit, but a conglomerate
of differentiated, autonomous units which lie in, outside, and cut across the formal
divisions between state and society (Almond 1960).
The internal interacting elements of society consistently undermine efforts at
state control because they are both enduring and spontaneous formations based on
traditional relationships, contemporary groupings, self-initiative, and mutual
adjustment among individuals and groups whose multitudes of interactions are so
numerous and so complex as to defy anything like complete control (Hayek 1960). In
effect, the state cannot ever fully regulate many of the traditional and intermittent
structures of society (such as kinship, religion, trades networks, and so on). Nor can
they ever be totally assimilated into the state.
Liberals argue that people and interest groups act based on their own volition.
Individuals in the liberal state are free and unpredictable (Beetham 1994). Individuals
actively search for their own particular solutions to immediate and long-term
constraints through self-initiative, and creativity and processing of information
required (Hyden's uncapturedd peasant"). They are not merely passive, monistic, or
easily regulated, as demonstrated by settlers in both sites. On the other hand, like
molecules in a crystal formation, they (individuals) do maintain limited and adapting
patterns of action from the past and from aggregating agreements on rules of order
Because the liberal democratic state assumes incomplete knowledge and
uncertainty over society (Lindblom 1977), it is not rigid and fixed, stifling spontaneity
and initiative. Liberalism allows for openness, flexibility, pluralism, and diversity. It
maintains open pathways of communication linking the interpenetrating and
multidimensional strata and sectors of society, both vertically and horizontally. Thus
information is not truncated, but widely spread and shared among individuals in the
liberal state. According to Beetham (1994) liberal democracy is always an unfinished
Fluid communication channels in society offer individuals and groups
opportunities to collect and absorb information appropriate and essential to their
specific needs. Increased information channels allow for greater amounts of
knowledge to be shared among both the polity and society and lead to more effective
and accountable policy in decision-making (Inkeles and Smith 1974). Greater ease and
use of communication among groups determines a more efficient, effective society,
economy, and state. This is the key ingredient, according to Almond (1960), to
effective state-society boundary maintenance and/or "relations" in more contemporary
Problem-solving allows for conflict, disagreement, and criticism. Opposition of
all kinds, especially legitimate political parties, is fundamental to liberal democratic
states. For Hayek (1944), individuals' interests, freedom, values, and needs should
guide state action. Diversity, increased participation, shared resources, and power
characterize the democratic liberal state. "To turn the whole of society into a single
organization built and directed according to a single plan would be to extinguish the
very forces that shaped the individual human minds that planned it" (Hayek 1960:37).
The liberal paradigm, in contrast to the Marxist-socialist orientation, calls for
greater degrees of freedom in society and in the economy by a reduction of the state
through the divesture of parastatals, plus increased local participation and democratic
political practices. Increased freedoms allow for free association and greater
participation without fear. The presence of more national equity, justice, and political
accountability is fostered through liberalization, the competitive opening up of
political and economic activity (Kennedy 1994).
In a liberal capitalist system, guidelines drawn by state authorities are used to
regulate or assist, but not control economic (market forces), political, and
sociocultural activities. Strategies of liberal states are based on incremental feedback
operations which generate decentralization of control, fragmentation of responsibility,
decisions, and influences. As Aron (1967) argues, planned and spontaneous forces
should dictate the liberal democratic social agenda and its ordered existence.
Economic development should enable and protect real freedoms to emerge in a liberal
democracy. A dialectic between democracy and authority creates a tension where
minimum rules and dependency coincidentally exist with pluralism and initiative
According to capitalist liberals, maximum rationalization is achieved through a
competitive, capitalist market economy." Penetration of Western capitalism is meant
to foster and facilitate greater indigenous economic activity already existing in the
informal, parallel economy (Almond 1960; Callaghy 1988; Dei 1993; Essombe-Edimo
1993; Hyden 1980; MacGaffey 1988). In place of the strong state dogma, a more
democratic and eclectic approach to economic growth is now the focus of many
African states. As the formal market expands into less formal, parallel economies, a
more diverse array of actors will participate in, and have greater access to formal
market opportunities and goods (Bernal 1994). A number of scholars agree that
participation and democracy are inseparable (Beetham 1994; Pateman 1970), so as
economic liberalism expands, so in turn will democratic practices. I agree with
Warren (1980), capitalism correlates with democracy and some operative balance
between both state regulation and societal dynamism is essential to a liberal political
Residual theory. In sum, the state-centric (Marxist) paradigm remains limited
in theory and practice. The state alone cannot provide society with basic needs and
services. Its own financial constraints and its inability to identify real needs in
6 It is often overlooked that Marx also recognized the necessity for this as an avenue for establishing
a socialist state with a respect for democracy and a developed economy (Warren 1980).
7 Because the state cannot create the nation's wealth, privatization, competition, and foreign investment
are encouraged to stimulate the much-needed growth.
complex, plural societies from its birds' eye vantage point limits its capacity to realize
its declared objectives for effective government. By inducing development through
imposed, top-down programs, the state prevents the expansion of local capacities.
Comparatively rigid, centrally controlled state regimes undermine their own legitimate
power by denying external participation. Rather than obstructing local initiatives, the
state should encourage and buttress indigenous organization, aiding growth and
therefore, ultimately, differentiation.
Today, the term "strong states" implies a capability for confronting diversity
(within and beyond national borders) without threat or loss of independence. State
effectiveness means eclecticism, accommodation, and appropriateness (through
learning) of government activities and interactions. Liberalization demonstrates state
strength, power, and desire for growth and development.
As Migdal (1987) and others have said, the state has now been removed from
its lofty position where it was separate from societal activities, and becomes one actor
among others vying for power, control, and benefits. The state and society nexus is
now more visible and fluid. If, in fact, the state aims to guarantee individuals human
rights and justice, opportunities, and optimal freedom within a normative order, and if
the state aims to assist in improving the welfare and lifestyles of the population, then
greater power and autonomy must be shared between the state and the society it
S1 Questions concerning the state-society balance continue to resonate and challenge political figures
today. In Florida, for example, an editorial included the following: "Chiles spoke of the need to change
the very nature of state government- from an entity that initiates programs and issues, new laws, rules and
regulations, to an agent that acts as a catalyst to bring together people, local governments, not-for-profit
Some degree of order is necessary to maintaining a stable state. In a liberal
capitalist system, restraint over state power and control is effected by ordering
mechanisms in society itself. Through representation and local advocacy, people's
participation in social, political, economic and environmental policy-making harnesses
state authority and power. Conflict and opposition are pillars of the liberal state. Open
communication and access to information and education are necessary prerequisites to
a effective participation.
As governments become more responsive to people's demands and
decentralization, local governments increase in power, and state control from the
center decreases. Honest government, legitimacy, is assured by people's genuine
interest, concern, and participation with local, regional, and national governmental
activities (Hyden and Bratton 1992). As people acquire more control over their own
lives, national growth and development progresses as a function of their capacity to
increase rational choices while government helps through experimenting with
regulation and interventions that enhance local initiatives and incentives. Groups,
associations, and local institutions based on traditional social networks and relations
are strong and important sources for social, political, and economic well-being
(Burgess 1994; Mann et al. 1989).19 State leaders need to build upon these traditional
[groups], and others to try to solve problems we have. 'Our problem is that we tend to expect government
to solve our problems,' Chiles observed. 'It can't. But our unique and wonderful constitution gives us the
opportunity to design a framework whereby people can participate to solve problems'" (Editorial,
Gainesville Sun, January 4, 1994:10A).
19 Numerous Togolese government leaders confirmed that stability in the economy and in national
politics relied on ancient structures of traditional leadership (including village and canton chiefs).
organizations to stimulate growth and development. Rather than impose newly created
groups or "classes" on local populations, the state should make use of existing
organizations (Burgess 1994; Dei 1993; Massaro 1994).
Likewise, development can foster conservation of the environment (Ingram
1994; World Bank 1989). Indigenous knowledge systems incorporated with Western
scientific systems for agriculture and natural resource management can provide
creative and long-term benefits and sustainability (Biggs 1980; Ingram 1994; DeWalt
1994; Richards 1985; Thurston 1992). Sustainability and social development are
interdependent, the erosion of one leads to erosion of the other. For example,
encroachment of marginal lands and mining of the natural resource base are due to
population pressure and increased poverty. Similarly, accelerating deforestation is
caused by increased wood extraction to meet rising urban demands. These damaging
environmental effects are due to the natural increase in population and development
initiatives which are myopic in lack of planning for long-term sustainability (Altieri et
al. 1983; Hunter and Ntiri 1978; Ingram 1994; Little et al. 1987).
To institutionalize democratic principles and practices in an African state
political system, to "make government work for the people," focus should begin with
grassroots participation in local activities. According to some scholars, a bottom-up,
rather than top-down approach is essential to designing effective strategies and
principles for economic and political growth (Burgess 1994; Moris 1981).
Participation includes self-initiated, local-level activities with responsive state
intervention. Concomitantly, participation requires people's access to information and
their capacity to express opinions and viewpoints without threat. Liberal notions of
development, such as "optimal ignorance" (Uphoff 1986), "hiding hand" (Hirschman
1967), "incremental changes and development" (Lindblom 1959), and other concepts
of small-scale, learning processes (Korten 1980), are the predictable foundations of a
newly emergent liberal capitalist states.
To conclude, for scholars purporting a liberalist approach, local participation
is not an alternative to state control, but a vital component determining the degree and
kind of state assistance required for changes brought on by development. They claim
that participatory, local-level self-development assisted by liberal-oriented state
support may be the most effective approach to development and growth of Third
World nations (Hirschman 1984). Liberalism and participation through compromise
and adjustment between state and society may be the next step toward reaching the
precarious balance in Africa today. Theories have helped and hindered. They always
will. Somehow we must search for ideas, concepts, and relations that take out of the
enormous confusion of development sufficient insight to push the process forward.
State and its relation to society must now be studied in a more fine-grained manner.
Macro theories will result. But micro-macro knowledge of real world conditions is the
necessary next step.
Directions for Research
The buffer zone between the polity and people can be analyzed and
"measured" according to its functional performance (Almond 1960). Through
empirical analysis, the interstices between the two must be clarified. From analysis of
these intersections (supported by quantitative and qualitative data), scholars can begin
to assess the most appropriate role for the state as provider of regulation and welfare
by identifying the costs and benefits over time of state engagement and disengagement
with society and economy. As Chazan (1988) remarks, individuals and groups
vacillate in their encounters with the state according to their interests. For them, the
state is both oppressor and ally. As recognition of the failure of the African state
increases (Wunsch and Olowu 1990), research will focus more on the real and
changing nature of state-society relations. Research must focus on both the effects of
state intervention on rural and urban populations, and, in turn, the options and
outcomes resulting from people either incorporating or disengaging from state
Greater understanding and insight into state-society relations can be attained
through context-driven, inductive research of local state-society interactions (Burgess
1994; Dei 1993). According to Chazan (personal communication, 1990), the value of
local-level research "lies in precisely the possibility of disaggregating what the state
means at the local level, how it operates, who its emissaries are, how they are
perceived, and with what results." With greater understanding of state action on the
local level, state initiatives to promote development on the local level will become
Research of state-society relations entails unpacking the state-society model to
analyze each of their functions, motivations, allies, perceptions, behavior under
changing conditions, internal struggles, and so on. Use of open-ended, flexible
inquiry rooted in eclectic, multi-modal research produces an understanding of the
matrix of conditions which affect state-society relations in Africa (Cohen 1988). Local
level, empirical research requires in-depth case study analysis. Understanding where
and how people organize themselves and work toward self-development is key to
creating more effective state-society relations.
My own research design is an example of the kind of research needed if we
wish to further this intellectual thrust in understanding state-society relations. Through
in-depth qualitative and quantitative analysis comparing two settlement areas under
varying state control, I aim to isolate specific similarities and differences in terms of
the effects of more state initiated versus more autonomous settlement. To begin, I
introduce background to the study of settlements by presenting their main elements,
and issues which challenge their long-term success and sustainability.
Key Issues in Studies of Settlement
Relocation of rural peasants, through spontaneous migration, planned
settlement, and forced involuntary removal are not new to Africa (Cernea 1988;
Cernea and Guggenheim 1993; Christodoulou et al. 1967; Hansen and Oliver-Smith
1982; Harrell-Bond 1986; Lewis 1954; Netting 1968, 1989; Zachariah and Cond6
1979). Settlement schemes for development goals (often succeeding forced settlement)
currently play an important role in development and growth in Africa. They are
increasing in number and magnitude and gaining greater financial and human
resources from the developing world (Goering 1978; Scudder 1985a). They are not a
thing of the past (Lowman 1993). Goering (1978) reports that recent estimates
indicate a global rate of settlement of four to five million hectares annually, about
one-quarter of which is planned, or government assisted. Below, I examine key
elements garnered from literature of development-oriented settlement schemes.
Government-directed resettlement, as in the case of FED, is more expensive
than assisted or spontaneous settlement, as in the case of Mo. Large-scale financing is
often preferred by donor agencies in order to economize on administrative and
planning costs (Hulme 1987:426). Despite evidence showing that low-cost projects are
often more effective and ultimately more beneficial to rural populations than larger
programs which foster dependency, donors have favored large-investment programs to
profit from economies of scale (McMillan 1995). 20
The record of high-investment settlement schemes have been discouraging and
criticized by agriculturalists, economists, and sociologists for inefficiency and cost
ineffectiveness. Returns on investments in settlement schemes have been disappointing
while costs per family increase (Chambers 1969; Scudder 1984). Cost reduction has
0 Examples abound of high-investment settlements such as the World Bank's Bura Irrigation Scheme
in Kenya ($40,000 per settler family) or the rainfed Cape Rodney Scheme in Papua, New Guinea ($20,000
been a concern for such donor agencies as the World Bank, USAID, EEC, and
others. Consequently, more equitable distribution of financing over longer time
periods, as well as less ambitious approaches to settlement have been conceived,
notably, the concept of "assisted" rather than controlled settlement (McMillan et al.
1990a:31; Scudder 1984).
Cost recovery, requiring farmers to reimburse a portion of invested public
funds, is a requirement found in many settlement schemes. Funds from repayment
may be channeled into many different operations, including credit collection from
agricultural equipment, marketing boards, or regularly scheduled deposits on loans.
Cost recovery has been a problem for many settlement schemes for a variety of
reasons, both voluntary and involuntary. Insufficient settler incomes, insecurity of
continued reliable infrastructural maintenance during and after the funding period, and
settler evasion, for example, have been noteworthy obstacles to cost recovery (World
Donor control. African host countries rely heavily on outside assistance to
implement large-scale settlement programs (McMillan et al. 1990b).21 This generally
implies significant donor power and control over settlement planning and
maintenance. In some cases, for example, the Gezira scheme in the Sudan, donors
undermine host country government control and maintain full authority over
settlement programs (Gaitskell 1959). In other cases, such as the AVV in Burkina
21 Donor agency authority and everyday power and control over settlement goals, design, and
implementation is common to many schemes (the World Bank in the Onchocerciasis Program; USAID in
the Mahaweli schemes; FED in Togo; the British government and private manufacturers in Gezira; and
a number of other examples described in Chambers 1969).
Faso (McMillan 1983), donors and host governments collaborate in planning and
administering the program by either sharing responsibilities or delegating specific
tasks to each player involved. Sometimes, as in the FED project (Painter 1990) a
number of outside donors and agencies (bilateral, multilateral, and PVOs) are
involved simultaneously with the settlement program and negotiate and juggle control
and authority over responsibilities.22
To the extent that Third World host countries rely on donor assistance for
capital, technology, management, and other inputs, they are also accountable and
responsive to the perspectives, guidelines, and goals determined by the donor. In
consequence, donor involvement in settlements often creates a higher efficiency and
effective management system than in projects lacking required accountability.2
Although this scenario appears top-heavy and imposing, and can pose dependency
problems in developing countries, theoretically, in the short run it can also provide
incentive for settlement management to increase efficiency (Koenig 1988b; Painter
2 For example, in the FED scheme, FED provides financial support and general assistance, USAID
and the Peace Corps provide training and equipment for animal traction, Aide et Action (a French NGO)
and other international volunteer services (German and Japanese) provide other, more specific, services
such as schools, health facilities, and so on. (Painter 1990 and personal observation).
23 Scrutiny by outside observers compels scheme administrators to conduct periodic evaluations and to
utilize standard measures and indicators of growth and progress such as GNP, income distribution, health
indicators, and others (Chambers and Moris 1973; Koenig 1988b).
I Administration on these projects is commonly done by semi-autonomous or totally independent
agencies working within, yet separate from, one of the national ministries (Chambers and Moris, 1973;
Koenig 1988a,b; McMillan 1983). As semi-independent parastatals, settlement agencies are known to be
cost effective relative to the mainstream ministerial and sectoral administrations because of the settlement
agencies' high degree of autonomy, in particular, escaping the ubiquitous bureaucratic red-tape typical of
In contrast, one problematic outcome of donor influence on settlement
programs is that of inappropriate settlement design. Donor priorities and interests
(such as profit) often differ from host-country national or local interests and concerns
(welfare).25 Where donor interests do not coincide with local needs, the program may
not "fit" with local needs, resulting in less than optimal results, even scheme failure.
Inappropriate settlement programs are also generated by unintentional factors.
Despite genuine efforts, donor agencies are often incapable of adequately
understanding the complexities of the local context. Donor agencies are seated in
highly developed countries far removed from the physical conditions and cultures
effected by settlement. In spite of good intentions, donor agencies may not be well-
positioned or staffed to take the lead role in scheme programming. Distance obscures
awareness of local conditions. To summarize, regardless of donor capacity and
willingness to develop appropriately designed settlements, outside actors can
dangerously misdirect the goals and management of the schemes (de Wet 1994;
Donor management style. Donor-host country relations commonly favor a
top-down, authoritarian, blueprint style of management on settlement schemes. To be
cost effective, efficient, and responsive to the international community, scheme
managements most often acquire an imposing, inflexible, disciplinarian control over
the settlement (Chambers and Moris 1973; Roider 1973). In some cases, senior
For example, the World Bank, first and foremost a bank, relies on secure and profitable loans and
investments for its own survival. High-level production leading to profits are of critical concern to the
bank, whereas host country and/or local concerns may center on improving socioeconomic conditions and
welfare for local populations as was the case in Gezira (Gaitskell 1959).
administrators assert that this dogmatic, militaristic approach and attitude to
management is necessary given the nature of settlement production.26 Because of an
essential strict hierarchy of control or because of personality features, management
style in settlements often attracts and fosters authoritarianism (Chambers and Moris
1973; Gaitskell 1959).
Top-down management style in settlement schemes inhibits management's
ability to respond to deviances or "ruptures" in the system and creates a loss of
information and understanding of bottom-level, local-settler conditions. A centralized
management authority, such as in the Mwea settlement, lacks contact and
communication between top managers and settlers, and even to some degree with
lower-level staff, because management believe they have synoptic, comprehensive
knowledge of the project.2
Training of lower staff particularly has low priority on most settlement scheme
planning agenda and is either quite minimal or inappropriate to the settlement
context.28 Staff often dislike the remoteness in which settlements are located, and
comparing their own jobs to those of their friends conclude that settlement work is a
26 In irrigation systems, for example, managers claim that centralized, disciplinarian regimes are
necessary to coordinate and perform technical complex tasks (Chambers and Moris 1973; Scudder 1985a).
2 Without leadership, monitoring, and encouragement from senior staff, junior staff become less
motivated and turn easily to ritualized work performance. Lack of dedication from above and poor
accountability allow junior staff to "go through the motions."
28 Scudder (1985a) reports that extension services on World Bank-funded resettlement projects were
rated "poor" for 41 percent of the projects, "only fair" for 14 percent of the projects, and none was rated
as "very good to excellent." Lack of time and financial resources are mentioned by Gaitskell (1959) in
Gezira and Roider (1973) in Ilora as major constraints to adequate staff training.
punishment station! Rapport between staff and senior management may be tense, and
their relations with settlers are usually neutral or even hostile.29 Staff are widely
viewed with suspicion because, no matter what their rank, they represent the potential
for settler eviction (see Koenig 1988a for an excellent discussion of this point).
Settlement staff are often neglected and underestimated as key actors insuring the
regularity in settlement activities and overall success.
Although many settlement efforts appear comprehensive, well-defined, and
neatly packaged, uncertain conditions, errors, changes, and fluctuations inevitably
occur (Hirschman 1967; Hulme 1987; Lindblom 1959; Scudder 1985a). Settler
innovation and adaptation to new surroundings can easily pass unnoticed by over-
centralized management. Management then loses the capacity to build on settler
initiative and problem-solving. Cutting off such information creates long-term rigidity,
short-term frustrations for those at the bottom, and managers drift further from
understanding the real-world conditions of the settlers.3 Worse, the scheme as a
whole becomes less responsive to its own implementation issues, problems, and
possible solutions. The top-down, rigid, and hierarchically based administrative
structure and management style, common to most settlement schemes in Africa, limits
settler initiative and the utilization of their adaptive capacities based on greater
29 For example, in Manantali, Koenig (1988a) observed tensions and overtly hostile behavior between
settlers and staff, often manifested indirectly in forms such as settler housing adjustments or "private"
settler meetings. In 1990 in Togo's FED settlement, I observed staff behavior and attitude toward settlers
to be arrogant, condescending, and sometimes disdainful.
3 On many settlements, senior staff are expatriates and prefer to live with their families in capital cities
or, failing that, separate from the settlement scheme. Should a senior manager live on site, he is often
isolated from the settlement, living removed in far more comfortable and Western-style surroundings.
information from the ground level operations. Likewise, it fosters settler dependency
on scheme authority.
Agricultural package design. Increasing agricultural production through
intensified and modernized systems are common goals of settlement schemes
(Chambers and Moris 1973; Gaitskell 1959; Koenig 1988a; Roider 1973; Scudder
1985a). This has required the introduction of a "total system" of packages within, and
organization of marketing outside of the settlement. Settlements have been introducing
improved cropping patterns (such as interplanting, rotation agriculture, cropping
systems) in order to reach maximal production levels. The introduction of advanced
technology, including mechanization, irrigation, and animal traction, is an integral
part of this design (Chambers and Moris 1973; Gaitskell 1959; McMillan 1983,
1986b; McMillan et al. 1990a; Painter 1990; Roider 1973). Monocultural cropping
systems have overridden traditional and ecologically sound multi-cropping systems
(Palmer 1974; Scudder 1985a).31 In combination with technology and mechanization,
increased agricultural inputs (fertilizer, insecticides, and pesticides) have been
introduced in settlement schemes through preprogrammed packages. The end result is
an increased extraction of capital and human resources from government and outside
donors (Goering 1978; Scudder 1985a).
In most cases, settlers are obliged to adopt and rigidly follow the package as a
condition for membership on the scheme. The package is almost always compulsory
3 Agricultural packages are designed most often by Western-based, technically oriented agricultural
scientists. Settlement staff are socialized by the development industry to believe that these techniques and
practices are superior to indigenous ones.
(Roider 1973; Painter 1990). Should the settler deviate from the package, eviction is
possible. If settlers should change guidelines to improve production by adapting
packages to their own personal farming and environmental conditions, project
management may be unforgiving. In effect "packages" create the possibility of
significantly increased production, and provide the material basis for authoritarian
management and organization.
It is important to recognize that there are both costs and benefits to people and
the environment when implementing agricultural packagaes in settlement schemes. In
many cases, intensified scheme-based agricultural production technology produces
economic benefits and improves rural lifestyles of settler families (Chambers and
Moris, 1973; Goering 1978; Hulme 1987; Painter 1990; Scudder and Colson 1982).
Benefits from settlement programs are well documented (Goering 1978; Koenig 1988;
McMillan et al. 1990a,b; Scudder 1985a).32
Despite these advantages, settlers do not necessarily keep their part of the
bargain made with the administration (Scudder 1985a). Studies show that rather than
following the package and scheme regulations, settlers tend to "rationalize" the
centralized production system for their personal needs. Settlers vacillate in their use
and adherence to the official guidelines and structures on the scheme and conform
when necessary or when they see benefits.33 Settlers prefer to diversify rather than
2 These include increased settler production levels, increased use of tested agricultural inputs, animal
traction, and mechanization, better access to credit, timely input delivery, organized cash crop purchases,
and guaranteed stable prices ensured by marketing and transport systems within the settlement. There are
more in terms of infrastructure, schools, water quality, and the like.
3 For example, settlers "extensify" rather than intensify their fields (McMillan 1986b; Painter 1990);
they do not implement or incorporate the strict agricultural guidelines demanded by settlement staff and
cultivate a single cash crop (Scudder 1985a). The planned agricultural package
therefore is not strictly adhered to and, correlatively, projected production levels may
not reach expected rates. More importantly, lack of compliance and lack of
consistency with the package, along with demographic pressures from increased
settler population, create land-use and environmental problems produced by settlement
schemes' enhanced capacities for exploitation (McMillan et al. 1990b; Painter 1990;
Environmental conditions of settlement sites and their surroundings have been
reported by scholars as worsening due to both intentional and unintentional causes. A
number of "project killers," such as decline in soil fertility, loss of ecological
resilience, decline in species diversification, wastefulness of resource allocations, and
destruction of natural resources, commonly pervade settlement schemes and destroy
the delicate balance in formerly less exploited ecosystems (Hanson and Dickenson
1987; see also the excellent environmental overview of settlements in Latin America
by Nelson 1973). In describing settlement schemes of the Shimba Hills in Kenya and
in Niger, Palmer (1974) writes that monocultural production, emphasizing only one or
very few crops, changes ecosystem stability and shocks the environment through
exploitation and over-extraction of particular resources. He argues that settlement is a
extension agents, such as crop rotations (Painter 1990); they do not always apply the inputs as required,
but prefer to save and economize on fertilizer (Gaitskell 1959); and they do not plant designated crops and
trees as required by scheme management (McMillan 1986b; Painter 1990) and may even save seed for
resale or for food (Cohen, personal communication, 1994).
3 For example, Painter (1990) reports that many settlers in the FED settlement remarked that land
"fatigue" was rapidly increasing, forcing them to enlarge farm size to maintain adequate levels of
production. The use of animal traction and fertilizer presented a dangerous risk of rapid overuse of land
resources leading to long-term infertility, degradation, and erosion.
form of "ecological imperialism" which destroys indigenous ecological systems (see
also Hyden 1988).
Similarly, Messerschmidt (1987) opposes the commonly used "interventionist"
approach to settlement production systems and considers it destructive and inappro-
priate to local conditions. In contrast, an "innovationist" approach, he argues, ensures
environmental sustainability and development by being people-centered, while
incorporating indigenous ethnoecology models using and adding ethnoecology and
scientific technology. Combining traditional and advanced technologies in land-use
management are slowly being accepted as essential to settlement scheme sustainability
and development. The high costs in terms of environmental degradation, loss of
indigenous technology systems, agricultural diversity, and off-farm economic enter-
prises, and even settler health are often quite severe and, in some cases, irreparable.
Recently, settlement planners are designing schemes with increasing interest
toward insuring land protection (and a more rational use of land). Today it is widely
accepted that agricultural growth and development must coincide with environmental
sustainability (Brokensha and Castro 1984).3 Scudder suggests that "devoluting"
decision making power to settlers as much as possible by requiring a handing over of
responsibility to local organizations on the settlement would ensure sustainability.
Because management has assumed most of the responsibility and control over land use
in settlements, however, settlers see it as irrelevant and have little interest or concern
in environmental preservation (Roider 1973; Kibreab, personal communication, 1991).
35 Current agricultural development programs now require environmental impact statements and plans
for program monitoring.
Land tenure. If settlers do not view themselves as "owners" of the settlement,
they will have little personal investment or concern with natural resource conservation
or even in project survival, and adopt little responsibility for the settlement and its
success. For many settlers, the scheme is a temporary opportunity to learn, practice,
and profit from modern production techniques. Land tenure on settlements is
characterized typically by a total lack of security of settler land ownership. Land
acquisition on settlement schemes generally have been without any form of
agreement, consent, or compensation to settlers or local inhabitants of the area by
settlement authorities or national governments (Koenig 1988; McMillan et al. 1990b;
Painter 1990; Scudder 1984, 1985a). The schemes are viewed as government
programs, controlled by and primarily benefiting government interests (not dissimilar
to colonial plantation schemes).
Without a stake in land, settlers feel impermanent and are less motivated to
invest in land conservation practices, such as tree planting and crop rotations (Goering
1978; Scudder 1984; Van Raay and Hilhorst 1981). Without permanent ownership
over land, settlers have limited interest in implementing sustainable land-use practices
Lands may be sparsely settled, or appear neglected, but they are seldom
unclaimed by local farmers. In declaring project land as government property, some
authorities demand local inhabitants to either join the schemes or relocate. In some
cases, such as the Manantali scheme (Koenig 1988a), authorities resort to forced
relocation of local inhabitants and offer little if no compensation for relocation. Many
schemes prohibit off-scheme farmers from using scheme services, often resulting in
settler-autocthone disputes and conflict. (Morsink 1966; Scudder 1985a; Van Raay
and Hilhorst 1981). In other, less negative cases (FED project), local farmers
surrounding the scheme are allowed and even encouraged to participate and make use
of scheme benefits. In this case, the spread of technology and improved lifestyle
conditions into the surrounding area provides for a more open, less isolated
environment, which, according to many scholars (Kiekens 1988; McMillan et al.
1990b; Painter 1990), accelerates scheme success and overall regional development.
Income diversification. Another often neglected element generating settlement
success and regional development is the creation of opportunities for income
diversification. Few possibilities for employment or income generating opportunities
are incorporated into settlement planning. For example, on the Nigerian Ilora farm
settlements, planners did not include the important role of Yoruba women as
entrepreneurs and independent wage earners in the household (Spiro 1985).
Nevertheless, women hired themselves out as wage labor, established petty trade
networks, produced and sold beer, and were able to sell what little production they
harvested themselves to maintain for their personal incomes. Grimm (1988) reports
that in Manatali, temporary work made available to settlers caused an increase in
local incomes, but they were impermanent. When the contract was completed, most
jobs left little behind in terms of off-farm opportunities and diversified self-
development employment options for local populations. Despite planners' lack of
attention to off-farm activities, many settlers use traditional approaches and diversify
household incomes by a combination of wage labor and small-scale activities, such as
local handicrafts and a wide range of trading activities, such as livestock (McMillan
1995; Scudder 1985a, 1985b.
It is myopic to imagine that participation in the scheme would somehow lead
to the wholesale abandonment of customary income generating activity. Lack of
opportunity and potential for deeply ingrained and customary income generation can
ultimately lead to severe discontent and settler desertion (McMillan 1986b; Roider
1973; Spiro 1985). Settlements which discourage or overtly prevent settlers from
applying their ingenuity and initiative to diversify income strategies (through
marketing, wage labor or other income-generating activities) break up and frustrate
normal economic life.
Regional integration. Contrasts in amenities between settlements and the
surrounding region are often dramatic. The settlement clearly represents a distinct
zone of improved living conditions and regional development created by project
investment and its maintenance. Created as isolated enclaves, self-sufficient and
separate from regional institutions and activities, most settlements have not
successfully integrated into their surroundings (Kiekens 1988; McMillan 1995;
Scudder 1985a; Van Raay and Hilhorst 1981). Lack of scheme planning for
collaboration and coordination with regional institutions and agencies has resulted in
extremely high settlement costs in terms of time, resources, and management.
Government services on settlements overlap rather than complement regional services,
and commonly create settler-host population segregation and animosity.
Rather than linking existing local and regional market systems to settlement,
planners too often create markets for projects and discourage the participation of
outsiders (Kiekens 1988).36 Settlement management of market systems either
discourages settlers from selling outside, or demands a share of the crop to pay for
inputs. In many cases, prices are kept artificially low so that selling surreptitiously is
profitable. In most settlements, harvests are either monitored or cashiered (up to 50
percent) by management to achieve a minimum level of sales aimed for national
export (McMillan 1986b for an example of off-settlement sales). Local markets are
created by planners and staff with little input from settlers. When schemes are less
responsive and effective in providing for settler needs (subsistence crops and certain
commodities), settlers nonetheless, have initiated their own networks and systems of
exchange and bartering outside of scheme authority. In some cases, this has been the
only form of settler survival during low-harvest seasons.
Isolation of settlement schemes results in limited growth and development for
the scheme and region (Kiekens 1988; McMillan et al. 1990b; Morsink 1966; Scudder
1985a; Van Raay and Hilhorst 1981). These authors suggest that projects lacking
incorporation into their region will be difficult to sustain. Furthermore, dependency
on settlement authorities, combined with little encouragement from settlement staff for
settler organization and initiative, results in fragile social and economic systems
Settler integration. According to Scudder and Colson's (1982) classic four-
stage settler development framework, settlers initially tend to be risk-averse,
36 Research shows that marketing is tied to roads, available trucks and drivers, and petrol (Kiekens
1988; McMillan et al 1990b; Painter 1990: McMillan 1986a). Often, roads and bridges reflect needs of
management but not those of settlers (FED, Painter 1990, and personal observation; Cohen, personal
responsive, and vulnerable in their new environments (Chambers and Moris 1973;
Scudder and Colson 1982).37 Settlers commonly take little initiative during the early
stages of adjustment to settlement, and concentrate on conforming to project
requirements and providing for their families (Scudder 1985b). Integration into local
communities and networks of trade, politics, or culture is either secondary or, more
Relocation is a transitional process that normally generates stress which abates
over time. As a simple example, settlers undergo stress in adapting to new neighbors
on the scheme, even to autocthones in the surrounding area with whom they may have
minimal contact. Some settlements try to cope by relocating settlers with their own
kin or at least ethnic groups (Grimm 1988; Koenig 1988b; McMillan et al. 1990b;
Scudder 1984). More often than not, however, settlers are relocated indiscriminately
increasing their stress. In effect, loss of cultural environment is associated with
A predictable decline in health conditions also has been reported under some
settlement situations, particularly among elderly people (with a higher vulnerability to
stress) (Chaiken 1983; Garfield et al. 1989; Prothero 1965). The meeting of two
previously separated populations creates increased vulnerability to eruptions of
epidemic diseases. This is especially true for migrants compared to autocthones
3 Scudder and Colson (1982) suggest that there are four general stages through which settlers can
evolve to reach self-control and responsibility over their own lives in settlements. These are recruitment,
transition, potential development, and handing over/incorporation. Should the scheme not get beyond
recruitment, settlers remain less than independent with continued reliance on scheme management to
provide the basis for a successful livelihood. Settlers unable to advance toward open-ended, risk-taking
initiatives and activities lack or have decreased success, and are vulnerable to low morale and aberrant
physical and psychological conditions.
(Linda Jackson, personal communication, 1991). Increases in disease can occur also
when there is a simplification of otherwise diverse and complex ecosystems.
Simplified ecosystems can facilitate the process of disease transmission through
parasitic and infectious vectors such as schistosomiasis, malaria, or worms (Feierman
1985). As noted above, settlers are more susceptible. The social cost of production on
settlement schemes, according to Feierman (1985), is therefore shifted from
management to settlers (particularly the poorest and weakest) and not sufficiently
checked by government services (also suggested by Palmer 1974).
Over time, settlers will either retain risk-averse, conservative attitudes or gain
a sense of empowerment and control in their new environment. Predictably, most
settlers search for opportunities to improve their economic and sociocultural
conditions.38 In some instances, observers have noted a powerful, open-ended, pro-
active attitude once settlers overcome the initial problems (Hansen, personal
communication, 1992). A key determinant to settler integration and satisfaction is
acceptance and integration with local autocthone populations.
Settler-autocthone relations. Autocthone populations can be either hostile or
benign. Planning and implementation are decisive factors in determining the direction
of settler-autocthone relations. Thus lack of integration of the settlement to the local
area increase the gap already existing between settlers and autocthones. Planners who
exclude autocthones regarding land use and ownership, agricultural production
practices, and natural resources essentially override local land rights and tenure
3 Despite the difficulties posed by relocation, successful adaptation means learning to constantly ask
questions (Brokensha and Castro 1984; Colson, personal communication, 1991).
practices (McMillan et al. 1990b; Painter 1990; Scudder 1984, 1985a). Undefined or
unclear land tenure and land-use rights commonly result in disputes and hostilities
between settler and autocthones.39
Conversely, when autocthones-settler relations are benign, settlers and
autocthones view each other as allies rather than enemies. Compatibility thus
facilitates settler adjustment. The settlement is less isolated from its region in this
situation, and autocthones can benefit from the services and infrastructural support
provided by the scheme. In this case, the region at large benefits from the settlement,
and increased growth and development for a wide range of populations is possible
Evaluation and Monitoring
Settlement success clearly depends on iterative incorporation of outcomes, but
what variables and measures indicate success remains unresolved. There is, as yet, no
definitive answer to the question, "What makes for settlement success." Prior to
1980, there were very few longitudinal studies focusing on people and cultures
undergoing settlement (Colson 1971 is an exception), but the perspective is
changing.4 Now, the longitudinal vantage point is recognized as needed to understand
3 For example, sorcery attacks have been noted between settlers and autocthones in FED in disputes
over uncertain land use and land rights (Painter 1990).
40 Most evaluations are "one shot," short-term visits, rapidly conducted to collectdata to either support
or expose shortcomings of the goals and objectives of the scheme (Scudder 1985a).
the processes and development of settlements and in gaining thereby a more
comprehensive knowledge of the ingredients of success. According to one of the
foremost scholars of settlement, the most important criterion for improving settlement
schemes is a longitudinal vantage point (Scudder, personal communication, 1991).
Without this, he believes planners cannot understand the transitions and processes
experienced over time by settlers, nor begin to determine what makes for "success" in
Most settlement evaluations concentrate on agricultural (export) and
infrastructural progress, under-emphasizing careful examination of the "social costs"
of human and social adjustment (examples of social cost studies include: Feierman
1985 on health; Conti 1979 on women; Palmer 1974 on environment; Moris 1981;
Scudder, personal communication, 1991). Instead of measures with a "human face,"
miles of roads laid, houses and buildings constructed, and tons of crops sold almost
completely dominate settlement evaluation reports (Goering 1978). The human factor
has typically not been considered key to settlement progress and success, and only
recently has become a focus and concern in the development community (McMillan et
al. 1990b; Scudder 1985a).
Meanwhile, settlement studies are still deficient in quantitative data, including
demographic statistics (including migrations), land use information, population census,
environmental conditions and changes (including tree loss and wood use), statistics on
numbers and effects of pastoralists and cattle grazing, water use, and so on. There are
41 Longitudinal settlement studies such as McMillan's work on AVV (1983 to present) or Colson's on
the Gwemba Tonga (1971 to present) are excellent examples.
few known current rates of settler entries and desertions on many schemes. These
data are vital for determining land-use capacity and thus for recommendations
concerning land-use practices and regulations (Painter 1990; Scudder 1985a,b).
If success is uniquely indicated by GNP rates and financial growth, and there
is no evaluation of changing environmental conditions, degradation of natural
resources is a promissory note that will come in time (Brokensha and Castro 1984;
Hanson and Dickenson, 1987; Painter 1990; Scudder 1985a; Spears 1980). Similarly,
if reasons for settler satisfaction and permanence versus defection are not carefully
discerned and analyzed, evaluations of settlement will be hollow in terms of defining
what makes success and sustainability of settlements.
Planning and evaluation of settlements requires a local-level, people-centered
longitudinal approach that incorporates the settler as a vital and active participant in
the decision making process. Without settler participation, the settlement will remain
a top-down, donor-operated program, continuing dependency and limiting settler
independence and self-development.
Local groups and associations (or those initiated by settlement management)
must become active participants in the working and running of the settlement (Painter
1990; Scudder 1985a). Ultimately, as Scudder and Colson (1982) advise, settlements
should be handed over to local settler communities and former associations for
management and control of the scheme operations. There is a need for emphasis on
local settler leadership and settler responsibility in the planning and implementation
stages of settlement from the start. Settlements will retain high costs in terms of
environmental and social variables, and will remain dependent-oriented, short-lived
programs catering Third World populations if a priority is not placed on local
Settlement in Togo
What degree of directed or spontaneous settlement best ensures sustainable
community development combined with stewardship and responsibility toward the
natural resource base? This is a fundamental question that settlement scholars only
recently are beginning to broach and to which this study will profoundly contribute.
The nature and impact of Kabye migrations into planned and spontaneous settlements
of southern Togo has been examined closely by scholars (notably Gu-Konu 1983,
Lucien-Brun 1987, and Pillet-Schwartz 1987). However, little of this material explains
or analyzes in specific what hinders or helps settlement sustainability and
development. It fails to ask directly: what is the appropriate role of the state? With
this in mind, I now turn to review historical and current reasons for the Kabye
migration from the Kara Region in northern Togo and introduce the Mo plain and
FED project (sites of spontaneous and planned settlements, respectively and the two
foci of this research). Throughout the following chapters, the reader should refer to
Figure 1-1 to identify locations of the FED project (A), the Mo plain (B), and the
mountain region location of Kabye home villages (Kara).
--" Limit of initial OCP area
****** Limit of OCP southern
A FED-Agbassa project
B Mo Plain
Adapted from Hunting
Technical Services 1988:F347
Figure 1-1. Settlement sites in Togo. (Source: Painter (1990) Land Settlement
Review: Country Case Study Togo.)
BACKGROUND TO SETTLERS AND SITES
The integration of localized, empirical research with theoretical
generalized studies demands that researchers begin to accord some
importance, not only to country-specific research, but also to research
studies that explore grassroots-level understanding and perceptions of
human problems and local strategies to problem-solving. Research
should explore the impact of national policy changes on rural
communities and, particularly, on various constituencies, such as
women, age groups, and specific socioeconomic groups. While
community or locality studies by themselves are insufficient to offer a
comprehensive understanding of society, they nevertheless provide
relevant data needed to ground our theoretical discussions of the
everyday lived experiences of people. Such studies provide
opportunities for willing researchers to hear what people at the
grassroots level have to say and how they make meaning of their social
world" (George J. Sefa Dei, "The Women of a Ghanaian Village: A
Study of Social Change," 1994:141; emphasis mine).
This chapter provides background information integral and vital to
understanding the following chapters on research findings and conclusion of this
research. It is comprised of three sections: Part One consists of the geographic,
historical, and demographic conditions of the Kabye ethnic group, the central actors
of this study. I also review Kabye subsistence and sociopolitical systems practiced in
their homeland. Background of indigenous Kabye lifestyle prior to resettlement
provides a framework in which to compare each settlement to indigenous lifestyle,
and to one another. Also, in this section, I examine factors which have led to mass
relocations of Kabye to southern Togo.
This discussion leads to a specific focus on Kabye spontaneous migrations to
the Mo plain (the spontaneous settlement site and first of two foci of research) in Part
Two. In this part, I introduce the Mo area by examining its geography and ethno-
history, features particularly relevant to this study. In Part Three, I describe the FED
project, the planned settlement scheme and second foci of research. First, I examine
the project philosophy and intentions underlying the planning and implementation of
the scheme. I briefly review project objectives, specifically regarding agricultural and
sociopolitical development, and review the basic components of the settlement
environment (including design, layout, and operations).
In this section, I describe Kabye biophysical and demographic conditions,
features underlying Kabye migrations to southern Togo. Given these conditions, I then
describe indigenous Kabye farming systems, specifically highlighting agricultural
techniques enabling sustained productivity under challenging conditions. Inclusive in
the discussion is a review of the history of Kabye migrations south and their
sociopolitical outcomes. The vibrant continuation of migration, illustrated by the case
of the Mo plain, is the focus of the section which follows.
Geographic Determinants of Kabye Existence
Topographical features. Spanning nearly the full length of northern Togo are
the Atakorien mountains. They are punctuated by two major ranges of significant
altitude and spread, the more northern range of Lama, with Mount Kalakpa looming
at 779 m, and the southern range of Lama-Dissi, with Mount Assire at 679 m. The
Kabye reside in the sudano-savanna region of Kara, of pronounced mountain elevation
between 9.30 and 10oN (refer to Figure 1-1). The Atakorien series presents highly
variable soil structures and qualities, from ferruginous to vertisol types. In the Kabye
region, water retention is high, and the rain-flood runoffs from the mother rock which
occur during the tropical storms of the rainy season, provide a sandy-clay, red-brown
soil, rich in chemical nutrients. This soil is arable and has good retention of top-soil.
In areas surrounding the peaks, on the plains, the soil is less arable and aerated, more
susceptible to packing and hardening. On the plains, soils are often gravelly, or in
some areas, sandy, shallow, nutrient-poor and generally of less quality. The degree of
variability of soils is caused by the variable decomposition of rock materials largely
dependent on and continuously effected by rainfall. The rich, clay soil types most
preferred by local Kabye farmers are found in the mountains, generally in depression
or fault areas (GOT/MPI 1987; Lucien-Brun 1987; Sauvaget 1981).
Soils. The contrast between mountainous soils and those of the plain can be
seen in the variability of the natural vegetation. Despite the vast removal of primary
forests, evidence leads historians and geographers to believe that the mountains were
once occupied by dense forest, typical of sudano climate (Sauvaget 1981).
Standing secondary forests, legends and oral histories of "profondes forets,"
and accounts of the Lama ("people of the forest"), the alleged ancestors of the Kabye
forest, suggest the importance of former tree cover spreading across the northern
mountain range and its environs. Loss of this dense vegetation and forest cover is
most likely due to degradation over time caused by climatic and human conditions,
including bush fire and the use of intensive agricultural practices (Lucien-Brun 1987;
Sauvaget 1981). In the Kabye area, Gu-Konu (1983) has remarked that a clear
correlation exists between tree growth and population density. Today, the increased
population in the region has largely stripped it of its arboreal life. This in turn limits
the diversity of tree and plant species.'
Rain. Rainfall measures in the Kabye mountain region average 1400 mm,
higher than surrounding areas, in part due to the mountain chain that effects cloud
movement and precipitation levels. The region has one rainy season annually,
beginning around April lasting until November, and peaking around July. Fifty-three
percent of rainfall occurs between July-August (Gu-Konu 1983). Annual temperature
ranges range from 20 to 32oC.
Kabye Farming Systems
Farming practices. The geographic and climatic conditions of the Kabye
region have largely determined their farming systems practices. Mountainous terrain
Common species currently found in the region are mostly located near the major rivers,
particularly the Kara, and on the plains and, less so, in the mountains. These species include the nere,
(Parkia biglobosa) baobab (Adansonia digitata), ronier (Borassus flabellifer), and the oil palm (Elaeis
and dense population limit preferred arable land available for cultivation. Only 11.6
percent of the total area of the region farmed by Kabye is considered apt for
cultivation, of which 80 percent is entirely cultivated (population density is estimated
at a minimum of 100 p/km2 (GOT/MPI 1987:81). Data collected in 1971 by Sauvaget
(1981) in the area of Boua shows the average total farm exploitation measured at 3.3
ha, and total land farmed by an average household at any one time, 2 ha. In separate
and later studies, data from the Ministry of Rural Development (MDR/Nouvelle
Strategic 1985) reports the average total exploitation surface area in the Kara
prefecture at 1.40 ha per household, and from the Ministry of Plan (GOT/MPI 1987),
in the Koza Prefecture at 0.71 ha per household. Studies by Akibode (1987, 1989)
echo this smaller statistic (under 1 ha). Despite limited surface area available for
cultivation, the Kabye are renowned throughout Africa for having developed
sophisticated, labor-intensive, "rational" methods of soil conservation, including anti-
erosion measures, soil regeneration, and soil improvement, which are also high-
Production potential. For decades, overall potential for agricultural production
in the Kabye region has been reputably poor and unfavorable. Primary constraints to
increased production are purportedly due to poor soil texture, rocky and hard-packed
soil surfaces, nutrient-deficient soils, and steep terrain. High population density
exacerbates the nutrient deficiency and soil degradation. Nonetheless, specific areas
do hold high agricultural potential; adequate environmental conditions combined with
the extremely productive farming systems practices and management strategies applied
by Kabye farmers allows for sufficient, and even surplus, production of food crops to
feed the population.
Despite its poor agricultural reputation, Gu-Konu (1983:892) believes that this
region may be the most carefully cultivated and exploited land in the entire sudano
zone. Appropriate farming techniques allow for its unusually high density settlement
patterns among farmers (Enjalbert 1956). The claim that poor physical environmental
features necessitate the removal and resettlement of Kabye farmers does not seem
scientifically justified, Gu-Konu (1983) asserts, and may reflect, political or personal
objectives, rather than actual local agricultural production.
A number of impressive land management techniques are employed by the
Kabye to produce crops and maintain soil fertility. The Kabye possess a great capacity
for agricultural adaptiveness and know-how. As described by Froelich (1949) in Gu-
Konu (1983), Kabye mastered impressive soil and water management systems under
difficult environmental conditions. For example, to prevent water and soil runoff on
steep slopes (up to nearly 40 percent grade), rocks are removed and carefully placed
to the side, either haphazardly or as channels to direct torrential water flow. Contour
terracing of rock walls of up to 10 meters wide have been constructed for erosion
control (Sauvaget 1981). Carefully designed micro-catchment systems comprised of
rock placements at small intervals are built to retain water and topsoil (personal
observation, 1992). In the most extreme cases, seeds are dropped between carefully
placed rocks to ensure individual plant growth on steep slopes. In many cases, rain
torrents are channeled around planted fields by small soil-built edifices, reinforced
with vegetation, trees, rocks, and other natural products.
Given the limited availability of land, soil fertility improvement is of critical
concern for Kabye farmers. Multiple methods of soil fertilization are practiced by the
Kabye, including application of manure, cinders, stubble, vegetable debris (compost),
and the practice of fallow. Other examples of soil management include: spreading
manure from animal husbandry over fields in proximity to the household (women are
known to carry manure also long distances of over 2 km from the household);
burning dry weeds, stalks (those not used for household fuel), and vegetation in the
fields and with the cinders incorporating them into the soil by the hoe; leaving green
manure (such as groundnut leaves and other stems) on the soil surface to rot then
burying them as organic fertilizer; designating particular fields of cereal
monocropping for nutritive-rich human excrement (albeit considered impure); building
compost pits with rock bottoms near the house where organic waste and animal
manure are collected throughout the year then annually spread over particular parcels
at the start of the rainy season. In general, there are few chemical inputs, such as
fertilizer or insecticide, used in the traditional Kabye farming system (Akibode 1989;
Kabye continuously fine-tune their agricultural production systems to gain
greatest production levels, maximum food security through diversity, and minimum
soil depletion and degradation. They carefully plan and observe crop rotations and
fallow periods are integral components of the farming system. Alternations of fallow-
cultivation are practiced, particularly on the most distant fields, known as tare, to
allow for soil rejuvenation. Rotations generally start with yams, followed by sorghum
associated with other cereals such as groundnuts or manioc, then groundnut again,
and fallow until yam production reoccurs.
Selection of field placements depends on multiple factors, including the
variation of soils, abundance of rocks, slope, and distance from the household
(Akibode 1987). The traditional Kabye field layout for crop production is organized
by a tri-partite system. First, land cultivated close to the house, called desida, are
fields continuously under cultivation, usually seeded first in the season, and planted
most often with sorghum, maize, and millet. Rare fallow practiced on these fields is
compensated by the application of ample organic matter. Second, the fields furthest
from the house, the tare, are usually planted with yams, followed by sorghum and
groundnut. This area undergoes ample fallow, more than other fields, and is the least
meticulously managed. These fields are most often lent out to other farmers. Third,
and perhaps most important to household survival, is the densely planted household
kitchen garden. This garden area, tended predominantly by women, is planted with
nutritive crops such as calabashes, condiments, and fruits and vegetables (tomatoes,
green leafy vegetables, taro, sorghum, maize, and tobacco) and is located closest to
the household for easy access for women (Akibode 1987). The other two fields are
managed and cultivated primarily by men, although seeding, weeding, thinning, and
harvesting are the responsibilities of women.
Labor patterns. Despite efforts to minimize labor demands, Kabye farmers
exert enormous energy and time in preparing and maintaining fields for cultivation.
Slash and burn clearing for planting is performed by all household members. Women
and girls are responsible for burning trees and clearing vegetative debris. This is
followed by the preparation of yam mounds, uniquely men's work because of its
outstanding labor intensity. Field preparation is mostly performed by men while
planting seeds of cereals is performed by women and children. Traditional field
preparation consists of breaking the yam mounds and, either with or without forming
lines, placing seeds in pockets, then covering them. Women will weed the fields once
or twice during the growing season, for weed removal and soil aeration. If a
following season is planted, for example of cereals in association with groundnuts or
rice, lines may be drawn by women for planting of the seeds. As in many cropping
systems of Third World conditions, many crop management practices are performed
intermittently throughout the growing season. These include soil aeration, soil
elevation around the foot of cereal plants, placement of stakes for the yam plants,
weeding, thinning, and insect and wild animal and bird deterrence. These labor-
intensive and highly time-consuming tasks are performed predominantly by women
To release the pressure of peak labor bottleneck periods, Kabye farmers form
work associations for mutual assistance. There are two primary types of groups. One
work group, the hada, is a rotating work group most often formed among members of
the same family, nearby households, or other social ties. Hada may be requested for
specific work in the fields (such as clearing or planting), construction (such as storage
granaries or a house), or any other specific task needing a large effort of many
helping hands. Men and women participate in hada, depending on the work
accomplished. A prestation in the form of gift or offering of gratitude for the day's
work is usually presented in local beer and a modest offering of food (Mauss 1967).
Hada is an indigenous social security plan allowing farmers the opportunity to request
assistance from other community members without any specific reciprocal obligation
other than the day's nourishment. The hada system not only solves constraints of
labor scarcity, but also encourages solidarity in the community by ensuring a type of
welfare for its members.
The second work association, egbare, is a system of inter-aid among a smaller
and defined group of farmers, usually around six persons, who rotate to each other's
fields during high labor periods to accomplish needed tasks. Generally, men and
women have separate egbare groups. During times of heavy work loads where time is
limited, women (having extreme time constraints due to multiple tasks in the
household) and, less frequently, men will send a representative household member
(usually a young woman) to fulfill the egbare obligation. The concept of egbare is
thus a household, rather than individual, investment, where all members participate.
During the low- or off-season months, "saison morte," between November and
April, deferred tasks are accomplished, such as tool making, household construction
and refurbishment. Ceremonial rites are conducted and large numbers of young
farmers, nearly all men, immigrate south or to neighboring countries to work (usually
for cash) as temporary laborers on plantations of coffee, cocoa, and cotton.
Production. Principal subsistence crops in the Kabye farming system are yam
and sorghum; secondary crops include groundnut, maize, bean, the local bean,
"vondzou," and millet, among others. Sauvaget (1981) found in his study of the
Kabye village Boua, that outside of the 40 percent of the total family fields in fallow,
the remaining total surface was planted: 42 percent in cereals; 31 percent in yams; 25
percent in cereals with groundnut; and 2 percent in groundnut and other secondary
crops. Except for sorghum (and, in lesser quantity, rice and some groundnut),
monocropping is less practiced (about 25 percent total surface area planted) than
associations, of which bean is the most versatile crop in association, followed by
groundnut (Sauvaget 1981). There is a large diversity of associations practiced by the
Kabye; most common are sorghum and groundnut or bean, and yam, sorghum,
maize, and bean intercropping. Yams and cereals are often intercropped to maximize
the surface cover, timing, and varying depths of soil penetrated by plant roots. Kabye
are well aware of the advantages of intercropping to best utilize soil horizons,
improve soil quality, and, most important, to produce a diversity of crops for
subsistence security and nutritional value. Intercropping and field rotations are
scrupulously practiced by the Kabye for maximum nutrient and soil surface benefits,
as well as conservation and refertilization of the soil.
Crop yields in the traditional Kabye household farming system have been
measured as early as 1947 by Froelich. According to national statistics (GOT/MPI
1987:92), in 1983, average maize production yield was reported to be 500 k/ha,
sorghum-millet is reported at approximately 1 ton per hectare (t/ha), yam at 9 t/ha,
manioc at 10 t/ha, beans at 10 t/h, groundnuts at 1 t/ha, rice at 500 k/ha, and
vondzou at 700 k/ha. Kpowbie's study (1982) of traditional mountain Kabye
household production levels are much lower estimates than the Kara regional levels of
production. According to his findings, in 1980, of an average Kabye household
landholding (at less than 1 ha per family), annual average farm production levels of
primary crops include: yams-340 kg, millet-247kg, sorghum-225kg, cassava-225kg,
groundnuts-90kg, and maize-84kg. These results seem much more accurate than
government estimates, which report production ranges over an entire decade, present
monocrop rather than traditional associated-crop systems, and fail to explain data
Traditionally, storage of harvests is minimized by keeping some of the crop in
the fields, either retained in the soil (such as yams) or harvested and protected on the
farm by a straw enclosure until required. Nonetheless, the largest quantity of the
harvest is carried by women to the household, dried by the sun, and placed in
protective storage (granaries) at the household. Studies (GOT/MPI 1987; Sauvaget
1981) report that all crops are primarily produced for subsistence, while some of
these, specifically the groundnut and, to a lesser extent, yam, are also sold in the
market. Ninety-seven percent of crops produced are for subsistence, primarily cereals
(79 percent) and tubercles (18 percent). The second most common use of the harvest
production after household consumption is not for sale, however, but rather for gifts,
(particularly sorghum, yam, groundnut, and beans) most often offered during work
groups of hara or egbare. The only crop considered a market or cash crop would be
groundnut, and to a lesser degree, cotton as well (Sauvaget 1981).
The importance of Kabye subsistence agriculture can be traced back to origins
of early settlement patterns and historical influences, subjects to which I now turn.
History of Kabve Land Scarcity
In addition to bio-physical topographical influences, historical events also
explain the "reduit Kabye," which according to the French historian Froelich (1949)
created extremely dense population patterns in the Kabye mountains and surrounding
villages. High population density, not a recent phenomenon in the Kabye area, dates
back to seventeenth-century combat over claims for territory and control. The Lama
(believed to have originated in the sky in God's creation) are regarded as the
paleonigritique ancestors of the Kabye. Invasions of Lama were launched by
Voltaique populations from the north, including Mossi, Gourma, Bi Tyambi,
Dagomba, Bariba, and others. Joined by the Logba, a Benin group fleeing the Bariba,
the Lama sought refuge in the protected heights of the Binah mountains and remained
protected, hovering above other groups fighting and vying for territorial control below
(Lucien-Brun 1987). This retreat led to dense settlement, but in patterns of dispersed
and interdependent homesteads, what Piot (1992) refers to as a "fragile whole"
Lower plains of the region, settled both by Kabye and other related groups,
most importantly, the Lamba (originating from northern mountain areas) and the
Voltaique Naoudeba are less populated (Lucien-Brun 1987; Piot 1992; Sauvaget
1981)." The Naoudeba, related to the Losso group, occupy the prefecture of
Doufelgou, including the early settlement town and burgeoning market center of
Niamtougou. Less rich in nutrients and of lower quality texture than the mountain
soils, the ferruginous tropical soil of Niamtougou is nonetheless of good quality for
production (given there is adequate fallow and organic, or chemical, fertilization).
This area is identifiable by its cover of oil palm trees. The Lamba group, in contrast,
have spread west and northeast, occupying the plain bordering the Kara river (site of
the FED project), and more northern mountainous zones of the Defale area.3
Ethnicity. Historical alliances and current similarities between the Kabye,
Lamba, and Losso have led scholars to study these groups, particularly concerning
migration, as a single population (Akibode 1987; Cornevin 1969; Lucien-Brun 1987;
Pauvert 1956; Pillet-Schwartz 1980, 1986a, 1986b, 1987).4 Relatively similar and
comparable in demographic patterns (notably land scarcity), agricultural systems,
historical origins (which Pillet-Schwartz [1986:320] identifies as "1'etiquette de
paleonigritiques"), and current migration practices, the Kabye-Losso distinction is not
2 Pillet-Schwartz (1980:2) writes that the Losso, originally Voltaique, have assimilated to
paleonigritique due to their habitation amidst Kabye and Lamba.
3 Soil variability exists among quite arable alluvial and hydromorphic soils along the river beds and
less preferred, low cultivatable, nutrient-deficient soils of sometimes hardpan, granulated quality.
4According to Lucien-Brun's (1987) historical research, largely based on work by Froelich et al.
(1963) and Froelich (1968), Kabye encompasses Losso ethnicity.
always clear (Pillet-Schwartz 1980, 1986b). Losso origins are believed to encompass
the Naoudum, Lama, and Lamba groups, who share very common traits (including
language and origin) with the Kabye. For purposes of this research study, I intend to
adopt the conventional approach to Togolese migrations used by scholars. I shall
therefore refer to the Kabye-Losso groups as a single ethnic unit. Therefore, from
hereon, I use Kabye to denote the Kabye-Losso-Lamba populations, except where
further specificity is required.
Traditional Kabye Land Tenure System. Land tenure among the Kabye
reflects their belief in possessing inalienable rights to the land on which they live and
farm (Lucien-Brun 1987). They cannot "sell" their land in secular terms, they believe,
because it belongs to their ancestors who are its eternal protectors. Ceremonies over
land are to reinforce and imprint upon society, particularly the young, the importance
and respect for ancestral homage. Land tenure is consequently based on a system of
rights of usufruct. Accordingly, "faire valoir" ("to give value to") earns a Kabye a
right to land. These practices are common throughout rural regions of Africa.
Rights of land-use among Kabye follow patrilineal lines in a virilocal residence
system (Piot 1991). The teto, a given land area (including fields and households), is
thus claimed by a large clan group descending from the same ancestor (but still is
considered a use right rather than ownership). The "keeper" of the family teto is
generally the authority-holding elder or "p6re de famille" whose responsibility it is to
allocate and administer the teto among family members. Kabye tradition ascribes the
youngest male in the family to remain on the teto to assume lineal responsibility
(other sons and daughters are permitted to leave). Lending and borrowing of land is
commonly practiced among Kabye and, less frequently, with farmers of other ethnic
groups. Farmers will use (and in turn lend) fields of others' teto for a variety of
reasons, such as illnesses, particular soil qualities, distance, and location of fields.
The types of agreements between farmers can vary (payments, durations, and specific
rules regarding such things as trees and harvests) and are negotiated (Akibode 1987).
In 1974, a change in the traditional Kabye tenure system occurred due to the
national agro-tenure reform, ordinance no.12. This ordonnance stipulated that unless
land is actually farmed, that is, in use (and not in fallow or reserve), the land will not
be "of" the acclaimed "owner." This meant that Togolese farmers were forced to
actually cultivate all land they believed was theirs, and that if the land was not used
within the allotted time period, they risked losing their land to the government. This
ordinance redefined the meaning of ownership for Togolese farmers nationwide. It
overrode and undermined particular, indigenous systems and practices of land tenure
by establishing one official, over-arching, national law.
This law allowed the government to legally assume control over land allocated
for numerous government schemes such as the FED settlement. Many Togolese have
opposed the law, accusing the government of using it to gain access, often unjustly, to
more and preferred land throughout the country for political and personal ends. As we
shall see below, national legal control does not trump or resolve local land disputes.
Indeed, rather than clarify these issues, it has exacerbated them. One primary reason
causing the land ordinance legislation was government's increasing insecurity over
land access brought on by population growth.
Typical of developing nations, Togo is undergoing a high population growth
rate, estimated at 3.4 percent annually in 1989 (compared to 2.9 percent in 1981, 2.6
percent in 1970, and 2.1 percent in 1960) (INRS 1991).5 Population growth is not
equally distributed nationally however. Large inter- and intra-regional discrepancies in
population increase and density exist among the five regions in Togo, in particular
between the Central and Kara regions, and within the region of Kara (see Table 2-1).
Where no less than 95 percent of the Kabye population are farmers (compared to the
national average of 80 percent) these statistics of high density raise serious concern
regarding sufficient land availability for Kabye farmers in their homeland (GOT/MPI
1987). One result of the severity of land scarcity in the agricultural zones of the
region is emigration.
Emigration. Analysis of national and regional demographic statistics give
evidence to high emigration in the Kara region (tables 2-1 and 2-2). Typical of Third
World nations, the Togolese population is young. However, composition of age by
sex in the Kara region compared to the national figures illustrates the importance of
emigration of young male Kabye farmers. National demographic structure by age and
sex reports that 50 percent of the population is under 15 years of age, and 43 percent
5 Total population of Togo in 1990 is estimated at 3,500,000 (INRS 1991).
Table 2-1. Population increase and density.
1960-1970 1970-1980 1970-1980 1981 1990 est.
growth growth rate of change density density
rate (%) rate (%) in increase (%) (p/km2) (p/km2)
Central Region -- 5.6z 57.0 21.0 25.0
Sotouboua prefecture -- 7.4 -- 18.0 22.0
Fazao canton -- 10.3 -- 3.0
Mo plain -- 13.2 -- 10.7y
Kara Region 2.2 1.4 17.8 37.0x 45.0w
Binah prefecture 1.5 1.0 -- 108.0 127.0
Kozah prefecture 0.9 1.9v -- 72.0 139.0
Doufelgou prefecture 1.8 1.0 -- 53.0 57.0
Keran prefecture 2.7 0.5 -- 41.0 33.0
national 2.3 2.8 39.4 48.0 62.0
Sources: Barbier, 1984; GOT/MPI, 1986; GOT/MPI, 1987; INRS, 1991.
' Rural region only
Y Estimated (normally Mo is less than Fazao)
SEstimated at 400 p/km2 in specific villages by Sauvaget (1981)
" Estimated at 60 p/km2 by Gu-Konu (1983)
SIncrease due to rapid urbanization of the town of Lama Kara (12% growth)
between 15 and 54 years (INRS 1991). The Kara region parallels the national age
composition structure: 44 percent of the regional population is less than 15 years of
age, and 42 percent between 15 and 54 years (Gu-Konu 1980; GOT/MPI 1987). In
1981, the national census (INRS 1991) reported on average 95 females for every 100
males. During the same period, in the Kara region, 92 males were counted for every
100 females, in contrast to, for example, the Central region, with 101 males to every
100 females, the Plateaux with 98 males, the Savanna with 97, and the Maritime with
Table 2-2. Migration patterns.
1959-1960 1970 1981
Total percent of population
emigrating from Kara region 48 58 66.0
Total percent of Kara
emigrants immigrating to
Central region 9 13 40.0
Percent immigrants of total
Central region -- -- 53.5z
Percent immigrants of total
Sotouboua prefecture 42.0Y
Percent immigrants of total
Kara region -- 8.0
Sources: GOT/MPI (1986); GOT/MPI (1987); INRS (1991); Lucien-Brun (1987)
z Estimated at 60 p/klm2 in 1985
Y 17.3% estimated to be Kabve
92 males for every 100 females.6 In Kara, of the active economic population (between
ages 20 and 60), there are 5.5 percent fewer males than females. Yet in the cohort
age of school attenders (5-14 years), there are 2 percent more males than females. In
reverse, there is high male to female population rate reported in the Central region.
One obvious interpretation of the decline in the male population of economic
active persons in Kara occurring simultaneously with an increase in the male
6 The Kara and Maritime regions have the smallest male populations, in Kara due to emigration,
and the Maritime, likely due to the dominant role of women in market activity and commerce in Lome.
population of the Central region is migration. High emigration of young male Kabye
farmers during their active years of labor from their own land-scarce environment to
other more land-abundant regions is a survival strategy which many adopt (motivated
by diverse causes: Piot 1988).
Demographic importance of migrations. Data reveals that a loss of farmers
from the north due to emigration grew rapidly in the early decades after Togolese
Independence (Table 2-2). The first systematic census taken in 1960 reported that in
1959-60, 62.4 percent of all Togolese immigrants were from the Kara region. 67.6
percent of Kabye immigrants migrated to rural areas in Togo, of which 25 percent
were registered in the Central region alone, most importantly in the Sotouboua
circumscription (location of the Mo plain), while 12 percent (of the total) moved into
the "zone de glissment" or stepping stone to the south in and around Bassar (Lucien-
Brun 1987:32). The 1959-60 census also reports that 18 percent of the total Togolese
population were migrants into Ghana, which Gu-Konu writes continued to grow in the
following decades (Gu-Konu 1983).
Attention toward immigrating into the Central region occurred during the
1970s and 1980s, when the world market coffee and cocoa prices fell dramatically,
forcing a freeze on hired plantation labor in the Plateaux region. With much
unoccupied land, fertile soils, and extended social networks that enhanced prospects
for resettlement through chain migration, northern migrants transferred their focus
from the Plateaux to the Central region as a primary target for resettlement (see Table
2-2). Clearly, through time, a boom in population growth occurred in the Central
region, simultaneously with a steady population decline in rural areas of the Kara
region (Figure 2-1). In 1981, government reports estimate approximately 66 percent
of native Kara residents (about 350,000 persons, predominantly Kabye) were living
outside the region (GOT/MPI 1987:18, and as shown in Table 2-2).
Other regions of Togo also experienced significant drops in population,
notably in the Kara prefectures of Doufelgou (Losso) and Keran (Tchokossi) in 1981
(see Table 2-1). Population declines in these zones are caused by forced resettlements
of farmers due to the construction in Doufelgou of the national airport of Niamtougou
and to delimitations of the national park near Mango (in the Keran)(GOT/MPI
1987:43). Although some farmers independently emigrated to other parts of Togo
(including Mo), the majority of those evicted were resettled by the government (most
in the FED scheme). Forced resettlement is not a new concept in Togo, but rather an
integral feature of national development programs since colonization.
Forced Resettlement under Colonialism
During colonialism (from the 1880s until Independence in 1960), according to
modernizationist scholars, the engine of growth in Western industrial countries was
based on penetration and exploitation of African colonies to amass natural and human
resources, specifically land, labor, and minerals (see Black 1991 on these theories).
During German colonization of Togo, an extremely efficient and productive structure
of authority and administrative intervention was formed to build the infrastructural
support needed to create and control a productive and profitable colony.
1 I I
10-year-period growth rate
Figure 2-1. Comparison of population growth over time. (Sources: Barbier 1984, GOT/MPI 1987, INRS 1991,
Infrastructural development, including transportation, communication, and
urbanization were extensively developed during the German and subsequent French
periods of colonization.
During the German occupation in Togo (until 1914), German officials
promoted an organized "transplantation" of Kabye to southern and central regions in
order to assemble sufficient laborers for building public works, such as roads,
railways, communication lines, and urban centers, and to cultivate export cash crops
such as cotton and groundnut (Lucien-Brun 1987; Painter 1990; Pillet-Schwartz 1980,
1987).7 Kabye were the preferred choice of labor: first, it appeared they were more
"available" to relocate due to their high density population which constrained
agricultural development and, second, they carried a reputation of high propensity for
hard and dedicated work. Organized relocation and settlement for labor, "corv6e,"
was initiated during this period.
After colonial redistribution following World War I, France gained control
over Togo. Between 1924 and 1956, the French designed a "masterpiece program"
for the general development of Togo (Lucien-Brun 1987; Pillet-Schwartz 1986b).
Resettlement, or "mises en valeur," played a key role in this plan by attracting
northern populations to the Central and Plateaux regions to work and farm (Ahoomey-
Zunu 1971; Cornevin 1969). Kabye relocation under corv6e continued with even more
alacrity than before. The potential for development by relocation was predicted high
7 Common to most West African countries with sea coasts, coastal regions of Togo developed
much faster than inland zones.
and a sure success by the French administration of Governor Bonnecarrere in the mid-
1920s (they justified this by pointing out that some temporary voluntary migration
already occurred as Kabye migrated south as seasonal wage labor on plantations).
During this period, the French administration developed a total of seventy-one villages
with 6,000 relocated families (Lucien-Brun 1987; Pillet-Schwartz 1980).
Until 1920, the plains area of the Central and Plateaux regions of Togo were
sparsely inhabited (density estimated at fewer than 0.5 percent by Sauvaget 1981).
Vulnerability to attack from the strong states of the Kotokoli or Abomey ethnic
groups left the Central plains largely uninhabited, except for the elevated plateau
areas. Nascent development of these regions as settlements occurred under the French
for multiple reasons. First, settlements served as compensation to Kabye farmers
forced to relocate under "corv6e." Also, the French hoped to curb high levels of
Togolese emigration to neighboring colonies (namely Ghana) by offering highly
lucrative opportunities on cocoa and coffee plantation settlements. At the same time,
colonialists viewed settlements as a means to improving tax collection. These sites
were also developed for agricultural research.
The French favored planned resettlement over spontaneous, unorganized
migration. Controlled or forced settlement was an orderly means of population
management and control. For example, all settlers were medically examined by
French officials to prevent the spread of disease. Cornevin (1969) quotes a French
doctor-in-charge during Kabye examination circa 1937:
L'emigation spontan6e par centre ne comprend que les Kabr6 quittant
leurs pays d'origine sans aucune autorisation et malgr6 la volont6 de
leur chef. Elle est aussi la plus dangereuse au point de vue de la
dissemination de la maladie car elle est incontr6lable et nous ne
connaissons pas encore le moyen de l'empecher. [Later he writes,]
[Elle] s'expatrier enfin dans un sentiment de liberty individuelle qu'il
nous parait difficile de contrarier (M6decin commandant de Marqueissac
in Cornevin 1969:295).
In addition to health concerns, colonial authorities used controlled settlement to
monitor unlawful individuals. Pillet-Schwartz (1980:3) notes that three settlements
were created in the Central region as national penitentiaries for recalcitrants.
The French campaign to "mettre en valuer" southern regions of Togo was
implemented enthusiastically between 1930 and Independence. In 1956, the first
integrated development project, the Est-Mono, was created by the French FIDES. The
aims of this settlement were, first, to attain sustainable farm management, and,
second, to initiate intensified cotton production. In both cases (as well as others in the
Central region), efforts failed. Farmer resistance is the primary reason for
Ces examples peuvent donner A penser que toute operation conque par
I'administration et impose par elle A une population r6cemment
immigrant ne peut-6tre que vou6e A l'echec. Une operation de
colonisation de terres neuves devrait 8tre en some dynamis6e
uniquement de l'int6rieur (par les int6ress6s eux-memes) pour avoir une
chance de r6ussir (Pillet-Schwartz 1980:9).
Contrary to French expectation, most Kabye farmers were reticent and
unwilling to resettle in schemes. According to Lucien-Brun (1987), Kabye did not
want to live according to the restrictions imposed by the colonial administration, but
preferred the freedom of autonomous immigration, self-initiated from their own
interests and motives. Autonomous migration allowed farmers the flexibility to
experiment with fewer obstacles. Despite large movements south, detachment from
one's native land of ancestry was never an insignificant decision, and many Kabye
preferred to move cautiously by choice rather than force. Exaggerated stories of
hardship and mistreatment also increased reticence toward relocation imposed by the
"Forced" methods of recruitment into colonial schemes were resented and
feared by local farmers (persisting as legacies in future organized settlement
schemes). Lucien-Brun (1987) poignantly depicts the apprehension they felt at the
prospect of being selected by canton chiefs, themselves under strict orders, forced to
supply a certain number of young men to the colonial administration for relocation.8
Attached to family and land, ignorant of their future destination, many selected
farmers did what they could to avoid "the draft" by either replacing themselves,
leaving their village for temporary labor elsewhere, or escaping to Ghana, further
undermining the settlement scheme. The brutality of the process is still remembered
by many as a dark period in the colonial occupation of Togo.
Au pays Cabrais-losso, la deportation et l'6migration force ont &t6
pratiqu6es depuis de nombreuses annees et cette m6thode tend
actuellement A nous ali6ner s6rieusement la sympathie de nos
populations et A nuire gravement A nos propres int6rets, car elle pousse
nos gens A hair I'Administration franchise et A s'6vader en Gold Coast.
Notre population est foncirement hostile A toute deportation et condamne
absolument la m6thode actuellement employee pour designer les partants
(Pr6fet Apostolique de Sokod6, 10 avril, 1944, in Lucien-Brun
8 The decisive role of canton chiefs in settler selection during colonial resettlement was assimilated
by FED. Surely, recalling years of the corvee legacy, Kabye were skeptical and fearful of this
recruitment style in FED.
The fetters of forced settlement gradually loosened and developed into more benign,
less forced, voluntary systems of relocation by the colonial administration. Relocation
strategies transformed into "facilitating" farmer transition and adjustment. Settlers
were offered advantages upon arrival, such as tools, seeds, and even money.
By 1950, more consent and even voluntary relocation was occurring. This
stimulated and increased ongoing autonomous resettlement. Early resettlements of the
"plus ou moins coercitive" period, although considered failures in their operational
agricultural goals, have succeeded in retaining settlers in the areas over time (Pillet-
Schwartz 1980:3). Projects have failed, but settler autonomy in deciding to stay has
been an outcome of early settlement, and an indication of settler independence.
Causes of Spontaneous Migration
As early as 1915, small spontaneous migrations of northern farmers to the
southern regions were occurring in Togo. The colonial administration did not in fact
create the roots nor routes of relocation, but rather "piggy-backed" spontaneous
migrations already in progress.9 Between 1950-60, spontaneous migration boomed and
continues to exist today writes one scholar (Fofana 1978). Spontaneous migration is
reported to have nearly doubled every decade between 1932 and 1960 (Lucien-Brun
1987). In 1932, spontaneous migration accounted for 12 percent of the total migrant
population from the north, in 1946, 21 percent, and in 1960, 50 percent of total
9 Cornevin (1969) reports that the first spontaneous settler was a liberated Losso prisoner, a man
of unusually strong character and leadership ability, who after his release in 1914 remained in the south
to establish the first spontaneous settlement.
immigrants from the north in the Central and Plateaux regions were spontaneous
settlers. By 1950, high rates of spontaneous migrations were occurring by self-led
voyages of individualism, writes Gu-Konu (1987). Spontaneous migrations waxed, as
forced settlement waned, and to this day, continues to penetrate "open" or free land in
the Central and Plateaux regions in large numbers.
What has triggered this vast "undirected" movement of populations? First,
many men descended south as temporary hired laborers, either to earn the cash
needed to pay the tax fees initiated by the French administration, to altogether evade
fees owed, or to escape overall colonial tutelage (Lucien-Brun 1987; Pillet-Schwartz
Cultural inducements. A number of cultural practices encouraged Kabye
spontaneous emigration as well (Piot 1988). Emigration served as an escape hatch for
young male farmers to avoid burdensome familial obligations and responsibilities
mandated by Kabye tradition (primarily labor or marital obligations).'0 Lack of a
formal, organized Kabye chiefdomship places significant leadership and control at the
household level. Sons are shackled under their fathers' authority for many years.
Their independence occurs only with the aging or even death of the "p6re de famille"
(Piot 1988). Fofana (1978:46) and Piot (1988) explain that escape from this family
control has induced emigration among young men. Kabye marriage rites and customs
tO The Kabye practice a strong, authoritative patriarchal lineal system where elders, or fathers of
the family unit, hold power and control by applying austere and harsh measures (Sauvaget 1981). For
example, during the period of slave trade, uncles often sold their nephews to other tribes for trade
goods. In fear of this possibility, youth would venture south leaving no word of their destination or
possible return. Eventually, the loss of men and their labor contribution served to soften this behavior
by male elders and loosened the hegemony of their rule.
also induce emigration. Traditionally after marriage, the wife does not live with the
husband until she becomes pregnant. To avoid this "waiting period," according to
Fofana (1978), many young couples will emigrate, forcing parents to allow the girl to
accompany her husband south, despite her childless condition. Steep payments of
bridewealth and services may have influenced young men to delay marriage by
emigrating as well. Other reasons cited for emigration include the onset of formal
schooling, transportation development (both of which deter youth from the traditional
lifestyle and encourage emigration (Fofana 1978), and onchocerciasis (river
blindness)," causing large land-tract evacuation and consequent emigration of local
farmers in search of other land (discussed below).
After many years of emigration, it is appropriate to identify emigration as an
established, accepted, normative custom among young Kabye males. Many Kabye
believe that travel is necessary before settling. Similar to a rite of passage, one hasn't
lived or experienced life unless he has seen other places and people, Kabye informed
me. It is indeed considered normal (and even encouraged among many) that young
men should travel to distant places for a period of their life to see other things. In
sum, among Kabye, emigration is an integral, commonly practiced venture resulting
from multiple interwoven motivations.
Land shortages. Contrary to the long-standing belief, deficiency in land and
food was not the single decisive factor motivating Kabye migration at its inception.
This is a filarial disease transmitted by the small black fly Similium damnosum. Through biting,
the fly can infect humans by depositing the microscopic filarial worm Onchocerca volvulus under the
skin, which in turn discharges embryonic microfilariae into the dermal tissue that later invade the eye,
resulting in blindness (WHO 1985:7).
Colonial reports (examined by Lucien-Brun in 1987 and also discussed by Gu-Konu in
1980 and 1983) show that, despite the impending limitation of virgin land in the
Kabye region, subsistence and ample surplus production were consistently attained.
Ample beer (demanding large quantities of sorghum) was produced, and the Kabye
were "bien nourri" (well fed) according to colonial reports written in the period
around 1930 (Lucien-Brun 1986).
Administrative reports indicate, however, that cultivable land did become
increasingly difficult to find. By the mid-1950s, all arable land was occupied or
claimed by family units, leaving only less-preferred land open for expansion.
Production dropped in several areas as soil conditions were worsened. Developments
of lateritic or "hardpan" soils, granulated-textured soil, humus deficiency, and soil
degradation appeared in greater quantities. Striga rowlandi, the widely spread
parasitic plant caused by deficient soils, often destroyed cereal crops, particularly
maize. As early as 1930, fallow periods were reported to be reduced to three to four
years (Lucien-Brun 1987). Self-sufficiency was becoming a problem for the Kabye. In
response, by the 1960s, streams of Kabye youth were flooding south to search for
Search for space. Lucien-Brun (1987) and Pillet-Schwartz (1986b) maintain
that Kabye migrated for more space. More specifically, they assert that space allowed
Kabye to conduct extensive agricultural practices, thus freeing-up more time for other
activities, "L'emigration est non seulement une conquete de l'espace, mais aussi et
surtout une conquete de temps (Pillet-Schwartz 1986b: 130). It is precisely this point,
they argue, that caused conflict between government and migrating farmers, and
precipitated the failure of the majority of intensification development schemes
Organized, structured rules of production are contrary to the goals of
migration; "Tout forme de d'encadrement n'est-elle pas par definition la negation de
cette dynamique purement paysanne? (Pillet-Schwartz 1986b: 119)." This polarization
of goals has not stemmed the flow of migration south, which is the aim of many
projects such as FED. Despite the multiplication of government-sponsored programs
and increased development in the north, Kabye emigration south continues in
In sum, historians of Kabye migration agree that spontaneous relocation, "le
systeme migratoire auto-entretenu," is not a recent phenomenon, nor is it a colonial
invention. It is first and foremost a traditional, cultural, and economic strategy, and
only more recently a government-induced, development-oriented incentive for
improving farmer welfare. The conflict between government and farmer goals in
terms of migration and land use remains open: is development, implying intensified
agricultural practices, the antithesis of spontaneous resettlement, when migration and
extensification are the norms? Where the future of vacant lands is limited (as
suggested by Painter 1990), how the dynamic spirit of spontaneous migration can be
combined with intensified sustainable agricultural systems to promote development
remains in question and underlies this research.
Consequences of Kabye Emigration
What were the social and economic consequences stemming from Kabye
emigration? The large part of the emigrant population was young males between
fifteen and nineteen years, a productive cohort of society. Loss of labor hands was
perhaps the most critical and negative impact caused by emigration. "Le pays
d'origine, surtout le principal massif du Kabye, est malade de l'6migration," says
Lucien-Brun (as told by Pillet-Schwartz 1980:7). As increasing numbers of young
Kabye pioneered south to more promising prospects, at home, adjustments and
accommodations were required concerning land use and systems of inheritance,
engagements and arrangements of marriages, household responsibilities, and a host of
other necessary changes.
Migrants were not, however, independent pioneers forging ahead without
looking back. Most migrants remained attached to family and land, faithfully
contributing to the livelihood and improvement of their households in the north.
Although absent, migrants retained an economically active role in the household.
They remained "providers" by sending remittances of both foodstuffs and cash back to
the village. Their absence was not a loss, but ensured a supplementary income to the
household, oftentimes more substantial than local contributions, particularly in hard
A second important role early settlers played vis A vis home villages was
facilitator for new settlers. By sending for settler-aspiring "freres" back home to join
them in the south, they assisted others in settlement through a "chain migration." This
caretaking most often entailed food, lodging, and temporary allocation of field space
for the first season or two of cultivation. At the same time, they reaped benefits of
their guests' labor (Fofana 1978). An essential part of the assimilation process was
introductions of the new settler (by the first settler) to the village chief. This was an
official visit in request of land-use rights, but usually a pleasant and jovial affair,
filled with much drink and offerings. Chiefs and local populations were highly
receptive to new settlers. Existing extensive land was available and prestige gained
from growing populations offered increased political importance to the area.
Isolation or Integration?: Patterns of Spontaneous Settlement
A symbiotic relationship between autocthones and settlers flourished during the
decades of active migration, writes Lucien-Brun (1987). People co-existed under rules
of mutual aid and respect. Autocthones were happy to hire migrants as temporary or
permanent workers, and viewed the migrants as "associates" in clearing and managing
the land, and fending off wild animals and other hazards (Fofana 1978). A benign
environment offered security and comfort for newly arrived northerners and
encouraged settlers' smooth and rapid transition to self-sufficiency and autonomy. In
return, the settlers provided labor for land clearance and during bottleneck periods.
Land tenure and chieftainship were main ingredients determining sustainable
integration between settlers and autocthones (Lucien-Brun 1987). In the northern
Central region (from Sokod6 to southern Sotouboua), land rights based on usufruct
practice are loosely defined. The immigrants had a certain degree of power enabling
them to use and ultimately declare land rights over their own farms and fallow lands.
In contrast, in the southern Central region (from south of Blitta, Atakpam6, and
Badou), settlers were considered temporary, as users, inviteses" and not permanent
land holders. These settlers were not to plant trees (a clear indication of land
ownership and rights). Tenure over land was not an option for these settlers (nor did
many find fault with this agreement). They were present to farm and eat, not to settle.
In both northern and southern settlement areas, respect for autocthones was
considered essential for new-settler integration. This was commonly expressed
through symbolic gestures of prestation (such as a quantity of yams, cereals, beer, or
days of labor)." The absence of defined delineated rules of settlement did not abolish
the need for some agreed upon system of order and justice (an essential element of
social organization). Chieftainship was critical in preventing over-menacing conflicts
and hostility between ethnic groups. In most cases, the settler and autocthone
communities existed in harmonious separation. Settlers maintained their own chiefs
(or elders) who regulated courts or judgements uniquely within the settler community.
These customs and laws differed from those of the autocthones. Only in the case of a
settler-autocthone conflict would representatives from both factions merge. For
example, tax collection was initially conducted by autocthones and resented by
settlers. In time, this task was allocated to both autocthones and settlers (both to quiet
accusations of corruption and to reach maximum numbers of households).
12 In time, settlers resented these "offerings" of sometimes large proportions and Lucien-Brun
(1987) writes that by 1960 people refused to pay and began to claim permanency and autonomy for
Newly formed Kabye settlements in the central region generally remained
separated and isolated from host communities. Immigrants settled in a mosaic of
communities assembled in positions relative to their cantons of origin in the north. A
"brassage d'origines" was strictly respected, which can be detected easily in the
regional layout of settler communities in the Central region (Fofana 1978; Lucien-
Brun 1987). For example, settlers from those villages whose original canton is
Koumea are found in the proximate area to the immigrants from Koumea village
Most settler communities followed a semi-dispersed or scattered village pattern
where a given number of hamlets are within 50-meter proximity of one another and
loosely connected in a somewhat circular pattern.14 Scattered settlement patterns
reflect traditional Kabye settlement practices in the mountains of their home villages,
where vast, expansive territories were settled to give the appearance of large
populations and control over large land areas.15
Separation between autocthone and settler societies is apparent in settlers'
continuation of traditional religious customs. Marguerat (1986:107) writes that the
Kabye diaspora is a spatial but not social mutation wherein essential social structures
of the Kabye ethnic group remain unchanged. Kabye rely on former social and
13 Not surprisingly, Lucien-Bnm (1987) found that settler villages experiencing conflicts and
disputes reflected the continuation of conflicts originating in the north.
14 A second, less practiced, plan is a centralized, nuclear formation comprised of a small number
`5 Given the loosely knit political system and absence of centralized authority, the scattered pattern
of settlement appropriately correlates with the Kabye forms of governance (Lucien-Brun 1987).
cultural practices rather than assimilate to those found in the new environment.
Pauvert writes, the Kabye-Losso immigrants,
restent fiddles A de nombreux modules de leur organisation coutumiere,
et que tout en 6tablissement avec les autocthones ana et kpessi certain
modes de coexistence et m6me de symbiose, ils continent A &tre lies A
leur famille et A leur village, en particulier de fait de la persistence de
liens 6conomiques et religieux (Pauvert 1956:2).
A number of ceremonies were reenacted in the south simultaneously with those in the
north (notably the important age-set fights, called Evala). For many, spoken language
remained separate. Burials were oftentimes conducted in the south: "Rares sont les
vieux migrants qui retournent au pays; la plupart acceptent de veiller et de mourir 1A
bu ils sont fix6s (Margeurat 1986:99)." Settlers justified this otherwise sacrilegious
act by claiming that spirits travelled with them to settle in the south. Settlers also
carried with them (or recreated) from the north their own religious and ceremonial
icons and fetishes. Marriages rites were conducted in the south, but exclusively
among Kabye.16 Rather than integrate into their new world, many Kabye remained
resistant to change;
Mais ces paysans semblent disposes A 61argir le moins possible le mileu
quotidien de leur vie de relations, aussi 6troit ffit-il A l'origine, et cet
6tat d'esprit particulariste, pour se manifester dans le cadre d'isolats
restreints, n'en est pas moins syst6matique. Le Centre-Togo ne se
pr6sente nullement comme un "melting pot" (Lucien-Brun 1987:127).
Traditional practices are reinforced through intermittent visits to home villages.
Settlers return north, usually at intervals of one to four years, for a variety of
16 Although early settlers found the idea of mixed marriages a humorously unfathomable notion, in
time mixed marriages occurred (Lucien-Brun 1987).
reasons. In sixty-one cases, Lucien-Brun (1987) found thirty-two settlers returned to
their village "occasionally" (for funeral ceremonies, illness, simple visits, age-class
ceremonies, sacrifices, and other diverse reasons). These visits (usually spent during
the low-labor season of January-March for a period of weeks) reinforce spiritual,
economic, and social connections and attachments to one's kin. They demonstrate to
one's community that settlers continue to hold a place in the family circle. It is rare to
find settlers completely severed from their home village.
Strength of ethnicity and consequent distinction between groups fervently
continues and is apparent in regions of settlement today. Conflicts over land rights
and tenure have worsened during recent years in Togo (largely due to increased
economic stringency and land scarcity). During my field research (May 1992), a
hostile uprising over land rights between Kabye and Kotokoli groups occurred in the
Central region. Kabye felt threatened and fearful of Kotokoli, who they accused of
forcing them off what they consider now to be their own land. Kabye responded with
hostility, first damaging Kotokoli houses then shooting. This violent incident resulted
in several injuries and some deaths.
Similarly, in February 1994 a violent uprising leaving several injured and dead
occurred between the Konkomba and Namumba ethnic groups residing on the
Ghanaian side of the Mo plain (personal communication and the Gainesville Sun,
February 18, 1994). According to Akpata-Ohoe (1994) in Africa Events, the
Konkomba, settlers "who farm but don't own the land," have resisted Namumba
pressures to return to their own land in Togo. Urgency of peoples in search for land,
whether it be the Konkomba or the Kabye, is intensifying as conditions in Africa
deteriorate. Akpata-Ohoe remarks that, "Both sides blame the government for
ignoring and refusing earlier calls to tackle the root cause of the conflict [land
tenure]." These are the most violent in an lengthy series of hostile events that
underline the importance of ethnic identity and land holdings in settlement. Clearly,
historical events influence contemporary political conflicts which continue to afflict
The Sotouboua Prefet confirms that these events are indicative of
disagreements and confusion over land use and rights dating from the arrival of Kabye
settlers in the 1920s. He believes they have sharpened and grown in intensity through
time. Admittedly, an immediate need for resolution and clarification of land tenure is
essential to prevent further violence, he says, but it is a very delicate and complex
problem. Cornevin (1969) reports as early as 1926, that persons or groups defined
land use and rights according to their own position and activity: a first settler declared
that rights of first settler defined priority in land ownership, or hunters declared that
rights of hunters was priority, and so on.
While for decades, tension over land rights and settlement have prevailed,
leading to confusion and igniting episodes of conflict, in some cases these tensions
and conflicts have precipitated autonomous problem-solving. I now turn to Part Two
to analyze in-depth one of these cases, the spontaneous settlement of the Mo plain
located in the Central region of Togo.
The Mo Plain: The Spontaneous Settlement
Early Settlement in the Mo Plain
As early as the seventeenth century, the first inhabitants of the Mo plain, the
Kotokoli, are alleged to have travelled to the Mo plain initially for hunting, for trade,
and for protection against other warring factions by residing in the mountain cliffs.
Located on the Hausa caravan trade routes from the north, during the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries the two ancient Kotokoli cheifdoms of Boulo and Djarapanga
thrived from commercial activity (Barbier 1984, 1986).
The first immigrant settlers entered the plain mostly to hunt, eventually to farm
(attracted to the area's land abundance and fertility), trade with autocthones, and also
to escape eviction from Ghana and elsewhere. In 1960, Barbier (1984:2) reports a
total population of only approximately 3,500 persons, with an annual population
growth of 2.8 percent. Despite the onset of rapid population growth of the Mo plain,
around 13 percent annually according to Barbier (1984), population density remains
the second lowest of any prefecture in Togo (estimated at only 22 p/km2 in 1990
compared to the national population density of 62 p/km2) (INRS 1991). What
precipitates low population in the Mo plain? Scarce settlement is caused by both
biophysical and political factors, which I review below.
Geographical features. The 1000 km2 region of the Mo plain lies within the
soudana-guinean zone of semi-tropical humidity at about 8.75 N, with an average
temperature of around 250C (GOT/MPI 1986). Regional enclavement best describes
the geography of the Mo plain (see Figure 2-2). It is notably severed from the rest of
06 Nouveaux centres de pup(nement identifiA
-e route a praticoa
Route a proticat
S Piste cyclobie
4,*4. Frontitre intel
,.-.. Limilt de regic
f Pore nltionol
- Cours d'eau
T( Poste de douone
Figure 2-2. The spontaneous settlement site on the Mo Plain. (Source: Painter (1990)
Land Settlement Review: Country Case Study Togo.)
the Togo by geographical boundaries severely inhibiting movement into the area.
Despite its reputation of excellent fertile soils for cultivation, specifically of yams,
and an average rainfall of 1500 mm annually that occurs over a seven-month rainy
season, the plain is referred to as "1'6ndroit oubli6," the forgotten region, due to its
geographic and political isolation from other parts of the country." Until only the
mid-1980s, it has shown greater affinity with neighboring Ghana (to which it
previously belonged), both economically and socially, than with Togo.
Perhaps the greatest barrier deterring access to the Mo plain is the Fazao
mountain range, a continuation of the Atakorian massif, spanning nearly the full
length of the country. The Fazao cliffs (elevation of 400 m) are steep and jagged,
impassable by any type of vehicle, let alone bicycle (except carried). In the past, the
autocthone Kotokoli conducted all travel between the plain and the central canton
village of Fazao (about 15 km away), or the prefecturial center of Sotouboua (40 km
from Fazao) over the mountain. Emergencies, commerce and trade, administrative
responsibilities, and visiting of any type had to navigate this difficult passage.18
Today, less travel occurs on the beaten path due to the bridge constructed over
the Mo river (financed in 1983 by the Soci6t6 Togolaise du Coton: SOTOCO)
allowing a new, less arduous access means of travel.
"1 Soils in the plain mainly consist of tropical ferruginous and hydromorphic types of average to
high agricultural potential (Painter 1990).
18 Nonetheless, the cliffs are still ventured by many, including those unable to afford vehicular
transport or unwilling to wait for a bush taxi due to urgent business, those transporting illegal goods
(such as firearms from Ghana or hunting prizes), those preferring the traditional lifestyle, or, like
myself, those climbing for the sheer pleasure of it to see the glorious sight of the Mo plain from the
cliffs of Fazao.