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Title: African studies quarterly
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Title: African studies quarterly
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Uniform Title: African studies quarterly (Online)
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Language: English
Creator: University of Florida -- Center for African Studies
Publisher: University of Florida, Center for African Studies,
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Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla
Publication Date: Fall 2002
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Abstract: Presents "African Studies Quarterly," an electronic journal published quarterly by the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Posts contact information for the editorial office via street address, telephone number, and e-mail. Lists advisory board and staff members. Offers access to the current issue, as well as to previous issues. Contains articles and related book reviews. Provides information on submissions and links to "African Anthropology."
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Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, issue 1 (May 1997)-
General Note: Title from title screen (viewed Aug. 6, 1999).
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Table of Contents
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Full Text














African Studies Quarterly



Volume 6, Issue 3
Fall 2002












Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida


ISSN: 2152-2448









African Studies Quarterly

Executive Staff
Hunt R. Davis, Jr. Editor-in-Chief
Todd H. Leedy Associate Editor
Shylock Muyengwa Managing Editor
Corinna Greene Production Editor















































African Studies Quarterly I Volume 6, Issue 3 I Fall 2002
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 6, Issue 3 I Fall 2002
http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq










Table of Contents


King or Knave?: Felix Adende Rapontchombo and Political Survival in the Gabon Estuary
Jeremy Rich

Changes in Official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in Accra
Kwaku Obosu-Mensah

Domestic, Regional, and International Protection of Nigerian Women Against
Discrimination: Constraints And Possibilities
Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome

AT ISSUE

Globalisation, NEPAD and the Governance Question in Africa
'Kunle Amuwo




Book Reviews

In The Company Of Diamonds: De Beers, Kleinzee, And The Control Of A Town.
Peter Carstens. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2001. Pp. 257.
Sierra Leone: Diamonds And The Struggle For Democracy.
John L. Hirsch. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2001. Pp. 175.
Sean Murphy

Regionalization and Security in Southern Africa.
Nana Poku. London: Palgrave, 2001. Pp. 164.

Security and Development in Southern Africa.
Nana Poku. Westport: Praeger, 2001. Pp. 166.
Ian Taylor

Invisible Sojourners: African Immigrant Diaspora In The United States.
John A. Arthur. Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger, 2000. Pp 200.
Chima Korieh

Constitutionalism In Africa: Creating Opportunities, Facing Challenges.
Oloka-Onyango, J. (ed).,Uganda. Fountain Publishers, 2001. Pp. 244.
Doreen N. Lwanga

Africa's Challenge to International Relations Theory.
Dunn, Kevin C. and Timothy M. Shaw, (eds). New York: Palgrave, 2001. Pp. 242.
Seifudein Adem




African Studies Quarterly I Volume 6, Issue 3 I Fall 2002
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Pastimes And Politics: Culture, Community, And Identity In Post-Colonial Zanzibar, 1890-
1945.
Laura Fair. Eastern African Series. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2001. Pp. 370.
Jeremy Rich

























































African Studies Quarterly I Volume 6, Issue 3 I Fall 2002
http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq






African Studies Quarterly I Volume 6, Issue 3 I Fall 2002


King or Knave?: Felix Adende Rapontchombo and Political

Survival in the Gabon Estuary 1


JEREMY RICH


Introduction

In the late nineteenth century, the town of Libreville on the Gabon Estuary went through
numerous changes as it moved from a marginal French naval base to become the capital of the
rapidly expanding colony of French Congo. European officials, through a combination of force
and gifts, had managed to obtain control over the Gabon Estuary from Mpongwe clan chiefs in
the 1840s. 2 The French administration did relatively little to assert their authority before 1875.
However, those clan chiefs who had enriched themselves as middlemen between African
interior trade networks and Europeans purchasing slaves and ivory, lost both their monopoly
over trade and control over their dependents. As increasing numbers of Africans from other
regions including migrating Fang clans from Northern Gabon settled in the area, the small
collection of Mpongwe clans found themselves at odds with new rivals and an increasingly
forceful colonial regime by the 1870s.
Flix Adende Rapontchombo (1844-1911), the leading clan chief of the coastal Mpongwe
people, left a lasting impression on American and French visitors during this period, as the
greatest advocate of Mpongwe urban interests. Adende descended from the Asiga clan leader
Rapontchombo, who had become a major figure through careful negotiations with French naval
officers and European slave traders in the early nineteenth century. But Adende struggled to
retain a place in formal politics during and after the dramatic growth of French power in Gabon
in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Adende faced a dilemma that many African
political leaders confronted in this period. How to maintain their autonomy amidst the
imposition of an enlarged colonial bureaucracy, one that slowly superceded older ad hoc
arrangements between indigenous polities and foreign authorities. Emmanuel Akyeampong's
assessment of the last independent Asante ruler Agyeman Prempeh applies equally to Adende:
"For Prempeh the challenge was to situate himself in the discourse of modernity and
appropriate the empowering aspects of modernity while appearing demure and non-
threatening." 3 Adende drew from multiple, often conflicting ideas of "civilization" drawn
from Catholic priests, American missionaries, and French republican ideology to justify his
continued importance while defending his own interests.



Jeremy Rich is a Visiting Instructor at the Department of History at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He is
presently finishing his dissertation, "Eating Disorders: A Social History of Food Supply and Food Consumption of
Libreville and the Gabon Estuary 1842-1960."

http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v6/v6i3al.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 Rich


Adende's story is part of a much larger series of developments that posed challenges for
African political leaders and urban communities in West and Central Africa. Early efforts to
classify African political leaders in terms of either collaboration or resistance during the initial
moments of European occupation have now given way to less simplistic approaches. Scholars
have repeatedly criticized the paradigm of resistance/ collaboration favored by nationalist and
Marxist scholars of the 1960s and 1970s. This model paid scant attention to the lived worlds,
multiple identities, and internal conflicts in colonized communities. 4 In the last decade,
African historians have reconsidered relationships between urban coastal leaders who
acquiesced to European occupation and the multi-faceted apparatus of foreign authorities. For
example, wealthy and mission educated notables in colonial Lagos claimed a role for
themselves as cultural brokers, turning to diverse local and European intellectual traditions to
demand a role in shaping colonial policies. 5 Mtis and Muslim families in the French enclave of
coastal Senegal employed divisions in republican ideology as well as a shifting set of identities
that confounded colonial social boundaries to spread their cultural and economic influence. 6
Older legal and political institutions in Accra continued to survive with limited interference
decades after the formal occupation of the city by British forces in the 1870s. 7 Adende, though
less successful than some of his West African counterparts, also manipulated colonial
hierarchies and reshaped older notions of political authority.
One of Adende's most remarkable achievements was his recognition of multiple sites of
power and disparate attitudes on educated Africans among European figures in Gabon. His
long campaign to prove his worth to the French colonial administration reveals a complex series
of debates among Europeans over the role of educated urban Africans were to have colonial
rule. Like many of his fellow Mpongwe, Adende's ability to maneuver between local,
missionary, and secular idioms of power unnerved officials trying to keep a sharp distinction
between European and African cultures. 8 His experiences underline those recent studies
which question generalizations regarding French colonial policy of "assimilating" Africans
through European education. 9 Adende's case, while underlining these differences, also
exposes the importance of individual French officials in determining the limits of African
political authority. Fluctuations in his position often resulted more from the arrival and
departure of commandants rather than from shifting intellectual currents in high colonial
circles.
Adende's struggles also demonstrate how Western-educated Africans detected the
contradictions of colonial law as early as the late nineteenth century. Mahmood Mamdani has
argued that the colonial state was a Janus-faced entity that treated colonized Africans as a
racially defined citizenry bound by law and as subjects governed by a regime of
administratively driven justice. 10 Republican values and arbitrary forms of coercion/control
coexisted in French colonial regimes in Africa. Adende, recognizing the divergence between the
rhetoric of assimilation and the authoritarian nature of French administration in Gabon, pitted
the notion of citizenship against the oppressive, ill-defined power practiced by colonial
administrators. While efforts such as Adende's became commonplace in French colonies by the
1920s, his activities predate those of other West African political pioneers (such as Blaise Daigne
in Senegal) by over thirty years.


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King or Knave? I 3


Despite his importance to this period, Adende's career has received little attention from
scholars. Gabonese historian Anges Franois Ratanga-Atoz, author of the most comprehensive
description of the chief's career, has presented him as an articulate victim of French colonial
officials. 11 Ratanga-Atoz builds his review of the Asiga leader's life as an example of resistance
to colonial authority. While Ratanga-Atoz accurately depicts Adende's battle with the French
colonial administration between 1876 and 1900, he tends to downplay the Mpongwe clan chief's
determination to preserve control over domestic slaves and his own autonomy. Events after
1900 (left out of Ratanga-Atoz's account) highlight the incoherency of policies undertaken by
individual local administrators. American Protestant and French Catholic missionary material
unavailable to Ratanga-Atoz also sheds further light on Adende's negotiations with colonial
authority.
This essay explores Adande's attempts to place himself within the French colonial order
from his ascension to power in 1876 until his death. Rather than simply dissenting against
French authority, Adende presented himself as a loyal partner to missionaries and government
interests without denying his African cultural background. He carefully crafted identities from
a patriotic Catholic king to the Asiga clan leader, to bargain with rival missions and
government administrators in Libreville. The clan leader's strategies reveal a diverse and
complex intellectual background that transcended colonial categories of difference.
Nevertheless, the chief's versatility posed a threat to officials determined to place African chiefs
in a fixed hierarchical system. Adende's attempts to use republican arguments proved less
valuable than his personal relationships with local administrators. Instead of heeding the
chief's desires for opening alternative notions of modernity that allowed for African influences,
authoritarian French policymakers in Gabon allowed no place for autonomous African
participants in the colonial state.

THE FIRST RISE AND FALL OF FLIX ADENDE, 1876-1884

At the death of his father Dnis Rapotnchombo (the first chief to accept French rule in the
Gabon Estuary in 1839) Adende became the chief of the influential Asiga clan in 1876. His
territory, located on the south bank of the Gabon Estuary, was directly across from the French
colonial capital of Libreville. A former clerk for the French customs service and a product of
Catholic mission schools, 12 Adende seemed well placed as an intermediary between local and
foreign communities. By the late 1870s, the small Mpongwe community had lost much of its
former wealth and importance due to both the decline of the Atlantic slave trade and the
establishment of French rule. Adende therefore sought to reassert the political rights of the
Mpongwe and restore the power of clan chiefs.
The young chief allied himself with Catholic missionaries in Libreville. The French
Catholic order of the Holy Ghost Fathers (established in the region in 1844) had encountered
varied opposition from Mpongwe people. Indigenous supernatural beliefs, polygyny, and
domestic slavery all led to friction with missionary doctrine. 13 Adende, married to one wife in
Christian fashion, gave missionaries hope that he would provide a model for his subjects to
follow. Even priests' objections to domestic slavery quickly fell by the wayside. Father Pierre-
Marie Le Berre, Bishop of Libreville, wrote glowingly of the chief's faith:


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4 I Rich


Today, [Adende's 500 slaves] no longer are unfortunates who tremble before a master
having over them the power of life or death. They are now the servants of a master who
they love and venerate. Brought together in large numbers, they receive from his royal
mouth the words of God... 14

In a difficult mission field, Adende's ascension seemed to be a triumph and a indication of
the Catholic Church.
Claiming that he rejected local supernatural beliefs and the temptations of European
traders, Adende presented himself as a Christian monarch willing to serve the Church and the
French state. In 1877, he wrote the head of the Spiritan mission in France, "Advised without
doubt by the spirit of evil, the heathens who surround me do not take a liking to my position to
always remain a Christian..." 15 Since much of the power of clan chiefs resided in their
knowledge of mystical forces, 16 This stance could have put him at odds with others within his
community.
Adende also aroused mixed emotions among French officers in Gabon. Administrators
generally considered Adende as a "typical" Mpongwe: verbose, attracted to European clothes/
language but ultimately decadent and lazy. As a result of their early acceptance of missionary
education and involvement in the Atlantic slave trade, Mpongwe men and women had adopted
many elements of European consumerist habits. 17 They often dressed in European clothes,
used literacy to obtain skilled positions with traders or the colonial government, and believed
themselves to be the equals of Europeans. They refused to obey French demands for manual
labor, which they believed fit only for their slaves.
European and American observers in the late nineteenth century espoused ambivalent
views of the Mpongwe which often reflected in their portrayals of Adende. Officials and
missionaries alike repeatedly attacked the Mpongwe community's supposedly superficial
civilization, demonstrating a fear that European contact only weakened rather than improved
colonized peoples. 18 One administrator declared in 1873, "The Mpongwe continue placidly
their bestial and indolent life. In short, the Gabonese have all the flaws of a demi-civilization
without having its advantages." 19 However, missionaries and officials were divided over the
exact nature of this supposed decadence. Whereas officials tended to write off the Mpongwe as
inherently depraved without any hope of reform, American and Catholic missionaries believed
that the introduction of European traders into the region had created many moral difficulties.
European observers imposed these general positions regarding the Mpongwe on Adende.
Commandant Clment (1875-77), who believed the Mpongwe were "utterly wasted," thought of
the young leader as ambitious and "the most dangerous man" in Gabon. 20 In January 1876, he
accused Adende of resisting a forced labor policy recently imposed in Libreville. 21 The chief,
who had written a complaint to the Minister of Colonies over Clment's harsh policies in 1875,
appealed to Catholic missionaries. Though fond of Adende, his willingness to settle legal
disputes without government approval, his claims to royal status, his use of European military
dress, and his marital disputes all dismayed priests at Libreville. 22 But opposed to anti-clerical
administrators and defenders of the French monarchy, the Holy Ghost Fathers refused to
abandon their protg.


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King or Knave? I 5


Adende realized that his attempts to maintain authority and autonomy had created many
enemies. In 1878, he wrote Bishop of Libreville Le Berre:

[Satan], who knows what a fatal blow my union with the missionaries to do good brings
to his rule over [Gabon], makes many efforts to harm me. Men also have a large part in
these diabolic machinations.. .whites and blacks are all on my back... 23

Unfortunately, written sources and oral traditions on Adende do not furnish much
information on local attitudes towards the new ruler. European views on the chief dominate
the historical record. Government documents describe his dealings with members of the
colonial bureaucracy. Some officials, won over by the chief, tried to use him as an auxiliary.
Admiral Ribourg, Commandant Clment's immediate superior, assigned Adende to care for the
colony's cattle in 1877. 24 Henri-Clry, Commandant of Gabon in 1880-1881, assigned Adende to
mediate Euro-African disputes. 25 In turn, Adende wrote letters to the Minister of Colonies
proclaiming his loyalty to France. 26
Adende often presented himself as a French patriot and a stalwart Catholic. 27 At the same
time, he acted to defend his interests as a slave owner and an independent judge. In 1877, he
asked the commandant of Gabon to return runaway slaves to Mpongwe masters. 28 Though
willing to report certain information to officials, he settled some disputes over slaves and
supernatural threats without consulting state authorities. After finding Adende had allowed
one man to be tortured and had imprisoned another on charges of sorcery, a naval captain
demanded the chief's exile to Senegal for insubordination. 29 A French doctor wrote in 1877,
"[Adende] is accused on occasion of playing both sides and, by flattering both sides, to join with
those who appear to serve his interests best." 30 Many became skeptical of the Mpongwe chief.
Adende's tactics, rather than being seen as pragmatic political choices, provided
ammunition for Europeans convinced of his duplicitous nature. The pervasive stereotype of the
untrustworthy African servant, imperfectly educated and willing to betray Europeans, proved
quite effective in discrediting Adende. In 1881, a French naval officer had the chief arrested and
denounced him to his superiors as a drunkard dependent on superstitious beliefs. 31 After
Adende led a boycott against a French trader in 1882, his adversary wrote an anti-clerical
French deputy in Paris to put pressure on the local administration to recover the money. The
deputy mocked the chief's ties to missionaries as yet another terrible illustration of "false
civilization" introduced by misguided Catholic education. 32 Adende's links to the Church thus
weakened his position in Paris with the increasingly anti-clerical government.
Adende's position became extremely precarious between 1882 and 1884. He tried to
combat his poor reputation through letters to French senators, private citizens, and French
priests. One letter, reprinted in Le Monde, asserted his eternal loyalty to France and castigated
naval officers who claimed he depended on "fetishes" rather than the Catholic Church. 33 The
Holy Ghost Fathers remained loyal to their most prominent convert. 34 Henri-Clry's successor
Commandant Masson (1882-1883) did not concur. Much like his predecessors, Masson found
Adende's penchant for monarchy intolerable. He wrote his superiors, "this 'king' has returned
to the interior after saying it is due to him that there is peace in Gabon. He forgets that before
being 'king' he was a clerk at the local government warehouse making 30 francs a month." 35


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6 I Rich


Refusing to pay his salary as fixed by the 1839 treaty, Masson had Adende's Libreville house
stripped of its possessions and told an American missionary that the chief had poisoned his
recently deceased wife. 36
Adende tried several different strategies to handle the crisis. For the first time, he curried
favor with American Protestant missionaries hostile to their "Papist" Catholic rivals and the
French colonial regime. Adende told American pastor William Walker that Bishop Le Berre had
created problems for him and was "thoroughly disgusted with Roman Catholicism doubtless
because it works against him." 37 He then offered American Protestants the opportunity to
build a school on the Estuary south bank, where he stayed in seclusion out of reach of the small
colonial administration across the bay. Neither approach provided him much protection from
the French.
Adende faced his greatest challenge in late 1884. Masson's successor, Commandant
Cornut-Gentille (1884-1885), had Adende arrested in late October 1884 for supposedly enslaving
fugitives who had fled Portuguese plantations on So Tom. 38 The charges appeared dubious to
American missionaries in Libreville. 39 Government tolerance for dissent had ended. Cornut-
Gentille imprisoned Adende on a French ship and ordered his deportation to Dahomey.
Feigning a rendezvous with missionaries, the chief escaped the ship and, in a tactic worthy of
his resourcefulness, changed his clothes to elude French and African guards. 40 Hidden by
other Mpongwe, he immediately began waging a campaign to exonerate his reputation. He
even wrote a letter to the wife of Cornut-Gentille asking her to intercede with her husband. 41

BOYCOTTS AND BUREAUCRATS: ADENDE, COLONIAL AUTHORITY, AND THE
POLITICS OF REHABILITATION, 1884-1905

As Adende struggled for a new trial he remained a fugitive well into the 1890s. The French
administration in Gabon could not locate the concealed chief. Since many of his relatives and
supporters worked for the government, the inability of the administration to capture Adende
indicate that he retained the respect of Mpongwe people. 4 For the next decade, he lobbied
French senators and various missionaries for a full hearing of his case. 43 Despite his previous
criticism of Catholic missionaries, one priest even sent him paper and pens to write his letters. 44
Adende wrote French Senator Schoelcher and to a colonial court in Senegal asking to have the
charges against him dismissed. 45 After repeating his loyalty to France, he asserted, "the
Commandants of Gabon and the naval officers have always had the custom of abusing their
authority." 46 Noting that Senegalese rulers received many benefits from French overlords,
Adende demanded his full salary from the Commandant of Gabon and a payment for libel. The
Mpongwe chief thus presented himself as a victim of colonial administrators unwilling to
follow their own legal code.
Members of the French colonial administration responded to Adende's demands in diverse
ways. A French judge in Senegal stated the Mpongwe chief had not been convicted of any
charges and that Cornut-Gentille had overstepped his authority. 47 Senator Schoelcher passed
on the case to the Colonial Ministry. 48 Yet local officials disputed Adende's position. After
initially trying to settle the disagreement, Commandant of Gabon Pradier (1885-1886) reported
to the Minister that the chief was a pathological liar who was simply exploiting the navet of


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King or Knave? I 7


Parisians unfamiliar with colonial rule. 49 The Commandant considered Adende an example of
the corrupt and 'demi-civilized' Mpongwe, in his view "the most apathetic and lazy negroes in
the world." 50 Pradier's views, loaded with contempt for Africans who challenged rigid
distinctions between Europeans and Africans, won out over the Senegal court's legal
arguments.
Adende's attempts to retain control over slaves did not aid his cause. In early October
1886, some slaves who had escaped from the central Gabonese coast arrived in Asiga territory.
When Adende tried to put the fugitives into bondage, they fled across the Estuary to Libreville.
51 Pointing to this episode, the new Governor of Gabon declared Adende had shown his true
colors. In the Governor's opinion, this rebellious chief had duped Senator Schoelder with "long
words of civilization, emancipation of the black race, suppression of slavery, loyalty to
France..." 52 The fact Adende was a product of mission education thus made him even more
suspect to the governor.
Having little hope of a full pardon from French authorities, Adende refused to return to
Libreville. Apparently disenchanted with the Catholic mission's lack of assistance, in the late
1880 he again promised to support American Protestant missionary efforts. One American
pastor noted in 1888, "The so-called king of that country wishes to unite with us. I do not know
how far he may be sincere but our elders think he really does desire to reach the Lord." 53 At
the same time, Adende continued to lobby the Minister of Colonies and high-ranking colonial
officials for exoneration. 54
The Commissaire General of French Congo, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, who did not share
the disdain for Adende prevalent in colonial circles, tried to broker an agreement in 1891.
Adende rebuffed de Brazza's polite request to discuss the affair. After repeating yet again that
he would do nothing to harm France, he listed off his ordeals:

Lack of respect, suspension of my customary payment, other financial torts,
imprisonment (twice), an aborted exile... and [being forced] to hide myself... I will not
reappear in public until I have been rehabilitated by the French representatives in
Gabon. 55

Despite his skillful arguments, Adende remained a fugitive through the mid-1890s. 56
By 1896, three of Adende's daughters were mistresses of high-ranking colonial officers in
Libreville. 57 Though recourse to law did not tame his critics, relationships of a more personal
nature did advance Adende's standing. Missionaries often grumbled that nearly every
European officer had a Mpongwe lover in Libreville in the 1890s. 58 He did not neglect the
political possibilities of these liaisons. Though no evidence suggests that Adende's daughters'
relationships softened the opinions of commandants towards him. These connections allowed
Adende to make his presence felt in at least one major moment of strife between Mpongwe
leaders and the administration.
In April 1899, the French colonial administration decided to place a high tariff on a variety
of imported goods such as salt, alcohol, and tobacco. European traders tripled their prices on
these goods immediately afterwards. 59 Once announced, this decision incited great
dissatisfaction among the Mpongwe community. Imported alcohol played a major role in daily


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8 I Rich


social life, as well as marriage and funeral rituals. It also has become a means of exchange.
Thus, the decree weakened the buying power of African residents of Libreville.
Adende and his fellow Mpongwe clan chiefs rejected the arbitrary order. On May 8th, 1899,
they announced that they had a placed an omowetchi beneath the bridge at M'Pyra which leads
to the center of Libreville. This item remains shrouded in mystery. Connected with the male
power associations among the small Sk (Skiani) ethnic community, fragmentary references
describe it as an object, a spirit and a male power association. 60 In previous conflicts involving
European traders and slaves, Mpongwe clan leaders had announced its use as a means of
killing their opponents. 61 Clan leaders had used power objects in other social conflicts in the
nineteenth century. 62
Through the omowetchi, Adende and his cohorts asserted their authority over a variety of
groups outside their nominal control. They declared that the omowetchi would kill anyone who
entered a European store any Mpongwe woman who had sexual relations with a European. 63
Rural Fang food vendors refused to sell to white customers and as a result the Catholic mission
had to close its schools. 64 The prohibition against Euro-African relationships reinforced the
influence of male family members over women. These chiefs had also acted to protect their
consumption patterns from colonial state interference.
French tourist and government accounts of the boycott offer contrasting views on the role
of Adende. Baron Edouard de Mandat-Grancey, an aristocratic dandy who visited Libreville
several days after the end of the boycott, mocked the event: "It was about a strike of women, as
appeared in the old days in Athens, according to Aristophanes in the times of Lysistrata..." 65
Despite its supposed frivolity, the Baron also noted how the boycott caused great concern
among officials. He declared the boycott had been abandoned after Adende, the most respected
clan leader among the Mpongwe, was brought in chains to Libreville as the instigator. 66
However, the Commissioner General of French Congo declared Adende had negotiated a
settlement with the government and neglected any mention of food in his report. 67
French missionary sources suggest still another resolution. Infuriated by Adende and
Mpongwe chiefs when they no longer could feed their students, the Spiritan priests at Sainte-
Marie closed the doors of their schools. On May 14, several chiefs went to the mission to
discuss their boycott with Bishop Adam of Libreville. 68 Although the chiefs promptly declared
that they would allow an exception for the mission to buy food, the Bishop refused to reopen
the schools. 69 Two days later, the chiefs agreed to end the protest even after enduring a
tongue-lashing from Bishop Adam, who attacked polygyny and the chiefs' willingness to allow
female family members to become concubines. 70 The next day, missionaries at Sainte-Marie
received food while government officials decided to lower the surcharge. 71
The protest seems to have ended thanks to missionary intervention rather than state
decree. Adende acceded to Bishop Adam's imperatives because of practical concerns as well as
moral doubts. By cutting off students from school, Adam offered a threat to their social
advancement. Clan chiefs, though willing to oppose state taxation policies, did not want to
imperil their children's access to education and material benefits. Though Adende's exact role
in this affair is obscure, the documents again denote the complexity of his approaches. Using
local expressions of power and manipulating Euro-African relationships to challenge colonial
authorities, Adende showed the years had not dimmed his sharp acumen in dealing with


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King or Knave? I 9


Europeans. Through such tactics, Adende and other African leaders managed to strike both at
indigenous and French vulnerabilities.
The Asiga leader's political career continued its rocky course through his final years.
Individual administrators remained split over Adende. In 1900, the head of French Congo
grumbled that local officials had coddled the aging chief. 72 Still some European administrators
tried to incorporate him directly into the colonial bureaucracy. Around 1903, he collected taxes
for the French government on the south bank of the Estuary as a "native assistant." 73
Ambivalence surrounding Adende would again lead to disgrace. In 1905, officials stripped him
of his title for keeping some of the tax revenue he had collected. Much to the chagrin of his
former superiors, Adende continued to collect taxes and threatened to use his supernatural
power against anyone who dared to punish him. 74 After the Mpongwe leader wrote to the
Minister of Colonies yet again, the local administration eventually stopped harassing Adende. 75
Given his perpetual difficulties, it is ironic that a colonial inspector used this chief and his
troubles as an example of colonial mismanagement. In 1910, Inspector Frzouls from the
Minister of Colonies visited Libreville and scathingly condemned the Gabon administration. In
the year of Adende's death, the inspector lamented the administration's denigration of a man
who could have served colonial rule. Frzouls reported, "He is reduced to hiding in the forest at
the news that a European is coming. This attitude is not going to build up prestige [for the
government]..." 76 Whereas previous officials generally had no faith in African intermediaries,
Frzouls' position emerged in official policy after World War I through attempts to buttress the
declining power of African chiefs. Fearful of the supposed collapse of "traditional" society and
norms, administrators came to believe that chiefs needed their support. Such policies came too
late to allow Adende yet another chance for a comeback.

Conclusion

Adende's life illustrates the incoherence and changing attitudes towards the "civilizing
mission" in Africa during the early period of colonial French occupation. Rather than
presenting a monolithic position, officials in various branches of the colonial bureaucracy were
often divided over the legal rights and status of Africans. Such ambivalence offered some
literate individuals an opportunity to contrapose different parts of the French state bureaucracy
against one another. In his creative responses and challenges to local authorities, Adende took
advantage of religious tensions, sexual politics, and dissonance within the colonial state
hierarchy to create an independent niche for himself. Although willing to obey French
authorities, he also tried to protect domestic slavery and guard his own interests.
Raponthcombo thus drew from European and local idioms of political action. Much like African
residents of Dakar's quatre communes in Senegal or chiefs in the Ivory Coast, Adende's efforts
demonstrate the formation of a hybrid political culture among educated Africans. 77
His approaches also show the limits of these multifaceted strategies. Many European
officers ultimately feared or despised Adende and his education. Parisian deputies and
senators did little to support their African subordinate. Missionaries, rarely able to influence an
increasingly anti-clerical government, could not furnish their former student much tangible
assistance. Despite these problems, he remained the leader of the Estuary south bank and kept


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10 I Rich


his slaves. Given the number of African states and leaders devastated by early French colonial
rule, his survival itself was no small feat. However, his declining fortunes also show the
inability of educated Africans to gain much support in Paris against the caprices of local
colonial administrators prior to the First World War.
Adende's experience was much different than those of leaders elsewhere on the West and
Central Africa coast. Compared to Asante ruler Agyeman Prempeh I or the descendants of
Umar Tal in Senegal and Mali, Adende's pathways to accommodation only led to dead ends.
Why did other African leaders in a similar position receive better treatment from colonial
authorities than Adende? One answer might be Adende's confidence in French legal
institutions. Willing to reinstate representatives of pre-colonial polities by fiat, French
governors and administrators had less tolerance for chiefs that tried to deal directly with Paris
using legal strategies. Another possible explanation lies in divergent European attitudes
towards African political structures. No equivalent to Lord Lugard or Maurice Delafosse ever
emerged in colonial Gabon to argue for the usefulness of older African political institutions.
Adende's struggles left a major impact on subsequent anti-colonial protests in Gabon.
Later generations of Gabonese intellectuals and political leaders faced similar difficulties with
colonial administrators. Twenty years after Adende's boycott of 1899, Libreville town
protesters combined the use of power objects with lobbying of Parisian parliamentary
representatives to discredit local officials. 78 Lon Mba, the first president of Gabon, established
a relationship with colonial authorities similar to that of Adende. Another graduate of Catholic
mission schools, Mba used indigenous supernatural practices (such as the bwiti movement)
alongside French bureaucratic models to advance his personal career in ways that created
suspicions. 79 Like his predecessor, he suffered exile but then redeemed himself by convincing
French administrators he would ultimately serve their interests. Both cases illustrate how noted
ties between sorcery and bureaucratic models of political action actually from the dawn to the
twilight of colonial rule in Central Africa.

Notes

1. The author would like to thank the United States Information Agency and the Institute
for International Education for partially funding research in France and Gabon for this
project. He also shows gratitude to the following scholars and staff for their assistance:
Paul Gneno and the other staff members at the Archives Nationales du Gabon,
Libreville, the staff at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, the Archives
Nationales Section Outre-Mer at Aix-en-Provence, the State Historical Society in
Madison, Anthony Porter and the participants at the International Securities Studies
conference on Imperialism at Yale University, Dr. Phyllis Martin, and the anonymous
readers for comments and criticism on previous drafts on this essay.
2. For discussions of the occupation of the Gabon Estuary by French forces and African
responses, see the following: Deschamps 1965, 92-126, 283-345; Patterson 1975a, 90-92;
Bucher 1977, 224-231, 252-272, 297-319; M'Bokolo 1981, 29-48, 50-68.
3. Akyeampong 1999, 282.


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King or Knave? I 11


4. Starting points for reviewing the lengthy literature criticizing the categories of
"resistance" and "collaboration" are Cooper 1994 and Ortner 1995.
5. Zachernuk 2000, 21-43.
6. Diouf 1998, 671-696; Robinson 2000.
7. Parker 2000.
8. The attempt to suppress hybridity by colonial rulers has long been noted by historians.
For example, see Cooper and Stoler 1997, 4-11.
9. Conklin 1997.
10. Mamdani 1996, 19.
11. Ratanga-Atoz 1973, 161-208.
12. Archives of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers, Chevilly Larue, France
[Archives CSSP], Bote 4J1.3a, Lettres 1869-1872, Flix Adende to Dupaz, 23 September
1869.
13. The full scope of these debates lies outside the scope of this essay. See Gardinier 1978,
49-74.
14. Le Berre 1877, 439.
15. Rapontyombo 1879, 218.
16. Bucher 1977, 29-36.
17. Patterson, K. David 1975b, 217-238.
18. Attacks upon the Mpongwe for their supposed decadence in the late 19th century are far
too numerous to mention in their entirety. For examples, see de Compigne 1878, 58;
Briault 1930, 108; Payeur-Didelot 1899, 118-119.
19. Catteloup 1873, 472.
20. Archives Nationales Section Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence [ANSOM], Srie 2B28,
Commandant du Gabon Ciment to Ministre des Colonies, 30 September 1875. And,
Archives Nationales, Aix-en-Provence, Fonds Ministriels, Srie Gographique [AN FM SG]
Gabon-Congo 1-12, Commandant du Gabon Clment to Ministre des Colonies, 22 January
1876.
21. Ibid.
22. Delorme 1877, 137; Archives CSSP, Bote 4J1.3b, Letters 1877-1892, Lettres 1877-1880, RP
Stoffel to Monseigneur Le Berre, 25 April 1877 and 23 June 1877; RP Delorme to Trs
Rvrend Pre, 9 November and 10 December 1877.
23. Archives CSSP, Bote 211.5a, Deux Guines Diverses 1870-1891, Flix Adand to Bishop Le
Berre, 1 February 1878.
24. Archives CSSP, Bote 4J1.3b, Letters 1877-1892, Lettres 1877-1880, RP Delorme to Trs
Rvrend Pre, 6 August 1877.
25. Ratanga-Atoz 1973, 130-136, 168-169.
26. Archives CSSP, Bote 211.5 Deux Guines Diverses 1870-1891, Flix Adende to Ministre de
la Marine, 8 October 1878.
27. Rapontyombo 1878, 217.
28. Archives CSSP, Bote 211.5, Deux Guines Diverses 1870-1891, Flix Adende to
Commandant du Gabon, 7 June 1878.


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29. Archives CSSP, Bote 4J1.3c, Correspondance Le Trocquer 1872-1879, Captaine Le
Trocquer to Commandant du Gabon, 20 January 1878.
30. Barret 1888, 141.
31. Ratanga-Atoz 1973, 168.
32. Archives CSSP, Bote 211.5, Deux Guines Diverses 1870-1891, Folder 1881-1883, Copy
Journal Officiel, Debats Parliamentaires, 1 December 1882.
33. A copy can be found in Ratanga-Atoz 1973, 175-176.
34. Le Berre 1881, 411-412; Archives CSSP, Bote 211.5, Deux Guines Diverses 1870-1891,
Folder 1881-1883, RP Gachon, 2 February 1883.
35. AN FM SG Gabon-Congo 1-21, Commandant du Gabon Masson to Ministre des
Colonies, 11 April 1883.
36. William Walker Papers [WWD], State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Box 3, William
Walker Diary, March 30 and April 12, 1883 entries.
37. WWD, Box 3, William Walker Diary, 17 April 1883 entry.
38. ANSOM 2B13, Commandant du Gabon Cornut-Gentille to Ministre des Colonies, 26
November 1884; Ratanga-Atoz 1973, 178.
39. WWP, Box 1, William Walker Correspondence 1884, Adolphus Good to William Walker,
10 November 1884.
40. Archives CSSP, Microfilm T2 B3 Gabon, Journal de la Paroisse de Sainte-Marie de
Libreville 1870-1939, 4 November 1884 entry; Metegue N'nah 1974, 336-338.
41. ANSOM, 63 APC-1 Papiers Cornut-Gentille, Flix Adende to Madame Cornut-Gentille, 9
November 1884.
42. ANSOM 2B13, Commandant Gabon Cornut-Gentille to Ministre des Colonies, 12 and 16
December 1884.
43. Ratanga Atoz furnishes a full account of this correspondence. See Ratanga Atoz 1973,
161-208.
44. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, RP Gachon to Flix Adende, 25 January
1885.
45. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Flix Adende to Senateur, 12 January
1885 and 17 July 1886.
46. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Flix Adende to Senateur, 12 January
1885.
47. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Tribunal de Saint-Louis, 14 August
1885.
48. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Snat 6eme Commission, 24 July 1885.
49. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo 1-23, Commandant Gabon Pradier to Ministre des Colonies, 6
September 1885.
50. ANSOM 2B14, Commandant Gabon Pradier to Ministre des Colonies, 14 September
1885.
51. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Commissaire de Police Octave Pan, 8
and 11 October 1886.
52. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Lt. Gov. Gabon Ballay to Ministre des
Colonies, 13 October 1886.


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King or Knave? I 13


53. Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church of the USA [PCUSA Archives],
Africa Letters 1837-1903, Stanford University Microfilm Reel 18, Joseph Reading to John
Gillespie, 3 July 1888. Though never willing to convert, Adende provided great
amounts of support to American missionary Robert Nassau throughout the 1890s such
as ethnographic information on Mpongwe customs. See Archives Nationales du Gabon,
Robert Nassau Papers, Robert Nassau, "Autobiography," Unpublished manuscript,
1919,1032,1316-1317.
54. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Flix Adende to Commissaire Gnrale du
Congo Franais, 24 August 1890 and to Ministre des Colonies, 1 October 1890.
55. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Flix Adende to Commissaire Gnrale du
Congo Franais, 4 April 1891.
56. Presbyterian Historical Society, "Robert Hamill Nassau Selected Documents," MF POS
815 reel 2, Robert Nassau, Presbyterian Journal, 19 July 1894.
57. Archives CSSP, Microfilm T2 B3 Gabon, Journal de la Paroisse de Sainte-Marie de
Libreville 1870-1939, 25 May 1896 entry; Archives CSSP, Bote 4J1.4b, Correspondance
Gabon 1891-1920, Lettres 1893-1900, RP Adam to Monseigneur Le Roy, 1 June 1896.
58. Rich 2002b.
59. Archives CSSP, Bote 4J1.4b, Monseigneur Adam to Secrtaire Gnrale Grisard, 15 May
1899; Mandat-Grancey 1900, 32.
60. Missionary references are generally ambiguous. See Archives CSSP, Bote 211.4a, Vicariat
des Deux Guines Divers 1843-1869, RP Peureux, "Notice sur la ftichisme au Gabon" (no
date, c. 1859); William Walker Papers, Box 1, Correspondence 1864-1870, William Walker
to Commandant du Gabon, 26 June 1869.
61. William Walker Papers, Box 3, William Walker Diary, 19 and 21 May 1869 entries; AN
FM SG Gabon-Congo 1-7, Commandant de la Division Navale des Ctes Occidentales
d'Afrique to Ministre des Colonies, 22 July 1869.
62. Rich 2002a.
63. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16, Roi Flix Dossier, Commissaire Gnral du Congo Franais
Lemaire to Ministre des Colonies, 8 December 1900; Ratanga-Atoz, "Rsistances," 205-
206.
64. Archives CSSP, Microfilm T2 B3 Gabon Journal de la Paroisse de Sainte-Marie de
Libreville 1870-1907, 10-12 May 1899 entries; Archives CSSP, Microfilm T2 B2 Gabon
Journal de la Paroisse de Saint-Pierre de Libreville 1884-1914, 11 May 1899 entry;
Archives CSSP, Bote 4J1.7c, Correspondance Gabon-Brazzaville 1899-1946, Monseigneur
Adam to Monseigneur l'Eveque de Brazzaville, 15 May 1899.
65. Mandat-Grancey, Au Congo, 37-38.
66. Ibid., 40.
67. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16, Roi Flix Dossier, Commissaire Gnral du Congo Franais
Lemaire to Ministre des Colonies, 8 December 1900.
68. The following information is taken from Archives CSSP, Bote 4J1.4b, Monseigneur
Adam to Secrtaire Gnral Grisard, 15 May 1899.
69. The following information is taken from Archives CSSP, Bote 4J1.4b, Monseigneur
Adam to Secrtaire Gnral Grisard, 15 May 1899.


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70. Archives CSSP, Microfilm T2 BI Gabon Journal de Vicariat Apostolique des Deux-
Guines, 17 May 1899 entry.
71. Archives CSSP, Microfilm T2 BI Gabon Journal de Vicariat Apostolique des Deux-
Guines, 19 May 1899 entry.
72. AM FM SG Gabon-Congo IV-16 Roi Flix Dossier, Commissaire Gnrale du Congo Franais
Lemaire to Ministre des Colonies, 8 December 1900.
73. ANSOM 4(1)D4, Rapport Politique, Circonscription de l'Estuaire, July 1905.
74. Archives CSSP, Microfilm T2 Bll Gabon Journal de la Paroisse de Saint-Paul de
Donguila 1887-1919, 30 November 1905 entry; ANSOM 4Y23, Papiers Fourneau, Lt. Gov.
Gabon Noufflard to Commissaire Gnrale du Congo Franais, December 1905; Berre 1979,
183-184.
75. Archives CSSP, Microfilm T2 Bll Gabon Journal de la Paroisse de Saint-Paul de
Donguila 1887-1919, 10 March 1906 entry.
76. AN FM Affaires Politiques Mission Frzouls 1910-1911, Dossier 3123, Administration
General des Circonscriptions du Gabon, Inspecteur Gnral Frzouls to Ministre des
Colonies, 15 March 1911.
77. Other examples are detailed in Groff 1991; Diouf 1999.
78. For a discussion of these manifestations, see Rich 2001.
79. Bernault 1996, 216-234.

References

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Journal de la Communaut de Saint Paul de Donguila, 1885-1919.

Archives Nationales du Gabon. Libreville, Gabon.

Robert Nassau Papers.

Archives Nationales Section Outre-Mer. Aix-en-Provence, France.

Archives Privs, 63 APC-1, Papiers Cornut-Gentille.

Fonds Ministriels, Affaires Politiques, Mission Frzouls 1910-1911, Dossier 3123.

Fonds Ministriels, Gabon-Congo I, IV.


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King or Knave? I 15


Srie 2B, Ancien Correspondance, Congo Franais, 1848-1912.

Srie 4(1)D, Rapports Politiques, Colonie du Gabon, 1901-1960.

Srie 4Y23, Papiers Fourneau.

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Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article: Rich, Jeremy.
"King Or Knave?: F6lix Adende Rapontchombo and Political Survival In The Gabon Estuary."
African Studies Quarterly 6, no. 3: [online] URL: http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v6/v6i3al.htm


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African Studies Quarterly I Volume 6, Issue 3 I Fall 2002


Changes in Official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in
Accra


KWAKU OBOSU-MENSAH

Introduction

Urbanization is increasing in African countries. In 2000 the United Nations reported that
38% of Africans lived in urban areas. This figure is expected increase to 55% by 2030. 1
Urbanization presents both opportunities and challenges, but indications for Africa are that the
challenges outweigh the opportunities. Unlike many other parts of the world, Africa's
increasing urbanization has not been matched by infrastructural and economic development.
As Stren has noted, across much of the continent, basic urban services and infrastructure -
housing, water supply, garbage removal, road repair, public transportation, health, and
educational facilities are inadequate and in a deteriorating state. 2 Difficult economic
conditions have shrunk job opportunities especially in urban areas. Consequently, many
migrants to urban Africa face the reality of unemployment, inadequate accommodation, lack of
good drinking water, etc. In the face of an increasing unemployment rate in the urban formal
sector, many urban dwellers get involved in informal sector activities to sustain themselves. 3
This paper is about urban agriculture, which is one of the most important informal sector
activities chosen by urban dwellers in Accra. It explains why officials initially held negative
attitudes toward urban agriculture. It also identifies the factors that contributed to changing
official attitudes. It is noted that Ghanaian officials began supporting and even encouraging
urban agriculture once they realized the importance of the practice. Certain factors beyond their
control eventually compelled them to assume a more positive attitude. Understanding the
attitudes of officials is vital because urban agriculture cannot be profitable if officials
continually frustrate the efforts of farmers.
The cultivation of food crops on a large scale in the public and private open spaces of cities
in the developing world is common but has not attracted the research attention it deserves.
Therefore, it has been somewhat of an unknown or unacknowledged phenomenon to policy-
makers and city planners in general.
Urban agriculture is defined as the practice of farming within the boundaries of towns or
cities. Farming in this sense involves crop cultivation, animal rearing, fish farming, etc. In this
definition of urban agriculture, the location of farms plays the most important role. An urban
dweller who only farms or maintains farms in a rural area is not an urban farmer. There are two
main types of urban cultivation, enclosed cultivation and open-space cultivation.
To understand enclosed cultivation one needs to be familiar with building patterns in
Ghanaian towns and cities. Normally, a building is constructed on a plot of land that is fenced
or walled. People who cultivate in the enclosed areas around their residences are called


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20 I Obosu-Mensah


enclosed cultivators. Since it is expensive to own houses in urban Ghana (especially in Accra),
only successful business people, high government officials, and the relatively wealthy can
afford enclosed cultivation. 4 Although some enclosed cultivation occurs in the center of Accra,
most is done in the suburbs.
The term open-space cultivation is used for any cultivation away from the individual's
residence. Cultivated land is not enclosed by any wall or fence. Open-space cultivators are
usually of lower socio-economic status, i.e., unskilled workers and/or formally unemployed.
Most open-space cultivators do not know the owners of the land they cultivate because they
cultivate any land that is currently unused. Open-space cultivation occurs mostly around the
center of Accra. Enclosed and open-space farmers have different reasons for farming. Most
enclosed cultivators get involved in urban agriculture to cultivate vegetables for home
consumption, but for open-space cultivators, urban cultivation is a source of. While the
enclosed cultivators largely consume their harvest, open-space cultivators sell most of theirs. 5
A high percentage of Accra residents are involved in urban agriculture. An official of the
Agricultural Extension Services interviewed in 1995/1996 suggested that approximately half of
the residents in Accra are involved in the practice. 6 This is similar to the rates in other
towns/cities in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the UNDP, 80% of families in Libreville
(Congo), 68% of urban dwellers in six Tanzanian cities, 45% in Lusaka (Zambia), 37% in Maputo
(Mozambique), 36% in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), 35% in Yaounde (Cameroon) are involved
in urban agriculture. 7 In their study of Kampala (Uganda), Maxwell and Zziwa estimated that
36% of the population was involved in urban agriculture. 8 The involvement of so many people
in urban agriculture indicates its centrality amongst informal sector activities. 9
There are many reasons why urban dwellers go into agriculture but declining purchasing
power for many urban workers is an important contributing factor. Furthermore, urban
agriculture is potentially lucrative. 10 The risks of harassment and crop destruction by
authorities, loss through theft and predation, and other drawbacks are outweighed by the
perceived advantages and gains from urban cultivation. 11 The rural background of Accra
residents is another reason why many of them choose urban farming over other informal sector
activities. Many of them are migrants from rural areas who already possess agricultural skills.
Consequently, they choose the informal sector activity in which they have the most experience.

REASONS FOR THE NEGATIVE OFFICIAL ATTITUDES TOWARD URBAN AGRICULTURE

The precarious food situation in Accra suggests that urban agriculture should be a
potential area for encouragement and development in that city. So why is urban agriculture still
largely unrecognized and unassisted if not outlawed or harassed even in years of food
shortage? 12 This section of the paper discusses the main reasons why urban agriculture has not
always been encouraged in Accra.

PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS
In the past, Ghanaian officials did not encourage urban agriculture because of the
supposed hazards associated with it. Generally, officials agree that the use of biocides for
pest/disease control can reduce food crop losses, and thus ensure food supplies for the growing


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Challenges in Official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in Accra I 21


population. However, questions have been raised concerning their effects on human health and
the environment. 13 For example, the use of biocides in urban agriculture has been linked to the
bioaccumulation of synthetic organic compounds in aquatic life, particularly fish. 14 Similarly,
the World Resources Institute notes that runoff of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides into
urban rivers or streams is a significant source of water pollution. The use of chemicals in food
production is also thought to contaminate soils and crops. 15 Biocides like DDT have been linked
to the death of birds and have been banned in many Western nations. 16 In 1987 it was estimated
that approximately 10,000 people died and about 400,000 suffered acutely from pesticide
poisoning in developing countries. 17
During this study, one of the officials of the Agricultural Extension Services expressed his
fear of contamination resulting from wrongful chemical use. 18 He mentioned that urban
cultivators actually concoct chemicals that might be hazardous to humans. According to this
official, the average urban cultivator does not know much about agricultural chemicals, so he
considered these home-made pesticides to be dangerous. Therefore some officials argue against
urban farming, fearing that uncontrolled chemical use will contaminate urban soils and
drinking water.
Official skepticism towards urban agriculture is compounded by assertions that the
practice leads to an increase in mosquitoes. It is generally believed in the Ghanaian community
that rainwater accumulates in the axils of maize leaves and provides breeding places for
mosquitoes. On this basis, some officials argue that, in order to control malaria and other
mosquito-borne diseases, farming in towns and cities should be discouraged. Yet the belief that
maize crops provide breeding places for mosquitoes was successfully refuted by Watts and
Bransby-Williams in their 1978 study. 19 It seems likely that all officials are not aware of this
research.
According to Goodland et al, public health in the tropics, where mosquito-related diseases
alone afflict millions, necessitates the use of biocides for disease vector control. 20 However, the
widespread use of biocides often results in the emergence of resistant strains of mosquitoes and
other disease vectors. For example, by 1976, forty-three species of anopheline mosquitoes
(vectors of malaria) throughout the world had developed resistance to dieldrin, and twenty-
four species were also resistant to DDT. Resistance to these biocides by culicine mosquitoes
(vectors of yellow fever, encephalitis, filariasis, and dengue) increased from nineteen species in
1968 to forty-one species in 1975. As a result, some officials argue that if urban agriculture were
discouraged, the use of biocides would decrease in urban areas. Consequently, the emergence
of resistant strains of mosquitoes would be checked.
Other officials advocated the banning of urban agriculture on the grounds that the
production of food in the polluted environment of cities is inherently unhealthy. 21 Officials who
harbor this concern note that since urban areas are polluted by emissions from industries and
vehicles, food grown in the cities is not fit for human consumption. A study conducted by Anku
et al amplifies this concern when it warns about "the potentially harmful impact on human
health of growing vegetables in the urban environment.... through the potential plant uptake of
industrial pollutants in the soil, water, or air." 22 In addition, some officials argue that
uncontrolled animal husbandry within urban areas compromises public health. 23 For example,
in the Accra study, the officials shared the view expressed by an official of Ghana's Department


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22 I Obosu-Mensah


of Parks and Gardens who said, "animals in the city [Accra] are sources of bad odors. In
addition, there is always the risk of spread of diseases by animals roaming the streets." 24
Due to high fees for the use of tap water, urban cultivators use other sources of water
including gutter water and untreated wastewater. The use of such water may pose a threat to
human health, because many African cities have no quality standards or monitoring systems to
assess the purity of wastewater before it is applied to crops. 25 DGIP/UNDP has also noted that
irrigation with untreated wastewater is a problem, and recommends the adoption of low-
capital, intensive pathogen/vector elimination processes, as well as an assessment of crop
susceptibility to contamination. 26 Data collected in Accra during this study show that 42% of
the open-space cultivators use gutter water on their crops. Consequently, urban cultivators are
frequently accused of applying waste and polluted water to their land. One Accra resident
lamented: "Whenever you have the time I will take you to an area where a man is cultivating,
and you will see for yourself the type of water he uses. Anybody who sees the water he uses
will not touch his crops. No wonder, his wife sells the crops in Accra central, far away from the
cultivating area. I don't think the man himself consumes his crops." 27 The use of unwholesome
water by urban cultivators has prompted concern in Accra. An official of the Agricultural
Extension Services cited an example from Chile to support his position. In the early 1990s there
was an outbreak of cholera in Santiago after the consumption of tainted vegetables, grown in
metropolitan Santiago using water polluted by raw sewage. 28

ADMINISTRATIVE CONCERNS

Urban agriculture, like other informal sector activities, does not always conform to official
zoning and licensing laws. 29 The activity is perceived as ignoring city-planning codes. In Accra,
agriculture has not been considered a normal part of city life and town planners do not take it
into consideration. Consequently, land may not be legally purchased for the purpose of
farming. When some Accra city officials were asked whether a plot of land could be purchased
for cultivation they answered no. An Extension Services official insisted that title would not be
granted if a prospective buyer indicated that the land would be used for agricultural purposes.
30 Agriculture is not included in formal planning. As a result, unlike the construction of houses
that must follow certain building codes, urban agriculture does not have any codes. Therefore,
farmers cultivate anywhere they deem appropriate. This behavior has compelled some officials
to point to the unstructured form of urban agriculture as a reason to discourage it.

SOCIAL CONCERNS

Another important factor in understanding why some officials reject the practice is the
socio-economic background of the farmers. Earlier studies show that mainly poor, uneducated,
and unemployed people in squatter areas were involved in urban agriculture. 31 Such studies
seem to infer that official resentment toward the practice was due, at least partly, to the low
socio-economic status of the farmers. Sawio has argued that the increased involvement of
highly educated people in urban agriculture would help legitimize it, stating "the more
educated the players in the enterprise, the more likely will they be interested in protecting their
investments by influencing policies and regulations in its favor." 32


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Challenges in Official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in Accra I 23


Data from Accra indicates that prior to the 1970s most urban cultivators were night
watchmen, gardeners, unemployed, recent migrants, etc. 33 Only a few people from the
middle/upper socio-economic status category were involved. Since 1972, many Ghanaians of
middle/upper socio-economic status have become involved in urban agriculture. 34 During this
study, cultivators were asked about the first time they got involved in urban cultivation. The
response is indicated in the table below.

Urban Cultivators Survey


Initial cultivation Frequency %
Before 1966 20 10.0
1966-75 67 33.5
1976-85 55 27.5
1986-95 58 29.0
Total 200 100.0
Figures in the table indicate that a third of the cultivators in this study first got involved
between 1966 and 1975. Although not clear from the table, most people who began urban
cultivation within this period did so after the government introduced Operation Feed Yourself
(OFY) in 1972. 35 Many people got involved in urban agriculture after the first independent
Ghanaian government fell in 1966. That government had sought to maintain the so-called
beauty of Ghanaian towns and cities within colonial standards. Moreover, the economic
situation in Ghana was relatively good from Independence until 1966. The combination of good
economy and stringent government prohibitions kept the prestige of urban agriculture quite
low. This discouraged many urban dwellers, but especially the middle/upper socio-economic
category, from engaging in cultivation.
Similarly, more women than men were urban cultivators, because women were
consciously discouraged from actively participating in the formal work force. 36 For example in
Ghana: "... the African men were opposed to employment of women in the Civil Service. This
was based partly on the fear that, women, with fewer financial commitments, will accept lower
salaries than men, who will, as a result be unable to find work." 37 Many urban women could
not earn sufficient income in the distribution sector. Ghanaian women who were formally
employed were generally working in low paying positions. This is indicated in the
recommendations of the Civil Service Commission which suggested in 1951:
Apart from posts such as teaching in girls' schools, midwifery, etc., it is, generally speaking,
more economical to employ women than men on jobs which involve work of a routine or
manipulative and repetitive character not involving long and expensive training, and which
offer only limited prospects of advancement. We therefore recommend that the Government
should take such steps as are practicable to attract educated women into the Civil Service at all
levels, but practically in posts such as typists, stenographers, machine operators, and clerical
assistants. We consider that, other things being equal, preference should be given to women
candidates for such posts. 38


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24 I Obosu-Mensah


This means women did not generally have alternative sources of income. In addition, they
were concentrated in low paying formal sector positions and did not work much overtime.
Consequently, many women engaged in urban agriculture to supplement their food supply,
and thereby lowered the prestige of the practice.
Finally, during the Accra study some officials contended that since criminals may hide in
tall crops, the cultivation of crops like cassava and plaintains should not be encouraged in accra
center. Actually some urban farmers had been warned not to cultivate such crops. A man who
cultivates on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) land said, "officials of GBC say we should
not cultivate tree crops because they create shadow [hideouts] for criminals." 39

REASONS FOR THE CHANGE IN OFFICIAL ATTITUDES TOWARD URBAN
AGRICULTURE

Why are officials becoming increasingly positive towards urban agriculture? Their change
in attitude is due to both economic and socio-political factors. Government officials in Accra
tend to condone urban agriculture when Ghana's economic situation is bad and the cost of
living is very high. During difficult times, officials see urban agriculture as one way to alleviate
hardships related to food shortages and unemployment. If urban dwellers are not allowed to
subsidize their food purchases or to grow food to sell, they may become more alienated from
the government. Urban agriculture is seen as blunting those forces that might otherwise
compel them to agitate for a change of government. Government officials are also more willing
to allow urban agriculture if they perceive that many urban dwellers approve of it. Also, if the
socio-economic status of urban farmers rises, officials are more willing to condone the practice.
The higher the status of urban farmers, and the more prestigious the practice, the less likely it
will be prohibited. Similarly, if many government officials are involved in urban agriculture,
they will do little to discourage it.

Socio-political Factors
An increase in the number of elites involved with urban agriculture has helped to induce
government officials to take a positive attitude toward the practice. Politicians, professionals
and business people are very influential in Ghana and their growing involvement in urban
agriculture has raised its prestige. Government bureaucrats do not want to antagonize people
of middle/upper socio-economic status. Presently, many government officials in Accra
themselves are involved in urban agriculture, and rational people do not make decisions that
affect them adversely. Most of the officials interviewed stated that they are involved in urban
agriculture. In addition, they stressed that if they did not view urban agriculture positively they
would not have become involved. Those not involved cited constraints or lack of land around
their houses for cultivation. But these officials were not against the practice and indeed had
friends or colleagues who were cultivators. Some middle/upper income residents in Accra are
so enthusiastic about urban agriculture that they claimed the practice beautifies the landscape,
prevents land from reverting to bush, and helps drive away snakes or other undesirable
creatures.


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Challenges in Official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in Accra I 25


The use of universal franchise to elect political leaders has contributed to the condoning of
urban agriculture by Ghanaian politicians. The "one-man one-vote" phenomenon has
empowered the average Ghanaian, especially urban dwellers. Opposition to government has
usually come from urban areas so various governments spend a lot of resources to maintain
urban support. In order to win votes, politicians are increasingly accepting widespread but
illegal activities like urban agriculture.
Public opinion has also played an important role in official acceptance of urban agriculture.
Over the years, the general public has changed its attitude about urban agriculture. This study
solicited the views of non-cultivators about urban cultivation. Forty non-cultivators were asked
whether urban agriculture should be encouraged. All forty respondents answered in the
affirmative. They were also asked whether they would have given the same answer thirty years
earlier. Over half of the respondents said no. The remaining respondents did not know what
their answers would have been. Yet, most of those who said they would not have encouraged
agriculture in urban areas thirty years ago did not have any concrete reason. The words of an
elderly woman are typical:
Thirty years ago? Let me see... At that time, I just felt cultivation in the city was bad. I
cannot really tell you why I felt that way but it may be because of my experiences when I was a
young lady. I grew up at Koforidua, and my mother had a nice vegetable garden in front of our
house right at the center of the town. 40 One morning, Town Council officials came to slash
down every crop saying it was forbidden to cultivate crops in the town. In our neighbor's front-
yard was growing flowers. These were not slashed down. Thinking of it today, we were
allowed to grow flowers but not vegetables. I grew up believing cultivation of crops in urban
areas was bad. Today, I think otherwise. What use is it growing flowers instead of vegetables?
We need food not flowers. 41
Further questioning revealed that most non-cultivators had a positive attitude toward
urban agriculture for the first time in 1972 after the launch of Operation Feed Yourself (OFY).
The officials interviewed confirmed that implicit public approval of urban agriculture has
influenced a change in official attitudes. They asserted that if the general public was widely
supportive of the practice then the government would discourage it. Signs of public approval
include: Accra residents increasing their purchase of urban grown crops and an overall increase
in the number of urban farmers. Urban agriculture has effectively become an established
practice, further discouraging officials from opposing it. Prior to the launching of OFY,
Ghanaian officials had dismissed urban agriculture as ephemeral. However, officials now
realize the importance of this practice. The officials involved in this study were asked whether
urban agriculture was a permanent or temporary phenomenon. All of them believed that it was
a permanent practice. An Extension Services official in the Ministry of Agriculture stated,
"increasingly, many people are getting involved in urban cultivation and those already in it are
not abandoning it. So you can say it is a permanent practice." 42
Indirect state intervention also encouraged official recognition of urban agriculture in
Ghana. Through OFY, the government encouraged all Ghanaians, including urban dwellers, to
grow their own food. 43 In 1992 the personal intervention of the President of Ghana also helped
to encourage a positive attitude toward urban agriculture. That year, officials of the Department


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26 I Obosu-Mensah


of Parks and Gardens gave "stop cultivation" orders to a group of growers at a place near the
Osu Castle in Accra. One of these cultivators recounted the events:
When we received the order we came together and sent a petition to the President. We told
him that we are law-abiding citizens with no source of income aside from the income we get
from farming. Since we are not rich enough to buy land to cultivate, we cultivate public land
near the Castle. Before we started cultivating the area, it was bushy and many people used the
place as their toilet. Now the Department of Parks and Gardens say it is their land so we should
quit. What shall we live on if we stopped farming? We told the President that our initiatives
should be appreciated by the Department of Parks and Gardens because some people like us
[had been] roaming the streets stealing and doing other illegal things, and [now] we were living
a decent life. 44
Upon receiving the petition, the President met with the head of the Department of Parks
and Gardens and representatives of the cultivators. They reached an agreement whereby the
cultivators were permitted to farm part of the area and the Department of Parks and Gardens
agreed to maintain the remainder. After news of the President's intervention became public,
officials no longer asked cultivators to stop farming until an area was due for development.

ECONOMIC FACTORS
Certain economic factors were instrumental in changing the negative attitudes some
government officials held towards urban agriculture. For example, some officials have long
held the view that the country would eventually become more industrialized, and many
workers would subsequently be needed in the industrial sector. Foreign investors would be
more willing to invest in the country if they were sure of recruiting labor without much
difficulty. To have prospective industrial workers readily available it would be necessary for
some unemployed to stay in Accra and other Ghanaian towns. Government officials therefore
allowed potential workers to sustain themselves through urban agriculture and other informal
sector activities. As one official stated: "If urban dwellers were banned from cultivating in the
cities many would not be able to survive... and might even abandon the cities." 45
Allowing urban agriculture helps to remove the burden of maintaining a potential labor
force from the government. Since, rural laborers normally do not have the necessary skills to
work in urban industries, investors would have to spend a lot of money to train their workers.
By condoning urban agriculture, government officials allow some low salaried and
unemployed workers remain in the cities.
For Ghanaian government officials and employers, there is another advantage to workers
producing some of their foodstuffs: it enhances the stability of the economy. Workers agitate for
more pay they cannot easily afford basic commodities. By producing some of their food,
workers may not feel the realities of their exploitation, and be less willing to agitate for an
increased salary. 46 Workers are able to survive on meager salaries when they can subsidize food
purchases through urban agriculture. In addition, the employer does not pay as much for the
reproduction of labor. This is possible with the continued existence of non-capitalist structures
which provide support for the laborer but are not maintained by the wages paid. 47 Controlling
worker unrest and maintaining available surplus labor are some of the key economic reasons
why government officials now condone agriculture in urban areas.


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Challenges in Official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in Accra I 27


Nutritional Factors
Many sub-Saharan African countries import food and/or rely on food aid, indicating that
food supplies from the countryside are inadequate. As Sawio notes, rural areas often do not
produce enough food to feed both rural and urban people. 48 Some officials in the Ministry of
Agriculture confirmed that rural Ghana is not able to supply enough food to urban Ghana. Two
major constraints were noted: low productivity due to lack of agricultural technology and
insufficient infrastructure for moving produce to urban markets. 49 There is also a shortage of
foreign exchange to import food, so it has become more necessary for urban dwellers to grow
some of their food. When asked about the importance of urban agriculture, all the officials
interviewed mentioned, among others, that urban agriculture saves foreign exchange because it
is not used on the importation of vegetables.
The increased presence of vegetables, especially salad, in the diet of Ghanaians also
compelled government officials to acknowledge the existence of urban agriculture. With
broader general education, and knowledge of nutrition in particular, many Ghanaians have
become more conscious of the importance of vegetables in their diet. 50 In Accra, officials
involved in this study were asked whether the countryside is able to supply enough vegetables
to feed the urban population. They all answered no. An Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA)
official noted that logistical constraints, including the use of crude agricultural tools, a poor
transportation network, and lack of adequate refrigeration, prevent the countryside from
supplying enough vegetables to the urban areas. 51 For urban dwellers to have access to fresh
vegetables, it is necessary for them to engage in urban cultivation. An official of the Policy
Planning Monitoring Evaluation Department (PPMED) stated:
One might say that cultivation should be limited to the countryside. But we should realize
that we have to use vegetables in their fresh state. Therefore, the issue is that vegetables should
be sold or bought when fresh. That means, there should be an efficient transportation system.
That is not guaranteed, so the only alternative left to us is to grow vegetables close to the
market. Vegetable cultivation should be close to the market because most Ghanaians don't have
refrigerators. They should buy vegetables on daily basis. 52
An increasing expatriate investor population in Ghana encouraged the production of
vegetables in urban areas where expatriates are concentrated. It has also prompted urban
farmers to produce specific crops that this section of the population consumes. Products meant
for this group attract higher prices than those that target the local population. The broader state
goal of attracting increased foreign investment has thus indirectly led to the official
accommodation of urban agriculture in Accra.

Conclusion

The population of Ghanaian towns and cities is continually increasing. Yet various factors,
including the implementation of structural adjustment programs, have forced the rate of formal
and public sector employment down. Therefore many urban dwellers must seek employment in
the informal sector, making this an important source of income and food. Urban agriculture has
become one of the most important informal sector practices for city dwellers. Colonial
administrators did not recognize urban agriculture, and Ghanaian policy makers continue this


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28 I Obosu-Mensah


trend. This paper has demonstrated that, policy makers and other government officials initially
did not tolerate urban agriculture. They recognized only the potential negative effects of urban
agriculture on humans and the environment, citing the administrative, public health, and social
impacts. Eventually, socio-political, economic, and nutritional factors compelled officials to
accommodate urban agriculture.
Although Ghanaian public officials have become more positive toward urban agriculture,
they still do not do much to promote it. For example, no laws protect urban farmers and their
crops, and urban farming is still unregulated. However, as more middle/upper income people
become involved with urban agriculture, Ghanaian officials will likely do more to safeguard the
interests of urban farmers. Higher status urban farmers will also continue to invest more
resources into urban agriculture. If this trend continues, the state will likely give formal
recognition to urban agriculture and provide resources or policies that encourage the practice.

Notes

1. United Nations (1995). World Economic and Social Survey 1995. New York: UN
2. Stren, Richard (1989). Urban Local Government in Africa, in R. Stren and R. White (ed.)
African Cities in Crisis: Managing Rapid Urban Growth. Boulder: Westview Press.
3. This is not to suggest that the formal sector is more important job provider than the
informal sector. Data from various sub-Saharan African countries show that the informal
sector has always employed more people than the formal sector. However, most of the
people who migrate from rural to urban areas hope to secure jobs in the formal/public
sector
4. One should own a house or have secure tenure over a house in order to cultivate the
space around the house
5. It is difficult, if not inappropriate, to categorize Ghanaians into classes in the western
sense. This is because industrialization/capitalism is not developed well enough to
accommodate such categorization. Secondly, Ghanaians categorize people by different
yardsticks; notably wealth, government or official positions, educational background,
and success in private business. Wealthy people, as well as the highly educated, people
successful in businesses, and people occupying high government positions are termed
"bigmen," (middle/upper socio-economic status in this paper). In this paper, socio-
economic status is used in this sense.
6. Interview by author. Tape recording. Accra, Ghana, 1996
7. UNDP (1996). Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities. New York: UNDP
8. Maxwell, D. and S. Zziwa (1992). Urban Farming in Africa: The Case of Kampala, Uganda.
Nairobi: ACTS
9. See UNDP, 1996; Lee-Smith and Memon, 1994; Diallo, 1993; Mougeot, 1993; Maxwell
and Zziwa, 1992; Freeman, 1991
10. Dettwyler, Steven P. (1985). Senoufo Migrants in Bamako: Changing Agricultural Production
Strategies and Household Organization in an Urban Environment. Ph.D. (Thesis) Indiana
University.


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Challenges in Official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in Accra I 29


11. Freeman, D.B. (1991). A City of Farmers. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens
University Press
12. Mougeot, Luc (1993). "Urban Food Self-Reliance: Significance and Prospects," in Farming
in the City: The Rise of Urban Agriculture. Reports Vol.21, No.3. Ottawa: IDRC
13. Goodland, J.A., Watson, C. and G. Ledec (1984). Environmental Management in Tropical
Agriculture. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press
14. Chimhowu, A. and D. Gumbo (1993). "Urban Agriculture: Southern and Eastern
Africa," in Luc Mougeot and D. Masse (ed) Urban Environment Vol.1. Ottawa: IDRC
15. World Resources Institute (1992). World Resources 1992-1993: A Guide to the Global
Environment. Oxford: Oxford University Press
16. Hardin, G.J. (1972). Exploring New Ethics for Survival. New York: Viking
17. World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). Food 2000: Global Policies
for Sustainable Agriculture. London: Zed Books Ltd
18. Interview by author, op. cit.
19. Watts, T and W. Bransby-Williams (1978). "Do Mosquitoes Breed in Maize Plant Axils?"
Medical Journal of Zambia Vol. 12(4)
20. Goodland, Watson, and Ledec, op. cit.
21. UNDP, op. cit.
22. Anku, S., Doe, B., and Tetteh, D. (1998). "Environmental Assessment of Urban
Agriculture in Accra," in Armar-Klemesu, M., and Maxwell, D., (ed.), Urban Agriculture
in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area. Final Report to IDRC (Center File: 003149). Legon:
Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
23. Mosha, A.C. (1991). "Urban Agriculture in Tanzania," in Review of Rural and Urban
Planning in Southern and Eastern Africa. Vol.1
24. Interview by Monica Azinab, a research assistant to the author. Accra, Ghana 1998
25. Ibid
26. DGIP/UNDP (Division of Global and Interregional Programmes)(1992) Urban
Agriculture: Neglected Resource for Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities. New York: UNDP
27. Interview by author. Accra, Ghana, 1996
28. Bartone, Carl (1994). "Chile: Managing Environmental Problems. Economic Analysis of
Selected Issues," Report 13061 CH. Washington, D.C.: Environment and Urban
Development Division, World Bank
29. House, W. (1978). "The Urban Informal Sector: It's Potential for Generating Income and
Employment Opportunities in Kenya." Occasional Paper No.25. Nairobi: Institute for
Development Studies
30. Interview by author, op cit.
31. Sawio, Camillus (1994). "Who are the Farmers of Dar es Salaam?" in L. Mougeot et. al.
(ed) Cities Feeding People. Ottawa: IDRC
32. Sawio, Camillus (1993). "Breaking New Ground in Dar es Salaam," in Farming in the
City: The Rise of Urban Agriculture. Reports Vol.21, No.3
33. Officials, cultivators, and non-cultivators all confirmed this assertion
34. Since there are no data on this, I rely on people's perception of changes in the socio-
economic status of urban farmers.


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30 I Obosu-Mensah


35. Operation Feed Yourself is a program launched by the Ghanaian government in 1972 to
encourage the population to grow their own food.
36. Palmer, Ingrid (1991). Gender and Population in the Adjustment of African Economies:
Planning for Change. Geneva: ILO
37. Commission on the Civil Service (1951). "Report of the Commission on the Civil Service
of Gold Coast 1950-51." Accra: Government Publishers
38. Ibid
39. An open-space cultivator. Interview by author. Tape recording, Accra, Ghana, 1996
40. This woman grew up in the later part of the colonial period
41. Interview by author, op cit.
42. Interview by author, op cit.
43. The heat of Operation Feed Yourself died after two or so years so whatever official
encouragement urban agriculture received was short-lived.
44. Interview by author. Tape recording. Accra, Ghana 1996
45. Interview by author, op. cit.
46. It is assumed that the most important preoccupation of workers in Ghana is food. In
some companies workers are provided free lunch. This may also be a means of
preventing them from agitating for higher salary
47. Curtis, John (1995). Opportunity and Obligation in Nairobi. Social Networks and
Differentiation in the Political Economy of Kenya. Bayreuth: LIT Verlag
48. Sawio (1993), op. cit.
49. Informal interview with lower level officials by author. Accra, 1996
50. Previously, exotic vegetables like carrots and lettuce were considered food for the
affluent. They were not produced in any significant quantity in Ghana so they were
imported thus, making them very expensive. Vegetables as used in this work means
exotic vegetables
51. Interview by author, op. cit.
52. Interview by author, op. cit.


References

Anku, S., Doe, B., and Tetteh, D. (1998). "Environmental Assessment of Urban Agriculture in
Accra," in Armar-Klemesu, M., and Maxwell, D., (ed.), Urban Agriculture in the Greater Accra
Metropolitan Area. Final Report to IDRC (Center File: 003149). Legon: Noguchi Memorial
Institute for Medical Research.

Bartone, Carl. (1994). "Chile: Managing Environmental Problems. Economic Analysis of
Selected Issues," Report 13061 CH. Washington, D.C.: Environment and Urban Development
Division, World Bank.

Braun, J et. al. (1993). Urban Food Insecurity and Malnutrition in Developing Countries. Washington,
D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute.


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Challenges in Official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in Accra I 31


Chimhowu, A. and D. Gumbo. (1993). "Urban Agriculture: Southern and Eastern Africa," in
Luc Mougeot and D. Masse (ed) Urban Environment Vol.1. Ottawa: IDRC.

Commission on the Civil Service. (1951). "Report of the Commission on the Civil Service of
Gold Coast 1950-51." Accra: Government Publishers.

Curtis, John. (1995). Opportunity and Obligation in Nairobi. Social Networks and Differentiation in the
Political Economy of Kenya. Bayreuth: LIT Verlag.

Dettwyler, Steven P. (1985). Senoufo Migrants in Bamako: Changing Agricultural Production
Strategies and Household Organization in an Urban Environment. Ph.D. (Thesis) Indiana University.

DGIP/UNDP (Division of Global and Interregional Programmes). (1992) Urban Agriculture:
Neglected Resource for Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities. New York: UNDP.

Freeman, D.B. (1991). A City of Farmers. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University
Press.

Goodland, J.A., Watson, C. and G. Ledec. (1984). Environmental Management in Tropical
Agriculture. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Grigg, David. (1995). An Introduction to Agricultural Geography. New York: Routledge.

Hardin, G.J. (1972). Exploring New Ethics for Survival. New York: Viking.

House, W. (1978). "The Urban Informal Sector: It's Potential for Generating Income and
Employment Opportunities in Kenya." Occasional Paper No.25. Nairobi: Institute for
Development Studies.

Maxwell, D. and S. Zziwa. (1992). Urban Farming in Africa: The Case of Kampala, Uganda. Nairobi:
ACTS

Mbiba, Beacon. (1995). Urban Agriculture in Zimbabwe. Albershot: Avebury.

Mosha, A.C. (1991). "Urban Agriculture in Tanzania," in Review of Rural and Urban Planning in
Southern and Eastern Africa. Vol.1.

Mougeot, Luc. (1993). "Urban Food Self-Reliance: Significance and Prospects," in Farming in the
City: The Rise of Urban Agriculture. Reports Vol.21, No.3. Ottawa: IDRC.

Palmer, Ingrid. (1991). Gender and Population in the Adjustment of African Economies: Planning for
Change. Geneva: ILO.


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32 I Obosu-Mensah


Sawio, Camillus. (1993). "Breaking New Ground in Dar es Salaam," in Farming in the City: The
Rise of Urban Agriculture. Reports Vol.21, No.3.

(1994). "Who are the Farmers of Dar es Salaam?" in Luc Mougeot et. al. (eds.) Cities
Feeding People. Ottawa: IDRC.

Stren, Richard. (1989). "Urban Local Government in Africa," in R. Stren and R. White (eds.)
African Cities in Crisis: Managing Rapid Urban Growth. Boulder: Westview Press.

UN. (1999). World Urbanization Prospects: The 1999 Revision [Online] Available HTTP;
http//wwwun.org/popin/wdtrends/urbanization.pdf (September 26, 2001).

UNDP. (1996). Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities. New York: UNDP.

Watts, T and W. Bransby-Williams. (1978). "Do Mosquitoes Breed in Maize Plant Axils?"
Medical Journal of Zambia Vol. 12(4).

World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Food 2000: Global Policies for
Sustainable Agriculture. London: Zed Books Ltd.

World Resources Institute. (1992). World Resources 1992-1993: A Guide to the Global Environment.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article: Obosu-
Mensah, Kwaku. "Changes in official Attitudes Towards Urban Agriculture in Accra." African
Studies Quarterly 6, no. 3: [online] URL: http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v6/v6i3a2.htm


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African Studies Quarterly I Volume 6, Issue 3 I Fall 2002


Domestic, Regional, and International Protection of Nigerian
Women against Discrimination: Constraints and Possibilities


MOJBOL OLFNK OKOME

Introduction
Discrimination against women is defined by Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on
the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women of 1979 (heretofore referred to as the
1979 Convention or CEDAW) as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of
sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or
exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and
women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural,
civil or any other field." By May 2001, 168 countries had ratified CEDAW. Forty-six of them are
African. Nigeria signed the convention on 23 April 1984 and ratified it without any reservations
on 13 June 1985, and it ratified the optional protocol to CEDAW on 8 September 2001.1 It made
its first report to the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against
Women in 1986, and submitted its second report in 1998.2
As defined by the CEDAW, discrimination is symptomatic of a situation where patterns of
structural inequality are maintained by rules, norms and procedures that dictate a subordinate
role for women in all spheres of society. This call for an end to all forms of discrimination
against women emphasizes the need for a radical re-definition of the process and content of
economic, social and political development. It stresses the need for a holistic orientation which
acknowledges the vital role of women in development and engineers their integration into
development processes as equal partners with men. For this purpose, it is argued that legal and
substantive protection at the domestic, regional and international levels must be coordinated for
more meaningful enhancement of both the status and situation of women.
This paper approaches questions concerning human rights and discrimination against
women from a perspective that differs the dominant view within the human rights literature.
This scholarship has an intrinsic pro-Western bias and operates on the implicit assumption that
international human rights have their origins in Western liberal thought. 3 Contrary to this
dominant perspective, I argue that all human societies have a conception of human rights, even
though there are cultural differences. The existence and defense of national, regional and
international rights of Nigerian women against discrimination then must necessarily be located
within Nigeria's particular historical experience from the pre-colonial era to contemporary
times. The promotion and defense of such rights would be meaningless otherwise. Moreover, I
argue for the combination of efforts that tend to be separated in scholarly activities to date. The
identification of instances of discrimination and the struggle to defend and extend women's
rights has to be critically examined in light of the power relations that structure the regime of


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34 I Okome


human rights worldwide. This paper argues that in this regime, both western thought and
western feminist groups are privileged.
Within the international human rights literature, the problem of discrimination has been
conceptualized as involving the denial of self-determination to women. This paper considers
discrimination as resulting from the creation, maintenance and perpetuation of structures of
inequality against women as opposed to men. It also argues that the Nigerian government and
human rights activists, by being more responsive to the international regime of human rights,
do not pay sufficient attention to indigenous philosophies and traditions about respecting
human rights, perpetuating the notion that the only way to guarantee human rights in Nigeria
is to blame all contemporary human rights abuses on the persistence of traditional mores. In so
doing, they often consider the embrace of international protections of human rights as the only
avenue to progress.
Individuals play an instrumental role in the creation of structures, their maintenance and
their transformation. The development of alternative rules, norms and procedures provide the
avenue through which structural transformation may be engineered. The process of
engineering transformation involves both the manipulation of rules, norms and procedures as
well as organization for political action by women to protect what rights they have, enhance the
quality of protection and increase the comprehensiveness of the rights to which they are
entitled. In this view, the agent-structure concept is useful for understanding the centrality of
structures in constraining as well as enabling human agency. A structure can limit or foster
change, but structures also allow for the transformative intervention of human agents. The
exercise of agency to foster change, whether in the area expanding existing rights, or of
demanding new rights, should not be seen as limited to the contemporary period. There are
historical examples of women exercising rights, pushing for their extension, and actively
defending these rights.
The focus of this paper is on the constraints and possibilities that shape the environment of
Nigerian women and either enable them to surmount the problems arising from discrimination
or limit their ability to do so. The central thesis is that discrimination against women takes
different forms in different societies and historical epochs, thus requiring differential strategies
in each place and time.
The evaluation of discrimination against women in Nigeria shall focus on the quality and
content of domestic constitutional, regional, and international protection and guarantees and
the extent to which these de jure guarantees may or may not necessarily reflect the de facto
condition of women in Nigerian society. In addition, the following questions will be addressed:
First, in what ways have structures of inequality been created in the society and how do these
structures affect the role of women in contemporary Nigeria? Second, how can concrete
problems that have a direct bearing on the role of women in society be conceptualized and
contextualized?
Third, how is compliance with existing law to be enhanced in order to generate practical
results? The paper is divided into three parts, each focusing on one of the questions posed
above.


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 35


STRUCTURES OF INEQUALITY: THEIR CREATION AND IMPACT ON THE ROLE OF
WOMEN IN CONTEMPORARY NIGERIAN SOCIETY
It has been argued that pre-colonial Nigeria had a gendered division of labor. However, the
nature and implication of such a division of labor is often misinterpreted. While male
dominance was built into the social system of some Nigerian ethnic groups, women played a
significant and vital role in all aspects of the lives of their community. 4 For some scholars, this
is due to the complementarity of male and female roles and functions. 5 Complementarity gave
women a great deal of autonomy in their own affairs. 6 Although some women became leaders
in politics, religion, and the economy, discrimination was on the basis of both class and gender.
Women who, by virtue of their acquired or ascribed status became decision makers were by no
means treated in the same way as other women in terms of their rights. 7 Elements of structural
inequality could be observed in unequal access to the means of production and control thereof
as well as inequality in the ability to control reproduction.
Scholars such as Olufemi, Pittin and VerEecke, as well as activist groups such as Women's
International Network (WIN) and the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) contend that
ideological reinforcement for structural inequality is provided by customs, practices and norms.
8 Drawing on the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices For 1991 that was submitted to
the United States Congress House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Senate Committee on
Foreign Relations, WIN acknowledges the long-standing nature and ubiquity of women's
economic power in Nigerian society, concluding "[W]omen have always had some economic
power and have exerted influence in Nigerian society through women's councils, family
connections, and to a much lesser extent, mainstream social, economic or political
organizations." 9 The report recognizes that in Nigeria there are regional religious and ethnic
variations in the pattern of discrimination against women, but indicates that men are legally
able to prevent their wives from working, from obtaining passports, and rural men routinely
beat their wives without any legal intervention. Access to land and right to inheritance of
spousal property are also denied women, as is access to jobs for single women. Given the
record of government non-performance, it is also questionable whether Nigerian women's
rights organizations would believe in the veracity of its promise to investigate. The protection
and expansion of women's rights then is clearly another instance where the exercise of power
by affluent countries is taken for granted, and the readiness of poor countries to submit
themselves to scrutiny while never examining the affluent country's behavior is also taken as a
marker of responsible international behavior. The report also presents its assessment in
language that is unreflecting and relatively ignorant. Again, a quote is instructive. It indicates a
biased portrayal of the common practice of exchange of money upon marriage, bride-wealth,
provided by a husband's family in some ethnic groups, including the Yorb, or dowry, which is
provided by the woman's family in other ethnic groups, including the Hausa-Fulani. According
to WIN,

The Government publicly opposes female circumcision, which reportedly affects
close to 50 percent of the female population, The most dangerous form,
infibulation, is still practiced in some areas. However, because of the deep
cultural roots of this practice, the Government has relied primarily on education


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36 I Okome


through women's and public health organizations to help induce change in
attitudes rather than trying to criminalize the practice. Public education has had
some effect, but change has been slow. The Government also opposes the selling
of young girls for marriage by poor rural families, again primarily through
educational means. There are no estimates of the extent to which this practice is
carried out. (my italics)10

Pittin and VerEecke contend that colonialism also contributed to the diminution of
women's rights." VerEecke argues that the women in Yola were extensively involved in
agricultural production before the Fulani Jihad of the 18th century. Loathe to be identified as
slaves in an economy that subsequently depended on slave labor for agricultural production,
women were influenced by Islamic injunctions and embraced purdah. Pittin attributes
discrimination against women in education to the influence of colonialism. In response to the
debate over pre-colonial Muslim women's access of to education, Pittin says:

The extent to which less high-born Muslim women in the pre-colonial period had
access to any education, much less the opportunity to pursue it, is still shrouded
in the mists of history. It is likely that most women were given only the most
limited of Muslim education, if at all. Indeed, the issue of access to education or
of opportunity for continued education probably rarely arose, given the
responsibilities accorded women and girls in the domestic sphere, particularly
where slaves and servants were not available (or where the women were
themselves slaves or servants!), the early movement of women into marriage and
child-bearing and their involvement in farming, processing, and petty
commodity production. Thus, historically, gender and class were prime
determinants in limiting women's educational opportunities, with ideology
concurrently providing bases both to support such education and to limit it.12
It is hard to argue with Pittin's contention that gender and class were the prime limiting
factors to women's opportunities for education, but if the problem is that Muslim women's
education is "shrouded by the mists of history", then, scholars must look for evidence of what
happened in the past without equating a lack of information with a lack of opportunity.
The Civil Liberties Organisation of Nigeria stated:

The discriminatory burdens placed on women include those of chastity, of
making marriage work at all cost, of fertility and fertility control, and the burden
of being "clean and desirable" as symbolised by female circumcision. Others
include the burden to prove rape both in the community and in a court of law, to
raise 'good' children, and to mourn their husband to the taste and dictate of his
relatives. Compared to men, Nigerian society treats women as little better than
beasts of burden....13
In comparison, Olufemi's earlier contention is even more problematic. In traditional
Nigerian societies, the woman's role was taken for granted. She was expected to nurture the
children and take care of the home. Such traditional views had consequences which did not


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 37


augur well for social and economic development. Women were given fewer educational
opportunities than men. They were also denied jobs in such male dominated occupations as
engineering, architecture and town planning.14
This illustrates a bias that automatically assumes that traditional (read pre-colonial)
societies were bastion of reactionary and unprogressive practices that marginalized women.
Temisanren refines the argument about pre-colonial sources of discrimination against women,
contending that some practices may have been relevant at the time they emerged but have
become questionable given the changes in society over time. Temisanren documents Yorb
women's attempts at guaranteeing abortion rights but claims that these women are
manipulated, thus undermining their autonomy.15 Ade Aderinola also gives documentary
evidence of how historical changes in land tenure have affected food production and women
farmers' productivity and social status.16 Ogede, focusing on orature, uses the case of Igede
women's songs to demonstrate that the assumed ubiquity of male dominance and women's ad
nauseaum submissiveness can be challenged if we look beyond the written word. L17 Even in
contemporary society, there are living examples of alternative responses to male dominance.18
Other scholars, including Yoloye, Ogunlade and Erinosho, while specifically considering
the low participation of women in science and technology, argue that the socio-economic
backgrounds of women can constrain or enable women's access to rights and entitlements in
society.19 These studies show a correlation between socio-economic class and a career in science
and technology. Ehindero links a woman's self-concept with whether she will select a career in
science and technology. 20 This argument is related to those that emphasize socio-economic
background, yet it is distinct from them that an individual's socio-economic background
contributes to an individual's socialization and thus, his or her self-conception.
Based on the reports provided by Women's International News, one could well believe that
discrimination continues because the government allows the perpetuation of customary and
religious practices. 21 However, one must be wary of these arguments. They assume that the
customs, practices and norms in question arise from pre-colonial practices. This is erroneous.
Examining the historical origin of contemporary practices reveals a more nuanced picture, as
does analysis of orature, arts and aesthetics. Temisanren documents the contemporary
experience of Yorb women, while Aderinola's work attempts to do this for the Ondo Yorb. 22
Works such as these make it clear that there are distinctions among Nigerian societies as to the
customary treatment of men and women. In some cases, women were disadvantaged more by
the imposition of colonial rule and its code of law.
More studies that take sub-sections of large ethnic groups and trace the history of
contemporary conditions are necessary. Ogede raises a significant point: women who are not
Western-educated have multiple tools and strategies at their disposal that may be lost to their
Western educated counterparts, particularly due to the dearth of written literature by women
on traditions of autonomy and protest against the abuse of social, economic and political power.
23 Ehindero, Yoloye, Ogunlade and Erinosho's analyses of the low participation of women in
science and technology indicate that money and class matter, as does an individual's
socialization process.
Still, much of the literature on women's rights tends to lay the blame for continued
discrimination against women at the feet of amorphously defined "traditions" understood as


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38 I Okome


rigid artefacts of a distant and brutal past. Alele-Williams in considering the discrimination
against women in science and technology careers, argues that cultural standards, values, and
practices structure beliefs about gender roles and the production of knowledge. 24 This
argument would only be tenable if colonialism is accepted as a determinant factor in structuring
surviving traditions. Yet colonialism is widely considered to have introduced modernity and
African cultural practices are considered the bastion of tradition. There is association of
modernity with fluidity and progress, while tradition is basis for conservative, reactionary
instincts. Temisanren, Aderinola and Ogede show that such definitions are limited and
problematic.
Chief Bisi Ogunleye founder and National Coordinator of the Country Women Association
of Nigeria (COWAN) and the Vice-President of the Forum of Africa Voluntary Development
Organization (FADO) West Africa, also considers entrenched discrimination against women
farmers but frames this as a problem that is general among the poor. Ogunleye blames African
governments, multilateral agencies and institutions for bringing about this problem while
calling for the restoration of the rights of women. Ogunleye frames women's entitlements and
rights in terms of restoring equitable access to resources. She contends that the rights once
existed but were eliminated over time. State responsibility and culpability in the denial of
women's rights is clear. The contemporary African state did not spring de novo from its
environment. It has its roots in the imposition of draconian forms of colonial rule on African
peoples. The tragedy of the contemporary state is that it still fails to rise above the colonial
detritus of wanton disregard for people's rights. Ogunleye contends that individuals and
groups representing the state and international institutions make claims for these rights. Thus,
her critique is directed at securing rights and making claims against powerful institutions on
behalf of relatively powerless actors. She does not exclude men, but claims higher priority for
women.
Ogunleye's analysis could be improved if she considered the origin of international
institutions and of African states, as well as the origin of the philosophy and perspectives that
inform the international development regime. In Africa, the contemporary state has a colonial
origin. The international system privileges powerful industrial and post-industrial states in
policymaking and policy articulation. The recipients of policy output are poor states that have
been compelled to more fully integrate their economies into the international capitalist system.
Another source of problems that militate against women's rights is that most of the
administrative practices which prevent equal treatment of Nigerian men and women are
products of colonial laws and government. A case in point is the legal assumption that only
males are the heads of families. Another is the assumption that a woman must prove that she
was not responsible for bringing discriminatory practices upon herself. A third problem arises
from the lack of resources to pursue the legal remedies that may be available. While there are
admirable and significant efforts being made by some lawyers' and women's groups to provide
free legal assistance, these efforts remain inadequate.
In feminist literature, discrimination against women is taken to manifest itself in the forms
of gender, class and personal discrimination. 25 In some perspectives, discrimination is
attributed to structural factors. Some scholars contend that the most important structural
sources of discrimination are social formations such as the family, which conditions its


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 39


members to conform to socially acceptable gender roles. Although the pre-colonial division of
labor in Nigeria was based on gendered distinctions, social definitions of men's and women's
work varied by community/society. Maleness did not necessarily determine status within the
family. Seniority mattered to a greater extent than at present. Thus, in the ideal Yorb family, a
senior daughter of outranked a junior brother when important decisions were made within the
family. Today, there are many concrete examples of men that act "patriarchally" in the sense
that male privilege is entrenched in social, economic and political relations. Such examples are a
reflection of present circumstances, however, their existence must be interrogated rather than
taken as representative of past conditions.
The process of asserting authority and creating norms is one that involves groups in society
mobilizing to take advantage of shifts in ideology as new hegemonic forces overcome old
centers of power. Men as a group were able to benefit from the Victorian sensibilities of the
colonialists and their understanding of social relations. The Victorian mind-set situated men
and women differently in social, political and economic relations. Men were expected to be in
the public sphere, and women in the private. Men could hold positions of power, and women
were expected to support them by taking care of the household. The fact that women had been
active in producing, decision-making, trading and food processing, as well as in child-rearing,
was not recognized. 26 In addition, elders were privileged more than the young, and husbands
more privileged than wives. The significance of social differences between Victorian and
African societies is illustrated by the Yorb and Ibo. In these societies, not only men were
husbands. All the members of the patrilineage into which a woman married, male and female,
stood as husbands in relationship to her. Relationships such as these are, however, not sexual. 27
In addition, the relationships should not always be conceptualized in terms of gender. 28 There
is ample evidence of women's activism politically, socially and economically which challenges
the Victorian assumption of automatic male superiority. 29
The ideological dimension of discrimination becomes evident when one considers the
extent to which the discourse on rights is shaped by the language, ethics and moral judgements
adopted from the West. The meanings, ideals, and practices of non-Western peoples tend to be
viewed through the lens of the West and assessed through theories derived from Western
historical experience. Paradoxically, activist groups and scholars that support the expansion
and promotion of women's rights are thus subject to the pitfalls that come with drawing on
such a tradition. Negative stereotypes of the role of women in pre-colonial society are stressed,
even by scholars and activists who claim to be pro-feminist. In an attempt to promote and
defend women's rights, Women's International News Reports spotlight the problems without
sufficiently highlighting the achievements of women or the rights that they enjoy already. 30
Since Western interpretations are privileged, Western scholars and activists set the agenda
of important issues. Women's rights groups, in Nigeria, that are sponsored by Western feminist
groups often pursue this agenda. The terrain of rights and their defense then tends to look
highly homogenous. Dissenting voices and alternative strategies are shut out not only when it
comes to fighting against institutionalized abusive practices, but even when it comes to
interrogating reality and setting priorities. As there are not many studies available, the few that
have the prominence and wide reach that Western grants buy, shape the sensibilities of the
world on the current struggles are and situation of women. We do not get a nuanced view of


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40 I Okome


women in Nigeria or Africa in comparison to the situation of women in the West whose
experience is analyzed with more historical accuracy. In short, the above cited examples are so
general in their critiques that they create an inaccurate image of Although Nigerian women are
portrayed as excluded from most decision-making roles in society, evidence exists of
opportunities for women to participate in decision-making leaders roles that parallel those of
men. 31 Other opportunities to participate existed through the representatives chosen by
women's indigenous organizations. 32 Women within the family had to combine productive
work with reproductive labor but were able to take advantage of help from the extended family,
including the polygynous family unit, which reduced the burden of a double workload.33
The polygynous system, which is often condemned as disadvantageous to women, was a
social arrangement that ideally enabled women to make concrete contributions to society. For
example, although women may not receive the benefits of monogamy, freedom from being the
sole nurturer of husband and children freed them up for trade, politics, and religious
leadership. The imposition of colonialism, like the earlier influx of Islam, caused the contraction
of the opportunities available for women to play leadership roles. 34 However, women drew
upon their pre-colonial forms of organization to organize the mode and content of their political
participation within the colonial system. 35 Provisions were also made in pre-colonial Nigerian
societies for conflict resolution in which all members of society could participate. Moreover,
polygynous relationships were not unregulated. Even in contemporary times, some women
voluntarily choose to be part of these structures and argue that the benefits outweigh the
costs. Stereotyped portrayals of women deny the significance of women's contributions to
Nigerian development. This is illustrated in The Report of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the
Committee on the Eliitmiii.ari.. of all Forms of Discrimination which states in the introduction that the
"traditional" conception of the role of women in society is one of domestic drudges, wives and
mothers. 36 This report only reinforces erroneous perceptions women's role in society. On the
contrary, according to traditional ideals and mores, women are valued as powerful by virtue of
their being the bearers of fertility. The Yorb song, "y ni wr" (Mother is gold) underscores the
importance of women in Yorb society. The song goes:

Yorb English Translation:

y ni wr iyebye, Mother is valuable gold

Ti a k 1 f'ow r. That we cannot purchase with money.

l'yn mi f's msan, mwa, She carried me in her womb for nine, ten
months,
pn m f'dn mta.
She carried me on her back for three years.
y o se o k is mi,
Mother, thank you for laboring for me,
mi k 1 b 'y mi.
I cannot abuse my mother (verbally)


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 41


Meanwhile, a Yorb proverb says: y ni wr, baba ni jg (Mother is gold, father is a mirror). This
underscores the value of a mother to her children and also something about the role of women
in Yorb society. Compared to a fragile, breakable relationship with the father, the relationship of
mother to child is durable. Similar reverence of the mother is found among other Nigerian
ethnic groups.
Opportunities existed for women in pre-colonial Nigerian society to take leadership roles
in politics, religion, social and economic life. 37 Bnl Aw's Nigerian Women in Historical Perspective
gives examples of women leaders of the past: Nana Asmau of Zauzzau, Idia of Benin, and
Mrem of If. 38 Numerous legends and oral traditions also point to the power of women in pre-
colonial Nigerian society. For example, the Yorb pantheon is composed of both male and many
female deities. The female deities include Oya, sun, Yemoja. In the worship of these deities,
many opportunities exist for women to lead. y had many powerful female public officials. 39
Pre-colonial Nigerian societies were structured around kinship which determined the
productive and reproductive role of the individual in society. Childbearing was central to the
worth of a woman. Since children were regarded as economic assets, polygyny was encouraged
and generally more children meant more power within society. There were however
opportunities for women to surmount problems arising from childlessness. Amadiume points
to the phenomenon of gender-flexibility among the Ibo of Nnobi as a tool for women both to
increase their material base by acquiring "wives," and to gain stature in society by bearing
children through these wives. The institutions of female husbands and male daughters among
the Ibo of Nnobi allowed women not to have sexual relations with women whom they marry
but to claim the children borne by these women; in effect gaining power and control over
resources, including children. This enabled them to surmount the social stigma attached to
childlessness as well as enhance their productive capabilities. 40 Fostering children with women
who were childless also enabled women to adjust their position within society. Among the Yorb
and Hausa-Fulani, fostering of the children of relatives provides opportunities for childless
women to play mothering roles.
During the colonial period, most elements of the kinship support system changed.
Customary law was not necessarily the expression of the mores, values and standards of a
community. Customary law was heavily informed by colonial misconceptionsn. Customary
law was always in flux, enabling it to respond to changes in society. Formalizing it introduced
the unintended consequence that customary law became unable to effectively respond to
changes in the wider world. This is now seen in divorce cases involving childless women. A
man may claim the return of full bride wealth paid for a childless woman while deductions are
made if a woman has had children. The childless woman is measured against women that have
children. The stigma attached to the childless woman is extended to her family by association.
As previously mentioned, in pre-colonial societies childless women could avail themselves of
several opportunities to become mothers.
Access to the means of production is an important indicator of the rights of women in
society. Many claims are made by contemporary analysts, activists and scholars about the pre-
colonial roots of institutionalized denial to means of production in Nigerian society. In pre-
colonial times, women generally had access to land which they could cultivate. However, the
right to dispose of that land was vested in the head of the family. According to Amadiume, this


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42 I Okome


was true for the Ibo of Nnobi. However, it was more possible for women to take advantage of
customary loopholes such as the aforementioned flexible gender system (among the Ibo) in
order to gain power within a social system, which conferred more power on males than
females. 41 In some instances women's access to land did not derive from their dependence on
male kin. Among the Ibo of Onitsha, women did not have to depend on the institution
conceptualized by Amadiume as "male daughters and female husbands" to hold and exercise
power over land and other resources. 42 Among the Yorb, some women became wealthy and
participated in government, and disposed of property on an equal footing with men. 43
Pre-colonial Nigerian societies were not entirely organized around structures within which
women were automatically more disadvantaged in their access to both positions of authority
and the means of production.
Under colonial rule, women lost a great deal of authority and the opportunity to participate
in decision making due to their exclusion from all levels of administration. They also lost
maneuverability because the male-dominated elements of society were stressed above all others
and applied in social, economic and political life. Education, although generally considered to
emancipate women from traditional oppression, did not always have this result, as colonial
education emphasized preparing women for domestic rather than leadership roles within
society. There is also evidence that in pre-colonial Nigerian society, many women (of economic
and political prominence) gained positions either through achievement or as rewards. Under
colonial rule, the opportunity for such upward mobility was considerably diminished.
According to Mba, some women were able to become more involved in trade. 4 However, many
areas of the economy that were previously reserved for women were taken over by men and the
imposition of a cash economy as well as new European firms, caused a reversal of their
fortunes. 45 The spread of Christianity also undercut the higher status that women had
previously in pre-colonial religion. In a struggle to re-assert their former prominence in religion,
Christian women converts in indigenous churches used the churches to regain some of their
pre-colonial status. 46 Under British colonial rule, de jure property rights replaced de facto rights,
but the extent to which de jure rights made practical improvements in women's lives is however
questionable. Since the realization of de jure rights required familiarity with the new codes of
law and the new legal system as well as considerable financial expenditure. 47
The origins of structures of inequality that lead to discrimination against women are
therefore found in pre-colonial societies with predominantly male-dominant social systems.
However, they were institutionalized as a new legal structure -"Native Law and Customs" -
during colonial rule. Customs such as child marriage, betrothal and widowhood rites have their
origins in the pre-colonial era, as did genital operations. These customs arose within a given
social context that may never be understood today because of the ideological shift that occurred
with colonization and the passage of time. The imposition of colonialism involved the
construction of a system where women had less opportunity to participate in administration. In
addition, an economic system was instituted where men had more opportunities than women
for meaningful participation, a legal system was introduced wherein women lost some of the
benefits open to them in pre-colonial societies, and a religious system was imposed which
deprived women of their pre-colonial power and authority. More males than females had access
to the educational system, and the dominant form of Islam in the North was protected despite


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 43


its discrimination against women. These elements of institutionalized male dominance were in
no small measure due to Victorians' ideology, in which women were generally restricted from
full participation in the public sphere.

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN NIGERIA: A CONTEMPORARY OVERVIEW
While women in Nigeria have always been active economically, the extent and significance
of their activism has not always been rewarded by commensurate degrees of political power
vis-a-vis men. Although women willingly exercise the rights that they have, structural
constraints from the pre-colonial, colonial and decolonization eras continue to prevent the
elimination of discrimination against them. It is possible to distinguish between two major
positions by organized women's groups within Nigeria. One stresses more visibility in
prominent positions for women as part of the decision making apparatus and the other calling
for radical changes and structural transformation in order that the rights of all women will have
as much de facto as de jure relevance. The first position constitutes the top-down approach held
by the National Council of Women's Societies (NCWS) and the second, the more comprehensive
and broadly-based approach of Women In Nigeria (WIN). Both organizations have made
attempts to generate academic and other interest in the elimination of discrimination against
women as they define it. Thus far, the NCWS position has received more support by the
successive Nigerian governments. The NCWS, working on the premise that with more women
in positions of authority, women's issues would be taken more seriously, and women's rights
enhanced, advocates that there be more women appointees and that these women have more
prominent positions. In response, the approach usually taken by Nigerian governments to
correct discrimination is to appoint a few token women into positions where they have high
visibility. However, this in no way helps the majority of women. 48
Discrimination affects women's political and civil rights. The enfranchisement of women in
the North was one of the political demands made by women's organizations in both the East
and West after their own enfranchisement but the right to vote was only granted to women in
Northern Nigeria in 1976. 49 In the East, it had been granted in 1954 and in the West in 1958.
Some have argued that the exercise of this right may be problematic even where it is guaranteed
because of social constraints on the movement of women in purdah. For instance, Akande
suggests that women who are secluded in purdah may be unable to vote as a result of the
electoral rules which end the voting day at 6 pm because women in purdah cannot go out until
after sundown. However, Oruene claims that women in purdah turned out in such large
numbers to vote in the 1976 local government elections (which was the first in which they could
participate on an equal footing with men) that the voting day was extended by two hours. 50
Thus, it is clear that women will exercise their rights with adequate and institutionalized
protections. Women have also always exercised their rights as well as organized collective
action within political interest and pressure groups for the enhancement of women's' rights in
society. 51 Oruene's work demonstrates that purdah in and of itself ought not to prevent women
from voting, and there is no evidence that it has. Akande presumes that women who are not
living under conditions of purdah would be better able to exercise their right to vote. This
presumption is stated rather than demonstrated.


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44 I Okome


There are still fewer women running for office than men, a situation that is also observed in
the United States, and in most democracies. Good citizenship necessitates the ability to free up
some time to participate in civic activities. More affluent or kin-rich women who have
supportive extended family are better able to participate in modern democracies than
impoverished, kin-poor women who cannot depend on assistance from extended family.
An additional problem that relates to women's ability to exercise their citizenship rights is
that before Nigeria's 1992 constitution only men could pass on their Nigerian citizenship to their
spouses. The 1992 constitution corrected this discrepancy. Nonetheless, some rights may still
be outside the grasp of women due to continuing social and administrative mores. Today, a
woman who resides and works outside her state of origin is still discriminated against in
employment, promotions, and benefits. This is a form of discrimination that affects men,
women, and children because it affects access to resources that indigenes of the state take for
granted.
The Nigerian constitution of 1979 prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, as do the
constitutions of 1992 and 1999. All women have a right to suffrage once they are above the age
of 18 and can contest in political elections once above the age of 21. No customary prohibitions
prevent women's participation in politics, but women have not contested for political positions
on a level matching men. Women's hesitancy to be involved in politics dates to the period of
decolonization period when politics was characterized by gross abuse and physical violence.
Akande contends that Nigerian women do not have full legal capacity insofar as they are
unable to "independently enter into contracts, ... acquire and own property ... enter into other
legal transactions, sue or be sued." 52 The extent of women's practical freedom also varies with
class, level of education and type of marriage. Within polygynous marriages, women may have
more freedom than within monogamous ones because they are not subjected to the
presumption of legal unity in monogamous marriage, which gives the man the advantage. In
terms of the capacity to marry, the right of consent and the requirements of bride
wealth-payment, women's right to independent decision-making may be curtailed. In general,
Nigerian law limits the rights of a woman in marriage under all legal systems (statutory law,
Shari'a, and customary law).
Nigeria is presently undergoing the implementation of a Structural Adjustment Program
(SAP), a program which combines policies of economic austerity with the devaluation of the
country's currency, drastic cutbacks in government spending and significant economic
contraction due to the privatization of government owned businesses. This affects the rights of
all Nigerians but women are particularly impacted. Women's economic rights are affected most
directly since there are fewer employment opportunities and more competition for those that
exist. In rural areas, where development schemes have historically hindered women,
technology and training benefits men more than women. The situation becomes more grueling
under conditions of structural adjustment due to a contraction of social spending and less
money being available from international sources for development projects. 53
Provisions for maintaining basic infrastructure while inadequate in the past, have become
even more so after SAP. Health care, education, training, access to appropriate technology, and
to resources such as potable water have become even more inaccessible, both to rural and to


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 45


urban women. This is the background against which the existing discrimination against women
in Nigerian society should be viewed.

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN--INTERNATIONAL, REGIONAL AND DOMESTIC
PROTECTIONS
Discrimination against women persists despite the existence of international, regional and
domestic protections. This persistence is due to structural and ideological factors. The United
Nations Covenants of 1966 provide protection against discrimination on the grounds of gender
(Art. 2,1 Civil & Political Covenant; Art. 2,2 Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). The 1956
Supplementary Convention on the abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Practices Similar to
Slavery emphasized the importance of woman's consent to marriage and advocated the
elimination of customs such as bride wealth and funeral rites in which women are objects of
inheritance after the death of their spouse (Art 1). The 1962 Convention on Consent to Marriage,
Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages considers some customs and
traditions relating to marriage and the family "inconsistent with...the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights." Nigeria is a signatory to The International Convention on Economic, Social,
and Cultural Rights, (signed 29 July 1993), The International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (CCPR), (signed 29 July 1993), The International Convention on the Elimination of all
Forms of Racial Discrimination, (signed 16 October 1967), the Convention Against Torture and
other Cruel, Inhuman Treatment, and Punishment, (signed 28 June 2001), The Convention on
the Rights of the Child, (CRC), (signed 19 April 1991), The Optional Protocol on the CRC on the
Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, (signed 8 September 2001), The Optional Protocol
on the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, (signed 8
September 2001).54
Rights of production and reproduction encompass women's rights in the family, economic,
social and political spheres. Rights of production concern recruitment, promotion and training
as well as benefits and entitlements. They also include equal opportunity for decision making in
all organizations. The rights of reproduction relate to the capacity for a woman to make
independent decisions about her own body. This includes the ability to control the size of her
family, exercise control over the discipline of children, free access to family planning (including
abortion) and the right to legal and practical equality in the control of family resources and
children after divorce. This is enhanced by a woman's access to information concerning her
rights as well as legal and other measures that can be taken to gain these rights.
The rights of women within their families are important because they affect their ability to
define themselves relative to society. Relations within the family structure the extent, to which
women are granted reproductive and productive rights, defining the content of such rights.
Article 5 (a) of CEDAW recommends that States Parties "modify the social and cultural patterns
of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and
customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the
superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women."
I have argued that the male dominant elements of Nigerian society remain strong. Many of
these elements are located within the family, where a woman is required to take care of her
husband and home. Since most women also work outside the home, this creates, a double


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46 I Okome


burden and may limit the ability of women to devote an equal amount of attention and
concentration to their careers or trade. In Nigerian law and administrative practice, the
predominant attitude is that men are the household heads and have primary authority. This
attitude persists inspite of past and contemporary examples of cross-gender cooperation in
many households and also despite the existence of many female headed family units. 55 Women
thus continue to be defined just in terms of their reproductive and associated roles. Under
statutory law in Nigeria, the woman must cook and care for the home and health of her
husband and children.
Problems reside in prevailing social mores, which prevent women from taking legal action
even where fundamental rights are not granted. However, a more critical approach is necessary
to discern the origins of these mores and to fashion workable solutions to the problems that
they cause. There is also a gross lack of awareness among women about the extent and content
of their rights. There are also legal and administrative measures, which perpetuate the
inequality of men and women within the family. For example, adultery is considered sufficient
grounds for divorce only where women are concerned. 56
The CEDAW guarantees full equality of men and women in the family. However,
prevailing practice in Nigeria is to overlook customary and pre-colonial practices which prevent
the achievement of full equality. While the government acknowledges the "need for public
enlightenment in the area of marriage and family law," by the time its first report to CEDAW
was handed in, very little of substance had been done beyond the institution of a Pilot Legal
Project on Family Law. 57 Today, there is a Women's Bureau, which is attached to the Office of
the Presidency, and a more aggressive stance is taken about improving women's status in
society. Although the program is only a beginning, The Better Life for Rural Women program
is directed at correcting some of the deficiencies noted in the first report to CEDAW. Since 1979,
more women have formally competed for political office. 58
There is not at present any legal recourse for women who suffer abuse within the family,
although these were present during pre-colonial times. Now women's childbearing obligations
are expected to outweigh their career goals. 59 In pre-colonial social systems, women did not
necessarily have to bear the brunt of childrearing alone. There were social institutions, which
provided support and enabling a woman to pursue her trade undisturbed. In contemporary
times, women suffer legal discrimination in the administration of custody law. The Covenant
provides in Article 16, 1, d, that parents shall have equality of rights and responsibility with
regard to their children, and that the interests of children should be given primary
responsibility. Under customary law, the equality of the spouses is precluded sometimes as a
result of great disparities in the ages of the spouses, which gives the man more control over the
wife. This also occurs in the case of divorce where women are only entitled to custody prior to
weaning, or in some cases, after the child is 7 years old (under Islamic law until the age of
puberty or marriage). On a positive note, the woman has a right to claim maintenance from the
father of her child even if she is not married to the man. 60 In some cases, divorce is only
possible after the bride wealth is refunded, although among some groups, deductions are made
based on the number of children borne by the woman during the marriage. 61
In Nigeria where there is no guaranteed access to social security in old age, unequal access
to and control over children in divorce imposes multiple discrimination on women since they


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 47


are expected to be primarily responsible for childcare. The CEDAW guarantees women equal
rights and responsibilities in marriage and at its dissolution, but some women are still affected
by inequitable access to divorce. 62 In Nigerian Muslim communities, divorce by repudiation is
still acceptable. Under customary law, women have a right to support and housing, but not to
the husband's property or incomes. 63 Likewise, men have no right to their spouse's property or
income. However, pre-colonial marriage laws allowed for conciliation and negotiation in the
event of marriage breakdowns, which may have resulted in better treatment of the woman. In
addition, a divorced woman could return to her lineage where the head of the lineage could
grant her access to property. Under statutory law, a woman technically has equal rights with
her husband to the custody and guardianship of children upon divorce, but the application of
the law is often such that work within the marriage is not considered an economic contribution.
Hence, there is no enforcement of maintenance payments. 64
The crucial issue regarding the rights of women in marriage and the family is that these
rights are central to their rights as individuals. The African Charter on Human and Peoples'
rights in Article 2 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, but makes no other specific
references to the protection of women's rights. Howard, however, argues that some other
articles may be taken as applicable to women, particularly Article 4's specification that "Human
beings are inviolable (each is)...entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person" and
Article 16's guarantee of every individual's right "to enjoy the best attainable state of physical
and mental health." 65 For Howard, both of these may be used for defending women against
physically harmful practices.
Women's lives also tend to be affected more profoundly than men's by their reproductive
roles. When reproductive rights are lacking, rights in other areas are affected. In this sense,
reproductive rights are not limited to the right to abortion. They also include a woman's right to
employment and the means of production which allow her to financially support her children.
There is an observed conflict between community and individual rights since the preservation
of the family is considered the fundamental duty of society. Can the law be used as a means of
transformation in this case? Howard considers this near impossible but sees the role of law as
enabling individuals who wish to escape from "traditional" family controls to do so. 66 The law
in this sense would then be a building block toward the future realization of cultural change.
Problems arise from provisions that may potentially pit the need to maintain community
values against the rights of women. These may be observed in Article 18's specifications that
"the family shall be the natural unit and basis of society...the State shall ensure the elimination
of every discrimination against women." Article 17, 3 considers the State instrumental in "The
promotion and protection of morals and traditional values recognized by the community." 67
There is evidence of such a conflict in the Nigerian government's first report to CEDAW. It
argues that the constraints eradicating discrimination against women arise mainly from the lack
of enforceable laws when women suffer discrimination from customs, administrative directives
and religious practices. 68 The government also laments the absence of a favorable attitude
toward litigation in Nigeria, which prevents the elimination of discrimination. What is left out
in this part of the report, however, is the salience of a person's total environment in shaping that
individual's perception of her or his possibilities and constraints in the wider society. It is


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48 I Okome


doubtful that even litigation that results in positive acknowledgment of a woman's rights would
amount to much without far-reaching social and structural changes.
Altogether, there is inadequate acknowledgment on the part of government about the
significance of structural constraints. The government has made insufficient provisions for the
realization of Articles 3 and 4 of the CEDAW recommendations. Article 3 calls for legal and
extra-legal measures for guaranteeing the full exercise of women's rights. While it
acknowledges the need for extra-legal perspectives, there is no concrete attempt to address
imbalances arising from the conflict between individual and group rights. 69 The government
identifies an absence of litigious attitudes among Nigerians which contributes to the appearance
of a paucity of protections. This, however, is not borne out by historical evidence. For example,
Mba shows that women in the southern Nigeria used new family laws under colonial rule to
support their claims in the legal system. 70 Thus, it is more relevant to consider poverty as the
crucial factor, that prevents women from using litigation as remedies.
Article 4 of the CEDAW calls for "temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de
facto equality between men and women" in order to achieve equality of opportunity and
treatment. Toward this end, Nigeria appointed the first woman Vice Chancellor of a university
and the first woman member of the Federal Civil Service Commission. Other nominal
appointments of women were made mandatory at both state and federal government levels. 71
Notwithstanding these appointments, there is still evidence that women lack access to high
levels of decision-making. There seems instead to be more evidence of "tokenism" which does
not recognize the extent of educational and professional achievement among Nigerian women.
The government has also made some institutional modifications at federal and state levels, and
women can now take on bail individuals in police custody subsequent to a directive by the
Attorney General and Minister of Justice. 72 However, the statement that women should "bear
any unpleasant consequence that may flow from that action" indicates that there is still some
perception among policy-makers that women are not always entitled to protective legislation. 73
Most legislative improvements concentrate on giving more access to urban, elite women. Rural
women are meant to benefit from the introduction of the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural
Infrastructures (DFRRI), the government's new master-plan for agricultural and infrastructural
development to encourage higher rural productivity. Since the government realizes that many
rural women are farmers, they were targeted as primary beneficiaries of the plan. However,
this effort is largely believed to be failing. 74
Chapter IV of the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria contains provisions for the defense of the
fundamental human rights of all Nigerians. Provisions for the protection of individuals from
discrimination are to be found in subsection 39, which provides that:
(a) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community or ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion
or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person.
(b) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of any law in force in
Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government to disabilities or
restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria and other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin,
sex, religions, or political opinion are not made subject; or
(c) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in
Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 49


accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin sex,
religions or political opinion.
This section in effect, provides for equal treatment of men and women under the law.
According to the Nigerian government's report to the Committee on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women, there is no need to create enforcement mechanisms for
the Convention because its provisions could be used as the basis for any argument against
derogations in any court of law within Nigeria. The same report states that while protections
exist, there may be no progress toward the elimination of discrimination if women do not
actively pursue the realization of this goal. However, the argument that it is up to women to
seek legal redress may be a "straw man" because without the right tools and considerable
governmental support, such active pursuit of women's rights may be impossible.
Discrimination in property ownership still exists under customary law. While everywhere
women are entitled to property acquired by trading, ante-nuptial property belongs to both
parties in the north and east but only to the husband among the Yorb. Once divorced, the
woman is not entitled to her husband's estate. 75 The CEDAW, Article 16 (1, h) considers both
spouses as having the same rights "in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management,
administration, enjoyment and disposition of property." The report of the Nigerian government
states that the same standards apply to both married and unmarried women in the allocation of
government owned land and housing. It identifies customary law as the main avenue of
discrimination in property ownership. This is not only inaccurate, it constitutes a refusal to
acknowledge that the majority of women who apply for government-owned property are often
educated, wealthy, well connected or based in urban areas. Also, these women are most likely
to invoke CEDAW and take legal action against discriminatory practices. The government's
report also fails to acknowledge the vital role that family negotiation plays customary law to
militate against abuses. Consequently, poor women living in urban areas suffer because kinship
ties become more tenuous under conditions of urbanization. 76
Women in Nigeria also suffer legal discrimination in the control of contraception. Couples
should be entitled to the fundamental human rights of freely and responsibly determining the
number and spacing of their children. According to Article 12, 1 of the CEDAW, "[S]tates
Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the
field of health care in order to ensure equality of men and women in access to health care
services, including those related to family planning." However, the contemporary practice in
Nigeria is to deny women access to contraception by the Planned Parenthood Foundation of
Nigeria if they do not have the signed consent of their spouses. 77 At the same time,
contraceptives can be acquired over the counter and without any medical advice or monitoring.
This is a double standard which denies that women are competent to make independent and
responsible decisions. The control of reproduction in this manner is indicative of society's
conception of the locus of power within the family. This can be linked to accepted indigenous
methods of contraception where women are expected to periodically abstain from sexual
intercourse while the polygynous man has no such obligation. 78
Abortion is also legally and socially controlled. There are strict prohibitions against
abortions in Nigeria, which date from the English Offences against the Person Act of 1861. This
was the source of colonial regulation of abortion and remains in force under Nigerian statutory


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50 I Okome


law. The only condition under which abortion is permitted by the Act is if it is performed in
good faith and for the preservation of the mother's life.79 Under Sections 228-230 of the Southern
Criminal Code and Sections 232-236 of the Northern Penal Code, abortion is considered a crime
punishable by varying terms of imprisonment. 80 The 1975 UN Report on the Status of Women
& Family planning suggests that abortion should be legalized since "unjustified state
interference (with regard to abortion) is likely to be not only socially repressive and
discriminatory but personally traumatizing in its effects. This is especially true as it affects
women's attempts to gain autonomy over their bodies." 81
The key issues surrounding abortion are whether a woman is considered competent and
whether she is considered to have the capacity to make independent decisions about her body. 82
The 1976 recommendation of the Nigerian Medical Association and the Society of
Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Nigeria that the government allow abortions on request for
health and welfare reasons was not approved by the federal government because of
considerable opposition from some religious authorities. 83 The Nigerian government is wrong
in assuming that the main road-blocks to the elimination of discrimination are extra-legal. Legal
and extra-legal constraints coexist in both the letter of the law and in its administration. It is
generally acknowledged that customs and traditions still persist which prevent the elimination
of discrimination against women, and also that positive action must be taken by women to
attain the full enjoyment of their rights. 84 What is usually not addressed is the provision of
practical measures through which women can, if denied their rights, gain support toward the
granting of these rights through legal and organized political action.
Another source of discrimination is to be found within the practice of religion. In both
Christianity and Islam, there is a presumption of the inequality between women and men that
did not necessarily exist in pre-colonial religion. 85 In spite of Islamic provisions for the equality
of all believers, purdah and polygyny are considered obligatory. Since peasants cannot afford to
seclude their wives, these phenomena are linked to class. 86 In Christianity, the orthodox
position is that women should be submissive to men. Women's restricted access to information
in Islam, likewise encouraged them to accept a submissive role. Even in the case of Christianity,
education and a re-conceptualization of the role of women is necessary if significant progress is
to be made. Any prescriptions or conditions that may be found in the definition of the role of
women in the Bible remain inadequate as the sole harbingers of change. Both religions
contribute to the continuation of discrimination against women.
Under colonial rule, education was not widely extended to women, and where it was
women were prepared for predominantly domestic roles. This is reflected in the lower
percentage of women in all professions and academic subject-areas. Article 10, Sections a-h of
the CEDAW makes detailed provisions for the guarantee of equal rights for men and women in
education. However, in 1975, female enrollment in elementary schools was 32 percent for
students 6-11 years old and 14 percent for students 12 17 years old. From 1975-76, female
student enrollment in Universities was 15.9 percent and in 1981-82, 27.96 percent. 87 The
Nigerian National Policy on Education, according to the Report, makes only the following
reference to women's education:
With a view to correcting the imbalance between ...the number of boys and girls in formal
education and with particular regard to women's education, special effort will be made by


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 51


Ministries and Local government authorities in conjunction with Ministries of Community
Welfare and of Information, to encourage parents to send their daughters to school.88
The particular form that such encouragement will take is not specified. The government
considers this adequate because the 1979 Constitution provides in Section 18, paragraphs 1 and
3 that equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels will be ensured, and that free
education at all levels will be provided when practicable in order to eradicate illiteracy. 89 While
in the 1970's and early 1980's education was free at all levels, the cutbacks in government
spending following structural adjustment negatively affected education as well as other
policies.
Equal employment opportunity and associated rights are provided for in Article 11 of the
CEDAW. The Nigerian Constitution of 1979 also provides that the government endeavor to
ensure "equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex or on any ground
whatsoever." Nigerian women have a high level of participation in economic activity, but men
still largely control the commanding heights of both politics and the economy. Thus, while
women are represented in all the professions as well as in farming and trading, there is a
concentration of men in the high levels of government as well as in the private sector. The
problem in terms of equal employment opportunity therefore concerns under-representation in
decision-making rather than non-representation. All women in the work-force face a double
burden of work which tends to restrict their chances of upward mobility vis a vis men. Some
employers who consider men more stable for employment also discriminate against women, as
does the government in the administration of laws on taxation, and employment benefits. 90
It is clear that the primary responsibility for domestic labor falls on women despite the
provision that parents "share the same rights and responsibilities" by Article 16, 1, d, of the 1979
Covenant. Until men and women bear equal responsibility for household labor, women will
have limited access to employment opportunities and upward mobility. Also, there are very
few women in positions of authority to make meaningful decisions regarding the rights of
women. An additional problem is class. Women do not always share common interests, since
human rights have different implications for poor and affluent people. Class and sectional
differences therefore may prevent cooperative collective efforts by all women to gain the rights
due to them. Another problem is that people have deep psychological ties to their culture and
customs and "many women may prefer to live under those customs with which they are most
familiar, even though the customs deny them personal freedom." 91 When these women choose
to take concrete steps toward gaining their rights, they also face some degree of social
alienation. Education must therefore be directed at women as well as the whole society to foster
the elimination of discrimination against women.
The personal rights of women to exercise control over their bodies is limited also by female
genital operations, which in some cases create medical problems, including maternal and infant
mortality, especially when combined with pregnancy at too early an age. 92 These practices
violate both Organization of African Unity (OAU) and United Nations (UN) principles on basic
human rights. The Economic Commission for Africa also condemns them but rightly pinpoints
the complexity of the situation. 93 Considering the aforementioned role of culture in the lives of
people, these and other abuses are only eradicable over the long-term. When women
themselves find no use or rationale for these practices in their lives, they will disappear.


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Without such a commitment, efforts that are directed at eradication could prove to be fruitless.
Another facet of the inability of women to exercise independent control over their bodies relates
to the role of culture in the exercise of social control over individuals. Insofar as women as a
group are in a subordinate position to men, one could agree with Howard that such control is
directly beneficial to men economically, culturally and politically, with a caveat that women
themselves share the thinking that these practices have some validity to their lives. 94

Conclusion
In terms of domestic protections, of the problems militating against the elimination of
discrimination against women, most important is the fact that de jure guarantees do not
necessarily imply de facto recognition. Imam argues that the Nigerian social structure favors
men over women, resulting in exploitation which effectively subordinates women in all spheres
of life. For this exploitation to be eliminated, structural change must occur. The most desirable
form of change must be multi-dimensional in nature, incorporating changes in state legal policy
as well as in social policy. In addition, power relations in the family must change. 95 However, it
is refreshing that more recent scholarship is subjecting the argument of generalized male
dominance in Nigerian society to closer scrutiny. The consensus emerging is that more study
has to be done to highlight examples that contradict generalizations of male dominance in
Nigerian society.96
Concrete steps to change the social structure must include mass organization among
women, directed at surmounting the class divisions among them. This is necessary for
purposes of consciousness-raising, as well as for developing a common front to emphasize and
promote in political debate. Since most discrimination is justified by references to culture,
evidence about the positive role of women in pre-colonial Nigeria should be presented and
widely promoted to counter negative stereotypes.
Despite Nigeria's grueling economic crisis, the education of women must be given utmost
priority to enhance their ability to exercise self-determination in the control over their bodies
and to participate as equals in the labor force. Education must also be extended to the rest of
society on the importance of promoting and protecting women's rights. The involvement of
more women in policymaking within the government at local, regional and federal levels must
be further instituted and entrenched. Some steps have been taken in this direction by the
Federal Government of Nigeria which, beginning under the Mohammed/Obasanjo
administration, made the appointment of one woman in every decision making and
consultative body mandatory. However, there must also be legal reforms which enhance the
protection of the rights of women in Nigeria and remove present abuses by calling for the equal
application of administrative procedures.
Constraints limiting the elimination of discrimination against women also arise from the
nature of the international system which seeks to formalize these protections. Some of these
problems can be attributed to the relative newness of this body of rights and the
institutionalized procedures for promoting and protecting them. The Committee on the
Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women is the body vested with the authority
to investigate, review and evaluate the performance of states which are parties to the
Convention (Articles 17-20, CEDAW). Unfortunately, the Committee lacks adequate resources


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 53


for enforcing legal guarantees within the CEDAW and receives inadequate cooperation from
members, which are in large part slow in submitting reports. Moreover, several countries
including the United States have thus far not ratified the CEDAW, or have introduced many
reservations which makes CEDAW meaningless. In cases where the CEDAW has been ratified,
mechanisms for self-enforcement are unavailable. International protections currently are
basically exhortatory in nature and do not carry the force of law. An additional problem arises
from the need for the Committee to coordinate and integrate its work with other UN organs
dealing with women.
A problem with international guarantees is that signatories to the CEDAW are expected to
introduce constitutional and legislative changes, which give effect to its protections.
Governments are then expected to make periodic reports on the progress made (Art.2). Such
self-policing leaves room for abuses. 97 Due to these and other problems, the Committee has
been somewhat limited in its ability to live up to its potential. 98 The same problems apply to
regional protections.
There is no doubt that the elimination of discrimination against women involves much
more than legal protections and social engineering. It is obvious that activism among women,
which has always been an important part of Nigerian life, must continue. In addition, there
must be more cooperative action among women of all classes and in all areas of Nigeria. Their
guiding principle must be the one found already in some groups in the country--as long as
some women still live under discriminatory conditions, all women are affected. 99
There must also be the fine-tuning of national, regional and international protections in
order to remove elements of vagueness, combat inaccurate portrayals of women as well as
provide more concrete enforcement mechanisms to guarantee more effectively the rights of
women. These protections must be seen as building blocks in a constantly evolving process.

Notes
1. See, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/states.htm; Office of the United
Nations High Commission for Human Rights. Status of Ratifications of the Principal
Human Rights Treaties as of 26 November 2001. www.unhchr.ch/pdf/report.pdf
2. See United Nations Convention on the Elinui.iti..',' of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Nineteenth
session 22 June-10 July 1998 Draft report Rapporteur: Ms. Aurora Javate de Dios
(Philippines) Addendum IV. Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under
article 18 of the Convention B. Consideration of reports 2. Second and third periodic
reports Nigeria CEDAW/C/1998/II/L.1/Add.6 7 July 1998
http://www.hri.ca/fortherecordl998/documentation/tbodies/cedaw-c-1998-ii-11-add6.ht
m
3. See Ngangah, Chidi The Politics of Human Rights: A View From the Third World. Kaduna,
Nigeria: Klamidas Communications Ltd., 1998. also see Williams, Mary E., ed. Human
Rights: Opposing Viewpoints San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1998, particularly the
chapters by Pierre Sane "Human Rights are Universal," Bilahari Kausikan "A Universal
Definition of Human Rights Ignores Cultural Diversity," Anne Applebaum "The
women's rights agenda ignores Third World concerns,"


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4. See Nina Emma Mba, "The Position of Women in Southern Nigeria Before 1900" in Nina
Emma Mba, Nigerian Women Mobilized: Women's Political Activity in Southern Nigeria,
1900-1965. Berkeley, CA: Institute of International Studies, University of California,
1982, pp. 1-37.
5. Bolanle Awe, in Jane Parpart, ed., Women Development in Africa: Comparative
Perspectives, Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1989, p. 314; Ifi
Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in An African Society,
London: Zed, 1987, pp. 27-40; Nina Emma Mba, Nigerian Women Mobilized: Women's
Political Activity in Southern Nigeria, 1900-1965, Berkeley: University of California
(Institute of International Studies) 1982 pp. 290-299.
6. Mba, op cit, p. 292.
7. Bolanle Awe, Nigerian Women in Historical Perspective, Lagos, Nigeria: Sankore, 1992;
Patrick Kenechuckwu Uchendu, The Role of Nigerian Women in Politics: Past and Present,
Enugu, Nigeria: Fourth Dimension, 1993; Nina Mba, op cit; Catherine Coles & Beverly
Mack, ed., Hausa Women in the Twentieth Century, Madison: University of Wisconsin,
1991.
8. Sola Olufemi "Mobilizing Women for Rural Development: Some Principles for Success
from Nigeria" Women & Environments, April 1993, Vol. 13:3-4, p 33-35. Also see for
example, "Nigeria" in Women's International Network News, Spring 1995, Vol. 21 Issue 2,
p. 16-18; "Women and Human Rights Country Reports on Human Rights Practices For
1994: Nigeria" Women's International Network News, Spring, 1995; Renee Pittin "Selective
Education: Issues of Gender, Class and Ideology in Northern Nigeria" Review of African
Political Economy, Autumn 1990:48, p. 7-25 See also Theresa U. Akumadu Beasts of
Burden: A Study of Women's Legal Status and Reproductive Health Rights in Nigeria Lagos,
Nigeria: Civil Liberties Organisation, 1998.
9. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices For 1991 Report Submitted to The
Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives And The Committee on
Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, by The Department of State. Also see, Women's
International Network News, Spring 1992, Vol. 18:2, p.8-20.
10. ibid
11. Catherine VerEecke "Muslim Women Traders of Northern Nigeria: Perspectives from
the City of Yola" Ethnology, Summer 1993, Vol. 32:3, p. 217-336
12. Pittin, "Selective Education..." op cit.
13. Akumadu, op cit. Back cover.
14. Olufemi, op cit.
15. Ebijuwa Temisanren Views of Women in Yoruba Culture and Their Impact on the
Abortion Decision" Women & Health, Vol. 22 Issue 3, 1995, p. 19-27
16. Ade Aderinola,"Women farmers in Ondo State, Nigeria"Journal of Anthropological
Research, Vol. 50 Issue 3, Fall 1994, p. 311-326,
17. Ode S. Ogede "Counters to male domination: Images of pain in Igede women's songs."
Research in African Literatures, Vol. 25 Issue 3, Fall 1994, p.105-120.
18. ibid.


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 55


19. E.A. Yoloye, "Socio-Economic Background of Children in Three Types of Schools in the
Western States of Nigeria" in M. 0. Durojaiye, (ed.) Psychological Guidance of the School
Child, 1970, pp. 16-32; J.O. Ogunlade "Family environment and educational attainment
of some school children in Western Nigeria", West African Journal of Education, 17: 3,
1973, p. 429-432; Stella Y. Erinosho "Performance Level in Physics Among Girls in
Single-Sex and Co-Educational Secondary Schools in Nigeria", Studies in Educational
Evaluation, 18, 1992, pp. 247-252.
20. O.J. Ehindero, "Correlates of Physics Achievement: The Role of Gender and Non-
Induced Student Expectations", Journal of Experimental Education, 54, pp. 189-192
21. See A. Imam, R. Pittin & H. Omole, Women and the Family: Edited Proceedings of the Second
Annual Women In Nigeria Conference, Dakar: Codesria, 1985. For an example of the
argument that "traditional" mores are responsible for the maintenance of discriminatory
laws and practices against women, see Women's International Network News, Spring 1995,
Vol. 21: 2, p16.
22. Temisanren, op cit.; Aderinola, op cit.
23. Ogede, op cit.
24. Grace Alele-Williams "Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) Education for All,
Including Women and Girls in Africa", a Keynote Address Delivered at the
Commonwealth Regional Workshop on Women and STM Education, Accra, Ghana,
1987.
25. Nancy Hafkin & Edna Bay; Maureen Mackintosh; Carmel Dinan; in Chris Allen & Gavin
Williams, Sociology of "Developing Societies": Sub-Saharan Africa, New York: Monthly
Review, 1982.
26. Ihonvbere & Shaw, 1989, p. 8
27. Oyeronke Temilola Oyewumi, Mothers, Not Women: Making an African Sense of Western
Gender Discourse, Ph.D Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1992; Ifi
Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands, op cit.
28. Oyewumi, ibid. Amadiume on the contrary, conceives of these relationships as
indicating gender flexibility.
29. Osita C. Eze, Human Rights in Africa: Some Selected Problems, Lagos: NIIA & Macmillan,
1976, p. 144; Awe, 1989
30. See for example, Women's International Network News, Spring 1995; Spring 1992, Vol. 18:2,
p.8-20.
31. Bolanle Awe, Nigerian Women in Historical Perspective, Lagos, Nigeria: Sankore, 1992;
Patrick Kenechuckwu Uchendu, The Role of Nigerian Women in Politics: Past and Present,
Enugu, Nigeria: Fourth Dimension, 1993; Nina Mba, op cit; Catherine Coles & Beverly
Mack, ed., Hausa Women in the Twentieth Century, Madison: University of Wisconsin,
1991.
32. Ibid.
33. Amadiume, op cit; Awe, 1989 op cit.
34. Bolanle Awe and Patrick Kenechukwu Uchendu make this point. Op cit.
35. Mba, op cit., pp. 290-299.


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36. See Nigeria's First Report to the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination
Against Women, (CEDAW), p.6.
37. Awe, 1989 & 1992, op cit.; Mba, op cit.; Uchendu, op cit.; Coles & Mack, op. cit.
38. See Awe Nigerian Women in Historical Perspective, op. cit.
39. Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome "African Women and Power: Reflections on the Perils of
Unwarranted Cosmopolitanism." Jenda: Journal of African Culture and Women Studies, Vol.
1:1; 2001 www.jendajournal.com "Gender and the Travails of Decentralizing the
Nigerian Federation" West Africa Review, Vol. 2:1 August 2000
www.westafricareview.com.
40. Amadiume, op cit., pp. 34-40.
41. ibid.
42. Amadiume, op cit. For research on Onitsha women, see the work of Nkiru Nzegwu
43. Awe, op cit; Mba, op cit.
44. Mba, op cit. p. 67.
45. Amadiume, op cit. p. 141.
46. Mba, op cit, p. 69.
47. Amadiume, op cit, p. 34.
48. Bilkisu Yusuf "Hausa-Fulani Women: The State of the Struggle," in Coles & Mack, eds.,
op cit.; Bolanle Awe, 1989.
49. Mba, op cit, p. 191; Akande, op cit.
50. Oruene, op cit., p. 11.
51. Mba, op cit, pp. 165-192.
52. Akande, op cit, p. 9.
53. For detailed information on Nigeria's adoption and implementation of SAP, and the
consequences, see Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, A Sapped Democracy: The Political
Economy of the Structural Adjustment Program and the Political Transition in Nigeria, 1983-
1993. MD: University Press of America, 1997. Also see Adebayo Olukoshi, ed., The
Nigerian External Debt Crisis: Its Management, Lagos: Malthouse, 1990; Crisis and
Adjustment in Nigeria, Lagos: JAD Publishers, 1991; R. Omotayo Olaniyan & Chibuzo N.
Nwoke, eds., Structural Adjustment in Nigeria: The Impact of SFEM on the Economy, Lagos:
NIIA, 1990; Thomas Biersteker, "Reaching Agreement with the IMF: The Nigerian
Negotiations, 1983-1986," Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg, Pew Program In Case
Teaching and Writing in International Affairs, 1988; Dennis Odife, Structural Adjustment
and Economic Revolution in Nigeria, Ibadan, Nigeria: Heinemann, 1989; Jeffrey Herbst &
Adebayo Olukoshi, "Nigeria," (Paper prepared for the Project on the Political Economy
of Structural Adjustment in New Democracies), n.d.; Thomas M. Callaghy, "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, Princeton: Princeton
University, 1990.
54. Nigeria is also not a signatory to the Optional Protocol to the CCPR, and the Second
Optional Protocol to the CCPR or to The International Convention on the Rights of all
Migrant Workers and Members of their Family. Office of the United Nations High


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Protection of Nigerian Women Against Discrimination I 57


Commission for Human Rights. Status of Ratifications of the Principal Human Rights
Treaties as of 26 November 2001. www.unhchr.ch/pdf/report.pdf.
55. Daddieh, 1989 p. 165; Ifeyinwa Iweriebor, "Women and the Family: Labour and
Management What can be done?," in Women and the Family, op cit, pp. 239-252, 1985.
56. Jadesola 0. Akande, Laws and Customs Affecting Women's Status in Nigeria, Lagos:
International Federation of Women Lawyers, Nigeria, 1979 p.17; Nigerian First Report to
CEDAW, op cit., p. 30.
57. First Report to CEDAW, op cit., p. 30.
58. See Ifeyinwa Iweriebor, "Women in the Evolution of the Nigerian Constitutional and
Political System/Order since Independence (1960-1990s) Paper presented at Dartmouth
College, Hanover, New Hampshire, May 15, 1992; at The Institute of African Studies,
Columbia University, November 6, 1992 & Ralph Bunche Institute for the Study of the
United Nations, Seminar on Contemporary Africa, February 19, 1993.
59. Dalhatu Muhammed, "Women, The Family and the Wider Society," in Women & Family
in Nigeria, op cit., p. 30; African Guardian, April 9, 1990, pp. 36-37.
60. Akande, op cit, pp. 12-14; Pittin, op. cit, pp. 108-109.
61. Akande, op cit, p. 8.
62. Howard, op cit, p. 199.
63. Akande, op cit, pp. 14-15.
64. Pittin, op cit, pp. 108-110.
65. Howard, op cit., 198.
66. Howard, op cit., 198.
67. Howard, 1986 op cit, pp. 185-186.
68. First Report to CEDAW, op cit, p. 36.
69. ibid, p. 36.
70. Mba, op cit., pp. 52-58.
71. First Report to CEDAW, op cit., pp.33-34
72. First Report to CEDAW, op cit., pp. 34-35.
73. First Report to CEDAW, op cit., p. 35.
74. Claude Ake, The Possibility of Development in Africa, (unpublished manuscript.)
75. Akande, op cit., pp. 14-15; Nigeria's First Report to CEDAW, op cit, p. 31.
76. See Howard, 1986 op cit., p. 200.
77. Pittin, op cit., p. 96.
78. ibid, p. 94.
79. Akande, op cit., p. 20; Pittin, op cit., p. 99.
80. Akande, ibid, p. 22; Pittin, ibid, p. 99.
81. Pittin, ibid, p. 103.
82. Pittin, ibid, p. 105.
83. Pittin, ibid, p. 108; Akande, op cit., p. 21.
84. Akande, ibid, pp. 27-29; Howard, op cit., p. 200; Women & Family in Nigeria, op cit.
85. Hauwa, Mahdi, "The Position of Women in Islam;" Mathew Hassan Kukah, "Women,
the Family and Christianity: Old Testament, New Testament and Contemporary
Concepts," in Women & Family in Nigeria, op cit., pp. 55-59; 66-72.


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58 I Okome


86. Mahdi, op cit., p. 62.
87. First Report to CEDAW, op cit., p.13.
88. First Report to CEDAW, p. 14.
89. First Report to CEDAW, p. 15.
90. Eze, op cit, p. 145; Howard, op cit, p. 201.
91. Howard, ibid, p. 200.
92. Howard, op cit., p. 203; Tahzib, op cit., p. 76.
93. Howard, op cit., pp. 202-206.
94. Howard, op cit., p. 206.
95. Imam, op cit., pp. 144-147.
96. See Coles & Mack, Hausa Women in the Twentieth Century, op cit; P.K. Uchendu, The Role
of Nigerian Women in Politics, op cit; Oyeronke Oyewumi, Mothers, not Women, op cit.
97. Development, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: Report of a Conference held in the Hague on
27 April 1 May, 1981. Convened by the International Commission of Jurists, Oxford:
Pergamon Press, 1981, pp. 44-45.
98. Andrew Colin Byrnes, The "Other" Human Rights Treaty Body: The Work of the Committee
on the Elhiiii'iti..'ii of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, (Unpublished) Columbia
University Thesis, 1988. pp. 16, 86-87.
99. Women &Family in Nigeria, op cit., Introduction.

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Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article: Okome,
Mojbol Olfnk. "Domestic, Regional, And International Protection of Nigerian Women Against
Discrimination: Constraints And Possibilities." African Studies Quarterly 6, no. 3: [online] URL:
http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v6/v6i3a2.htm


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Globalisation, Nepad and the Governance Question in Africa


'KUNLE AMUWO


Introduction and Problematique

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is yet another initiative by Africa's
Heads of State and Governments intended to reverse, for good, the beggarly and highly
embarrassing image of the continent through a 'sustained engagement' with the developed
world. Among its many objectives, NEPAD seeks to halt the growing and deepening poverty of
Africans by working towards altering the basis of the relationship between the rich North and
the poor South. The initiative seeks a new global partnership based on shared responsibility and
mutual interest through the instrumentality of political democracy and economic development
on the continent. It is also concerned to institute people-centered development via market-
oriented economies capable of holding their own ground in the global village. Furthermore,
NEPAD is in search of building blocks to lay the foundation for a new politico-economic order,
one able to permanently reverse the old clich that 'Africa is rich but Africans are poor'. The
politico-economic blueprint of action is also meant to strengthen the capacity of the state with a
view to making it an effective engineer, formulator and implementer of people-friendly
programs and policies. Finally, where various Lome EU-ACP agreements have virtually
condemned Africa to the unenviable role of producing no more than primary commodities for
Western industrial consumption, NEPAD proposes a frontal attack on the negative fall-outs of
the continent's integration into the global system as an extremely weak partner and a peripheral
player.
What the authors of NEPAD are saying, in brief, is that whilst it is imperative for Africa to
clean up its act and begin to take its rightful place in the comity of continents, it cannot-and
should not be expected-to go it alone. Yet, little or nothing in the document suggests that the
Western paradigm of development that has done everything except develop the continent is
being challenged or contested.
My principal argument here, at once implicit and explicit, is that since Africa's history of
unequal relations with the developed world in the last three centuries or so is such that it has
largely become a non-autonomous actor without the capacity to decide its own fate and future,
NEPAD-by being essentially a-historical does not constitute an adequate response to the
continent's underdevelopment. It needs to be replaced by a more African-centered economic
action plan that takes the continents history into account. That is to say a history that is two-
sided. First, one needs to consider Africa's relations with the West in terms of the slave trade,
colonialism and neo-colonialism. In the latter's contemporary rendition as "globalization," the
continent encounters the diffusion of Western capitalism and cultural values and a network of
socio-economic and political institutions and relations that have made Africa's political


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66 I Amuwo


economy the most vulnerable to both positive and negative external influences. The second side
of that history is the bad politics and venal leadership in much of the continent that were either
ignored or supported by the West during the Cold War period-depending on their strategic or
nuisance value-but which have become costly in both political and economic terms after the
formal end of the Cold War. As Zack-Williams, have argued, "Africa's crisis is not natural or
inevitable but a product of human history; a history forged in the complex interaction between
locals and foreigners, states and societies, and domestic and imperial pressures." 1
A major lacuna in NEPAD, I argue, is its inability or unwillingness, or both, to boldly
account for Africa's underdevelopment as a function of both the epochal consequences of
colonialism/structural imperialism and bad politics of many of the continent's political leaders.
It may be true that "democracy in the form of multiparty elections was generally seen by
African rulers as the price to pay for continued financial assistance rather than as the political
modality that will make development more likely." 2 But it is also true that structural
adjustment programs (SAPs) had greatly undermined the capacity of African states
economically and strengthened their hands politically to deal with political discontent. To make
sense of this methodological impasse, Alex de Waal's notion of NEPAD as a 'big idea' that buys
into "the promise of bold international action to resolve Africa's crisis" is useful. 3 Taken along
with his argument that one of NEPAD's strengths is that there is nothing essentially new about
it, that what Africa needs is not so much new development models as "a proper application of
lessons already learned," we get the moral that the success of this African initiative seems to be
hinged on a correct reading of Africa's history as well as on adequate responses to that history. 4
In NEPAD's attempt to grapple with that history, it seems to have treated the 'international
community' with kid gloves. And, what is more, this has been done in a rather simplistic
manner, in an A then B explicatory schema: If Africa puts its house in order, the continent's
'traditional' trading partners will fund its development. It is as if authors of NEPAD have
turned the history of Africa's relations with the West on its head. It is as if contemporary
globalization- particularly in the trade practices of the North in relation to the South-has no
abiding hard lessons to teach Africa's political leaders.
The remainder of this paper is divided into four sections. The first examines the nature of
globalization and its effects on Africa and the new development initiative. The second critically
interrogates the competing approaches to the governance question and how NEPAD addresses
it. The third section analyses the challenges that governance poses to Africa's political leaders.
The last section, which also concludes the essay, is concerned to identify to what extent the
document's provisions are capable of aiding the process of constructing a developmental state
on the continent. In all of this I argue that by appropriating, almost hook, line and sinker, a
paradigm of Western hegemony that, in various changing forms and guises, has mainly been
responsible for the continent's underdevelopment, NEPAD does not, and cannot, be the Plan of
Action to save Africa both from the outside world and from itself and this notwithstanding the
good intentions of its proponents. In its place, I make a case for a developmental state that will
give locus and focus to the governance project, first domestically by the gradual insertion of
consensual politics between governments, unions (civil society organizations) and business, and
secondly internationally, through sustained political pressure to render global governance
humane.


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Globalization, NEPAD, and the Governance Question in Africa I 67


GLOBALIZATION AND ITS IMPACT ON AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT

Globalization is a complex process and phenomenon of antinomies and dialectics:
integrating and fragmenting world; uniformity and localization; increased material prosperity
and deepening misery; homogenization and hegemonization. Globalization is nothing but a
mixed grill. On the one hand, it has the potentiality of eroding national sovereignty of the
weakest and poorest states, whilst widening the technological divide amongst states; on the
other, it tends to provide an enabling environment for greater respects for human rights and
gender equality. It is an economic orthodoxy that is failing the people, but enriching investors
and big corporations. When Africa's political leaders rein into it, it is problematic; and when
nation-states propose or seek to implement alternatives, they are puniitd. They are reminded by
the rich and powerful nations, la Reagan and Thatcher, that there is no alternative to the only
way-the market path-of running the 'global economy.'
Cooper conceptualizes globalization in three ways: the 'Banker's Boast,' according to which
globalization is no longer a work in progress, but rather a concrete reality capable of emptying
governments of their sovereignty; 'Social Democrats' lamentation about that 'reality' that gnaws
away at the fabric of social welfarism; and finally what he calls 'the 'Dance of the Flows and
Fragments,' that is to say, globalization as an uneven process. For him, what is wrong with the
triple explication is their "totalizing pretensions and their presentist periodization." 5 He would
rather buy into the notion of globalization as a process in becoming, whose coherence, reach
and specificity are still in a state of flux. Nevertheless, in Cooper's historical analysis of
capitalism, the import of globalization to developing economies comes into bold relief. Africa's
structural context of choice is mired in a dialectical relationship between a putative openness of
global market and a real lack of state autonomy. He invites us to examine capitalism in an
Atlantic spatial system and by so doing "write about large-scale, long-term processes, without
overlooking specificity, contingency and contestation." 6 More germane to our discussions is his
observation that the contemporary form of globalization is as deglobalizing of Africa as
colonialism. He argues that only small states with scant strategic value for Western powers are
doing well; others with strategic interests and oil economies "are in permanent economic crisis."
Furthermore, the macro-economic, neo-liberal, market-friendly economic policies of IFIs are
such that "Africa's contribution to world trade and its intake of investment funds were larger in
the days of national economic policy than in the days of economic openness." Finally, for
Cooper, contemporary globalization is no more than an "age of globalizing deglobalization in
Africa or of distorted globalization." 7
The theme of Africa's massive marginalization under globalization finds a resonant echo in
Mazrui. He argues that whilst "the continent helped to develop Europe through labor, territory
and extractive 'imperatives' of the colonial era, every stage of Africa's contribution to
globalization was also a stage in its own marginalization." 8 The view that globalization is not a
universal phenomenon and that only economies already competitive profit most from it has
virtually become a dominant school of thought. 9 Africa is, perhaps, the worst affected. With the
concentration of the benefits of globalization in the triad (US, EU and Japan), the inability of
globalization to meet the most basic needs of people in the poorest countries has only worsened
the structural crisis of international political economy. Similarly, the autonomy and degree of


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68 I Amuwo


maneuverability of African states are severely constrained. Not only do most of them lack the
ability to develop their own market capital, they have "increasingly lost the authority to
determine both the direction of social development or the context of social policy." 10
Globalization has worked more for the corporate world both in the developed and developing
worlds and less for the hapless people in the developing world. 11 The phenomenon has been
anything but a positive sum game; poor countries not only routinely lose out to the rich, but
also transfer huge export earnings to foreign institutional creditors in the name of debt
servicing-four times more money than they spend on basic health and care and education.
Perhaps nowhere is globalization more pernicious and debilitating to the interest of Africa
than the hugely unfair trade practices institutionalized under the aegis of the World Trade
Organization (WTO). By favoring the worst form of unregulated capitalism in modern history-
with rigged rules and unfair agricultural standards for Africa- globalization imperils both
democracy and development on the continent. Bello, has detailed how this is done. One, a
powerful and wide-ranging WTO has been better able to protect the interest of the US more
than the GATT it replaced. This was realized by getting African states to sign the Marrakesh
Accord of 1994. The latter gave teeth to the Uruguay Round whilst effectively robbing these
states of "their right to employ a variety of critical trade measures for development purposes."
12 A major measure is the 'local content' rules used by several newly industrializing countries to
achieve a judicious balance between foreign investment and national industrialization. Two, the
use of Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) and Trade-Related Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS), are not only inimical to the industrialization and development of developing
countries, but also deepen their technological dependence on firms of the developed world.
Three, WTO does not recognize the 'special and differential' status Third World countries
enjoyed under both the UNCTAD and GATT. On the contrary, it decrees that the only route to
development "is one that involves radical trade (and investment) liberalization." Four, the
WTO's Special Measures on Developing Countries have been honored more in their breach than
in their observance. A notable example is the one on agriculture that was intended to give
assistance to 'Net Food Importing Countries' with a view to offsetting the reduction of subsidies
that would make food imports more expensive. Five, whilst virtually insisting that developing
countries should withdraw subsidies from their farmers, OECD countries have regularly
increased theirs. Jean Chretien, the Canadian Prime Minister, declared during a special session
in the UN General Assembly devoted to NEPAD in September 2002 that one way rich countries
can help African economies is to end subsidies worth $350 billion for domestic agricultural
products. In the process, the playing field that multilateral trading system seeks to put in place
is further endangered. Finally, Bello concludes that "the WTO systematically protects the trade
and economic advantages of the rich countries, particularly the United States. It is based on a
paradigm or philosophy that denigrates the right to take activist measures to achieve
development on the part of the less developed countries, thus leading to a radical dilution of
their right to 'special and differential treatment.' The WTO raises inequality into a principle of
decision-making." 13
To all appearances, Africa's political leaders and their sundry economic and political
advisers do not read the nature and character of the global system they are dealing with in the
way have articulated above. They seem to believe that genuine partnership is possible between


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Globalization, NEPAD, and the Governance Question in Africa I 69


them and their Western counterparts based on the existing rules of the contemporary global
system. Thus, the NEPAD document at paragraph 188 talks, in relation to Africa, about the
"responsibilities and obligations of the developed countries and multilateral institutions,
ranging from debt relief to market access and governance reform of the multilateral
institutions." Authors of the document in question seem to understand neither the system nor
the structures with which they are confronted. They have not come to terms with the logic of a
system that, vis-a-vis poor countries, often say what it will not do and does what it does not say.
By so doing, they make inordinately unrealistic assumptions and prognosis. As Maxwell and
Christiansen have argued, "the conditions in aid relationship tend to apply more to the
recipient country than to the donor; this has been described as 'asymmetrical accountability'
and is rather closer in practice to traditional conditionality than to genuine partnership." 14
Understood this way, Ake's contention that development "is not for a people who do not know
who they are and where they are coming from, for such people are unlikely to know where they
are going" makes eminent sense. 15
This misreading of the global system is not new. Africa's political leaders at juridical
independence in the 1960s and the state formations they inherited were introduced to what
they thought was a neutral, almost altruistic, international economic and financial system that
was interested in the continent's 'accelerated development' with a view to 'catching up with the
West' (two of the buzzwords of that era). Once the euphoria of independence withered away,
the leaders would discover a world 'order' that was, almost in all material particular, disorderly
and anarchical. They found a global system where ethics and morality were-and still are-
routinely neglected in favor of real-politik and an aggressive pursuit of national interests. They
found a globe dominated by highly industrialized, rich and powerful nations that jealously
protect their markets, industries and privileges whilst states that do little more than produce
raw materials and sell primary goods, by virtue of an amoral 'international division of labor,'
have to play second fiddle.
Naturally, Africa's political leaders have been frustrated by this reality more so that over
four decades after, few, if any, of the promises of development have been fulfilled on the
continent. On the contrary, almost by all accounts, Africans are, in general terms, worse off
today materially than they were at nominal independence. Today, the majority of those 1.2
billion people the World Bank says live on less than one US dollar per day are found on the
continent. Whilst foreign aid and foreign direct investments (FDIs) are drying up, much of what
remains continues to be tied to buying goods and services from donor nations. African states
feature prominently among the lowest FDI in the world-less than 0.5% of the value of their
GNP. 16 Collier expatiates: "Africa is currently attracting only those investments which cannot
be located elsewhere, such as mineral extraction or production for the (tiny) domestic market.
The major internationally footloose investments are simply bypassing Africa as a location." 17 A
major reason for this, according to Cooper is that the continent "is filled with areas where
international investors do not go." 18 It is curious that notwithstanding this empirical reality, the
authors of NEPAD place their faith on a substantial external funding of the continent's
development.
Under globalization, the continent's marginalization could not have been worse. According
to one analyst, "not only has the international leverage of African leaders been drastically


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70 I Amuwo


diminiitd in the globalizing post-cold war world, they now sail in the largely uncharted waters
of eroding norms of sovereignty, dwindling Western concern with Africa's poverty, a vacuum
of ideological visions and the growing power of external non-state actors such as multinational
corporations, non-governmental organizations, crime syndicates and CNN". 19 Thus, unlike
Europe or North America seeking to redefine its sovereignty, in much of Africa the question is
not so much a question of reinvention of sovereignty as the crisis of collapsing or disintegrating
states that have to be rescued. 20 But for several reasons (including the global system's profound
lack of democracy; IFIs not being development institutions; the nefarious activities of business
lobbies, however formally legal, that constitute a graver threat to democracy and accountability
in developing countries than domestic corruption, etc.), dependence on market economy will
only postpone Africa's development to the mythical calendes greces. 21 As Germain has put it,
"the belief in globalization as an unfettered collective good has received a knock" since the
Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. 22 A major argument here is that it is difficult to preach
democracy, however understood, to countries at the mercy of a global financial system whose
decision-making mechanisms are insulated from the general processes of democratic
accountability. Expressed provocatively, we can, in a fundamental sense, trace the lack of
crucial resources for nation-building and economic development as well as a proliferation of
intra and inter-state conflicts that this often engenders to crucial decisions taken in the inner
recesses of IFIs.
A globalization accelerates; notwithstanding the stagnation in the volume of global trade in
2001 after an exceptional 12% growth in 2000-Africa is caught between autonomy and openness.
This has serious politico-economic and social repercussions domestically and globally. As
expatiated below, on account of weak internal governance mechanisms these states find it
difficult to maximize openness whilst also experiencing considerable problems in effectively
choosing autonomy. The seemingly rising profile in the donor community of the four principal
drivers of NEPAD (South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal and Algeria) is, within this context, a double-
edged sword: to implement NEPAD, they are likely to be more sensitive to Western interests
because of the high hopes placed on the donor community for funding the Initiative. In the
process, they are likely to end up paying only a nodding attention to critical African interests
and perspectives.
Yet, these leaders know that to enjoy domestic legitimacy and credibility, they have to
create the impression in the minds of the people that they are busy working for them. There is,
in consequence, some element of enlightened self-interest in the current initiative by Africa's
Heads of State and Governments. They have placed the onus on themselves to engage African
peoples and the continent's 'development partners' in a seemingly frank dialogue with a view
to making the 21st Century Africa's.
The opening paragraph of NEPAD appears unambiguous about the authors' commitment
to lead the new struggle and offensive. It read thus: "This New Partnership for Africa's
Development is a pledge by African leaders based on a common vision and a firm conviction,
that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both
individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and at the
same time to participate actively in the world economy and body politic." 23 To successfully
undertake this resolution, the document rejects a 'beggar-thy-neighbor' approach to


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Globalization, NEPAD, and the Governance Question in Africa I 71


development. On the contrary, it unequivocally advocates for the reversal of Africa's abnormal
situation by changing the relationship that underpins it. It adds: "Africans are appealing neither
for the further entrenchment of dependency through aid, nor for marginal concessions." 24 What
the leaders are demanding is that a people-friendly balance should be struck between the
wealth-creating energies of international private capital and enterprise and the public
obligations of good governance. Whilst pledging a firm commitment to the latter, the leaders
want to engage the rich nations to make the former available to Africa anchored on a new
global partnership characterized by shared responsibility and mutual interest. In other words,
the plea is that both sides of the equation should begin to act more responsibly and more
humanely for the sake of humanity. But how far can exhortatory politics go?

THE GOVERNANCE QUESTION

In the last decade or so, the notion of 'good governance' has increasingly been used as part
of the conditionality for continued 'aid' to developing countries. It has become a cherished
concept within the donor community, the chancelleries of diplomatic capitals and among aid
recipient countries. The concept, nevertheless remains slippery, highly contentious, and one
whose province is also a contested terrain. Mercifully, it is possible to tease out a few
contending perspectives before attempting to show how governance issues are addressed
within the NEPAD framework.
The first perspective is the technocratic/economic approach, the domain of IFIs and the
donor community. Aid recipients are required to balance their financial books well, to avoid
balance of payments deficits. To do this, all that is required is to follow both the letter and spirit
of orthodox economic reforms stipulated by these institutions and the donor community: trade
liberalization, currency devaluation, subsidy withdrawal from agriculture, privatization of
commanding heights of the economy, the private sector as the engine of development. The
problem is that people, the real beneficiaries of these reforms, are hardly factored in. It seems as
if the administration of things (healthy GDP and GNP per capital, etc) are prioritized above the
greatest welfare for the greatest number of the people. Ends appear to justify the means. The
whether of economic development is deemed more important than how and for whom it is
realized. Some dosages of authoritarianism not excluded from the equation. For Manji and
O'Coill, this perspective on good governance is no more than repackaged structural adjustment
programs that were highly contested in many parts of Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s. 25
They have been retouched and supposedly given a 'human face'.
The second perspective is essentially political. Here, good governance means legitimate
government, one that is properly put in place by the electorate themselves and that stays in
close touch with the people. Good governance therefore requires a functional state that is
institutionally strong, efficient and effective anchored on publicly determined, predictable and
increasingly routinized 'rules of the game'. The objective would be to guarantee "public
security and the rule of law, necessary conditions for both economic development and
democratization" (Carlos, 2001:163). But this has to be a state in the process of becoming. Thus,
Carlos adds that good governance is a call for "the emergence of a reformed state, governed by
the rules of legitimacy, transparency, accountability and responsibility." 26 Good governance in


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72 I Amuwo


this sense would mean the pursuit of two mutually reinforcing agendas: democracy and
governance. A third and final perspective on good governance sees the latter as 'ownership' by
the people of reform and development programs enunciated by the state/government. This
entails participatory democracy, decentralization of decision-making centers of power in both
political and economic senses.
In this respect, the literature raises two important issues. One, domestic ownership of
reforms as a necessary condition for the successful implementation of reform and development
programs. 27 Two, the notion of 'beneficiary ownership, or the increased citizen participation in
the design and implementation of programs. 28 Furthermore, Killick et.al argue that ownership
indicates a conflict of interest between the objectives sought by donors and national
governments. 29 Apparently with Africa in mind, Killock, et.al., warn that "there is unlikely to
be convergence between the objectives and interests of donors and recipients." 30 This is
because, among other reasons, the two parties are informed by different historical and
institutional backgrounds. They also report to different constituencies.

CHALLENGES OF GOVERNANCE TO POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

Nothing defines governance more than its social or public purpose. This is what ties the
foregoing three perspectives together. But as Sachs has argued, countries may be well governed
(in any of the senses outlined above) but that will not remove structural impediments to
development. 31 Thus, whilst not ignoring the market and the discipline it sometimes imposes
on key political actors, a technocratic interpretation of good governance does not appear as
socially relevant as the political legitimacy and ownership perspectives. As rules for organizing
public affairs, managing the interaction the market, the state and civil society, as well as the
relationship between a state's power structure and the civil society, governance can be either
'good' or 'bad' to the extent that certain key criteria are met (e.g., consensual political goals,
political participation and political accountability). 32 Governance is also a regime of rules
concerning not only whether the state delivers social goods and values, but also, how this is being
done. In other words, whilst the notion of governance necessarily has, both technocratic and
political elements these two elements should be more preponderant lest we are confronted with
states that are fairly efficient, but hardly effective.
Herein lies important challenges for Africa's political leaders as they grapple with NEPAD.
They have to make the double political dimension of governance dominant. By so doing, the
unregulated and undemocratic space of technocracy can gradually be brought under control,
lest powerful groups and individuals continue to exploit the people in the name of state
efficiency that lacks ennobling social ingredients. In essence, 'good' governance will consist of
political rationality among policy makers, reforming state and democratic institutions
deepening democracy, and facilitating the expansion of the public space for more non-state
actors to find unmitigated expression. 33 Furthermore, good governance will also entail
reversing what globalization stands for: It now seeks the latter seeks to "make the population fit
for global capital" without any plans whatsoever "to make capital adapt to the needs of the
population". 34 The process of reversal would mean more responsible and responsive
governments, weak enough to do what the people want, but strong enough to get them to work


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Globalization, NEPAD, and the Governance Question in Africa I 73


and to progressively make African states productive economies. Weiss puts this in clear relief
by suggesting that:
Processes or rules of decision-making that are more likely to result in actions that are truly
in the public interest, rather than favoring the private exploitation of the public interest. The
central challenge is not to halt the expansion of the market but to establish proper rules and
institutions so that the benefits of growth are more widely beneficial. 35
Similarly, Africa's political leaders have to commit themselves to a more social definition of
good governance by legitimizing "alternative definitions that prioritize public welfare or
governmental accountability to citizens instead of to foreign creditors." 36 This would involve a
more critical reading and understanding of the nature and character of contemporary global
system.
According to the Declaration on Africa's Development Challenges, [adopted at the end of a
conference jointly hosted in Accra, Ghana in April 2002 by the Council for Development and
Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the Third World Network (TWN)-Africa on
"Africa's Development Challenges in the Millenium"] the development vision and economic
measures proposed by NEPAD are unrealistic and flawed because they do not challenge the
status quo. More specifically, the Declaration argues that the vision will do little more than
"reinforce the hostile external environment and the internal weaknesses that constitute the
major obstacles to Africa's development." 37 African scholars have been largely skeptical of what
the donor community means by good governance. According to Mukandala, the liberal
democracy of the third wave is a hijacking of the people's political struggle "for something that
is formally democratic and progressive but substantively empty. Liberal democracy of the third
wave cloaks itself in legality than legitimacy. It promotes 'good governance' that is managerial
and status quo oriented and that can only allow for growth, rather than leadership that must
pursue structural transformation." 38 The continent's political leaders have to identify and work
within paradigms that facilitate rather than retard continental development.
To be sure, this challenge would require some form of radicalization of the continent's
political leaders. At this critical juncture of Africa's history, they may have little choice to
facilitating "a politics of resistance" among their people. 39 Interestingly, there are some snippets
of evidence in NEPAD that its authors recognize the need for this brand of politics, though these
are largely left undeveloped for reasons that are perhaps understandable. Paragraph 54 of the
blueprint speaks to the fact that the "struggle [Africans would be waging will be successful only
if our peoples are the masters of their own destiny." 40 And paragraph 56 calls on African
peoples "to take up the challenge of mobilizing in support of the implementation of this
initiative by setting up, at all levels, structures for organization, mobilization and action." 41
NEPAD authors seem to have given some attention to this important issue in terms of
ownership of the program as well as the accountability of leaders to the people. Yes, ownership
appears to have been smuggled in only as an after-thought. It is one of the major gaps in the
document. If the initiative is to succeed, African states and governments need as much support
from the people as they can get. As a "dynamic and endogenous concept" in which "good
economic outcomes... tend to support greater ownership," mass support for initial success is
very important. 4 In any event, it will not be enough for Africa's political leaders to be in the
good books of the donor community. They will enjoy genuine legitimacy both at home and


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74 I Amuwo


abroad only as they work assiduously to close the gap between themselves and their people in
terms of broad, long-term social objectives and the means to achieve them. There is a further
important consideration. With relatively weak state capacity and less than strong policy
decision-making processes, how meaningful is program ownership by the people? 43
The notion of accountability of leaders is a welcome development. At the very heart of
good governance, accountability facilitates other areas of social commitment by the state.
Having committed themselves to strengthening national, sub-regional and continental
structures that support good governance." 44 Africa's political leaders also propose, that "the
Heads of State Forum... will serve as a mechanism through which the leadership of NEPAD
will periodically monitor and assess the progress made by African countries in meeting their
commitment towards achieving good governance and social reforms." 45 They add that the
"Forum will also provide a platform for countries to share experiences with a view to fostering
good governance and democratic practices." 46 Known as the African Peer Review Mechanism,
a consensus is yet to emerge on its exact, practical role. Yet, the provision suffers from no
apparent semantic ambiguity. At the Abuja Summit in October 2002, only a dozen heads of state
formally ratified the Peer Review Mechanism on behalf of their countries. Others pleaded for
more time. Similarly, there has been an addition to the mechanism in question. After President
Thabo Mbeki led a group that questioned the propriety of peer review, South Africa's deputy
Foreign Affairs Minister issued a statement that a second leg of the mechanism, composed of a
small group of eminent persons would be charged with peer review, and only on economic
matters. Peer review of political matters will instead be handled by institutions of the African
Union, such as the new African Parliament and the African Commission on Human Rights.
Regardless of its format, the importance of self-monitoring by Africa's political leaders can
hardly be over-emphasized.
The notions of ownership of NEPAD by the people and the accountability of political
leaders through peer review have a direct bearing on the practice of citizenship. Citizenship, for
Eriksen "entails not only to be ruled but also to rule in turn." 47 Citizenship is a two-way
phenomenon which emphasizes both the people's civic obligations as well as the state's moral
responsibility to furnish all citizens with basic needs and protect their rights. By the same token,
citizenship is a transactional exchange between governors and governed. It has the capability of
making the public realm less acrimonious as well as legitimizing the state both domestically
and internationally. Expressed this way, governance becomes "a way of engaging politics,
including the need for changes in power relations." 48
A further challenge for the continent's political leaders is to create meaningful, intelligible
and sustained dialogue with the citizenry such that the latter can, also govern their governors.
Leaders cannot run distant, alien and expect the people to understand what they are doing, let
alone carry them along. The people will not give even elected leaders genuine allegiance if their
relations with the state does little more than produce habitual obedience. Worse, "an exclusive
and alien state cannot produce a comprehensive development project." 49
In consequence, Africa's political leaders would have to exhibit a new political will make
the claim of NEPAD's ownership and proprietorship by the people a genuine one. That is to say,
the people must be given a life of their own. As Allan and Dawood have argued, the blueprint's
conception of accountability must be redefined, through a transformation into an "internal


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Globalization, NEPAD, and the Governance Question in Africa I 75


relationship of accountability between African governments and their own citizens" and not
just an external relation between African leaders and donor countries. 50 Trust has to be created
and nurtured between the two parties through democratic consolidation, the deepening of
democratic gains, the broadening of democratic reach, the constitution of more inclusive
governments, and the enforcement of political and institutional democracy. Similarly, the
leaders would have to deepen their understanding of democracy and legitimacy to include a
strict observance of fundamental human rights and popular participation.
This political work is a social desideratum. Its major goal must be to support the many
electoral democracies existing Africa with a view to decisively addressing the near-catastrophic
material situation of millions of Africans. To be sure, this is often understood as a political work
for the long term. Even so, democratically elected leaders would still have to show results, lest
the people become wearied by an endless wait for the proverbial dividends of democracy.
Another major challenge elicited by the governance question is how to mobilize internal
funds for implementing NEPAD. The logic of political accountability should consist foremost of
working towards downsizing plethoric, over-bloated and highly centralized bureaucracies that
have proved economically and politically ruinous. By so doing, Africa could free up funds for
financing NEPAD. This is an important issue for it poses the question of how the continent's
financial resources are managed and what proportion are mobilized to finance development.
The strong dependence on external funding of 'development' is held to be a function of lack of
resources in Africa. But is this true? Slimmer, stronger states capable of creating a conducive
environment for both the public and private sectors to generate wealth, redistribute prosperity,
create employment and reduce poverty, would benefit immensely from a vigorously-pursued
anti-corruption campaign. Ake discusses the urgent need to reduce the cost of politics and
corruption. 51 In November 2002, the resident representative of the World Bank in Nigeria
declared that that country spent no less than 80% of her annual revenues on running
government!
Whilst NEPAD proposes, respectively, in paragraphs 83 and 188 (m) to adopt "effective
measures to combat corruption and embezzlement" and put structures in place that would at
once "combat corruption effectively" as well as ensure a repatriation of Africa's stolen monies
lodged in Euro-American banking vaults, experience shows that there is always a gap between
precept and practice. 52 Corruption may be the affliction of humanity and not the exclusive
preserve of any region, but it is little consolation that in many African countries anti-corruption
laws are often treated with contempt and levity. 53 This is one area where parliamentary and
civil society oversight of the state, as well as specialized, independent monitoring institutions
can help Africa retrieve huge stolen monies to aid the capitalization of the continent's
development. 54 Further domestic resources can also come from those domestic business
people and corporate groups who often evade tax with the connivance of corrupt state officials.
But there is more political work required to move Africa close to the desired goal of self-
reliance, where external funding will merely complement domestic resources. Now is the time
to lay the first building blocks.
There is no alternative, for whilst the continent's leaders expect more and better funding
from the West as a reward for 'good governance,' the reality on the ground is that both external
private and public capital flows are drying up. This is a no-win situation. What happens to the


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76 I Amuwo


Western notion of 'good governance' if it conflicts with vital and strategic interests of the Great
Powers? "Despite its wealth," writes Helleiner, "the United States has the weakest aid
performance record in the OECD (0.1% of GNP of which 30% goes to the Middle East); remains
in serious arrears in its financial obligations to the UN; is so jealous of its sovereignty that it fails
to ratify even some of the most obvious of international conventions relating to the world's
most vulnerable..." He adds, perhaps for effect, that "there is little reason to expect more
leadership from the US government over the next four years." 55 The latter is an obvious
reference to the hawkish Bush administration. To be sure, the West is not reducible to the US
but it is now so hegemonic as the sole superpower. It is inconceivable that the future of Africa
will be left at the mercy of a US-dominated global hamlet.
In view of the foregoing, the debt peonage of the continent has to be confronted and
addressed by African leaders in Africa's interest, much in the same way that domestic and
international civil society organizations have made considerable progress in attempts to find a
people-friendly solution. NEPAD is timid on this issue, speaking only about the need to
"accelerate debt reduction for heavily indebted African countries" as well as the improvement
of "debt relief strategies for middle-income countries." Why not simply call for debt
cancellation since debt repayment is simply unsustainable insofar as it is wholly antithetical to
development? 56 The debt question is a time-bomb ticking away, ready to explode. To all
appearances, good governance and economic development will eventually be jeopardized if
this issue is not resolved in a manner that will permit African countries to begin to function as
veritable emerging democracies. If debts are written off, billions of dollars would be released
into the coffers of various governments to build hope and a future for Africans. The money is
needed to fill an estimated annual resource gap of 12% of the continent's GDP. This should be
complemented by living wages and the long-term benefit of a savings/ investment culture.
Then the continent will accumulate appreciable capital outlays that should eventually make
African businesses the drivers for the attraction of foreign capital, a point forcefully made by
the Rt. Honorable Earl Cairns, Chair of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) during the
Commonwealth-African Investment Forum in Abuja in April 2002.

TOWARDS A DEVELOPMENTAL STATE?

I have argued that globalization has essentially sliced up the world into two unequal and
uneven parts in which, "only the strong are represented and the only the weak are punished." 57
Whilst Africa's internal politics have, undoubtedly contributed to this frightening economic
backwardness, it has only compounded an essentially structural crisis engendered, ab initio, by a
more debilitating external ecology. Expressed differently, there is too much of the West in
Africa to allow Africa to design its future on its own terms. There is no alternative to making
global economic governance humane. However, according to Austin, "there is no easy bridge
between those who want to reform the world in their own image and those who question both
the motive and remedy." 58
How does NEPAD address this issue? Not as rigorously and as robustly as one would have
expected from a supposedly 'new' initiative. It appears too timid in terms of confronting the
most nefarious manifestations of contemporary globalization. As mentioned earlier, the


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Globalization, NEPAD, and the Governance Question in Africa I 77


document does not critically interrogate received Western paradigms of development. Not
unlike the 'civilizing' mission of colonialism, the hegemonic discourse of development in
relation to Africa "was framed not in the language of emancipation or justice but with the
vocabulary of charity, technical expertise, neutrality and a deep paternalism...that was its
syntax". 59 Rather than seek an alternative paradigm of development that would anchor the
foundations of its actions on its own history and culture, NEPAD authors simply bought into
the 'final triumph of bourgeois rationality' and 'the end of history'. 60 Yet these are paradigms of
development that have zero tolerance for "alternative pathways to social development." 61 An
alternative development paradigm would necessarily have to take into consideration that "the
debt burden, not economic development, has become the legacy of 40 years of foreign aid." 62
The issue therefore, is not about more aid. In the words of the World Bank's President, James
D. Wolfensohn, "aid must be effective for reform to take hold." 63 It is not too late for NEPAD
to retrace its steps at the risk of a probable indifferent response from the continent's
development partners.
To say that NEPAD should be reworked to reflect Africa's culture and history is not to
suggest that the continent should completely turn its back on the global system. On the
contrary, the call is for a developmental state that has the capacity to make and implement
policies in relative autonomy, with a view to engendering socially beneficial goods and values
to the greatest number of the people. It is a state that will adapt, appropriate and harness the
power of markets in the social interest. A state that, in the words of Olukoshi, will play a central
role "in defining a framework, setting targets and formulating policy options for their
realization, including the possible role which could be played by the local and foreign private
sector." 64 In other words, such a state would seek a judicious balance between the market and
grand political acts. As Mkandawire and Soludo have argued "African economies are market
economies... Development policies will...have to be keenly responsive to the capacities and
weaknesses of both states and markets in Africa and seek to mobilize the former while
correcting the latter. Dogmatic faith in either planning or markets will not do." 65 A
developmental state is also a caring and democratic state capable of enlisting the support of the
majority of the people in the arduous task of carrying out development.
But a developmental state will have to be preceded by a mix of several factors and
variables: a return to the people in their various civic and communal societies with a view to
creating bold, far-reaching and indigenous development plans the people will truly own; a
humanist critique of globalization; a rethinking of practices of governance, both locally and
externally; and the development of consensual politics by progressively freeing the state from
the stranglehold of private interests of 'state classes'. Helleiner evokes the need for a blend, at
the global level, of 'political statesmanship from above' and a 'supportive political pressure
from below' to render the global village humane. 66 The blend is also much needed at the
domestic African level. Helleiner adds, as if he had NEPAD authors in mind, that "middle
powers, non-G7 members and groupings of developing countries can play a critical role in
promoting and initiating appropriate change." 67 The authors and their countries seem to fit the
bill. But do they have the necessary political will to play this role?


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Notes

1. Williams 2002, 653.
2. Chabal 2002, 449.
3. Alex de Waal's 2002, 464.
4. Ibid.
5. Cooper 2001, 192-3.
6. Ibid, 2001, 200ff.
7. Ibid 2002, 206.
8. Mazrui 1999.
9. The Economist 2002; Legum 2002.
10. Manji and O'Coill 2002, 580
11. Rugumamu 2001, 5.
12. Bello, Walden "Why Reform of the WTO is the Wrong Agenda"
http://www.aidc.org.za/archives/wto_bello_why_reform.html
13. Ibid.
14. Maxwell and Christiansen 2002, 480.
15. Ake 2001, 6.
16. Lester et.al. 2000, 280.
17. Collier 2000. In Lester et.al. 2000.
18. Cooper 2001, 207.
19. Gerhart 2001, 195.
20. Fischer 2001, 40; Amuwo 2001.
21. Helleiner 2001, 248, 257.
22. Germain 2001, 420-421.
23. NEPAD 2001, vl.
24. Ibid, 1.
25. Manji and O'Coill 2002, 579.
26. Carlos 2000, 164; See also Tsikata 2001, 16.
27. Herbst and Soludo 2001, 666.
28. Tsikata 2001, 3-4.
29. Killick et.al., cited in Tsikata, 2001, 4.
30. Ibid, 4.
31. Sachs 2002, 20.
32. Bryld 2000, 701; Elsenhans 2002, 35; Hyden 2001, 16; Perkins 2000, 879; Rakodi, 2001, 344.
33. Weiss 2000, 803.
34. Scanlon 2001, 497.
35. Weiss 2000, 804.
36. Gerhart 2001, 194.
37. Declaration on Africa's Development Challenges, Adopted at end of Joint CODESRIA-
TWN-AFRICA Conference on Africa's Development Challenges in the Millennium,
Accra 23-26 April, 2002
(http://www.codesria.org/Archives/Past%20events/declaration on africa.htm).


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Globalization, NEPAD, and the Governance Question in Africa I 79


38. Mukandala 2001, 8.
39. Mark 2001, 93.
40. NEPAD 2001, 9.
41. Ibid, 9.
42. Tsikata, 2001, 4.
43. Ibid.
44. NEPAD 2001, paragraph 84.1, p 21.
45. Ibid, 21.
46. Ibid 21.
47. Ericksen 2002. Cited in Horeth 2002, 12.
48. Hyden 2001, 18.
49. Lumumba-Kasongo 2002, 103.
50. Allan and Dawood 2002, 24-25.
51. Ake 2000, 8.
52. NEPAD 2001, 22; 59.
53. Amuwo 1997/98.
54. Allan and Dawood 2002, 25.
55. Helleiner 2001, 250.
56. Poku 2002, 541.
57. Edwards 2001, 26.
58. Austin 2001, 502.
59. Manji and O'Coill 2002, 574.
60. Lumumba-Kasongo 2002, 85.
61. Rugumamu 2002, 54.
62. Rugumamu 2001, 32.
63. Cited in Deverajan et.al. 2001, xii.
64. Olukoshi 2002, 82.
65. Mkandawire and Soludo 1999, 141.
66. Helleiner 2001, 260.
67. Ibid, 260.

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African Studies, 34, 4, December, pp.555-573

Manji, Firoze and Carl O'Coill (2002) "The Missionary Position: NGOs and Development in
Africa" International Affairs, 78, 3, July, pp.567-583

Maxwell, Simon and Karin Christiansen (2002) "Negotiation as simultaneous equation: building
a new partnership with Africa" International Affairs, 78, 3, July, pp.477-491

Mazrui, Ali "From Slave Ship to Space Ship: Africa between Marginalization and Globalization"
African Studies Quarterly 3,no. 4: [online] http://web.africa.ufl.edu/v2/v2iq2.htm

Mukandala, Rwekaza (2001) The State of African Democracy: Status, Prospects, Challenges"
African Journal of Political Science, 6, 2, December, pp.1-10

Neufeld, Mark (2001) "Theorising Globalisation: Towards a Politics of Resistance-A Neo-
Gramscian Response to Mathias Albert" Global Society, 15, 1, pp.93-106

Olukoshi, Adebayo (2002) "Towards Developmental Democracy" New Agenda, 5, 1st Quarter,
pp.76-82

Oxfam International (2001) Debt Relief: Still Failing the Poor, April


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82 I Amuwo


Perkins, William B (2000) "Review of the Global Public Management Revolution" Policy Studies
Journal, 28, 4, p.879

Poku, Nana K. (2002) Poverty, Debt and Africa's HIV/AIDS Crisis" International Affairs, 78, 3,
July, pp.531-546

Rakodi, Caroline (2001) "Urban Governance and Poverty-Addressing Needs, Asserting Claims:
An Editorial Introduction" International Planning Studies, 6, 4, pp.343-356

Rugumaru, Severine M (2001) Globalization and Africa's Future: Towards Structural Stability,
Integration and Sustainable Development (Harare: African Association of Political Science)
Occasional Paper Series, 5, 2, 90pp

Sachs, Jeffrey D (2002) "It's time to stop blaming the poor" Sunday Times (Johannesburg)
November 3, p.20

Scanlon, Chris (2001) "A Step to the Left? Or Just a Jump to the Right? Making Sense of the
Third Way on Government and Governance" Australian Journal of Political Science, 36, 3, pp.481-
498

The Economist "Globalisation: is it at risk?" February 2, 2002 p. 61

Tsikata, Yvonne M (2001) Owning Economic Reforms: A Comparative Study of Ghana and Tanzania
United Nations University/World Institute for Development Economic Research, Discussion
Paper, 2001/53, 20pp

Weiss, Thomas G (2000) "Governance, Good Governance and Global Governance: Conceptual
and Actual Challenges" Third World Quarterly, 21, 5, October, pp.795-820

Williams, Paul (2002) rev. of Africa in Crisis: New Challenges and Possibilities (London: Pluto
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Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article: Amuwo,
'Kunle. "Globalisation, NEPAD, and the Governance Question in Africa." African Studies
Quarterly 6, no. 3: [online] URL: http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v6/v6i3a4.htm


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BOOK REVIEWS




In the Company of Diamonds: De Beers, Kleinzee, and the Control of a Town. Peter Carstens.
Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2001. Pp. 257.

Sierra Leone: Diamonds and the Struggle for Democracy. John L. Hirsch. Boulder, Colorado:
Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2001. Pp. 175.

These two books act as reverse images of each other. The cleverly titled In the Company of
Diamonds goes into great detail about the "closedness" of a diamond mining town in
southwestern Africa from the early 20th century until the recent past, but offers scant insight
into the politics of the area. Conversely, Sierra Leone covers much political territory but, despite
its title, barely touches upon the diamond trade, both the legal and illicit, occurring in that
country.
Carstens' book illuminates the conditions of the workers who have worked for De Beers in
Kleinzee, a company town that is, for most intents and purposes, cut off from the outside world.
While Carstens shows the disparity in the wages paid to whites, Coloureds, and blacks working
in the diamonds mines, but fails to follow through on the data by showing the impact on
purchasing power among the groups involved. Ironically, Carstens' study of the De Beers
operation in Kleinzee is as hermetically sealed as the town itself. Although he gives the reader a
sense of the claustrophobic conditions in the company town, he pays little attention to the world
outside the compound.
Carstens successfully reveals to the reader the minutiae of workers' lives, but he does not
step back far enough to provide substantive analysis, and the reader is left to ponder many
details without the benefit of a consistent, thought-provoking framework. Carstens shows how
the workers in southwest Africa have been under constant and close scrutiny to prevent the
smuggling of diamonds and how the lack of privacy and the provision of only the bare
necessities (clothes, shelter, food) by the company seem harsh when compared to the amenities
of life outside the town.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of In the Company of Diamonds is the author's notion of
"obligated loyalty" to the company from the workers. "At Kleinzee," Carstens writes, "the
company establishes a hegemonic grip over the workforce by sending out to employees (via
management) various signals and messages. The thrust of these messages... is that De Beers is
the most moral, most respectable, most generous, most accident-free, and cleanest of companies.
Thus the hegemonic process complicates class, status, and ethnic differentiation; it gives rise to
a complex cognitive system in which employees express obligation to the employer,
communicating a vague sense of loyalty that they seem seriously to believe they owe to the
company.


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84 I BOOK REVIEWS


What Carstens shows strongly is that the pragmatic altruism of De Beers has gone a long
way towards keeping its workforce moderately comfortable. Workers have a sense of
community, they have free housing, good schools, etc. So it seems the desire on the part of
workers to live in a clean and safe community dovetails nicely with De Beers' desire to have an
orderly and relatively happy workforce.
A vastly different picture is presented in Sierra Leone. Hirsch, a former United States
ambassador to Sierra Leone, has written a lively account of the conflict in this small country,
which has fallen from the heights of being considered the "Athens of West Africa" at the time if
its independence in 1961 to its current status as a nation ravaged by conflict much like Somalia
and Rwanda. Hirsch points out that the diamond-rich areas in that country are controlled by the
Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and that villagers and those in rural areas are terrorized.
Many people have had limbs amputated with machetes wielded by RUF members.
While the title of the book is misleading (Hirsch only mentions diamonds a few times in the
entire book), it reads well and brings the reader close to the conflict which has torn Sierra Leone
apart for more than a decade. For example, in his postscript, the author mentions that the
United Nations Security Council has adopted an embargo on so-called "conflict diamonds" (also
known as "blood diamonds"), the sale of which helps the RUF and Liberian President Charles
Taylor fund their military campaigns. A book devoted solely to Sierra Leone's and Liberia's
diamond trade would work well with Hirsch's study, which focuses on the politics and players
in the Sierra Leonean conflict.
After reviewing the occurrences of the past decade in Sierra Leone, Hirsch recommends
three strategies for the immediate future: (1) strengthening of UNAMSIL's (United Nations
Mission in Sierra Leone) command structure and resource base, (2) military and political
pressure to deny the RUF and its external supporters continued access to the diamond fields,
and (3) an effective disarmament process as the precondition for the next elections.
"The political and economic processes in the country are in the midst of a long-term
transition," Hirsch writes, "The ultimate outcome of which remains to be seen. In the short term,
there is a strong regional and international commitment to support the peace process. On the
other hand, those who derive profit from conflict remain in place."
But, Hirsch argues, all is not lost if there is a resolute international force committed to
united regional diplomacy, reconciliation with those in the RUF who truly desire peace. As the
author writes, "the international community--and especially the major powers--must move to a
higher level of early preventive action and sustained engagement in intrastate and regional
conflicts." Rebuilding Sierra Leone promises to be a long and arduous prospect, Hirsch
maintains, in part because of the RUF's "continuing support from Liberia, Burkina Faso, and
perhaps Libya."
These two books, taken together, shed light on the realities in Africa today. In the Company
of Diamonds follows the evolution of diamond mining in colonial and postcolonial southwestern
Africa while Sierra Leone paints a picture of corruption and power-mongering by local and
regional elites.

Sean Murphy


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BOOK REVIEWS I 85


Regionalization and Security in Southern Africa. Nana Poku. London: Palgrave, 2001.164 Pp.

Security and Development in Southern Africa. Nana Poku. Westport: Praeger, 2001. 166 Pp.

As southern Africa enters the new millennium, its prospects for peace and development
(however defined) reflect an intriguing mix of pessimism and hope. Angola (as I write) seems to
be tentatively groping towards a cessation of military hostilities, while the peace talks between
Congolese protagonists lurches from one conference to another. But at least some of the
combatants are talking. On the other hand, Zimbabwe continues its downward political and
economic spiral while nearly four million people in the region are in desperate need of food aid.
In May 2002, the Food and Agriculture Organization warned that harvests in southern Africa
had fallen by up to 25 percent in 2001 and that people in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe were
at particular risk as stocks of maize were extremely low and market prices were rising way
beyond the reach of many people. Meanwhile, the regional hegemon, South Africa, continues to
advance market-based solutions as the panacea for the region while at the same time advancing
its own neo-liberal economic program at home (Taylor, 2001). The region is in a mess, contrary
to what many analysts, politicians, activists, etc. had hoped for in a post-apartheid dispensation.
The two books under review seek to answer why this is so.
The two books are most interesting primarily because they critically interrogate exactly
what is meant by "security" in the context of southern Africa. Questions surrounding what is
meant by "security" have been omnipresent in International Relations (IR): during the Cold
War it was invariably connected to the defense of the state, usually through military means. In
the post-Cold War era, there has been an awakening of interest in what constitutes "security."
The importance of rhetoric and dominant discourse surrounding security has been investigated,
as has the stripping away of common sense notions that have appealed to science and claimed a
spurious objectivist epistemology. In a recent article, two theorists made this quite explicit when
they asserted that 'the definition of the primary security referent...is not a value-free, objective
matter of "describing the world as it is" as it has been falsely characterized in traditional
realist theory. It is... a profoundly political act. Whatever definition emerges has enormous
implications for the theory and practice of regional security, and not least in terms of
identifying threats' (Booth and Vale, 1997: 335).
However, dominant approaches to security in IR have on the main ratified the position of
the state as the primary unit of analysis, posturing this as objective truth. This in itself reflects
the dominant school of thought within IR-neo-realism-that privileges the state and the
supposed anarchic international system in which states must compete and battle for survival-
to secure their security-in a Hobbesian environment. This choice of the state as ontologically
privileged and it is a choice serves to concretise existing insecurity. In such accounts, the
state's security is deemed a priority, even if this is over and above the well-being of its citizens.
This fetishisation of the state not only acts as an act of disempowerment vis-a-vis the ordinary
person, it also neatly serves the interests of the powerful and privileged. This at times may be in
direct conflict with the wishes and aspirations of the majority of the state's citizens. As Ken


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86 I BOOK REVIEWS


Booth asserts, 'in such circumstances state security is hostile to human security; it becomes a
code-word for the privileging of the security of the country's political regime and social elite'
(Booth, 1994:4). This understanding calls for a movement away from traditional approaches to
security and towards non-orthodox positions that are capable of a more inclusive theoretical
complexity. Poku's books move us toward a more theoretically nuanced position, focussing on
issues such as globalization, education, HIV/AIDS, poverty, population etc.
The advantage of the analyses crafted in the two books is the position that there is a need to
reconfigure our basic assumptions regarding security. Non-traditional approaches to security
reject the type of notions that separates "us" from "them" and which erects boundaries between
citizen and non-citizen, friend and foe etc. (cf. Walker, 1988). The question of identity 'what
makes us believe we are the same and them different -is inseparable from security', an
important point to make in a region that exhibits hideous levels of xenophobia and racism
(Booth, 1997:6). The broadening of traditional notions of security allows the two works to cast
security as an open-ended process that cannot be enclosed within any one event, such as "the
end of apartheid." Rather, security is something that must be continually strived for and can, as
we witness every day in southern Africa, be imperilled by a host of threats and agendas.
Thus far, it has been regional elites, with their own particular understanding of what
globalisation is, that have largely set the agenda regarding security, often in response to
perceived outside pressures. In Africa, the debate has been advanced by specific African leaders
who have sought to craft a relationship with the North and promote a developmental agenda,
which is based largely along neo-liberal lines. The leaders of Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal
and South Africa have been at the forefront of this and their agenda was crystallized in Abuja,
Nigeria, on October 23, 2001, when the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
was launched. It is unfortunate that the two books were published after this seminal event in
contemporary African politics. The message communicated by the NEPAD fits within the
orthodox neo-liberal discourse and avoids blaming particular policies or global trade structures
on Africa's marginalization but rather, if pushed, simply passes off the blame on
"globalization". But even here, the document sees globalization as providing glowing
opportunities, with a statement arguing that: The world has entered a new millennium in the
midst of an economic revolution. This revolution could provide the context and means for
Africa's rejuvenation. While globalization has increased the cost of Africa's ability to compete,
we hold that the advantages of an effectively managed integration present the best prospects for
future economic prosperity and poverty reduction. ibidd., p. 8).
The NEPAD itself fits snugly with the policy aims of South African president Thabo
Mbeki's "African Renaissance", which has underpinned post-apartheid South Africa's foreign
policy, particularly since Mandela stepped down (Taylor and Williams, 2001). Yet this
Renaissance has been seen as being under undue influence from the dominant neo-liberal
orthodoxy (Vale and Maseko, 1998: 279). The implications of such a stance for security in
southern Africa, particularly in the light of a concretised NEPAD which has been critiqued as
being largely of South African origin, is profound (Keet, 2002). Indeed, the policy options
currently being pursued, as crystallised in the NEPAD, seeks to press for increased access to the
global market. Far from critically engaging with globalisation or even remotely interrogating it,
the regional leaders promoting the NEPAD are actually pushing for greater integration into the


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BOOK REVIEWS I 87


global capitalist order, but on re-negotiated terms that favour externally oriented elites. The
actual neo-liberal underpinnings of the global market are presumed to be sacrosanct.
The common sense approach to globalisation is reflected in the way in which
regionalisation is assumed to be of major importance. Yet the form of regionalisation being
currently promoted in southern Africa is premised on an unquestioning belief that integration
of their territories into the global economy is absolutely crucial and inevitable. The structural
limitations of this are never probed as, it is apparent, "there is no alternative". The desire
amongst regional elites to locate a regional connectivity and regional identity appears of
profound significance in siting tactical responses to globalisation. But, regionalization should
not be seen as a counter-reaction in the direction of regional autarkies. Instead, it stakes out a
consolidation of politico-economic spaces contesting with one another within the capitalist
global economy. It is clear that there are no "natural" regions, and that regions have to be
constructed. That existing regionalist projects reflect the impulses of a neo-liberal world order is
of a consequence of the environment within which regional elites find themselves and perceive
themselves to be in. In this regard, the two books have largely neglected inserting the region and
the beliefs of the regional elites within the broader global political economy and the hegemony
of neo-liberalism.This is rather crucial as the new forms of regionalisms currently invigorating
southern Africa are very much connected to processes associated both with globalization,
whose discourse and advocates ceaselessly push for a reconfiguration along the lines of its own
ideal type of socioeconomic governance. Local and global processes are inter-linked, 'since any
particular process of regionalisation in any part of the world has systemic repercussions on
other regions, thus shaping the way in which the new world order is being organized' (Hettne,
1996).
The use of the work of Hettne and the New Regionalism approach however is appreciated.
"Regionalism" refers to the general phenomenon as well as the ideology of regionalism, that is,
the urge for a regionalist order, either in a particular geographical area or as a type of world
order. There may thus be many regionalisms. The broad New Regionalism approach seeks to
understand why and how pluralistic and multidimensional regionalization processes enfold
(Hettne and S6derbaum, 1998; Hettne, 1999; Schulz et al, 2001). The New Regionalism literature,
which both books under review utilize more or less, essentially locates the new wave of
regionalization processes within the ongoing transformation of the global political economy. In
contrast to older regionalization projects, which were often imposed from outside either directly
or indirectly, in correspondence with the Cold War milieu, the new forms of regionalisms are
more often emerging from within the regions themselves and are extroverted rather than
introverted (Schulz et al, 2001: 4). At the same time, such processes cannot be understood only
from the perspective of the discrete region, but only from within a globalized viewpoint.
Ongoing processes imply a qualitative change of a region from comparative heterogeneity
to expanded homogeneity. This takes place across a number of dimensions, most notable of
which are culture, economic policies and indeed, political management. Confluence that brings
these dimensions together may, it is possible, be "natural" but more often than not are
politically directed and involve a combination of bottom-up and top-down processes (Hettne
and S6derbaum, 1998). In a situation whereby the hegemony of neo-liberalism underpins the
logic of formal contemporary regionalisation processes, the complex mixes and contradictions


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88 I BOOK REVIEWS


that this engenders is of the utmost importance, particularly if we are to speak of non-
traditional security issues. Because of their scale, macro-regions are most likely to generate the
greatest tensions and contradictions, and are least susceptible to the construction of any
coherent form of regionness, which is, broadly, a sort of qualitative measurement of the
cohesiveness and distinctiveness of what stage the regionalization process is in. In this sense,
regionness can both increase or decrease toward greater regional cohesiveness and identity.
'Regionness thus implies that a region can be a region "more or less"' (Hettne and S6derbaum,
2000: 461). The importance of the two books under review is that the regionness of southern
Africa, in contrast to the aspirations that the region embarked upon with the formation of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) have been largely frustrated. Indeed, any
reconfiguration of the region along the lines promoted by the regional elites is, at present,
essentially an agenda grounded on neo-liberalism. It is this actuality that at once enjoys the
enthusiastic support of capital on the one hand, while posing severe problems for notions of
security as defined by the two books. Unraveling the implications of this is obviously vital and
these two works are valuable contributions to the effort.

Ian Taylor
Department of Political and Administrative Studies
University of Botswana

References

Booth, K. (1994) A Security Regime in Southern Africa: Theoretical Considerations Southern African
Perspectives, no. 30 Belville, CSAS, University of Western Cape.

Booth, K. (1997) "Security and Self: Reflections of a Fallen Realist" in Krause and Wiliams (eds.).

Booth, K. and P. Vale (1997) "Critical Security Studies and Regional Insecurity: The Case of
Southern Africa" in Krause, K. and M. Williams (eds.) (1997) Critical Security Studies:Concepts
and Cases London: UCL Press.

Hettne, B. (1996) "Globalization, the New Regionalism and East Asia", paper delivered at the
United Nations University Global Seminar '96 Shonan Session, Hayama, Japan, September 2-6,
available at http://www.unu.edu/unupress/globalism.html#Globalization

Hettne, B. (1999) "Globalisation and the New Regionalism: The Second Great Transformation",
in Hettne, B., Inotai, A., and Sunkel, 0. (eds.) Globalism and the New Regionalism Basingstoke:
Macmillan.

Hettne, B. and S6derbaum, F. (1998) "The New Regionalism Approach", Politeia, vol. 17, no. 3.

Hettne, B. and S6derbaum, F. (2000) "Theorising the Rise of Regionness", New Political Economy,
vol. 5, no. 3.


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BOOK REVIEWS I 89


Keet, D. (2002) 'Perceptions and Perspectives in the "New Partnership for Africa's
Development" (NEPAD) on Regional/Continental and/or Global Integration of Africa', paper
presented at CODESRIA/TWN-Africa conference, "Africa and the Development Challenges of
the New Millennium", Accra, Ghana, April 23-26, 2002.

NEPAD (2001) "The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)", October 2001,
http://www.dfa.gov.za/events/nepad.pdf

Poku, N. (2001) Regionalisation and Security in Southern Africa London: Palgrave

Poku, N. (ed.) (2001) Security and Development in Southern Africa Westport: Praeger.

Schulz, M., F. S6derbaum and J. Ojendal (eds.) (2001) Regionalisation in a Globalising World: A
Comparative Perspective on Forms, Actors and Processes London: Zed Books.

Taylor, I. (2001) Stuck in Middle GEAR: South Africa's Post-Apartheid Foreign Relations Westport:
Praeger.

Taylor, I. and P. Williams (2001) "South African Foreign Policy and the Great Lakes Crisis:
African Renaissance Meets Vagabondage Politique?", African Affairs vol. 100, issue 399.

Vale, P. and S. Maseko (1998) "South Africa and the African Renaissance" International Affairs,
vol. 74, no. 2.

Walker, R. (1988) One World, Many Worlds: Struggles for a Just World Peace Boulder: Lynne
Rienner.



Invisible Sojourners: African Immigrant Diaspora in the United States. John A. Arthur.
Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger. 2000. 200 Pp.

Diaspora studies is inspiring very exciting research on peoples of African decent in the
Atlantic World. In this study of the African immigrant diaspora in the United States, John
Arthur provides insight into the evolution and development of the African Diaspora. While
people have migrated for centuries for obvious economic and ideological reasons, this book
explains the economic and political roots of African migration in the 20th century. The book
provides demographic and statistical evidence that Africans are the most important visible
immigrant group in America in the last three decades. The book also exposes the geographical
and intellectual components of the new immigrants. The phenomenal increase in the rate of
immigration since the 1970s is attributed to a variety of reasons including geo-political and
economic factors.
The main thesis of the book is that the dynamics and social constitution of African
immigrants' identity are inexplicably linked with macro-historical forces that transcend the


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90 I BOOK REVIEWS


shared experiences of the African Diaspora. The book probes into the immigrants' experiences,
the continuity of their African background in their new homes. It also explores the continuity of
their African identity and kin-ship link with African relatives. The diverse and heterogeneous
nature of their African ethnicity and culture remains a trait that marks the African Diaspora in
the United States. Chapter 2 addresses the causes of African migration to the United State.
Arthur identifies the complex and varied nature of this process and the distinction between
African, Asian, and Latin America immigrants. The author shows that the dynamics of African
immigrants are processes that can be traced within Africa itself. The author links the rate of
migration in Africa to the deteriorating economic condition in Africa especially the effects of
structural adjustment programs on African economies since the 1980s. But unlike Asian and
Latin American immigrants, the process is very complicated for African immigrants who must
deal with unfavorable Western immigration and procedures.
Chapter three traces the impact of political independence, the cold war and the
disillusionment that emerged in the post-independence era. These factors, the author argues,
have figured prominently in the decision of many African professionals to migrate. Drawing on
INS data, this chapter presents a comparative statistics of African immigrants to the United
States as well as their demographic characteristics. The empirical data is particularly useful in
identifying country of origin, occupational category and level of educational attainment.
Chapter four is a case study of African refugees from the Horn of Africa. Arthur focuses on the
cultural, psychological and economic problems faced by African refugee immigrants. The
experiences of war, poverty, and low educational attainment and linguistic barriers make
adjustments in the United State particularly problematic. Race and social relations are central to
the next few chapters. In chapter 5 in particular, he traces the racial prejudice that African
immigrants face. Racial profiling by the police and the negotiation of the contours of race and
ethnicity are issues which African migrants deal with. Arthur also shows that family structure,
educational attainment, entrepreneurial undertakings and African kinship ideology shape the
relationships between immigrants and the host society. Drawing on empirical data, Arthur
shows that "strong kinship bonds sustained by and anchored in traditional African values have
been pivotal in the immigrants' adjustment to life in America." The author also introduces a
gender analysis to the African immigrant experience in chapter seven and concludes that
African women have undergone cultural transformations. These transformations have
challenged traditional African gender ideologies as a result of their presence in the United
States. Chapter eight discusses the path to naturalization and repatriation and the future goals
of African immigration in the United States. Despite the naturalization of African immigrants,
they have maintained the link with their homeland and continue to act as role models for the
African youth.
In the concluding chapter, the author maintains that Africans who come to America are
resourceful, assiduous, and industrious. However, the continued preservation of their African
identity has limited their assimilation into their home. The panacea to stem continued African
immigration, the author argues, rests on improving the economic and political situation in
Africa. Overall, this is a good overview of the African immigrant experience, how they
construct membership in the American society and the future of African immigration. The focus


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BOOK REVIEWS I 91


on the unique nature of contemporary African immigration is a plus, however, the book took on
a lot of issues that could not be given detailed analysis in a short book as this.

Chima Korieh
Central Michigan University



Constitutionalism in Africa: Creating Opportunities, Facing Challenges. J. Oloka-Onyango,
ed. Uganda: Fountain Publishers, 2001. Pp. 345.

This extraordinary edited book of words, style, illustrations and arguments provides a
relevant insight into African constitutionalism from the past until the present time, with
projections into the future. Oloka-Onyango combines creative authors who use law, gender,
literature, pan-africanism, language, politics, religion and ethnicity as disciplinary arenas of
examination. The book is about re-writing African constitutions and constitutionalism in ways
that reflect African people power. Whether by reverting to oral constitutionalism of African
traditional societies as contributor Antonia Kalu suggests, or introducing positive
discrimination quota systems for affirmative action (Sylvia Tamale), all the authors seem to
agree that the phenomenon of executive prerogatives and excess cannot continue unchecked by
law and principle.
What is constitutionalism? Kalu sees constitutionalism as the carefully crafted relationship
between recognizable national ideas and the day-to-day practice of citizenship. She cautions
against neo-colonial constitutionalism in Africa by continual use of "Western classrooms"
models introduced in the colonial era. Likewise, several chapters acknowledge that many
African governments and the drafters of various constitutions have manipulated the
instruments in order to deny people their rights and freedoms. Analyses in all the chapters of
the book reveal beyond doubt that the human rights schemes in various constitutions examined
discriminate against both men and women and put undesirable restrictions on rights granted to
people in international human rights documents. Particularly beyond that, there is a fair
amount of agreement that in the formulation of African constitutions, women face the plight of
the larger half; they face limitations on their sexual orientation (Mazrui, chapter 1), ethnicity
(Gahamanyi-Mbaye, chapter 5), indigenous citizenship (Tajudeen, chapter 4), religious
freedoms (Ola Aboa Zeid, chapter 10), and they are socially and economically under-privileged
(Tamale, chapter 12).
Another observation is that neutrality in human rights is not guaranteed in African
constitution formulation. In some cases, reservations have been made to various articles and
principles of international law and human rights principles in the belief that the articles violate
inter alia, (traditional cultural rights), the teachings of Sharia, human dignity, and established
supposedly "moral," sexual behavior and African custom. For example, Article 1(a) of the Cairo
Declaration recognizes that all human beings are equal, albeit in human dignity not 'rights'
(Zeid).


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Most of the contributors acknowledge the advancements of the women's movement, but
note that constitutional provisions in many parts of Africa are still essentially masculine. Tamale
(chapter 12), expounds on the affirmative action strategy introduced in Uganda to boost
women's political, social and educational achievements. Due to masculinist meritocracy, social
privilege, and notions of African communitarianism, affirmative action has not translated well
into female empowerment. She argues for positive discrimination such as affording education
for all girls at primary and secondary education as a model affirmative action. Additionally,
since most marriages are patriarchal (Tajudeen, chapter 4), patrilocal (Pereira, chapter 9), or
patri-ligious (Zeid, chapter 10), many women run the high risk of losing citizenship in Africa.
Pereira recounts a situation where in Nigeria married women who move to their marital states
lose indigenous citizenship in both their father's indigenous states and their marital states. As
Pereira concludes, successful implementation of basic rights for women and men will depend
on processes and relations that are largely extra-constitutional.
In Chapter 1, Mazrui tables the issue of sexual orientation, which is indeed controversial to
Muslim Africa and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. He argues that African constitutions have not
been well formulated to serve the interests of the people, instead political leaders and cultural
institutions have engineered notions of "acceptable sexual behavior". Mazrui states that in
many African states, such as President Moi's Kenya, President Museveni's Uganda, and
President Mugabe's Zimbabwe, individual offenses against economic and political order are
tolerated more than individual sexual offenses. Homosexuals for example, are denied a place in
some African constitutions. Conclusively, people-centered constitutions should limit state
power in the African individual private life.
Negotiating religious differences in constitutional making is also discussed. In Chapter 10,
Oba Zeid challenges the state-inspired interpretation of human rights principles using
grassroots public opinion and action. Using the example of Muslim Africa, activities of liberal
Muslims and public opinion should be encouraged to negotiate existing schemes to protect
people of other religious beliefs and women from state-inspired interpretations of international
law through separation of church and state.
A couple of the arguments made by some of the contributors are discomforting. For
example, Kalu argues that ancestral constitutionalism is only unique to Africa and not in the
United States and Eastern Europe. However, Native Americans had ancestral constitutions
before colonialism, which have been maintained through meticulous oral history guaranteeing
them rights of self-government, freedom of choice and expression within their own territories.
Peter Walubiri's argument that constitutionalism is a process of state empowering the people,
contradicts the reality that people empower the state. Ola Zeid (chapter 10) supposes that
restrictions in Sharia laws are unique in comparison to other laws in Africa. Yet, in "Christian
Africa", such restrictions occur in inter alia laws, relating to terrorism, the media, political
association, gender and asylum. Zeid also dwells on married Muslim women but fails to
demonstrate what Sharia law provides for single Muslim women and female youths.
This book is written entirely by African scholars working on the continent and Africa
Diaspora and is not your typical scholarly piece. It is therefore good forage for activists,
researchers, civil society, judiciary, legislators and all pan-africanists. Constitutionalism in Africa


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BOOK REVIEWS I 93


is a simple orientation for anyone and captures so eloquently the ongoing constitutional debate
in Africa.

Doreen N. Lwanga
Research Associate, Refugee Law Project
Makerere University Faculty of Law




Africa's Challenge to International Relations Theory. Kevin C. Dunn & Timothy M. Shaw,
eds. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Pp. 242.

Africa's Challenges to International Relations Theory is a fine collection of essays on the
relevance of some African issues to International Relations theories. Africa is a neglected area in
mainstream IR theory, but as Kevin Dunn argues in the introductory chapter, there is
nevertheless no theoretical or empirical justification for the negligence. Craig Murphy, a noted
scholar of International Relations, also notes in the foreword to the book that "more than one
out of ten people are African. More than one out of four nations are African. Yet, I would
warrant that fewer than one in a hundred university lectures on International Relations (IR)
given in Europe or North America even mention the continent." The book has thirteen chapters
clustered into conceptual, theoretical and policy-oriented issues. The volume raises important
questions and offers counter-arguments to the 'great power' theories of IR after bringing to
focus the relevance of certain themes in Africa's inter-state and intrastate politics.
The first chapter, Assis Malaquias's "Reformulating International Relations Theory; African
Insights and Challenges" disputes the propriety of using state as a unit of analysis for
explaining Africa's international relations and, with the help of an illustrative case study of
UNITA, suggests that nations and armed nationalist movements should instead be considered
more important in this regard. The international relations of UNITA are certainly inexplicable if
we were to rely solely on state-centric theories; even so, a question remains. Is analysis based on
UNITA typical enough to warrant a call for a more inclusive conceptualization of Africa's
international relations anchored in nations and other sub-state actors? Such an approach might
succeed 'in dethroning the hegemony of the Westphalian framework imposed on Africa
through colonialism'. But it is far from clear if that would necessarily enhance our
understanding of Africa's international relations. The rapprochement between UNITA and the
Angolan government following the death of Jonas Savimbi also seems to further undermine
Malaquias's model.
Siba Grovogui's "Sovereignty in Africa: Quasi-Statehood and Other Myths in International
Theory" is a well informed and rigorously argued critique of the predominant discourse
especially in regard to the usage of the concept of sovereignty in African context. Taking the
case of Belgium and Switzerland on the one hand, and the Congo on the other, Grovogui's lucid
analysis of aspects of the discourse on sovereignty concentrates on revealing in comparative
terms "the analytical errors, ideological confusions, and historical omissions".


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Kevin C. Dunn's "MadLib # 32 The (Blank) African State: Rethinking the Sovereign State in
International Relations Theory" demonstrates "the ways in which the state-centric approach (of
mainstream IR theories) misses important elements of African international relations". He then
illustrates his argument with the help of four examples of non-state actors in Africa's
international relations, namely international financial institutions, regional strongmen,
extractive corporations and non-state military corporations. Dunn also elaborates on why the
state in Africa should be viewed as a discursive construction that exists side by side with other
forms of thoughts, actions and practices. The chapter concludes with a suggestion of a line
along which state could be further reconceptualized.
Janis van der Westhuzien's "Marketing the 'Rainbow Nation': The Power of the South
African Music, Film and Sport Industry" introduces the concept of 'marketing power', an
extension of the concept of 'soft power' originally advanced by Joseph S. Nye, as a useful tool
for understanding IR. In sum, the author argues that power should be viewed as emanating not
only from tangible resources, as the major theories of international relations have tended to do,
but also from visibility or attraction. The author then analyzes the cases of apartheid and post-
apartheid South Africa to exemplify the issues involved in the cultural 'marketing power' of the
country.
The theoretical section which begins with John F. Clark's "Realism, Neorealims and
Africa's International Relations in the Post-Cold War era" is the most ambitious part of the
book. Clark claims that it is 'traditional' realism (and not its modern neorealist version, nor
globalism, nor liberalism) that has more power and relevance for explaining the international
relations of Africa. Except for a few paragraphs of passing references to Africa or specific
African countries, however, the first part of the chapter reads for the most part like a modern
critique of traditional realism rather than a statement of Africa's challenge to realism or of the
relevance of the theory to Africa.
The thrust of Frank's analysis, articulated in the second portion of the chapter, is that "the
concept of regime security appears to be particularly useful in understanding the behavior of
African rulers." The concept is centered on the notion that "... [a] ruler needs the good will or
tolerance of those who are in a position to directly threaten the control of her regime over the
state apparatus." However, the excessive elasticity of the concept of regime security critically
undermines not only its predictive power, as the author himself admits, but also its explanatory
power rendering it less useful for understanding the subject matter since in some sense or
another virtually all aspects of Africa's international relations fit such an interpretation. And yet
Frank insists that "[the concept of regime security, the coordinate threats to regime security, and
the indirect causes of such threats do much to help us understand the cycles of intervention and
counter-intervention in Africa's intra-continental relations." Again, Frank argues, one of the
best guarantees of regime security is the mutual assurance which rulers grant each other in
respect to the inviolability of colonial borders. If this is indeed the case, it can be argued then
that regime security can be best explained in terms of the neoliberal concept of "specific
reciprocity" rather than the "realist appreciation for the axiomatic importance of power in
politics of all kinds."
Tandeka C. Nkiwane's essay, "The End of History? African Challenges to Liberalism in
International Relations" is a brief but a coherent attempt to situate liberalism in African political


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thought and Africa in liberal thought. Nikiwe specially concentrates on Africa's challenges to
the democratic peace theory, which, the author (wrongly) asserts, is the outgrowth of Francis
Fukuyama's the end of history thesis. Nikiwe concludes by adapting to Africa what the critics
of 'democratic peace' have suggested all along: "Democracy... is not necessarily the primary
factor that prevents war in African international relations; indeed it can actively promote war."
On the whole, Nikiwe's analysis does also fit well into the major theme of the book: Africa's
Challenge's to International Relation.
Chapter 8 is Randolp B. Persaud's "Re-envisioning Sovereignty: Marcus Garvey and the
Making of a Transitional Identity". Persuad argues that Garveyism, or the "transnationalist
movement aimed at the production of a global imagined community" is relevant to
contemporary international relations especially in regard to the concept of sovereignty by
introducing a new principle of legitimacy which "advanced the idea of the protection of human
dignity, even if that implied challenging the assumption of absolute control of a state's internal
affairs", and by delineating clearly "the dual character of sovereignty-namely, the sovereignty
of the state and the sovereignty of the people."
Sandra J. MacLean's "Challenging Westphalia: Issues of Sovereignty and Identity in
Southern Africa" is, in fact, less about Southern Africa than it is about challenging Westphalia.
MacLean's essay overlaps to a significant degree with some of the preceding essays dealing
with the concept of sovereignty. However, MacLean also introduces a useful dimension to the
discussion in her contention that "national identities and state sovereignty are challenged, or at
least complicated, by new regionalisms". Such a challenge, MacLean argues, "...threatens the
acceptance of the immanence of statehood and the ontological assumptions upon which the
Realist IR perspective rests". The essay interweaves quite brilliantly a variety of internal and
external challenges with which the Westphalian state has come to be confronted.
Part III of the book is titled "Implications and Policy Ramifications" and begins with James
Jude Hentz's chapter, "Reconceptualizing U.S. Foreign Policy: Regionalism, Economic
Development and Instability in Southern Africa." His central argument is that "regionalism
should replace bilateralism as the basic architectural principle of US-African relations, [because]
bilateralism can be effective only if the African partner is a modern functioning state." Hentz
also makes important distinctions between market integration, "where economic integration
focuses on trade and monetary matters and typically progresses along a linear path from a [Free
Trade Areas], to a customs union, a common market, and ultimately (in theory) to an economic
union" and developmental integration "in which under-developed production structures and
infrastructure problems must be addressed before free trade can create new efficiencies." Then
Henz assesses the two approaches in light of the experience of Southern Africa and concludes
his useful discussion by making specific policy recommendations as to how "the old edifice of
US foreign policy for Africa must be torn down."
All in all, except for a few obvious defects, the volume is a significant contribution to IR
theory and African studies. With the exception of Janis van der Westhuizen's piece, almost all of
the essays in the volume seem to assume that IR theory is monolithic and state-centric, a wrong
assumption which seems in turn to have inevitably led the analysts to dispense with the
discussion of the relevance (or irrelevance) of IR theories that are not so state-centric. In other


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