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 Editorial staff
 Table of Contents
 The legacy of J. J. Rawlings in...
 Reading as a woman: Chinua Achebe's...
 Civil-military relations in Botswana's...
 Emerging trends in Japan-Africa...
 Book reviews














Title: African studies quarterly
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Table of Contents
    Cover
        Page i
    Editorial staff
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Table of Contents
        Page iv
        Page v
    The legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian politics, 1979-2000
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
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        Page 15
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        Page 17
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        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Reading as a woman: Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and feminist criticism
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Civil-military relations in Botswana's developmental state
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
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        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
    Emerging trends in Japan-Africa relations: An African perspective
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
    Book reviews
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
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Full Text














African Studies Quarterly



Volume 5, Issue 2
Summer 2001












Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida


ISSN: 2152-2448










African Studies Quarterly

Editorial Staff

Christine Apodaca
James Barham
Elizabeth Beaver
Lin Cassidy
Michael Chege
Kevin Fridy
Corinna Greene
Parakh Hoon
Rebecca Klein
Todd Leedy
Andy Lepp
Steve Marr
David Ngwenyama
Ade Ofunniyin
Cheryl White
Roos Willems



































African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001
http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq











































University of Florida Board of Trustees, a public corporation of the State of Florida; permission is hereby granted for
individuals to download articles for their own personal use. Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida.









































African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001
http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq










Table of Contents


The Legacy of J.J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000
John L. Adedeji (1-27)


Reading as a Woman: Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' and Feminist Criticism
Linda Strong-Leek (29-35)


Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State
Mpho G. Molomo (37-59)


At Issue
Emerging Trends in Japan-Africa Relations: An African Perspective
Seifudein Adem (61-69)




Book Reviews

Contemporary Perspectives on East African Pastoralism
The Pastoral Continuum: The Marginalization of Tradition in East Africa. Paul Spencer. Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 2000. Pp. 302.
The Poor are Not Us: Poverty & Pastoralism. David M. Anderson & Vigdis Broch-Due (eds.).
Oxford: James Currey, 1999. Pp. 276.
George L. Simpson Jr. (71-74)

"I Will Not Eat Stone": A Women's History of Colonial Asante.
Jean Allman and Victoria Tashjian. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2000. Pp. 312.
Jeremy Rich (74-76)

Traditional Cures for Modern Conflicts, African Conflict 'Medicine'
William I. Zartman (ed.). Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000. Pp. 230.
Saskia Van Hoyweghen (76-78)

Daughters of the Goddess, Daughters of Imperialism: African Women Struggle for Culture,
Power and Democracy.
Amadiume Ifi. New York: Zed Books, 2000. Pp. 300.
Ong'wen Okuro Samwel (78-80)

Beyond Rights Talk and Culture Talk.
Mahmood Mamdani (ed). New York: St. Martins's Press, 2000. Pp.170.
Seyoum Hameso (81-82)




African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001
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The Midfielder's Moment: Coloured Literature and Culture in Contemporary South Africa.
Grant Farred. Boulder: Westview Press, 2000. Pp. 178.
Ann Langwadt (82-84)

United States Interests and Policies in Africa: Transition to a New Era.
Karl P. Magyar (ed). New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc., 2000. Pp. 193.
Sean Patrick Murphy (84-86)

Street Children in Kenya: Voices of Children in Search of a Childhood.
Philip Kilbride, Collete Suda, Enos Njeru. Westport: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, 2000. Pp.
184.
Patrick Wachira and Beth Blue Swadener (86-89)

Fire from the Ashes: A Chronicle of the Revolution in Tigray, Ethiopia, 1975-1991.
Jenny Hammond. Lawrenceville and Asmara: The Red Sea Press, 1999, Pp. 456.
Seifudein Adem (89-90)









































African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001
http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq







African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001


The Legacy of J.J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000


JOHN L. ADEDEJI


Abstract: Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana's leader since the December 31, 1981 coup until the
2000 elections, was a Flight Lieutenant in the Air Force and a militant populist when he
led the first coup of June 4, 1979, that overthrew the regime of Gen. Fred Akuffo, who
had, in turn, deposed his predecessor, Gen. I.K. Acheampong, in a palace coup.
According to Shillington (1992), Rawlings was convinced that after one year of the
Akuffo regime, nothing had been changed and the coup amounted to a "waste of time,"
and "it was then up to him to change not only the status quo, but also put the country
back on track."'
Rawlings, unlike many other leaders in Ghana's history, subsequently led the country
through the difficult years of economic recovery and succeeded in giving back to
Ghanaians their national pride. Chazan (1983) observes "without Rawlings' strength of
character and unwavering determination, Ghana would not have survived the Economic
Recovery Programs (ERPs) of the 1980s put in place by the ruling Provisional National
Defence Council (PNDC)."2 Rawlings saw his leadership role to be that of a "watchdog"
for ordinary people and he addressed problems of incompetence, injustice and
corruption.
Rawlings also instituted a transition from authoritarianism to multi-party democracy by
attempting to decentralize the functions of government from Accra to other parts of the
country.3 When the PNDC established the People's Defence Committees (PDCs), a
system of cooperatives, it became a unique move never before seen in Ghana's political
economy.

Introduction

In theory, the process of political change, begun in 1982 by Rawlings and the PNDC, was a
"bottom up" strategy to ensure the involvement of citizens in nation building. This stance
resulted in the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, the formation of political parties, the
holding of elections in 1992 and 1996, and the building of a rural (including grassroots) political
base in Ghana. One of the most distinctive characteristics in Ghanaian politics was that the
Rawlings regime's commitment to liberal economic reform after 1983 did change its
commitment to PNDC's original mandate. Before the implementation of Ghana's ERP, the
Rawlings regime pursued radical economic redistribution policies by courting the support of
low-income classes.
The shift in political ideology a free market approach would, however, lead to tension
between the government and its previous allies, such as labor unions and student
organizations. Consequently, in order for Rawlings' PNDC to successfully manage and

John Adedeji is with the Doctoral Program at the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Western Michigan
University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A.

http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v5/v5i2al.pdf
University of Florida Board of Trustees, a public corporation of the State of Florida; permission is hereby granted for individuals
to download articles for their own personal use. Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida.
ISSN: 2152-2448






2 I Adedeji


maintain neo-classical economic policies, despite the aforementioned opposition, the regime
had to insulate itself from powerful social groups and deal with social opposition through: (1)
coercion, (2) weak institutional structure, and (3) heavy dosage of financial assistance from
internal donors, who were intent on making Ghana a "show piece" in the sub-Saharan region
while implementing IMF and World Bank conditionalities, as prescribed by the Structural
Adjustment Programs (SAPs).
In 1992, Ghana held both presidential and parliamentary elections. Rawlings, who had
initially resisted multi-party politics, was elected a democratic president and his National
Democratic Congress (NDC) won an overwhelming parliamentary majority. The next elections
were held in December 1996 and this marked a milestone in the fledgling democracy in Ghana;
for the first time in the country's political history, an elected government actually completed its
term in office, had an election contest, and secured a renewed mandate in a democratic manner.
Through it all, the constant theme in Ghana's political and economic development has a lot to
do with the Rawlings factor.
This article reviews the achievements (and by extension, the legacy) of J.J. Rawlings since
1983, as he entrenched the leadership role of a "watchdog" for ordinary people by addressing
the problems of incompetence, injustice and corruption; instituted a transition from
authoritarianism to multi-party democracy; led Ghana through the difficult years of economic
recovery; and succeeded in giving back to Ghanaians their national pride.
The approach used to assess the Rawlings legacy in this article is that of a case study.
According to Harry Eckstein (1992), a "single case study can have powerful, and even
conclusive theoretical results," for other African nations.4 Ghana's experience as a nation lends
itself to a historically sensitive method since it reveals causal consequences and shows how they
relate to existing political and economic reforms.

THE TWO COUPS

The political situation in Ghana after the first coup led by FI. Lt. J.J. Rawlings on June 4,
1979 remained fluid at best. In order to bring about normalcy, a 15-member Armed Forces
Revolutionary Council (AFRC) was established, Rawlings was made the Chairman and the rest
of the AFRC was a careful balance of junior- and middle-rank officers of the military. One of the
decisions taken by the AFRC, according to Chazan (1983), was that the parliamentary and
presidential elections would proceed as planned on June 18, 1979 but that the handing over of
power would be postponed for three months to October 1, 1979, to allow the AFRC to "complete
its task of house cleaning."5
The new AFRC government tried to clear up corruption in all walks of life, especially the
kalabule system (the "black" or "parallel" market) which had affected the cost of living and
which the state suspected to be responsible for the spiraling inflation in Ghana. In fact, the
shortages and low production of the past regime were the causes. Much of Rawlings' energy
and activity in those hectic months, however, was bound up with talking with people whom he
constantly urged to be aware that this was their revolution and it was they who were calling
their past rulers to account for their past deeds, and that the future of Ghana was in their hands.
Rawlings and the AFRC carried out public executions of 3 former heads of state and other


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 3


senior officers without trial. These actions evoked awareness amongst Ghanaians that this
regime was not like any other, and that the new leaders meant business. But these actions were
to haunt the Rawlings government later.
To the amazement of most foreign observers, the elections were held on schedule under
conditions of unexpected calm and fairness. On July 8, the People's National Party (PNP), led by
Dr. Hilla Limann (a Nkrumah stalwart) won the elections, and then there begun a process for
the transfer of power. At the end of August, Rawlings reflected that since he was confident that
the "house cleaning" began by the AFRC would be continued by the Limann administration, he
would be handing over power a week early on September 24, 1979. Paul Nugent (1995) reflected
on the admonitions of Rawlings to Limann at the inauguration ceremony of the Third Republic
with this famous quotation: "...never lose sight of the new consciousness of the Ghanaian
people."6
Those words by Rawlings would form the basis for his second coming, not only as the
leader of the 31 December coup, which toppled the weak and ineffective Limann
administration, but also the leader of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) regime,
the progenitor of the dual transition program in Ghana. To inaugurate the "second coming,"
Rawlings stated:
"Fellow Ghanaians, as you will notice, we are not playing the national anthem. In other
words, this is not a coup. I ask for nothing less than a REVOLUTION something that will
transform the social and economic order of this country. Fellow citizens, it is now left to you to
decide how this country is going to go from today. We are asking for nothing more than the
power to organize this country in such a way that nothing will be done from the Castle without
the consent and authority of the people. In other words, the people, the farmers, the police, the
soldiers, the workers you the guardians- rich or poor, should be part of the decision-making
process of this country."7
The Rawlings address, given at the Broadcasting House in Accra December 31, 1981,
launched his second coming as the head of a military government in Ghana. According to
Shillington (1992), one of the directives of that speech was the setting up of People's Defense
Committees (PDCs) in the workplace and in every district out and village, so that the decision-
making in Ghana would not continue to be the preserve of politicians, who had previously
ruled Ghana under the most corrupt regime. This move was seen as a precursor for a
decentralization policy in Ghana; its implementation, however, was another matter.
The 31 December coup had been expected for some time, as there were several plots
emerging during the early weeks of December 1981, and many had looked to Rawlings for
leadership. This time, however, Rawlings wanted to have control of the military ranks from the
beginning. Events in the country almost ground to a halt because of the coup, but by January 2,
1982, life was returning to normal. Rawlings then made a second but lengthier broadcast on
radio and television, in which he set out in more detail the purpose and direction of the 31
December revolution. He said:
"Good evening, fellow countrymen. The attempt to justify the action of 31 December, 1981,
would not presuppose that we Ghanaians do not know and feel what had been going on since
September 24, 1979. Briefly, it has been nothing short of a clear denial of our fundamental rights
as a people to enjoy the wealth of our labor. This has been the most disgraceful government in


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4 I Adedeji


the history of our country. It is the only one in recent times that criminals and such others like
them have become respectable in our society. They have turned our hospitals into graveyards
and our clinics into death transit camps where men, women and children die daily because of
lack of drugs and basic equipment. To many of us, democracy does not just mean paper
guarantees of abstract liberties. It involves, above all, food, clothing, and shelter in the absence
of which life is not worth living.
"Fellow Ghanaians, the time has come for us to restructure this society in a real and
meaningful democratic manner so as to ensure the involvement and active participation of the
people in the decision-making process."8
With that broadcast, Rawlings achieved three things. First, he announced the creation and
assumption of power by the PNDC as the governing authority in Ghana. Second, he used it to
explain the kind of "real" democracy that his group envisioned for Ghana as opposed to the
former experiment with democracy that provided him and his colleagues the justification for
seizing power. Third, he used the speech to establish a new political system based on a model of
revolutionary socialism which would ensure an active participation of the people in the
decision-making process.

THE DUAL TRANSITION PROGRAM

Dual transition is a combination of economic and political development. Okome (1999), for
instance, observes that the actors involved in the politics of Nigerian economic policy-making,
during its dual transition program, could be classified into two main categories. One set of
forces, she says, was external but relevant to the reproduction of the economy, and the other
was domestic and located within the state, economy and society. The external forces include the
private international creditors organized in the London Club and the official creditors
organized in the Paris Club, the IMF and the World Bank. They recommend Structural
Adjustment Programs (SAPs) as the "ideal solution" to the problem of balance of payments
crises and indebtedness. The domestic forces, in contrast, included the various sectors, classes
and associations, as well as the state elite, who are prone to the same cleavages that divide
society. Okome concluded that the domestic forces are divided between the opponents and
supporters of SAP.9 In Ghana, the political wrangling between the PNDC-led government of
Rawlings and other political organizations almost derailed the movement toward economic
reform and democracy during the 1980s and 1990s. It didn't occur. In Nigeria it did, so there
may be lessons for Nigeria (and other African states) in Ghana's experience.
There is no agreement on the nature of the relationship between economic and political
reforms. In the case of Ghana, it is not clear why the dual transition program embarked upon in
the 1980s and early 1990s failed or succeeded. Nonetheless, the dual transition program put in
place by the PNDC-led government of Rawlings would stay the course and yield some good
results. Under a committee headed by Kwesi Botchwey, a Harvard-educated lawyer, the
government outlined and submitted a four-year Economic Recovery Program (ERP) in 1983.
According to Leith and Lofchie (1993), among the reasons the Rawlings government chose
to proceed with an official policy of structural adjustment was the fact that so many of Ghana's
domestic prices, including those paid by government agencies, had already risen to reflect


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 5


scarcity in the price of foreign exchange. The excess demand pressure for foreign exchange
under the previous regime, they observed, was bottled up by quantitative restrictions on
imports and delayed international trade payments. Furthermore, the domestic prices of most
imports reflected the scarcity of foreign exchange rather than the official exchange rate.
Devaluation would mean that the official local currency price of foreign exchange would rise
toward the scarcity value of foreign exchange, but the scarcity value of foreign exchange would
be unaffected in the short run. The de facto price adjustments that preceded official
adjustments, they argued, also paved the way for an official change of policy, and devaluation
would not have changed the price structure of importable goods, whose prices had already
increased in the market place to reflect the diminished real value of the cedi (the Ghanaian
currency).10

EFFECTS OF ECONOMIC LIBERALIZATION AND RAWLINGS' AUTHORITARIAN RULE

When the PNDC regime instituted economic stabilization policies in 1982, it was aware of
its tendency to weaken support for the government, especially since IMF stabilization is a
euphemism for "political and social stabilization." Conventional wisdom dictates a linkage
between economic stringency and loss of social and political support; structural adjustment
often requires careful political management as it involves economic costs that would benefit
certain groups and hurt others. Furthermore, identifying the social groups whose interests
would be hurt or promoted by liberal economic policy is a crucial calculation of political risks.
Ghana's liberal economic reform was implemented under authoritarian rule. After
Rawlings took power by a military coup in 1981, no national elections were held until 1992. The
presidential election was full of malpractice, including the accuracy of voters' register and the
use of state resources for assisting government candidate's campaign. This led the opposition
leaders to not only reject Rawlings' victory but to boycott subsequent parliamentary elections in
which the candidates of opposition parties may have won many seats. Also, the PNDC was
transformed into the National Democratic Congress (NDC) after the disputed presidential
election in December 1992. As Jeong (1995) shows, because of the continued monopoly of power
in one party, the 1992 elections have not resulted in any significant changes in government
policies and its relationship to major social groups and external economic forces."
Under structural adjustment, business groups benefited from price liberalization that
generated profit margins. The influence of external interest increased under economic
liberalization, including donor agencies and multi-national corporations (MNCs), especially on
key sectors, since they are often viewed as representatives of foreign interests whose main
objectives are to dominate less developed countries (LDCs) and entrench their monopolistic
positions in Africa.
On the other side of the spectrum in implementing economic liberalization, bureaucrats,
manual workers, and low-income consumers were not only directly affected by structural
adjustment, but they also comprised the urban consumers who would suffer from reduced
purchasing power and the eventual removal of government subsidies.
The elimination of government regulations also jeopardized the careers of civil servants
while giving more autonomy to producers. The tactics employed by the Rawlings government


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6 I Adedeji


included elite consensus, repression, and centralization of power in order to maintain the
authoritarian regime. In short, this represents the extremes of governance in Ghana during the
1980s and early 1990s under the authoritarian rule of Rawlings and the PNDC.
The emphasis of the ERP by the Rawlings regime was predicated on increased production
in agriculture and industry, combined with reducing the budget deficit by cutting government
subsidies and establishing a more efficient revenue mobilization and collection. Rawlings, in his
dealings with Ghanaians, exhibited the virtues of effective leadership by espousing the notion
that sound economic planning would be the only guarantee of improving the well-being of the
people after years of decline. Furthermore, since the launching of the 31 December, 1981 coup,
his concern has consistently been focused on the poor and the exploited and his declarations of
"power to the people," is reminiscent of a leader providing what is "missing" in the body politic
in Ghana, a phenomenon much sought after in many neighboring West African regimes.

THE UNEVEN IMPACT OF STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMS

The accomplishments of Rawlings during the 1980s and early 1990s reflect a period
officially referred to as the "period of rebirth" in Ghana. Rawlings espoused a multi-dimensional
concept of leadership in reforming the economy that embodied power, discretion and
legitimacy, and his success as a leader was predicated on a two-way relationship that he had
with the Ghanaian people. As a leader, he exerted influence, but he was also influenced by and
accountable to the people. He attempted to be effective and legitimate, continually looking for
ways to balance the competing needs and wants of the people in order to build on shared
values. The political tools of Rawlings included: the establishment of National and Local
Defense Committees; emphasis on economic revival; exposure of corrupt practices; enforcement
of price controls and curbing of smuggling; entrenchment of ERP in Ghana; and eventually,
encouraging participatory democracy and raising level of political awareness in Ghana.
While many of the above-mentioned accomplishments by the Rawlings government helped
to alleviate the economic and social conditions in Ghana during this period, there were
instances where some citizens experienced negative or mixed effects. Some Ghanaians saw the
structural adjustment as causing hardship, especially in urban Ghana. The new macro-economic
policies in Ghana also led to a retrenchment in the mainly urban and public sector but it did
shift resources and productivity toward the rural areas. For instance, many urban groups bore
much of the cost of the reform program while internal trade terms between rural and urban
now favored rural producers.
Devaluation hindered wage-earning urbanites, simply because the wage increases were not
enough to offset the price increases for imported goods. Conversely, the increase in producer
prices for cocoa, other cash crop commodities and major infrastructure improvement activities
by the government in rural areas, produced higher incomes for farmers. Callaghy (1990) states
that the ratio of the price of a metric ton of cocoa to the urban minimum wage rose steadily at
this time, thus indicating that the relative income of Ghana's rural producers became better than
that of urban workers.12
While this might be true, not all the people in rural areas benefited from the Structural
Adjustment Program (SAP); economic conditions of food crop farmers did not change much


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 7


with higher export crop prices. Sawyer (1988) observes that economic liberalization favored
especially landowners and commercial farmers who employed sharecroppers or wageworkers
to maintain and harvest cocoa and other export crop trees. They benefited from higher producer
prices but pursued a low-wage policy.13
During the SAP in Ghana, cocoa policies and devaluation also benefited small farmers who
were engaged in cocoa production, as there were opportunities for wage laborers who were
employed to undertake various agricultural activities such as planting cocoa trees, harvesting
cocoa beans, weeding, and so forth. Unfortunately the SAP's emphasis on the production of
export crops for market did not help many small farmers (especially women and landless wage
earners) who operated at subsistence level. As elsewhere, price liberalization measures in
Ghana helped small producers, traders, and craftsmen by lifting state controls on producer
prices; it provided an incentive to produce for the market, but underdeveloped marketing
structures limited increased market production.14 In these countries, as in Ghana, the rising cost
of imported primary products, shrinking domestic demand, and restrictions on domestic credit,
all converged during SAP and remained as obstacles to increased production that was needed
to benefit small producers.
Another dimension to the SAP were the cuts in food subsidies, devaluation, and massive
dismissal of workers in uncompetitive firms. According to Harvey (1991), urban consumers
suffered from higher prices via devaluations, an end to key subsidies, introduction of user fees
for medical services and education, and the imposition of neo-liberal package on state sector
wage earners, such as reduction in civil service employment.15
On the other hand, the SAP was very favorable to the "comprador class," which embraced a
wide variety of occupations from local agents of foreign businesses, partners and consultants
to such businesses as hotel management and tourism. The emphasis on technocratic solutions to
economic problems during the SAP increased the influence of people in the higher echelons of
the public service. Trade liberalization, says Harvey (1991), generates more profit for import
and export merchants and higher salaries for top executives in private businesses, especially in
the areas of foreign capital investment. In Ghana, the privatization measures benefited those
who were able to "buy up" or "buy into" state-owned enterprises (SOEs), often at concessional
prices."6
Killick (1989) states that the major gainers of such adjustment measures as devaluation
were also big local and foreign capitalists who invested in export-oriented sectors, including
gold mining, timber industry, and other capital-intensive raw material producing industries.17
In the views of Jonah (1989), the PNDC regime's economic programs promoted the interests of
the country's external creditors and foreign companies that previously were not able to
repatriate profits and dividends. Under IMF programs, the government kept up with payments
of dividends and other commitments despite facing enormous debt restructuring and cuts in
domestic spending.18
Overall, structural adjustment programs in Ghana favored cash crop farmers and export-
oriented industries; the policy was also beneficial to rural areas where both devaluations and
producer price increases helped to stimulate higher production. Conversely, the same policies
brought down living standards for majority of urban dwellers, such as workers, students, civil


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8 I Adedeji


servants and so on, who were hit hard by IMF stabilization measures, and they responded as
economic interest groups with all the vigor they could muster.

INTEREST GROUP RESPONSES TO ERP

As expected, when the ERP was introduced in 1983, there were protests against it,
particularly from trade unions represented by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and student
organizations represented by the National Union of Ghanaian Students (NUGS). Ironically,
these groups had formed the initial base of support for the Rawlings regime in the early days of
the revolution. More benignly, the business class, despite its previous hostile stance (based on
the perceived government's unwillingness to protect indigenous business interest against
foreign economic hegemony), exhibited caution in responding to the ERP even as they stood to
gain from the results of such policies as privatization and wage increases.
As for farmers, their lack of organization worked against them and they became politically
expendable; but in terms of cocoa producing regions, the government was hard pressed not to
pay them more attention, especially as they formed a new source of support and legitimacy for
the authoritarian regime. In this regard, there were five distinct responses to the ERP that
warrants analysis: (1) labor opposition, (2) business concerns, (3) student protests, (4) criticisms
by intellectuals, and (5) interests of the middle class.19
Labor Opposition: For the urban working class in Ghana, the government's pursuit of
economic adjustment marked the beginning of the transition from the period of alliance to one
of confrontation with the Rawlings regime. Government's actions, such as anti-labor wage
increases, price hikes, and employment policies, completely alienated labor groups. Ninsin
(1989) observes that in a statement on October 24, 1984, the executive board of TUC lamented
"the grave and critical economic and social situation in the country" and warned against "the
continued implementation of the IMF and World Bank-inspired SAP" which was having
deleterious effects on workers' incomes and living conditions.20 Labor leaders were also upset at
the government for not consulting with them on policy formulation. In fact, the working class
was vociferous in criticizing the regime for neglecting the existing mechanisms of policy
dialogue, followed by their complaints about the government's reluctance to consult with either
employers or workers about the direction of the economy.
The spillover effect of this suspicion by labor leaders related to the government's relations
with the IMF and the World Bank; indeed, the biggest union in Ghana, the Industrial and
Commercial Workers Union (ICWU), not only accused the PNDC of not publishing its
agreements with international financial institutions and concealing the cost of maintaining
foreign advisors, it also demanded restricting debt service to 10 percent of foreign exchange
earnings. This was a bitter pill for the PNDC to swallow. Although privatization of state-owned
enterprises (SOEs) and subsequent cuts in civil service jobs angered labor unions, they were
even more opposed to government's attempts to intervene in the collective bargaining with
employers. To the unions, the government was overstepping its bounds in getting involved in
the bargaining on wage restraints, suspension of benefits, and widespread retrenchment of
workers, which they saw as significantly weakening their power.


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 9


Krause (1987) states that the workers' strongly believed, during this time, that "under the
guise of economic crisis" the government was trying to eliminate the trade union movement
and its class representation. Krause also observes that although Rawlings had reformed the
economy since 1983 he abandoned many of his original goals and alienated major segments of
the population.21 Before he took over, the national economy had been wrecked by oil price
increases, low import revenues, world recession, drought, and unwise economic policies, which
served as a raison d'etre for overthrowing the civilian regime of President Hilla Limann to
establish an anti-bourgeois, anti-imperialist regime drawing support from radical leftists,
organized labor, students, junior military officers, and ordinary citizens.
Objections to the authoritarianism of Rawlings government, which lacked structure for
grassroots participation, were widespread despite rhetoric to the contrary by the PNDC. To
Graham (1989), the workers during this time showed they were frustrated with the "non-
recognition of the crucial role of the masses in revolutionary social transformation and therefore
the absence of any proper and consistent channels of participation in the decision-making by
the mass of the people through their organizations."22 The people were bitter about human
rights abuses, such as harassment and false detention, and then demanded protection of civil
rights while criticizing the regime for loss of revolutionary ideals that initially brought it to
power, Graham concludes.
Business Concerns: The business community, in its reaction to the ERP, expressed concern
about the government's lack of management of industrial-labor relations. At the 28th annual
meeting of the Ghana's Employer's Association (GEA), the major concern was that "steep price
increases and other social costs had driven the trade unions to exert pressure on our members
to pay much higher salaries that are bound to fuel the inflationary spiral and undermine that
national wages and incomes policy ... We would like an assurance (that) we shall not be left
alone to face the brunt of workers' wrath," according to the Economic Intelligent Unit (1988).
Major complaints, concludes the report, were about the lack of input by key social groups in
economic policy-making; the GEA pointed out the absence of a forum for employers, trade
unions, universities and other groups to exchange views on the economy.23
In terms of harnessing local private capital, Tangri (1992) states that there were worries in
the private sector about the adverse effect of some adjustment measures, including severe
liquidity problems, rising interest rates, and high import costs, all caused by continued
depreciation of the cedi. During the mid-1980s, massive devaluation of the currency, from 2.75
to the U.S. dollar to over 390 in 1991, generated a severe liquidity crisis; companies that
depended on imported machinery and raw materials thus suffered from higher prices of
imported goods. The problem was exacerbated by a tight credit policy that resulted from high
interest rates designed to curb inflation.24 In observing that trade liberalization measures was
not favorably accepted by the business community, Callaghy (1990) says that the owners of
existing enterprises continued to call for protection from import competition.25
The president of the Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI) stressed that the business
groups want to secure some form of protection to redress "the near collapse of local industries."
The EIU reported that the GEA also called upon the government to impose import quotas on
foreign goods to save local industries from extinction. During the implementation of ERP, the
businesses facing more severe foreign competition seemed to be unhappy with the regime's


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10 I Adedeji


cavalier attitude that SAP generates a favorable business environment, and that trade
liberalization, in its myopic view, would facilitate competitiveness of indigenous business.
Student Protests: The basic disagreement of students with the government was in
education user fees and low food allowances, in other words, the removal of tuition, boarding
and food subsidies. The students' argument was primarily that education reform programs
sponsored by the World Bank limits this social welfare program to the children of the rich, and
secondly, that the government's withdrawal of these subsidies brought extreme hardship to
most students whose parents were either retrenched or simply too poor to afford college
education for their children.
NUGS, the umbrella student organization in Ghana, galvanized support during its 23rd
annual congress and issued complaints to the regime that "... the various aspects of the planned
changes in the education system would force students in boarding schools to pay higher fees as
well as other charges; and these additional charges in some cases make the boarding fee three
times the minimum civil service wages." In an alliance with the students, the EIU reported that
the TUC showed public support for the students' demands in its message to the NUGS
Congress, by saying "as parents, we are opposed to the proposed increase in school fees and the
threat to remove feeding subsidies as contained in the universities." This general discontent was
reflected in a letter written by the Student Resistance Committee (SRC) at the University of
Ghana and published in the West Africa magazine of August 17, 1987, which referred to the
IMF "poison," that read in part:
"A massive retrenchment of workers is being carried out in both state and private
enterprises without a thought for the human beings affected. The removal of government
subsidies and the dramatic devaluation of the cedi have resulted in unfavorable hospital fees
and rates for utilities and transport. We would continue to struggle till all the remnants of the
obnoxious anti-worker and anti-student policies imposed by the IMF and World Bank puppets
have been dismantled."26
Criticisms from Intellectuals: The intellectuals in Ghana also expressed their resentment of
the economic policies of the regime. The University Teachers' Association of Ghana (UTAG)
called upon the PNDC to develop programs that can protect mothers and children as well as
promote the indigenous manufacturing sector, and that the government should actively
recognize the rights of all classes of Ghanaians. When adjustment programs are criticized in
developing countries, it is usually through the linkage between the negative assessment of the
role of international financial institutions and their failure to deal with the ever-changing
commodity prices that makes the role of the IMF and World Bank all the more suspect.
As Tsikata (1998) observes "... that role cannot be satisfactorily fulfilled unless the
operational paradigm of these institutions is specifically oriented to human crisis that Africa
confronts and the urgencies of achieving real transformations, not mere improvements in
monetary aggregates and global macro-economic numbers."27 Stopping short of questioning the
legitimacy of the government, many intellectuals had doubts about its sincerity in carrying out
the necessary efforts to implement the ERP. According to Kwasi Anyemadu, an economics
professor at the University of Ghana, "the economic situation in the country was not really
healthy despite some improvement brought about through structural adjustment. Overall, there
was a mistrust between the government and the intellectuals, who believed that the PNDC did


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 11


not represent the interests of the general population, but only of those who are well
connected."28
Interests of the Middle Class: Three distinct characteristics shape the middle class in Ghana.
First, they have traditionally backed liberal economic policies; second, they distrust populist
governments; and lastly, they are consistently opposed to oppressive political rule. During the
1980s, the majority of the Western-educated elite were frustrated with the PNDC's closed style
of governance, intolerance of criticism, and the resulting inaccessibility due in part to the lack of
real public debate and a perceived arrogance on the part of the authoritarian leaders. Jeffries
and Thomas (1993) said the lawyers' group, which stood out among the professionals, was able
not only to highlight the flaws of the PNDC, but it exposed the regime's practice of detention
and other human rights abuses, such as the case of the judges who were allegedly killed by
agents of the government.29 Suffice is to say that this incident and the regime's strong-arm
practices bothered the middle class immensely.
When the ERP was proposed, its supporters were convinced that the middle class should
be able to take advantage of the adjustment program and then engage in investment activities.
Their premise was that the middle class has the capacity to understand the positive changes of
economic liberalization, in part due to its resources and ability, i.e., its wealth and education.
But nothing could be farther from the truth. In the views of Callaghy (1990), the Ghanaian
urban middle class, who is considered the oldest and most sophisticated in Africa, was still
ambivalent about the Rawlings regime, even up to the late 1980s. Because of the PNDC's
previous policies that antagonized them, the middle class was not willing to show visible
support for the regime. Furthermore, the middle class remembered the frontal attack by the
Rawlings government on the wealthy before the adoption of the ERP and this caused hesitation
on their part, at least to the extent of investing their scarce capital for an uncertain economic
future.30
Bentsi-Enchill (1988) observes that the ERP was supposed to strengthen those sections of
society that would benefit mostly from the capitalist development; but the indigenous private
sector, which was once relatively vibrant, became moribund.31 As a result, both external donors
and the government became worried about the lack of strong private sector response to the free
market economic reform; Ghanaians, most regrettably, felt that the ERP benefited only foreign
resident business groups such as Lebanese, Indians, Syrians, and Taiwanese. Some Europeans,
who were aware of the economic liberalization program, had good management skills,
resources to invest, an understanding of the free market system, and access to technology and
information, also benefited immensely from the ERP. Ordinarily, these attributes are impressive
to possess in a changing economic environment, but unfortunately, this group of businessmen
were despised and became targets of resentment by the indigenes. Such resentments were
expressed in a government newspaper reflecting growing frustration of Ghanaians with foreign
businessmen: "... who flout Ghanaian laws and vaunt their conspicuous affluence ... are
warned that unless they take firm steps to curb the excesses of their countrymen, the anger of
Ghanaians may spill over to those who exploit their countrymen."32

AUTHORITARIANISM AND THE PNDC POWER STRUGGLE IN THE RULING COALITION


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In his book entitled Staying Poor: Ghana's Political Economy, 1950-1990, Douglas Rimmer
observes that the radical left, including the militant sections of students, workers, soldiers as
well as organized movements, such as the June Fourth Movement (JFM), the New Democratic
Movement (NDM), the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards KNRG), and the African Youth
Movement (AYM), ascribed poor economic conditions in Ghana to exploitation by foreign
capitalists who have been assisted by a "comprador bourgeoisie." He asserts that they prefer
direct national control of economic activities rather than Ghana's integration into an
international market. During the mid-1980s, the general principle of the agreements with the
IMF, as orchestrated by Kwesi Botchwey, Minister of Finance under the PNDC regime, was
supported by the pro-IMF bureaucracy and some in the NDM.33
However, there was simple resistance to the adjustment program from some factions in the
SOEs, revolutionary organizations, or "people's power," and some grassroots political
organizations that tried to undermine the state structure. Hutchful (1989) asserts that those
forces were unpredictable and not easily subject to control. The state bureaucracy, he continues,
attacked this problem from two fronts: (1) It looked for allies who could re-introduce
"discipline" and help arrest anarchistic developments, and (2) it hoped to use the agreement
with international financial institutions (IFNs) to control labor movements. The major
opposition to any form of collaboration with IFNs came surprisingly from the leftists faction
supported by nationalist intellectuals and workers' organizations.34 Jeong (1995) states that the
opposition proposed a self-reliance policy based on popular mobilization and looked for
economic assistance from specialist countries. The position of the anti-IMF faction, however,
was weakened by the failure to obtain aid from alternative sources, he concludes.35
Overall, implementation of the ERP in the 1980s and the political pressure from donor
agencies resulted in the disorganization and defeat of the progressive groups who were
subsequently driven to the fringes of power. Aside from the fact that the PNDC survived many
coup attempts after introducing the ERP, there was a lot of opposition to the regime from other
organized groups that had strong ties to students and labor that vehemently denounced
Rawlings and his government's close ties to IFNs. The initial response to this opposition was
PNDC's repression of public discussion of adjustment measures and criticisms of the
government through the use of draconian means such as outlawing or restricting strikes,
stopping mass protests and demonstrations, and the use of force by the state. This lack of
representative institutions was sustained until the elections for district assemblies held in 1988.
Even after the 1992 national elections the atmosphere was not congenial enough to provide a
suitable milieu for wider political participation. Consequently the political legitimacy of the
Rawlings government, despite a competitive multiparty election, had a cloud hanging over it
because of the prior repression of labor unions and lack of public discourse of government
policies.
In terms of repression of popular movements, Callaghy (1990) observes that government
officials were most worried that political instability following resistance from key opposition
groups could have a devastating impact on the remarkably sustained efforts of the ERP.36
Workers were seen as a major concern to the PNDC regime since they could disrupt the
economy. Thus, since the inception of the ERP, Rawlings had attempted with some success, to
reduce the economic and political power of workers; and while often stressing the need for


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 13


discipline and productivity, the government had often railed against labor unions' demands for
wage increases.
The PNDC, says Graham (1989), depended on "moral exhortation" and a subtle campaign
depicting some workers as "self-interested". In some speeches, Rawlings often stressed
"productivity," "discipline," and "hard work," as the tools needed by Ghanaians to reverse the
economic crisis. The press, under the influence of the government, praised farmers for their
contribution to the nation, while at the same time urging workers to restrain their demands;
when they are not being described as unproductive, says Graham.37 Opponents of popular
movements were appointed to high office, and as their influence grew, there was a marked
alienation of popular forces, including the working class from the regime.
Without any doubt, labor agitations and unrests were often met by severe repression, as it
happened on many occasions during this period when government used military and police
forces, for example, against workers in disputes at Assene factory in Accra and the striking
mine workers of the State Gold Mining Corporation at Dunkwa, according to Ninsin (1989).38
Graham (1989) states that the growing gap between the PNDC regime and labor was more
dramatically represented in the four-month battle that erupted in April at the Pioneer Food
Company in Tema. The labor struggle and the brutal repression by the police demonstrated the
regime's growing hostility to the working class, and eventually reflected the evolving changes
in the government's policy toward industrial relations, he concludes.39_It would not be far-
fetched to assert that the PNDC changed to its role of repressing labor movements in order for it
not only to implement donors' policies, but also to ensure that industrial relations would not
stand in the way of its neo-classical economic reform. This political and ultimately ideological
shift exemplified the direction chosen by the PNDC regime to pursue the ERP; that is,
authoritarian rule that not only repressed but stifled participation in the political system.
Shaw (1993) observes that in order for the PNDC to build a new support base it had to
resort to the politics of capacity mobilization and formal representation. The dilemma for the
regime, however, was that the major beneficiaries of the ERP expatriate businessmen and
cocoa farmers proved difficult to mobilize for support. First, the success of foreign businesses
in Ghana, at the supposed expense of local ones, has been embarrassing for the government
especially with ERP. Second, cocoa farmers represented a weak interest group that could not be
counted for any kind of political mobilization if the need arose. Consequently, the regime was
at a loss when it came time to find allies to build rural support for its policies and mobilization
for formal representation.40
In order to overcome the dilemmas of broadening its political base, the regime reached out
to a diverse group composed of lawyers, professionals, and the 31st December Women's
Movement the most prominent women's group in Ghana, to show its inclusiveness in
Ghanaian politics and decision making. The courting of local chiefs and members of the clergy
was seen by many as a last ditch effort to garner rural support by the PNDC regime. Krause
(1987) asserts that Rawlings saw the traditional chiefs as "instruments of stability" and "linkage
with the rural population," and the only ones able to overcome populist resistance and reduce
anti-government sentiment. The clergy, on the other hand, were seen as capable of swaying the
beliefs of their own followers through religious injunctions and moral suasions, and they
fulfilled their role to the delight of the regime.41


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Another aspect of the political hurdle for the Rawlings regime was how to balance ethnicity
and political and economic outcomes in Ghana. Jeffries and Thomas (1993) observe that the
political economy of distribution in Ghana has been based on regional as well as class relations,
and essentially, ethnicity has affected the support base of economic policies through these
patronage relationships.42 In terms of the ERP, Green (1987) states that it was positively received
in the main cocoa growing regions, such as Ashanti and Brong Ahafo, which had suffered from
previous government policies due to over-taxation and underpayment of cocoa producers. The
PNDC's economic policies have been unpopular in the Accra region, including Sekondi and
Takoradi, with its large number of organized labor and business and professional groups that
resisted the authoritarian regime at every opportunity, he concludes.43 To address the question
of ethnic diversity for the government, Rawlings reached out to many ethnic constituencies,
including the Ewes, Adangbes, Ashantis, and Brongs. Mikell (1989) says that since effective
political control in Ghana necessitates broad support and policies separated from ethnic,
regional or economic favoritism, Rawlings attempted to build ethnic cooperation by
emphasizing the irrelevance of ethnicity in constructing a strong Ghana; and, to some extent, he
succeeded in doing just that.44 In1987, in its effort to create political reconciliation, the regime
introduced the Program of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD).
To many in Ghana, this conciliatory stance was seen as well timed, especially as the
government announced decisions to increase social spending for low-income classes before the
local district elections in 1988 and the presidential elections in 1992. The PAMSCAD was
designed to ease resistance of workers who believed that they have shouldered a
disproportionate share of the cost of adjustment. Callaghy (1990) asserts that as the regime
faced difficult challenges following several monetary and institutional reforms, the program
attempted to prevent worsening economic conditions of retrenched workers and the poor. The
PAMSCAD, he concludes, was a result of external donors and the government to gain political
support for more reforms.45 There were two reasons for this course of action. The donors
reasoned that this would sustain the Ghanaian experiment at structural adjustment, setting an
example for the rest of Africa where SAPs were under attack.
The PAMSCAD was an important political test, not just for the Rawlings regime, whose
adherence to World Bank/IMF- backed programs caused much political grief, but also for the
external donors, who attracted much criticism in Ghana, in addition to the risk of nurturing the
seeds of political resentment whenever SAPs are concerned. It was no coincidence that Ghana,
one of very few African countries to follow the World Bank/IMF programs closely, would be the
first subject of political resentment. The PAMSCAD offered an opportunity for the government
to legitimize its economic programs.46
In the 1990s, the efforts of the international donor community gradually moved toward
political reform as well as economic liberalization. Jeong (1995) observes that the pressure for a
pluralistic system was based on the confidence that Ghana has overcome difficulties caused by
economic stabilization, and that the slow progress in institutional reform has led to recognition
of the necessity for a political system that is more susceptible to World Bank/IMF policy.47
J.J. RAWLINGS: THE LEADERSHIP FACTOR

In analyzing leadership competence, Decrane (1996) said that there are four fundamental


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 15


qualities that have remained constant over time: character, vision, behavior and confidence. He
observes "leaders who can spark the imagination with a compelling vision of a worthwhile end
that puts us beyond what is known today, and who can translate that into clear objectives, are
the ones we follow."48 The difference between the success and failure of the dual transition
programs, embarked upon simultaneously by Ghana and Nigeria in the early 1980s, lies not so
much in the modernization or dependency theories or the bureaucratic-authoritarian model, but
rather in the vision and competence of the leaders at the helm of affairs in the respective
countries. While this argument might seem naive or superficial to some, there is ample evidence
to show that the role of leaders has a lot to do with the type of public policies they initiate and
those they eventually implement.
Wilheim (1996) states "effective leaders have the vision required to see things differently
from others. They collect and arrange the same data we all see in ways that allow them to
conceive of new and unseen phenomena... A core characteristic of all effective leaders," he
concludes "is the ability to have a vision of where they are trying to go and to articulate it
clearly to potential followers so that they know their personal role in achieving that vision."49
In Nigeria, Gen. I.B. Babangida, who came to power in a coup in 1985, was woefully
corrupt, repressive and inept in presiding over a government that was severely criticized for the
manner in which it attempted to implement the transition program that often vacillated
between liberalization and repression.50 Ghana, under Rawlings, was able to weather the storm
despite many severe economic and political conditions. He was able to focus his efforts and
make choices based on the goals, values, and ideals that he felt ought to be advanced on behalf
of Ghana. He also had uncanny foresight. Greenleaf (1977) says "... foresight is the 'lead' that
the leader has and once leaders lose this lead and events start to force their hand, they are
leaders in name only."51
Between 1981 and 1983, Rawlings endured a lot of hostility from many Western
governments because of Ghana's close links with Cuba and Libya and his fearless anti-
imperialist rhetoric, which made Rawlings one of a select group of targets of the Reagan
administration's foreign policy. From the historic low of 1983, when the ERP was introduced,
conditions in Ghana could only improve. Much of the credit for the country's economic
recovery in the years that followed must be given to the Ghanaian people, whose courage, faith,
determination, acceptance and cooperation made the economic revival possible.
Harman (1998) says, "Leadership requires a values orientation that should be accepted,
adopted and then translated into a vitalizing vision." The leader, he concludes, is then
responsible for articulating the kind of vision that the community validates based on the
leader's perception.52 Despite many failings, Rawlings espoused a vision of what Ghana ought
to be to sustain Ghana's economic growth and political stability, a rare phenomenon for leaders
in developing sub-Saharan states.
Rawlings' military training in the Air Force Academy gave him the opportunity to acquire
a regimented, structured and disciplined disposition about life, and he was ready to lead after
being in the military for a number of years. Furthermore, his compassion and concern has been
focused on the exploited and poor in Ghana, and his revolutionary "power to the people" was
his way of scanning for the forces of change, a rare trait in developing economies. In order to
create this vision, Rawlings was well aware that he had to communicate his passion about


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16 I Adedeji


change so others could share in it and then get them to work as a unit, contributing their best
towards the achievement of that vision.
To share the vision adequately, Bennis (1989), in his work entitled On Becoming a Leader,
says "leaders are people who are able to express themselves fully, know what they want, why
they want it, and how to communicate what they to others in order to gain their cooperation
and support."53 Lastly, to marshal action, Kouzes and Posner (1996), observe "a leader must
have a sense of direction and a vision for the future, and it is the capacity to paint an uplifting
and ennobling picture of the future that assures people of the possibilities and images of great
potential."54
From his training days in the Air Force academy, leading the first coup in 1979 and head of
the AFRC, handing over power to an elected president, working behind the scenes to ensure the
success of democracy, and coming back to lead the 31 December revolution, Rawlings was able
to marshal actions to create and sustain the vision of a better society for the Ghanaian people.
Many Ghanaians equally believe that Rawlings is a man of strong emotions, convictions and
driven by a passion for moral justice, intellect and integrity. On the intellectual front, they
maintain that he is the first leader of charisma and stature since Nkrumah (in his early days).
Many in Ghana believe that Rawlings' achievements in the political and economic realm were
possible only because of his tenacity, honesty, clear objectives and sense of direction.
During the 1990s, Ghana was transformed from a country saddled with economic
depression and political instability into a politically aware and economically prudent nation-
state, but there was still a lot to be done. According to Herbst (1993), Ghana needed to adhere to
the ERP, sustain the development challenges and entrench the political system. After a decade
of adhering to the economic reforms, as prescribed by the IMF and the World Bank, in which
Ghana was used as a test case for structural adjustment in Africa, he observes, there was the
potential for economic renewal under the guidance and vision of Rawlings and his ruling party,
the National Democratic Congress (NDC).55 While others disagreed with this conclusion, events
in Ghana have shown that the opposition that could have challenged Rawlings was weak at
best.
On balance, during the 1990s, Rawlings focused on the political essentials underlying
effective growth and de-emphasized redistributive issues and neo-imperialism stressed by the
critics of structural adjustment. Governing problems, observe Vinzant and Crothers (1995),
represent the most pressing dilemmas facing most societies because the governance system is
beset with problems of paralysis, public mistrust, and "wicked" public policy issues.56 The
Ghanaian government, at the time, had to seek reasons for the striking difference between
Ghana and the Asian Tiger countries of South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The Asian Tigers' success story, states Chibber (1991), lies partly in the interaction between
the public and private sectors; the liberalization of trade and barriers (including removal of
tariffs, administered prices, etc.); and the existence of real exchange rates. The Ghanaian
government saw the need to have clear roles in its dealings with the private sector, concludes
Chibber, and that the relationship was expected to transcend any suspicions by the public and
private sectors, especially on the part of government technocrats who harbored acrimonious
feelings against their "money-grabbing" counterparts in the private sector.57 Rawlings also learnt
from the fiscal prudence of the Asian Tigers, enough to prompt him to propose spending


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 17


programs toward promoting and not competing with the private sector. According to Hussain
(1994), the revolutionary environment for the private sector was enhanced through a low
corporate tax structure, import duty exemptions on capital equipment, and liberalization of
trade and foreign payment arrangements to help sustain the Ghanaian economy.58

DEMOCRACY IN GHANA FROM THE 1996 TO THE 2000 ELECTIONS

When the 1996 elections were completed, there was a clear indication that the result was
taking hold. Onadipe (1997) states, ... for the first time in its political history, a civilian
administration was able to complete its term in office and also secure a renewed mandate
democratically. The opposition also accepted the results." With this political development,
Ghana, to many observers in the international community, seemed to have left the ranks of
African countries saddened by military coups and repressive dictatorships. Through this
democratic process, Ghana ascended to the group of civilized, responsible and representative
governments, or more aptly, a workable democratic experiment in Africa. Onadipe asserts, "the
simple fact that the incumbent Rawlings administration allowed the electoral process to move
on with the opposition adequately represented, speaks volumes of how far political
development has come in Ghana."59
During the four years after the 1992 elections, democratic rule was not disrupted and the
ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), which Rawlings led along with its parliamentary
majority, governed the country with relative peace and less political and social rancor.
Unfortunately, this same political sentiment cannot be said for neighboring Nigeria, where the
despotic rule of Gen. I.B. Babangida was just coming to an end, after he cancelled the 'freest and
fairest' election the country has ever experienced, and the equally ruthless regime of Gen. Sani
Abacha was coming to life. Furthermore, in 1996, Rawlings, with his second mandate and
visionary stance, was poised to lead his country through another four years of political
compromise and then serve out his two consecutive terms as president and arrange for the next
round of elections in the year 2000. In spite of this sentiment, there was still a mystique about
Rawlings; the charismatic leader who has had the unique opportunity to effectively lead his
nation and accomplished so much over a nineteen-year period.
Onadipe (1997) observes, "though Rawlings' victory in 1996 was not a foregone conclusion
despite the incumbency factor and the limitless resources at his disposal, such as uninterrupted
media coverage, use of government facilities and transportation for his campaign, his
popularity was probably the most crucial factor." Rawlings courted voters through populist
projects, such as rebuilding Ghana's crumbling infrastructures including roads, hospitals, and
electricity for rural areas. This should be an excellent case study for Africa's growing ranks of
democratic leaders, he concludes.60 Rawlings' victory left no obvious aftertaste because his
lengthy stay at the top was an advantage. In the first place, the younger voters, who had known
him as head of state, seem impressed enough to vote for him rather than an unknown in the
opposition. Additionally, Rawlings enjoyed a connection with younger Ghanaians who saw
him not only as one of them in terms of his age (some call him JJ or Jerry), but also because of
his imposing figure and dashing looks which was complemented by well-tailored suits and
traditional garbs.


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18 I Adedeji


During the 1996 campaigns, the NDC focused on rural areas; the strategy paid off as the
ruling party won ten out of eleven regional capitals, mostly in the rural areas where most
Ghanaians live. Rawlings had strategically targeted rural areas for development; he provided
roads, water, electricity, and other facilities that usually encourage urban drift and he was
simply rewarded with a second term. The issue of providing rural services helped to decide the
election and future of Ghana for the next four years in the second and final term of Rawlings at
the helm of affairs. The NDC ran a campaign slogan: "Let there be light for rural people, for
they are Ghanaians too!"
The opposition, sensing that the charisma of Rawlings was too big for them to impugn,
resorted to highlighting the dismal economic status of the country. They pointed to the rate of
economic growth that since September 1992 had slowed considerably with a corresponding
sharp increase in the inflation rate and significant reduction in the standard of living. The
opposition accused Rawlings of insensitivity especially in view of the supposed ostentatious
living style of the presidential household. The outcome of the election was a testimony to the
awe and respect with which Ghanaians treated Rawlings, and in the waning years of his
stewardship, his concern shifted to the person who would carry on the 'revolution' and also
keep the party together for the 2000 elections.
In the aftermath of the 1996 elections, in which Rawlings was elected to a second and final
term as president, Ghanaians were demanding reconciliation and change. National
reconciliation became essential, says Onadipe (1997), because the people believed that Rawlings
had alienated himself from the general populace through the execution of many politicians and
former leaders, the imprisonment of opposition figures, and confiscation of people's property.61
In a newspaper interview with the Daily Graphic, of January 21, 1997, Kabrah Blay-Amihere,
the Ghanaian president of the West Africa Journalist Association, declared: "Rawlings' AFRC
and the PNDC created many wounds and polarized the society. Since he became president in
1992, he never met the opposition or the private press ... there is need to need build bridges. All
Ghanaians should be made to feel they belong to Ghana."62

POSTSCRIPT

The result of the December 2000 elections gave John Kufour of the New Patriotic Party
(NPP) victory over Rawlings' National Democratic Congress (NDC) in a run-off election. This
prompted the BBC "Talking Point" program of December 9, 2000 to ask the questions: "Has
Ghana reached political maturity?" and if so, "Has the election set a good example for the rest of
Africa?" The program not only elicited wide-ranging comments from many respondents, but
they provided many interesting opinions.
Many Ghanaian respondents expressed their joy and pride that the election was peaceful,
and that the rest of the world, especially the West, never believed that an African country could
hold a democratic election without a hitch. Their comments exemplified the joy of Africans and
national pride of Ghanaians, as the nation made a transition toward democratic rule.
On December 18, 2000, while participating in a BBC Special Political Forum in the
aftermath of the Ghanaian elections, Professor Gyimah Boadi and Audrey Gadzekpo responded
to general questions regarding the future of Ghana and the possibility of Rawlings returning to


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 19


rule. Gadzekpo's response was mostly esoteric in nature: "In view of Rawlings' young age as a
former head of state (he is 54 years old), energetic and with lots of ideas, Ghanaians would have
to deliberate on the means of taking care of him in a manner that would 'dissuade' him from
coming back." He also pointed that during the campaign President Kufour responded to the
question of whether Rawlings could be tempted to come back by stating, "... as a former
statesman, Rawlings would be called upon from time to time to do statesmanlike services,
provided he will keep within the bounds of law."
It is my argument, however, that based on the charisma and achievements of Rawlings, the
populist ideology of the June Fourth Movement (JFM), and political awareness of Ghanaians,
the Kufour coalition needs to be vigilant and proactive because the politics of "divide and
conquer" would bring Ghana back to the period of political instability and slow economic
growth reminiscent of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Professor Boadi's response on the future of Ghana was a diabolical stance on the legacy of
Rawlings. He said "there is a lot to love about Rawlings and also a lot to hate him for; in short,
he is a polarizing figure." As regards the post-Rawlings era, he said, "I think as far as the public
is concerned, what will happen to Rawlings out of power has a lot to do with the kinds of
activities he decides to get involved in that would be befitting to a man of his stature." "There
has to be a sense of gratitude to Rawlings," he asserted, "for presiding over two terms of an
elected administration, and for following constitutional provisions on presidential term limits
and handing over power to a victorious party after the elections."
As a postscript, these comments from experts were not only prophetic, but also realistic as
they exemplified the political situation in Ghana. In December 2000, Rawlings handed over
power smoothly to the next elected party and left office.

Conclusion

Many Ghanaians believe that Rawlings, more than any other individual in the country's
history, has led them through the difficult years of economic recovery and has given them back
their self-respect and national pride. Without his strength of character and unwavering
determination, according to Chazan (1983), Ghana would not have survived the ERP.63
Rawlings saw part of his role as the head of state to be that of a "watch dog" for the people; in
that role, it was not unusual for him to speak his mind and intervene in issues whenever he saw
what he considered to be an injustice, corruption or gross incompetence. The process of political
change begun in 1982 by Rawlings, in my view, was a deliberate strategy to rebuild the political
structures from 'bottom up" and at each stage, to ensure that the citizens were involved (usually
in a referendum) to debate the issues and decide their future in the name of nation building.
The vision resulted in the drafting of the Constitution, formation of many political parties,
and holding of the 1992 elections, all based on good planning to guarantee the restoration of
electoral and political systems in Ghana. When Rawlings was reelected in 1996 to a second and
final term, many observers saw it as the perpetuation of the political malaise of "sit-tight
leaders" in Africa; political events in the aftermath of the elections had since proved the skeptics
to be incorrect. Nonetheless, when the 2000 elections were held, Rawlings had ruled Ghana for
19 years a lot less than many other incumbents in Africa, but unlike other African leaders, he


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20 I Adedeji


had many accomplishments to show for his stewardship in Ghana. In this respect, Rawlings
brought about many positive changes and his enduring legacy will not only guarantee strong
economic pursuits and an entrepreneurial class but also sustain democracy and human rights in
Ghana.
In September 1999, Rawlings reflected on his 18 years at the helm of affairs in Ghana, in an
interview with the Rev. Jesse Jackson on CNN's "Both Sides with Jesse Jackson." Rawlings,
among other things, stated that he saw his stewardship as an unusual opportunity; he presided
over regimes that instituted authoritarian rule, engaged in political and economic reforms, and
encouraged an administration that engendered multi-party democracy in Africa. In response to
a question as to whether he saw himself as a visionary leader, Rawlings responded
unequivocally "yes." "At the risk of sounding immodest," said Rawlings, "I knew that Ghana
would not be brought out of the political abyss of 1981 without a visionary, but more
importantly, the people were yearning for nothing less than a popular democracy. They were
asking for nothing more than the power to be part of the decision-making process of their
country. In other words, they wanted a voice in deciding their everyday life, as it is done in the
West, and not for politicians to be dominant and who are all-knowing to be at helm of affairs of
everyday life in Ghana." Rawlings also used the opportunity to express his immense gratitude
to the Ghanaian people by bestowing on him the rare honor of being their leader and for giving
him the chance to govern.
In conclusion, I argue that the leadership qualities enumerated in this article effective,
transformational, and visionary all espoused by Rawlings, have provided Ghana with a
political system that could endure for a long time. Rawlings seized the rare opportunity of
guiding the affairs of his country, saw it through several political and economic transitions in
the 1980s and 1990s, alienated political and social groups by employing authoritarian means,
obtained financial aid from institutional donors to implement the various recovery programs,
entrenched an economy that is growing through long-term structural adjustment, and sustained
a democracy that is not only a work-in-progress but an institutionalized political system.
Overall, Rawlings left a legacy where Ghanaians, as a people and society, have the enviable
opportunity to enjoy the quality of life and also reap the benefits of a systemic development in
an ever-changing global, political and economic environment.

Notes

1. Shillington, K. Ghana and the Rawlings Factor. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
2. Chazan, N. An Anatomy of Ghanaian Politics: Managing Political Recession, 1969-1982.
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1983.
3. Ayee, J.R.A. An Anatomy of Public Policy Implementation: The Case of Decentralization
Policies in Ghana. London: Avebury Ashgate Publishing Company, 1994.
4. Eckstein, H. "Case Study and Theory in Political Science," in Harry Eckstein, ed.,
Regarding Politics: Essays on Political theory, Stability and Change. Berkeley. CA:
University of California Press, 1992.
5. Chazan, N. Op.cit.


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 21


6. Nugent, P. Big Men, Small Boys and Politics in Ghana: Power, Ideology, and Burden of
History. New York: Pinter Publishing Limited, 1995. p.79.
7. Shillington, K. Op.cit.
8. Ministry of Information. J.J. Rawlings, Selected Speeches vol. 3. Accra, Ghana: Ministry
of Information, 1990. p.18-19.
9. Okome, M. A Sapped Democracy: The Political Economy of the Structural Adjustment
Program and the Political Transition in Nigeria, 1983-1993. New York: University Press
of America, 1993.
10. Leith, C.J. and Lofchie, M.F. "The Political Economy of Structural Adjustment in
Ghana," in Robert H. Bates and Anne O. Krueger, eds., Political and Economic
Interactions in Economic Policy Reforms: Evidence from Eight Countries. Oxford, U.K.:
Cambridge, Blackwell, 1993.
11. Jeong, H., "Liberal Economic Reform in Ghana: A Contested Political Agenda." Africa
Today vol.42, no.4, 1995. p.82-104.
12. Callaghy, T.M., "Lost Between State and Market: The Politics of Economic Adjustment in
Ghana, Zambia, and Nigeria," in Joan M. Nelson, ed., Economic Crisis and Policy
Choice: The Politics of Adjustment in the Third World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1990, p.278.
13. Sawyer, A. "The Politics of Adjustment Policy." Paper for International Conference on
"The Human Dimension of Africa's Recovery and Development." Khartoum, Sudan,
March 1998. p.22.
14. Killick, T. The Adaptive Economy: Adjustment Policies in Small, Low-income
Countries. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1993.
15. Harvey, Charles. Recovery from Macroeconomic Disaster in Sub-Saharan Africa. 1991.
p.25.
16. Harvey, Charles. Op.cit.
17. Killick, T. Op.cit.
18. Jonah, K. "The Social Impact of Ghana's Adjustment Program, 1983-86," in Bade
Onimole, ed., The IMF, the World Bank, and the African Debt. London: Institute for
Africa Alternatives, 1989. p.149.
19. Jeong, H., Op.cit.
20. Ninsin, K., "State, Capital and Labor Relations, 1969-1987," in Emmanuel Hansen and
Kwame A. Ninsin, eds., The State, Development and Politics in Ghana. London:
Cordesria, 1989. p.37.
21. Krause, J. "Ghana's Shift from Radical Populism." Current History vol.86, no.520, May
1987. p.227.
22. Graham, Y. "From GTP to Assene: Aspects of Industrial Working Class Struggles in
Ghana, 1982-1989," in Emmanuel Hansen and Kwame A. Ninsin, eds., The State,
Development and Politics in Ghana. London: Cordesria, 1989. p.62.
23. Economic Intelligent Unit. EIU, Ghana Country Report, no.3. London, 1988.
24. Tangri, R., "The Politics of Government-Business Relations in Ghana." Journal of Modern
African Studies vol.30, no.1 (1992), pp.97-111.
25. Callaghy, T.M. Op.cit.


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22 I Adedeji


26. West Africa. August 17, 1987. p.A21.
27. Tsikata, T., "The Human Dimension of Africa's Economic Recovery and Development:
Ghana's Country Experience." Paper presented at the International Conference in
Khartoum. Sudan, March 1988. p.22.
28. Africa News. December 7-20, 1992. p.5.
29. Jeffries, R. and Thomas, C. "The Ghanaian Elections of 1992." African Affairs vol.92,
no.368, July 1993. p.358-59.
30. Callaghy, T.M. Op.cit.
31. Bentsi-Enchill, N.K. "Year Six of the PNDC: The PNDC and National Policies." West
Africa. January 11, 1988. p.17.
32. Daily Graphic. November 23, 1988. p.21.
33. Rimmer, Douglas. Staying Poor: Ghana's Political Economy, 1959-1990. Oxford: Paragon
Press, 1992. p.180.
34. Hutchful, E. "From Revolution to Monetarism: The Economics and Politics of the
Adjustment Program in Ghana," in Bonnie K. Campbell and John Loxley, eds., Structural
Adjustment in Africa. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. p.103.
35. Jeong, H. "The Impact of the World Bank and IMF on the Structural Adjustment
Program in Ghana." Journal of the Third World Spectrum vol.2, no.1, Spring 1995. p.102.
36. Callaghy, T.M. op.cit.
37. Graham, Y. "From GTP to Assene: Aspects of Industrial Working Class Struggles in
Ghana, 1982-1989," in Emmanuel Hansen and Kwame A. Ninsin, eds., The State,
Development and Politics in Ghana. London: Cordesria, 1989.
38. Ninsin, K. Op.cit.
39. Graham, Y. op.cit.
40. Shaw, T. Reformism and Revisionism in Africa's Political Economy in the 1990s: The
Dialectics of Adjustment. London: St. Martin's Press, 1993.
41. Krause, J. "Ghana's Shift from Radical Populism." Current History vol.86, no.520, May
1987.
42. Jeffries, R. and Thomas, C. "The Ghanaian Elections of 1992." African Affairs vol.92,
no.368, July 1993.
43. Green, R.H. "Stabilization and Adjustment Policies and Programs: Country Study 1,
Ghana." Helsinki, Finland: World Institute for Development Economics Research, 1987.
p.20.
44. Mikell, G. Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana. New York: Paragon House, 1989. p.245.
45. Callaghy, T.M. Op.cit.
46. Jeong, H. "The Impact of the World Bank and IMF on the Structural Adjustment
Program in Ghana," Journal of the Third World Spectrum vol.2, no.1, Spring 1995.
47. Ibid.
48. DeCrane, Jr., A.C. "A Constitutional Model of Leadership," in The Leader of the Future:
New Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the Next Era, F. Hesselbein, M. Goldsmith,
and R. Beckhard, eds., San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996.


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 23


49. Wilheim, W., "Learning from Past Leaders," in The Leader of the Future: New Visions,
Strategies, and Practices for the Next Era, F. Hesselbein, M. Goldsmith and R. Beckhard,
eds., San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996. p.223.
50. Waterbury, J. 1993. Exposed to Innumerable Delusions: Public Enterprise and State
Power in Egypt, India, Mexico and Turkey. New York: Cambridge University Press.
And Okome, M. A Sapped Democracy: The Political Economy of the Structural
Adjustment Program and the Political Transition in Nigeria, 1983-1993. New York:
University Press of America, 1993.
51. Greenleaf, R.K. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and
Greatness. New York: Paulist Press, 1977. p.26.
52. Harman, W. Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century. San Francisco, CA:
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1998.
53. Bennis, W. On Becoming a Leader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company,
1989.
54. Kouzes, J.M. and Posner, B.Z. "Seven Lessons for Leading the Voyage to the Future," in,
F. Hesselbein, M. Goldsmith, and R. Beckhard, eds., The Leader of the Future: New
Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the New Era. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Publishers, 1996.
55. Herbst, Jeffrey. The Politics of Reform in Ghana, 1982-1991. Berkeley, CA: University of
California Press, 1993.
56. Vinzant, J.C. and Crothers, L. Street-level Leadership: Discretion and Legitimacy in
Front-line Public Service. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1998.
57. Chibber, A. "Tackling Inflation during Reforms in Africa." Finance & Development,
March 1991. p.28-31.
58. Hussain, I. "Results of Adjustment in Africa: Selected Cases," Finance & Development,
June 1994. p.17-18.
59. Onadipe, A. "Democracy in Ghana: The Rawlings Mystique Endures." Contemporary
Review vol.270, April 1997. p.191-95.
60. Ibid.
61. Ibid.
62. Daily Graphic, January 21, 1997. p.17.
63. Chazan, N. An Anatomy of Ghanaian Politics: Managing Political Recession, 1969-1982.
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1983.






References

Africa News. December 7-20, 1992. p.5.


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24 I Adedeji


Ayee, J.R.A. An Anatomy of Public Policy Implementation: The Case of Decentralization
Policies in Ghana. London: Avebury Ashgate Publishing Company, 1994.

Bennis, W. On Becoming a Leader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1989.

Bentsi-Enchill, N.K. "Year Six of the PNDC: The PNDC and National Policies." West Africa
January 11, 1988. p.17.

Callaghy, T.M. "Lost Between State and Market: The Politics of Economic Adjustment in Ghana,
Zambia, and Nigeria," in Joan M. Nelson, ed., Economic Crisis and Policy Choice: The Politics of
Adjustment in the Third World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990. p.278.

Chazan, N. An Anatomy of Ghanaian Politics: Managing Political Recession, 1969-1982.
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1983.

Chibber, A. "Tackling Inflation during Reforms in Africa." Finance & Development, March 1991.
p.28-31.

Daily Graphic. November 23, 1988. p.21.

Daily Graphic. January 21, 1997. p.17.

Eckstein, H. "Case Study and Theory in Political Science," in Harry Eckstein, ed., Regarding
Politics: Essays on Political theory, Stability and Change. Berkeley, CA: University of California
Press, 1992.

Economic Intelligent Unit. EIU, Ghana Country Report, no.3. London, 1988.

Graham, Y. "From GTP to Assene: Aspects of Industrial Working Class Struggles in Ghana,
1982-1989," in Emmanuel Hansen and Kwame A. Ninsin, eds., The State, Development and
Politics in Ghana. London: Cordesria, 1989. p.62.

Green, R.H. "Stabilization and Adjustment Policies and Programs: Country Study 1, Ghana."
Helsinki, Finland: World Institute for Development Economics Research, 1987. p.20.

Greenleaf, R.K. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and
Greatness. New York: Paulist Press, 1977. p.26.

Harman, W. Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-
Koehler Publishers, 1998.

Harvey, Charles. Recovery from Macroeconomic Disaster in Sub-Saharan Africa. 1991.


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 25


Herbst, Jeffrey. The Politics of Reform in Ghana, 1982-1991. Berkeley, CA: University of
California Press, 1993.

Hussain, I. "Results of Adjustment in Africa: Selected Cases." Finance & Development, June
1994. p.17-18.

Hutchful, E. "From Revolution to Monetarism: The Economics and Politics of the Adjustment
Program in Ghana," in Bonnie K. Campbell and John Loxley, eds., Structural Adjustment in
Africa. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. p.103.

Jeffries, R. and Thomas, C. "The Ghanaian Elections of 1992." African Affairs vol.92, no.368, July
1993. p.358-59.

Jeong, H., "Liberal Economic Reform in Ghana: A Contested Political Agenda." Africa Today
vol.42, no.4, 1995. p.82-104.

Jeong, H. "The Impact of the World Bank and IMF on the Structural Adjustment Program in
Ghana," Journal of the Third World Spectrum vol.2, no.1, Spring 1995. p.102.

Jonah, K. "The Social Impact of Ghana's Adjustment Program, 1983-86," in Bade Onimole, ed.,
The IMF, the World Bank, and the African Debt. London: Institute for Africa Alternatives, 1989.
p.149.

Killick, T. The Adaptive Economy: Adjustment Policies in Small, Low-income Countries.
Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1993.

Kouzes, J.M. and Posner, B.Z. "Seven Lessons for Leading the Voyage to the Future," in F.
Hesselbein, M. Goldsmith, and R. Beckhard, eds., The Leader of the Future: New Visions,
Strategies, and Practices for the New Era. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996.

Krause, J. "Ghana's Shift from Radical Populism." Current History vol.86, no.520, May 1987.
p.227.

Leith, C.J. and Lofchie, M.F. "The Political Economy of Structural Adjustment in Ghana," in
Robert H. Bates and Anne O. Krueger, eds., Political and Economic Interactions in Economic
Policy Reforms: Evidence from Eight Countries. Oxford, U.K.: Cambridge, Blackwell, 1993.

Mikell, G. Cocoa and Chaos in Ghana. New York: Paragon House, 1989. p.245.

Ministry of Information. J.J. Rawlings, Selected Speeches vol. 1-8, 1982-1992. Accra, Ghana:
Ministry of Information, 1990.

Ninsin, K. "State, Capital and Labor Relations, 1969-1987," in Emmanuel Hansen and Kwame A.
Ninsin, eds., The State, Development and Politics in Ghana. London: Cordesria, 1989.


African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001
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26 I Adedeji


Nugent, P. Big Men, Small Boys and Politics in Ghana: Power, Ideology, and Burden of History.
New York: Pinter Publishing Limited, 1995. p.79.

Okome, M. A Sapped Democracy: The Political Economy of the Structural Adjustment Program
and the Political Transition in Nigeria, 1983-1993. New York: University Press of America, 1993.

Onadipe, A. "Democracy in Ghana: The Rawlings Mystique Endures." Contemporary Review
vol.270, April 1997. p.191-95.

Rimmer, Douglas. Staying Poor: Ghana's Political Economy, 1959-1990. Oxford: Paragon Press,
1992. p.180.

Sawyer, A. "The Politics of Adjustment Policy." Paper for International Conference on "The
Human Dimension of Africa's Recovery and Development." Khartoum, Sudan, March 1998.
p.22.

Shaw, T. Reformism and Revisionism in Africa's Political Economy in the 1990s: The Dialectics
of Adjustment. London: St. Martin's Press, 1993.

Shillington, K. Ghana and the Rawlings Factor. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

Tangri, R., "The Politics of Government-Business Relations in Ghana." Journal of Modern
African Studies vol.30, no.1 (1992), pp.97-111.

Tsikata, T., "The Human Dimension of Africa's Economic Recovery and Development: Ghana's
Country Experience." Paper presented at the International Conference in Khartoum, Sudan,
March 1988. p.22.

Vinzant, J.C. and Crothers, L. Street-level Leadership: Discretion and Legitimacy in Front-line
Public Service. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1998.

Waterbury, J. 1993. Exposed to Innumerable Delusions: Public Enterprise and State Power in
Egypt, India, Mexico and Turkey. New York: Cambridge University Press.

West Africa. August 17, 1987. p.A21.

Wilheim, W., "Learning from Past Leaders," in The Leader of the Future: New Visions,
Strategies, and Practices for the Next Era, F. Hesselbein, M. Goldsmith and R. Beckhard, eds.,
San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996. p.223.


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The Legacy of J. J. Rawlings in Ghanaian Politics, 1979-2000 I 27


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African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001


Reading as a Woman: Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and

Feminist Criticism


LINDA STRONG-LEEK


Does "reading as a woman" change one's perspective on a text? Can a woman read as a
woman after being conditioned, generally, to read as a man? In his On Deconstruction: Theory
and Criticism after Structuralism, Jonathan Culler (1982) addresses these issues and forms several
interesting conclusions. What does it mean to read as a woman? Culler's answer is brief and
relatively problematic: "to read as a woman is to avoid reading as a man, to identify the specific
defenses and distortions of male readings and provide correctives".1 Though Culler fails to
outline these defenses and distortions, he does provide some fundamental guidelines for such a
reading. Accordingly, to read as a woman requires that one approach a work from a feminist
vantage and therefore, not regard the work from the purview of patriarchy. Consequently, in
order to read Chinua Achebe's 1969 literary masterpiece, Things Fall Apart, as a woman, one
must query readings which suggest that Okonkwo is the only major figure in the novel, and
alternately analyze the motivations of principal female characters who are thoroughly
developed within the work. 2
Before beginning this feminist analysis, we must review the historical and cultural context
in which Things Fall Apart was written. Things Fall Apart, first published in 1958, was initially
written as a response to colonialist representations of Africa and Africans in literature,
specifically Joyce Cary's Mister Johnson (1989).3 Cary's work positions Africans in the typical
colonialist frame: as individuals without motives, forethought, or knowledge other than base
responses to their environs. As JanMohammed (1986) states, "colonial literature is an
exploration of a world at the boundaries of civilization; a world that has not (yet) been
domesticated by European signification." It is a world perceived as "uncontrollable, chaotic,
unattainable, and ultimately evil."4 Against this context, Achebe's novel allowed European
readers to perceive Africans through an alternate lens. The Igbo society described by Achebe
has definitive and complex social systems, values and traditions. Achebe presents customs such
as the abandonment of multiple birth babies, and the sacrifice of human beings as conventions
and not barbaric, inhumane rituals. He brilliantly places his characters within an ancient
civilization with a labyrinthine system of governance and laws.
Consequently, Achebe's main character, Okonkwo emerges early in the text as a traditional
hero, who has within himself the ability to languish or attain his goals. Achebe's readers
understand that European colonialists do not precipitate Okonkwo's ultimate downfall. Instead,
it is Okonkwo's seeds of self-destruction, which are deeply concealed in his desire to be the
antitheses of his "feminine" father.


Linda Strong-Leek is Assistant Professor of English at Florida International University, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.
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30 I Strong-Leek


Moreover, though Achebe's text is written in English, the language of the colonizer, it
remains authentically African: "Achebe is most successful in expressing his African experience
in English and still preserving its African authenticity."5 The actions, ethos, and
characterizations in the text depict a culture in transition, with indigenous practices which may
be perceived as untenable to foreigners, but which are ordinary accepted within. Even when
certain members of the community seek refuge in the Christian church, it is most often because
they find themselves casualties of specific cultural norms: women who have multiple births,
albinos, etc...rather than those who are secure in the traditional world.
In addition, as Iyasere (1969) states, reading Achebe's conventional world as a woman, one
cannot merely ascribe to the view that "one of Achebe's great achievements is his ability to keep
alive our sympathy for Okonkwo despite the moral revulsion from some of his violent,
inhuman acts."6 Instead, query whether this sympathy may remain intact for those reading
through a feminist lens. Although many critics explicate upon the horrors and injustices
Okonkwo inflicts upon the men in his life, (mainly his son Nwoye, his other 'son' Ikemefuna),
most omit any discussion of the abuse suffered by Okonkwo's wives. However, this critique
reevaluates the significance of not only the pain of these women, but also their importance as
individuals within their community. Therefore, "by providing a different point of departure
(this feminist reading) brings into focus the identification of male critics with one character and
permits the analysis of male misreadings."7 Hence, this work challenges these misreadings and
positions the female characters at the center of the text. Instead of focusing on Okonkwo, as
most critics have, this reading is focused on two major female characters, Ekwefi and Ezinma,
and one minor figure, Ojiugo. They are mentioned only briefly, if at all, by other critics of the
text, and when referred to, are examined only in relation to Okonkwo's actions or motivations.
Reading this text as a woman, this author analyzes these characters according to their self-
perceptions, as well as societal awareness of them as women, wives, mothers and daughters.
Exploring the relationships between these women reveals not only alliances between mothers
and their offspring, but also alliances between comrades in arms.
The characterization of Ekwefi, Okonkwo's second wife, almost seems insignificant to one
reading from a patriarchal standpoint, but when reevaluated, one will find that she is a well of
knowledge, love, and fierce independence. Ekwefi has endured much heartache and
stigmatism. In Things Fall Apart (1969), women are viewed mainly as child bearers and help
mates for their husbands. Due to the phallocentric notion that women must produce many
hardy, male progenies to be valued within their cultural milieu, Ekwefi is considered a cursed
woman because after ten live births, only one child a daughter-survives. Thus, "By the time
Onwumbiko was born, Ekwefi was a very bitter woman."8 Accordingly, she resents the good
fortune of the first wife: her ability to produce healthy, strong male children. Conversely, Culler
(1982) asserts, "criticism based on the presumption of continuity between the readers'
experience and a woman's experience and on a concern with the images of women is likely to
become most forceful as a critique of phallocentric assumptions that govern literary works."9
The conventional perspective of most readings of this text is that Ekwefi has been debilitated by
life's harsh circumstances. However, instead of continuing to lament her adversity, Ekwefi
devotes her time and energy to the one child who does live, and finds solace in her relationship
with her daughter.


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Reading as a Woman: Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' and Feminist Criticism I 31


While male readings indicate that "the man is the point of reference in this society" Palmer
(1983) stresses that as child bearers, women are pivotal to the literal survival of community and
societal norms.10 After the death of her second child, it is Okonkwo, not Ekwefi, who consults
the dibia to locate the source of her difficulty. It is also Okonkwo who confers with yet another
dibia after the death of Ekwefi's third child, highlighting Palmer's contention that Ekwefi has
failed, not because she cannot have a viable child, but because she cannot provide her husband
with male progeny who would, then, carry on in his father's name. Okonkwo is concerned
about the deaths of the children, but impervious to Ekwefi's privation. No one comforts Ekwefi
as she is forced to watch the dibia mutilate her child, drag him through the streets by his ankles,
and finally lay him to rest in the Evil Forest with other obanje children and outcasts. It is
significant, though that Okonkwo does demonstrate concern for the female child, Ezinma, as he
follows her into the forest after she is taken by the Priestess, Chielo.
Moreover, most readings of the novel do not address the brutal beating Ekwefi receives at
the hands of Okonkwo: "Who killed this banana tree?" He asked. A hush fell over the
compound immediately ... Without further argument Okonkwo gave her a sound beating and
left her and her only daughter weeping."" The novel continues with a brief discussion of this
continued abuse later when Okonkwo threatens Ekwefi with a gun after hearing her murmur
under her breath. Yet, the next day, the New Yam Festival continues without a public outcry for
this battered woman. Reading as a woman, one may understand Ekwefi's resignation, as she
recalls how she came to be Okonkwo's second wife:
"Many years ago when she was the village beauty Okonkwo had won her heart by
throwing the Cat in the greatest contest within living memory. She did not marry him then
because he was too poor to pay her bride-price. But a few years later she ran away from her
husband and came to live with Okonkwo."12
Culler (1982) writes that "women's experience, many feminist critics claims, will lead them
to value works differently from their male counterparts, who may regard the problems women
characteristically encounter as of limited interest."'3 Therefore, although a male critic may deem
these events as minor instances, the feminist reader must note that there is, in these passages, a
great sense of irony and regret. Preparing to attend her favorite pastime, the annual wrestling
event, Ekwefi recollects her great love for the then impoverished Okonkwo. Although she was
married to another man, Ekwefi's desire for Okonkwo is so great that at the first opportunity
she abandons her husband to be with him, yet a sound beating is the compensation she receives
for her love and devotion. Although this brutality does not warrant any attention from the
elders, Okonkwo's flogging of his youngest wife, Ojiugo, does. There is a public outcry, not
because of the physical battering, but, rather the timing of the occurrence The Week of Peace:
"You have committed a great evil'...It was the first time for many years that a man had broken
the sacred peace. Even the oldest men could only remember one or two other occasions
somewhere in the dim past."14 Iyasere (1969) notes "the peace of the tribe as a whole takes
precedence over personal considerations."15 He could have continued, elaborating that
particularly in reference to women, the unanimity of the patriarchy is the main priority of the
community, rather than the physical safety of its women.
Furthermore, there is no regard from the elders about Ojiugo's condition; to the contrary,
one elder boldly asserts that she is at fault, and thus, the beating itself is not the point of


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32 I Strong-Leek


contention. Moreover, because Ekwefi is beaten after this week, there is no outrage beyond the
intercession of the other two wives who dare say in support of their wounded sister, "It is
enough."16 Communal events merely continue as normal. The great fight is fought, and new
wrestling heroes are born. One may also wonder if while reflecting upon her life, Ekwefi is
pondering the life of another young woman who has just decided that the new wrestling hero
will become her husband, and the possible ramifications of such a decision. However, since
Ojiugo is battered during the sacred week, Okonkwo must make a sacrifice to the earth goddess
to recompense for himself and the community, which may be punished because of his
dishonorable deed.
Culler (1982) notes that one strategy in the attempt to read as a woman is to "take an
author's ideas seriously when ... they wish to be taken seriously."17 If one is to take Things Fall
Apart seriously, one must question a society that has no compassion for the brutality that is
omnipresent in the lives of Okonkwo's wives. The reader must also question the patriarchal
notion that devalues women so much that their feelings are not significant. There is, moreover,
no week or even day of peace for the women of Umuofia. They cannot find sanctuary within the
confines of their own homes, or in the arms of their own husbands.
There is one woman, or young girl who elicits pure love from all the lives she touches, even
her father, Okonkwo. However, he cannot fully appreciate Ezinma as a person. Instead of
admiring her for her strength and disposition as a burgeoning woman, Oknonkwo is saddened
by the fact that she is not male.
Ezinma is Ekwefi's only living child, and it is demonstrated that her father does in fact
respect her character. When Okonkwo acknowledges these affections, a male reading may
solicit a sense of alliance with him and wish, for his sake, that Ezinma were male: "She should
have been a boy, he thought as he looked at his ten-year-old daughter ... If Ezinma had been a
boy I would have been happier. She has the right spirit. "18 Reading the text from the male
purview, one may empathize with Okonkwo who, because of the fates, has no child, except a
daughter, worthy of conveying familial legacies. But because Ezinma is female, she cannot
function in this capacity. Moreover, even a woman, in a traditional reading of the text would
support this notion. Culler (1982) articulates that "what feminists ignore or deny at their peril .
. is that women share men's anti-female feelings--usually in a mitigated form, but deeply
nevertheless." According to Culler this stems partly from the fact that women "have been
steeped in self-derogatory societal stereotypes," while being constantly "pitted against each
other for the favors of the reigning sex... "19 While reading as a woman, one must acknowledge
that women are also indoctrinated to envision the world from a patriarchal perspective, and
that, in Ezinma's case, one must revise these biases to appreciate her strength, singularity and
vivacity.
Initially believed to be an obanje child who had only come to stay for a short period, after
Ezinma thrives, she is pampered by her mother, and as the child who would be king if she were
male. Ezinma is the embodiment of all the women in this novel represent: intelligence, vitality,
and fortitude. Even in her relationship with her mother, Ezinma exhibits what Okonkwo,
through his phallocentric lens, perceives as masculine tendencies:
"Ezinma did not call her mother Nne like all children. She called her by her name, Ekwefi,
as her father and other grown-up people did. The relationship between them was not only that


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Reading as a Woman: Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' and Feminist Criticism I 33


of mother and child. There was something in it like the companionship of equals, which was
strengthened by such little conspiracies as eating eggs in the bedroom."20
Ezinma calls her mother by her name, signifying the development of an autonomous,
effectual being. Ezinma and Ekwefi share a bond that is unlike most other parental ties in the
novel: they are virtually equals. Their affiliation is based on mutual love, respect, and
understanding. They share secret moments, such as eating eggs in the confines of her bedroom
(eggs are considered a delicacy), solidifying their esprit de corps, even after Okonkwo threatens
them both. Culler (1982) notes that when analyzing one's position as a female reader, "Critics
identify (the) fear that female solidarity threatens male dominance and the male character."21
Thus, this maternal connection becomes a caveat for Okonkwo and traditional society because
he cannot control the depths of love and the shared enthusiasm between mother and daughter.
This is most evident when, for example, Okonkwo forbids Ekwefi to leave her hut after Ezinma
is carried off by the chief priestess. Ekwefi ignores her husband and risks a flogging to follow
Chielo and her daughter throughout the night, until she is certain that her daughter will return
home safely. When Okonkwo asks, "Where are you going?" Ekwefi boldly asserts that she is
following Chielo.22 But instead of attempting to detain her, Okonkwo joins the journey,
following from a safe distance, also to ensure the safety of his beloved child. This
mother/daughter alliance is explicated throughout the text, though there is little discussion of it
in most analyses of the novel.
One must acknowledge as well that male and female roles are societal constructs, and thus,
the entire female identity is based more upon societal constraints rather than physiological
realities. Women are taught to mother, while men are conditioned to dominate and control.
Hence, we know that men may also read as women, if they are willing to rethink their positions,
as well as women's positions within patriarchal constructs. Culler (1982) writes "For a woman to
read as a woman is not to repeat an identity or an experience that is given but to play a role she
constructs with reference to her identity as a woman, which is also a construct..."23
As this constructed woman reader analyzes the characters of Ekwefi, Ojiugo, and Ezinma
as major figures whose lives are not just affected by the whims of their father/husband, but also
as women who affect their husband/father and each other, I believe that only when one
consciously attempts to read as a woman, these formerly peripheral characters may be afforded
proper critical attention by male/female readers of this great African novel.

Notes

1. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1982. p. 54.
2. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969.
3. Cary, Joyce. Mister Johnson. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1989.
4. JanMohammed, Abdul. The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The Function of Racial
Difference in Colonialist Literature. "Race," Writing and Difference. Ed. Henry Louis
Gates, Jr. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986. p.83.
5. Obiechina, Emmanuel N. Language and Theme: Essays on African Literature.
Washington, DC: Howard UP, 1990. p. 57.


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34 I Strong-Leek


6. Iyasere, Solomon. "Narrative Techniques in Things Fall Apart". Critical Perspectives on
Chinua Achebe. Ed. Killam, G.D. London: Heyman, 1969. p. 98.
7. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1982. p. 55.
8. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969. p. 76.
9. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1982. p. 46.
10. Palmer, Eustace. The Feminine Point of View in Buchi Emecheta's The Joy of
Motherhood. African Literature Today. Ed. Eldred Durosimi Jones. New York: Holmes
and Meier, 1983. p. 40.
11. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969. p. 39.
12. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969. p. 40.

13. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1982. p. 45.
14. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969. Pp. 32-33.
15. Iyasere, Solomon. "Narrative Techniques in Things Fall Apart". Critical Perspectives on
Chinua Achebe. Ed. Killam, G.D. London: Heyman, 1969. p. 94.

16. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969.
17. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1982. p.47.
18. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969. Pp. 61-63.
19. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1982. p.53.

20. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969. p. 73.
21. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1982. p. 54.
22. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969. p. 97.
23. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1982. p. 64.

References

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969.

Cary, Joyce. Mister Johnson. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1989.

Cook, David. African Literature: A Critical View. London: Longman, 1977.

Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1982.


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Reading as a Woman: Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' and Feminist Criticism I 35


lyasere, Solomon. "Narrative Techniques in Things Fall Apart". Critical Perspectives on Chinua
Achebe. Ed. Killam, G.D. London: Heyman, 1969.

JanMohammed, Abdul. The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The Function of Racial Difference
in Colonialist Literature. "Race," Writing and Difference. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Chicago:
The University of Chicago Press, 1986. Pp. 78-106.

Perspectives on Chinua Achebe. London: Heyman, 1969.

Obiechina, Emmanuel N. Language and Theme: Essays on African Literature. Washington, DC:
Howard UP, 1990.

Palmer, Eustace. The Feminine Point of View in Buchi Emecheta's 'The Joy of Motherhood'.
African Literature Today. Ed. Eldred Durosimi Jones. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1983. Pp.
38-55.

Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article:
Strong-Leek, L., 2001. "Reading as a Woman: Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' and Feminist
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African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001


Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State


MPHO G. MOLOMO


Abstract: This article discusses civil-military relations in Botswana with emphasis on
internal security and regional instability as they affect Botswana's development. It
recommends that internal security should be left to the police, while the military serves
as an instrument of foreign policy. It contends that the involvement of the military in
civilian operations is likely to undermine its image and credibility. This article
underscores the interface between the executive and the legislature levels of government
and their relationship with the military. The military is accountable to the civilian
government through executive, legislative and judicial controls. However, despite the
existence of dearly defined checks and balances, accountability of the military continues
to be elusive and shrouded by a cloak of secrecy. Additionally, as long as a single
political party, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), controls the legislature, the
checks and balances between the different levels of government will remain blurred.

Introduction

In 2001, the Southern Africa region was swept by a wave of violence and wars. There is the
resurgence of civil war in Angola, between government forces and UNITA, and the war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in which Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have
intervened in the name of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ in
Politics, Defense and Security.' Additionally, in 1994, Lesotho was engulfed in turmoil in which
an imminent coup was foiled by the military intervention of Botswana and South Africa. After
the withdrawal of Botswana and South African troops from Lesotho and the launching of
operation Maluti, the political situation in that country remains delicate.2 As a result,
Botswana's security regime needs to be understood in a wider regional context.
This article seeks to assess the role of the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) with respect to
how it guarantees national security and democracy in one of Africa's fastest growing states. It
departs from the basic premise that the military is the coercive arm of the state charged with the
responsibility of protecting people against external aggression. Its role is to uphold, in a non-
partisan manner, the rule of law and the territorial integrity of the polity, otherwise economic



Mpho G. Molomo (Ph. D., Boston University) is a senior lecturer and department head in Political and
Administrative Studies at the University of Botswana. Formerly, he was coordinator of the Democracy Research
Project at UB. His research interests are varied and include political parties, electoral systems, democratization, good
governance, and land tenure and security issues. His recent publications include "Understanding Government and
Opposition in Botswana," in Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Vol. 38:1 (2000); "The State and the Land
Question in Botswana," in Review of Southern African Studies, Vol. 3:1 (1999); "External Military Intervention in
Lesotho's Recent Political Crisis," in Lesotho Social Science Review, Vol. 5:1 (1999); and "The Political Implications of
the 4 October 1997 Referendum for Botswana," in Democratization, Vol. 5:4 (1998).

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38 I Molomo


development is jeopardized. One of the worrying trends in the democratic discourse in
Botswana is the overbearing influence of the military in politics. By its very nature the military
involves the use of legitimate force and violence, and in most cases this tends to undermine the
country's democratic culture. Its hierarchical nature and the high concentration of executive
authority tend to make decision-making circumvent accepted procedures of public
accountability and popular participation. There is, to be sure, a tenuous relationship between
the provision of national security and democratic control.
This article concentrates on the broad themes of state, military, and democracy in
Botswana. First, it discusses national security and democratic accountability of the army in
Botswana because those parameters provide an appreciation of the role of the military as a tool
of the state that is used to enhance national security and democracy. Pertinent to this discussion
is the role of the military in the developmental affairs of Botswana. Secondly, this article
discusses the interface between the military and the civilian population-specifically, the manner
in which the military has defined its role and accounted for its procedures under a civilian
government. Finally, some conclusions are drawn on how the military should contribute
positively to peace and democratic norms and values in Botswana.

CONTEXTUAL BACKGROUND

Botswana is usually given as a model of a working democracy in Africa. Since
independence in 1966, it has maintained an open liberal multi-party system. It has established
an unparalleled record, at least in Africa, for supporting constitutional and democratic rights.
The constitution of Botswana provides for an executive style presidency in which the President
is both head of state and the executive branch of government. It provides for a unicameral
legislature based on the Westminster parliamentary system in which Members of Parliament
(MPs) are elected on the 'First-Past-The-Post' (FPTP) or "winner-take-all" electoral system. There
is also a lower chamber of 15 non-elected members of the House of Chiefs, which only serves in
an advisory capacity.
Botswana's exceptionalityy," to use Kenneth Good's expression, as a frontrunner in
democratic politics is based in part on the successful blending of the liberal democratic
institutions with traditional institutions, which are based on bogosi (chieftainship). There is
overwhelming evidence, which is corroborated by data from the Mass Survey of the Democracy
Research Project conducted in 1987, that Batswana are rooted in traditional values and norms.
When people were asked whom they would consult if they had a problem, an overwhelming
majority preferred kgosi (chief) to a Councillor, Member of Parliament, civil servant, or
religious leader. Although the post-colonial state curtailed the powers of diKgosi (chiefs), they
are still accorded a lot of respect and recognition. The state has harnessed the kgotla (village
assembly) as an effective forum for public consultation and dissemination of information for
developmental purposes. Notwithstanding the tenuous relationship that exists between diKgosi
and politicians, a judicious balance has been struck between the two institutions and they
complement one another on matters of governance.
During the 1970s, when many African countries overturned multi-party constitutions and
opted for one-party regimes, Botswana resolutely adhered to a multi-party system. By 2001, the


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Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State I 39


country had 13 political parties. Yet in spite of the seeming manifestation of democracy as
evident by the existence of several political parties, Botswana is characterized by a weak
opposition. Opposition parties are generally weak due to the unfavorable FPTP electoral
system, poor organization, and lack of financial and human resources. The FPTP electoral
system has produced a predominant party system in which the ruling Botswana Democratic
Party (BDP) has won each and every election by a landslide victory. It was only in 1994 that the
opposing Botswana National Front (BNF) projected itself as a serious contender for political
power by winning 13 out of 40 seats in parliament. The electoral fortunes of the opposition,
however, dropped following the internal split of the BNF and the subsequent formation of the
Botswana Congress Party (BCP). To date, the opposition has yet to coalesce into a formidable
force to challenge the hegemonic position of the BDP. The weakness of political society is
compounded by the weakness of civil society, which is still at a formative stage at best. Where
civil society is organized, the government uses its prerogative of incumbency to destabilize or
co-opt its leadership.
Despite the benign neglect of British colonialism, Botswana transformed itself after
independence in 1966 from one of the poorest countries in the world to an economic success
story. Over the past three decades, the country has earned a reputation of having one of the
fastest growing economies in the world. In 1996, its gross domestic product per capital was
estimated at $3,303 and indications are that it continues to maintain that level. However,
alongside this spectacular economic growth, there has also been an increase in poverty and
income inequalities and lack of economic diversification.
The rural income distribution survey of 1974 showed that 45 percent of rural households
lived below the poverty line and there is increasing evidence that poverty and inequalities
continue to increase. As it is often the case with market-based economies, a few people control
the majority of the country's wealth. To put this more concretely, ownership of the means of
production is best reflected in the livestock subsector a mainstay of the economy even though
it has been overtaken by diamonds as the leading foreign exchange earner. Ownership of cattle
in Botswana is skewed; between 40 and 45 percent of the rural population do not own cattle and
about 70 percent of that group are female-headed households, who are among the poorest of the
poor. Of the cattle-owning population, 40 percent own less than 40 herd of cattle while six
percent own more than 100 herd of cattle (Botswana Agricultural Policy, 1991).
It is evident from the above statistics that Botswana's political stability is premised on an
uncertain economic balance. Its economic success was based on a contradictory reality of
economic growth and growing disparities in income inequalities. Despite the spectacular
growth rates it has recorded, rural poverty remains a serious problem. Attempts made to
diversify the economy have been hampered by recurrent droughts, overdependence on the
mineral sector and dependence on South Africa for most of its imports. In addition to economic
concerns, this paper also argues that Botswana's political stability is also premised on an
uncertain military balance.


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40 I Molomo


MILITARY AND THE DEVELOPMENTAL STATE

Botswana's exceptionality has attracted considerable scholarly attention. Some call it a
developmental success story, while others have described it as an authoritarian liberal state
(Stedman, 1985; Holm, 1996). Niemann referred to the diamond industry in Botswana as the
state's best friend because of the impressive rate of economic growth resulting from this natural
resource (Niemann, 1993). However, as Leftwich notes, Botswana's developmental state is the
result of other factors in addition to the good fortunes of resource endowment (Leftwich, 1996:
143). First, it is anchored on sound economic management that is also driven by effective policy
formulation and implementation. This perspective recognizes the fact that a country may be
well endowed with economic resources but if they are not harnessed through clearly articulated
policies and programs, development would remain elusive. Second, Leftwich also argues that
"the primacy of technological rationality, bureaucratic unity and insulation of economic policy-
making from social and political pressures have served as the institutional basis for effective
economic policy management" (Leftwich, 1996:143). It is now common knowledge that
Botswana did not inherit any infrastructure or an educated workforce at the time of
independence. Politicians and civil servants who took over the reigns of power lacked the
technical know how to formulate and implement government policy. Instead, at least for the
first two decades, they relied on expatriate personnel. The civil service nevertheless developed
into a fairly autonomous, professional, and apolitical institution that has done its work
unencumbered by partisan considerations. However, lately there has been a steady infusion of
highly educated personnel, especially in parliament.
The bureaucracy in Botswana has played a dominant role in defining government policy.
While the bureaucratic-technocratic segment of the state apparatus cannot be said to constitute
a class in itself, they have, nevertheless, directed and administered Botswana's trajectory of
capital accumulation. The technocratic approach that has dominated the country's development
planning has given this sector considerable influence in defining the country's economic
direction. This confirms what Holm calls "a lack of democratic control of the state bureaucracy"
(Holm, 1996:97). The civil service which was dominated by expatriates was responsible for the
formulation of the five-year development plans and their implementation. Following these five-
year cycles, Botswana is now on its eighth national development plan. These plans are
comprehensive, drawing heavily from the national principles of rapid economic growth, social
justice, economic independence, and sustained development. So the policy planners committed
the increased revenues that the government generated primarily from diamonds into the
creation of an infrastructure. Starting with the 1974 Accelerated Rural Development Program,
the government committed a considerable amount of money toward building roads, dams,
clinics, schools, and water reticulation schemes.
As a component of the bureaucracy, the military stands as the second largest formal sector
employers after the civil service. The appointment of retired commanders of the BDF to
influential and high-ranking positions in government is clear testimony of the political clout
that this sector commands. In particular, the appointments of Lieutenants General Ian Khama
Seretse Khama (1998) and Mompati Merafhe (1995) to the positions of Vice President and


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Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State I 41


Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration and Minister of Foreign Affairs,
respectively, bears testimony to this fact.
The third factor that accounts for the developmental state in Botswana is the existence of an
executive presidency with wide ranging powers. As much as these extensive powers derived
from the legacy of the independent constitution, they were also informed by the traditional
practice of bogosi (chieftainship). As discussed in Mgadla and Campbell, diKgosi ruled their
people as ultimate sovereigns but often consulted their uncles (1989:49). A Setswana proverb
says that kogsi ke kgosi ka batho (a chief earns his authority by being respected by people),
suggests that his authority derives from working in close consultation with the people. DiKgosi
presided over the kgotla (village assembly), which remains a forum for deliberating on public
policy. While the kgotla was widely regarded as democratic, it cannot be said to encourage
popular participation, as women and children were excluded. Anyway, this was to be expected
as it is intrinsic to the patriarchal structure of the Tswana society.
As interpreted by the Botswana constitution, the President has wide-ranging executive
powers. These include, among others, prerogative of mercy, declaration of war, constituting
commissions of inquiry, dissolution of parliament, declaration of the state of emergency,
appointment of cabinet and four specially elected members of parliament, and deportation of
unwanted persons.
While institutions of the state such as the military are authoritarian in nature, current
trends toward democratization demand that the military's interaction with other structures of
the state and civil society take a more democratic outlook. Hence, a key question becomes how
to democratize the military as an institution of the state? Although a lot of ground has been
covered during the 1990s in an effort to democratize in several African countries, many
countries still lag behind in making their governments more accountable and responsive to
people's needs. By and large, governments in Africa have not ruled by consent of the people but
have employed repressive measures to gain compliance. These authoritarian tendencies in
many African state governments have not only alienated constituents, but have also ushered in
a wave of militarism in politics. However, the military in Botswana is firmly under civilian
control.

BDF, POLITICAL STABILITY AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Botswana's security policy is in part determined by its geo-political situation. Botswana
shares long borders with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia via the Caprivi. As a
landlocked country, its sense of security is predicated on the security interest and goodwill of
its neighbors. Following the adoption of the Lusaka Manifesto in 1969, the Southern African
region became a battlefield between the security forces of the then white minority ruled
territories and the freedom fighters. Botswana was by no means an exception to this
destabilization. Botswana's security situation deteriorated in the 1970s, following armed
incursion and flagrant violation of its territorial integrity by the Rhodesian Security Forces.3 The
"Selous Scouts" (terrorist commandos within the ranks of the Rhodesian Security Forces)
wreaked havoc in Botswana by carrying out acts of kidnapping, abduction, arson, and murder
of innocent civilians. These atrocities were committed under the pretext that they were in hot


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42 I Molomo


pursuit of freedom fighters as the war of liberation in Rhodesia intensified. This made the area
around the border between Botswana and Rhodesia a war zone forcing residents of this area to
abandon their homes and fields. Botswana could not cope with acts of aggression because its
defense was only manned by a Police Mobile Unit (PMU), a contingent of paramilitary police
responsible for internal security. The Rhodesian acts of aggression not only overwhelmed the
PMU, but also forced the government to heed calls, primarily from Botswana People's Party
(BPP) led by Philip Matante, for the establishment of an army. As a result, in March 1977, the
BDF was established.4 The creation of the BDF, though an important first step in the building of
an effective defense system, did not halt the acts of aggression from Rhodesia (Molomo and
Tsie, 1994:112). The Selous scouts continued to destabilize Botswana until the cease-fire after the
signing of the Lancaster House Agreement, leading to independence in 1980.
The violation of Botswana's territorial integrity was not only confined to the Rhodesian
border, some incursions were also perpetrated by South Africa. The assassination of Abram
Onkgopotse Tiro, an activist in the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, who was in
exile in Botswana was among the more notable events. Following the Soweto uprising of June
16, 1976, in which unarmed school children were killed, it was clear that the South African
government had reached the height of lunacy and desperation. Many of those youths came to
Botswana seeking political asylum, and were hotly pursued by the security branch of the South
Africa Defense Force (SADF), who embarked on cross-border raids, bombing houses and killing
innocent civilians in Gaborone under the pretext that they housed African National Congress
(ANC) guerrillas. Perhaps the most dramatic incident was the June 14, 1985, raid on Gaborone
in which 12 people were killed eight South African refugees, two Batswana, one Dutch
national, and a six-year-old Mosotho boy.5 But these acts of cowardice and savagery could not
extinguish the desire for freedom of the peoples of South Africa, nor did they weaken the
resolve of Botswana to offer political asylum to people who were persecuted in their countries
for political reasons. Clearly, these acts of aggression were a serious security concern for
Botswana.
The issue of national security is multi-faceted and sometimes polemical. It raises two
fundamental questions. First, what were Botswana's national security interests? Second, whose
security was of concern, that of the state or the people? A former commander of the BDF,
Lieutenant-General Ian Khama Seretse Khama, defined national security as the "maintenance,
safeguard and protection of a country's national interests (understood to mean protection of life,
protection of property and territorial integrity) from either internal or external threats" (Molomo
and Tsie, 1994:112).
The conception of national security needs to be anchored in the whole debate of democratic
governance. Democratic governance involves, among other issues, the existence of a multi-party
framework, the existence of basic freedoms such as freedom of speech, association and
assembly. These basic freedoms must be accompanied by the existence of the rule of law,
independence of the judiciary, and above all, civilian control of the military. Democratic
governance allows a country to conduct its affairs on the basis of national values that are
sanctioned by the popular will of the people rather than narrow sectional interests of the
military. To talk of democratic values in the discussion of the military may at face value appear
to be contradictory because the military by its nature runs counter to democratic norms. By its


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Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State I 43


nature the military is a hierarchical organization based on force and coercion. Its insistence on
unquestioning loyalty and discipline seems to run at variance with individual freedom and civil
liberties. As the coercive arm of the state, it is intended to protect the sovereignty of the state,
and to wage war if the situation so dictates. However, the place and role of the military in a
democratic setting need not necessarily clash with democratic practice.
There are two dominant paradigms in the definition of national security. The first
conception is that a strong military contributes positively to national security by acting as a
deterrent to forces that may seek to destabilize the state. This conception of security is premised
on the Machiavellian notion that good neighbors require good arms (Machiavelli, 1961). One
question that is posed frequently is why Botswana is embarking on a massive military buildup
when the region appears to be moving towards peace. Is national security being used to
camouflage belligerent designs that would roll back the hard-earned peace initiatives? Wouldn't
militarization encourage authoritarian tendencies? The former Minister of Presidential Affairs
and Public Administration who is now Minister of Foreign affairs, Lieutenant-General Merafhe,
argues that it is not a contradiction that Botswana is engaging in a military build up when the
region is moving toward peace. After all, he surmised, armies are built during peacetime. The
chairman of the BDP, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, concurs with this view, and offers the following as
a justification for the considerable expense incurred in building the Thebephatshwa Airbase at
Mapharangwane near Molepolole: "The air base should be perceived as an insurance policy and
a deterrent to safeguard Botswana's sovereignty."6 The name of the airbase, Thebephatshwa,
probably derives from a Tswana proverb, goo-rra motho go thebephatshwa (the best security
one can get is from his/her fatherland), and underlies a recognition of the country's fragile sense
of security. Curiously, Botswana has a total land area of 582,000 square kilometers, roughly the
size of France and Texas combined, but only has an estimated 10,000 soldiers in its army. It is
doubtful that such a small army could effectively mount an effective national defense system. In
the past, during periods of destabilization, Botswana admitted to South Africa that if freedom
fighters were able to use Botswana's territory as a springboard to attack the country, it would be
able to do so because of Botswana's inability to effectively patrol its borders. Perhaps it was this
vulnerability that influenced defense strategists to suggest building a strong air force in
addition to ground troops.
Justifying Botswana's military build up, the former commander of the BDF Lieutenant-
General Ian Khama was quoted in 1996 by the South African Press Agency (SAPA), saying that
"the BDF needed to prepare itself in order to deal with instability that might spill over into
Botswana from South Africa." According to the article, Khama was worried that the conflict
taking place in KwaZulu Natal, the escalation of crime in the townships, and the massive influx
of weapons had the potential of destabilizing the ANC-controlled government and spilling over
to neighboring countries. Khama did not rule out the possibility that dissident left wing or right
wing groups could access illegal weapons in efforts to destabilize the state.7 Even though
Khama later distanced himself from these comments, saying that he was quoted out of context,
the possibility of instability within South Africa and any other neighboring country is certainly
an issue in the discussion on Botswana's national security. The commander of the BDF,
Lieutenant General Louis Fisher, in support of the view that Botswana should build a solid
defense system, quoted Sullivan and Twomey, saying, "We cannot know with precision the


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44 I Molomo


character of our future enemy, the weapons they employ; but that does not relieve us of the
responsibility to prepare carefully for the future. That preparation cannot be for a single pre-
determined threat" (1994:12).
Joe Modise, the former Minister of Defense in South Africa, referring to South Africa, asked
rhetorically, "What is the point of prosperity if we cannot protect it? You need guns to create
conditions to have houses" (Anglin, 1996:26). To substantiate his point, Modise said that the
SANDF was South Africa's insurance policy. Ronnie Kasrils, Minister of Water and Forestry and
the former Deputy Commander of the SANDF said that "being prepared to meet any
eventuality means having the right equipment for the job and to have the technological edge
over potential adversaries." Kasrils further emphasized that South Africa needs to engage in
strategic defense procurement in order to take up its position "as defender of peace and
guarantor of stability in the country, region and beyond."8 Botswana uses the same logic to
justify huge defense expenditures.
The second perception suggests that a strong military not only encourages a false sense of
security but can also lead to authoritarianism and insecurity.9 While the growth of the military
is viewed by some as a necessary component of the national security system, such growth in
Botswana has sparked a cautious evaluation of its possible trajectories. It is viewed with
suspicion that it could undermine the democratic culture that the country has promoted and
nurtured since independence. Jakkie Cilliers, the executive director of a Johannesburg-based
Institute for Defense Policy, cautions that "at the end of the day, if you build up a large military
without a purpose, it becomes a threat to the country" (Mmegi 1996:1). Cilliers argues that since
there are no obvious enemies threatening Botswana's security, it appears plausible to imagine
that the build up has more to do with the "internal politics of the country."10 The promulgation
of the National Security Act in 1986, though a welcome development given the sabotage and
espionage resulting from South Africa's destabilization, drew some apprehension because of the
sweeping powers the police were given to arrest without trial while undertaking their
investigations. Nevertheless, when compared to other African countries, Botswana maintains a
good human rights record. However, there is concern that the growth of the military as a
bureaucratic-technocratic institution manifesting corporate-like interests is a drain on the scarce
resources necessary for economic development. There is always the fear that increased military
expenditures might lead to the rise of "new confidence" among military officers and possibly a
coup d' etat.11 However, unlike other parts of Africa where coups have occurred, the BDF does
not seem to pose a threat to the civilian government.
The strengthening of the BDF drew strong reaction from the region. Namibia opposed
Botswana's purchase of Leopard tanks from the Netherlands and F5 fighter-bombers from
Canada. In response to Botswana's military buildup the Namibian Foreign Minister, Theo-Ben
Gurirab, criticized the purchase of the Leopard tanks as "provocative and unnecessary."12 The
uneasy relations between Botswana and Namibia over Sedudu, even though the two countries
took the matter to the International Court in The Hague for arbitration and was amicably
resolved, was a source of potential conflict. 13


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Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State I 45


CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS

Notwithstanding the fact that the military is an instrument of foreign policy and should avoid
involvement in civilian operations, the BDF has on occasion been called upon to assist the police
when they were not able to cope with crime and the maintenance of law and order. The police
force is small and ill-equipped to effectively police the borders against illegal immigrants and
armed poachers, especially in the Chobe and Okavango areas.14 During the late 1980s and 1990s,
Botswana experienced a dramatic increase in crime activity. This involved burglaries in
residential neighborhoods, vehicle theft, car jacking, armed bank robberies, cattle rustling, and
illegal immigrants. As a result, the military had to assist the police by setting up roadblocks and
patrolling streets to maintain ensure law and order. The growth of private security firms is in
part a response to the alarming crime situation in the country.15
The irony is that although the Botswana police have struggled to keep pace with high
crime rates, they continue to receive less financial support when compared to the military's
appropriation. For example, in the 1996 budget, out of a total of P209 million that was allocated
to the Office of President for development expenditures, the BDF received P145 million while
the police received only P45 million. This trend has been repeated in successive budgets. In
1997, out of a total development budget of P282 million, the BDF and police claimed 64 percent
and 28 percent, respectively. In the 2001 budget, the BDF received 66 percent of the P638 million
developmental budget.16
Strong arguments have been presented against deploying the military in civilian or police
type of operations on the grounds that it would lead to praetorianism.17 First, the military is not
trained or equipped to deal with civilian operations. Their involvement in such operations
opens up the possibility that they can use excessive forces, which would undermine their image
and credibility. In fact, there are already disquieting allegations of assault, torture, and killing of
suspects under interrogation by the military intelligence unit of the BDF.18 As Cilliers points
out, any practice that conflates the role of the police and military runs the risk of encouraging
clashes between the two groups and politicizing and lowering their professional standards,
especially for the military (1995:45).19 By their very nature and ethos, the police and military are
different institutions and must be treated as such. Second, such deployments have the
undesirable effect of 'politicizing' the army. South Africa's experience in this regard is worth
considering. The heavy involvement of the military in South Africa, which included the use of
armored vehicles and live ammunition, in the townships during the state of emergency made
life extremely difficult for the average man on the streets. In South Africa, during the
hegemonic rule of the "securocrates", P.W. Botha, the then President of South Africa, created the
National Security Council which bypassed parliament and made decisions that were said to
infringe on civil liberties.20 The results of such a policy are well known. The South African state
not only destabilized the region but was also at war with its own people.21 Botswana needs to
draw lessons from such experiences.
Civil unrest has manifested itself in Botswana in several ways, such as the Bontleng Riots of
1984. One of the most notable incidents was the disturbance at the Radikolo Community Junior
Secondary School (RCJSS) in Mochudi in 1994. On November 4, 1994, 14-year-old Segametsi
Mogomotsi was found murdered and her body mutilated, supposedly for ritual purposes. In an


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46 I Molomo


unprecedented move, the youth in Mochudi, more specifically, students of RCJSS, having been
denied their democratic right to peacefully demonstrate and read their memorandum to the
District Commissioner, took to the streets in a wild rampage and mayhem reigned in Mochudi.
The students engaged in acts of arson, violence and general lawlessness. In solidarity with the
students of RCJSS, some students at the University of Botswana, and unemployed citizens and
school dropouts in the capital city of Gaborone joined the demonstrations which escalated into
violent civil disobedience. During the fracas, the demonstrators stormed parliament, stoned
cars, and broke shop windows in the main mall in Gaborone. These actions appeared to be
manifestations of simmering social discontent.
The riots in Mochudi and Gaborone, although sparked by the murder of Segametsi
Mogomotsi, exposed deep-seated grievances among the unemployed sections of the society.
The Special Support Group (SSG), a riot police force, was deployed to contain the disturbances
and were later reinforced by the BDF. In the process, the police lost control. Doctors at Deborah
Relief Memorial Hospital confirmed that more than 15 people were treated for injuries
sustained from rubber bullets by members of the SSG. True to the events of the riots, the police
also sustained severe injuries including death from clashes with the rioters. The clashes seemed
to have provoked bitter reaction from the protesters following the killing of Moroke by the SSG
police.22 As it turned out, Binto Moroke did not live to regret the violence as President Masire
had warned. To put it in perspective, following the disturbances in Mochudi and Gaborone the
then President, Sir Ketumile Masire, issued a stern warning: "We shall not tolerate lawlessness,
destruction of public and private property as well as unruly behaviour...Government has taken
stern action to stamp out these unwelcome developments, so I have instructed the police and
the army to restore law and order. Those who continue with such behaviour will regret."23
The Mochudi riots could be likened to the Soweto uprisings of June 16, 1976, in South
Africa. Even though the incidents were different in their intensity and circumstances, they were
similar in the manner in which students expressed their anger and frustration at the institutions
of law and order.24 It is common knowledge that the police and military are duty bound to
protect the country against lawlessness and external aggression.25 However, unbridled use of
force in a democracy, as was the case during the Mochidi riots, is cause for serious concern. The
opposition BNF Youth League issued a statement warning against the militarization of
Mochudi and Gaborone (1995:4). They lamented that demonstration of military might through
the display of arms of war, which was typical of South Africa's destabilization campaigns, was
not in keeping with democratic practice and may signal the emergence of a police/military state.
Civil unrest in Botswana has not only been confined to the civilian population. Over the
years, junior officers in the BDF and the paramilitary police, even though they have never
embarked on mutiny, have expressed dissatisfaction for not being paid commuted allowances
as well as their deteriorating working conditions.26 It is a real irony that the state should be
preoccupied with building airbases and buying fighter-bombers and not addressing the welfare
of its soldiers. Dissatisfaction within the military and security forces can be most problematic
given its command structure and the fact that they cannot express their grievances through
labor unions. The loss of morale for soldiers on matters having to do with their pay and
conditions of service are matters that have led the military elsewhere in Africa to intervene in
politics.


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Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State I 47


In a democracy, good civil-military relations hinge on the subordination of the military to a
civilian government. The Botswana Defense Force is firmly under the civilian control under the
political jurisdiction of the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, housed in
the office of the President. Civilian control of the military is a complex and often multi-faceted
process. It does not mean that the civilian government would control all the decisions made by
the military. To the contrary, it entails the recognition of the place and role of the military in a
civilian government. Since its inception, the BDF has been socialized into a culture of
democratic political processes wherein the military was institutionalized under civilian control.
Over the years, military organizations with established traditions that are firmly under
civilian control have gained considerable autonomy regarding their modus operandi.
Invariably, as noted by Kohn, the complexities of war and the need to "professionalize the
management of war" have given military institutions greater latitude to manage their own
affairs (1997:142). By way of illustration, the decision that the BDF should intervene in Lesotho
in September 1998 was a civilian decision taken by the executive without the involvement of
parliament. After Botswana and South Africa intervened in Lesotho, there was a popular
perception that the president and his cabinet ought to have consulted parliament before it made
the decision to intervene.27 However, the truth of the matter is that, the president, as
commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is empowered by section 48(2)(a) of the constitution to
determine the operational use the arm and parliament can only be informed afterwards.
Nevertheless, the BDF has to be accountable to parliament and its budget and policy subjected
to public scrutiny. Such checks and balances make the military more accountable, transparent
and operate in consonance with the popular will of the people. Kohn was most instructive in
making this point when he asserted that in matters of waging and managing the security forces,
civilian control is enhanced when such authority is exercised by the executive arm of
government (1997:145). However, the operational matters of the military regarding its a size
and form fall under the purview of the legislative arm of government. The separate yet
complementary roles that the executive and legislature play on their control of the military
serve as an important check and balance to ensure not only its political neutrality but also its
subordination to civilian control. In this regard, without breaching the secrecy and
confidentiality of some military information, the minister in charge of the military has to
respond to questions posed by members of parliament. The creation of a parliamentary
committee to oversee military and security matters is long overdue.
The threshold of maintaining the correct balance between the political purpose of a military
intervention and the flexibility to allow the military to use its judgement in executing a
politically defined mandate is sometimes not easy. However, within the framework of Max
Weber's legal-rational model and the separation of powers, the military is able to define the
niche for its operation. Kohn further notes that the separation of powers minimizes the chances
of the executive use of the army to overturn the constitution or coerce the legislature (1997:145).
In the case of Botswana, the Westminster Parliamentary system that has facilitated a
predominant party system has resulted in a strong executive that dominates the legislature. On
occasion, the legislature has not been allowed to review the defense budget in its presentation in
the National Assembly due to national security concerns.


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48 I Molomo


The interface between the executive and the legislature in their relationship to the military
must be properly comprehended. The president, through the executive or relevant ministry,
commissions officers, formulates military policy, procures weapons, and makes plans for future
development. The role of the legislature is also well defined. It does not only pronounce the
existence of the military but also approves the military budget proposed by the executive as
well as other policy positions. Through budget allocations, parliament has the most potent
weapon of controlling the manner in which the executive directs the military. However, in the
case of Botswana this check and balance is non-existent as parliament is totally controlled by the
BDP. However, in theory the BDF is accountable to the populace through parliament.
The military as an institution has its own code of conduct and ethos that are not always in
consonance with those of the civilian population. In the majority of cases, they are secluded
from the civilian population and as a result, develop their own norms and subculture. To
maintain their professional integrity, the civilian government has to recognize that the military
needs a measure of autonomy that may also include a separate system of justice. However, such
a structure should not undermine or compromise the independence of the judiciary. In criminal
cases, the judiciary must without fear or favor hold members of the military liable in
misdemeanor and criminal offenses. In a manner of self-censorship, the military itself does
maintain civilian control. The truth of the matter is that civilian governments without the
backing of the military are weak and only derive their strength from it. In short, the military has
the power to make or break civilian governments. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to tread
carefully on that fine line between civilian control and military autonomy.
The political influence of personalities in the military may also impinge on civil-military
relations. The decision by government to remove Lieutenant General Ian Khama from the
military and offer him a political position is widely perceived as a survival tactic for the BDP.
The 1997 Lawrence Schlemmer study that was commissioned after the BDP's poor showing in
the 1994 elections, recommended the party should bring in a person of "sufficient dynamism" to
inject life into the party. Khama was perceived as that person. Khama is also the heir apparent
of the Bangwato throne, the most populous district, comprising at least 14 parliamentary
constituencies. His political influence is evident by the president's offer of the vice-presidency
along with expanded power to oversee other ministries. However, given his military style of
management, which flaunts establish procedures as well as poor working relations with other
members of parliament, has led skeptics to believe that he is a liability to the BDP.28
By the same token, a word of caution has to be made that playing politics with the military
is playing with a double-edged sword. It has the propensity to bring about political stability
and instability. Lieutenant Generals Mompati Merafhe and Ian Khama Seretse Khama have
both been specially appointed to parliament and have also served in executive positions in the
civilian government. While it is the constitutional right of every Motswana to join any party
when the retires from the public service, the move of the two Lieutenant Generals referred to
above was carefully orchestrated. The danger lurking in this practice is the politicization of the
army. These appointments have inadvertently set a trend that when an army commander
retires, he gets appointed into a political position.


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ACCOUNTABILITY AS A FORM OF POLITICAL CONTROLOF THE MILITARY

In an effort to enhance democracy, the BDF needs to be accountable for its actions to the
polity that it serves. Accountability hinges on the existence of clearly defined roles of the
military and the civilian government. As indicated above, it is without doubt that the military is
answerable to the civilian government through executive, legislative and judicial controls. Yet,
despite the existence of channels of checks and balances, accountability in the military continues
to be elusive and shrouded by a cloak of secrecy. It needs to be emphasized that democracy is
enhanced when public officials are accountable to elected officials. When accountability is lost,
there is a great chance of corruption and mismanagement.
It is probably with respect to the military that Kenneth Good's assertion of "authoritarian
liberalism" is most applicable. The procurement of arms and operations of the BDF are
surrounded with a cloak of secrecy even to the extent of denying such information to members
of parliament.29 Nevertheless, it is an undisputed fact that the right of the public to know how
their tax monies are spent is an indispensable part of democratic governance. Yet, the BDF takes
serious exception at such inquiries. The office of the auditor general is one of the instruments
that enforce prudent financial management. The auditor general submits his scrutiny of all
accounts to parliament. The news media has reported that the auditor general's office finds it
difficult to audit BDF accounts because they do not get full disclosure on certain expenditures
due to national security concerns.30 The role of the opposition and the backbench is instructive
in parliament to sensitize the public about the role of the BDF and also to drive home the point
that the army is accountable to the National Assembly. Regrettably, the executive seems to be
oblivious of this fact. It seems to regard the need for public accounting, especially when it has to
do with the military as unpatriotic. Good recounts an incident in which Michael Dingake,
former deputy leader of the BNF, asked the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public
Administration about the arms deal that government was negotiating with the Dutch
government to purchase 54 German-made Leopard 1-V main battle tanks (1999:54). The
Minister responded by saying that "it is not normal practice for any government to make public
its military hardware procurement." Dingake was chastised for expecting the minister to release
"sensitive information at the detriment of national security." The lack of openness of the BDF
has led some to believe that it is not transparent in its procurement of vehicles and other
supplies.31
The BDF sometimes uses its power and influence to manipulate civilian institutions to its
favor. In 1996, when the budget allocation for the Office of the President--under which the BDF
falls--was presented in parliament, more than 48 army officers trooped into the House. The
officers, in full uniform, took up positions in the public gallery facing majority Members of
Parliament. While it was their democratic right to do so, the coincidence that they should listen
to the debate of their own bill, in full uniform, was viewed as intimidating by politicians.32
Grant and Egner observed that "it appears the BDF personnel have the impression that the
army is entitled to a degree of immunity from the norms and controls under which the rest of
the population lives" (1989:251). Due to the sensitivity of security information, a false
impression was created that the army was not obliged to release any information about its
operations and procurement of arms. On several occasions, the military has denied public


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50 I Molomo


access to Thebephatswa Air Base. During the term of Ian Khama Seretse Khama as commander
of the BDF, the air base remained closed. However, Lieutenant General Louis Fisher recently
indicated that the facility is accessible to the public. Over the years, there have been altercations
between the Vice President, Lieutenant General Ian Khama, and the media. In typical army
style, the commander did not take kindly to public scrutiny and did not see eye to eye with the
press. He described the press as "irresponsible" and characterized the relationship between the
BDF and private media as "a tug-of-war."33 An article by Titus Mbuya published in Mmegi
about factionalism in the BDP provoked an outburst from the then army commander. The
thrust of the article was that intra-party struggles, popularly known as the Merafe and
Kwelagobe factions, had actually permeated the army to the extent that established promotion
procedures were flaunted to advantage the Merafe faction which appeared to enjoy hegemonic
influence. As reported in Good, Mbuya was cautioned by the Secretary General of the BDP,
Daniel Kwelagobe, to always be careful about what they said about the army because it may
undermine the country's stability (1999:52). As much as the press should be reminded that they
must be responsible in their reporting and must make sure that they check their facts, it is
worrying that the press is expected to practice self-censorship when it comes to military
matters. As Moakofhi succinctly outlined, a complementary relationship should exist between
the army and the press (1994:6). Instead of characterizing it as a tug-of-war, as the former
commander of the BDF put it, it must be born in mind that "the military relies on the press to
keep a finger on the pulse of public opinion." For its part, the press needs the "sanctuary of
military security to prosper." It cannot be overemphasized that Botswana needs an open policy
on matters of defense and national security. If information cannot be released even to
parliamentarians who are the country's legislators, one wonders whether at the administrative
level, financial auditing and accountability are able to break this cloak of secrecy.34

Conclusion

This article takes the view that the militarization of the state invariably leads to the
strengthening of authoritarian rule and the erosion of democratic practices. As a developmental
state, diamonds account for Botswana's capacity to engage in a massive military build up. Now
as "development is inescapably political" to use Leftwich's expression, the political influence of
the civilian government needs to gain primacy (1996:6). Therefore national security needs to be
defined by taking a broad view that conceptualizes security in military terms as well as well as
manifesting the territorial integrity of the polity. It would appear that the greatest threat that
Botswana faces is not external aggression but internal insecurity. This threat is manifested not
only in armed vigilantes but from scores of the unemployed and uneducated-problems which
are exacerbated by poverty and crime. Therefore, national security issues, in addition to
addressing defense matters, also needs to build up social security programs to ensure that
people are free from hunger, disease and poverty. National security needs in Botswana have
been perceived in terms of social justice and equitable distribution of resources. In a more
pointed way, it should be concerned with the reduction of crime and violence (especially
against women and children), the alleviation of hunger, poverty, and disease, the reduction of
unemployment and provision of adequate shelter, all of which are constituent components of


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Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State I 51


national security. All these bear consideration in the state's military and defense polity in
Botswana.
But militarism is always a danger to national security. The Botswana government must
refrain from excessive use of the military in police and civilian operations. Conflating the roles
of the police and military tends to undermine the integrity and professionalism of the men in
arms. Furthermore, there is a need for open debate on defense issues not only by parliament but
also by the organ of civil society. In addition, the creation of a parliamentary committee on
defense policy is overdue.
Finally, in order to build a free Southern Africa region that does not face the specter of war
and destabilization, there is a need to build confidence and trust and a collective regional spirit
that defines security in terms of the well-being of all in the region. Such confidence building can
be founded on the establishment of a consultative machinery consisting of regional defense
chiefs with an eye toward building mutual trust with respect to training, arms procurement,
and deployment of forces. The regional initiatives of operations Blue Hwange and Blue Crane
are indicative of the region's willingness to collectively resolve regional problems.

Notes

1. In August 1994, a meeting of Presidents from the Southern African region resolved to
disband the Frontline States with the understanding that the body had run its full course
and needed to be replaced by a new body, the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security.
For details see Outsa Mokone, "Frontline Grouping Disbanded," The Botswana Gazette
31 August 1994, p. 1.
2. In an interview on June 16, 1999, Mr. Samuel Outlule of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
indicated that when South Africa and Botswana withdrew their forces from Lesotho, the
Lesotho government asked them to reorganize, restructure, and train the Royal Lesotho
Defense Force.
3. At the time Rhodesia was ruled by the Rhodesia Front which had Unilaterally Declared
Independence (UDI) in 1965. Following the Lusaka manifesto of 1976 armed struggle
intensified in Rhodesia because of the intransigence of the white settler minority.
Inevitably, the war spilled into Botswana and the northeastern part of the country was
turned into a war zone making it uninhabitable for the civilian population.
4. Richard Dale, "The Creation and Use of the Botswana Defense Force," in The Round
Table Vol. 290 (1984), p. 220.
5. For details refer to Molomo and Tsie, "Botswana's Security and Development Needs in
the 1990s" in M. Sejanamane, ed., From Destabilization to Regional Cooperation in
Southern Africa, Lesotho: Marija Printing Work, 1994. These raids included the
abduction of a Rhodesian refugee, Ethan Dube, in Francistown in 1974, the hand
grenade explosions in a Mophane nightclub in 1976 in which two civilians died and 81
were injured. South Africa also began acts of aggression against Botswana's sovereignty.
These began, among others, with the assassination of Abram Onkgopotse Tiro in
February 1974 by a parcel bomb at Kgale, eight kilometers south of Gaborone. See also
Libero Nyelele and Ellen Drake, The Raid on Gaborone: June 14 1985, Gaborone:
published by the authors, 1986.


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52 I Molomo


6. Thomas Nkoma, "The Thebephatswa Airbase Should Be Perceived as an Insurance
Policy," Botswana Daily News, 24 October 1995, p. 5.
7. For details see Keto Segwai, "Lt.-General Khama in Diplomatic Gaffe," Mmegi Vol. 13:16,
26 April 1996 p. 1.
8. Norman Chandler, "SANDF Must Be Ready For Any Eventuality, Say Kasrils," The Star
4 February 1999, p. 5.
9. Anthony Pereira, "The Neglected Tragedy," in the Journal of Modern African Studies
(1994) p. 1. Kenneth Good. Realizing Democracy in Botswana, Namibia and South
Africa. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa (1997) p. 1-34. Douglas Anglin, "Peace
Building and Defense Force Integration in South Africa," in Southern Africa and Africa
After Apartheid, David Black and Larry Swatuk, eds., (December 1996), p. 21.
10. See Sechele Sechele, "Arms Build-Up Raises Eyebrows," in Mmegi, Vol. 13:14 12-18 April
1996, p. 1.
11. See William Tordorff. Government and Politics in Africa. Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1993, p.171.
12. "BDF to Get Tanks from Austria," in Mmegi, Vol. 14:20, 30 May 05 June 1997, p. 2.
Botswana's military build up seems to have spurred the same in Namibia. Namibia
signed a cooperation agreement with Russia, which involved the training of the Namibia
Defense Force and the servicing of military equipment secured from them. For details
see Sechele Sechele, "Germans Blocks BDF Tanks," in Mmegi, Vol. 13:23 14-20 June 1996
p. 1.
13. Sedudu is an island along the Chobe River, which is claimed by Botswana and Namibia.
Botswana maintains that the deepest channel of the river defines the boundary between
the two countries. The two countries, having reached a stalemate in their discussions
and negotiations, have taken the matter to the International Court in The Hague for
arbitration.
14. The relations between Botswana and Namibia, though cordial, have never been smooth
since the claim by both countries of Sedudu Island in the Chobe River. Following the
collapse of bilateral talks between the Presidents of the two countries (Masire and
Nujoma), Mugabe of Zimbabwe was also called in to mediate, but all these efforts failed.
The matter was referred to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which has
since ruled in Botswana's favor. The secessionist group led by Meshack Muyonga, who
illegally entered Botswana and sought political asylum, has not helped the uneasy
relations between the two countries.
15. It is variously reported that the BDF border patrol units have killed armed poachers in
the Chobe area. This raises serious questions about the rule of law in Botswana. For
details see Joseph Balise, "Namibian National Killed by the BDF," in The Midweek Sun 4
June 1997, p. 2. The decision by the Botswana Government to remove the BDF from
roadblocks was in part a response to charges of alleged harassment of South African
white tourists at roadblocks. In 1987, a British national was shot and killed at a
roadblock in Francistown. For details see Richard Dale, "The Politics of National Security
in Botswana," in Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 12:1 (1993), p. 45. These
security firms include, among others, Way Guard Security, Security Systems,


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Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State I 53


Automated Security, Coin Botswana, Security Express, Vanguard Security, Vigilantes
Security, etc.
16. Government of Botswana, Budget Speech, 1990-1999, Gaborone: Government Printer.
17. Militarism occurs as a result of an institutional structure that addresses civil-military
relations and consequently causes the military to believe that they can perform better
than the civilian government. For details see Richard Dale, "The Politics of National
Security in Botswana," in Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 12:1 (1993), p.
45.
18. Joseph Balise, "BDF Employs Sebinyana," in The Midweek Sun, March 3, 1997 p. 1. These
are some of the contradictions in which the military finds itself when it does police type
operations. A report by Ditshwanelo, Botswana Center for Human Rights, has
implicated the BDF in the use of torture tactics in Botswana. This involves atrocious
allegations of fastening victims to the floor with nails, interrogating suspects at
gunpoint, semi-drowning, suffocating suspects, and twisting male genitals. For details
see Outsa Mokone, "Report Finds 'Torture' Practiced in Botswana," in The Botswana
Gazette 17 June 1998, p.7.
19. Yvonne Audierne, "Amnesty is Concerned About Human Rights in Botswana," in The
Gazette, 18 June 1997, p. 11. According to the U.S Department of State: Botswana
Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996, released by the Bureau of
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on January 30, 1997, in February 1996 six
members of the military intelligence unit of the BDF were implicated in the death of a
man who died while under interrogation about stolen vehicles and computers. An
alleged witness, who claims that he had also been assaulted, charges that he saw the
officers suffocate the deceased with a plastic bag.
20. Douglas Anglin, "Peace Building and Defense Force Integration in South Africa," in
Southern Africa and Africa After Apartheid (Eds.) David Black and Larry Swatuk
(December 1996) p.21.
21. For detail see Molomo and Tsie, "Botswana"s Security and Development Needs
in the 1990s" in Mafa Sejanamane, ed., From Destabilization to Regional
Cooperation in Southern Africa? Lesotho: Institute of Southern African Studies,
1994 p. 138; Ben Turok (ed.) Witness from the Frontline: Aggression and
Resistance in Southern Africa, London: Institute of African Alternatives, 1990 p.
57.
22. Binto Moroke's sister Lesego recounted the events leading to the death of her brother.
She said about a dozen SSG police officers came to their house looking for Binto on the
ill-fated morning at about 11.00 am. "When my brother came out of the house, six
officers approached him and one of them asked him if he was Binto. Before he could say
anything, the officers started beating and pushing him about. Binto tried to run into the
house, but one officer tripped him and when he got up and tried to walk away, I heard
one of them shout 'fireup.' A gun was fired and my brother was shot in the back and fell
down." See Abraham Motsokono, "Police Loose Control," in The Gazette, 22 February
1995, p. 1-2. Following the State Presidents intervention the SSG intervened using lashes,
tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition. In the process, Binto Moroke was killed in


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54 I Molomo


cold blood by the SSG. See Kenneth Good, "Towards Popular Participation in Botswana"
in Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 34:1 (1996).
23. Bopa reporter, "Stop Violence or Live to Regret it Masire," in Daily News, 20 February
1995, p. 1.
24. In Soweto, African students were subjected to the notorious underfunding of the Bantu
Education System (Gerhart, 1978). The uprising broke out when the students
demonstrated against the use of Afrikaans, the language of the oppressors, as a medium
for instruction for more than half the subjects in the school curriculum. In Mochudi, the
students were concerned about the apparent failure of the justice system to apprehend
the killers of Mogomotsi.
25. See Constitution of Botswana, Gaborone: Government Printer and Botswana Defense
Force Chapter 21:05, Gaborone: Government Printer.
26. Outso Mokone, "Soldiers Threaten 'civil war' Over Unpaid Claims" in The Botswana
Gazette March 5, 1997. The Commander of the BDF explains that they did not get all
their commuted allowances because part of the money was used to pay for their meals.
Commuted allowance is money paid to the soldiers to compensate them when they are
in the bush on various assignments of the force. The issue of commuted allowances,
particularly for the junior officers, who feel that it augments their relatively low salaries
is quite a delicate matter. Even though the army commander does not feel it amounts to
a mutiny, it's a source of serious concern. Outso Mokone, "Cabinet Briefed: Row Over
Soldiers' Allowances Grows," in The Botswana Gazette March 12, 1997, p. 2. Despite
assurances by the army commander that the issue is only confined to a small group of
disgruntled ex-soldiers and does not amount to a mutiny, there is a general feeling that
the disaffection is generally spread throughout the army and is a source of low morale in
the junior officers. The issue is said to have been festering over the years. BDF Press
Release, BDF refutes Gazette's "Cabinet was Briefed" Story," The Botswana Guardian
March 14, 1997 p. 1-2. The BDF, while it does not deny the substance of the report
regarding commuted allowances, expressed surprise at the contradictions in the article
which attempts to give the impression that there was a row within its ranks.
27. Sebetela, the member of parliament for Palapye constituency, wrote a hard-hitting letter
to Ian Khama, Vice President and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public
Administration, protesting against the cabinet decision to send Botswana Defense Force
soldiers to Lesotho without the knowledge of the members of parliament. He warned
that when the executive became so powerful that it even took the legislature for granted,
then there was cause for concern for the future of direct and participatory democracy.
That power, he lamented, ran against the nation's efforts to build a consultative,
transparent and accountable society. For details see Staff Writer, "Sebetela Takes Khama
to Task," in Mmegi, 09-15 October 1998, p. 1.
28. Khama's involvement in politics was evident even before he formerly joined it in 1998.
On the occasion of the installation of Kgosi Tawana II, Lieutenant General Ian Khama
who is also Paramount Chief of Bangwato, said, "There are forces at work in this country
that seek to want to breakdown our achievements since independence. Forces that
emanate from a type of leadership, tribal or otherwise that for selfish reasons, or reasons


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Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State I 55


of tribal bias seek to promote themselves or their tribal groupings into prominence over
others. The backbiting, finger pointing and foul mouthing that goes on in this country
today is an indication of a society that is coming apart. We live in a time when jealousy
of one another is going to self-destruct our nation." For details see Joel Sebonego, "Army
Commander Issues Warning," in The Midweek Sun, 5 July 1995, p.1.
Skeptics discern some authoritarian tendencies in Khama. In support of this view, they
cite his unilateral decision to stop Tirelo Sechaba Scheme (National Service) and the
move by his office to limit the hours of selling liquor.
29. See Kenneth Good, "Authoritarian Liberalism: A Defining Characteristic of Botswana,"
in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 14: (1996), pp. 29-51. See Kenneth
Good, Realising Democracy in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Pretoria: Africa
Institute of South Africa (1997) pp. 136.
30. Staff writer, "BDF Chases Away Auditors," in Mmegi Vol. 12:20 26 May -1 June 1995, p.
3.
31. There were allegations from the media that the BDF was run as a family business. The
substance of these allegations were that the BDF bought some of its equipment from a
company called Seleka Springs whose directors are Messers Tshekedi and Antony
Khama brothers to the Vice President and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Ian Khama,
the then Commander of the BDF. The assertion further pointed out that the BDF buys
vehicles from Lobatse Delta, which is also under the directorship of the Khama twins.
Another company linked to the Khama family is Hot Bread (Pty) Ltd., from which the
BDF buys its supply of bread for trainees and soldiers in the Kasane area. The wife of
former BDF Director of Personnel, Ndelu Seretse, runs Hot Bread. Responding to these
allegations, the BDF public relations officer Captain Mogorosi Baatweng said they were
outrageous and baseless as the parties implicated declared their interests. Besides, the
procurement of supplies complies with tender board procedures. For details, see Outsa
Mokone, "The BDF is Not Being Run as a Family Business," in The Gazette, 21 May 1997,
p. 2.
32. Keto Segwai, "BDF Presence Intimidating MPs," in Mmegi Vol. 13:9 8-15 March 1996, p.
4.
33. For details see Titus Mbuya, "BDP Split Shakes Army," in Mmegi 29 July 1994, p. 1. In
similar vein, former President Sir Ketumile Masire, acting in the heat of passion,
confronted the assistant editor of the Gazette, Outsa Mokone, and said, "all the things
you write about me are utter rubbish, you are making this country ungovernable, you
must stop writing lies about me." For detail see Staff Reporter, "Masire Confronts
Reporter," in The Gazette, 22 February 1995, p. 1.
34. See Kenneth Good, Realizing Democracy in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa (1997) p. 136.

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Government Printer, 1997.

Ministry of Finance and Development, Budget Speech 2001, Gaborone: Government Printer,
2001.

Moakofhi, L. "The Army and Press Need Each Other," Mmegi, Vol. 11:34, August 26 Sept 1
(1994).

Molomo and Mokopakgosi (ed.) Multi-Party Democracy in Botswana. Harare, 1991.

Molomo, M and Tsie, B. "Botswana's Security and Development Needs in the 1990s" in M.
Sejanamane (ed.) From Destabilisation to Regional Cooperation in Southern Africa. Lesotho:
Marija Printing Works, 1994.

Molomo, M. G. "External Military Intervention on Lesotho's Recent Political Crisis," Lesotho
Social Science Review, Vol. 5:1 (1999).

Molomo, M. "Democracy Under Siege: The Presidency and Executive Powers in Botswana, Pula:
Botswana," Journal of African Studies, Vol. 14:1 (2000).

Molutsi, P. "Botswana: Khama's Agenda," Southern Africa Political and Economic Monthly,
June 15 July 15 (1997).

Monnakgotla, K. "From Ambivalence and Adversity to Stability in Southern Africa,' in M.
Malan (ed.) Institute for
Defence Policy Monograph Series No. 5, July (1996).

Msahaba, I. and Shaw, T. (ed.) Confrontation and Liberation in Southern Africa. Boulder: West
View Press, 1987.

Nathan, L. "Formalizing Conflict Resolution and Security Arrangements in Southern Africa:
Contextual Considerations," in David Black and Larry Swatuk (eds.) Southern Africa and Africa
After Apartheid: Security Issues. Dalhousie University: Center for Foreign Policy Studies
(December 1996).

Niemann, M. "Diamonds are a State's Best Friend: Botswana's Foreign Policy in Southern
Africa," Africa Today 1st Quarter (1993).

Nyelele, L. and Drake, D. The Raid on Gaborone: June 14 1985. Gaborone: Published by the
Authors, 1986.


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Othlogile, B. "The President: His Office, Function and Powers," in W. Edge and M. Lekorwe
(eds.) Botswana: Politics and Society. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik Publishers, 1998.

Pereira, A. "The Neglected Tragedy," Journal of Modern African Studies (1994).

Poulantzas, N. Political Power and Social Classes. London: NLB and Sheed and Ward, 1973.

Rueschemeyer, D., Stephens, E. H and Stephens, J. D. Capitalist Development and Democracy,
Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992.

Schlemmer, L. et. al. Present Realities and Strategies for the Future: Training Workshop for the
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Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article:
Molomo, M.G., 2001. "Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State." African
Studies Quarterly 5(2): 3. [online]
URL: http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v5/v5i12a3.htm


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African Studies Quarterly I Volume 5, Issue 2 I Summer 2001


Emerging Trends in Japan-Africa Relations: An African

Perspective


SEIFUDEIN ADEM




In January 2001, Yoshiro Mori made history by becoming the first-ever incumbent Prime
Minister to visit Africa. Why did he decide to do this? What is the significance of the timing of
the visit? What could we learn from the Japanese diplomatic style exhibited during the visit?
What was the basis for selecting only three countries out of more than fifty nations as the tour's
destinations? We argue below that the need to maintain continuity in Japan's post-Cold War
Africa policy, the leadership style and priorities of the Prime Minister, as well as broader
considerations of the nation's vital interests are all factors affecting Mori's decision to visit
Africa. It is our premise that Japan-Africa relations can be best understood only if viewed
broadly as a function of the interplay between economic power and asymmetric
interdependence on the one hand, and culture and diplomacy on the other.
We begin by conceding that the ensuing discussion has a limitation: throughout the Prime
Minister's visit to Africa as well as prior to the visit and in its aftermath, the major Japanese
media did not cover the background or analyze the overall implications of the trip sufficiently.
Virtually all the major electronic and print media kept silent after announcing on 7 January 2001
that the Prime Minister had left that day on a 5-day tour of three African nations. It is, of course,
true that there was a sudden surge of interest for a while in Prime Minister Mori when he was
almost halfway through his tour. But the issue that sparked interest was his usage of politically
incorrect language relating to pre World War II Asia, and not Africa or Japan-Africa relations.
Given the limited preoccupation with Africa in Japan, the media silence was not at all
surprising. An editorial in The Japan Times thus echoed the widespread feeling in the country:
"Africa is a long way from our daily concern."2 Inevitably, also, the total silence makes an
attempt to analyze the high-profile visit and gauge the public opinion in this regard an
extremely difficult enterprise.
When Prime Minister Mori left for Africa, he had barely finalized the official re-structuring
of government ministries. Given the enormous domestic pressure he was under, it is fair to first
ask what compelled him to undertake the first-ever prime ministerial visit to Africa. When we
begin to analyze prime minister Mori's visit to Africa one helpful analogy that springs to mind
is President Bill Clinton's visit to the continent three years earlier. When Clinton made the first-
ever visit to Africa by a sitting US president in 1998, America's economy was in excellent shape.
Having also 'defeated' communism only a few years back, the country's international political


Seifudein Adem is Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Tsukuba, Japan.

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62 I Adem


standing and self-respect were at their highest point. America's crusade for spreading liberal
values around the world was also being consolidated at the time. With the country at peace and
prosperous, there was little ambiguity as to the propriety of the president paying a 'good will'
visit to the forgotten continent and going on safari in Botswana.
The same could not be said about the timing of Prime Minister Mori's visit. In addition to
the challenges of the on-going socio-economic restructuring process at home at the time of the
visit, virtually all economic indicators were clearly worrisome. Add to this, the decision to cut
Overseas Development Aid (ODA), which is considered an 'important pillar of Japan's
international contribution', by three per cent for the 2001 fiscal year compared to 2000. Although
it was less than the drastic thirty per cent proposed by Shizuka Kamei, Chairman of the Liberal
Democratic Party's Policy Research Council, the three per cent cut translated into a substantial
reduction in aggregate terms.3
Prime Minister Mori's trip had another paradoxical feature. It was taken for granted by
many at the time of his visit that the new Bush administration would have at best a lukewarm
attitude towards Africa.4 If it were true, as some analysts claim, that Japan by and large follows
America's lead in its external relations, the question that arises is then why did Mori decide to
take such an initiative when America's reaction would at best be that of indifference, and why
now? Could the answer be that Japan had ceased to be the reactive state that it once used to be
or, alternatively, was it that there were irresistible reasons that overrode any such concern? It is
also important to remember that no one entertained any doubt to the effect that the visit was
unlikely to produce immense support at home since, even under normal circumstances, active
international diplomacy takes a backseat in Japanese society. This is partly because politicians
here seem always mindful of that well-known Japanese expression: gaiko wa ippyo ni naranai
(diplomatic success would not translate into electoral success.) In a sense, this is where Japanese
diplomacy meets Japanese culture. On the Japanese distaste for foreign policy issues, Ichiro
Ozawa, the eminent Japanese politician and head of the Liberal Party of Japan, was even more
specific and emphatic. In his book, Blueprint for a New Japan, he asserted:
"The fact is that, deep down, most Japanese want to be able to avoid that troublesome area
called 'foreign relations.' They want to carry on with their peaceful and comfortable lives, and
live with their age-old systems, practices and customs without worries about the future. Simply
put, Japanese people want the luxury of reacting only when necessary, and want as little
participation as possible in international society."5
The explanations for the Prime Minister's decision to pay an official visit to Africa at the
dawn of the new century are to be found, as we indicated above, in a combination of three
factors: continuation of Japan's post-Cold War Africa policy, the leadership style and priorities
of Prime Minister Mori and the broader considerations of the nation's vital interests. While
these factors do overlap, for analytic purposes we can look at each of them one at a time.
On African issues, Japan has increasingly played a leading role with genuine initiative and
independence over the past decade or so. As an ODA donor unsurpassed by any other country
for the last ten consecutive years, Japan's assumption of the leadership role in this respect
stands to logic.6 Before the end of the Cold War, Japan seemed often mindful of the overall
geopolitical implication of its economic and political interactions with the Third World.
Ideological considerations now having become unimportant, it would make sense for Japan to


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Emerging Trends in Japan-Africa Relations: An African Perspective I 63


go its own way in its external relations. The initiatives to hold the Tokyo International
Conference on African Development (TICAD) in 1993 represented both the indication and effect
of such a philosophical shift. The holding of TICAD II in 1998 was even more telling. As the late
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi put it in his opening address to the Conference:
"Many countries in Asia, including Japan are in the grip of a severe economic crisis.
However, as people say, a friend in need is a friend indeed. This is the spirit with which we
approach the challenges of the times, and which indeed underlay TICAD II, and for that reason
I believe the holding of this conference is significant."7
At the 2000 G8 Okinawa Summit too, Japan took the initiative to invite to Tokyo three
African heads of states -Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and
Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria so as to come up with and reflect the position of the
developing world at the Summit. This was, as Prime Minister Mori himself put it in his policy
speech in South Africa, "something which had not been attempted before."8 In this sense, the
Prime Minister's visit marked one significant stage in a process that had been underway for
some time.
It is also fair to say that Prime Minister Mori's trip to Africa seemed to reflect his own
favorable attitude towards the continent and other developing countries. He might have been
exaggerating, but there seems to be a large measure of truth in how Mori himself reasoned out
his visit: "I definitely wanted to stand on the soil of the African continent and express directly to
the African people the firm determination of the Japanese people to open our hearts along with
you, to sweat and expend all our might to aid in the process of Africa overcoming its difficulties
and building a bright future."9
It can be argued that Mori was the most sympathetic to Africa of any Japanese Prime
Minister. In addition to this being the first-ever trip to Africa by a Prime Minister of Japan, his
agenda also justified such characterization. Given the various constraints under which he
operated, nevertheless, he might not have done as much as he had wished. Skeptics would
perhaps point out that if such a judgment were merely based on the excerpts from Prime
Minister Mori's speech in Africa, we could not learn much more from them than from any other
medium of diplomatic nicety. To some extent, this is generally a valid point and ultimately only
the key participants could tell us with authority the context of policy orientations discussed
above. But upon hearing repeated positive references to Africa long after the visit was over and
in a milieu where the overwhelming majority of the audience tends to be at best indifferent
towards African issues, then, one cannot help but reject any doubts about the sincerity of the
speeches of the Prime Minister. In his policy speech to the 151st session of the Japanese Diet
opened on 31 January 2001, the Prime Minister made repeated sympathetic references to Africa
and a positive assessment of his trip to the continent. This was, for instance, what he had to say
towards the end of his speech: "I would like to share with you a poem that the children of Africa
sang for me:


We are but many drops in one sea
We are but many waves in one ocean


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64 I Adem


Let us seek out together a path to cooperate
That is the way of life for you and me."'o

In the same speech, the Prime Minister also added that despite the hardship, African
children he had seen were full of spirits and hopes." To be fair, Mori is not the first Prime
Minister of Japan to express his sympathy in generous and most friendly terms. Mori's
predecessor, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi had this to say in 1998:
"...I first came into contact with Africa in the 1960s the decade of independence on the
continent... I went to Kenya, Uganda and other countries in 1963, where I witnessed the
overwhelming aspirations of the people for nation building during that period of
independence. What impressed me most as a young lone traveler from Asia, was first of all the
genuinely warm hospitality of African people, then their boundless vitality, and the great potential of the
continent" (Italics added).12
But considering Mori's unparalleled gesture of goodwill and support for Africa, especially
when many others seemed to be looking away, it is tempting even to say, adapting Toni
Morison's phrase, used in the similar metaphoric sense in reference to President Bill Clinton,
that Yoshiro Mori was indeed the first black Prime Minister of Japan.13 This must be viewed
against the background of the Prime Minister's record-breaking unpopularity at home. Towards
the end of February 2001, public opinion polls showed that the domestic approval rating of the
government Prime Minister Mori had hit 7 per cent. The comparative unpopularity of the Mori
government becomes clear if this figure is viewed against that for his successor, Prime Minister
Koizumi, who registered a public support rating of 86.3 per cent immediately after he was
elected Prime Minister.14
It needs to be stressed that it would be incorrect to consider the high profile visit and its
timing merely as a reflection of the quest for policy continuity and the desire to display one's
personal leadership style and unfettered diplomatic initiative. In the final analysis, it would
seem that the most important factor was a consideration of the need to ensure Japan's smooth
interaction with African nations by reaffirming to their leaders, or at least the most influential
among them, that Japan was not abandoning its commitment to assist in the development of the
continent. In the words of the Prime Minister himself, through the visit, he wanted "to reiterate
Japan's unwavering support to Africa."15
It is also important to remember that this was not a move based entirely on altruism. In a
characteristically ambivalent way, the Prime Minister himself made this point in his speech in
South Africa. He said, "Our optimism that people can overcome any difficulty through
development of human potential and cooperation between people underpins our stance
towards cooperation; that stance is based not on acts of charity, but on always viewing others at the
same eye level and acting as fellow human beings"(Italics added).16 Japan wants Africa's raw
materials; Africa needs Japan's market, economic aid and investment. Clearly, this does not
mean that the two rely on each other to the same extent. The asymmetric nature of
interdependence between the two is not only there for all to see but the gap is also widening
considerably. For instance, the value of Japan's imports from Africa shrank from US$ 4017.8 in
1994 to US$ 3878.8 million in 1998. Similarly, Japan's reliance on imports from Africa fell from 2
per cent of the total values of its imports in 1989 to 1.4 percent in 1998. In 1999, Japanese exports


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Emerging Trends in Japan-Africa Relations: An African Perspective I 65


to sub-Saharan Africa fell 8.3 percent from the year earlier. The decline is partly due to the fall
of the prices of primary commodities such as coffee. In the same year, no African country was
listed in the category of the top 20 countries from which Japan imports or to which it exports.
The reasons for the relative decline in Japan's economic interactions with and general interest in
Africa include: 1) the emergence of more business opportunities in Asia, 2) the shift of attention
to Eastern Europe, 3) the deepening belief that self-help is the key to development; and 4) the
progressively deteriorating economic outlook in Japan itself.17
Africa's potentially significant vote in the UN General Assembly in support of Japan's
permanent membership in a reformed Security Council had probably also been a factor in the
Prime Minister's decision to visit Africa, although not the major one, if the words of one senior
Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Official were to be relied upon. Speaking about the Prime
Minister's visit to Africa, the official said, "Forging ties with Africa was not just for collecting
votes at the United Nations."18 If our observation is correct, then it might also have been deemed
necessary to convey through the visit the message that the substantial ODA cut did not mean
that Japan's interest in helping Africa was now waning. What is also worth noting, however, is
that the Prime Minister did not mention the cut in ODA once during his major policy speech in
South Africa, although the subject was raised later.19 What does one make of this? On the
surface this appears to refute our hypothesis that Prime Minister Mori's decision to go to Africa
was at least in part motivated by a perceived need to convey the message that the ODA cut did
not reflect the abandoning of aid for the continent's development efforts. It might be more
accurate, however, to surmise that the silence on the subject itself represented a clear message
through what the Japanese call ishin denshin, a kind of non-verbal communication in which
both the sender and the receiver (are expected to) understand the meaning. The silence on ODA
in this way could therefore be understood as pinpointing a meeting point of Japanese culture,
economics and diplomacy in the context of the visit under discussion.
One conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the Prime Minister went to Africa after
ODA was cut precisely to re-reiterate Japan's commitment to Africa. It is true that the fact of one
event preceding the other in time does not necessarily have to presuppose the existence of a
causative link between the two. But, as stated above, it appears reasonably safe to conclude that
the timing of the two events that is, the ODA cut and the visit do not appear to be totally
unrelated.
Thus far, we have sought to address two questions, namely, why the visit was made and
the significance of the timing. Now we turn to the question relating to the chosen host countries.
Given the competing demands on his time, it is understandable that Prime Minister Mori
decided to visit only three African countries out of more than fifty. What we need to ask more
specifically is what was the basis on which the Prime Minister selected these countries: South
Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria. The answer may be that these countries represent Japan's major
trading partners in the continent. In 1999, these countries represented the top three trading
partners of Japan in the continent. As for the statistical breakdown for this period, the respective
values in US $ million of Japan's exports to South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya were 26,709,
16,252, and 1,633 and the values of Japanese imports in the same period amounted to 24,076,
4394 and 2,773.20 These countries are likewise the major recipients of Japanese aid and


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66 I Adem


investment in Africa. The selection of the three countries, therefore, indicates that the primary, if
not the sole, objective of the visit was economic.
Again, if we compare President Clinton's trip to Africa with that of Prime Minister Mori,
the distinctive diplomatic styles and priorities of the two leaders become clear. Undoubtedly,
President Clinton's visit to Africa was at least in part motivated by the need to open Africa's
markets to American products and thereby assist in the continent's effort for integration into the
global economy. The fact that, on returning, he pushed for the passage of the African Growth
and Opportunity Act was an indication that the visit's goals had an important economic
component. Yet, in Africa itself, the highlight of his visit were not his dialogue on economic
cooperation with African leaders, but instead it was his visit to Rwanda, the scene of one of the
most horrific genocides in recent history. In the case of Prime Minister Mori's trip to Africa,
there was no attempt at window-dressing by including at least one African state that is or was
in the lowest position in terms of political or economic well-being of its people.
One may ask what could be made of the Prime Minister's visit to a refugee camp in Kenya,
and of the fact that throughout his trip he was accompanied by Dr. Sadako Ogata, the
renowned out-going UN Commissioner for Refugees. True, in addition to "increasing the trip's
profile,"21 Dr. Ogata's company did introduce a "humanitarian" dimension to the Prime
Minister's visit. But that is only in a symbolic sense. As for his visit to a refugee camp in Kenya,
it should be remembered that Prime Minister Mori chose to visit a refugee camp because he was
in Kenya. He did not choose to visit Kenya because it had a refugee camp. If this had been his
motive, he could have gone to Ethiopia or the Sudan, the two African countries known for
producing more refugees than anything else. But these two countries, unlike Kenya, provide
neither the preferred destination of Japanese experts and tourists nor goods and other products
in Africa.
If economic calculation was the decisive factor behind the selection of South Africa, Kenya
and Nigeria, a related question is why the Prime Minister skipped over Angola and Zambia,
which are also important sources of critical raw materials for Japan? The answer would be that
Angola and Zambia were not passed over. Or not quite. Japanese foreign policy officials seem
to have planned carefully to give the leaders of Angola and Zambia the impression that they
were being included. After all, risk avoidance or kiken kaihi, is one of the key principles in
Japanese diplomatic and bargaining actions. Whereas the Prime Minister himself did not go to
these countries, the matter had been taken care of in a different way. A month before his visit to
South Africa, Prime Minister Mori met Zambia's President Frederick Chiluba in Tokyo after
which Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA) senior Vice-President reassured
Chiluba, that "we have enough intention to cooperate with Zambia because we would like to
move from Asia to Africa in cooperation areas."22 As for Angola, according to the Japanese
Ministry of Foreign Affairs sources, an official working visit by President Jose Eduardo dos
Santos was arranged for late January. And Santos's visit did indeed take place.
A discussion of why the Prime Minister skipped over some countries would not be
complete without a mention of Ghana. Japan has a high respect for Ghana. The reasons for this
include the fact that Ghana has been politically stable in a region where political stability is a
rare commodity; that it is democratic, or partially democratic according to some; and that it is
the home country of the most high-ranking civil servant in the world, the current Secretary


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Emerging Trends in Japan-Africa Relations: An African Perspective I 67


General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Also, Ghana's chocolate seems to be popular among
the Japanese youth. Yet, despite the fact that during his visit to South Africa Mori suggested
that Ghana would be a Japanese-sponsored research base in Africa "from which cooperation
could spread to the rest of Africa", it was not included in the itinerary.23 The reason for Ghana's
exclusion from the Prime Minister's itinerary may simply be that the new President of Ghana,
John A. Kufuor, who was sworn in only after Prime Minister Mori began his tour of the
continent, was busy putting his new government in place.
The last African country on the Prime Minister's itinerary was Nigeria. If we contrast again
Prime Minister Mori's visit with that of President Clinton, one conspicuous difference would be
the latter's decision not to visit Nigeria since the country was at the time under the military
dictatorship of General Abacha. When Prime Minister Mori visited Nigeria, the country was
under the elected leadership of General Olusegun Obasanjo. Given the preeminence of
economic calculation in Japanese foreign policy and diplomacy as well as Nigeria's relative
importance in this regard, one wonders if Prime Minister Mori would not have gone to Nigeria
even if his visit had coincided with General Abacha's rule. This is a purely hypothetical
question for which there is no definitive answer. However, experience suggests that he might
have. The distinctive diplomatic styles of Japan and the US may also reflect the difference in
their respective foreign policy goals.
In closing let us briefly address the direction of Japan-Africa policy in the immediate
future. Prime Minister Mori was forced to step down on April 26, 2001, and the new Koizumi
government is now installed. Will Japan's policy towards Africa change as a result? The safest
answer is that it is too early to tell. However, we could offer some informed speculation in light
of experience and early indications. It does not seem likely that Prime Minister Koizumi would
pay as much attention to Africa as his predecessor did. One reason has to do with the platform
on which he was nominated a prime minister, namely, to focus on domestic political issues and
the removal of all barriers to economic recovery. Although voices are beginning to insist that
ODA must be immune to structural reform, there are clear indications that the ODA budget
could be significantly reduced over the coming years. More specifically, the new Finance
Minister, Masajuro Shiokawa, has recently suggested that the ODA budget be cut by 10 per cent
for the 2001 fiscal year.24 Therefore, structural reform could be the catalyst for the reduction of
ODA to Africa. And as long as the relation between Japan and Africa is generally one of major
aid donor and aid recipient, the change could have significant implications for other Japan-
Africa relations.
It is true that when he assumed office, Prime Minister Mori had also pledged to affect a
fundamental structural reform with a view to speeding up economic recovery. But, unlike
Yoshiro Mori, Prime Minister Koizumi seems to have the determination to do what he has said.
Therefore, it is likely that Koizumi will continue to show less preoccupation with Africa than his
predecessor. The fact that the new prime minister secured his political tenure after his party
won the general election in 2001 does not seem to change matters significantly. And some
African diplomats in Tokyo have already sensed the new government's less enthusiastic
attitude towards Africa and are appealing that "Japan's official development assistance to
African countries should not be automatically cut."25 Whether or not such an appeal would be
listened to attentively and sympathetically remains to be seen.


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68 I Adem


Notes

1. This paper was presented at the 2001 Convention of International Studies
Association in Hong Kong, July 26-29, 2001.
2. The Japan Times. January 12, 2001. p.18.
3. For a brief discussion on cuts in the ODA budget see Diplomatic Bluebook 1998,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, 1999. p.96.
4. For analysis of US relations with Africa under the new Bush administration, see
Africa Confidential vol. 45, no. 25, December 22, 2000. p. 1-3 as well as Africa
Research Bulletin. And Political, Social and Cultural Series vol. 37, no. 12, January 25,
2001. p.14244-14247.
5. Ozawa, I. Blueprint for a New Japan, Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1994. p.41.
6. In 2000, with $13 billion, Japan has continued its ODA global lead for the 10th
consecutive year. The Japan Times. July 22, 2001. p.2.
7. Opening Address by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at TICAD II, October 19, 1998.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo. p.3.
8. Speech by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, "Africa and Japan in the New Century," at
Gallagher Estate, Midrand, Republic of South Africa, (Provisional Translation),
January 9, 2001. p.1.
9. ibid.
10. Prime Minister's Policy Speech. The Japan Times. February 1, 2001. p.6.
11. ibid.
12. Opening Address by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at TICAD II, October 19, 1998.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo. p.1.
13. Tony Morrison's phrase is mentioned in the article by Hisham Aidi at
www.africana.com, February 21, 2001.
14. The Japan Times. February 27, 2001. p.1. And The Japan Times. 29 April 2001. p.1.
15. Speech by Prime Minister Yoshihiro Mori, "Africa and Japan in the New Century," at
Gallagher Estate, Midrand, Republic of South Africa, (Provisional Translation),
January 9, 2001. p.3.
16. ibid.
17. The sources consulted are International Trade Statistics Yearbook 1998. United
Nations, New York, 1999. p 504; JETRO White Paper on International Trade 2000,
Tokyo; Asahi Shimbun Japan Almanac 2001; and my own interview with Kensuke
Yoshida, Deputy Director Second Africa Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Tokyo, February 17, 1997.
18. The Japan Times. January 6 2001. p.3. And the editorial on The Japan Times, 12
January 2001. p.18.
19. Asahi Shimbun. January 14, 2001. And Yomiuri Shimbun. January 14, 2001.
20. The Europa Year Book 1999, vol. 1 and 2. London: Europa Publications Ltd., 1999.
And JETRO White Paper on International Trade 2000, Tokyo.
21. The Japan Times. January 6, 2001. p.3.
22. Times of Zambia. December 9, 2000. p.1.


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Emerging Trends in Japan-Africa Relations: An African Perspective I 69


23. Associated Press. January 9, 2001. p.1.
24. The Japan Times. July 22, 2001. p.2.
25. The Japan Times. July 5, 2001. p.2.


Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article:
Adem, S., 2001. "Emergin Trends in Japan Africa Relations: An African Perspective." African
Studies Quarterly 5(2): 4. [online]
URL: http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v5/v5i12a4.htm


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BOOK REVIEWS




Contemporary Perspectives on East African Pastoralism

The Pastoral Continuum: The Marginalization of Tradition in East Africa. Paul Spencer. Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 2000. Pp. 302.

The Poor are Not Us: Poverty & Pastoralism. David M. Anderson & Vigdis Broch-Due (eds.).
Oxford: James Currey, 1999. Pp. 276.

The recent severe drought in northern Kenya dramatically illustrates the need to broaden
our understanding about African pastoralism. According to the United Nations World Food
Program, nearly thirty-five percent of children under five are suffering from malnutrition in the
region. The food aid agency describes Wajir District as virtually without cattle, and other
sources have put the loss of cattle in the north as high as seventy percent. As donor agencies
consider what they can do to alleviate the hunger and suffering of the millions affected by the
catastrophe, they would do well to consult the two volumes discussed here. Spencer's
impressive monograph is the product of more than forty years work by one of the doyens of
British anthropology and The Poor are Not Us represents the discerning contributions of leading
scholars in Europe and the United States ably integrated by its two editors. Both books speak to
the related issues of poverty and development.
The geographical area under examination is essentially the same in the two works.
Spencer's study of the "pastoral continuum" focuses mainly on the cattle-centered pastoral
groups of East Africa. These peoples are bounded in the north by desert and Islamic
communities and to the south and west by tsetse-fly belts. Ecological barriers block the further
spread of cattle herding and adherence to Islam alters the nature of power relationships within
those societies that adhere to it. The exception to this geographical overlap is Bernhard
Helander's study of camel-herding Hubeer Somali in the Trans-Juba region of southern Somalia
in the Anderson and Broch-Due anthology.
An important part of Spencer's analysis is its historical perspective. Spencer, whose
anthropological works have consistently demonstrated his unique appreciation of historical
processes, again argues that in order to understand pastoralism, one must recognize how it has
changed over time. Part Two of his book examines the history of the Chamus from the
nineteenth century to the present. The Chamus's transition to a pastoral lifestyle under the aegis
of the pax Britannica and the resulting changes they made in their age organization underscore
their adaptability to the challenge of colonialism. Following independence, however, Spencer
maintains that the Chamus age-system has become unsustainable even to the point where
warriorhood has lost most of its meaning. Elsewhere, Spencer shows how historically, elders


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72 I BOOK REVIEWS


have reinterpreted tradition in order to respond to challenges to their way of life. He
emphasizes their resiliency and ability to accommodate change, and uses the example of the
Ariaal who switched between cattle and camel-herding over time according to changing
circumstances. Using the example of the ethnic and cultural differences between the Turkana
and Samburu, Spencer contends that there existed an "indigenous concept of 'tribe'" (p. 18)
already in the precolonial period. Yet, he also notes how this concept was subject to
abandonment in times of ecological adversity and how colonialism altered it. Likewise with
respect to age-sets, Spencer states, "Generally, the evidence points towards a creeping change,
and the resilience of the age systems may have been precisely their ability to adapt rather than
persist unchanged. The age systems in the remote areas may have survived, not despite colonial
and post-colonial interventions, but rather because they adapted at each stage" (p. 128).
As in The Pastoral Continuum, there is a strong sense of history in the Anderson and Broch-
Due volume. Richard Waller's chapter is a perceptive and innovative one considering the
difficulty of detailing previous instances of pastoral poverty due to scant references in archival
records and oral histories. Basing his analysis mainly on the Maasai, Waller stresses the
fundamental link between wealth and power, while also emphasizing the significance of age
and gender in the allocation of resources in herding societies. Waller further presents a nuanced
treatment of the impact of colonialism on the pastoral economy giving the reader a better
understanding of the subtleties behind the marginalization of herders in Maasailand and
northern Kenya. Broch-Due's contribution on the Turkana adds weight to Waller's thesis
concerning the difficulty of gaining a complete understanding of pastoral poverty. She argues
that the Turkana omit "losers," or those who have become poor and exited the local economy,
from oral traditions. Nevertheless, Broch-Due is able to comment on all the aspects of the
Turkana's past as well as their present circumstances with skill. In this case, again, distinctions
of age and gender are of prime importance to the "moral economy" of the Turkana.
Spencer's earlier works have mainly focused on generational rather than gender and family
issues. Likewise, The Pastoral Continuum emphasizes the significance of age systems to pastoral
societies particularly the insightful chapter entitled, "The dynamics of age systems in East
Africa." This does not mean, however, that as Spencer stresses the gerontocractic and
patriarchal nature of pastoralism, that he ignores the fundamental importance of women and
the family. Indeed, Spencer links these together, explaining how age systems are "an
institutionalized way of controlling strains within the family" (p. 19). He points out that herding
is not simply an individual, male domain-women are essential to trade and food production
and the family are vital to growth. He argues that all are part of a wider, "moral community." In
addition, Spencer notes how relations within pastoral societies are dynamic. Thus, the ability of
younger men to acquire money through employment and trade to be used as a medium of
bride-wealth has had the concomitant effect of increasing their power at the expense of that of
the elders. Polygyny, to which Spencer devotes a chapter of his book, is an indication of the
distribution of wealth and power within pastoralist societies.
The issue of gender is integral to The Poor are Not Us. Thus, while highlighting the
relationship between dignity and poverty, Aud Talle's chapter discusses issues of sexuality
between Maasai men and female prostitutes in a northern Tanzanian border town. Dorothy
Hodgson's contribution on Tanzanian Maasai is a provocative reexamination of what she


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BOOK REVIEWS I 73


describes as "narrow, ahistorical, gendered images] of pastoralists" (p. 222). According to
Hodgson, Maasai women suffered a double deprivation under colonialism: not only did the
Maasai become marginalized as an ethnic group, but Maasai men deprived females of
traditionally shared rights to cattle as well. With these facts in mind, she is critical of the ill-
conceived development projects initiated in the past, since they generally have been based on
false assumptions that treat women as irrelevant to pastoral production. One certainly cannot
take issue with Hodgson's plea for aid agencies to consider women's perspectives when
considering developmental interventions. On the other hand, her advocacy of introducing
cultivation, if this implies the widespread applicability of agriculture, bears closer inspection
when one considers the historical failure of such projects elsewhere in pastoral domains.
Indeed, within the same anthology the case study of the Rendille by Fratkin, Nathan, and Roth
concludes "that alienating pastoralists from their livestock leads to impoverishment, not only of
the body, but the spirit as well" (p. 162).
Regarding the issue of development, Spencer is relatively pessimistic. To Spencer, the
herders are "caught in an ecological trap" (p. 5) caused by human and livestock population
increases and the expansion of market relations into peripheral, semiarid areas. The generally
optimistic pastoralists are unable to cope with the contradiction between their hunger for bigger
herds and the environmental degradation their feeding animals inevitably engender. Moreover,
they remain uncaptured by a money economy and capitalism as they are reluctant to diminish
their cattle herds or diversify their economy and remain tied to the "moral boundaries" (p. 44) of
tradition. Finally, Spencer notes the widening gap between rich and poor with the wealthy
gaining control over land and the poor increasingly having to seek wage-paying jobs as herders.
The contributors to the edited book present the broader context that development planners
need to consider as they devise ways to help herding peoples. Thus, Hellander gives insights
into the social dimensions that are associated with Somali poverty. In a similar manner, Tomasz
Potkanski analyzes clan-based institutions for wealth redistribution among Ngorongoro Maasai
and advocates their revitalization as a means of facilitating development. Rekdal and Blystad
not only put contrasting Datooga and Iraqw attitudes towards the future into historical
perspective, but they also demonstrate how religious attitudes influence access to wealth. Zaal
and Dietz's well done comparative study of the impact of commoditization in Kenya's West
Pokot and Kajiado Districts distinguishes between the survival strategies undertaken by the
poor and the way the wealthy respond to economic challenges. Anderson's final chapter
examines the successes and failures of development efforts since they were first undertaken on
a large scale in the colonial era sixty years ago. His dispassionate treatment of contentious
issues and his unwillingness to prescribe a universal panacea for the problem of pastoral
poverty makes a fitting conclusion to the anthology.
Both of these books have much to recommend them. Taken together, their bibliographies
are extensive and up-to-date. Spencer not only integrates his vast knowledge of East African
herders, but reminds his readers of "the wider links between pastoralism and other forms of
livelihood" (p.5). The contributors in The Poor are Not Us likewise succeed in their task of
presenting a more holistic view of pastoral societies. They go beyond the widely held
stereotypes that herders are conservative egalitarians and challenge the notion that pastoralism
is a doomed means of subsistence. The scholarly articles demonstrate that one cannot


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understand wealth simply in economic terms, but must also take into account social and
cultural variables. Aid agencies would do well to consider this holistic approach to pastoral
poverty before embarking on potentially misguided development projects in a part of Africa
that is in crisis today.

George L. Simpson Jr.
High Point University




"I Will Not Eat Stone": A Women's History of Colonial Asante. Jean Allman and Victoria
Tashjian. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2000. Pp. 312.

The politics of gender in colonial societies has taken center stage in the current renaissance
of social history by Africanist historians. Jean Allman and Victoria Tashjian, two scholars
examining various aspects of marriage and women's lives in the Asante society of Ghana, have
written an impressive study on options and strategies available to the first generation of
colonized women born between 1900 and 1920. This long-awaited book has happily proved
itself worthy of the anticipation that preceded it. By viewing colonial rule through the lens of
women's lives, this work adds a great deal to the already large number of historical works on
Asante, as well as the history of gender in colonial Africa.
Innovation is an adjective commonly bandied about in book reviews. Unlike some other
works considered revolutionary more for their style than their substance, this study is unique in
many respects while discussing concerns previously covered by a number of scholars elsewhere
in Africa. The authors succeed in disrupting chronologies that artificially highlight changes
between colonial and pre-colonial periods, rather than consider the continuities and challenges
faced in everyday lives. Additionally, their choice of exploring a single generation's experiences
is a creative approach. In short, the book deserves much attention.
The introduction and chapter one serve to place this group of women in the larger context
of Asante and colonial African history. In the first chapter, they reconsider the rise of money
associated with the early twentieth century cocoa boom in Ghana by noting the prevalence of
female traders at earlier points in Asante's history. Much as Diana Jeater and Elizabeth Schimdt
have argued in colonial Rhodesia, the chaos of early colonial occupation in Asante disrupted
older gender conventions and opened new opportunities for women to the growing chagrin of
male elites and colonial administrators. While some issues are remarkably similar to other
colonial experiences in Africa, others are not. For instance, missionary activities helped remake
notions of gender in many African societies, however most Asante women before 1930 had little
direct involvement with European church efforts.
Chapter two examines marriage practices during the early colonial period. The authors
refer to marriage and child-rearing as "strategic entry points" (p. xxxix) that furnish the
background information for later chapters on legal practices and women's strategies. Both show
a slow process by which fluid marriage practices and relationships between families and
children became undermined in the new money economy based in cocoa production. Pre-


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BOOK REVIEWS I 75


colonial marriage practices were made up of a gradual series of negotiations rather than a fixed
and linear progression. Many women and families used this ambiguity to test out the durability
and benefits of relationships. While free women could turn to their families for aid and had
some autonomy from husbands, slaves and pawns did not have such options of support. With
the rise of cocoa and the slow end of servitude, husbands made increasing demands on their
wives' labor. In turn, colonial courts gradually took a harder line against women by supporting
decisions made by chiefs and the male-dominated African courts.
Ties between children and parents are the main topic of chapter three. In the late
nineteenth century, uncles and matrikin had greater claims on children than did their
(purportedly) biological fathers. Relationships between fathers and children changed due to
new family models, educational institutions and greater demands for workers. Fathers, who
were expected from the 1910s onward to furnish money for their children's clothes, their
families' food costs and school fees, had a greater interest in maintaining control over their
offspring. While in earlier times fathers held greater power over children born from pawns or
slaves than those of free women, African courts and chiefs supported attempts by men to make
more claims over all children. Uncles and fathers thus struggled for control of children, but
eventually older ritual practices acknowledging the rights of matrikin faded from view. At the
same time, these new arrangements led women and children to demand money and property
from their husbands. While colonial courts increasingly favored husbands, they were less eager
to support new rights of entitlement asserted by wives and children.
Women maneuvered through the increasing power of husbands and fathers in a variety of
ways, as discussed in chapter four and five. Many turned to divorce, particularly as they saw
their labor serving the interests of men who preferred spending money on other wives or
mistresses. Some opted out of marriage entirely. At the same time, courts and chiefs placed
pressure on the mandatory marriages of single women. Chiefs and courts revised earlier
definitions of adultery to claim new rights over wives and children. Women's testimony became
increasingly ignored in courts, especially in the 1930s. Such stories have a familiar ring when
compared with the legal developments in southern Africa that were also occurring during this
period.
Missionary developments in health care from the 1920s to 1940s are also discussed in
chapter five. Some European female mission workers held classes on child care and domesticity.
However, these programs only affected a small number of Asante women. Instead of imposing
European views on African subjects directly, the programs seem to have slowly led to everyday
practices largely governed by African women themselves. Considering the oral sources cited by
the authors, the subject of health care training seems to have interested the scholars more than
the African women who experienced it.
Overall, this volume is a welcome addition to the growing literature on women's lives in
colonial Africa. Although this reviewer suspects those more familiar with Asante will find
omissions in the study, the use of extensive interviews, legal sources and archival data are
impressive. The authors' tracing of women's lives and options over time undo the traditional
divisions of African history. The struggles and hard choices of Asante women are clearly and
succinctly stated. Unlike some monographs on Asante history, this text yields insights for
specialists and general readers alike.


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Jeremy Rich
Colby College




Traditional Cures for Modern Conflicts, African Conflict 'Medicine'. William I. Zartman
(ed.). Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000. Pp. 230.

Even though international agencies, governments, and private organizations have entered
the 'business' of conflict resolution in ever increasing numbers, it is clear that most interventions
in African conflicts have done little to prevent the continent from taking the debilitating course
it has traversed over the last decade. The failure of these attempts demonstrates the need for
more creative approaches to conflict resolution. The renewed interest in traditional techniques
for settling conflicts can be seen in this light. Osaghae argues in the volume that the
implementation of 'African' approaches is important, since it allows Africans to be both the
authors and the owners of the resolutions, which are still all too often imposed from the outside
without local input or taking account of the unique characteristics of a particular situation
(chapter 13). For practitioners in the fields of conflict management, peace brokering and
reconciliation, however, the book does not, fortunately, provide easy answers or quick fix
solutions to the range of clashes that have plunged large parts of Africa into deep crisis. On the
contrary, no attempt is made to side step the difficult questions, complexities or contradictions
inherent in conflict resolution processes ongoing in Africa. Additionally, the contributors avoid
romanticizing about pre-colonial societies existing in a perpetual utopian harmony and there
are no unrealistic expectations about the possibilities of implementing or re-inventing
traditional practices within a modern order.
The introduction and conclusion written by Zartman are both well thought out and
presented clearly. The introduction focuses on a variety of topics, including the methodological
problems associated with such complex issues as conceptualising 'tradition' and weighs in on
the 'cultural relativism' versus 'human universalism' dichotomy. Zartman argues that traditions
are cultural practices, which are not imported and continue to be practiced and reproduced. The
authors equally acknowledge the dynamic and 'invented' character of traditions. However,
while many others have considered this dimension problematic, here, the fluidity of tradition is
presented as an advantage, since it leaves open the possibility of re-invention with a view to
positive change.
In his introduction, Zartman stresses the heterogeneity of Africa, and thus concedes that
the extent to which the selected case studies are representative for the whole of Africa remains
doubtful. Rather than attempt the quite difficult task of making generalized statements about
'African' conflict, the authors distinguish between conflicts within the system (either between
members of the society or challenging the hierarchy) or between systems. In the first section, a
variety of cases, concentrating on conflict management in traditional societies are discussed.
Unfortunately, echoing Zartman's introductory comments, Central Africa, which is currently
experiencing numerous and complex instances of war and conflict, is not among the regions


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BOOK REVIEWS I 77


represented. Although one could criticize this omission, it is unreasonable to expect all regions
to be covered in a single volume. A recurring theme that appears throughout the first part of the
book, is the issue of land (e.g. chapters 3 deals with cross border migration between Togo and
Ghana and 4 examines pastoral populations). Since land related problems seem to lay at the
core of a wide variety of conflicts throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the essays in this section are
very relevant to events currently ongoing. The authors question how traditional conflict
settlement can function when conditions have changed so dramatically, due to factors such as
increased pressure on land, the introduction of new actors on the scene (e.g. the state), and the
emergence of new patterns of migration. Part two of the book deals with similar issues but in a
non-African context. However, given the fact that so many issues and regions of Africa have
remained untouched in this volume, it is questionable whether these excursions to Lebanon,
Cleveland and China were necessary at the expense of further analysis of the African situation.
Part three provides concrete examples of the application of traditional techniques in a
modern context, including Ubuntu, which is a traditional philosophy of governance found in
South Africa (chapter 11) and the involvement of traditional actors in Somalia (chapter 12). The
concluding chapters by Osaghae (chapter 13) and Zartman (chapter 14) attempt to synthesize
the arguments presented in the volume in search of both the realistic options and limits of
traditional conflict management techniques for dealing with (post)modern conflicts in Africa.
For readers who are not immediately familiar with any of the case studies, these last two
chapters may well provide the most insightful reading. Osaghae identifies similarities within
the traditional methods presented in the different case studies and concludes that traditional
conflict settlement is largely directed towards re-integration. Many techniques, although highly
localised and varied, contends Osaghae, could be integrated within modern negotiation and
diplomacy strategies. However, the main obstacle to this approach is the fact that the moral
order which underpins re-integration, has been smashed by modern conflicts and along with it,
the common ground upon which peace can be rebuilt. While Osaghae believes that common
ground is something that can be re-constructed, Zartman is less optimistic. "It is the third
category of conflicts that eludes the experience of African conflict management, the conflicts
against the community.... Yet this is the type of conflict that is most prevalent at the present
time (p.227)."
This volume provides an interesting contribution to the debate on conflict management in
Africa and makes a sound analysis of the possible value of indigenous conflict settlement
practices. However, it makes clear that much more research and refining of our analytical tools
must occur before the implementation of such techniques will make a practical difference.

Saskia Van Hoyweghen
Vice President Brussels Centre of African Studies (BCAS)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)


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References

Van Hoyweghen, S. & Smis, S., "The Re-establishment of the Traditional Gacaca Jurisdiction in
Rwanda: A Step Forward to Reconciliation?," African Studies Association of the UK, Biennal
Conference, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 11-13 September 2000.

Ruddy Doom, "Changing Identities, Violent Conflict and the World System," in Ruddy Doom
and Jan Gorus (eds.) Politics of Identity & Economics of Conflict in the Great Lakes Region.
Brussels: VUB Press, 2000. p.15-91.




Daughters of the Goddess, Daughters of Imperialism: African Women Struggle for Culture,
Power and Democracy. Amadiume Ifi. New York: Zed Books, 2000. Pp. 300.

The book opens by indicating the social, economic, cultural and political imperatives that
determined and currently characterise Nigeria. Additionally, the author notes the benefits of
using Marxist theory to examine gender and class relations under the present state system, as
well as the contemporary nature of power between different classes of women locally,
nationally and globally. She rightly points out the existence of shifting multiple identities under
a pluralist system and attributes the problem of the state in Africa to the question of legitimacy
and contestation. Without mincing words, the author puts the colonial and postcolonial state on
trial. She does the same with development partners and all those concerned with improving the
status of women.
She observes that the colonial administration laid inadequate foundations for the
emancipation of women in Africa. It created many transformations following the introduction
of a capitalist economy and imposition of a new system of government. These changes, the
author contends, led to the creation of a gender ideology of power, demarcating public space
and power as male to the exclusion of women. Amadiume singles out the case of Nigeria and
postulates that, the British system of preserving the autonomy of local authorities did not apply
when it came to the 'natives.' They operated in such a manner that made them, among other
things, unpopular, undemocratic, and unrepresentative, all of which contributed to the
marginalization of women. The above practices were adopted and refined by western religion
and European style women organizations such as the YWCA and Girl Guide movement.
The female elites who ran these and other women's organizations have been able to
manipulate certain social, political, economic and cultural spaces to their advantage under the
pretence of improving the living standards of poor women. These types of manipulations have
weakened a majority of women's local initiatives that have attempted to balance patriarchal
structures. Unfortunately, these female elites are widely relied on by governments and
International Development Agencies (IDAs) to improve the status of rural women.
Colonialism and IDAs, the author continues, largely determined 'development' in Africa.
IDAs have dictated how the state in Africa should go about strengthening women's autonomy.
The state has in most cases adopted formalised language of development based on formalised


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list of developmentalist and evolving round controversial single issues. Daughters of
imperialism in their quest to solicit for donor funding have embraced issues selected by IDAs,
while more relevant matters concerning a majority of women are neglected.
She postulates that the postcolonial state has not only remained ill-suited to the task of
emancipating rural and poor women, but it has also used inappropriate frameworks and
policies. They have neglected the role and opinions of local women; development has been
forced down their throats. The problem with this approach is that development projects are
inherently embedded in the local processes in which they operate and are, thus, locally
accountable.
In Africa, as elsewhere, IDAs have appeared in the form of the IMF and World Bank under
the auspices of structural adjustment programs. Amadiume argues that these agencies have
advocated for growth accounting and budget management, which have no relevance to issues
such as social and political inequalities and human right abuses. Since these policies neglect the
social arena, it is no wonder they have failed in Africa. SAPs have increased women's
responsibilities, while diminishing their traditional access to goods and services. SAPs together
with structural economies and neo-classical economic notions, the author argues, have
weakened women's traditional system of gender complementarity, co-operation and exposed
women's autonomous economic sectors to market forces.
The impacts of IDAs on the state are equally negative. Amadiume observes that IDAs have
led to uneven development, bred corruption and political inequalities. IDAs have relied on
bourgeois and elitist women to capitalize on the knowledge of rural women for their own
benefits. They have made women's groups dependent on external funding and externally
determined development policies. These external interventions have fragmented female
solidarity and distracted women from their traditional roles as developers of their own towns
and villages. She concludes that IDAs have undermined the state in Africa, fragmented
communities, encouraged dependency, bred dictatorship, corruption and elitism.
As external intervention disrupts local contestations and creates a terrible imbalance in the
system, a unique phenomenon has emerged in contemporary Nigeria. This is what the author
calls the 'cult of first lady'. Others like Mama (1995) called it 'Femocracy.' Under a democracyy,"
the female leadership, headed by the wife of the incumbent president, solicits money for herself
and the wives of those in senior positions under the guise of improving the status of rural
Nigeria women. The practice of seeking out donations enabled Babangida and Abacha's wives
to emerge as formidable political figures in Nigeria. They became a political partner of military
rulers and thus served to make a majority of women comply with unpopular demands of the
state and international development agencies.
Working in alliance with development agencies, the Better Life Program and Family
Support Program (started by the wives of the two presidents) became money-guzzling
ventures. Amediume argues that this cult has become an instrument of class reproduction and
advancement in the name of service to rural women. It has undermined democratic processes
and the autonomy of women's organizations, which have been appropriated by corrupt
bourgeois women in an unceasing effort to gain prestige, status, and power. On occasion, these
types of power-seeking ventures have sabotaged other organizations. At the same time, it has


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80 I BOOK REVIEWS


caused the rural community to be subject to corruption and elitism. It is this cult that has
impacted negatively on the development of women's groups in Nigeria.
The author argues that, since it is a woman's domain, the local government system can best
be used to improve the status of local women. She puts forth a strong case for the establishment
of a women's unit in the local government councils whose concern would be specific interest
and needs of local women. She argues for a massive decentralization of the civil service and
reorganization of the budget so that more money goes to provide services to the majority of the
rural population. Given its position in the traditional or indigenous African economy, the
marketplace should be placed, to a greater extent be under female control. Moreover, the author
contends that the West should support the traditional democratic institutions that exist in
Africa, rather than to try to supplant them in the name of development or modernization.
In conclusion, the text is very explosive, due to its critiques of those women and agencies
that have taken the leadership reins of the women's movement in most of Africa. The book is
worth reading by those interested in women, the state, and international development agencies.
It has raised so many pertinent issues and questions on who should represent women in Africa
and what should be the areas of concern. Using historical and anthropological sources the
author has exposed the tensions and contradictions between competing interests over locally
and internationally available resources and revealed gender, class and race conflict over power
and resource sharing in contemporary African states.

Ong'wen Okuro Samwel
Kenyatta University

References

Amadiume, I. Male Daughters, Female Husbands. Lodon: Zed Books, 1987.

Ifidon, E. A. "Social Rationality and Class Analysis of National Conflict in Nigeria:
Historiographical Critique," in M. J. Ela, Africa Development, CODESRIA, Vol.XXIV, Nos. 1 and
2, 1999.

Mama, A. "Feminism or Femocracy? State Feminism and Democratisation in Nigeria," in T. A.
Aina, Africa Development. CODESRIA, Vol.XX, No.l, 1995.

Mba, N. Nigerian Women Mobilised: Women's Political Activity in Southern Nigeria, 1900-
1965. Berkeley: University of California, 1982.

Parpart J, and Staudt, K (eds). Women and State in Africa. Lynne Rienner: Boulder, 1989.

National Commission for Women 1992, Annual Report. Newswatch Magazine 2.11.92.

Tsikata, E. Gender Analysis and State in Ghana: Some Preliminary Issues in Engendering Social
Sciences. Dakar: CODESRIA, 1990.


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Beyond Rights Talk and Culture Talk. Mahmood Mamdani (ed). New York: St. Martins'
Press, 2000. Pp.170.

Beyond Rights Talk and Culture Talk emerged from the papers presented at a conference on
Cultural Transformations in Africa, held at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in
March 1997. Beyond the "Talks" lay issues of the relations of power and identity, contest and
conflicts of interest, power and privilege, and justice and freedom. The essays draw from scenes
as diverse as Tanzania, the USA, Nigeria and India. Different disciplines, from sociology, law,
politics, political economy, and theology are covered; the diversity of fields and case studies is
indeed a strong point of the book. Despite the variety of the text, there are some regions that are
unfortunately neglected. For instance, a look a China would have been useful because a focus of
Western relations with China in recent years has been couched in terms of human rights. Thus a
critical examination of the human rights issue from Chinese perspective would have been
especially relevant.
That said however, the subject is topical particularly in the African context, which is
experiencing a series of economic, social and political crises, in which zealot-like social
engineers forcefully impose social models or ideas on a disempowered citizenry. It is no
wonder then, if the rights movement, as Mamdani notes, "is intolerant of competing world-
views... [tending] to dismiss every local cultural assertion as masking a defense of privilege and
inequality at the expense of the individual rights of the disadvantaged in the same society
(p.3)."
Martin Chanock argues that the cultural-orientation of rights in Western cultures is noted
by African states whose leaders "have tried to push rights issues out of the realm of both state
and society and into that of 'culture' (p.35)." But this does not "dispose of the question of the
desirability of 'rights' being universal (p.19)." On the other hand, Thandabanto Nhlapo observes
that rights talk continues to be problematic in non-Western settings. First, in its ordinary
perception of who is entitled to what, and secondly, there is the perception that the historical
origin of the "rights talk" is linked to Western value systems (p.137). It is questionable whether
the ratification of rights conventions would achieve expectations that are difficult to fulfill in the
context of "Third World, poor, rural, non-Christian, drought stricken and war-torn or other
specific situations (p.138)." However, it should be emphatically stated that none of these
arguments justify appalling human rights violations by some repressive regimes in Africa.
Issa Shiviji explains the relativism of the notions of rights and justice manifested along
customary, state and religious laws. He places his analysis in the context of land tenure in
Tanzania and concludes that for a consensual national ideology to exist, there ought to be a
contest between Western-statist-liberal concepts of justice and rights and the social democratic
conceptions and perceptions -- the right to life and self-determination -- of the large majority
(p.60).
Writing on the US civil rights movement, Kimberle Crenshaw argues that the "rights
discourse can both facilitate transformative processes and insulate and legitimize power (p.63)."
While the era in which the civil rights movement in the US produced meaningful reformist
victories has come to a close, it is the same tone that creeps into the contemporary human rights


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82 I BOOK REVIEWS


discourse in Africa as something with the vision for social change. The confrontation between
"modernity" and "tradition" is evident.
In the case of India's Uniform Civil Code, which makes provisions for individual and
collective rights, the confrontation plays out between women's rights, and the rights of religious
communities to maintain their ways of life. There, the feminist debate is locked within the
perception of modernity as a liberator hero, while, at the same time tradition is viewed as "the
quiet and dignified defense against the alienating, dislocating thrust of modernity (p.75)."
The tension for varying rights is even more acute in Africa. According to Hussaina
Abdullah, the right movements in Nigeria focuses around religious revival, human rights
activism and women's rights. While the trends of religious "fundamentalism" is becoming all
too common in many countries of Africa, the Nigerian state was interested in women's issues
promoting the process of democracyy" or "state feminism" linked to the "First Lady"
phenomenon and supported by international organizations (p.96). This essay puts in clear focus
the economic and political circumstances through which assorted social movements came to the
fore. Noting the problematic of different human rights movements, Abdullah prescribes "a
more inclusive and holistic concept of human rights that will embrace the needs and aspirations
of all minority and historically marginalized groups, including women (pp.119-120)."
Just as the civic rights movements in the US were allied with the religious community, in
South Africa the history of religion and the support of church leaders including Desmond Tutu
may explain its importance in the anti-apartheid struggle and its liberation theology. According
to Ebrahim Moosa, in the 1980s different religious groups formed a coalition whose
"representatives articulated a social message rooted in their respective religious teachings
against the evil of enforced racial separation (p.123)." In what is described as "one of the most
advanced liberal documents of its kind," the South African Constitution is given to increasingly
secularized framework, and it is "bound to impact on the transformation of religion (p.134-5)."
In sum, the book is a commendable work; it is a superb resource for human rights activists,
theorists, law professionals, sociologists, feminists and Africanists. It contributes to our
understanding of intense conflict underpinning what occurs within a "cultural transformation,"
from which most readers will benefit.

Seyoum Hameso
The Sidama Concern
Essex, UK




The Midfielder's Moment: Coloured Literature and Culture in Contemporary South Africa.
Grant Farred. Boulder: Westview Press, 2000. Pp. 178.

In the aftermath of the recent local elections in South Africa, Hugh Nevill in the Mail &
Guardian (7.12.2000) quoted various sources to say how "the DA's [the Democratic Alliance, the
main opposition to the ANC] supporters-mainly whites and coloureds-turned out in large
numbers, but that many black ANC supporters stayed home [....] the voting seemed to confirm


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BOOK REVIEWS I 83


Mbeki's statement that the country was one of two nations-one black and one white." The
race/class chasm crystallized by the elections shows the relevancy and timeliness of Grant
Farred's book on the position of the coloured community in South Africa. Coloureds are spoken
of as white when they vote white, and their own racial history-their colouredness-is silenced.
Farred's discussion of the dynamics of this silencing should be of interest to researchers and
students of South African literature, culture and society, and in particular, cultural /
postcolonial theory.
In three chapters on literature and three chapters on sports, The Midfielder's Moment deals
with the coloured community in apartheid (from around 1960) and post-apartheid South Africa.
Following an introductory chapter on the problematic of South African colouredness, chapter
one ("Writing in a Twilight Zone") deals with the short story writer and novelist Richard Rive.
Rive wrote about race, but did not establish in his writing a distinct coloured identity for
himself because of his belief that blackness included coloureds (Farred generally conflates the
writers and their texts in his literary analyses). As Farred writes, Rive's "belief in
nonracialism... inhibited his capacity to name himself-and his racial identity-accurately (52)."
Chapter two ("The Poetics of Partial Affiliation") deals with the poet Arthur Nortje. Nortje
wrote about being coloured and the paradox of being neither African nor European, while
simultaneously having ties to both worlds. In Farred's reading, Nortje's was more a biological
than a constructionist understanding of colouredness. He wrote "about how the miscegenated
past articulates itself through (and sometimes despite the denial of) the coloured body (65)."
Nortje was neither debilitated nor silenced by his 'shameful origins,' but wrote about those
origins in an attempt to construct a place, a belonging, for the coloured community in South
Africa.
The third chapter ("Searching for Colouredness") discusses the poet Jennifer Davids, who
does not write about colouredness. Her "originality resides not in her refusal to be
representative of a particular racial experience, but in her ability to do so elliptically (87)."
Indeed, David's intentional neglect of the coloured voice "serves only to draw attention to its
absence (98)." Farred's conclusions serve convincingly in his problematization of colouredness
in South African writing. The three writers demonstrate different ways of dealing with their
colouredness: Rive sought to transcend the term coloured, Davids to erase it, while Nortje
painfully examined it as a 'racial interregnum (17)."
The second half of the book moves into the politics of sports in apartheid and post-
apartheid South Africa. This intersection is where sports and race issues meet in Farred's use of
the term 'midfielder.' Farred writes, "in football, midfielders represent the links between defence
and attack, much as the coloured community constitutes the physical connection between black
and white communities....Midfielders, like all footballers, have only a moment to make up their
minds, and the fate of a contest depends on their decisions (19)." Presumably, the midfielder
analogy does not imply that coloureds have had much of a choice, as in reality only a few could
have had the possibility of 'passing' (as in passing for black or white, thereby deciding the 'race-
game').
In chapter four ("'Theatre of Dreams': Mimicry and Difference in Cape Flats Township
Football"), Farred presents the fascinating international team affiliations of blacks and coloureds
in Cape Town townships. Farred found blacks to be exhibiting postcolonialist or Africanist


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84 I BOOK REVIEWS


leanings in their support of Brazil or Soweto football teams while coloureds largely supported
English clubs. "The very names of English clubs carried with them, in those early days [of
forced removals] when 'community' was spoken of in the past tense [...] the possibility of
cultural and political survival (119)." Here, as in the rest of the sports section, one cannot help
wondering if this is also how the women 'survived'? Unfortunately however, a discussion of
gender issues is absent from the volume.
Chapter five ("The Nation in White") deals with cricket, where, again, Farred observes that
the coloured and apartheid history of the sport is being erased. The South African team remains
(with one or two exceptions) a wholly white one, and thus participates in a "trek into the
postapartheid future emblazoned with the symbols of the apartheid past (146)." The team's
coloured player, Paul Adams, is "being asked to make history bereft of basic resources such as
cultural memory or the ideological traditions of his embattled community," in the name of that
South African spirit of reconciliation that Farred criticizes because it mutes coloured history
(149).
Chapter six ("McCarthyism, Township Style") uses footballer Benni McCarthy as an
example of the appropriation of a sports hero in nation-building rhetoric. McCarthy's
"colouredness has to be, in the same rhetorical maneuver, acknowledged and denied: It has to
be implicitly recognized so that, through him, his community can be incorporated into the
nation. It has to remain, however, an unspoken-and unspeakable-identity because to publicly
emphasize it would be to remind the nation of his racial difference, of his liminal blackness and
of the marginal, conflicted relationship the coloured community has to the postapartheid state
(158)."
As evidenced by Farred's strong language in the above passage, the book presents a
passionate critique of reconciliation rhetoric in contemporary South Africa. In its current form,
reconciliation erases the coloured past and deprives the community of its cultural memory.
"The new South Africa is no less politically expedient than the old, appropriating, reinscribing,
eliding, or exaggerating racial sameness or difference as is ideologically useful (23)." Farred is
outspoken in his criticism of the ANC government in this respect: he knows who his heroes are,
and where they come from, and he does not like the way they are being tackled when they are
off the field.

Ann Langwadt
University of Copenhagen




United States Interests and Policies in Africa: Transition to a New Era. Karl P. Magyar (ed).
New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc., 2000. Pp. 193.

It should come as no surprise that a book on US-African relations makes for a relatively
slim volume. However, United States Interests and Policies in Africa serves as an excellent primer
for the new student of US-African affairs.


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BOOK REVIEWS I 85


The editor of the book, Karl P. Magyar, who wrote three of the book's seven chapters, states
in the introduction: "Generally, the shifts over time in America's perceptions of the African
continent reflect great initial apprehension of the importance of Africa's emerging state entities
whose potential role in the Cold War was very uncertain." This "apprehension" could be the
hallmark of any era when changes occurr on the global scene. As a fledgling nation, the United
States, seemed mostly concerned with North Africa (due to shipping interests in the
Mediterranean Sea) and the slave trade off West Africa. The United States generally kept a
distance from matters involving the eastern, southern, or interior regions of the continent,
which were the domain of the European powers.
Delving into more recent history of US-African interaction, Mohamad Z. Yakan describes
the relationship between the nations of the Mahgreb and the United States quite clearly. His
historical overview is enlightening and solid. His finding that geopolitics (protecting Europe
and the transport of oil) will continue to determine the nature of American policy regarding
North Africa is spot on. Additionally, Yakan's treatment of US-Egyptian relations-as an example
of the exception to the rule in US-North African relations-is as concise as it is thorough.
However, Yakan gives little attention to Islamic fundamentalism in places like Algeria. He
makes a sweeping generalization in his final passage:

"So far, however, religious extremism in North Africa as elsewhere in the Arab/Muslim Worlds
continues to be a highly misunderstood phenomenon in the US. Clearly, as long as this
misunderstanding remains, and as long as the political and economic factors underlying the
rationale of religious extremism persists, American foreign policy objectives in North Africa
will continue to be under siege in some quarters."

Though his conclusion is indeed vague, it does not detract from the overall analysis.
Another problem with the chapter however, was a neglect of detail. Yakan, for instance,
mistakenly dates Iraq's invasion of Kuwait as August 2, 1991, when in fact, it occurred on
August 2, 1990. Though this error may simply be the result of sloppy scholarship or inattentive
editing, it is not a trivial mistake for students of the Middle East: it is as if the date of Japan's
attack upon Pearl Harbor was mistakenly identified as December 7, 1940, rather than December
7, 1941.
In the chapter on West Africa, Earl Conteh-Morgan describes the effects of neglect on the
region, particularly since the fall of the Soviet Union. He writes:

"Far from ameliorating civil conflict, the post-Cold War situation and the process of
democratization has exacerbated or enabled societal cleavages in particular ethnic conflicts, an
insurgency against the state (Sierra Leone), until the election a stalemated situation among
warring factions (Liberia), overthrow of one of Africa's longest 'democratic' regimes (Gambia
under President Jawara), ethnoregional-based regime intransigence (Togo), and the tenacity of a
northern-dominated, self-perpetuating military oligarchy (Nigeria)."

While the conclusion of the Cold War cannot be held as wholly responsible for the above
laundry list of calamities and upheaval, the lack of superpower interest has contributed to this


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86 I BOOK REVIEWS


situation. In a telling example, the US has failed to replace a Voice of America transmitter and
an intelligence listening post in West Africa. Despite the apparent lack of interest in the region,
strategic or otherwise, Nigeria, will, in the foreseeable future, play a potentially large role in
America's global oil-power game.
Essentially the same indifference by US policymakers regarding the western part of the
continent is repeated in both the east and the center regions of Africa. Aside from the adventure
earlier in the 1990s in Somalia, US policymakers have been content with letting events take their
course in eastern Africa. In Sudan, for example, where famine and inter-religious warfare have
killed countless numbers of people, the US remains disengaged-if not disinterested. While the
US has enacted modest measures here (as well as in Rwanda and Burundi), Washington D.C.
has not made any serious overtures indicating their willingness to actively involve themselves
in helping bring the conflicts to a close or better the lives of the citizenry of these nations.
Magyar, in his chapter about southern Africa, controversially states that this area of the
continent has received more attention in the US due to the number of caucasians who live (and
once ruled) there. Even so, with the threat (real or not) of a Soviet takeover eliminated, the US,
Magyar says, will most likely limit its activities in the region.
In his closing remarks, Magyar writes that it will take an "unprecedented global
commitment" to address the many needs of modern African nations. This statement however,
amounts to little better than wishful thinking, since he does not reveal how such involvement
would increase the bottom line for the developed world. Overall though, United States Interests
and Policies in Africa is an excellent starting point for understanding the origins of modern
American policymaking with regard to Africa.

Sean Patrick Murphy is a Consulting Editor for Current History magazine and an International
Affairs Researcher for the Foreign Policy Association.




Street Children in Kenya: Voices of Children in Search of a Childhood. Philip Kilbride,
Collete Suda, Enos Njeru. Westport: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, 2000. Pp. 184.

Street Children in Kenya provides an in-depth examination of the experiences of street
children in Nairobi, Kenya. Drawing from participant observations, individual and focus group
interviews, the authors, Kilbride, Suda, and Njeru allow readers to confront the harsh realities,
suffering, and survival skills of nearly 400 of the over 40,000 homeless children in Nairobi.
These children are part of the over 110,000 children described by UNICEF as "in need of special
protection" (GOK/UNICEF, 1998). Reflecting the anthropological and sociological backgrounds
of the scholars, the book's initial chapters introduce the methodology and background for the
study, including a description of the study's setting, Nairobi, and relevant information on the
communities studied. The text also provides information on social and cultural issues affecting
families (e.g., the weakening of family structures due to poverty, the impact of AIDS, and
government sanctioned ethnic conflicts), which have contributed to the rapid rise in the number
of children living and working on the street. Even though only one chapter is solely devoted to


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BOOK REVIEWS I 87


the narratives of the children, most chapters are infused with humanizing accounts and
perspectives on the children's lives. A unique contribution of the study is its methodology,
which involved giving older street children cameras to document their daily life, thus greatly
personalizing the book, since the children were allowed to tell their own stories. A more
traditional scholarly analysis is presented in the final chapter, which addresses policy
implications, particularly with regards to long-term, culturally framed solutions to this complex
and growing problem.
Street Children in Kenya addresses a critical, global issue that is, in many ways, a by-product
of rapid globalization, structural adjustment programs, and increasing poverty and
urbanization. Street children and young mothers have become part of the landscape in most
Kenyan cities and towns. Many Kenyans are fearful of street children and look upon them as
criminals, due in part to their increasingly bold begging and extortion techniques. Those who
combat this situation often feel helpless when confronted with the enormity of the problems
and the lack of infrastructure and policy initiatives designed to alleviate the crisis. A recent
UNICEF program however, has targeted more funding toward this issue and some, often
ineffectual, government actions have begun to address it. Government responses have included
large scale round-ups and arrests of street children on vagrancy charges and holding them in
remand homes without provisions, to funding more vocational training and housing programs,
many run by churches and NGOs. This book's publication is well timed then, given the urgency
of this issue and the fact that there is a growing number of organized initiatives, as well as
increased media attention.
Professor Philip Kilbride is one of relatively few researchers who has done sustained
research on homeless children in Kenya. This book thus builds on his earlier anthropological
work (Kilbride & Kilbride, 1990), which investigated the impacts of social, economic and
cultural change on family life in Kenya. The earlier work examined changing family roles, the
increase in single parent families, and impacts of dislocation, urbanization, and austerity
measures on families living in poverty all of which bear responsibility for the rapid increase in
street children. In his writing, Kilbride conveys humor and humility in describing his initial
experiences with street children in Nairobi, as he tried to build rapport and find informants to
assist him in the research. Not surprisingly, many of the boys he initially befriended viewed
him primarily as a tourist, and, as such, someone to "hustle" for resources.
Given the paucity of authentic cross-cultural collaborative research, we considered the
Kenyan-U.S. research team a strength of this study. We found that this "insider-outsider"
collaboration helped give an accurate representation of the issue of street children in Kenya,
which is often lacking in work done by foreign authors. Such efforts contribute to the long and
complex process of decolonizing (Gandhi, 1998, Smith, 1999) research in Africa and to the
quality and depth of the research. Although it may not explicitly draw from cultural geography,
much of the book brings readers into the hidden spaces as well as the public places inhabited by
the street children. We gain access to their temporary "housing," recreation, daily rituals, and
work in a wealth of details that interviews alone would not have provided.
Another strength of this volume is that it portrays street children not just as hapless victims
and objects of pity, but as children who possess hopes, dreams for their future, and feelings of
responsibility for each other. Although it does not turn away from the harsh realities of the


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88 I BOOK REVIEWS


street-the beatings, rapes, prostitution and drug use (particularly glue sniffing)-this book makes
it clear that in most cases, street children are both proactive and resilient even in the face of
these extremely difficult circumstances.
We found very little to critique in this book, and consequently, we have only a few minor
quibbles. Considering the personal nature of the book, we were a bit surprised that it did not
include any photographs-particularly some of the pictures that were taken by some of the
children who participated in the research. Given that this study frequently refers to street
children in Westlands, an affluent suburb, we also would have liked to have seen a discussion
of whether there might be any differences between the survival skills of these children and
those who beg in downtown Nairobi. Although the authors acknowledge crimes committed by
street youth, they clearly are more concerned with the human rights violations committed by
Kenyan police, reservists, and askaris (guards). While we agree with this well documented
critique (Human Rights Watch Africa, 1997), it should have been noted that the rationale for
these police actions against street children is the threat they pose to Kenya's number one
business: tourism.
In terms of the recommendations made in the final chapter, we found many familiar
themes. However, in practice most, if not all, of the proposed solutions have been tried and few
have worked. This is likely due to the overwhelming impact of persistent poverty and lack of
sustainable, structural solutions. Universal education, for example, is a fine slogan, but in
reality, most families cannot afford to educate their children beyond primary school. Youth
with only a primary education are ill prepared to compete in the rapidly changing, globalized
job market, particularly given the high rates of unemployment, impacts of imposed austerity
measures, and other economic factors.
This book will be of interest to researchers in several disciplines, including African studies,
cultural anthropology, family sociology, education, and childhood studies, as well as to a wide
array of readers, including human rights advocates, and policy-makers. The examination of the
gritty everyday lives and mapping of the urban terrains or geographiess of exclusion" (Sibley,
1995) inhabited by these children make for compelling reading and calls upon the reader to take
action or become more involved in advocating for the rights of all children.

Patrick Wachira and Beth Blue Swadener
Kent State University

References

Government of Kenya (GOK) & UNICEF (1998). Situation Analysis of Children and Women in
Kenya 1998. Nairobi: GOK and United Nations Children's Fund Kenya Country Office.

Human Rights Watch/Africa (1997). Juvenile Injustice: Police Abuse and Detention of Street
Children in Kenya. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Kilbride, P.L. & Kilbride, J.C. (1990). Changing Family Life in East Africa: Women and Children
at Risk. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.


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BOOK REVIEWS I 89


Sibley, D. (1995). Geographies of Exclusion: Society and Difference in the West. London:
Routledge.

Swadener, B.B., Kabiru, M. & Njenga, A. (2000). Does the Village Still Raise the Child?: A
Collaborative Study of Changing Child-rearing and Early Education in Kenya. Albany: State
University of New York Press.




Fire from the Ashes: A Chronicle of the Revolution in Tigray, Ethiopia, 1975-1991. Jenny
Hammond. Lawrenceville and Asmara: The Red Sea Press, 1999, Pp. 456.

Jenny Hammond's Fire from the Ashes: A Chronicle of the Revolution in Tigray, Ethiopia, 1975-
1991 is a sympathetic account, based on extensive field observations, of the origin and evolution
of the Tigray People's Revolution Front (TPLF), the forerunner of the ruling party in Ethiopia.
Hammond's data derives from elite interviews of some TPLF officials, as well as rank and file
members of the party. The interviews with the leaders of the TPLF, including the current head
of government in Ethiopia, are particularly significant, since they provide insight into how these
leaders intended to portray both their organization and themselves.
Hammond collected the data in Tigray intermittently over a period of a few years
(December 1986-March 1987, May-July 1989 and January-May, 1991). Among other things, the
author discusses the changing role of women in the territory during the different stages of the
revolution the anatomy of famine in the area, and the military strategies used for taking on and
eventually defeating the superior forces of their opponents. The author spends a good deal of
space (esp. see pp. 34-41; pp. 98-101) relying stories told to her by prisoners who experienced
abuses at the hand of the Ethiopian government. With graphic detail, the book acquaints the
reader with the fundamental philosophy of the TPLF, while also putting into perspective the
changes that have since been introduced in Tigray.
Hammond's work is not, however, flawless. Some of the limitations of the book stem from
the research design she created to fulfill the goals of her study. She aptly asks at the outset,
'What drives a people over the abyss from fatalistic acceptance of routine misery to armed
struggle?' (p. 4) Despite such a clear thematic statement, she does not pursue its answer in the
most logical and helpful way, rather she instead dwells on disparate personal narratives,
thereby leaving the reader uncertain as to what conclusions or generalizations ought to be
drawn from the anecdotal evidence.
Another problem with the research is that there is some question with regards to the
author's ability to draw balanced and accurate conclusions. First, the fact that she was invited
by the TPLF (p. 9) to study the revolution makes the reader wonder whether she was able to
observe more than what the TPLF leaders allowed her to. And although Hammond did indeed
recognize this dilemma, she was not in a position to do anything about it: 'The Front has invited
me here to conduct an independent investigation, but I cannot go anywhere without their
support' (p. 31). Secondly, because she experienced the bombardments and raids of Ethiopian
MIGs along with her subjects, her analysis might be colored due to the bond that formed


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90 I BOOK REVIEWS


between her and the Front's members following their shared combat experience. Again, she is
cognizant of the potential for bias as the air raids turn her "from an observer of a revolution to
its participant (p. 5)."
The book is also full of extraneous personal details that are neither of much interest to a
reader nor which have a direct bearing on the subject matter. For example, there are passages
discussing her urge to urinate (p. 10); how many hours she spent at the latrine (p. 19); her being
sweaty and dusty (p. 41), and the like. While minor, these flaws, as they accumulate, tend to get
in the way of the discussion of the main themes and should have been eliminated through more
careful editing.
Judging also by the fact that the book reads more like a carefully-written diary than an
analytical account of a structured field observation, it might have well been titled "A Chronicle
of Jenny Hammond's Journey in Tigray," since much of what is written in the book pertains to
her encounters and experiences, rather than the revolution per se. To be sure, Hammond spent
much energy, as well as time, under truly dangerous circumstances (see for example, p. 115)
trying to observe first-hand what she could. However, the volume focuses too much on the
author's own story, to the neglect of her analysis of the events and personalities that are at the
core of the study.
Still, despite its minor limitations, the book is important for a number of reasons.
Particularly invaluable are the interview accounts of the TPLF leaders who currently occupy the
reigns of power in present-day Ethiopia. Upon reading Hammond's book, one is likely to gain
fresh insights into the philosophical, intellectual, and social origins of the policies of the current
regime. The book is rich in details and could easily become a very useful source of reference for
a comparative examination of the dialectics of movements that challenge the rule of established
governments in different parts of Africa and elsewhere.

Seifudein Adem
University of Tsukuba, Japan


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