Title: African studies quarterly
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091747/00034
 Material Information
Title: African studies quarterly
Series Title: Gale Group
Uniform Title: African studies quarterly (Online)
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: University of Florida -- Center for African Studies
Publisher: University of Florida, Center for African Studies,
University of Florida, Center for African Studies
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla
Publication Date: Fall 2009
Copyright Date: 2010
Frequency: quarterly
Subject: Electronic journals
Study and teaching -- Periodicals -- Africa   ( lcsh )
Gainesville (Fla.)
African studies -- Periodicals
Genre: Electronic journals   ( lcsh )
Electronic journals.
periodical   ( marcgt )
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."
Restriction: Licensed for access by authorized UF users (current UF students, faculty and staff -- and others within a UF Library.) Some e-journal service providers may offer only selected articles.
System Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, issue 1 (May 1997)-
General Note: Title from title screen (viewed Aug. 6, 1999).
General Note: An online journal of African studies.
General Note: Latest issue consulted: Vol. 7, issue 4 (spring 2004) (viewed at publisher's Web site, Aug. 19, 2004).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091747
Volume ID: VID00034
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 003331589
oclc - 40217685
issn - 2152-2448
lccn - 99030079
lccn - sn 99030079


This item has the following downloads:

v11i1 ( PDF )

Full Text

African Studies Quarterly

Volume 11, Issues 1
Fall 2009

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

Editorial Committee

David Anastas
Robin Brooks
Leif J. Bullock
Erin Bunting
Nicole C. D'Errico
Cerian Gibbes
John Hames
Cara Jones
Claudia Hoffmann
Alison M. Ketter
Ashley Leinweber
Aaron Majuta
Meredith Marten
Genia Martinez
Vincent D. Medjibe

Asmeret G. Mehari
Jessica Morey
Patricia Chilufya Mupeta
Jessica Musengezi
Timothy Nevin
George Njoroge
Levy Odera
Levi C. Ofoe
Gregory Parent
Noah I. Sims
Olekae Thakadu
Erik Timmons
Jonathan Walz
Amanda Weibel
Andrea C. Wolf
Advisory Board

Adelekh Ad66ko
Ohio State University
Timothy Ajani
Fayetteville State University
Abubakar Alhassan
University of Idaho
John W. Arthur
University of South Florida, St.
Nanette Barkey
University of Iowa
Susan Cooksey
University of Florida
Mark Davidheiser
Nova Southeastern University
Kristin Davis
International Food Policy Research
Parakh Hoon
Virginia Tech

Andrew Lepp
Kent State University
Richard Marcus
California State hUni, i -,si, Long Beach
Kelli Moore
James Madison University
James T. Murphy
Clark University
Lilian Temu Osaki
University of Dar es Salaam
Dianne White Oyler
Fayetteville State University
Alex R6dlach
Creighton University
Jan Shetler
Goshen College
Roos Willems
Catholic University of Leuven
Peter VonDoepp
University of Vermont

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

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.

Table of Contents

France's Conflict Resolution St'oit ,, in C6te d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications
Maja Bovcon (1-24)

Local Needs and AgcLciy Conflict: A Case Study of Kajo Keji County, Sudan
Randall Fegley (25-56)

Social Organization and Social Status in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Rukwa, Tanzania
Tony Waters (57-93)

Book Reviews

Emmanuel Kwaku Akyeampong (ed.). Themes in West Africa's History. Athens: Ohio
University Press. 2006.
Review by Julius 0. Adekunle (95-97)

Mark Bradbury. Becoming Somaliland. Bloomington: Indiana University Press/Progressio,
Review by Omar Ahmed and Grant J. Rich (97-99)

Christopher Rowan. The Politics of Water in Africa: The European Union's Role in
Development AID Partnership. London: International Library of African Studies 24--Tauris
Academic Studies, 2009.
Review by Sanford V. Berg (99-101)

Robert J. Thornton. Unimagined Community: Sex, Networks, and AIDS in Uganda and
South Africa. London: The Regents of the University of California, 2008.
Review by Kristen Cheney (101-103)

Cheikh Anta Babou. Fighting the Greater Jihad: Amadou Bamba and the Founding of the
Muridiyya of Senegal, 1853-1913. 2007.
Review by Andrew F. Clark (103-105)

Marissa J. Moorman. Intonations: A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola
from 1945 to Recent Times. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
Review by Todd Cleveland (105-107)

Kristin Loftsdottir. The Bush is Sweet: Identity, Power and Development among WoDaaBe
Fulani in Niger. Uppsala: Nordiska Africainstitutet, 2008.
Review by Matthew J. Forss (107-109)

Benjamin Lawrence. Locality, Mobility, and "Nation": Periurban Colonialism in Togo's
Eweland 1900-1960. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007.
Review by Heidi G. Frontani (109-110)

David Graeber. Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar. Bloomington
and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007.
Review by Detlev Krige (110-112)

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

James Currey. Africa Writes Back: The African Writers Series and the Launch of African
Literature. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008.
Review by Todd H. Leedy (112-114)

S. M. Shamsul Alam. Rethinking the Mau Mau in Colonial Kenya. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2007.
Review by Grace Maina (115-116)

Richard Price. Making Empire: Colonial Encounters and the Creation of Imperial Rule in
Nineteenth-Century Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Review by Adel Manai (117-119)

Jeremy Rich. A Workman is Worthy of His Meat: Food and Colonialism in the Gabon
Estuary. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007.
Review by Jacqueline-Bethel Mougoueon (119-121)

Jay Straker. Youth, Nationalism, and the Guinean Revolution. Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 2009.
Review by Elizabeth Schmidt (121-123)

Thomas Benjamin. The Atlantic World: Europeans, Africans, Indians and their Shared
History, 1400-1900. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Review by John K. Thornton (123-124)

Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator. Theology Brewed in an African Pot. New York, NY: Orbis
Books, 2008.
Review by Casey Woodling (124-127)

Ronald Nicolson (ed.). Persons in Community: African Ethics in a Global Culture. Scottsville,
South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2008.
Review by Casey Woodling (128-129)

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its

Ethical Implications


Abstract: This paper evaluates France's conflict resolution strategy by taking into account
Cote d'lvoire's internal dynamics and the wider international context over the last two
decades. Contrary to the prevailing opinion, it will be argued that France, given the
circumstances, has undertaken a successful conflict resolution strategy. The controversial
implication of France in the 1994 Rwandan genocide made any further French military
intervention on the African continent extremely problematic. In the case of the
intervention in C6te d'Ivoire, however, France has succeeded in pursuing its interests
with full national and international support. Much of the legitimacy of its conflict
resolution strategy derives from both the lack of motivation of other international players
to act and the inability of African multilateral organizations, such as ECOWAS, to cope
with security issues. Since international organizations have been unable to act
appropriately, accusations of French neo-colonialism made by the Gbagbo regime and
the "young patriots" have never been fully addressed, and the true reconciliation and
unification of Ivorian society has been hindered.


C6te d'lvoire, once considered a model African country in terms of political stability and
economic success, has, for more than a decade, struggled with an internal crisis. Xenophobic
policies revolving around the concept of Ivoirite ("Ivorianness" or "being Ivorian") escalated in
2002, causing the country to split into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled
south. French troops of Operation Licorne, under the aegis of a peacekeeping mission called
United Nations Operation in C6te d'lvoire (UNOCI), were, until very recently, providing the
"buffer" or "confidence zone" that was keeping the warring parties apart.
This article evaluates France's conflict resolution strategy towards the Ivorian crisis by
taking into account C6te d'lvoire's internal dynamics and a wider international context over the
last two decades. It addresses the following questions. Should we really view C6te d'lvoire as
France's Iraq, as some contend?' Or could we, in fact, state that, given the circumstances, France
responded appropriately to the conflict? What role did France play in this "hybrid"
peacekeeping operation, involving national, regional and international actors? And what are the
ethical implications of France's intervention in what was once perceived as a favored colony
and its strongest ally in sub-Saharan Africa?
The article is divided into three parts; the first is a brief presentation of the main causes of
the Ivorian crisis, which is then followed by an analysis of the conflict resolution strategy that

Maja Bovcon is finishing her Ph.D. at the Department of Politics and International Relations at University of Oxford.
Her research focuses on the current Ivorian politics and the Franco-Ivorian relations.

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 Bovcon

national, regional and international actors formulated. An attempt is made to determine the
reasons behind France's choice for the apparently neutral position of its interposition operation.
Through an analysis of the weaknesses and strengths of the other two actors, the Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mission in C6te d'lvoire (ECOMICI) and the
UNOCI, and their interaction with the French military operation, Licorne, the role of France in
shaping the overall conflict resolution strategy is made clearer. In the final part of the article,
some of the ethical issues associated with the military implications of a former colonial power's
involvement in its African colony are addressed. Based on this discussion, an assessment is
made of the success of France's response to the Ivorian crisis. My conclusions are formulated
primarily with help of extensive secondary literature and primary sources such as peace
accords, UN resolutions, newspaper articles and reports. These findings are complemented by
qualitative data obtained through semi-structured interviews with French diplomats conducted
during my fieldwork in France and C6te d'Ivoire in late 2007 and early 2008. Interviews serve
mainly to support or further clarify data obtained from other sources.

Background: Reasons for the Ivorian Crisis

The Ivorian crisis is often interpreted in simplified terms, as a cultural clash between the
Muslim north and the Christian south, between ethnic groups of the savannah and those of the
forest zone. This reductionist approach, which is mostly propagated by politicians and the
media, relies squarely on the "primordialist assumption", which understands ethnicity as an
innate, objectively given and immutable substance of human identity, which, when confronted
with a different cultural conceptions, can lead to confrontation.2
A more flexible and broader "instrumentalist" approach to ethnicity, which views it above
all as an ambiguous ideological concept, susceptible to different meanings and instrumental
usage in struggles for power, is far more promising. Namely, the Ivorian crisis is a truly multi-
layered conflict where ethnicity appears to become a relevant distinguishing factor only after
being tightly related to other issues such as economic crisis, economic and political
discrimination, land, immigration policy, succession struggle and, above all, the concepts of
autochthony and citizenship. All these factors and concepts contribute to one of the most
evasive and instrumentally abused terms in recent Ivorian history, Ivoirite, which was coined
but never fully explained by the former president Henri Konan B6di6, and which was open to
the most xenophobic interpretations. While these factors are interwoven to such an extent that it
is impossible to disentangle them and assess their individual contribution to the Ivorian crisis, I
will, for the sake of intelligibility, examine them separately.
First, there is the succession problem, which arose in 1993 with the death of the charismatic
president Fl1ix Houphouit-Boigny, who had led the country for almost four decades.
Houphouit-Boigny's opportunistic constitutional revision provided that, in the case of his
death, his post would be filled by the National Assembly's speaker, Henri Konan B6di6, until
the end of the presidential term. B6die's incompetence and his inability to understand that the
times had changed with the opening up of the political process through democratization and
multi-partyism, encouraged his main competitors, especially the leader of the opposition FPI

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 3

(Front Populaire Ivoirien), Laurent Gbagbo, and a reformist within the governing PDCI (Parti
democratique de C6te'Ivoire), Alassane Ouattara, to challenge his authority.3
B6di6 tried to legitimize his presidential position and to eliminate his main competitors by
coining the contentious ideological term Ivoirite, which confined the status of "true Ivorians",
and thus "natural" contenders for power, to the socio-cultural universe of the Akan ethnic
group (more precisely, the Baoul6), with which Houphou&t-Boigny, B6di6 himself and the
majority of the old PDCI elite identified.
General Gue'i, who, to the general surprise and relief of most Ivorians, suddenly usurped
power by military coup in 1999, brought about, after a very brief reconciliation strategy, a
drastic change to the conceptualization of Ivoirit6. As the first non-Baoul6 leader, he defined it
as differentiating southern, non-Dioula from northern Dioula people, and thereby transformed
an ethnic divide into a regional one.4
This regional divide has been exacerbated by the xenophobic politics of the current
president, Laurent Gbagbo, himself a member of a minor ethnic group, the B6t6, from the
southwest. Under his regime, the concept of "foreigner" gradually incorporated not only true
economic immigrants from other countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea, but also second-
generation immigrants who had actually been born in C6te d'Ivoire and whose foreign roots
could only be detected by the sound of their patronymic, their Muslim religion, and the scarring
on their faces. What was more, not even the internal migrants, such as Muslims from the
northern regions of C6te d'Ivoire and the mostly Christian Baoul6 from the southeast who had
moved to the southwest to work on the coffee and cocoa plantations, could escape the stigma of
Initially, the introduction of the Ivoirit6 discourse concerned eligibility for the presidency.
B6die's and GueY's constitutional revisions successfully barred Alassane Ouattara, now the
leader of the reformist splinter party the RDR (Rassemblement des Republicains), from the 1995
and 2000 presidential elections, because of his alleged Burkinab6 origin. The nationality
problem, however, has unfortunately not been restricted to the presidential domain and the
struggle for leadership. It has penetrated every aspect of Ivorian society, through the adoption
of stricter rules for the acquisition of identity cards and resident cards for immigrants, the latter
having been introduced in 1990 by, ironically, the then prime minister Alassane Ouattara.6
These measures were intended to address the immigration problem, which had became
especially burdensome due to persistent economic crisis. According to some Ivorians, the
proportion of immigrants, estimated to be around 26 percent, surpassed the immigration
tolerance threshold decisively.7
The immigration flows have their roots in the colonial period, when the French used Mali
(formerly French Sudan) and Burkina Faso (former Upper Volta) as a reservoir of labor for the
newly established Ivorian cocoa and coffee plantations in the south, as well as for the forest
exploitation and the construction of the railway. It was a deliberate, well-administered, and
often extremely brutal forced displacement of hundreds of thousand of northern people to the
Ivorian south. Facilitating this was the integration of the major part of Burkina Faso, named
Haute C6te, into the Ivorian territory between 1933 and 1947. This colonial practice was justified
by the very low population density of C6te d'Ivoire. The inhabitants, only 1,900,000 in 1936,

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

4 I Bovcon

were supposedly unable to cope with the freshly introduced capitalist system and France's
increasing needs for primary commodities.8
Houphouit-Boigny's project of rapid economic development, a carbon copy of the colonial
cash crop expansionism, continued to rely on the same migration practices after independence
in 1960. This time, however, people came freely, lured by better job opportunities and higher
Ivorian living standards. They were offered land in exchange for working in the plantations that
propelled C6te d'Ivoire down its prosperous path.9 C6te d'Ivoire became the biggest cocoa
producer, accounting 40 percent of world production, a proportion that has only deteriorated
slightly due to the civil war in 2002 and the consequent split of the country.10
Houphouit-Boigny found a strong political support base among immigrants, especially
during the first democratic elections in 1990. The opposition even accused him of offering
generous numbers of nationality cards in exchange for their vote. His personalized vision of an
African melting pot was never fully achieved, nor open-heartedly accepted by the Ivorian
population. As Demb616 views it, C6te d'Ivoire saw a mere cohabitation of different
communities/ethnic groups on Ivorian soil, each community occupying its specific "socio-
ecological niche."1 Moreover, the division of labor and of economic and political status most
often went along the same community lines, which further rigidified the socio-economic system
and slowed down the integration process. 12
Although Houphouit-Boigny tried to decrease inter-ethnic tensions by including
representatives of each ethnic group in the political elite, the privileging of Akan/Baoul6, also
known as Baoulisation, and the neglect of the whole northern region, were undeniable realities.
The failure of the melting pot project may explain why Houphouit-Boigny's proposition of
double nationality for people within the Conseil de l'Entente (encompassing C6te d'Ivoire,
Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin and Togo) was rejected by the population and the National
Fear of immigrants' usurpation of political and economic power was not a new problem in
C6te d'Ivoire, however, as the massive exodus of Dahomeans (the old name for residents of
Benin) in 1958 and of Ghanaians in 1993 attest.14 Dahomeans, for example, were targeted by the
newly established Ivorian intellectual elite, which was tempted by the lucrative positions in the
colonial administration that had until then been mostly occupied by the former group.15 In each
case, the colonial or post-colonial practice of linking a specific ethnic group to a given political
and socio-economic space by excluding other communities was the real trigger of dissent and
resentment. The divide and rule process tragically substantiated the ethnic divides that caused
the implosion of nationality.
Many view the Ivorian crisis as the legacy of Houphouit-Boigny's autocratic regime, a civil
dictatorship that dangerously undermined a truly democratic debate wherein people could
have expressed their values and their vision of the national question and which might have led
eventually to a true social contract.16 However, the opening up of the democratic process, the
appearance of opposition newspapers and the formation of various groups within civil society
occurred only in the 1990s.17
The radicalization of the immigration question after Houphouit-Boigny's death should
thus not be viewed exclusively as the instrumentalization of ethnic and nationality concepts by
new political elites struggling for power within the freshly established multiparty system. We

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 5

can, in fact, speak of a collective responsibility, where radicalization worked in both directions
and where politicians built their political agenda and support by addressing the extant fears
and resentments of the population. As Langer puts it, "the simultaneous presence of severe
political horizontal inequalities at the elite level and socio-economic horizontal inequalities at
the mass level forms an extremely explosive socio-political situation."18
The persistent economic crisis, caused by a sharp drop in the international prices for
primary commodities and the corruption of the patrimonialist system of the PDCI one-party
regime, delivered a decisive blow to the national cohesiveness. Ivorian indebtedness prompted
the Bretton Woods institutions to impose structural adjustment programs, which introduced a
savage austerity policy in exchange for financial assistance. These policies had detrimental
effects on the functioning of the state and on the quality of life of the majority of people.19
Limited access to resources such as land and employment further aggravated conflict, in urban
as well as in rural areas, between the supposed indigenous population and African economic
Houphou&t-Boigny's development project, relying on the philosophy that "the land
belongs to whoever wants to cultivate it," caused the distribution of the fertile land in the
southwest for the cultivation of coffee and cocoa to the immigrant workers from the northern
neighboring countries as well as from the north and southeast Ivorian regions. This meant that
the autochthonous population from the southwest, namely the Krou and B6t6 ethnic groups,
gradually became minorities in their home region. Economic recession, combined with
population growth, pushed some of the autochthonous unemployed urban youth into this rural
area, where they claimed their rights to the land. These disputes over land, which was by that
time seriously exhausted due to continuous intensive cultivation, added to the already present
clashes between the "traditional" villagers and the more recent economic immigrants. The
reform of the rural land tenure law in 1998, which tried to address the tensions between locals
and newcomers by redistributing land according to criteria of autochthony, had disastrous
effects in practice, especially in the coffee and cocoa regions where foreigners were in the
Laurent Gbagbo found especially loyal supporters for his xenophobic policies among the
disgruntled unemployed urban youth from the south.21 They organized raids and destroyed
Dioula shops and shanties.22 As the chief victims in the socio-economic crisis, youths used
disputes over citizenship and national belonging as an opportunity to renegotiate their own
position.23 Once the decisive pressure group for social change and democratic reforms, students
now often represent politically instrumentalized and regressive forces, organizing themselves in
militia groups, such as the "young patriots", which have been responsible for many attacks on
civilians and Ouattara's supporters.24 Alassane Ouattara, for his part, acquired equally powerful
support groups among the northern population, as well as among economic immigrants and
their descendents, who became ever more reluctant to contribute to the economic prosperity of
the country that was increasingly treating them as second-class citizens.
To complicate things even more, there are indications of a regional dimension to the
Ivorian crisis. The Burkina Faso government is suspected of protecting the instigators of the
failed military coup in 2002 and of actively supporting the rebels.25 The Compaor6 regime has,
however, retroactively faced the destabilizing pressure of Burkinab6 immigrants returning from

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

6 I Bovcon

C6te d'Ivoire.26 Meanwhile, the Liberian civil war produced a spillover effect on C6te d'Ivoire.
Charles Taylor contributed greatly to the creation, arming and military training of the members
of the two rebel groups from the southwest, the MJP (Mouvement pour la justice et la paix) and the
MPIGO (Mouvement patriotique ivoirien du Grand Ouest), which emerged after the military coup
on 19 September 2002 that tried to overthrow Gbagbo. Gbagbo himself financed and armed
some of the Liberian soldiers to protect his regime.27

Civil War and the Conflict Resolution Strategy for C6te d'Ivoire

Internal tensions reached their peak on 19 September 2002 when a straightforward mutiny
on the previous day, involving simultaneous attacks in Abidjan, Bouak6 and Korhogo and
which was allegedly prepared by a group of pro-Gue'i soldiers who had been purged from the
National Army by the Gbagbo government, quickly escalated into a failed military coup.28 The
structure, size, organization and source of armaments of the rebel group remain unknown to
the present day. What is even more intriguing is that its demands changed drastically within
few days of the military coup. While at the outset the mutineers simply requested financial
compensation and re-integration in the army, the group very soon acquired a more visibly
political orientation: it renamed itself Forces nouvelles (New Forces) and put the following goals
on its agenda: Gbagbo's resignation, organization of free and fair elections, and the end of the
discriminatory politics based on the concept of Ivoirite.29 C6te d'Ivoire sank into the violence of
its first civil war, and the time had come for the international community to respond.
Conflict resolution strategy for C6te d'Ivoire has progressively incorporated national,
regional and international actors, and thus provides one of the most recent examples of "hybrid
operations" in Africa.30

France's Intervention

France was the first to intervene, only three days after the rebels' failed military coup. Its
military intervention, however, was initially confined to the protection and evacuation of
French expatriates and civilians of other nationalities who wanted to escape the civil war.
France legitimized its action in terms of its duty to protect French citizens on the territory of
another country when their lives are threatened and the host country is incapable of, or
unwilling to, provide for their security.31 Except for the expatriates of the United States, who
were evacuated with help of American special troops, French troops rescued other civilians on
the demand of their respective governments.32
At the beginning of October 2002, Gbagbo requested that France help governmental forces
to suppress the rebel insurgency, appealing to the many defense accords that have linked the
two countries since C6te d'Ivoire's independence in 1960. Laurent Gbagbo insisted on the
involvement of external actors in this rebel insurgence, especially Burkinab6 president Blaise
Compaor6, former Liberian president Charles Taylor, and Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-
Gaddafi. According to bilateral defense accords, France was supposed to intervene in the case of
an external threat to the sovereignty of C6te d'Ivoire.33

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 7

It is true that, as in the case of the Sierra Leonean Revolutionary United Front (RUF), many
of the rebel fighters were foreigners, including, in the southwest of the country, many Liberian
mercenaries. After the end of the Liberian civil war, they had crossed the border with C6te
d'Ivoire to continue fighting and pillaging the villages. Most of the fighters, however, came
from the northern part of C6te d'Ivoire and were external and internal immigrants who were
discriminated against by the concept of Ivoirit6.34
The vagueness of the stated conditions in defense accords, as well as the confidential status
of many of them, offered France room to interpret events in a way most convenient to it.35
Insistence on the interpretation of the war as an internal conflict enabled France to restrict the
military action to a mere interposition of its troops between the warring parties in the newly
formed "buffer" or "confidence" zone, and to the protection of civilians.36 France thus clearly
indicated its preference for maintaining the status of a peacekeeping force, as opposed to giving
active military support to either party involved in the dispute, a decision that enraged Laurent
Gbagbo as well as the rebels.
There are many reasons that could have influenced France to take this position. Its
reluctance to get involved in the Ivorian crisis should partly be understood within the historical
context of the widespread criticism of France's past support of the dictatorial Mobutu regime in
Zaire and its acceptance of highly questionable electoral processes in Chad, Niger and Togo.37
The peak of this discreditable French African policy was reached with the implication of French
troops in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.38 The domestic and international community accused
France of providing military and logistical support to Hutu-dominated Habyarimana
government in its fight against the Tutsi-controlled, pro-American Rwandan Patriotic Front
(RPF) in the run-up to the genocide. In addition, the French military Operation Turquoise helped
governmental forces, at that time already responsible for the genocide of some 800,000 Tutsis
and moderate Hutus, to avoid persecution by enabling them to escape across the border to
Eastern Congo through the "humanitarian" safe zone formed by French troops.39 From that time
onward, France became increasingly reluctant to intervene overtly in any conflict on the African
continent that could attract international and national indignation.
France's stagnating economy at the time and its consequently shrunken aid and military
budgets doubtless also help explain its disengagement in African policy, including its approach
to military interventionism.40 Integration into the European Union, closer co-operation with the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and increasing involvement in other multilateral
institutions, have impeded France from making unilateral and often opaque decisions in its
foreign policy.41 The criteria of European monetary union (EMU) further constrained France by
requiring it to keep its public expenditure low and more transparent, which substantially
reduced its capacity to maintain clientelistic relationships with African countries.
The African continent itself underwent many changes during the 1990s. Economic
globalization, large debts incurred by most African countries, and political instability provoked
by the democratization process and multi-partyism, substantially marginalized the African
continent in the international system and consequently made it less attractive in political or
economic terms. Both involvement in Africa's escalating conflicts and investment in business
appeared to be more risky than ever before and contained no strategic gains.42

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

8 I Bovcon

France did not have any desire to overtly support the rebels in C6te d'Ivoire, since the
United Nations and the African Union had both condemned the attempted military coup as an
unacceptable means for those involved to achieve their goals.43 On the other hand, France could
not and did not want to support Laurent Gbagbo, because of his contentious ascension to power
in 2000 amidst what he himself described as "calamitous conditions," the exacerbation of his
xenophobic politics of Ivoirit6 after the elections, and the violation of the human rights by his
militia groups.
France's neutral position and its relatively slow response to the Ivorian crisis -- which had
escalated dangerously since the military coup in 1999, through the contentious 2000 presidential
election to the civil war in 2002 -- could be interpreted also in the light of the extreme
opportunism of French politics towards C6te d'Ivoire, which were enabled by the strong
colonial links tying the two countries together. France has maintained strong relationships with
all Ivorian political figures, which means that it can easily adapt its realist politics to practical
any change of situation at the top level of the Ivorian ruling elite, without losing much of its
influence.44 Laurent Gbagbo, both initially and during the cohabitation period, found
supporters among members of the French Socialist Party, which may explain France's tardy
condemnation of the illegitimacy of the 2000 presidential election, whereas European Union,
United States and many African countries all called for a rerun early on.45 By contrast, Alassane
Ouattara, whose strong American links are a myth, has been close to the new generation of the
neo-liberal French politicians, including the current French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Simple
post-colonial inertia was, to begin with, sufficient to maintain control of the situation.46
The Rwandan genocide, however, brought to global public awareness another important
message: that of the failure of the regional and international organizations to prevent one of the
biggest humanitarian catastrophes of the last two decades, and of the urgent need for quicker
responses to xenophobic discourses in multi-ethnic African countries. The war in Liberia, on the
other hand, exemplified the spillover effect of the internal conflict that could suddenly
regionalize. The Ivorian crisis doubtlessly produced fears of genocide and regionalization of the
conflict. France, the former colonial power in C6te d'Ivoire, and which maintained a military
base on Ivorian territory, seemed to be more adept at responding quickly and eventually
preventing a second Rwanda.
It is interesting to note, however, that a more recent report produced in June 2004 by the
Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) and the Centre for
International Peace Operations (ZIF) states that "with hardly any of the warring groups having
an ideological determination to carry out ethnic cleansing, the threat of genocide on the scale of
Rwanda, which has been persistently evoked recently, is virtually non-existent".47 Additionally,
unlike Liberia and Sierra Leone, which were virtually bankrupt by the time their insurgencies
started, C6te d'Ivoire was still a relatively well-functioning state, with established institutions
and a growing middle class. 48
While French military officers generally agree with this evaluation, they contend, however,
that their interposition between the warring parties substantially diminished the number of
potential victims and the further deterioration of the situation. As Captain Prazuck explains:
"The more you intervene belatedly, the more things become difficult, and the more difficult it is
to extinguish the fire."49 One should not forget the extreme geo-strategic importance of C6te

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 9

d'Ivoire: it is the economic engine of Francophone West Africa and an immigration magnet for
less developed hinterland countries. Its descent into chaos would thus have had a serious
impact on the whole West African region and perhaps even beyond. The goal of the French
interposition was to exercise pressure on the Ivorian political elite and thus to persuade them
come to the negotiation table and finally address the pernicious Ivoirit6 issue that was tearing
the country apart.50 Thus, even the most virulent critics of France's opportunistic and corrupted
African policy did not protest, at least not initially, against the intervention of French troops.
The international arena demanded action in the name of humanity, and France could step in
without being blamed for the neo-colonial aspects of its protection of French expatriates or the
fact that, because of the Franco-Ivorian defense accords, the National Army of C6te d'Ivoire
(FANCI) was reduced to a simple gendarmarie unable to defend its own territory.51


The second actor to intervene in the conflict resolution in C6te d'Ivoire was the mission
organized by ECOWAS. ECOWAS responded very quickly on the diplomatic level. It organized
an Extraordinary Summit in Accra on 29 September 2002 to discuss the recent events in C6te
d'Ivoire, on which occasion a Contact Group facilitating the dialogue between the rebel parties
was created. With the help of France, it finally succeeded in obtaining a cease-fire accord, signed
by representatives of the government and the rebels on 17 October 2002. However, the
deployment of its troops for monitoring adherence to the cease-fire agreement proved to be
more problematic.52 The authorized strength of the ECOWAS Mission in C6te d'Ivoire
(ECOMICI) of 2,386 men from Benin, Ghana, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria,
Senegal and Togo, which should have been deployed as of 31 December 2002, was too small to
execute the agreed mission, and was diminished in number since many countries, for various
reasons, did not contribute soldiers after all. As a matter of fact, by February 2003, only some
500 ECOWAS troops were deployed on Ivorian soil, at a time when the French force Licorne
numbered already more than 3,000 men.53
Apart from the limited strength of its troops, ECOMICI also struggled with several other
problems, such as the delayed setting up of the basic force headquarters, lack of coordination
and organizational skills, a too small professional staff, and overall deficiencies of equipment,
logistics support and funding. In spite of the many problems that ECOMICI faced, however,
this military intervention included also many positive factors. This was especially true when
compared to the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in the Liberian civil war, which was
described by Lansana Gberie as an "ill-conceived and regionally divisive intervention exercise
by autocratic leaders with disastrous consequences."54 In C6te d'Ivoire, by contrast, a total
consensus existed between all ECOWAS heads of state regarding the intervention: there was no
division between Anglophone states supporting one party and the Francophone states
supporting the other party, which had been the case in Liberia. ECOMICI enjoyed credibility as
a relevant peace-broker, and its troops received prior training in peace support training centers
and other military schools, which contributed substantially to their discipline.55 French
presence, however, was still essential to the implementation of the mission, especially in the

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

10 I Bovcon

most volatile areas in the southwest. The French were also the ECOMICI's main backers for the
human, financial and other resources.56

Linas-Marcoussis Accords

In January 2003, French President Jacques Chirac organized roundtable talks in France at
which all the Ivorian political forces involved in the conflict were gathered in order to discuss
possible solutions to the persistent crisis. The parties agreed, by signing the Linas-Marcoussis
accords, to preserve the integrity of Ivorian territory and to set up a transitional Government of
National Reconciliation composed of representatives of all the parties participating in the
roundtable and led by a consensus prime minister. The main role of this interim government
was to organize the free and fair elections after the identification and DDR (disarmament,
demobilization and reintegration) processes.57
Most importantly, the Linas-Marcoussis accords removed the contentious Article 35 of the
Constitution on the basis of which Alassane Ouattara had been barred from two presidential
elections. They formally abolished the village committees responsible for issuing statements of
origin. Formerly, under the Gbagbo regime, anyone who wanted an identity document had to
prove his/her nationality by obtaining a statement of origin issued by a committee from their
village of origin.58 This enabled village chiefs and local notables in the village committees to
acquire disproportionate power and often to abuse it.59 Unfortunately, as Ban6gas explains, the
"aliens hearings" (audiences foraines) that were introduced in May 2006 as a way to identify
people who do not have identity cards but wanted to participate in the elections gave local
notables the same authority to decide whether an applicant was indeed born in a given locality.
These "aliens hearings" were interrupted many times due to violent eruptions of militia groups,
who were protesting against the identification of immigrants, and only resumed at the end of
Despite more or less justified criticisms of the Linas-Marcoussis accords, especially on the
part of Gbagbo's supporters who complained about the neo-colonial attitude of the French
diplomats and the undermining of the legitimate Ivorian government, they were still a very
important step in the peace process. As a French diplomat contends, they address the main
cause of the Ivorian conflict, the Ivoirit6 discourse, and attempt to find remedies for it.60
The Linas-Marcoussis accords constituted, until the Ouagadougou accord signed on 4
March 2007, the foundation of the Ivorian peace process, and later accords as as the 2004 Accra
Accord as well as UN resolutions are based on it. On 4 February 2003, the UN Security Council
adopted Resolution 1464, which a posteriori legitimized the Linas-Marcoussis accords as well as
the Licorne and ECOMICI interventions.61

UN Interventions MINUCI and UNOCI

The United Nations was the last to intervene. On 13 May 2003, the Security Council
adopted Resolution 1479, establishing an essentially political United Nations Mission in C6te
d'Ivoire (MINUCI), whose mandate was to observe and facilitate the implementation of the
Linas-Marcoussis accords with the military help of Licorne and ECOMICI.62 France called for a

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 11

more concrete international intervention, but was initially opposed by the United States, which
considered the bigger peacekeeping operation to be unnecessary and costly.63 The UN Security
Council authorized the full peacekeeping operation, including nearly 7,000 UN personnel,
almost a year later, on 27 February 2004. Resolution 1528 established the United Nations
Operation in C6te d'Ivoire (UNOCI) for an initial period of 12 months (further resolutions
prolonged its mission), starting on 4 April 2004, on which date the mandate of MINUCI ended.64
The ECOMICI and MINUCI forces were absorbed into the UNOCI forces, while the Licorne
operation co-operates with it. The UNOCI mission was to monitor the application of the cease-
fire agreements and the implementation of Linas-Marcoussis accords, to help the transitional
government to execute the DDR program, to control the embargo on arms, and to support the
organization of elections.65
The Licorne mission was to contribute to the general security and protection of civilians
and to support UNOCI forces in executing its mission. 26 French officers of UNOCI filled the
role of liaison officers.66 UNOCI and Licorne forces thus operated together with separate but
permanently liaised command and control structures. Most importantly, Licorne provided a
guaranteed Rapid Reaction Force for the international peacekeeping mission. According to
Captain Prazuck, the reason for this arrangement is to be found in the catastrophic UN military
operation in Srebrenica in 1995, when 91 French soldiers died, allegedly due to bad UN
management of the situation.67 From then on, France has preferred to provide international
peacekeeping missions with its Rapid Reaction Force. In practice, this means that French troops
partially retain their autonomy in terms of decision-making, allowing them to intervene without
prior UN authorization. While the general framework of the UNOCI mission was set, the
individual actions within it were not really specified. This was the case with the destruction of
the Ivorian National Air Force by the French Army at the explicit request of the French
President Jacques Chirac. The action was a direct response to the Gbagbo regime's bombing of
both the rebel positions and the French military base in November 2004. The French Army is
also responsible for the disproportionate suppression of the violent protests led by "young
patriots," which had been sparked by the French military action mentioned above, and involved
about 60 civilian casualties.
The troop strength authorized by UN Resolution 1528 was 6,240 military personnel and 350
policemen; however, by the end of May 2004, only 3,004 were yet deployed. "About half of the
troops in place were former ECOMICI contingents from Benin, Ghana, Niger, Senegal and
Togo."68 The reminder comprised Bangladeshi and Moroccan contingents, 63 officers at mission
headquarters, 123 military observers and 171 members of the French engineering company. As
of August 2009, UNOCI comprised about 8,385 uniformed personnel.69
UNOCI was struggling with significant limitations at the operational level, because the
logistical support system could not adapt fast enough to the growing number of UNOCI
personnel.70 This resulted in further delays. In addition, the UNOCI budget was received late.
Apart from material inadequacies, the UNOCI operation was tarnished by the apparent lackof
discipline of its troops. The Moroccan contingent was suspected of sexual abuse of the Ivorian
women and children.71 UNOCI troops were unable to prevent Gbagbo troops from attacking the
rebels due to the initial limitation of its mission to the mere observation of the implementation

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

12 I Bovcon

of the cease-fire agreement. This provision was changed only after the attacks of November
At the summit in Addis Ababa on 6 November 2005, and on the recommendation of
ECOWAS, the UN Security Council and the African Union (AU) established an International
Working Group (GTI), composed of representatives of South Africa, Benin, the United States,
France, Ghana, Guinea, Great Britain, Niger, Nigeria, UN, AU, ECOWAS, EU and the
International Organization of Francophonie (OIF). Its mandate consisted in evaluating,
controlling and following the peace process and the respect for the engagements by all the
involved Ivorian parties. Here again, France played an important role by acting independently,
through the UN, EU and OIF. As one French diplomat in Abidjan admits, French experts
prepared all UN draft resolutions.73 However, according to another French diplomat, these
drafts were thoroughly discussed by other UN members, and modified appropriately.74

Final Stage of the Ivorian Conflict Resolution Strategy: Ouagadougou Accords or the "Ivorian
Solution to the Ivorian Problems"

The hostility between the Gbagbo regime and the international community intensified
progressively. Laurent Gbagbo accused France and the United Nations of helping rebels to
destabilize the legitimate Ivorian regime and dismantle its democratic institutions. The "young
patriots" accused France of playing a dirty game of neo-colonial politics.
At the end of 2006, it became obvious that the elections could not be held, since the DDR
program and the identification process were not accomplished. With Resolution 1739, the UN
Security Council postponed the elections for the second and last time, prolonged the mandate of
UNOCI and Licorne and accorded, under the suggestion of France, more power to the prime
minister of the interim government.75 When Laurent Gbagbo made clear that he did not intend
to respect the provisions of this resolution, claiming that it violated the Ivorian Constitution and
attacked the sovereignty of C6te d'Ivoire, the diplomatic crisis reached its lowest point.
To the surprise of many, things were drastically changed by Gbagbo's initiative, first
presented in November 2006, of finding an "Ivorian solution to the Ivorian problems," based on
a direct dialogue between himself and Guillaume Soro, the leader of the rebel New Forces. On 4
March 2007, the Ouagadougou Accord was concluded, with the aid of Blaise Compaor6, acting
president of ECOWAS. A month later, Guillaume Soro finally replaced prime minister Henri
Konan Banny, who had been appointed by the international community. Together with the
president, he formed a new government. Apart from a schedule for the identification process,
dismantling of the militia groups and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration
(DDR) program, this accord also provided for the suppression of the confidence zone and the
progressive replacement of the impartial forces (UNOCI, Licorne) by mixed forces composed of
rebel fighters and Ivorian National Army soldiers. The suppression of the confidence zone and
the repositioning of the impartial forces at seventeen observational points began on 16 April
2007 and finished on 15 September 2007. The Licorne and UNOCI troops have been gradually
reduced, but intend to stay in the country until the successful accomplishment of the
presidential elections.76

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 13

The international community, including France, has generally responded positively to
Gbagbo's initiative, although many remain skeptical about Gbagbo's good intentions. The
implementation of the Ouagadougou accord and its following four complementary accords are
already far behind schedule. Because of the serious delays in the identification process, the
disarmament of the former rebels and militias, and their reinsertion or reintegration into civilian
life or the military, the elections have been repeatedly postponed. On 15 May 2009, the Ivorian
government announced that it would hold the presidential election on 29 November.77 Much
depends on the good will of the Ivorian political elite.

Assessing France's Intervention and its Ethical Implications

It is therefore clear that France was an important mediator between the warring parties
throughout the conflict resolution strategy and shaped the peace process significantly.
Historically strong links between the two countries, as well as the superior operational skills
and equipment of the French Army, which maintains a military base on Ivorian territory up to
the present day, can partially explain France's significant involvement in the Ivorian crisis.
There are also, however, many other reasons why this apparently unproblematic and neutral
position of France could give rise to serious ethical issues that could hinder true conflict
resolution in the long term.
It has to be taken into account that France has played a decisive role in defining the
political, economic and social structure of C6te d'Ivoire since the beginning of the twentieth
century. "The common history of the people of C6te d'Ivoire as a single entity only began with
the arrival of Europeans" -- in particular, French colonizers.78 The freeing up of labor and its
subsequent categorization and compartmentalization, including the construction of a hierarchy
of ethnic categories among the local population, has been an essential process of capitalist
development and lies at the heart of the modern state.79 French colonial agents are, thus,
certainly partially responsible for instigating the present ethnic conflict.
The Houphouetist post-colonial state merely appropriated these colonial practices and
further exacerbated them through a development policy marked by extreme extroversion, based
ove all on close cooperation with France and an unrestricted reliance on foreign labor and
investment.80 Houphou&t-Boigny's C6te d'Ivoire was the epitome of the strong Franco-African
links that were enhanced after independence by the increasing number of French technical
assistants offering their skills in all vital sectors, such as political counseling, administration,
economic investment and education.81 The number of French technical assistants started to
diminish only after the economic crisis began in the second half of the 1980s.
The constant presence of the French military force in C6te d'Ivoire, a force that was,
according to bilateral defense accords, responsible for the defense of the sovereignty and
integrity of the Ivorian territory, practically reduced the Ivorian military to a simple
gendarmerie incapable of defending its own territory and people. Laurent Gbagbo thus relied
completely on the guidance of the French government to determine the nature of the attack and,
in fact, to evaluate whether such military action would be worth pursuing.
A closer examination of the French conflict resolution strategy itself reveals inconsistency
in France's supposedly neutral position. After the imposition of Licorne between the warring

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

14 I Bovcon

parties, France still provided the Ivorian National Army with logistical support and agreed to
open the so-called "confidence zone." This allowed the governmental forces to attack the rebel
positions in Bouak&. After failing to conquer the town, the governmental forces withdrew and
Licorne closed the passage again.82
On the other hand, France legitimized rebellion by inviting its representatives to the Linas-
Marcoussis roundtable, where they were offered the strategically most important ministerial
positions of defense and internal affairs within the newly established interim government. It
was naive to expect that Laurent Gbagbo would humbly swallow this humiliating (for him)
provision, which was probably dictated by Jacques Chirac, who could not hide his animosity
towards the Ivorian president. Furthermore, the boundaries of the confidence zone itself did not
reflect the actual ethnic or cultural division, since most of the so-called "foreigners" reside today
in the southwest region and in Abidjan.
Laurent Gbagbo supposedly introduced an abrupt and brutal change in the close Franco-
Ivorian relationship, which reached its lowest point in November 2004 when he broke the
ceasefire agreement by bombing the rebel positions and the French military base. The
consequent complete destruction of the Ivorian National Air Force by the French provoked
violent protests by "young patriots" who attacked French expatriates and their property under
the slogan of the "fight for the second independence."83 About 8,000 French expatriates left the
country within days after the incident, helped by French soldiers.
This abrupt change in Franco-Ivorian relations and the fight of the Gbagbo regime against
French neo-colonialism are considered to be in many ways superficial, mere rhetoric on the part
of Laurent Gbagbo to gain support from the disgruntled youth seeking revolution. Namely,
indications exist that France, while playing the part of a neutral interposition force, knew how
to protect its economic and strategic interests. France remains the preeminent commercial
partner of C6te d'Ivoire, and bilateral exchanges increased by 17.5 percent between 2005 and
2006.84 The number of big enterprises has only slightly diminished since 2003 (from 147 to 143).85
There are still more than 400 small- and medium-sized French enterprises (compared to around
500 before the crisis). These French enterprises still represent about 30 percent of GDP and
account for 50 percent of the fiscal revenues.86 Many French expatriates returned to C6te
d'Ivoire, and most of the contracts of French firms, such as Bouygues (electricity, water), France
T616com (telecommunication) or Bollor6 (transport), were renewed.87
The involvement of the United Nations and ECOWAS, as well as the European Union and
the African Union, in the conflict resolution strategy does not necessarily mean that the French
influence in C6te d'Ivoire was considerably tarnished. Considering the reduced military budget
of France, the multilateral peace operation actually helped France lower the costs of its military
intervention, while at the same time allowing it to pursue its national interests. The hybrid
operation and the close co-operation with UNOCI also offered France a suitable guise of
I thus disagree with most interpretations which state that the French military action in C6te
d'Ivoire was a complete failure.88 Many of the analysts contend that the French management of
the Ivorian crisis reflects France's outdated and confused African policy, whose effectiveness
has been further hindered by the rivalry among various interest groups within the French
political elite.89 It is certainly true that the French response to the Ivorian crisis is above all

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 15

reactive and sometimes inconsistent. However, one should not forget the extreme evasiveness
of Laurent Gbagbo's politics towards France, which requires from the latter a constant
reassessment of its position and the adaptation of its realpolitik.
Marshall-Fratani also argues that French interventionism is handicapped by its heavy post-
colonial heritage, which ultimately only exacerbated the already present ultra-nationalist
feelings of some Ivorians, including the "young patriots."90 It is exactly the ambiguity of
France's relationship with its former colony that offers Gbagbo a convenient excuse to attack
every decision made by France or the international community that does not please him. It is,
however, hard to imagine a case in which Gbagbo would not be able to employ the powerful
mobilization discourse of the "fight against French neo-colonialism." Whatever France does, the
fact remains that it constitutes an integral part of Ivorian history and identity. We should also
keep in mind that France initially supported Gbagbo, despite the problematic elections and
criticism from the European Union.
The only possible alternative to French interventionism would have been one involving the
African states in a more decisive role in the conflict resolution strategy, which, unfortunately,
did not happen. As the recent example of Zimbabwe's presidential elections and ongoing
political crisis illustrate, African presidents remain all too lenient when it comes to criticizing
one of their counterparts, especially if the person in question enjoys the status of being an old
anti-colonial fighter, and regardless of how their actual style of rule diverts from stated ideals.
When the African leaders, nonetheless, adopt a more critical stance, as the Senegalese president
Abdoulaye Wade did in the case of C6te d'Ivoire, the attacked leader can always resort to
accusations of the former colonial power's covert manipulation. The involvement of neutral and
disinterested states in messy situations such as civil wars is problematic for another reason. The
realist perception of the nation states as actors pursuing their national interests within the
anarchical international system is still well entrenched within the minds of the politicians. It is,
therefore, almost impossible to expect a state to contribute its material and human resources
solely on humanitarian grounds.
Furthermore, it is not at all clear that the French intervention aggravated the situation, as
Marshall-Fratani contends.91 France succeeded in preventing potential massive killing and
further institutional disintegration. The prolonged situation created by the interposition forces,
in which there was neither peace nor war, doubtless exacerbated the economic crisis, which
subsequently affected Ivorian social wellbeing. Nevertheless, military coups or civil wars
almost certainly provoke a more acute institutional degradation than situations in which the
opposite parties are still willing to pursue their talks.
Comi Toulabor insists that with continuous external interventionism, African states will
never learn how to solve their problems on their own. He gives the example of France, whose
history was equally made through bloodshed and wars.92 This argument reflects Mohammed
Ayoob's defense of non-interventionism, based upon the assumption that all states share the
same evolutionary path and should, therefore, be left to accomplish their own trajectory.93 In
this view, all states go through similar evolutionary phases, differing only in the pace at which
they pass from one phase to another. This assumption is disputable, since the origins of the
African states evidently differ from those of Western countries. They, moreover, are unique in
regard to governance and in terms of history itself. A non-interventionist approach, on the other

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

16 I Bovcon

hand, in practice results in a serious ethical dilemma when it comes to situations similar to
those found in Rwanda or Liberia. In both cases, the international community was criticized
precisely because of its lack of will to intervene and prevent the human catastrophe.
In summary, France's interventionism was not a failure. France succeeded in preventing
potential massive killings and acute institutional disintegration, while at the same time
protecting its economic and strategic interests under the guise of neutrality.


C6te d'Ivoire has been struggling with an acute political crisis for more than a decade. This
truly multi-layered crisis revolves around the contentious concept of Ivoirit6, initially
introduced by former Ivorian president Henri Konan B6di6, which, on the basis of their not
being "true Ivorians", excluded a great part of the Ivorian population from political, economic
and social rights. The crisis peaked on 19 September 2002 with the failed military coup that
escalated into an insurgency, the rebels claiming to be fighting against the discriminatory
mechanisms of Ivoirit6 and the illegitimate Gbagbo government.
Despite the fears expressed by the international community about the possible repetition of
the Rwandan genocide and further destabilization of the West African region, it was France, the
Ivorian former colonial power, which, although reluctantly, intervened first. By the
interposition of its military troops between the warring parties and the creation of the buffer
zone, it actually froze the situation and opened the space for negotiation.
The regional (ECOWAS) and international (UN) actors were, apart from the delayed
deployment of their troops, struggling with a number of other problems, especially logistic and
financial inadequacies. French troops seem to be the best prepared for the conflict resolution
and, up to now, have played a decisive supportive role to UNOCI troops. French troops have
been the best equipped, have had access to good financial and logistic support, and have been
quick to react. In addition, despite the recent discussions about the actual possibility of the
repetition of Rwandan genocide in C6te d'Ivoire, it can at least be stated that French troops
substantially diminished the massive killings and contributed to the gradual stabilization of the
situation. Moreover, it would be somehow unrealistic to expect that reconciliation could have
been achieved within days or weeks. France has also provided the basis of the conflict
resolution strategy by the organization of the roundtable which resulted in the signature of the
Linas-Marcoussis Accords. Even the Ouagadougou accord respects the framework of these
accords, which was a precondition for its acceptance by the UN Security Council.
Conflict resolution in C6te d'Ivoire is one of the most recent examples of "hybrid
operations" in which a former colonial power plays a substantial role. The legitimacy of
France's military operation lies primarily in the fact of the belated intervention by the regional
and international actors and the many problems they encountered. The new strategy of "hybrid
operation" actually helped France diminish the costs of its military intervention, while, at the
same time, allowing it to pursue its national interests. However, reasons for the Ivorian crisis
are partly rooted in the colonial past of the French management of Ivorian territory and society,
which were continued after the independence by the Houphou&t-Boigny regime. France is thus
far from being a neutral party in the current conflict resolution strategy and may, to some

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 17

extent, hinder the true reconciliation process. As long as the regional and international
institutions are not able to assume the desired leading role in the conflict resolution strategies,
the former colonial powers will have to play a central role, despite all the possible suspicions
and accusations of the neo-colonial practices. At the same time, it is hard to imagine how the
former colonial powers could possibly escape the legacy that links them to their former


1. This is the general position defended by "young patriots", supporters of the Gbagbo
2. See Banks.
3. See Fot&; Koli.
4. Dioula is the name of a language similar to Bambara and spoken by people from the
north. Dozon, pp. 51-59.
5. See Bouquet 2003.
6. Ban6gas 2006, p. 7.
7. See Conseil 6conomique et social.
8. Bouquet 2005, p. 183.
9. See Amin; Bazin; Akindes 2004.
10. See Global Witness report.
11. See Demb616.
12. Ibid.
13. Diabat6, p. 53.
14. Serhan, pp. 181-82.
15. Bouquet 2005, p. 171.
16. Gbagbo, p. 49; Diabat6, p. 50.
17. Koli, p. 96; S6gui.
18. Langer, p. 25.
19. See Akindes 2000; Campbell.
20. See Bouquet 2003; Chauveau.
21. See Konat6 2003.
22. Dioula people traditionally occupied the sphere of informal economy and small-scale
23. See Marshall-Fratani 2006.
24. Konat6 2005, p. 270.
25. See Smith 2003.
26. See Ban6gas and Otayek.
27. See Ero and Marshall.
28. See Akindes 2004.
29. Hofnung 2005, p. 56.
30. Gberie, Ado and KAIPTC, p. 8.
31. See Balmond.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

18 I Bovcon

32. Interview with Captain Cristophe Prazuck, military officer working for French Ministry
for Foreign Affairs, Paris, June 26, 2007. All interviews refereed in the text were tape
recorded and translated from French by the author of this article.
33. See Hofnung 2005.
34. See Gberie, Ado and KAIPTC.
35. On the defense accords see Vasset.
36. Interview with a French diplomat 1 working for The French Embassy in C6te d'Ivoire,
Abidjan, February 20, 2008. The diplomat wished the interview to be confidential and
selectively tape recorded. The interviewees, who wished to remain anonymous are
identified in the article by numbers.
37. See Marchal.
38. Gregory, p. 439; Chafer, p. 168; Hofnung 2006, p. 381.
39. See Verschave.
40. See Glaser and Smith.
41. See Bryant.
42. See Ulf and Olsen.
43. See Balmond.
44. Smith 2002, p. 324.
45. See Bouquet 2005. The cohabitation period (1997-2002) involved the rightist president
Jacques Chirac and the socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin.
46. See Smith 2002.
47. Gberie, Ado and KAIPTC, p. 14.
48. Ibid., p. 15.
49. Interview with Captain Prazuck.
50. Interview with the French diplomat 1.
51. On the national armies of the former French colonies in sub-Saharan Africa see Nugent.
52. See Gberie, Ado and KAIPTC.
53. Ibid., pp. 23-24.
54. Looting was so common among the ECOMOG troops that Liberians corrupted the
acronym ECOMOG to stand for "Every Car Or Moving Object Gone". See Gberie 2005.
55. Gberie, Ado and KAIPTC, p. 27.
56. Ibid., p. 24.
57. See Linas-Marcoussis Accords.
58. Ibid.
59. Ban6gas 2006, p. 8.
60. Interview with the French diplomat 1.
61. See UN Security Council resolution 1464.
62. See UN Security Council resolution 1479.
63. Balmond, p. 94.
64. See UN Security Council resolution 1528.
65. Ibid.
66. Ibid.
67. Interview with Captain Prazuck.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 19

68. Gberie, Ado and KAIPTC, p. 30.
69. See UNOCI Website.
70. Gberie, Ado and KAIPTC, p. 31.
71. See Amnesty International. The Maghreb Arab Press recently reports, however, that
some of the Ivorian girls, manipulated by a local NGO, were lying about Moroccan
sexual abuses. See Maghreb Arab Press 2008. I could not find other sources approving
this story.
72. Interview with the French diplomat 1.
73. Interview with a French diplomat 2 working for The French Embassy in C6te d'Ivoire,
Abidjan, February 19, 2008.
74. Interview with a French diplomat 3 working for The French Ministry for Foreign Affairs,
Paris, November 30, 2007.
75. See UN Security Council resolution 1739.
76. See Ouagadougou Accord.
77. See IRIN.
78. Gonnin, p. 163.
79. See Marshall-Fratani 2006.
80. See Amin; Bazin; Ban6gas 2006.
81. See Gbagbo; Crook.
82. See Bouquet 2005, p. 113.
83. See Konat6 2005; Ban6gas 2006.
84. See Economic Mission.
85. Ibid.
86. See Yves.
87. See Bouquet 2005, pp. 251-52.
88. See M6dard; Smith 2003; Glaser and Smith.
89. See Hofnung 2006; Marshall-Fratani 2005; d'Ersu.
90. See Marshall-Fratani 2005.
91. Ibid.
92. Comi Toulabor is a researcher at the Centre d'etudes d'Afrique noire, Institut d'etudes
politiques, Bordeaux. Cited in Marshall-Fratani 2005, p. 24.
93. See Ayoob.


Akindes, Francis. "In6galit6s sociales et regulation politique en C6te d'Ivoire." Politique africaine
No. 78, (2000): pp. 126-141.

Akindes, Francis. Les racines de la crise militaro-politique en C6te d'Ivoire. Dakar: CODESRIA, 2004.

Amin, Samir. Neo-colonialism in West Africa. New York, London: Monthly Review Press,1973.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

20 I Bovcon

Amnesty International. Amnesty International Report 2008, accessed on:

Ayoob, Mohammed. "Inequality and Theorizing in International Relations: the Case for
Subaltern Realism." International Studies Review Vol. 4, No. 3, (2002): pp. 27-48.

Balmond, Louis. "Sur quelques enseignements de 1' "Op6rations Licorne." Ares Vol. XXI, No.1,
(2004): pp. 83-96.

Ban6gas, Richard. "C6te d'Ivoire: patriotism, ethnonationlism and other African modes of self-
writing." African Affairs Vol. 105, No. 421, (2006): pp. 535-552.

Ban6gas, Richard and Ren6 Otayek. "La Burkina Faso dans la crise ivoirienne: effects d'aubaine et
incertitudes politiques." Politique africaine No. 89, (2003): pp. 71-87.

Banks, Marcus. Ethnicity: Anthropological constructions. London: Routledge, 1996.

Bazin, Laurent. Entreprise, politique, parent. Une perspective anthropologique sur la C6te d'Ivoire
dans le monde actuel. Paris: Harmattan, 1998.

Bouquet, Christian. "Etre stranger en C6te d'Ivoire: la n6buleuse "Dioula"." Geopolitique africaine /
OR.IMA International No. 9, (2003): pp. 27-42.

Bouquet, Christian. Geopolitique de la C6te d'Ivoire. Paris: Armand Colin, 2005.

Bryant, Janet. "French Foreign and Defence Policy: Exceptional in Methods and Rhetoric?" In
The French Exception, eds. Emmanuel Godin and Tony Chafer (New York, Oxford: Berghahn
Books, 2005): pp. 121-135.

Campbell, Bonnie. "RWinvention du politique en C6te d'Ivoire: Et responsabilit6 des bailleurs de
fonds multilat6raux." Politique africaine No. 78, (2000): pp. 142-156.

Chafer, Tony. "French African Policy in Historical Perspective." Journal of Contemporary African
Studies Vol. 19, No. 2, (2001): pp. 165-182.

Chauveau, Jean-Pierre. "La situation de guerre dans l'arene villageoise: un example dans le
centre-ouest ivoirien." Politique africaine No. 89, (2003): pp. 12-32.

Conseil 6conomique et social. "Immigration en C6te d'Ivoire: le seuil du tolerable est largement
d6pass6." Politique africaine No. 78, (2003): pp. 70-74.

Crook, C. Richard. "Patrimonialism, Administrative Effectiveness and Economic Development
in C6te d'Ivoire." African Affairs Vol. 88, No. 351, (1989): pp. 205-228.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 21

Demb616, Ousmane. "La construction 6conomique et politique de la cat6gorie strangerr' en C6te
d'Ivoire." In C6te d'Ivoire. L'annee terrible 1999-2000, eds. Marc Le Pape and Claudine Vidal
(Paris: Karthala, 2002), pp. 123-171.

d'Ersu, Laurent. "La crise ivoirienne, une intrigue franco-frangaise." Politique africaine No. 105,
(2007): pp. 85-104.

Diabat6, Lamine. "Interview r6alis6e par Maurice Bandama et Ousmane Demb616." In
Intellectuels ivoiriens face a la crise, eds. Lamine Diabate, Ousmane Dembel1 and Francis Akindes
(Paris: Karthala, 2005), pp. 51-68.

Dozon, Jean-Pierre. "La C6te d'Ivoire entire democratic, nationalism et ethnonationalisme."
Politique africaine No. 78, (2000): pp. 45-62.

Economic Mission. 'La presence francaise en C6te d'Ivoire', 2007. Accessible on:

Ero, Comfort and Anne Marshall. "L'ouest de la C6te d'Ivoire: un conflict Liberien?" Politique
africaine No. 89, (2003): pp. 88-101.

Fot&, M. Harris. "Interview realisee par Idriss Diabate." In Intellectuels ivoiriens face a la crise, eds.
Lamine Diabate, Ousmane Dembel1 and Francis Akindes (Paris: Karthala, 2005), pp. 135-159.

Gbagbo, Laurent. C6te d'Ivoire: Pour une alternative democratique. Paris: L'Harmattan, 1983.

Gberie, Lansana. "Liberia's War and Peace process." In Tortuous Road to Peace, 2005, accessible
on http://www.iss.co.za/pubs/Books/TortuousRoad/Contents.htm

Gberie, Lansana, Prosper Addo and KAIPTC. "Challenges of Peace Implementation in C6te
d'Ivoire." Report from the Expert Workshop on Challenges of Peace Implementation in C6te
d'Ivoire, organized by Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre and Center for
International Peace Operations (ZIF) in Accra, 2004.

Glaser, Antoine and Stephen Smith. Comment la France a perdu l'Afrique. Paris: Calmann-LUvy,

Hot Chocolate: How Cocoa fuelled the conflict in C6te d'Ivoire. Global Witness, 2007.

Gonnin, Gilbert. "Ethnicity, Politics and National Awareness in C6te d'Ivoire." In Ethnic
Conlficts in Africa, ed. Okwudiba Nnoli (Dakar: CODESRIA, 1998).

Gregory, Shaun. "The French Military in Africa: Past and Present." African Affairs Vol. 99, No.
396, (2000): pp. 435-448.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

22 I Bovcon

Hofnung, Thomas. La crise en C6te d'Ivoire: dix cles pour comprendre. Paris: La D6couverte, 2005.

Hofnung, Thomas. "En finir avec la "Frangafrique"." Politique international Vol. 112, (2006): pp.

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). "C6te d'Ivoire: Election date for real this
time?", 15 May 2009.

Koli, Souleymane. "Interview r6alis6e par Ousmane Demb616." In Intellectuels ivoiriensface a la
crise, eds. Lamine Diabat6, Ousmane Demb616 and Francis Akindes (Paris: Karthala, 2005), pp.

Konat6, Yacouba. "Le destin d'Alassane Dramane Ouattara." In C6te d'Ivoire: L'annee terrible
1999-2000, eds. Marc Le Pape and Claudine Vidal (Paris: Karthala, 2002): pp. 253-309.

Konat6, Yacouba. "Les enfants de la balle. De la Fesci au movements de patriotss" Politique
africaine No. 89, (2003): pp. 49-70.

Konat6, Yacouba. "C6te d'Ivoire: le canari d'eau de Jacques Chirac." Politique africaine No. 97,
(2005): pp. 117-132.

Langer, Arnim. "Horizontal Inequalities and Violent Group Mobilisation in C6te d'Iviore."
Oxford Development Studies Vol. 33, No. 1, (2005): pp. 25-45.

Linas-Marcoussis Accords, accessible on the Website of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs:
http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/pays-zones-geo 833/cote-ivoire 339/colonne-
droite 1347/textes-reference 1348/accord-linas-marcoussis 1636.html

Maghreb Arab Press. 'Ivorian girls confess lying about Moroccan soldiers' sexual abuse',
published on July 15, 2008 and accessible on

Marchal, Roland. "France and Africa: The Emergence of Essential Reforms?" International Affairs
Vol. 74, No. 2, (1998): pp. 355-372.

Marshall-Fratani, Ruth. "La France en C6te d'Ivoire: 1'interventionnisme a 1'6preuve des faits."
Politique africaine No. 98, (2005): pp. 21-42.

Marshall-Fratani, Ruth. "The War of "Who is Who": Autochthony, Nationalism and Citizenship
in the Ivorian Crisis." African Studies Review Vol. 49, No. 2, (2006): pp. 9-43.

M6dard, Jean-Francois. "Nigeria and France in the present context of evolving relations
between France and Africa." Paper presented at the seminar Nigeria's foreign policy after the Cold
War: domestic, regional and external influences at University of Oxford in July 2003.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in Cote d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications I 23

Nugent, Paul. Africa since Independence. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Ouagadougou Accord, accessible on the Ivorian governmental site: acc
ord paix 04mars2007.pdf+l%27accord+de+ouagadougou+texte+integral&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2
& gl=us& client=firefox-a

Segui, Degni. "Interview realise par Ousmane Demb6l1." In Intellectuels ivoiriens face a la crise,
eds. Lamine Diabat6, Ousmane Dembel1 and Francis Akindes (Paris: Karthala, 2005), pp. 79-89.

Serhan, Nasser. "La C6te d'Ivoire et ses strangers. Un vent de divorce soufflerait-il entire eux?"
In C6te d'Ivoire. L'annee terrible 1999-2000, eds. Marc Le Pape and Claudine Vidal (Paris:
Karthala, 2002), pp. 173-190.

Smith, Stephen. "La France dans la crise ivoirienne: ni ingerence, ni indifference, mais indolence
post-coloniale." In C6te d'Ivoire. L'annee terrible 1999-2000, eds. Marc Le Pape and Claudine
Vidal (Paris: Karthala, 2002), pp. 311-324.

Smith, Stephen. "La politique d'engagement de la France a 1'6preuve de la C6te d'Ivoire."
Politique africaine No. 89, (2003): pp. 112-126.

Ulf Engel and Gorm Rye Olsen (eds.). Africa and the North: Between Globalization and
Marginalization. London, New York: Routledge, 2005.

UNOCI Website, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unoci/facts.html.

UN Security Council resolution 1464 (2003) "The situation in C6te d'Ivoire", accessible on:

UN Security Council resolution 1479 (2003) "The situation in C6te d'Ivoire", accessible on:

UN Security Council resolution 1528 (2004) "The situation in C6te d'Ivoire".

UN Security Council resolution 1739 (2007), accessible on

Vasset, Philippe. "The Myth of Military Aid: The Case of French Military Cooperation in Africa."
SAIS Review Vol. 17, No. 2, (1997): pp. 165-180.

Verschave, Francois-Xavier. Complicite de genocide? La politique de la France au Rwanda. Paris:
Editions la Decouverte, 1994.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

24 I Bovcon

Yves, P. Ougueye. "SE Andr6 Janier r6pond aux d6tracteurs de la France : 'Les changes avec la
C6te d'lvoire, c'est 0,1% des resources ext6rieures de la France'", Nouveau Reveil, September 15,
2007, accessible on Abidjan.net.

Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article: Maja Bovcon,"
France's Conflict Resolution Strategy in C6te d'Ivoire and its Ethical Implications", African
Studies Quarterly 11, issue 1: (Fall 2009) [online] URL: http://africa.ufl.edu/asq/vll/vllilal.htm.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict: A Case Study of Kajo Keji

County, Sudan


Abstract: During Southern Sudan's second period of civil war, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) provided almost all of the region's public services and greatly
influenced local administration. Refugee movements, inadequate infrastructures, food
shortages, accountability issues, disputes and other difficulties overwhelmed both the
agencies and newly developed civil authorities. Blurred distinctions between political
and humanitarian activities resulted, as demonstrated in a controversy surrounding a
2004 distribution of relief food in Central Equatoria State. Based on analysis of
documents, correspondence and interviews, this case study of Kajo Keji reveals many of
the challenges posed by NGO activity in Southern Sudan and other countries emerging
from long-term instability. Given recurrent criticisms of NGOs in war-torn areas of
Africa, agency operations must be appropriately geared to affected populations and
scrutinized by governments, donors, recipients and the media.
A Critique of NGO Operations

Once seen as unquestionably noble, humanitarian agencies have been subject to much
criticism in the last 30 years.1 This has been particularly evident in the Horn of Africa. Drawing
on experience in Ethiopia, Hancock depicted agencies as bureaucracies more intent on keeping
themselves going than helping the poor.2 Noting that aid often allowed despots to maintain
power, enrich themselves and escape responsibility, he criticized their tendency for big,
wasteful projects using expensive experts who bypass local concerns and wisdom and do not
speak local languages. He accused their personnel of being lazy, over-paid, under-educated and
living in luxury amid their impoverished clients. Such criticisms have surfaced frequently.
Based on research in Somalia, Maren described international aid agencies as under-scrutinized,
self-perpetuating big businesses more concerned with winning government contracts than
helping needy people.3 He was equally scathing of the naivete of expatriate personnel,
dependence by journalists on agency reports and willingness of native elites to exploit crises.
Often aid has subsidized western businesses, such as grain-trading companies, eager to unload
surpluses. Questioning whether non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are becoming Africa's
new colonialists, one observer noted that the intended recipients of charity are the only persons
who can assess whether or not altruistic goals have been met.4

Randall Fegley is assistant professor of history and politics and coordinator of Global Studies at Pennsylvania State
University's Berks Campus. Having lived in Sudan from 1980 to 1984, he specializes in African societies' recovery
from mass trauma, especially in Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda and Equatorial Guinea. A life member of the Sudan Studies
Association, he is currently that organization's president-elect.

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

26 I Fegley

Others have noted agency encroachment on state sovereignty.5 Particularly relevant in the
case of Sudan, NGO activities may impede local political processes that could allow
beneficiaries of assistance to become masters of their own destinies. Critics note that agencies
hamper the development of local consensus to aggregate needs and form policy.6 Tvedt argues,
... NGOs contributed unintentionally to the erosion of the authority of a very weak state. ... The
NGOs put up their own administration and authority systems thereby undermining the state
institutions without establishing viable alternative structures.7 Referring to the agencies as
"inadvertent accomplices," Martin notes that international aid organizations have flooded into
the Sudan, mostly via Kenya and Uganda into the rebel regions of the South, in response to the
devastating consequence of "years of combat, concurrent droughts, floods, and other
calamities." The "hundreds of millions of dollars" that these organizations have poured into the
region have provided the combatants with an excuse to avoid considering the tremendous
human costs of the war. Although "the two largest Southern rebel groups have each created
fledgling civil service bureaucracies," these bureaucracies have no resources. Virtually none of
the national government's newly-found oil bonanza goes to fight war and poverty. Martin
doubts that either the rebels or the government "would divert resources to humanitarian needs
if the aid agencies were to withdraw." But this does not obviate the fact that the very actions of
the humanitarian community allows "both North and South to evade the question entirely."8
Mamphilly and Branch noted two categories of critiques leveled at foreign-funded, NGO-
implemented humanitarian aid. The first focuses on political and social problems stemming
from unmediated relations that NGOs often have with local populations. NGOs distribute aid
according to their own institutional imperatives. No matter how far they try to involve the local
population in participatory forms of aid provision, there will always be a gap between their
imperatives and the imperatives that would emerge through democratic decision-making
processes within the beneficiary community. Often such situations result in "high levels of
waste and inefficiency" due to competition among NGOs. Negative results flow even when
there is inter-NGO cooperation and beneficiary participation, "the population can be habituated
to making appeals to unaccountable international bodies for assistance." Instead of addressing
their own political authorities or developing local "self-sustaining organizations that draw
support from a popular constituency." The result is "the evisceration of ... local political
authority and ... 'civil society organizations' that have no constituencies." Once the inevitable
NGO withdrawal occurs, local administration is incapable of "continuing these basic tasks."9
"The second category of critiques addresses situations where armed groups insert
themselves between foreign resources and the local population and mediate that relationship,
usually to their own advantage." There are numerous examples of military forces on both sides
of the southern Sudan conflict seizing aid for their own purposes. One such purpose is the
frequent "politicized distribution of aid" that then can drive "the further militarization of the
SPLA [Sudan People's Liberation Army]," for "a politics of patronage" emerges that sustains
the SPLA-local population relationship. This in turn "precludes the need for the SPLA to build
an inclusive democratic constituency." 10
The sheer size and political weight of NGOs, however, suggests they are unlikely to pay
attention to those they serve. Relief is big business. World Bank figures showed that 12 percent
of foreign aid to developing countries was channeled through NGOs in 1994. In 1996, the total

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 27

amount was $7 billion worldwide. A Johns Hopkins University study found that the 2002
operating expenditures of NGOs in 37 nations totaled $1.6 trillion, equaling the world's fifth
largest economy." In 2005, NGOs in Africa managed nearly $3.5 billion in aid. Like
governments or companies, they have vested political interests, as well as financial motives.
Needing to attract funds to stay alive, they are not elected or subject to checks to assure their
accountability or solvency. Yet they often have been in a position to mold governments and
civil societies in southern Sudan and other places facing similar debilitating problems.

Civil Society in Southern Sudan

Sudan is Africa's largest country in area and one of its most diverse culturally. A quarter
the size of the USA, it has known little but war and deprivation since independence from joint
British and Egyptian rule on January 1, 1956. For half a century, regimes changed, but the Arab
Muslim ruling elite's attitudes have remained the same. The country's non-Muslim southern
half was subjected to an unbroken pattern of economic exploitation and cultural destruction
under both elected governments and military regimes.12 Peace followed the 1972 Addis Ababa
Accords, but broke down by May 1983, as the Nimeiry regime neglected the South and
increasingly sought support from Islamists. Southern rebels coalesced under the leadership of
Lt. Col. John Garang de Mabior, founder of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and its
political arm, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). Nimeiry's ouster was followed
by transitional military rule, a brief period of democratic government and finally the current
Islamist-military regime of Omer El Beshir. Despite changes in Khartoum, fighting continued in
the South.
Dominated by the Dinka, Southern Sudan's largest ethnic group, the highly centralized
SPLM/A diverged from other Southern groups in not seeking independence. Instead it saw "the
need to produce a new non-riverine solidarity based on the mobilization of groups in deprived
areas throughout the entire country."13 Its official documents advocated a united "New Sudan,"
based on pluralistic, democratic and secular principles transcending the problems of polarized
racial, religious, and ethnic identities.14 Painfully evident in this conflict of cultures is a deeper
national struggle for identity, which Deng called a "war of visions."15 In fact, Sudan is subject to
multiple conflicts beyond a simplistic North-South division; Darfur being a prominent case in
point.16 Inspired though it may be, SPLM ideology proved divisive and was rejected by those
wanting an independent South, particularly non-Dinka groups. Southern unity fractured along
ethnic lines.
The SPLM/A's early administration proved problematic.17 Combining military executive,
judicial and legislative powers, a five-man high command conducted the war and ran
"liberated" areas with a pyramid of political commissars, officers, and military judges. Based on
old provincial boundaries, zones were divided into districts, each with an administrator,
military commander, and judicial officer. The war provided a rationale for delaying public-
empowered governance, and military needs eclipsed all concerns for civilian welfare.18 Full of
revolutionary zeal and seldom committed to consensus or tolerance, SPLA commanders, mostly
young captains and often students who had interrupted their studies to take up arms, offered
little encouragement for democracy and lacked administrative experience and local knowledge.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

28 I Fegley

Their primary mandate was to mobilize resources for the war effort, including increasingly
coercive conscriptions of young men, which provoked conflict with elders. Providing rations
and porterage, local populations resented their often bullying tactics.19 Obstructive local chiefs
were removed and sometimes corruptly replaced by commanders' relatives. Suspicion of SPLM
intentions ran especially high in the southernmost region of Equatoria. Supporters of Southern
succession, Equatorians suffered incursions by both sides. Johnson writes that Yei's inhabitants
saw the SPLA as a Dinka "army of occupation."20 Herzog noted,
Soldiers on leave from the front lines [were] not restricted to their barracks ... and make
use of their arms to obtain whatever they like and to evade any sanctions civil authorities might
impose... even worse [were] deserters and the troops chasing them, causing havoc in the
civilian population with robbing, looting, raping, and killing. ... The absence of Rule of Law
[was] felt very heavily and the SPLA [was] feared more by the civilian population than the
enemy in the North.21
In the early 1990s, the SPLM's cause seemed hopeless. Infighting blunted its challenge to
Khartoum. Those loyal to Garang, however, remained most powerful and responded to
demands for change. On September 12, 1991, SPLM leaders passed resolutions separating
military authority from civil administration.22 Its First National Convention at Chukudum in
April 1994 revised the movement's July 1983 manifesto to include democratic goals.23 The New
Sudan People's Liberation Act of 1994 clarified judicial and military roles. Civilians or retired
officers were to run local administration. Subsequent conferences established standards,
separated the SPLA and SPLM and reaffirmed the army's role as protector of both the
population and administration. After October 1995, a rejuvenated SPLA launched major
offensives, liberating ten towns, killing more than 10,000 government troops and seizing large
quantities of military equipment. As a result of the 1994 formation of the National Democratic
Alliance (NDA) by the SPLM and seven mainly Northern opposition groups, new fronts opened
in Upper Nile and Blue Nile provinces and in border areas with Eritrea.24
Conferences on humanitarian issues brought SPLA commanders, relief agencies and
human rights groups together in late 1995. Over six hundred delegates from civilian bodies and
more than sixty foreign observers formulated new modes of authority at a conference on civil
society from April 30 to May 5, 1996. Finalized in March 1998, the "Vision and Programme of
the Sudan People's Liberation Movement" emphasized reform. Its underlying premise was that
Sudan's basic problem was that all governments since independence had pursued policies
conflicting with the country's diversity. It proposed to destroy the oppressive "Old Sudan" and
replace it with a free, democratic, just and secular state that would include "the right to and
exercise of self-determination by and for the people of the New Sudan."25 Noting Sudan's
manifold problems, realization of these objectives was seen as "a monumental undertaking."26
Accompanied by much wishful thinking, the SPLM's fifteen-point program of action included
the establishment of the Civil Authority for New Sudan (CANS); the development of
democracy, good governance, unity, peace and security; and the provision of social services.
The CANS consisted of a National Executive Council and four tiers, each with assemblies,
executives and judiciaries. Initially, New Sudan had five regions, but aimed to cover the entire
country as it was liberated. Decentralization was mandated, but few details were defined.
Headed by a governor, each state was composed of counties run by commissioners. Counties

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 29

were divided into payams (districts) and bomas (villages) administered jointly by SPLM-
appointed officials and locally chosen chiefs advised by councils of elders. But administrators at
all levels ruled without clear plans to facilitate local governance.27 Trained personnel were scant.
This skeletal system had very limited revenue-raising capacity, stalled all significant
development initiatives and slowed the establishment of bonds between local communities and
the movement.28 Moreover, some reforms were reversed in 2000 when SPLM leaders realized
that they could not afford their economic costs and political consequences.29 In their rhetoric,
they remained committed to democratic government. However, local autonomy remained
wishful thinking rather than reality. The SPLA often intervened in decision-making and local
officials were mostly ex-officers whose personal ties and military ethos permeated "civil"
authority.30 This feeble system came to rely on NGOs, whose provision of services, training and
material aid remained beyond the purview of the SPLM Secretariat of Local Government, which
existed on paper, but had no personnel.31
In July 1997, an important meeting in Kejiko in Yei County sought to resolve differences
between the churches, which sought to curb human right abuses, and the SPLM, which sought
their support. Religious leaders accused SPLA fighters of mistreating civilians and churches. In
turn, the SPLM accused the churches of passivity and obstruction and charged that the many
clergy in exile had abandoned their flocks. Despite heated exchanges, the meeting ended in
While expressing concern over many issues and attempting to make policy in many areas,
the SPLM was unable to provide non-military services during the war. It even found settling
disputes and policing areas under its control difficult. Most of southern Sudan's health,
education, infrastructure, food and water operations were funded and run by foreign agencies.
Describing the situation as "anarchic," one researcher asked, "Is New Sudan actually the first
NGO-istan?"33 Over an eight-year period, NGOs acquired new, often quasi-governmental roles,
which profoundly influenced events. As the war dragged on, SPLM officials encouraged
churches and other NGOs to get involved in health, education and other services normally
under state control.34 However, the major foreign NGOs went far beyond the provision of
material aid and professional services. There are foreshadows of this in the early 1980s, even
before the conflict in Southern Sudan restarted. During famines in the 1980s in Dinka country
and Darfur, Keen and de Waal commented the failings of governments, western donors and
international agencies and differences between the needs of victims on one hand and powerful
elites, traders and agencies on the other.35 Both also stressed the need to understand situations
from the perspectives of local people who lacked political influence. Harrell-Bond also argued
that agencies at that time were asserting quasi-governmental roles in Sudan.36 Claiming even
earlier involvement, Tvedt writes "the NGOs came to play a very important role already in the
1970s," calling southern Sudan "an early and natural place for NGO involvement."37
To insure security for their operations, the largest agencies influenced the bodies that
emerged as the SPLM evolved from rebel army to political movement to governing elite. In 1992
and again in 1995, foreign NGOs set "ground rules" to avert looting and protect their personnel.
Capable of withdrawing assistance and influencing world opinion, they found local partners
and shaped the development of new structures.38 As local NGOs beyond SPLM control
proliferated, well-connected foreign agencies gained power. Hence, Norwegian People's Aid, to

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

30 I Fegley

use a prominent example, may be "non-governmental" in Norway, but in southern Sudan is
intimately entwined with politics. This is not to suggest that NGOs have sinister agendas, but
clearly the role of agencies changed in ways that deserve closer attention and broader
International agencies and churches also filled a vacuum left by the lack of SPLM authority
in local peacemaking.39 The most outstanding and perhaps most noble example was the
February 1999 Wunlit Conference. Sponsored by the New Sudan Council of Churches and
observed by many NGOs, this gathering ended longstanding conflicts between the Nuer and
Dinka through mediation by traditional leaders, a common feature of local peace processes.
Recognizing the explosive potential of ethnic division, the SPLM tried to address conflicts
between the Dinka and other southern groups in dialogues in 2001 and 2002.40 After Wunlit,
much emphasis was placed on peace-making by civil society organizations and traditional
leaders. However, the roles of chiefs should not be over emphasized as the manipulation of
traditional authorities by political movements has often weakened their local legitimacy.41
[T]he term "civil society" itself is consciously non-specific. In Sudan, as elsewhere, it is a
catch-all term that needs to be examined in terms of the political ethnography of Sudanese
societies, North and South, and the webs of kinship that define them. Today's civic leader may
be tomorrow's warlord, and vice versa. And today's traditional leader may be tomorrow's
national politician. The interests of the representative of civil society may not map onto those of
the traditional leader. Thus individuals may have ambiguous relations both with government
authority and armed groups.42
A January 2004 civil administration workshop underlined the "need to implement the
SPLM vision of democracy and good governance by expression in constitutional institutions
that support rule of law, separation of powers, justice and equity" if credible local government
was to be established.43 Rethinking structures necessitated by war, it advocated increased
numbers of elected posts, emphasis on counties, engagement of local communities, performance
monitoring and rationalization of taxes at all levels. Many civil and traditional leaders
expressed concerns with agency activities. In June and July 2004, SPLM authorities met with
traditional leaders in Kapoeta County. Among the meeting's many recommendations was a
mandate to createae robust mechanisms and laws that govern and regulate the activities of
international non-governmental organizations with strong local authority and community
monitoring component."44
SPLM control over NGOs improved to the point that the movement could mediate between
foreign agencies and local populations. The formal instrument of this control is a
"memorandum of understanding" that every agency signs and must abide by at risk of
expulsion. If properly pursued, such a process could also avert the duplication, over-provision
and/or neglect of services commonly seen in areas of dense NGO activity. For instance, Reuters
reported that SPLM officials broadly understand the pitfalls of foreign aid and thus are often
reluctant to accept it. They recognize the SPLM local administration needs foreign aid to
forestall "popular dissatisfaction with continued poverty and lack of services" from costing
them support. Yet, becoming dependent on such assistance might well "undermine the social
and political coherence of the South and put the SPLM political project at the mercy of the
machinations, or apathy, of donor governments and foreign philanthropists." They thus have

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 31

sought to steer a middle course whereby "the SPLM has put into place NGO programs that can
be transferred to the local administration." It also has taken steps to distribute NGO assistance
under its own auspices to ensure that the local population looks to it rather than the NGOs for
resources. "Thus, the SPLM can build its own local authority through foreign funding instead of
losing legitimacy and capacity."45
With the end of hostilities in 2005, relationships between local authorities and agencies
continued to change. However, the numerous difficulties of a huge region utterly devastated by
war and neglect had precluded what in most of the world would be the "normal" functioning of
government.46 In many countries, central governments have encroached on traditional sub-
national roles in health, education, welfare, local security and transport. But decades of conflict
led to a very different situation in southern Sudan where services were either absent or
provided by agencies with stronger ties to the outside world than to local administrators, who
have neither revenue-raising powers nor electoral mandates.
Issues of access to resources, mainly the form of foreign assistance and oil revenues, can
only be resolved peacefully by processes of interest aggregation and consensus. The authorities
must balance the need to distribute resources and opportunities equitably with encouragement
for those already succeeding. Serious issues of sovereignty emerge if foreign agencies play
major roles in such processes during peacetime. Local rivalries have emerged. If one community
has a school or agricultural project, it builds resentment in others that don't. This has been
compounded by land disputes, which have grown to nightmare proportions.47
Southern Sudan's revenue framework is very weak. County commissioners claim their
powers to collect property, social security, animal and sales taxes and permit fees are not
enough and want to tax NGO donations, which the SPLM government also wants. 48 The idea of
"taxing" NGO relief supplies is not new. During the war, local authorities were able to acquire
resources by this questionable method, which, if widely known, would discourage donations to
agencies without reducing dependence on them.
Driven by donor and agency demands, humanitarian policies in Sudan require rethinking.
In particular, operations are often based on controlling the movements of refugees and
internally displaced persons (IDPs) and representing them as helpless and dependent.49 Fears
that those able to achieve economic stability would not return were unrealized, but repatriation
has proved destabilizing.50 Nevertheless, repatriation of all refugees remains a goal. Those able
to acquire resources in exile are likely to return voluntarily when conditions are conducive.51
However, the return of people dependent on a relief-based economy requires enormous
commitment if rehabilitation is to succeed. Whatever emerges, administration at all levels
would be wise to continue to work with both foreign and indigenous NGOs, many of whom
have decades of experience facing the manifold difficulties of working in a devastated land.
Such relationships will undoubtedly be difficult in a united Sudan, particularly between
Islamist officials in Khartoum and southern Christian groups. With this in mind, the agencies
and SPLM collaborated in the drafting of the "NGO Framework" in May 2005.
Meanwhile, Sudan's Government of National Unity attempted to rein in agencies in
Khartoum's typically heavy-handed manner. On August 4, 2005, Beshir issued the "Temporary
Decree For Regulating Voluntary Humanitarian Work", compelling local organizations to
register their status and declare their assets. Donations, particularly from abroad, were

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

32 I Fegley

monitored and restricted. Protests came immediately from the New Sudanese Indigenous
NGOs Network, an umbrella group of 66 local agencies, almost all partners of foreign NGOs.52
Eventually, the National Assembly rejected the decree and on February 21, 2006 passed the
Organization of Voluntary and Humanitarian Work Act, which included human rights in its
definition of "voluntary and humanitarian work," and removed criminal penalties for NGOs
operating without being registered.53 However, the Humanitarian Aid Commission, whose
registrar and commissioner have broad discretionary powers, must approve all projects seeking
foreign funding. In May 2006, hundreds of agencies challenged the act's constitutionality,
claiming that it violated their freedom of association. The Constitutional Court denied the
action due to the "absence of direct interest from the plaintiffs." Then, three Northern Sudanese
NGOs filed a case claiming that they suffered direct prejudice from the act.54 The Constitutional
Court accepted the case on June 27 in its first constitutional challenge under Sudan's new Bill of
Rights.55 However, the act remained in force in 2008.56
The Beshir regime, the fledgling Southern government and many local authorities have
pursued policies that both scrutinize NGO activities and profit from them. Given the power of
agencies, such seemingly contradictory approaches are probably both necessary and wise for
the foreseeable future. However, only democratic governance, coupled with the exploration of
alternatives, will reduce dependence and encourage locally motivated development.
Unfortunately, there is little evidence of any movement away from current norms. This state of
affairs has been particularly evident in Kajo Keji, the southernmost county of Central Equatoria
State, formerly known as Bahr el Jebel.

Kajo Keji

Home of the Bari-speaking Kuku, Kajo Keji, is bounded to the west, north and east
respectively by Yei, Juba and Magwi counties, and Uganda to the south.57 Its five payams,
Kangepo I, Kangepo II, Lire, Livolo, and Nyepo, are all served by foreign agencies. This
community has borne the consequences of numerous conflicts: civil war (1955-72, 1983-2005),
local disputes, and northern Uganda's troubles. Their effects are very visible and limit socio-
economic and political activity. An indicator of instability, population figures for the county
range from 135,000 to 260,000.58 In January 1990, Kajo Keji fell to the SPLA and remained under
its control until June 11, 1994 when government forces recaptured it. On March 24, 1997, SPLA
forces overran the county again. The frontline solidified 48 kilometers north of Kajo Keji town.
These cataclysmic events led many to flee to Uganda's Moyo and Adjumani Districts, even
though fighting ceased in 2000. In 1996, Kajo Keji hosted over 70,000 IDPs in camps at Bamurye,
Mangalatore, Kerewa and Limi. Long-term IDPs include Dinka and Nuer who arrived in the
early 1990s, and Acholi, Lotuko, Lokoro and Madi from the east.59 In 2001, 2,436 IDPs were
repatriated to Bor County.60 More followed after truces and then the January 2005
Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM. By
January 2006, 27,748 remained.61 However, repatriation faced the twin difficulties of lack of
transport and landmines, which were scattered to hamper farming, fishing and transport.62
Furthermore, some IDPs remained in Kajo Keji for easier access to trade and education in
Uganda. Tensions between the Kuku and Dinka soldiers and IDPs have been evident but

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 33

generally calm. Fearing landmines and renewed fighting, much of Kajo Keji's population chose
to remain in exile rather than face limited opportunities at home. Suspicious of both Khartoum
and the SPLA, returnees often preferred to settle in remote villages. As a result, Kajo Keji town
remains sparsely populated.
Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) brought new problems. Refugee camps
around Adjumani suffered great losses of life and property in LRA raids in 2000. As attacks
intensified, the Kuku began to flood home in April 2004.63 Sudden mass migrations, coupled
with LRA incursions into Sudan and weak local structures, caused food shortages and chaos.
Disappointing conditions at home led some to return to Uganda, adding to the confusion. Fears
of HIV/AIDS increased as refugees returned. Disputes over land, water and cattle escalated, as
no land tenure (or even registration) system was in place. Hence, social, economic and
environmental stress resulted from returnees on one hand and cautiously immobile IDPs on the
other. Discord emerged when returning refugees were assisted by foreign donors and residents
were declared ineligible for aid. Such factors will continue to affect stability for years to come.
Currently minimal, economic activity in Kajo Keji County is growing and has much
potential. Out-migration and government bombing raids triggered the relocation of the central
Mere Market to Wudu. There were no banks. One study concluded that the county could not
even sustain a microfinance institution.64 Proximity to Moyo in Uganda, where many Kuku
operate businesses, encouraged circulation of the Ugandan shilling. More business could be
conducted with surrounding Sudanese counties as connecting roads are made accessible.
Almost totally reliant on food aid in 1997, Kajo Keji can produce surpluses. Typically,
spring and winter rains allow two cropping seasons. Though most areas are suitable for
commercial agriculture, subsistence farming dominates. The World Food Program estimated
that 25 percent of the population were agro-pastoralists and 75 percent were agriculturalists.65
This composition has changed given increases in food production, improved access to markets
and veterinary services, and refugee/IDP movements. Farmers raise maize, sorghum,
groundnuts, millet, cassava, cowpeas, mangoes, and various vegetables, complemented by
goats and cattle.66 Approximately 25 kilograms of fish can be caught per day along the rivers
Nile and Kaya, contributing up to 25 percent of total annual food intake.67 Wild foods are
available including game and shea butter nuts, often eaten during the "normal" hunger period
between April and May. The contribution of wild foods is 30-90 kgs per household constituting
9-10 percent of annual food needs.68 In bad years, other wild foods, including the bitter herb
melo ko dendu, fill the hunger gap. With peace and outside assistance, the county's resident
population became self sufficient in food during the 2000/01 harvests, warranting the
elimination of food aid to residents.69 Remembering troops from both sides confiscating
produce, however, farmers seldom store much. These dated fears increase the likelihood of
shortages. Bolstered by sales of modest surpluses and the introduction of ox-plows and other
technologies, farmers had sufficient seed. The first 2002 season was characterized by erratic
rains. Despite replantings, maize and peanut yields were low due to pests, diseases, and poor
rainfall.70 By July 2002, 20,734 metric tons of food needed to be distributed to hospitals and IDP
camps. Second season harvests were better as rainfall stabilized. In 2004, disappointing rains
coupled with the return of tens of thousands of refugees led to serious shortages and a return to
aid dependence.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

34 I Fegley

Water availability was also an issue. Kajo Keji gets more rain than most of Sudan.
However, runoff and erosion are high and storage facilities are minimal. UNICEF data indicates
that the County had a total of 155 water points 98 bore holes and 57 hand dug wells.71 More
are needed to assure safe supplies and reduce burdens on women, whose many tasks include
fetching water often from great distances. The situation is even more serious where refugees
have returned. Ugandan reports in April 2005 noted that over 15,000 returnees shared fewer
than 25 boreholes.72
Another problem facing Kajo Keji is its limited transport facilities. There are no railways.
As most people live away from the Nile, river transport, which never extended farther south
than Juba, is unimportant. Roads are poor. An all-weather, unpaved road linking Kajo Keji
town to Moyo is rated as fair by NGOs. Recently a road between Kajo Keji and Juba was
opened. Other roads are in a deteriorated state, some inaccessible due to landmines and many
impassable during rainy seasons. Despite Canadian de-mining assistance, the probability of
encounters with landmines has increased with refugee returns.73 Significant numbers of
passengers and goods bound for Kajo Keji fly to Moyo and then enter the county by road. Some
NGOs flew into Kajo Keji, despite a government flight ban, imposed until late 2002. The
county's productive capacity is limited due to the difficulties of getting materials in and
products out. Negative effects on the marketing of cattle, shea butter, peanuts and other
agricultural surpluses were already evident in the era between conflicts. In the early 1980s,
southern members of the National Assembly complained about having to choose between
attending sessions in Khartoum or maintaining contact with their constituents; few could do
both. The poor state of transport has profound effects. Patients cannot be moved to hospitals.
Health officials are hampered in dealing with ebola scares and meningitis outbreaks.74 School
attendance is low. Lack of communications forces both civil administrators and NGOs to use
independent systems. Poor connections make accountability more difficult and encourage the
misuse of resources. Inability to interact with the outside world promotes feelings of isolation.
Though the UN and various NGOs have built some roads, it is government that must insure
maintenance in the long run. However, if the county's productive capacity does not improve,
better transport will only facilitate import penetration; a chicken and egg situation in which
production is limited by lack of roads, but roads could create new problems. Existing only
through Uganda, postal service is an essential that government needs to address. With cell
phones and solar power, Kajo Keji may electrify and connect to the outside world without
needing the poles and wires characterizing more developed countries. Internet and e-mail
access, using cellular connections, are possible, but only for a tiny minority associated with the
SPLA/M and agencies. Radio is important and could be put to greater use to inform the public.
Kajo Keji has one hospital, three primary health care centers and 25 primary health care
units, run by trained health workers and traditional birth attendants. Efforts to improve
maternal health and reduce child mortality, African sleeping sickness, malaria, and HIV/AIDS
have seen some success. But tuberculosis, meningitis, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections,
measles, visceral leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and syphilis remain pressing problems.75
Psychological problems abound as a result of war trauma, migration, drug and alcohol
addiction, and the stress of living amid landmines. Insecurity, dated studies, and poor transport
and communications impair progress.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 35

Agency Involvement

In theory, all humanitarian activities in Kajo Keji are coordinated by the Sudan Relief and
Rehabilitation Commission (SRRC), an arm of the SPLM, established as the Sudan Relief and
Rehabilitation Association in 1985 and renamed in 1998. Plagued by limited resources and the
daunting scale of its tasks, this agency is charged with promoting reconstruction and
development in SPLM-controlled areas, including the return and rehabilitation of refugees,
slaves, and child soldiers. Its work involves a bewildering collection of UN agencies, foreign
and local NGOs, and bi-lateral governmental, group and individual donors. Nevertheless, it
maintains the best collection of contacts and files on NGOs operating locally.
United Nations activities in Kajo Keji have included WFP food relief, WHO immunization
campaigns, and UNICEF support.76 WHO maintains a disease surveillance team for Kajo Keji in
Uganda. UNICEF-sponsored programs provided medical kits and demobilized 47 child
soldiers, who were supported and reunited with their families in the County in 2002.77 In 2004,
UN agencies in southern Sudan began an $89 million project, including building roads and 174
girls' schools.78
However, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is by far the most
significant UN body in the area.79 It has assisted tens of thousands of Kuku refugees and
repatriates. Anticipating more returnees, its activities accelerated and included deployment of
emergency response teams to implement reintegration projects in health, education, water,
mine awareness, basic shelter/ infrastructure construction, protection, reconciliation and
coexistence, community services, self-reliance and capacity-building; rehabilitation of 85
boreholes in Yei and Kajo Keji counties, rebuilding 26 schools in Luthaya, Yei and Kajo Keji; and
support for primary health care and HIV awareness/ AIDS treatment programs.80 Exact figures
for Kajo Keji are not yet available but amount to millions of dollars. The UNHCR has had a
presence in Kajo Keji since March 2005. Funded by American, Norwegian, Canadian, Danish,
British, and other governmental sources, it opened an office with two local and three
international staff members near the Wudu market in April 2005. Operating the projects it
oversees, the UNHCR's partners include four foreign NGOs, Norwegian People's Aid (NPA)
for food security, Jesuit Refugee Services for education, the American Refugee Committee
(ARC) for health and livelihood, and German Technical Cooperation for roads and livelihood;
and two local NGOs, Sudan Health Association (SUHA) for medical facilities and Humanitarian
Assistance for South Sudan (HASS) for primary education.
Coming from different countries with different approaches on how to operate and how
much operational control they demand, these agencies frequently work from grant to grant, an
undesirable state of affairs which is seldom seamless and can promote dangerous dependence
without any guarantee of long-term commitment. As most of their expatriate employees do not
speak Bari, they are limited and often need to choose between relying on local competencies
and guaranteeing transparency. 81
Since 1986, Norwegian People's Aid has been the foreign NGO operating most consistently
in southern Sudan.82 Based in Bamurye to be near IDP camps rather than central to the county
as a whole, NPA targets IDPs and vulnerable local residents, with food aid, health care and
support for local institutions.3 Partnering with the SPLM in 1997, NPA began an agricultural

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

36 I Fegley

rehabilitation program in Kajo Keji county, which included agricultural extension, training,
cooperative support, renovation of storage facilities, a shea butter project, and distribution of
seeds and tools. However, poor planning and logistics impeded its first planting season and
necessitated continued food assistance. This experience underlined the importance of
coordination and local participation.84 Begun in 1999, NPA's Maresha ox plow program trained
58 farmers by 2002 and provided micro-loans for the purchase of 300 pairs of oxen by 2006. In
2002, 6,669 livestock were treated for various diseases though NPA programs, which also
established the county's first veterinary pharmacy. NPA-supported loans of sorghum, peanuts
and other seeds enabled communities create a revolving fund. Farm incomes were augmented
by purchasing seeds locally for use elsewhere in Sudan.
Maintaining an operational compound in Kajo Keji and logistical bases in Uganda since
1994, the American Refugee Committee has provided integrated programs in health care, water,
sanitation, agriculture and capacity building assistance with USAID funding.85 The ARC
supports thirteen health care facilities in collaboration with the SUHA, a local NGO providing
medical services in Ngepo payam where foreign agencies had been unable operate for security
reasons. Emphasizing the strengthening of basic services to facilitate the voluntary repatriation
of refugees, it carried out road repair to make its operational areas more accessible.
International Aid Services, a relief and development organization registered in Denmark,
Germany, Norway and Sweden, runs programs in agriculture, education, health, water, and
sanitation.86 Working in Kajo Keji since September 1997, M6decins Sans Frontieres provides
basic health care at Mundari Civil Hospital, clinics and health centers to treat numerous
diseases; provide food, water and sanitary facilities; and treat the severely malnourished.87
From 2000 to 2004, it ran a successful program to combat African sleeping sickness.
Below these international NGOs are faith-based groups, including many Anglican bodies,
Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Refugee Service, and other religious charities with whom the
Kuku have developed ties. Only those involved in functions normally falling within the scope
of governmental activity are included in this study. In the past, foreign church bodies in
southern Sudan encountered hostility from Khartoum. Their activities were curtailed by the
1962 Missionary Societies Act. Following a February 1964 decree, all foreign personnel of
Christian organizations were expelled from Sudan. Many returned with the renewal of the
north-south conflict in 1983. By then, indigenous churches had grown and strengthened and
their relations with foreign groups were on a much more equal footing than those that had
clearly been colonial remnants in 1964.
Given that most Kukus are affiliated with the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS), entities
within the Anglican Communion have made a major impact on developments in Kajo Keji.
Chief among these is the Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (USA), which has a formal
companion relationship with the ECS Diocese of Kajo Keji.88 Between November 1999 and
January 2007, Bethlehem provided over $360,000 in aid to Kajo Keji, including emergency food,
agricultural inputs and support for schools, clergy, orphanages, and various self-help and
training projects. In 2006 the two partners concentrated their efforts on seven primary schools,
instead of continuing survival level aid to 36 schools.89 Since then, Bethlehem has raised over
US$ 2 million for its work. Women groups from Bethlehem and the Diocese of Winchester (UK)
supported programs run by Kajo Keji's Mothers' Union. The Diocese of Salisbury (UK) has a

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 37

long relationship with the ECS and funded five primary health care centers, a school and other
projects.90 The Church Missionary Society provided administrative support. Grants from
Episcopal Relief and Development, an agency of the Episcopal Church of the USA, went to
carpentry and tailoring projects and the purchase of sewing machines for women and bicycles
for displaced persons. Trinity Church Wall Street in New York and St. Bartholomew's Episcopal
Church in Nashville also supported various programs.
Several Roman Catholic agencies have also contributed to Kajo Keji's welfare. Catholic
Relief Services provided aid for income-generating projects, but closed down its Kajo Keji
operations in March 2003.91 Dogged by transport and marketing difficulties, its limited success
illustrated the need for a more integrated approach to providing assistance.92 Currently, the
most influential Catholic institution is the Daniel Comboni School in Lomin, the County's best
funded educational institution. Providing nursery, primary and secondary instruction, it is run
by the Catholic Diocese of Yei and funded and staffed by the Comboni Brothers and Jesuit
Refugee Service (JRS), which has provided supplies and teacher-training since 1980. With a staff
of nineteen in Kajo Keji, the JRS emphasizes IDP camps and major concentrations of returnees
and gives special assistance to women.93 In early 2005, the UNHCR allocated sixteen primary
and three secondary schools for reconstruction to JRS, as an implementing partner and added
ten more primaries in 2006.94
The London-based Crossroads Missions partnered with the Savannah Farmers
Cooperative.95 Concentrating on food production for local consumption to reverse aid
dependency and develop model farms for replication throughout Sudan, Crossroads also
funded school and hospital reconstruction and sent several containers of supplies to the county.
The Bible Fellowship Missionary Society established model schools for approximately 3,700
children. The Sudan Pentecostal Church launched a nursery in Lire. Partnering with HASS, the
African Children's Choir provided a clinic, maize mill, transport, uniforms, food and other
supplies for some 2,000 pupils in seven schools.
A proliferation of indigenous NGOs accompanied the involvement of foreign agencies.
Chief among these are the SUHA and HASS. Also important are church bodies, which engages
in numerous activities in agriculture, development, education, health and food relief. But these
established groups are only tips of an iceberg of a myriad of entities, whose foci and
effectiveness vary enormously. As a SRRC assessment of local NGOs noted, "[a] number of
dynamic individuals from southern Sudan, some who worked for international NGOs
themselves, have taken initiatives to establish indigenous NGOs. These local NGOs appear to
have dedication, local knowledge and basic skills to engage in program implementation,
although a major concern remains regarding organizational capacity and long-term viability."96
One effective local group is the International Widows Association of South Sudanese
Refugees In Uganda, founded by refugee widows who built orphanages in Adjumani and later
Kajo Keji.97 Based on widows caring for orphans regardless of blood ties, it has been effective at
raising money from various sources. Another gender-based organization, South Sudan
Women's Concern, supported by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development since 1999,
works to enable women's groups to earn incomes from the sale of surplus crops.98
No discussion of Kajo Keji would be complete without noting the multifaceted
contributions of Kuku exiles around the world, including BBC journalist Alfred Taban, SPLM

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

38 I Fegley

official Stephen Wondu, the Rev. Canon Oliver Duku, the late World Bank official Dunstan Wai,
doctors, church leaders, professors and businessmen. Maintaining close ties to their homeland,
these individuals regularly contribute money, time and expertise to local efforts. A key factor in
maintaining linkages is the PARANET e-mail list.99 But exiles are frequently overwhelmed by
numbers of requests from their families and communities in Sudan. Furthermore, they are
concerned about effectiveness and transparency. Democratic governance and solid
accountability processes are necessary to convince exiles to become full partners in their
homeland's development. Though exile efforts face many obstacles and are often disjointed,
important initiatives have originated in Diaspora communities, whose potential is great. As
with NGOs, exile organizations have shown varying degrees of effectiveness and coordination.
Founded by Sudanese refugees in 2003, the Canadian nonprofit Southern Sudan
Humanitarian Action Development Agency supports health, educational, agricultural, business
and gender-empowerment projects. Partnering with the Sudanese Children Care Committee,
South Sudan Women Association, South Sudan Widows Committee and the ECS, a southern
Sudanese community association in the Netherlands, the Bura-Kimak Lokita Voluntary
Association seeks to improve education, health care and agriculture; and support orphans, child
soldiers and widows. Others include the Action for Development Network, Kajo Keji Relief
Fund, Kuku Association in the Netherlands, SCARD and Tree Leaf Organization.
Operationally, individual agencies have had comparatively few failures. They have met
pressing local needs, though often in a haphazard manner. However, the accumulated
problems generated by the proliferation of agencies are great. Larger NGOs have the advantage
of broader and longer experience with Kajo Keji and similar situations, whereas smaller and
newer donors have limited frames of reference, tend to be too trusting and/or lack the means to
guarantee transparency. Riehl noted that despite their problems, foreign aid interventions have
encouraged the formation of indigenous agencies.100 This is evident in Kajo Keji and throughout
Sudan. But many local NGOs have narrow foci, sometimes restricted to a single boma. Their
operations are often sketchy. Lack of accountability and duplication of efforts have led to some
inefficiency and inequities. Numerous agencies support schools, tailor training, shea butter
processing, and ox plow projects, but it is unclear how many are appropriate. Some observers
have expressed concern about the number of schools. In the case of income-generating projects,
already questionable markets could become over-saturated, given that profitability assessments
have often been conjectural.
A greater issue is lack of coordination and even recognition among agencies. In 1989, the
UN and Beshir regime agreed to allow a UN umbrella organization, Operation Lifeline Sudan
(OLS) to provide emergency relief, including development and education programs, via formal
connections among its components (ARC, IAS, MSF, NPA and related partners). In the years
that followed, the regime persistently claimed that this agreement was violated by OLS
sponsorship of some 200 SPLM-controlled schools, which Khartoum claimed were used as
military training centers.1'1 As a result, famine in the South was exacerbated by the regime
blocking the flow of relief supplies.
Since the end of fighting, little has changed under the UNHCR. Recognition of agencies
beyond the original OLS organizations is lacking and much needed.102 Already significant,
many smaller NGOs operating in the county could carry out larger portions of relief and

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 39

rehabilitation work. But their contacts with others in the field are minimal, partially because of
their size and limited or indirect local presence. However, this explains the situation only to a
point. Large NGOs are often reluctant to consult with or share information with other groups.
Clearly some view parts of Sudan as organizational fiefdoms. Official reports often overlook
non-OLS efforts. For example, a chart produced by the Office of the UN Resident and
Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan in 2003 listed only eight agencies active in the county.
Such attitudes and assumptions clearly promoted conflict between agencies.103

Agencies in Conflict

Lack of recognition among uncoordinated agencies is illustrated by a controversy that
erupted between NPA and the ECS Diocese of Kajo Keji during food shortages in 2004.104
Throughout that April, refugees fled northern Uganda, following an LRA attack on a bus near
Adjumani.105 Shortly thereafter, the LRA raided a half dozen refugee camps. Some twenty
people were killed and more were abducted. Thousands of traumatized refugees, most with no
possessions as a result of LRA looting, flooded into Kajo Keji. The county experienced severe
food shortages, subsequently verified by UNHRC reports and by BBC correspondent Alfred
Taban. Originally from Kajo Keji, Taban returned to visit his homeland after 23 years and was
shocked by the destruction he witnessed. He was even more dismayed by the desperate
condition of people he met. Some who knew him as a child were too ashamed of their clothes to
approach him. Residents had shared their food with returnees, many of whom were relatives.
Surpluses were quickly depleted. An American donation of 800,000 Ugandan shillings was used
by the ECS to buy salt to make eating leaves more palatable.
At first, the Kuku and their compatriots in the Diaspora tried to deal with the situation by
themselves. To mobilize exile communities, the Kajo Keji Emergency Response Committee
(KKERC) organized coordinators throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Africa.106
Its officers included Chairman Manas K6nyi Aliphayo (Canada), Secretary General Monica Pitta
Sabuni (USA), Information Secretary Sarah Duku (Ireland) and Finance Secretary Samuel Dilla
(USA). By July, KKERC's approach changed. They began to build networks with NGOs and
other partners globally to raise international awareness of the situation. As collaboration
increased, Zamba Duku, Executive Director of Sudan Christian Action For Rural Development
encouraged the involvement of his Canadian partner, Bruised Reeds Ministries. KKERC
sponsored Taban's trip to Kajo Keji to expose the situation to the world. Taban contributed most
of his expenses, plus brought $1400 in donations from displaced Kuku in Khartoum. With
varying degrees of success, KKERC contacted Anglican bodies, NPA, World Vision, Red Cross,
Christian Reform World Relief Committee (CRWRC), UNICEF, USAID and ACT International.
Kuku exiles in Ireland raised 10,000 on one Sunday alone. Anglican Churches in Canada;
Stitching Aid and Training in the Netherlands and numerous individuals responded to KKERC
appeals. Two other exile groups, the South Sudan Kuku Association of North America and East
and Central Africa Environmental Institute, joined KKERC's efforts. Kajo Keji's relationship
with the US Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem proved particularly significant.107
Connie Fegley, chair of Bethlehem's World Mission Committee, learned of the crisis
through e-mail messages on July 23, 2004. In a phone call, Bishop Manasseh of Kajo Keji,

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

40 I Fegley

claimed the number of returnees to be closer to 50,000 and noted that refugees who returned
before the influx and resident IDPs put the figure of those in need at over 100,000. Bishop Paul
Marshall of Bethlehem immediately mounted a fund-raising campaign. Within a month, over
US$47,600 was raised and transferred for relief operations in Bethlehem's companion diocese.
By the year's end, donations exceeded US$80,000. Meanwhile, Bruised Reeds Ministries shipped
50 metric tons of food.
KADRA (Kajokeji Development and Rehabilitation Agency), a wing of the ECS Diocese,
was the implementing partner for KKERC, CRWRC, Bethlehem and exile communities. Its relief
coordinator, the Rev. Charles Laku, and a staff, which included an accountant, food supervisor,
storekeeper, food monitors, and distribution clerks, oversaw the operation. Villages were
organized in clusters, each comprising a number of family heads. Clusters were headed by
elected leaders, who passed distribution information from the food supervisor to the people
and then worked with distribution clerks to give the prescribed rations to entitled families.
With KKERC's encouragement, both NPA and CRWRC took another look at the
situation.108 In a report issued after the crisis, Taban noted "NPA appeared from the beginning a
little bit skeptical about the reported hunger... when [they] saw that Kukus in the Diaspora and
the friends of Kajokeji, especially the Diocese of Bethlehem had started to send in relief food,...
[they] said [they] too wanted to help."109 CRWRC's response was positive and timely. As a
member agency of the Canadian Food Grains Bank, they immediately assessed the situation
and provided $10,000 for food, seeds and sorghum, peanuts, cassava and sesame cuttings,
purchased in Uganda and funneled through CRWRC's Kampala office. However, CRWRC
expressed concern about KADRA's coordination with key agencies. Linda Beyer, who
conducted CRWRC's assessment, noted, "My continued concern is that you have a group of
leaders ready to take action and I have emphasized repeatedly that training is the immediate
action and that the relief must be coordinated through the SRRC."110
Throughout August, tens of thousands of dollars were transferred to the Diocese of Kajo
Keji, whose leaders purchased and transported food from Uganda. North American donations
increased following news on August 12 of an incident in Liwolo where children unable to
control their hunger ate poisonous wild cassava and, on discovering their bodies, their father
committed suicide by eating the same.111 ECS/KADRA assistance arrived in Kajo Keji before aid
from other agencies.
On September 2, the first KADRA food distribution took place at Mondikolok. Thousands
came to receive rations. Relief was available for newly arrived returnees, but not for the long-
term residents who had shared their food reserves. Laku described the atmosphere as "bitter
but not violent."112 The next day at Kansuk, near the frontline, tension rose as SPLA soldiers
threatened to disrupt distribution if they were excluded from receiving food. Intervention by
the County Commissioner and army commander sent the soldiers back to their barracks.
Complaints by residents who were refused food also arose. By the time of distributions at Kiri
on 4 September, KADRA had received a message from the Commissioner, who after
consultations with NPA, called the SRRC, KADRA and NPA to meet with him on September 13.
Meanwhile, distribution continued at Jalimo (September 6) and Liwolo (September 7). By
September 9, 14,224 people had received food from KADRA. These distributions gave one
kilogram of maize, a half kilo of beans and fifteen kilos of salt and some vegetable oil per

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 41

person, quantities enough for only a day or two. A second distribution gave each person seven
times these quantities.
The September 13 meeting, chaired by Kajo Keji's County Commissioner Michael Yokwe,
sought to promote collaboration between NPA and ECS/KADRA.113 Local administrators were
concerned about the distribution's security implications. This occasion exposed much about
NPA's attitude towards non-OLS agencies. Out of 17,295 returnees from Uganda, NPA
representatives targeted 13,709 as most vulnerable and in need of assistance. Based on its recent
experience, KADRA argued that over 133,000 people were in urgent need, including returning
victims of the LRA, voluntary returnees who arrived before April 2004, drought victims and
host families whose reserves were depleted by returnees. The cost of basic monthly food
supplies for that number of people was estimated to be over US$2.5m. KKERC's international
coordinator noted, "At the moment, there is no NGO attempting to address this problem apart
from Diocese of Bethlehem and Kuku communities with their limited resources."114 NPA, which
had been providing aid only to hospitals and IDPs, insisted that it be the only organization
distributing food, and that Kuku groups handle only non-food items such as hoes. KADRA
objected and a heated four-hour debate ensued with NPA threatening to withdraw from Kajo
Keji if KADRA continued its distributions. SRRC regional coordinator Lexion William
suggested two options: divide the county's payams between the two agencies or have KADRA
distribute relief to those beyond the NPA targets. The second option was clearly flawed as
separating targeted and non-targeted groups was impossible. In the end, the gathering resolved
that KADRA serve Ngepo and Lire payams (4,432 in need of assistance by NPA's standards)
and NPA serve the other three payams (13,907 out of a now revised figure of 17,493.)
Looking to the future, KKERC established a cassava propagation farm. Cassava cuttings
funded by CRWRC were distributed to five church groups and an orphanage on 14 September.
Seeds and tools followed.115 Between September 2004 and February 2005, CRWRC and the
Canadian Food Grain Bank provided 212 metric tons of food and seeds, worth US$110,810.
Noting that children were among the most malnourished and that some 30 primary schools
were ECS-assisted, Laku suggested that the Diocese of Bethlehem fund a program to provide
school breakfasts and lunches. He further noted the need "to discuss with NPA to do the same
in the areas of their operation.""116
KADRA's problems continued. One of Laku's messages to ESC partners acknowledged
that communications difficulties were severe and explored possible solutions. Distribution in
Lire on October 7 was hampered when NPA sent food there and wanted it distributed first.
NPA food was eventually removed. Laku reported, "... those who received the food rations
were very happy... While those who were not entitled were very unhappy and cursing and
insulting the Church as a dividing Church rather than uniting one.""117 Compounded by
transport difficulties and delays, the ECS was placed in the impossible position of trying to feed
vast numbers of people who were not recognized as needy, but who had shared their food and
now were increasingly critical of the church. On October 9, the SRRC called a meeting of
community leaders in Lire and Mondikolok to evaluate distributions. As a bloc, the leaders
noted that bitter divisions had developed and felt that everybody should be entitled to rations.
The SRRC made it clear that distribution targeted only those forcefully displaced from Uganda.
The areas served by NPA and KADRA should be served on equal basis. These sentiments were

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

42 I Fegley

echoed in Ngepo payam, whose leaders had registered all their people as needy, pushing
figures for the targeted population even higher. But community members testified that some of
the registered were in fact dead.118
Speaking with a range of people in Kampala, Moyo and Kajo Keji, Alfred Taban revisited
his homeland in October 2004 at KKERC's request and issued an insightful report on the
situation. Although he dismissed, with first-hand evidence, those who questioned the ECS's
competence to run relief operations, he expressed doubts about its efficiency. Its members,
mostly clergy, were educated, but few had handled this kind of work before. They lacked
vehicles and other resources. Furthermore, their leaders tended to reside much of the time in
Moyo, Adjumani or Kampala and not in Kajo Keji. The tasks at hand required a full time
presence. Taban criticized Laku. Besides heading KADRA, he was also headmaster of Kajo Keji
Senior Secondary School and involved in a cattle-breeding program among other things. Not
surprisingly, those in the field complained of poor coordination. Despite its shortcomings, the
ECS had built a network, domestically and internationally, which was mobilized quickly.
Ultimately, Taban felt it should "be provided with the means to do its job." He noted that
"transparency and accountability [was] essential for the continuation of the project,"
recommended detailed financial reports once a week and encouraged coordination between
those in Kajo Keji, Uganda and the Diaspora. Feeling that desperation had led to a falsification
of figures, he proposed a review of the system of collecting statistics. Indeed, Laku noted in a
message dated September 19, "We have discovered a lot of irregularities in the registration of
new arrivals from Adjumani refugee camps."119 Taban further stressed the need to maintain
good ties with all NGOS, including NPA, though many disagreed with some of their policies.
To avoid being confrontational, he felt that the NPA numbers should be accepted, even though
they were "ridiculously low." He suggested spendingn] more money on seeds, especially
improved cassava stems from Uganda and items such as hoes for the next season."120
Better harvests in 2005 alleviated the situation. However, bitter feelings lingered on all
sides. NPA had flexed its muscles while the ECS's reputation was tarnished, despite its
commendable and timely efforts. In the end, the local agency, KADRA, was actually perceived
by local authorities as interfering. Much questionable activity surrounded the food distribution.
Demanding meetings, insisting that its data be seen as authoritative and determining policies
and procedures, a foreign agency with vast resources clearly assumed the role of a political
elite. Local needs and expertise were ignored in favor of agency priorities. The "needy" were
defined without regard to local collective loyalties. Serious difficulties of efficiency,
accountability and equity followed.

Facing Difficult Issues

Essential in providing food, health, education, water and sanitation, foreign NGOs have a
wealth of useful experience and data. As sources of hope for places like Sudan, they bear
tremendous responsibilities. Both scholarly literature and press coverage, however, have moved
away from assuming that agencies always have the best motives and methods. This attention
may, by itself, provoke changes. Sudan needs as much help as it can get, though not under any
terms. Current emphases on funding tied to "good governance," controlling corruption, etc.,

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 43

needs to be applied to donors as well as recipients. Agencies need to clarify and, in many cases,
purify their intentions. This necessitates partnering with the communities they serve, in the
sense of recognizing as many local concerns and solutions as is practical. To do this, at
minimum, their personnel must be able to live as the locals and speak their languages. Donors
and the press need to be more critical. Agencies, governments, recipients and all other
stakeholders must be recognized, brought together, coordinated, informed and held to account.
In the case of Kajo Keji, NPA and the ECS could have shared a great deal with each other.
Instead, jurisdictional disputes and bruised egos resulted.
To encourage governmental authorities to assume their full range of duties, outside
assistance should provide a few important inputs in a limited range of well-monitored sectors,
not everything for everyone as the scope of NGO activities in Kajo Keji and many other places
suggests. Some problems, such as landmines and psychological trauma, require foreign
expertise. Other equally thorny issues, such as conflict resolution and operational control over
development projects, have grown out of an almost total lack of state presence in broad areas of
public life. Allowing this situation to continue is unwise. While dependence is not an issue in
education and health, it could be problematic if roads are built without an eye to future
maintenance. Local people will not be encouraged to plow profits back into income-generating
projects that continue to rely on external inputs. Whose income is to be generated and how
equitable wealth is distributed need to be decided in Sudan, not in Oslo or Bethlehem. Aid
recipients may be learning more about how to manipulate agencies than how to develop their
country. In Kajo Keji's case, aid did not discourage food production, as in other situations, but
none of the NGOs, local or foreign, encouraged a much needed return to storage. Beyond the
much debated issues of who should feed how many is the question of whether foreign interests
anywhere should dictate who is or is not suffering.
Nations throughout Africa, recently Chad, Ethiopia and Gabon, have sought to limit the
"political" roles of agencies.121 However, sweeping actions by regimes can have profoundly
negative effects. Critics of NGO activities, particularly among Sudan's emerging authorities,
must recognize the important roles played by agencies, avoid disrupting essential services, and
facilitate greater coordination as significant changes in power relationships and policies become
unavoidable. Using a tiny portion of its revenue from petroleum royalties, southern Sudan's
leaders are in a position to coordinate and control agency activity. However, the Government of
South Sudan has accomplished little in terms of local development since 2005. The
Comprehensive Peace Agreement has proved to be an uneasy settlement flawed by ignoring the
war's root causes and delayed by distrust and political maneuvering. But there is little evidence
that the SPLM could effectively govern an independent South and reduce reliance on foreign
interests. Corruption, inefficiency, misplaced priorities, and discord are rampant. Since the
events of 2004, Kajo Keji county has seen much change. Better schools, improved roads and
increased economic activity are evident, but as a result of NGO or private, not governmental,
initiatives. Some question why Kajo Keji, as opposed to Aweil or Genaina, should benefit to
such a degree. Given its current peace, proximity to Uganda, and prominent past and present
citizens, it is an obvious starting point for the reconstruction of southern Sudan. But such
development must be as self-reliant, efficient and fair as possible, and needs to reverberate
elsewhere quickly.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

44 I Fegley

Despite their shortcomings and given the degree to which they have replaced government,
agencies are enmeshed in Sudan's current survival and future welfare. Furthermore, no
currently viable alternatives exist to replace the admittedly imperfect system of "sub-
contracting" relief assistance and reconstruction to NGOs. Changing this state of affairs too
quickly would invite further disaster in places already prostrated by past catastrophes. Change,
however, cannot be delayed for long.


1. In addition to those cited, other critiques of NGO activities are Barnett and Weiss;
Barrow and Jennings; Browne; Feher; Jordan and van Tuijl; Marriage; Minear; Moyo;
and Rieff.
2. Hancock.
3. Maren.
4. Nienaber.
5. Mills.
6. Three articles in New African articulated ongoing criticisms of NGOs R. Sankore,"What
are the NGOs Doing?"; F. Manji and C. O'Coill, "NGOs: A Tainted History;" M.
Onyanyo, NGOs: Pseudo Governments or Surrogates of Western Powers?" New African,
August/September 2005, No. 443.
7. T. Tvedt,"The Collapse of the State in Southern Sudan after the Addis Ababa
Agreement: A Study of Internal Causes and the Role of the NGOs," in Harir and Tvedt,
p. 91.
8. Martin. pp. 126-27.
9. Mampilly and Branch. p. 17-18.
10. Ibid.
11. Faroohar.
12. This includes not only the Southern Region, but also southern Blue Nile State, the Nuba
Mountains, Abyei and most of Southern Darfur. Other good works include Alier; Beshir;
Beswick; Collins; Machar Teny-Dhurgon; Spaulding and Beswick; and Wai.
13. SPLM, www.splmtoday.com
14. Lesch, also SPLM, www.splmtoday.com/
15. Deng.
16. Johnson.
17. Atem.
18. Lokuji. pp. 16-29.
19. Human Rights Watch.
20. Johnson, "The Sudan People's Liberation Army and the Problem of Factionalism," in
Clapham. p. 70.
21. Herzog, quoted in Atem.
22. Atem.
23. Rolandsen. pp. 81-123, also SPLM, www.splmtoday.com
24. A pro-SPLM view of the movement's history in this period appears in Madut-Arop.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 45

25. Awolich. p. 3
26. Ibid.
27. Lokuji.
28. Young.
29. International Peace Research Institute.
30. Johnson, "The Sudan People's Liberation Army and the Problem of Factionalism," p. 67.
31. Lokuji.
32. New Sudan Council of Churches.
33. Riehl, pp. 4, 8.
34. Diocesan Development Committee, p. 2.
35. Keen, also de Waal's numerous works.
36. Harrell-Bond, Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees.
37. Tvedt, p. 89.
38. Rolandsen, p. 129-33.
39. UN, Sudan Peace Fund: A Summary of Grassroots Peace Work in South Sudan (2004).
40. Mampilly and Branch, p. 6.
41. Bradbury, Ryle, Medley and Sansculotte-Greenidge.
42. Ibid., pp. 14-15.
43. "Local Government Workshop in Rumbek Outlines Critical Issues of Policy," South
Sudan Post. January 2004.
44. SPLM, Kamuto Declaration.
45. Mampilly and Branch, p. 19.
46. Excellent works on these issues are Abdel Salam and de Waal; and de Waal and Ajawin.
47. "Land Disputes Fuel Tensions in War-Torn South Sudan". Reuters (19 August 2007)
posted on Sudan.Net.
48. "Kiir and Machar Disagree on Subdividing Southern Sudan"
49. Chambers, pp. 243-63; Harrell-Bond, Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees;
Karadawi, pp. 537-47; Leopold, pp. 205-225; and Voutira.
50. Harrell-Bond, "Pitch the Tents," pp. 19, 26.
51. Sepulveda.
52. Jambo.
53. UN Mission in Sudan, CPA Monitor (www.unmis.org).
54. Womens' Awareness Raising GroupRed Sea, Sudan Social Development Organisation,
and Amel Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture.
55. Constitutional Court (case no.35/2006)
56. "Foreign Organizations or Intelligence Networks" Sudanese Media Centre
57. Kajo Keji's name is spelled numerous ways (Kajokeji, Kajo Kaji, Kajo-Keji, etc.) I have
employed the most common usage.
58. These figures are 2000 and 2007 SRRC figures. Intermediate figures are 147,421
(Doerring 2003),150,000 (WHO 2002) and 177,367 (WHO 2001).

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

46 I Fegley

59. NPA, Food Security Project. (2003) and conversation with NPA Field Monitor Ladislaus
Ougaro in Fegley, Summary of 29 Meetings and Visits in the Diocese of Kajo Keji.
60. NPA, Planning Document. (2002).
61. Conversation with NPA Field Monitor Ladislaus Ougaro.
62. Ibid.
63. Goudstikker.
64. Doerring, et al.
65. World Food Program, Kajokeji County ANA Report.
66. Moulton provides an overview of agriculture in Kajo Keji.
67. World Food Program, Kajokeji County ANA Report.
68. Ibid.
69. Interview with Diress Mengistu-NPA in Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian
Coordinator for the Sudan, Report on Kajokeji County.
70. NPA, Half-Year Report on Food Security Activities in the Project Locations. (2002)
71. Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan, Report on
Kajokeji County. p. 15.
72. Amazia.
73. See the LM Report 2004 and the Canadian International Development Agency's proposal
Strengthening the Capacity of Southern Sudan in Land Mine Awareness and Victim Assistance.
74. World Heath Organisation, Disease Surveillance and Ewarn Report.
75. Marial.
76. UN Sudan www.unsudanig.org.
77. Richer and UNICEF, Donor Report.
78. McLaughlin, A., "Sudan's Refugees Wait and Hope".
79. UNHCR www.unhcr.ch/.
80. UNHCR, Operational Briefing on South Sudan, April 2005; "Access to Water a Basic Right
for Refugees, Says UNHCR", March 2005; Refugees, Prizing Education, Defer Return to
Sudan and UNHCR Briefing Notes, May 2005.
81. The degree to which information (dates, amounts, project details, difficulties,
accountability, etc.) was available varied greatly. Agencies responded in almost direct
proportion to their size. Larger agencies were less likely to give details, beyond that
available in their promotional materials and web sites. The UNHCR and USAID were
exceptions, providing reams of material, in which determining what specifically had
gone to Kajo Keji was sometimes problematic. Smaller NGOs gave much detail, often
narrow or localized in focus.
82. NPA www.npaid.org.
83. Ibid., and conversations with Michael Wani Geriga (Acting Field Coordinator),
Ladislaus Ougaro (Field Monitor) and Dwoki Mary (Acting Compound Manager) in
Fegley, Summary of 29 Meetings and Visits in the Diocese of Kajo Keji.
84. NPA, NPA's Agricultural Program, Kajo Keji and Yei River Counties, New Sudan: Evaluation
Report and O'Toole Salinas, and D'Silva, p. 25-26.
85. ARC www.arcrelief.org. See also Vincent, Masikini, and Nantale.
86. IAS www.ias.nu.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 47

87. MSF www.msf.org.
88. The author's direct involvement with this relationship from 2000 to 2007 and visits to
Kajo Keji in 2002, 2006, and 2007 facilitated access to numerous contacts and documents.
89. Fegley, Summary of 29 Meetings and Visits in the Diocese of Kajo Keji.
90. Interview with Bishop Manasseh of the Diocese of Kajo Keji in October 2000. Also
Coventry Evening Telegraph (14/3/2002) on the school appeal.
91. CRS www.catholicrelief.org.
92. O'Toole Salinas and D'Silva, p. 29-30.
93. JRS www.jesref.org/.
94. Conversation with JRS local administrator Charles Mogga in Fegley,Summary of 29
Meetings and Visits in the Diocese of Kajo Keji.
95. Crossroads Missions www.crossroads.ca/missions/sudan.htm.
96. SRRA Database and Monitoring Unit (June 2000).
97. IWASSRU www.lahash.net and www.agorphanage.com.
98. CAFOD www.cafod.org.uk.
99. Appearing to be an electronic media term, like Internet, PARANET is actually from the
Kuku parente" (a meeting place of elders).
100. Riehl.
101. Foreign Organizations or Intelligence Networks" Sudanese Media Centre.
102. O'Toole Salinas, and D'Silva, p. 25-26.
103. Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan, Report
on Kajokeji County. Table 6.
104. This account is based on an archive of extensive e-mail correspondence dated
from 22 July to 20 October 2004 from KADRA Managing Director Charles Laku Losio,
KKERC International Coordinator Manas K6nyi Aliphayo, Connie Fegley of the
Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem; Bruce Campbell-Janz of the CRWRC and Chester
Venhuizen of Bruised Reeds Ministries. It includes a BBC Focus on Africa interview with
Alfred Taban (April 2004); a letter from Manasseh B. Dawidi, ECS Bishop of Kajo-Keji, to
Mark Spina of Episcopal Relief and Development (9 August 2004) and "My Journey to
Kajokeji on October 6 and October 7, 2004," an e-mail report by Alfred Taban (20
October 2004).
105. Goudstikker.
106. K6nyi Aliphayo, KKERC Emergency Relief Operation Annual Report: March 2004-
July 2005.
107. Ibid.
108. K6nyi Aliphayo, e-mail message 28 July 2004.
109. Taban, e-mail report, 20 October 2004.
110. Campbell-Janz, e-mail message, 30 August 2004.
111. K6nyi Aliphayo, e-mail message, 12 August 2004.
112. Laku, e-mail message, 4 September 2004.
113. Laku, e-mail message, 14 September 2004 and Taban, e-mail report, 20 October
114. K6nyi Aliphayo, e-mail message, 17 September 2004.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

48 I Fegley

115. Laku, e-mail message, 14 September 2004.
116. Laku, e-mail message, 19 September 2004.
117. Laku, e-mail message 13 October 2004.
118. Laku, e-mail message 13 October 2004.
119. Laku, e-mail message, 19 September 2004.
120. Taban, e-mail report, 20 October 2004.
121. "Chad plans stricter checks on NGOs" AFP: 'political' NGOs" BBC News: 10
January 2008, and "Ethiopia imposes aid agency curbs" BBC News: 6 January 2009.


Abdel Salam, A.H. and A. de Waal. The Phoenix State: Civil Society and the Future of Sudan.
Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea, 2001.

Alier, A. Southern Sudan: Too Many Agreements Dishonoured. Reading: Ithaca, 1992.

Amazia, D. "Southern Sudanese Town Facing Acute Water Shortage" The New Vision.
Kampala: 15 April 2005.

Atem, A.Y. "The Current Status of Civil-Military Relations: The Case of the SPLA." Paper
presented at the Conference on Civil-Military Relations, Nairobi: April, 1999.

Awolich, A. Peace through Development SPLA Vision. Rumbek, Sudan: SPLM, 2003.

Barnett, M. and T.G. Weiss. Humanitarianism in Question: Politics, Power, Ethics. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 2008.

Barrow, 0. and M. Jennings. The Charitable Impulse: NGOs and Development in East and
North-East Africa. Oxford: James Currey, 2001.

Beshir, M.O. The Southern Sudan: Background to Conflict. Khartoum: Khartoum University
Press, 1968.

Beshir, M.O. The Southern Sudan: From Conflict to Peace. Khartoum: Khartoum University
Press, 1975.

Beswick, S. Sudan's Blood Memory. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2004.

Bradbury, M., J. Ryle, M. Medley, and K. Sansculotte-Greenidge. Local Peace Processes in
Sudan: A Baseline Study. Nairobi: Rift Valley Institute, 2006.

Browne, S. Aid and Influence: Do Donors Help or Hinder? London: Earthscan, 2006.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 49

CAMEO Security. Strengthening the Capacity of Southern Sudan in Land Mine Awareness and
Victim Assistance. Ottawa: 1997.

Chambers R. "Hidden Losers: The Impact of Rural Refugees in Refugee Programmes on the
Poorer Hosts." International Migration Review, Vol XX, No 2. (1985): 243-63.

Collins, R.O. Civil Wars and Revolution in the Sudan. Hollywood CA: Tsehai, 2005.

de Waal, A. "Starving Out the South 1984-9." in M.W. Daly and A.A.Sikainga (eds.) Civil War in
the Sudan (London: British Academic Press, 1993): 157-85.

de Waal, A. Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Relief Industry in Africa. Oxford: James
Currey, 1997.

de Waal, A. "Sudan: Social Engineering, Slavery and War", Covert Action Quarterly No. 60
(Spring 1997).

de Waal, A. Politics and Famine Crimes. London: James Currey, 1998.

de Waal, A. Famine That Kills: Darfur, 1984-1985. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

de Waal, A. Who Fights? Who Cares?: War and Humanitarian Action in Africa. Lawrenceville
NJ: Africa World, 2006.

de Waal, A. and Y. Ajawin. When Peace Comes: Civil Society and Development in Sudan.
Lawrenceville NJ: Red Sea Press, 2002.

Deng, F.M. War of Visions: Conflict of Identities in the Sudan. Washington DC: Brookings
Institution, 1995.

Diocesan Development Committee. Development Programmes: Church-Aided Community
Primary Schools. Kampala, Uganda: Diocese of Kajo Keji, 2000.

Doerring, L., et al. Microenterprise Market Survey. Nairobi: USAID and Agricultural Enterprise
Finance Program, 2003.

Faroohar, R. "Where the Money Is?" Newsweek International. 5 September 2005.

Fegley, R. Report on Educational Initiatives of the Diocese of Bethlehem in the Diocese of Kajo
Keji. Bethlehem, PA: Diocese of Bethlehem, 2003.

Fegley, R. Summary of 29 Meetings and Visits in the Diocese of Kajo Keji. Bethlehem PA:
Diocese of Bethlehem, 2006.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

50 I Fegley

Feher, M. Nongovernmental Politics. New York: Zone Books, 2007.

Food and Agriculture Organization. Southern Sudan Monthly Report. Rome: August 2003.

Goudstikker, J.M. "Rebel Raids in Uganda Drive Hundreds of Sudanese Home." UNHCR News
Stories. Geneva: UNHCR, 2004.

Government of Southern Sudan. Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan. Juba: 2005.

Hancock, G. Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid
Business. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1992.

Harrell-Bond, B.E. Imposing Aid: Emergency Assistance to Refugees. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1986.

Harrell-Bond, B.E. "Pitch the Tents." The New Republic. September 1994.

Harrell-Bond B.E., E. Voutira, and M. Leopold. "Counting the Refugees: Gifts, Givers, Patrons
and Clients", Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 5, No. 3/4 (1992): 205-25.

Human Rights Watch. Civilian Devastation: Abuses by All Parties in the War in Southern
Sudan. New York: 1994.

International Peace Research Institute. From Guerrilla Movement to Political Party: The
Restructuring of SPLM in Three Southern States. Oslo: 12 July 2007.

Jambo, S. Temporary Decree For Regulating Voluntary Humanitarian Work. Nairobi: NESI,

Johnson, D. H. "The Sudan People's Liberation Army and the Problem of Factionalism." In C.
Clapham (ed.), African Guerrillas (Oxford: J. Currey, 1998): 53-72.

Johnson, D.H. The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars. Oxford: J. Currey, 2003.

Jordan, L., and P. van Tuijl. NGO Accountability. London: Earthscan, 2006.

Karadawi, A. "Constraints on Assistance to Refugees: Some Observations from the Sudan",
World Development, Vol. 11, No. 6 (1983): 537-47.

Keen, D. The Benefits of Famine: A Political Economy of Famine and Relief in Southwestern
Sudan, 1983-1989. Woodstock: Princeton University Press, 1994.

K6nyi Aliphayo, M. KKERC Emergency Relief Operation Annual Report: March 2004-July 2005.
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada: KKERC, 2005.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 51

Lesch, A.M. The Sudan: Contested National Identities. Bloomington: Indiana University and
Oxford: J. Currey, 1998.

Lokuji, A.S. "The SPLM Vision of Local Government" The Sudan Mirror, Volume 1, Issue 10,
February 2004. www.sudanmirror.com

Loiria, A.L.L. "The History of Local Government in Sudan." Paper presented at the Workshop
on "Governance and Social Action in Sudan". University of Bremen, February 2005.

Machar Teny-Dhurgon, R. South Sudan: A History of Political Domination A Case of Self-
Determination. 1995. reproduced at www.africa.upenn.edu/Hornet/sd_machar.html

Mampilly, Z. and A. Branch. "Winning The War, But Losing the Peace? The Dilemma of
SPLM/A Civil Administration and the Task Ahead" Paper presented at the Sudan Studies
Association. Santa Clara, CA, 5 June 2004.

Maren, M. The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity.
New York: Free Press, 2002.

Marial, A. New Sudan Secretariat of Health Profile. Rumbek: New Sudan Secretariat of Health,

Marriage, Z. Challenging Aid in Africa. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Martin, R. "Sudan's Perfect War," Foreign Affairs, March/April 2002.

McLaughlin, A. "Sudan's Refugees Wait and Hope", The Christian Science Monitor. 18
February 2004.

McLaughlin, A. "Cellphones, Roads, and Girls in School. Is this South Sudan?" The Christian
Science Monitor. 22 January 2005.

M6decins Sans Frontieres. International Activity Reports. Geneva: MSF, 2000-2004.

Mills, K. "Sovereignty Eclipsed?: The Legitimacy of Humanitarian Access and Intervention,"
Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, June 2000 (www.jha.ac/articles/a019.htm).

Minear, L. The Humanitarian Enterprise: Dilemmas and Discoveries. Bloomfield CT: Kumarian,

Moyo, D. Dead Aid. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

52 I Fegley

New Sudan Council of Churches. Come Let Us Reason Together: Report of the Historic
Dialogue Held between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the New Sudan Council
of Churches. Nairobi: 1998.

Nienaber, G. "Are NGO's the new colonialists?" The New Times. Kigali: 20 October 2005.

Norwegian People's Aid. NPA's Agricultural Program, Kajo Keji and Yei River Counties, New
Sudan: Evaluation Report. Oslo: 1998.

NPA. Planning Document. Oslo: 2002.

NPA. Half-Year Report on Food Security Activities in the Project Locations. Oslo: 2002.

NPA. Food Security Project. Oslo: 2003.

Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan. Report on Kajokeji
County. New York: Starbase- Sudan Transition and Recovery Database, 2003.

O'Toole Salinas, A. and D'Silva, B.C. Evolution of a Transition Strategy and Lessons Learned:
USAID Funded Activities in the West Bank of Southern Sudan, 1993 to 1999. Washington:
USAID, 1999.

Richer, M. Overview of the Health Situation in the Southern Sector of Sudan. New York:
UNICEF, 2003.

Rieff, D. A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.

Riehl, V. Who Is Ruling in South Sudan? The Role of NGOs in Rebuilding Socio-Political Order.
Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2001.

Rolandsen, 0. H. Guerrilla Government. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2005.

Sankore, R. "What are the NGOs Doing?"; Manji, F. and C. O'Coill, "NGOs: A Tainted History";
and Onyanyo, M. NGOs: Pseudo Governments or Surrogates of Western Powers?" in New
African, No. 443. August/September 2005.

Sepulveda D.C. Challenging the Assumptions of Repatriation: Is It the Most Desirable
Solution?. Oxford: Refugee Studies Programme, 1994.

Spaulding, J. and S. Beswick. White Nile, Black Blood: War, Leadership, and Ethnicity from
Khartoum to Kampala. Lawrenceville NJ: Red Sea, 2000.

SPLM. Peace Through Development. Nairobi: 2000.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 53

Tvedt, T. "The Collapse of the State in Southern Sudan after the Addis Ababa Agreement: A
Study of Internal Causes and the Role of the NGOs." In S. Harir and T. Tvedt (eds.), Short-Cut
to Decay: The Case of the Sudan (Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 1994): 88-101.

UN. Sudan Peace Fund: A Summary of Grassroots Peace Work in South Sudan: New York:
2004. (www.unsudanig.org/JAM/clusters/development/background.docs/

UNHCR. "Access to Water a Basic Right for Refugees, Says UNHCR". Geneva: March 2005.

UNHCR. Operational Briefing on South Sudan. Geneva: April 2005.

UNHCR. Refugees, Prizing Education, Defer Return to Sudan. New York: May 2005.

UNHCR. "UNHCR Launches Series of New Community Projects in South Sudan," UNHCR
Briefing Notes. Geneva: May 2005.

UNICEF. Donor Report. New York: 2002.

UNICEF. UNICEF Study Shows Dire Situation for Women, Children in Southern Sudan. New
York: June 2004.

UN Mission in Sudan. CPA Monitor (www.unmis.org).

Vincent, T., J. Masikini, and J. Nantale. Report on Activities for January December 2004: Life
Supporting Health, Water, Environment, Sanitation, and Capacity-Building Services to the
Internally Displaced, Returnee and War-Affected Sudanese Population of Kajo Keji County and
Nimule Corridor, Magwi County, Southern Sudan. Minneapolis: ARC International, 2005.
Report submitted to the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Voll, J.O. and S.P. Voll. The Sudan: Unity and Diversity in a Multicultural State. Boulder:
Westview, 1985.

Wai, D. (ed.) The Southern Sudan: The Problem of National Integration. London: Frank Cass,

Wondu, S. The Challenges of Peace. Washington: US Institute of Peace, 2002.

World Food Program. Kajokeji County ANA Report. Rome: FAO, 1997.

WHO. NIDS Assessment. Geneva: 2001.

WHO. National Immunisation Days. Geneva: 2002.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

54 I Fegley

Yongo-Bure, B. NGOs and Grassroots Development in Southern Sudan, presented at the Sudan
Studies Association. Santa Clara, 6 June 2004.

Young, J. The Politics of Southern Blue Nile Province. Nairobi: IGAD, n.d.

Web Sites Consulted

ARC www.arcrelief.org

BBC news.bbc.co.uk

CAMEO Landmine Clearance http://www.cameo.org/projects/africa/sudan

CAFOD www.cafod.org.uk

CRS www.catholicrelief.org

CMS http://www.cms-uk.org

Crossroads Missions http://www.crossroads.ca/missions/sudan.htm

Diocese of Salisbury http://www.salisbury.anglican.org/sudan

Gurtong http://www.gurtong.com

IAS www.ias.nu

IWASSRU http://www.lahash.net and http://www.agorphanage.com

JRS http://www.jesref.org

The Khartoum Monitor http://www.khartoum-monitor.com

MSF www.msf.org

NPA www.npaid.org

OCHA http://ochaonline.un.org

ReliefWeb http://www.reliefweb.int

Sudan: A Country Study countrystudies.us/sudan

Sudan Government www.sudan-embassy.co.uk

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Local Needs and Agency Conflict I 55

Sudanese Media Centre www.smc.sd

Sudan Mirror www.sudanmirror.com

SPLA http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/spla.htm

SPLM http://www.splmtoday.com

Sudan: A Country Study http://countrystudies.us/sudan

SudanTribune http://www.sudantribune.com

Sudan.Net http://www.sudan.net/news/news.html

UNHCR http://www.unhcr.ch

UN Sudan http://www.unsudanig.org

USAID Africa: Sudan http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-
saharan africa/countries/sudan/index.html

USAID Sudan: A Reinvigorated Commitment http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-
saharan africa/sudan

USAID Transition Initiatives: Sudan -

Interviews and Correspondence

Meetings, interviews, informal conversations and correspondence ranging from 1999 to the
present include Michael Sworo Yokwe (SPLM Commissioner of Kajo Keji 2000-2006), Oliver
Mule (SPLM Commissioner of Kajo Keji 2006-), Victor Ware (SPLM County Executive Director),
Joseph Koka (SPLM Inspector of Public Security), Salween Yoasa (SPLM Education Officer),
Lubajo Peter Maik (SRRC Relief Supervisor), the Rev. Clement Janda (Member of National
Assembly, former Secretary-General of the All African Council of Churches), Michael Lado
Kimbo (UNHCR Field Assistant), Charles Mogga (JRS Local Administrator), Michael Wani
Geriga (NPA Acting Field Coordinator), Ladislaus Ougaro (NPA Field Monitor), Dwoki Mary
(NPA Acting Compound Manager) and 105 officials from 27 schools.

Contacts within the ECS Diocese of Kajo Keji included the Rt. Rev. Manasseh B. Dawidi (Bishop
of Kajo Keji), Rev. Wilson Lomugun (Diocesan Secretary 2000-2005), Rev. Emmanuel Murye
(Diocesan Secretary 2005-6), Rev. Simon Peter Kenyi (Diocesan Development Coordinator), Rev.
Charles Laku (Education Coordinator 2000-2005), Rev. Canon Henry Leju (Principal of Canon
Benaiah Poggo Memorial College), Rev. Tom Ezbon, Rev. Fred Taban, Rev. Simon Kenyi, Moses

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

56 I Fegley

Lodiong (Education Coordinator 2005-6), Joyce Jokudu Lomugun, Rejoice Modong Lokwat,
Ezra Remo and Susan Tabia.

Significant contacts with Sudanese in the Diaspora were the Rev. Michael Kiju Paul, Mary
Mogga, Rachel Mogga, Dr. Monica Sabuni, Stephen Tomor, Alfred Taban, Stephen Wondu
(Sudanese Ambassador to Japan, former SPLM Representative to North America), Samuel Dilla,
Dr. Scopus Poggo and Dr. Benaiah Yongo-Bure. Non-Sudanese contacts included the Rev. Don
Brewin, Ven. Rick Cluett, Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall (Episcopal Bishop of Bethlehem, USA), Rev.
Elizabeth Moulton, Jack Moulton, Connie Fegley, Joyce Janda, Elaine Kurt and Joyce Shepherd.

Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article: Randall
Fegley, "Local Needs and Agency Conflict: A Case Study of Kajo Keji County, Sudan," African
Studies Quarterly 11, issue 1: (Fall 2009) [online] URL: http://africa.ufl.edu/asq/vll/vllila2.htm.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in Nineteenth and

Twentieth Century Rukwa, Tanzania


Abstract: Nineteenth century histories of Tanzania typically focus on "tribal" histories,
customs, and military action. To a certain extent, this is expected. The story of how
interior Tanzania came in contact with the Indian Ocean World is an exceedingly violent
one. However, there are different ways of looking at interior history which highlight
factors besides "tribal" histories. The story told here of Rukwa Region highlights
alliances, status hierarchy, and fighting during the second half of the twentieth century.
Such institutions emerged out of an "ecology of fear" which resulted in the re-
organization of peoples, trade networks, and the emergence of a strong separation
between common people and powerful rulers from different status groups even though
they may have spoken the same language and had the same "tribal" affiliation. The fears
generated by the dash of such institutions often shaped local responses to rapid social
change. This essay highlights what this re-organization meant for what is roughly Rukwa
Region of western Tanzania in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Focus is
on the peoples of the Fipa Plateau, and Rukwa Plains. Traditionally, these people are
referred to as the Fipa, Pimbwe, Bende, Kimbu, and Konongo people. The Gongwe, a
group previously not described in the anthropological or linguistic literature is also


Tanzanian history in part emerged from the accounts of nineteenth century explorers, and
the needs of the colonial and post-colonial states.As such, history of Rukwa in western
Tanzania, emerges from the needs of these literate intruders. Thus in the 1870s, explorers like
Burton, Stanley, Livingstone, and Thomson told the story of conflict that hounded their
movement across a social environment dominated by violent and charismatic figures.Each
chief, they wrote, sought an advantage in the newly arrived world markets of ivory and
slaves.German colonialists and missionaries arriving after the 1880s, told stories emphasizing
the cruelty of chiefs to the local people as they sought to legitimize their own rule, and identify
administrative units which could be adapted to colonial domination, taxable trade, and church
building.The British arriving in Rukwa in 1920, took up where the Germans left off.Intent on
imposing indirect rule in a fashion which would facilitate trade, they organized their east

Tony Waters is a professor of sociology at California State University, Chico. In 2003-2004 he was a Fulbright Scholar
at The University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He has written extensively about Tanzania, refugees, economic
development, and public education. Among his books are The Persistence of Subsistence Agriculture: Life Beneath the
Level of the Marketplace (Lexington Books 2007), When Killing is a Crime (Lynne Rienner 2007), Bureaucratizing the Good
Samaritan (Westview 2001), and Crime and Immigrant Youth (Sage 1999). He lived and worked in rural Tanzania
between 1984-1987, and 1994-1996.

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

58 I Waters

African peoples as "tribes," each having a language, and a chiefly lineage through whom the
colonial power could rule.
Finally after 1961, the independent Tanganyika (later Tanzania) government looked to pre-
colonial history to re-establish the legitimacy of African rule in the twentieth and twenty-first
centuries.In this context, nineteenth century African leaders like Chief Mirambo of the
Nyamwezi, are presented as figures resisting colonial intrusion.More problematic for post-
colonial government and historiography has been the question of what to do about the "tribal"
classification inherited from the British. "Tribal" identities run counter to nationalist conceptions
of a Tanzania.
This paper discusses Rukwa's history in the context of what I call "the ecology of fear"
created by the reorganization of society in the context of the intrusion from the Indian Ocean
world.This is done by evaluating the interests, capabilities, and reorganizations undertaken by
the various "status groups" found in Rukwa during this time.

The New Nineteenth Century Trading System and the Ecology of Fear

Rukwa or for that matter Tanzania in general is not only understood as a retelling of
tribal histories, but as a story of how subsistence societies organized and reorganized
themselves relative to the outside world.As Iliffe notes, "Early nineteenth-century Tanganyika
was not inhabited by discrete compact, and identifiable tribes, each with a distinct territory,
language, culture, and political system," although the "need to describe makes the use of such
collective names inescapable, even though they distort and oversimplify a vastly more complex
reality."' This period is important, too, since as Illife notes further, it was during "the nineteenth
century [that] Tanganyika's inland peoples made contact with the outside world through a
long-distance trading system based on Zanzibar," and as a result, "Tanganyika experienced a
transformation more intense than any other region of tropical Africa at that time."2
It is my thesis that reorganization in Rukwa happened in the context of an ecology of fear
featuring frequent raiding, trade in new products like guns, slaves, and ivory, and the
decimation of human populations by violence, disease, and famine.This "ecology of fear" is
written into the modern landscape in the form of parks and conservation areas established by
the modern Tanzanian government, in places first abandoned by humans fleeing violence in the
nineteenth century.The ecology of fear typically pushed people living in the region to rely on
apparently older forms of social organization, as they were confronted with new challenges
created by intruders whether from southern Africa, or the Indian Ocean Coast.Notably, this
happened not only in Rukwa, but in other regions of Tanzania as well.3

Social Status as an Analytical Category and the "Terrible Dilemma" of Peasants

Keeping in mind that, as Iliffe noted, collective tribal names are both imprecise, but also
inescapable, I would like to experiment using Max Weber's term "status group" to describe
social relations in nineteenth century Tanzania.4 Status groups are normally communities
rooted in shared honor, i.e. a shared style of life.Status groups can be dominant or subordinated
in a wider social system. Weber developed this term in the context of his understandings of

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 59

how a wide range of societies in Asia, North America, and Europe developed and changed in
ancient and modern times.This essay will, I believe, make it clear that thinking about Africa in
this fashion is also useful.
According to Weber, status groups (Staende) are rooted in an effective claim to esteem vis a
vis others.Status groups share a style of life, formal education, putative hereditary lineage, and
occupational status, among a range of other conditions, which in turn result in group-based
action.5 Sometimes claims result in a group of people who together assert rights to privileges
such as trading monopolies, or even sovereignty over territory. Status groups seek to have
privileges/honors become hereditary, and seek legal guarantees.In the context of nineteenth
century Tanzania, salient positively privileged status groups includes chiefly lineages,
inhabitants of a particular locality, clans, followers of a charismatic leader, rainmakers,
blacksmiths, mystics and religious teachers, and shared national/tribal identity.Weber goes on
to note, however, that such privileges imply status groups which are negatively privileged and
in the African context include a variety of outsiders: forest people, hunter-gatherers, refugees,
potters, and other outcasts.Status for negatively privileged is still expressed by pride in a
particular style of life, putative hereditary lineages, occupational rights, etc., and a disdain for
the trickery of the dominant group.The advantage of Weber's approach is that it reflects beliefs
about stratification rooted in a range of unequal relationships, occupational monopolies, and so
forth, not just tribal identity.6
As I think will become clear here, reframing pre-colonial society as one composed of status
groups is particularly useful when evaluating social change in pre-colonial Tanzania.7 Among
the higher ranking status groups asserting monopolies over powerful symbols were the chiefly
lineages who dominated through charismatic means; groups of traders who developed unique
economic relations with local leaders; and European missionaries who inserted themselves into
leadership.Beneath such high status groups were the sedentary farming, pastoral, warrior, and
even slave status groups who while often victimized by the more powerful, still maneuvered in
the same social environment.8
This paper re-evaluates what happened in what is (roughly) today's Rukwa Region.9 What
is striking from this analysis is that across "ethnic groups," "tribes," "occupational stratification,"
and status groups there were consistent caste-like relationships.The early Arab and European
intruders arriving in the nineteenth century necessarily integrated themselves into this pre-
existing status system, responding and reacting to a complex social world, even as their
presence changed it. The stories Europeans wrote of nineteenth and twentieth century Rukwa
thus are ones of violent chiefs, and violent intruders.But the vast majority of people were not
the perpetrators of violence, but subsistence farmers growing the grains which not only
sustained themselves, but also the chiefs and their retainers who ruled through their own
armies and courts, making the accumulation and trade in ivory possible.10 In this respect Rukwa
was not unusual; it was the agricultural production of the peasants that underpinned the world
of marauding chiefs, their armies, and their courts.This is because settled subsistence farming
with its granaries and ripening fields of crops, by its very nature, makes farmers vulnerable to
appropriation.Chirot calls this situation the "terrible dilemma" in which agricultural peoples are
forced to make a choice between sacrificing individual freedom and control of the production of
their labor on the one hand and ceding control to aristocratic castes for the security from raids

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

60 I Waters

that emerges from a powerful protector who also in return levies military drafts and
appropriates foodstores on the other." The implicit exchange is that the fruits of their
agricultural labor are exchanged for the protection provided by armies in an otherwise anarchic
world.This was very much the world of nineteenth century Rukwa.12


Rukwa Region is in western Tanzania and occupies four ecological zones.First, there is a
coastal strip along Lake Tanganyika (elevation 768 meters).Secondly the Fipa Plateau at
approximately 1500 meters is the center of the Region, and currently the most densely
populated area.To the west and at the foot of an escarpment, is the Rukwa Plain at 900
meters.The Plain begins at the saline Lake Rukwa which drains an area to the north extending
to what is now Katavi National Park. Lake Rukwa itself is a geographical anomaly; fluctuating
water levels are recorded during historical times.13 North of Katavi National Park is a fourth
area, a vast miombo forest.
In the nineteenth century on the Fipa Plateau where there was higher rainfall, a cultural
complex organized around horticulture and pastoralism developed.14 In the Rukwa Plain,
where rainfall is noticeably less, human ecology was focused by a mixture of grain cultivation
(millet and maize), small animal pastoralism, hunting, and gathering.Today, there are large
ungulates, including the world's large herd of cape buffalo, in the area which is protected as
Katavi National Park.Only in 1970 were cattle introduced by Sukuma-speaking pastoralists
migrating from the north.15 Beans, which require more rainfall, are not generally grown in the
Rukwa Valley.The combination of horticulture, hunting, and gathering occurred also further to
the north in the miombo forests.

Disease and Population Ecology in the Nineteenth Century

The "diseases of civilization" like smallpox, measles and typhoid arrived in Rukwa during
the nineteenth century, causing epidemics with high mortality well into the twentieth
century.Rinderpest, a disease of cloven-hoofed animals also decimated herds of cattle on the
Fipa Plateau in the 1890s, as well as wild buffalo and other cloven hoofed animals on the Rukwa
Plain.The rinderpest epidemics contributed to human famine in the 1890s, particularly in areas
dependent on pastoralism.
Population maps published in 1907 indicated that densities were highest along the Lake
Tanganyika littoral, and in the Rukwa Plains.16 Densities on the Fipa Plateau (which today are
the most densely populated), and in the forested interior were low, perhaps the result of the
rinderpest induced famine in the 1890s, and the violence and epidemics of previous decades. By
the late twentieth century the density patterns reversed, with higher densities on the Fipa
Plateau, while lowlands were given over to unpopulated game reserves.

Traditional Tribal and Linguistic Divisions of Rukwa

Rukwa Region is at the intersection of three Bantu language groups: Nyamwezi-Sukuma
from the northeast (including Nyamewezi, Konongo and Kimbu languages), Bende from across

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 61

Lake Tanganyika (including Bende, Tongwe, and Holoholo), and Mwika/Fipa which has its
origins in Zambia (including Fipa, Pimbwe, and Rungwa).17 In addition, Gongwe is a language
which has lexical similarities to Pimbwe, and many loan words from Bende.18
Today, patterned multi-lingualism between the sub-groups, including widespread use of
Swahili, is common.For example, Pimbwe are also likely to speak Fipa or Konongo.19 Status
identity, today as in the past, is a function of where a person is living, identification with a
particular leader, and at-home language use although an all-embracing Tanzanian identity is
today very important. Frequent inter-marriage and multi-lingualism meant that particular
individuals may assert membership in more than one ethnic group.Linguist Yuko Abe has
undertaken preliminary lexical studies which reflect these relationships (see Table 1).
Bende speaking groups are found in the northern part of Rukwa, and include Bende,
Tongwe, and Holoholo speaking people.20 This is the most sparsely settled part of the Region,
and the only place never organized into formal chiefdoms and incipient states.21 Nor did the
Bende build defensive pallisaded villages. As a defensive strategy they retreated into the
miombo forest, abandoning planted fields to the raiders.22
A Gongwe-speaking population persists today in parts of Mpanda District, and maintains a
royal graveyard which is at the site of the old royal village, in what is now Katavi National
Park. The Gongwe are not mentioned in the language databases of the Summer Institute of
Linguistics, nor in the ethnographic literature.However, they are mentioned in British colonial
documents describing the dissolution of the Gongwe court in 1927-1928.23 Joseph Thomson
mentioned them in 1880, and they appear on German maps.24 As with other groups living today
in Rukwa, the Gongwe practice dryland maize cultivation, small animal pastoralism, hunting,
and gathering.25 They have a tradition of chieftainship.26

19th Century Status Groups: Rulers, Soldiers, Traders, and Missionaries

So far, I used the traditional tribal and linguistic divisions to describe Rukwa because they
are the status labels used in the traditional ethnographic literature, especially British colonial
records.Indeed, it was along such status distinctions that opportunities to rule (and be ruled)
were distributed by the British between 1920 and 1961.27 However, in Rukwa other status
distinctions were important; and when they are used, a more nuanced description of nineteenth
century Tanzanian social worlds emerges.
In this spirit, I highlight status groups found in western Tanzania which patterned strongly
feelings of loyalty, and made the pursuit of political and military power coherent. Notably these
status groups went beyond simple feelings of kinship based on land and tribe, and included
aristocracies, language groups, and occupational groups. Criteria included groups with
educational, professional, linguistic, ritual, and kin-based criteria for membership. Each status
group transcended loyalties rooted solely in economic or kin-based interests.
In nineteenth century Rukwa, relevant statuses included child soldiers/pages known as
ruga-ruga and who were typically kept close to the person of the chief, and in European terms
might be thought of as being the equivalent of pages or retainers in an aristocratic court. 28 As
for the leadership itself, chiefship was rooted in aristocratic ranks which spread across
geographical boundaries of "tribes," and were often rooted in claims of foreign origin, which, as

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

62 I Waters

Tambila notes, were "a ploy to acquire a greater measure of legitimacy" in order to rule
effectively.29 In Rukwa, the putative origins of such groups were the chiefly clans of the Tutsi
with assumed origins in the regions near Rwanda and Burundi, or Nyamwezi clans from near
Tabora.30 Swahili speaking "Arab" traders formed a status group.The Catholic order of the
White Fathers, which arrived in the 1880s, also in effect brought a status category for themselves
from Europe, which, as is described here, developed in a fashion similar to other local
aristocratic ranks.


The ruga-ruga were boys who were separated from their families at a young age, and raised
to be the personal retainers/soldiers for a chief.31 They were raised in chiefly courts to be loyal to
their commander.The status was acquired as a result of initiation rituals, not birth. 32 Shorter
describes these boys as wild young men, a heterogeneous collection of war captives, deserters
from caravans, runaway slaves, and others.without roots or family ties, and they owed no
allegiance other than to their chief or leader.
He also notes that:
Nearly every Nyamwezi chief had [ruga-ruga] during the last quarter of the nineteenth
century. [they were] standing armies of young, unmarried professional soldiers, especially
trained to fight and terrorize their enemies.they often wore mutilated parts of the bodies of their
enemies as ornaments, and their name is said to derive from this fact.Many of them wore belts
made of human entrails and necklaces of human teeth.The ruga-ruga were encouraged to smoke
Indian hemp to make them fearless and excitable.Their weapons were bows and arrows, spears,
and muzzle-loading guns.33

Nyamwezi and Tutsi Ruling Castes 34

The term Nyamwezi applies to a variety of status groups which are found in Tanzania
today, and in the past.Today, the term refers speakers of a language living in the Tabora area.In
the nineteenth century, the term was also applied to low status occupational status group,
including the porters who carried goods from the interior to Bagamoyo on the Indian Ocean
coast on behalf of Arab traders.Also, nineteenth century explorer accounts of Rukwa describe
these chiefs of the Pimbwe, Kimbu, and Konongo as being "Nyamwezi."Indeed, Bennett even
notes that there was a Nyamwezi chief in what is now Katanga Region of the southern Congo.35
Well-known chiefs in Rukwa identified as Nyamwezi included Mirambo of the Nyamwezi,
Simba of the Konongo, Nyungu ya Mawe of the Kimbu, and Kasogera of the Pimbwe.36
The term Tutsi today refers to the traditional ruling castes of Burundi and Rwanda.37 There
was also a Tutsi ruling class among the Waha and Wahangaza of Tanzania.38 And as Willis
points out, the Tutsi chiefly caste in Fipa has an origin myth indicating that they migrated from
the north from the area of what is now Rwanda/Tanzania/Uganda.39 Each share cultural
characteristics including a focus on cattle herding, chieftainship traditions, and royal regalia.As
Willis notes, however, it is not clear whether this is the result of an actual migration from the
north, or cultural diffusion. 40 For the purposes of this paper, though, this does not matter.The

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 63

point is that there is a chiefly caste in Rukwa that has putative origins in migration and
symbolically identifies with other leadership castes ranging from Uganda, to the Fipa
Plateau.The Tuutsi status groups of Rukwa monopolized the symbols of leadership before the
nineteenth century.41
The chiefly castes of Rukwa-both the Nyamwezi and Tuutsi-controlled routes passing
through their territories by the 1860s.This became more lucrative as the Arab-generated trade in
ivory, guns, and cloth increased.42 Control meant that chiefs and their ruga-ruga monopolized
trading rights and demanded payments from the caravans in the form of guns, goods, and other
supplies with which they could strengthen their own military position. Implicit to this ideal was
the sale of the supplies that the caravans needed to feed and care for porters, slaves, and
others.In this context, chiefly succession in Rukwa was negotiated in the context of alliances
(and enmities) which spread across western Tanzania.43

Arab Traders as a Status Group in Rukwa

Zanzibari Arab traders were resident in the chiefly courts of the Fipa Plateau, Gongwe, and
Simba at the time Europeans arrived in the 1850s-1870s.44 They were involved with the practical
governance of the area via the ruling chiefs.In many respects they served a function similar to
that of merchant minorities such as Chinese in Southeast Asia, Lebanese in West Africa, or Jews
in parts of Europe.45 In this context, they often became the financiers and advisors to royal
courts.For this reason perhaps, European explorers accustomed to observing the phenomenon
elsewhere in the world, described the Arab courtiers as being "ministers" or "prime ministers" at
the fortress at Karema, Simba's, and the Fipa Plateau.Whether this formally corresponds with
such a modem bureaucratic category is improbable.After all, too often Arabs had their own
ruga-ruga to guard the caravans.What is clear is that Arab traders by the nineteenth century
established themselves as a separate status group with legitimate monopolies over various
aspects of trade and governance in the area of Rukwa.Tambila regards the success of Arab
newcomers as proof of the fact that expanded trade opened possibilities to more people than
established chiefs alone.But this access was also a source of instability because the rising class of
merchant/hunter warlords with their ruga-rugas and hangers-on were potential power sources.46

European White Fathers as a Status Group in Rukwa

The Catholic "Order of Africa" (known as the "White Fathers" due to the color of their
cassocks) established a mission station at Karema on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in 1885 after
purchasing it from King Leopold's International African Association (IAA).The immediate goal
of the White Fathers, many of whom were French, and all of whom were ritually initiated into a
religious order, was to establish a mission station to spread the Christian gospel.
In the context of a dangerous world though, the mission station at Karema was far more
than a church: it also provided a home for escaped and redeemed slaves, proselytisation, and
the maintenance of a secure place for visiting Europeans.Necessarily, the priests fortified the
station against military attack.Guns inherited from the departed IAA proved particularly useful
for the White Fathers' "small military" when seeking compliance from nearby Bende villages,

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

64 I Waters

whether it was for protecting territory, housing redeemed and escaped slaves, attacking
uncooperative villagers, or mounting defenses against potential raiders.47 The White Fathers
found recruits for their "military" among the escaped slaves they sought to protect, refugees,
and famine victims, as indeed the Nyamwezi chieftains in the region also did.In the process, the
mission at Karema became a "state unto itself," and began to negotiate with neighbors in much
the same fashion as the other chiefly figure in the region. 48 For example, when the White
Fathers negotiated with Chief Msuulwa of Nkansi/Fipa, they were admitted to his court on
"equal status with Arabs and other Muslims."Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the
White Fathers turned the tables, though, and began demanding political homage from the
leaders of the Fipa Plateau.49
In 1893, the German colonial military arrived, which enhanced the role of the White Fathers
in Rukwa.Understaffed German authorities delegated many of the responsibilities for
governance, most importantly that of judging crimes, to the French-speaking White Fathers.The
White Fathers in turn used this authority to further their own goals for the elimination of
witchcraft (especially trial by poison ordeal), proselytization, agricultural improvement, and the
establishment of churches and schools.
As Smythe in particular points out, the White Fathers were the most consistent foreign
presence in a remote region where the outside political powers changed frequently.50 Between
1870 and 1970, political shifts included that of indigenous chiefs, to German military officers,
British colonial officers, and finally the independent Tanzanian government.The presence of
foreign White Fathers did not dissipate until the 1980s.While few European White Fathers
remain today, the church they established remains strong and influential.

Pre-Colonial Rukwa: Ngoni Raiders, Arab Traders, and "Little Wars"

The first Ngoni warriors invaded southern Tanzania in the late 1830s, setting the stage for
an extremely violent nineteenth century.The Ngoni are typically described as having an origin
in southern Africa.Using infantry techniques developed by Zulu warriors, they made their way
into what is now Tanzania in the 1830s from bases in Malawi.As Koponen notes, though,
presumably as with other marauders in nineteenth century Tanzania, the Ngoni (also called
Watuta) were warriors who had origins in many places.51 Indeed, Koponen believes that only a
few hundred of the 16,000-20,000 invading Ngoni in the early nineteenth century actually
originated in South Africa.As with ruga-ruga, most Ngoni were refugees, former slaves,
conquered peoples, adventurers and others who had joined for any number of reasons as the
invaders pushed northward.52
Using superior infantry formations, especially stabbing swords, the Ngoni entered Rukwa
in the early 1840s, deposed the chiefs of the Fipa Plateau, and took the available cattle back to
"Ungoni" to the south, probably Malawi.53 The Ngoni invasion into Tanzania probably went as
far north as Biharamulo near the southern shore of Lake Victoria over the next decade, but then
receded.The Ngoni returned to Rukwa a second time in the 1850s; the English explorer Richard
Burton passed through Tabora and northern Rukwa in 1858 and described the devastation such
attacks left: "The route before us lay through a howling wilderness, once populous and fertile,
but now laid waste by the fierce Watuta [Ngoni]."54 Shorter makes the argument that the Ngoni

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 65

activity stimulated surviving Africans to organize more systematically a defensive and
offensive military, perhaps giving birth to ruga-ruga traditions.55 He further asserts that it was at
this time that surviving chiefdoms began to re-organize themselves into pallisaded fortresses to
protect themselves against further plunder.
The next intruders into the region were Zanzibari Arab traders who reached
Unyanyembe/Tabora in Central Tanzania by the 1830s and Ujiji shortly thereafter in their search
for slaves and ivory.The purpose and organization of the Arab traders created a fundamentally
different status group; they were not interested in plunder, but in the protection, staffing, and
provisioning of trading caravans which would walk from central Africa (today's Tanzania and
Congo) to Zanzibar on the Indian Ocean Coast.Trade was focused by world demands for ivory
and for slaves for plantations on the Indian Ocean littoral. Trade goods purchased included
guns, beads (which Burton and Cameron described as being used as currency), and cloth.56
Guns in particular re-oriented power relations.
Trading caravans in nineteenth century Africa were difficult and expensive to organize,
because few areas were secure from raids by locals.Travel was by caravan which carried not
only trade goods, but the arms and provisions needed to feed the porters, protect ivory, and
prevent slaves from escaping.57 Explorers paid tributary passage fees to chiefs who controlling
stretches of the road. Two safe spots for the caravans were the fortified cities at Tabora/Kazeh,
and Ujiji, which soon became notorious as slave depots during the mid-nineteenth century.58
Oral and written accounts indicate that by the 1850s, the chiefs of southern Rukwa,
occasionally purchased slaves, traded foodstuffs to caravans, and most importantly, traded
ivory for guns.59 Arab traders settled in the region semi-permanently as hunters and traders,
typically while acknowledging the sovereignty of a local chief.The good news for Rukwa was
that there was no indication that peoples were systematically victimized by slave raiders in the
manner that the Congo was; Zanzibari Arab presence in the region was instead focused on the
trade in ivory, a function of the large elephant herds in the Rukwa Valley.60

The "Little Wars" Shift Status Arrangements (1860-1898)

Locals refer to the period between about 1860 and 1898-i.e. between the time of the Ngoni
invasions, and the arrival of the German colonial army -as that of the "little wars" between
chiefs.Shetler writing about the Serengeti where similar events occurred calls it the "Time of
Disasters" when violence and famine dominated relationships, and a wilderness was created by
human depopulation.61 The accounts of locals as well as explorer journals from Rukwa reflect
this view well.Richard Burton's 1858 travel journals focused on the violence he found in Rukwa,
most of it stemming from the invasion of the Ngoni.Stanley's descriptions of Rukwa in 1870 also
focused on the violence he observed.He also saw plentiful signs of buffalo, elephant, and
rhinoceros, reflecting perhaps an abundance of forest abandoned by human horticulturalists
terrorized during the previous decade.62
In response, fortified towns were built which served both defensive and offensive military
purposes.These fortresses as is the case of horticultural empires elsewhere, were towns within
walls which protected the power of the chief, including wealth in the form of ivory and
foodstuffs.Privileged residents typically included the chief sorcerer, administrative chief, keeper

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

66 I Waters

of the royal regalia, the chief's wives, and the dwellings of the ruga-ruga.63 The queen mother
typically also had an honored dwelling, reflecting a common division of authority in much of
central Africa.64 Typically such fortresses also had a dry moat, and a palisade of logs.At least
one of the moats described by Shorter was apparently filled with sharpened poisoned stakes.65
Such fortresses were a place for loyal vassals to retreat in the event of attack.But they were
also a place for powerful chiefs to consolidate power by providing a location to concentrate
soldiers, protect foodstores, store ivory, and hold court.Isolation of the chief from the common
people added to the mystery and majesty of the chiefly position, and were symbolic elements
used to assert authority.66
During the "little wars" alliances emerged and enmities developed between local chiefs.67
Venturing unprotected into the forest to hunt animals, tend crops, or establish homesteads put
men at risk.The net result in Rukwa was the emergence of frontier areas in which human
population was sparse due to the dangers from enemies.The most important of these areas was
probably between the Pimbwe, Gongwe, and Konongo in what is now Katavi National
Park.Each grouprecalls accounts of attacks by the other.Perhaps the most vivid was an account
of how Chief Kasogera's mother was impaled on a post after being skinned alive by Gongwe
hunters, presumably in the late nineteenth century.68
A type of fluid power developed in the context of chiefs, Arabs traders, European
intruders, and little wars is illustrated well by a document created by the elephant hunter
Swahili Matumula from the Indian Ocean coast, with a representative of King Leopold of the
Belgians, at the inland compound owned by the Nyamwezi/Konongo chief Simba in 1877. The
agreement is a transfer of sovereignty for Karema, a lakeport traditionally occupied by the
Bende-speaking clans, but which became a slave depot for the Swahili from Kilwa, Matumula, a
few years previously "by right of conquest."The agreement reveals a great deal about the status
stratification between the locals of the region, who were only recently "conquered" by
Matumula's ruga-ruga, the role of powerful Arab traders (most of whom are nameless in the
explorers' writings), and the European representative of King Leopold of the Belgians.Most
importantly it was negotiated in the presence of Simba, the patron of Matumula.69 But also what
is not written is significant.Mirambo, who also asserted sovereignty over the area if not by right
of conquest, on the basis of his reputation for ferocity, is missing from the agreement:
I Matumula a native of Kilwa [on the Indian Ocean Coast], landowner by right of conquest
for five years past of Karema Territory.I give to the Sultan of the Belgians and to his subjects,
the part they will choose, on the said Territory belonging to me, where they may build and
I deny myself and refuse to my successors the right to send them away in future or to
molest them.If they are attacked I shall defend them by force of arms and if they give way we
shall die together.
The Sultan of the Belgians [i.e. King Leopold] and his subject will have an absolute
sovereignty over that part of the Territory given away, the boundary of which will extend one
mile in radius around the spot on which they will build their first settlement.
This act has been drawn up in the presence of Matumula, Cambier, a subject of the sultan
of Belgians, Alijmasi and Mournie, written at Simba's on Friday the Fifth day of Ramadhan in
the year 1298 1877 AD] of the Heijira.70

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 67

This agreement reflects a mix of European, Arab, and African concepts of sovereignty, as
well as bureaucratic rule.The Belgian was Joseph Cambier who negotiated on behalf of King
Leopold of the Belgians, who was establishing the private companies which would bring
devastation to the Congo after the Berlin Treaty in 1884.71 As for Matumula, he apparently
considered himself a vassal of the Nyamwezi Simba, rather than the other Nyamwezi Chief
Mirambo, who was an enemy of both.

The Fortresses of Late Nineteenth Century Rukwa

Pallisaded fortresses, or "royal villages," dominated social organization in Rukwa and
nearby areas during the nineteenth century (see cartographic essay).Such fortresses had dry
moats, and wooden pallisades requiring the mobilization of large numbers of people to
construct and maintain.In the case of the fortresses at both Pimbwe (in the Rukwa Valley) and
Kisuumba (on the Fipa Plateau) (See Figure 1), they were apparently about four to five hundred
meters across.The chief Simba's fortress to the north was, according to Thomson, larger, and the
most impressive he saw in Africa. During the violent period when the maintenance of such
fortresses focused social organization, the farming population clustered ever nearer,
abandoning more distant fields as indefensible.When the power of the marauding brigands,
chiefs, and others dissipated in the early twentieth century, the farming population retreated
back into the more remote areas.72

Figurt I -Fipt Caplual at Kusuumba

Figarc I, I',i'. r[it c w d ci iv rpri,1m .rom W.itu I K. 2 i. r e,-rrIc, .Ain Ih.I ?[ i .uKiiLU iU b
Royal Village which w5 visited by Tomison in IS5. Li'li .wh I..nrcj i- ,n ih, i.-rn hjd a
similar si4gn

The fortified villages themselves typically lasted only a few decades before either
indigenous raiders, or campaigning outsiders breached the walls.Nevertheless the fortresses
were particularly important in the nineteenth and early twentieth century as farming peoples
dealt with the changes associated with the invasion of Ngoni from the south, and the arrival of
the first Zanzibari-Arab trading caravans bringing ivory, slaves, cloth, and firearms after the
1830s and 1840s.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

68 I Waters

Cameron in 1873 described a fortress built by who he called "Kimbu refugees" as a strong
stockade in which the gates closed and guns and spears protruding through the stockade by
which it was surrounded.The huts were flat-roofed and built in the form of long parallelograms,
the whole being surrounded by a heavy stockade with only two entrances.Over each of these
was a sort of crow's nest, where the defenders of the gate took up their position and were
furnished with a supply of large stones to be used on the attacking party.73
This demand for military-like organization and engineering required large work parties,
which in turn required leadership rooted in a capacity to command obedience through dispatch
of ruga-ruga, control of the rains, and spiritual life.

Rukwa's Relations with Mirambo and Beyond

As the diffusion of political traditions with roots in Rwanda, Burundi, and Tabora
demonstrate, Rukwa was never isolated from outside influence.There are in fact cultural lines
and political traditions stretching across central Africa.In the nineteenth century, the best
known political force in the region was the chief Mirambo, scion of a Nyamwezi clan from west
of Tabora.Mirambo commanded an army of ruga-ruga who between the 1860s and his death in
1884, operated in an area between Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika.74 Mirambo did this by
negotiating alliances against the Arab traders of Tabora, with the Europeans who arrived in the
1870s, and 1880s, as well as chiefs ranging from the Fipa Plateau to Mwanza.75
Mirambo of course was not the only chief seeking fortune in the context of ruga-ruga,
aristocratic ruling castes, Arab traders, and European explorers, although for a short time he
was perhaps the most successful at doing so.Others in Rukwa who maneuvered within this
system included Nyamwezi personalities like Nyungu ya Mawe (in Kimbu) and Kasogera (in
Pimbwe); various Tuutsi chiefs on the Fipa Plateau; the Arab merchant minority; European
White Fathers; and King Leopold's IAA. Chiefs in Rukwa had at least indirect relations with
groups in today's Congo, Zambia, Burundi, Central Tanzania, and ultimately the Indian Ocean
World and Europe.Their feudalistic system-which also had elements of anarchy-was not
eclipsed until the German colonialists asserted bureaucratic control in the early 1900s.In many
ways, the system persisting today in Rukwa reflects this history.

European Traders Arrive: the International Africa Association, the Lakeport of Karema, and the
Rigidification of New Status Relations

The first of the pallisaded forts Stanley encountered was the small "Konongo" fortress
called Mrera which he wrote controlled three or four villages.There were nine bleached human
skulls at the entrance to this encampment, the result of feuds Stanley wrote, between Konongo
and Wazavira.76 They were armed with muskets, presumably obtained from the coastal trade
system.77 The next day, though, Stanley remarks upon the desolation of the villages that they
passed through. The chief "Simba" he wrote had desolated these villages, and the inhabitants
fled, leaving gardens for Stanley's caravan to plunder.
Joseph Cambier of the IAA was the next journal-keeping European to arrive in Rukwa, in
1877.As with previous visitors, he observed more warfare, and pointed out that the Nyamwezi

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 69

Chief Mirambo was dispatching ruga-ruga to demand villages of Rukwa pay him
tribute.Cambier proceeded to purchase the fortress at Karema from Matumula as described
above, displeasing Mirambo who claimed the right to tributary payments from the region,
despite its distance from Tabora.Bende homesteads outside Karema were attacked by
Mirambo's ruga-ruga, raising anxiety within the IAA fortress.
It was in this violent context that King Leopold's IAA sent four Indian elephants to Karema
for use in the Congo territories.Only one lonely elephant actually made it to Karema, and as a
result, two Englishmen in Leopold's employ, Carter and Cadenhead, returned to the Indian
Ocean Coast.78 To avoid fighting between Mirambo and the Arabs around Tabora, they took a
more southerly route through Kasogera's fortress at Pimbwe.Mirambo, allied with Simba, had
in the meantime raided onto the Fipa Plateau, and swung back to attack the fortress at Maji
Moto as well.
Allied with Mfundo, a former chief of Pimbwe/Maji Moto, Mirambo organized an attack on
Kasogera's chiefly compound.79 Kasogera in turn forced Carter, Cadenhead, and their armed
caravan into the compound to assist in the defense of the fortress.But when the combined forces
of Simba and Mirambo attacked, Kasogera's forces retreated.Only Carter and Cadenhead
remained, and were killed by Simba/Mirambo's soldiers.80

The Court at Fipa-Nkiansi and the Arrival of Europeans

The Fipa Plateau also experienced a period of wars in the 1870s and 1880s which created
new alignments.The "kingdom" itself was split in two, Lyangalile and Nkansi, under the
command of chiefs Kapuufi and Kimalaunga respectively.Kimalaunga became especially well-
known for his capacity to deliver violence as he and his ruga-ruga sought a part of the ivory
trade which emerged in the Rukwa Valley.He also apparently raided Lyangalile for cattle on a
regular basis.In doing this, he displaced the nomadic Nyika, a group long in conflict with
horticulturalists and pastoralists on the Fipa Plateau, and established alliances with groups of
Nyamwezi.81 According to the Nkansi chronicle as cited by Willis, in the early 1870s:
Kimalaunga set himself up as ruler of the Lyangalile part of Rukwa and the people
declared themselves for him.Kapuufi sent for help to Kiyungi, king of the Nyamwezi [in
Tabora].The king [Kiyungi] sent many soldiers under a man called Mwaana Katwe.But this
force was defeated by Kimalauunga and fled back home.Kapuufi then sent elephant tusks as a
peace offering to Kimalauunga, but he responded by killing the bearers.Soon after this the
Nyika rose against Kimalauunga and defeated him.The Nyika routed Kimalaunga again in
great battle in which he brought Kwa, Kuulwe, Wanda, and Konongo to his aid, but without
As described above, the young English explorer Joseph Thomson arrived in Rukwa in 1880
during the maneuvering between the local chiefs including Simba (Konongo/Nyamwezi),
Mirambo (Nyamwezi), Nyungu ya Mawe (Kimbu/Nyamwezi) Kasogera
(Mpimbwe/Nyamwezi), Kapuufi (Fipa/Tuutsi), and Kimalauunga (Fipa/Independent).More so
than earlier explorers, Thomson had an eye for ethnographic detail, leaving more complete
descriptions of the fortresses as he maneuvered his expedition in the region.On the Fipa
Plateau, he described the compound of chief Kapuufi.Thomson's approach to the chiefly

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

70 I Waters

compound was negotiated by Arab intermediaries from Kapuufi's court at Kisuumba/Nkansi,
who only invited him into the royal village after the caravan spent a cold night on the plain
outside the village:
Early in the morning, after breakfast a royal messenger arrived, with the intelligence that
his master was ready to give me an audience.Proceeding to the town, with my usual guard for
state occasions, we passed a fine herd of cattle.Entering the town by the strongly fortified gate,
we found ourselves a perfect labyrinth of inner bomas, or pallisaded quarters.Crossing over a
variety of dunghills and filthy cesspools, which indicated that the cattle passed the night within
the royal precincts, we reached Kapufi's [sic] palace.It differed from the other bomas only in
Thomson goes on to describe the women of Kapuufi's court who he reports were all
"plump and fat," but he said showed no signs of idleness. 84 He observed the weaving of cloth
(presumably from locally grown cotton), pounding of skins, and preparation of food."5 Willis
emphasizes that the people of the Fipa Plateau at that time were prosperous, and able to
support large herds of cattle -which of course was what attracted Kimalauunga's raiders in the
first place.
Thomson then visited the Gongwe "village" in the Rukwa valley a few days later.At the
time that he visited in May 1880, he reported that Gongwe was an independent village, and
owed feudal tribute only to the Arab governor of Unyanyembe (Tabora) not the neighboring
chiefs like Kasogera, Kapuufi, or for that matter any of the "Nyamwezi" chiefs in the area like
Nyungu ya Mawe, Simba, or Mirambo.Thomson using a variety of status-based terms described
the population as being a mixed one of Wangwana (free men), Wapimbwe, Wakhonongo, and
Wanyamwezi, rather than as an independent chiefdom. 86
But most impressive to Thomson was Simba's town where he arrived a few days later.He
described it as covering an area that was three-quarters of a square mile, and had large squares
created by the construction of houses which had their doors facing inwards.Inside and outside
the squares were "ordinary native houses."87
Simba personally met Thomson. This is the only written description that is left of this
important leader, although it is apparent that he did occasionally meet with other Europeans
like Cambier.Thomson was particularly impressed with the low quality of Simba's dress, and
the fact that he moved within his village with a certain level of anonymity.Simba told Thomson
that he was a classificatory brother of the Nyamwezi chieftains Mnywa Sele (Nyamwezi
Governor of Tabora), and the Kimbu chief Nyungu ya Mawe (Kimbu/Nyamwezi). 88
Irrespective of Simba's power, by1880 Mirambo sought to re-establish influence in Rukwa;
indeed, this was not to be the end of Mirambo's depredations.Using the Carter and Cadenhead
affair as a pretense to turn the tables on his erstwhile ally Simba, Mirambo infiltrated soldiers
posing as refugees into Simba's village.These soldiers in turn opened a breach in the wall, which
was used to sack the compound.89 And so the town Thomson only a few months earlier
described as "the largest I have seen in Africa" became a forgotten ruin, known not even to the
local historians I queried in 2004.
Simba disappears from European accounts after 1880, and Nyungu ya Mawe and Mirambo
died in 1884.The point of this is to emphasize that Rukwa bled severely since at least the time
the Ngoni first arrived in the 1840s until the 1880s.The violence was intensified by the fact that

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 71

no one group, leader, clan, tribe, or status group dominated politically or militarily. Rather,
every putative chief sought political advantage by commanding followers who risked
annihilation in their violent world, be they African, Arab, or European.In this respect, the weak
European mission and trading settlements of about 1890 were not that different than the traders
like Matumula (the elephant hunter), or other chiefs like Mirambo, Simba, Kasogera, Nyungu
ya Mawe, or Kapuufi, all of whom sought some level of hegemony using violence.There was no
peace for decades, as each sought advantage from inside walled-villages.Nor was there an easy
peace for the intruders; every mission, hunting camp, explorer station, or trading post was built
with an eye to military advantage.This was a logical response in a chaotic world in which
refugees, freed slaves, and ruga-ruga bands were all common.90

Pax Germanica, Pax Brittanica, and Pax Tanzanica in a Remote Corner of the World

The Imposition of German Rule

It was in the context of the ongoing "little wars" that the German Empire first arrived in
Rukwa in 1893 as a military force.In remote Rukwa, colonial hegemony meant
acknowledgement of German sovereignty by accepting flags, payment of in-kind taxes to the
German military government, providing soldiers to the new power, and for the chiefs, wearing
German uniforms.In short, from the perspective of the subsistence farmer paying tribute,
relationships to the new German power was similar to what had happened in Rukwa under the
various marauding chiefs.
Demonstrations of brutality were also part of the German strategy.In Rukwa, the Germans
attacked the weaker points, especially the unfortified Bende in their scattered villages, who
typically responded by abandoning fields, and retreating into the forest.91 Sakalilo Village, the
fortress of the renegade Chief Kimalaunga near the shores of Lake Rukwa, was destroyed by
German troops armed with Maxim guns and cannon in 1893. 92 Exhausted by their own
fighting, and in awe of German firepower, the more powerful chiefs grudgingly gave in to the
imposition of German rule.Chiefs of Fipa Plateau, Pimbwe and elsewhere, offered fealty to the
representatives of the German emperor, provided labor to build roads, sent soldiers, and
submitted serious disputes to German arbitration. Those who did not do so, were subject to
whipping, fines, imprisonment, and execution.93 For example, Kimalauunga who had terrorized
the Fipa Plateau for a decade or more during the "little wars," and was widely believed to have
super-natural powers, was finally imprisoned by the Germans, and then shot dead while
"trying to escape" in 1899. The Germans tried to use his death to symbolic advantage:
He was [then] removed from his chains and his head cut off.The next morning the Wafipa
were called to bury the body but they refused, expecting to see the body at any moment turn
into a lion and attack them.The other prisoners were then made, much against their will, to dig
a grave and bury the corpse.94
A second chief on the Fipa Plateau, Yuulamaasi of Lyangalile was also arrested by the
Germans for stealing cattle, but was simply fined and released.He too died shortly thereafter,
however, and was succeeded by Kuundawanantu, who after a few years of cooperation with
the Germans fled to the bush to resist and to re-establish the traditional rights of chiefs.The

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

72 I Waters

Germans responded by holding his family members hostage, and mounting an aggressive
search.After fleeing northward, Kuundawanantu surrendered, two to three months later.The
Germans, after ordering the attendance of all chiefs from the Fipa Plateau, publicly hanged
him.Willis considers this to be the actual end of any independent states on the Fipa Plateau.95
German power was harsh and brutal, but its ubiquity also freed the people of the incessant
warfare between the chiefly castes.
For the historian, the arrival of the Germans introduced the advantage -or perhaps
crutch-of written records.Nevertheless, examining the nature of the conflicts emerging
between the traditional rulers, the occupying Germans, and after 1916 the British, provides
insight into what happened and how African leaders responded.Shorter writes particularly
effectively about how active the German and British used their power to pick chiefs of the
Kimbu in neighboring Mbeya.96 The same happened across Rukwa as lineage-focused British
administrators sought rulers who were both legitimate and compliant, and who could rule their
"tribes. "97
In the slow assertion of control, the Bende clans provided the greatest challenge.They were
victims (successively) of armies raised by Simba, Mirambo, Fipa, White Fathers, and
Germans.The Bende clans never responded by creating their own fortresses, however, but
rather by retreating further into the bush, and with non-cooperation.This confounded the
British who, thirty years after the arrival of German colonial power, still found it difficult to
collect taxes from the Bende clans.98
Perhaps illustrative of difficulties in political incorporation are the clashes three Pimbwe
leaders, Kalulu, Ngomayarufu, and Nsokolo had with the European colonialists over
boundaries and ritual rights between about 1900 and 1940.Each resisted and cooperated with
the Germans or British in attempts to maintain their own chiefly authority.But, their story
illustrates how the chiefs' political power dissipated between about 1900 and the 1940s.

The Decline of the Pimbwe Chiefs in the Early Twentieth Century

The pallisaded fortress of the Pimbwe was built around a hot spring known today by the
Swahili name "Maji Moto."Pimbwe tradition traces the origin of the settlement using a king-list
that has approximately 23 chiefs.99 Kalulu of Pimbwe, a young boy, became chief at the cusp of
the German intrusion, probably in the early 1890s.100 Succession though was handled as a
regional affair requiring the approval of the Tuutsi chief at Nkansi on the Fipa Plateau.The
Tuutsi chief in turn referred the case to the newly arrived Germans at Bismarkburg.As the scion
of an older branch (Mfundo) of the Pimbwe royal family that pre-dated the Nyamwezi
Kasogera, Kalulu was awarded the formal chiefship over another claimant, Kasogera's
grandson Ngomayarufu.So while Kalulu prevailed at the hearing, the Germans also ordered the
Chief of Nkansi to divide the country between the two claimants.1'1 Ngomayarufu objected to
this and was sentenced to two months imprisonment, and his claim to the throne discarded, at
least temporarily.
Kalulu quickly became well-known for his aggressiveness towards the colonial powers,
and used his command of ruga-ruga and trade routes to assert authority.Nevertheless, his
fortunes were reduced "some years later" (presumably in the late 1890s) when he refused a

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 73

German requisition of soldiers for a punitive expedition against the Bende to the
north.Ngomayarufu complied with the request, and was rewarded by the Germans with the
assignment of ten villages slightly to the east of Kalulu, probably about 1900.102
As for Kalulu he was subsequently arrested after he was told by a witchdoctor named
Mwana Kalembe that he must never shave his head without rubbing it over first with a human
heart.Kalulu sent out two of his ruga-ruga who killed Wamikamba (Jumbe of Mikamba) and
then cut out his heart.Word of this reached Kasanga [Bismarkburg].Kalulu was arrested,
sentenced to a long term of imprisonment and to fifty lashes in two installments of twenty-
five.The ruga-ruga were beaten.After his release Kalulu returned to Pimbwe, and only left when
the White Fathers established a mission there.103
Other records indicate that the White Fathers established their mission at Pimbwe/Maji
Moto in 1907, which is the first datable event since the departure of Thomson in 1880.The White
Fathers built their mission station inside the Pimbwe/Maji Moto village walls, but soon had a
falling out with Kalulu after a sacred stone was destroyed, a grove of trees around the royal
graves was cut down, and the villagers restricted from using the hot spring.As a result
Kalulu took objection to the presence of the mission and gave it out that he would cause the
spring to dry up. (The Mission admits this and says Kalulu was ordered by the Germans to
move to a village four hours away). Kalulu had certain rites carried out by the witch-doctor
Mwana Kalembe.The following year (1910) there was an earthquake and the spring dried
up.Kalulu said he would return when the mission had left, which they were soon forced to
do.Two years later there was another earthquake, the spring was re-opened and Kalulu
returned to [P]imbwe [where he reasserted control of the villages to the east of
Ngomayarufu] .104
The British occupied German Bismarkburg on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in 1916 during
World War I, which included Pimbwe/Maji Moto in its jurisdiction.Ever the schemer,
Ngomayarufu requested permission from the British to build a new village.Kalulu quickly
reported the fact that the new village was in his territory, and the British promised to send "the
bwana" to investigate the claim.105 The District Officer did not arrive, and Kalulu responded by
ordering the new village burned.In response, the British deposed Kalulu, fined him, deported
him from the area, and installed a more compliant Ngomayarufu as chief of the entire
country.Ngomayarufu subsequently died in 1923, precipitating yet another succession crisis by
a young alcoholic "half-wit" Zunda, who was reportedly addicted to marijuana (bhangi).Zunda
displeased the British, who received repeated complaints from the villagers about his drinking
and other "immoral habits."The British were relieved then when he suddenly died in 1928; it
was rumored that his death was by poisoning.106
As for the pallisaded fortresses, the last were abandoned in 1927 under British programs to
re-settle villagers into sleeping sickness settlements.107 By this time, the pretense to chiefly rule
dissipated further as the British staffed their district offices with European colonial
officers.While chiefs were still occasionally borne on palanquins by courtiers, more and more
they became creatures of British rule, subservient to the District Officers sitting in distant
District headquarters.A final Pimbwe revolt of sorts occurred in 1944 when Chief Nsokolo, his
court officers, and ruga-ruga prepared a stew using a sacrificed boy mixed with sheep meat,
which in turn was fed to the villagers at a feast.Human sacrifice had long been assumed to be a

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

74 I Waters

common means for the Pimbwe royal lineage to gain mystical power, and Nsokolo and his
sorcerer felt that this was an appropriate way to regain power they felt was slipping away.
Villagers weary of such behavior, reported the incident to the British District Commissioner,
who arrested Nsokolo and his court. They were then transferred to the jail in Kasanga, and
eventually sent to Tabora to be tried and hung.108 At least in 2001 and 2004 when I conducted
interviews, the villagers remembered the execution with a great deal of approval -the rule of
ancient chiefs was viewed as part of a cruel past and was little lamented.109

The Twentieth Century Demise of the Chiefly Rule, and Chiefly Caste

Marking the demise of an old phenomenon like the construction of pallisaded fortresses,
chiefly rule, and chiefly caste is inherently difficult.Nevertheless, the archival and oral records
provide some indication of how this happened in Rukwa.
The "little wars" which apparently began in the context of first Ngoni raids, and the
penetration of Arab traders, probably ended in the 1890s in the context of declining ivory trade
caused by the depletion of elephant, declining human populations as a result of famine,
violence, and disease, and the establishment of the German military station at
Bismarkburg.Most importantly, the alliance of German military and French White Fathers
produced a level of political stability rooted in their capacity to assert what Max Weber calls the
monopoly over the legitimate use of violence in a particular territory.Violent though this
monopoly was, the rapid destruction of villages and execution of dissident chiefs, whether in
Rukwa, or in more distant Iringa, during the Maji Maji rebellion (1904-1906), precipitated
acquiescence of chiefs to German sovereignty.At least in the general picture, ruga-ruga were
This "stability" of course eventually evolved into domination from British centers of power
after they acquired sovereignty in Tanganyika in 1920.But, not until 1927 did the British have
enough authority that they could order the concentration of the population of the Rukwa Valley
into new village sites under policies emphasizing public health (especially sleeping sickness
control), road construction, agricultural production, and wildlife conservation.Conservation
became particularly important in Rukwa as an emerging system of parks and reserves in which
wildlife and forests were established, and farming excluded."' As for the remaining Gongwe,
whose traditional settlements were located in the heart of the new conservation area, they were
dispossessed of their rights to conduct court trials by the British, and dispersed.The Pimbwe
court was moved away from the fortress at Maji Moto, where it was dominated by the exiled
Kalulu's followers, to Usevia where the successors of Ngomayarufu, including Nsokolo, taxed,
collected, and judged on behalf of the British authorities.The remaining chiefly courts of the
Fipa Plateau meanwhile followed the British to the administrative capital of Sumbawanga,
abandoning the chief Kapuufi's fortress-village that Thomson described at Kisuumba-
Nkansi.Pallisaded villages were no longer protected from bush fires, and the remnants of the
walls and gates were destroyed by fire and the elements.When Aylward Shorter surveyed
Kimbu for such sites in the 1960s, all that generally remained were the remnants of ditches.112
Only in one place did he find a structure which, it was claimed, was the remnants of a gate.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 75

The symbols of powerful independent chieftainships such as the ruga-ruga, right to conduct
trials, installation ceremonies, etc., of course continued for some time after the disappearance of
actual local rule.But the symbols were just that -symbolic in the context of a more powerful
British colonial government.If there was any pretense of independent royal prerogative in the
region, this ended with the hanging Chief Nsokolo and his courtiers in 1944.1n turn,
bureaucratic control was consolidated by the British, and passed to an independent Tanganyika
in 1961.Chiefs at that time were given the option of cooperating with the new government, or
confining themselves to ritual activity.While a few like Chief Nsalamba of the Konongo were
elected to the first Parliament of independent Tanganyika, this in fact provided only a minor
token of the local ritual authority their grandfathers previously had.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Rukwa is still remote from the bustling
markets of the Indian Ocean world and the services offered by the central government.113
Farmers are still by and large embedded in a subsistence lifestyle in which they grow what they
eat, build their own houses, and have large numbers of children.Only minor vestiges of ruga-
ruga and chiefly rule remain.So while lives focused by subsistence agriculture are similar,
Rukwa is notably more peaceful then during the nineteenth century when every petty chief
maintained ruga-ruga, epidemic disease stalked the land, and the human population declined as
a result.Instead, since about 1950, the population has expanded rapidly, pushing farmers back
into areas abandoned by fearful villagers in the nineteenth century.Just how peaceful the area
has become is highlighted by Willis' 1989 article "The Peace Puzzle" about the twentieth century
Fipa Plateau.114 As he notes, the Fipa became a society with exemplary traditions of dispute
resolution, despite the violence of the nineteenth century.In the context of a social order -
externally imposed though it may be -norms for the peaceful resolution of disputes emerged
among a people who only decades before were viciously attacked by neighbors and mounted
raids of their own.
The enforcement of the peace by the state has created its own paradox, though.Peace
means that human farming populations can expand back into the forest abandoned by their
fearful ancestors.In the meantime, however, the forests took on a new value to the independent
government in Dar Es Salaam-as game parks which have value not only locally, but in the
global marketplace where conservation is a potential source of revenue for a cash-strapped
government.115 In this context, fear of arrest for poaching or farming restricts access to fertile
lands, even in times of famine.116 So in twenty-first century Rukwa, a population which could
not occupy forest fringes due to the ecology of fear in the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, now cannot do so because the powerful national government which guarantees the
peace also conserves the forests.
Just how tenuous this arrangement is can be seen by the resurgence of vigilante
movements in Tanzania during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.Called sungu
sungu, in Rukwa (and elsewhere), such self-help justice organizations reflect the weaknesses
that government institutions have in such areas, particularly in terms of policing.Such village
justice system, contain elements of "trials by ordeal" and emerge out of the desire for order in a
society threatened by anarchy.117 Sungu sungu share the same emphasis on internal solidarity,
secret ritual, and righteousness that chiefs in nineteenth century Rukwa exploited.Fortunately,
in modern Tanzania the state is not so weak that such freelance militia can terrorize as widely

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

76 I Waters

today as they did in nineteenth century Rukwa, or for that matter in twenty-first century
eastern Congo.But sungu sungu still raise the ugly possibility of the anarchy of the nineteenth

A Contingent History of Twenty-First Century Western Tanzania

A point of this article is to expand the historical understandings of western Tanzania
beyond traditional tribal, political, and military histories which have been the focus of a number
of excellent tribe-specific ethnographies such as those of Shorter (1972), Willis (1981), Tambila
(1981), and Smythe (2006).In doing this, the article has emphasized the status based
relationships which structured the extraordinary violence, the ecological context, and the social
psychology of fear in a rapidly changing society.It did so in the context of dominant leadership
status groups which crossed tribal boundaries. Such a context made it possible for the Swahili
Matumura's right to sell "the country" of Karema to the Belgians in 1877, and later the important
role that White Fathers played in the political governance of late nineteenth century
Rukwa.These roles emerged in the context of cross-cutting leadership traditions, not tribe-
specific ideologies.
Nineteenth century social change in Rukwa occurred in the context of pre-existing
traditions of leadership, military activity, and tributary relationships.What was observed was
that in each of the more densely populated areas, traditions of chieftainship through the rule of
putative outsiders emerged.This created a social space for population movements as new status
groups became more salient, including those of a merchant minority, soldiers, missionaries,
peasants, and even refugees. In the absence of any central power, outsiders, whether African,
Arab, or European, asserted the trappings of the independent leadership caste by creating
fortresses, controlling weapons, collecting tribute, protecting followers, attacking enemies, and
controlling trade.From this position they entered into negotiations with established chiefs.None
though imposed a tabula rasa on the societies that they eventually dominated.
Underlying this was an implied fear, whether of neighbors, Ngoni, European, or long
distance raiders.This "ecology of fear" is of course common among farming societies such as
those in nineteenth century Tanzania and elsewhere who, as LeBlancwrote, lived with a
constant threat of attack from the morning raid, picking off a person who leaves the village, or
inviting enemies to a feast where they are simply slaughtered.118 In the historical record of
Rukwa, such violence was common, and frequent.Stealth and trickery were routine, including
Simba's mistake of admitting putative refugees to his compound in 1880, Mirambo's shifting
alliances, White Father raids on the Bende, the impalement of Kasogera's mother, the German
sacking of Kimalauunga's capital Sakalilo, and Nsokolo's bizarre cannibalistic feast of 1944.The
evidence of routine violence is evident in what early explorers like Burton, Stanley, and
Livingstone observed in abandoned villages, and especially skulls on pikes.As much as
traditional geographical constraints like weather on settlement patterns, this fear provided the
parameters in which nineteenth and early twentieth century history unfolded.
If there was an organizing tradition to political leadership in the pre-colonial Rukwa, it was
found in caste-like leadership status categories, rather than traditional tribal units rigidified by
the British. The leadership complex across the region was often composed of putative

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 77

outsiders-be they Tuutsi, Nyamwezi, Arab, or European.Control of local population was also
through a separate subordinated status groups of young people, be they called royal pages,
ruga-ruga, Nyamwezi porters, slaves, converts, or freed slaves.Common peasants were at
constant risk of attack and needed the promise of refuge in one of the well-defended fortresses;
undoubtedly their "ethnic" or "tribal" loyalties shifted accordingly.For this reason it is more
appropriate to think of their status as being a peasant, who because of their social status, risked
becoming a refugee, slave, or Catholic convert, rather than a Fipa, Pimbwe, Gongwe, or
Bende.The social system of Rukwa was ultimately rooted in a need to protect crops, land, and
livestock.This meant peasants were faced with what Chirot described as "the terrible dilemma"
between individual freedom and security.119 In the case of Rukwa this "ecology of fear"
patterned human interaction in a way that determined the limits of social activity, as surely as
rainfall and crop selection do.120
Much can be surmised about what the introduction of nineteenth century trade meant for
the ecology of the Rukwa region in the twenty-first century.The introduction of the ivory and
gun trade made possible-necessary-the maintenance of pallisaded fortresses in the more
heavily populated areas.The increasing supply of meat brought about by guns may well have
led to a demographic expansion in the mid-nineteenth century.There was a nastier side,
however, that of the emergence of the military rivalries in which predatory groups
flourished.But this success in terms of population growth, even in the absence of slave raiding,
was short-lived, probably only a matter of decades.What is more, the elimination of
horticultural humans and probably elephants in the late nineteenth century led to the re-
expansion of the forest fringe.It also may well have led to the expansion of the large herds of
animals, particularly cape buffalo, now found in the Rukwa River Valley.An open question for
further investigation is what key species were in the region in the past?Has Katavi National
Park always been dominated by buffalo, or is this domination a by-product of the ecology of
fear of the nineteenth century?

Cartographic Essay121

The five cartographic representations reflect political and social changes that occurred in
Rukwa Region between about 1880 and 2000.
Map 1 is of German East Africa and reflects political boundaries, settlements, and the
caravan routes which were of relevance to Rukwa in about 1912. The central railway from Dar
Es Salaam to Kigoma was under construction by the German colonial power at that time.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

78 I Waters

Map 2 reflects the approximate boundaries of the different chiefdoms/linguistic groups
present about 1880. As described in the text, Ujijji and Tabora were Arab trade depots. The
station at Gongwe paid tribute directly to Tabora. Karema was a station of the Belgian
International African Association, Simba was a Nyamwezi chief with hegemony over what is
now considered the Konongo area, and there were two Fipa chiefdoms (Lyangalile and Nkansi).
The Nyamwezi area to the north was dominated by Chief Mirambo, while the Kimbu area was
dominated by the Nyamwezi Chief Nyungu ya Mawe. Sakalilo was the fortification of the Fipa
Chief Kimalaunga. The Bende area was occupied by dispersed clans who spoke Bende dialects.

/' .r

K t. -A

-, ,, ,.,/

T .. .
% tab




Map 3 reflects activity in the region in 1904-1905, and is in part based on the first systematic
cartography done in Rukwa.122 The German established the region as the military district of
Bismarkburg, with headquarters at Kasanga/Bismarkburg on the shore of Lake Tanganyika.
Lake Rukwa waas inexplicably beginning to dry up, and the human population was probably

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 79

declining rapidly as a result of disease, famine, and violence. The Germans and the Fipa court
established the town of Sumbawanga which in turn was to become the population center for
Rukwa Region. Uruwira and Karema were two of several Catholic Mission stations maintained
by the White Fathers.


S h


Map 4 reflects Rukwa Region in 1930-1948 when the British reorganized their new colonial
possession. Rukwa was part of the Western Region of Tanganyika Territory, with headquarters
in Tabora. Sumbawanga became the population center, and a network of gravel roads was
established. Pimbwe/Maji Moto was abandoned in 1927, and the Pimbwe court moved to
Usevia. Gongwe was dispersed at the same time. In the late 1940s, a railway spur to the new
town of Mpanda was established in order to take advantage of the gold mine established
there.Lake Rukwa's levels had risen since 1905.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

80 I Waters

Map 5 is a representation of Rukwa Region in approximately 2000. Three areas were
established as either a Game Reserve (Ugalla) or National Parks (Katavi and Mahale
Mountains). In these areas, settlement was prohibited by the central government. The
population centers were in Sumbawanga, Namanyere, and Mpanda. Maji Moto village was re-
established on the old site of Pimbwe. Two new major population concentrations established in
Rukwa were the Burundian refugee settlements established at Katumba and Mishamo in 1973
and 1978 respectively. The road networks (not shown) reflected this organization.

ROW'- T A 6 0 K A

1. Illife 1979:8.

2. Illife 1979:40.
3. For example, Shettler (2007) describes similar nineteenth century violence and
abandonment in what is now Serengeti National Park.
4. Weber 1946:305-306.
5. Ibid.
6. In Tanzania, distinctions were in turn maintained through rituals symbolized, as Iliffe
(1979:38) describes, by symbols of authority such as horns, drums, chiefly regalia, royal
retinues, and in some places umbrellas (see also Shorterl972:101 for a description of the
royal regalia of the Kimbu.
7. Such an approach could also perhaps be used with Uganda.Reid (2002) uses the term
"class" to describe pre-colonial status distinctions. However, as Weber (1946:146-147)
points out, the term "class" presupposes the presence of a market economy, while "status
group" does not.
8. Weber explicitly refers to the dispossessed as a negatively privileged status group, albeit
one marked by a lack of privileges.See Weber 1946:190-191

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 81

9. Rukwa Region as a political sub-division of modern Tanzania is a late twentieth century
appellation.Earlier in the twentieth century the region was made up of the political sub-
divisions of what was earlier Bismarkburg and Ujiji (German times until 1916),
Western/Tabora Region of British Tanganyika, Mbeya, Kigoma, and Tabora Regions
(British Tanganyika), etc. Rukwa Region as an administrative region of independent
Tanzania was not gazetted until the early 1970s with a Regional headquarters at
10. Writing this paper has forced me to choose terms for royalty.In the literature, the word
"king" is often applied to larger polities, and "chief" to smaller ones.However, usage is in
fact inconsistent and in many respects creates artificial distinctions between polities
which are more similar than different.In this paper, I have opted to use the word "chief"
as a rough translation of the Swahili words "mtemi" (which is related to the verb "to cut")
and "mwene," a term specific to interior chiefs in a number of polities of the Great Lakes
Region which may or may not use Swahili.All of the polities discussed here interacted
directly or indirectly, and the fortunes of particular chiefs and polities fluctuated
quickly-a polity which was small one decade could become large the next, and vice
11. Chirot 1994:128.
12. See Schoennbrunn 2006 for a discussion of violence and vulnerability in East Africa
before 1800 CE.
13. In 1939, lake levels returned to historical levels (see Kjekshus 1977:77 and Dean 1967:45).
14. Willis 1979:30-31.
15. Paciotti and Borgerhoff Mulder 2004.
16. see Koponen 1994:586-587.
17. The place name Pimbwe in Tanzanian common usage is known as Mpimbwe, and the
people of the area are the Wapimbwe.In this paper, I have chosen to use the term
"Pimbwe" throughout. For Rungwa, see Willis 1981, and Walsh and Swilla 2001:279.
18. According to Pimbwe sources, the chief of the Pimbwe married a Ukonongo woman
from a specific clan. The throne passed to a son of this woman. (Interviews with Daniel
Kasike and Chief Nsalamba, July 2004).
19. Sources: Kibaoni Interviews 2001, Abe personal communication, and interviews with
Mtemi Beda July 2001, and Gongwe elders July 2001.
20. Bende, Tongwe, and Holoholo are all considered variations of Bende languages. Tongwe
is still used for villages near Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. Holoholo is
considered to be an archaic term, although it is used in British colonial records to
describe particular villages in the northern part of Mpanda District, and southern part of
Kigoma.A Bende Dictionary was recently published (Abe 2006).
21. Tambila 1981.
22. Interviews with Chief Beda, July 2001.
23. See Lamb 1929.
24. See Moisel 1905.
25. Interviews with Gongwe elders in Sitalike Village, July 21, 2001, and trip to Gongwe
village site, July 24, 2001.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

82 I Waters

26. The chief list for the Gongwe as described to me in July 2001 is as follows: Before the
arrival of the Arabs (about 1850): Kongwe, Miombe, Vibe, Sishambuka. After the Arab
times: Shambwe, Tende I, Sunga I, Kakamba, Sigulu (about 1900), Lukandamila, Tende
II, Sunga II, and Kakamba II (Tende Sigulu).Sunga II died about 1999, and the Gongwe
were given permission to bury him in the traditional royal graveyard, which is now
inside Katavi National Park. Kakamba II (Tende Sigulu) in 2001 lived in Mpanda where
he was active in local town politics. Source: Interview with Kakamba II (Tende Sigulu) in
July 2001.
27. However, as Benedict Anderson (1991) pointed out, they are also the imaginings of a
European belief system that equated territory, mother tongue, and political leaders as
being congruous and redundant distinctions. This may have been a convenient short-cut
for Europeans dividing up the Ottoman, Russian, Austrian-Hungarian, and German
Empires after World War I. But the assumption that territory, mother tongue, and
political identity are inherently related is not necessarily good social science when
assessing the rule of organizing society in Europe or Africa.
28. Smythe (2006:15, 152) describes "ruga-ruga" as being a word that Europeans used it to
describe the "King's" soldiers. What is clear, is that the capacity to draft and command
ruga-ruga was key to the power of anyone who wanted to participate in nineteenth
century trade.Those who did not command such a military force were unable to protect
trade stores. In contemporary twenty-first century terms, the ruga-ruga were child
soldiers.Meaning they were boys taken at a young age from their parents, and raised to
have primary loyalty to their ruga-ruga brothers, and their commander.Such young men,
raised by their brother ruga-ruga, were lethal tools in the hand of a charismatic leader.
29. Tambila 1981:59.
30. Willis (1981:45-48) also discusses older aristocratic statuses, such as the Twa who ruled
Ufipa in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.
31. See Shorter 1972:276-279 and 1969:11.
32. A Catholic missionary establishing a station in the Fipa highlands in 1911 claimed that
villagers were attracted to the station not out of commitment to the Catholic faith, but
because close association with the missionaries made it much less likely that the king's
soldiers would take their goats (see Smythe 2006:15).
33. Shorter 1972:59.
34. The term "caste" is used specifically here to describe groups whose ideals assumed a
superior raking, and excluded marriage with groups regarded as inferior (see Weber
1946).The term is used here even thought the discussion is not of India.Nevertheless, as
Weber notes, while the phenomenon is strongest in India, the term can be used to
describe similar social phenomena elsewhere.
35. Bennett 1971:28; kin charts typically identify each of these chiefs as having their origins
in one clan of Nyamwezi (Nyayembe) who had their traditional home in Unyayembe
(Shorter 1969:9).
36. See e.g. Shorter 1969:7-11, and Bennett 1971:33-36.
37. The term "caste" of course comes from India, and has long been used in sociology and
anthropology to describe endogamous status groups which have occupational

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 83

monopolies within a system of social stratification.Weber (1946) explicitly used this
word to describe this system in both India and Europe. Despite the dated nature of the
word, I think that it is still the best word to describe the relationships between
leadership groups in nineteenth century Rukwa, and the masses of horticultural
38. Waters 1995.
39. Willis 1981:29-32; the Nyamwezi of Tabora also had relations with the Tutsi who lived
on the Malagarasi Plains herding cattle (Bennett 1971:5).
40. Willis 1981:34.
41. It was probably in this context that the Tutsi King Kapere of Ufipa married the Tutsi
Queen Theresa of the Waha (Kigoma Region) in the 1950s. For a more complete
discussion of the term Tutsi, see Waters 1996. Bennett writes that the Nyamwezi also
had relationships with Tutsi living in the Malagarasi Plains as cattle herders in the
nineteenth century.As with the term "Nyamwezi", the term various forms of the word
"Tutsi" have many meanings across central Africa.Lemarchand (1993) elaborates this in
his description of Burundian caste relations. Waters (1995 and 2003) discusses how the
term "Tutsi" was used in a variety of circumstances, including in western Tanzania, in
Burundi, Tanzanian refugee camps for Rwandans in the 1980s, and urban Burundian
refugees in Dar es Salaam in the 1990s.
42. Tambila 1981:82.
43. Besides control of trade routes, chieftainship in Rukwa included a capacity to try
miscreants accused of witchcraft and other crimes by poison ordeal which involved
taking a poison-if the miscreant vomited, he was assumed to be innocent, and if he
died, he was assumed to be guilty.An alternative to this was to place the fruit of the
umwaafitree in a pot of boiling water.If the accused was able to retrieve the fruit without
burning his hand, he was innocent.If the hand was burned, he was guilty (Willis
44. Iliffe (1979:41) indicates that the Arab traders may have penetrated as far as Ukimbu by
the 1825.They were present as an independent community under the protection of the
Buganda King (Uganda) in the 1870s (Reid 2002:27-28).
45. See Hamilton and Waters 1996, Weber 1946, Schuetz 1944.
46. Tambila 1981:87.
47. Smythe 2006:5, Tambila 1981:96-98, 100-102.
48. Smythe 2006:6.
49. See Smythe 2006:5-7.
50. Smythe 2006:1.
51. Koponen 1988:77.
52. See also Burton 1858:75-77
53. Willis 1981:78-81.
54. Burton 1861:34.
55. Willis 1981:80, Shorter 1972:276.
56. A number of the blue beads described by Burton (1858:398) were recovered from an
archaeological excavation in Kibaoni Village at the northern end of the Rukwa Valley in

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

84 I Waters

2004.The excavation was done inside a small fortress which had been occupied in the
nineteenth century by officers of the Pimbwe chiefdom (see O'Brien, Waters, and
Mapunda 2004).
57. See Waters 2007a:163-164.
58. The explorer David Livingstone was "found" by Henry Stanley in Ujiji in 1869.
Livingstone, who was always steadfast in his opposition to the slave trade, was staying
in Ujiji where ironically he was hosted by the Omani Arab and Swahili slave traders
who were receiving ivory and slave shipments from the Congo across Lake Tanganyika.
See also Livingstone (1874).
59. Slavery was legal in mainland Tanzania until the British abolished the institution after
World War I.Villagers in Kibaoni VIllage reported that the last redeemed slave in their
village had died in about 1997.
60. Today, of course, there are substantial elephant herds in what is now Katavi National
Park. It is not known what the status of such herds were in the mid-nineteenth century
when the area which is now the park was occupied by humans who cultivated grains,
and hunted. See Situt et al., (2003) for a description of human/elephant ecology.
61. See Shettler 2007:135.
62. Stanley: 1913(1969)]:357-58.
63. Interviews with Daniel Kasike, Msago Omari, and others about the compound of Maji
Moto, 2001 and 2004.
64. See Willis 1981:70.
65. Shorter 1972:118; I heard a similar story about sharpened stakes being placed at the
bottom of the dry moat in Pimbwe in 2001. Shorter's account refers to "snakes" instead of
"stakes." I assume (along with one of the reviewers of Shorter's book) that this is a typo.
66. Tambila 1981:54; oral descriptions of the compound at Pimbwe/Maji Moto indicate that
there was a similar design.
67. See LeBlanc 2003 for a general discussion of this phenomenon.Also Shetler 2007:135-166.
68. Interview Daniel Kasike, 2004.
69. Simba a nom de guerre of an important Konongo/Nyamwezi chief, meaning "lion" in
Swahili.The same figure, who guaranteed the sale of Karema in 1878 to the International
African Association of King Leopold, is known as being a scion of the Nyamwezi royal
family who left the Tabora area, and organized the Konongo into a substantial walled
town, probably in the 1860s (see Stanley 1913 (1969), Thomson 1889 (1968), Shorter,
1972:245 and 1969:8-9; Bennett 1972, Tambila 1981).The Scottish explorer David
Livingstone (1874:233-237) passed along the lakeshore in 1872 and noted not the
depredations of the Ngoni, but the villages burned by a chief "Simba" who lived inland
from Lake Tanganyika.Konongo and Pimbwe informants when asked about Simba in
2004 did not know of him. Instead they attributed the attack on Pimbwe to Mirambo.
70. Quoted in Tambila 1981:85.
71. See Hochschild 1999.
72. Koponen 1994:588-589, and Shetler 2007:144-146.
73. Cameron 1877, 1, 128, 129-130; Stanley's (1872:257) description of such fortresses was
similar, though focused more on military utility: "Their bomas [walls] are so well made

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 85

that one would require cannon to effect an entrance, if the villages were at all
defended.They are skillful also in constructing traps for elephants and buffaloes.A stray
lion or leopard is sometimes caught by them."
74. Bennett 1971.
75. Mirambo's European acquaintances were impressed with his capacity to command-
Stanley compared Mirambo to Napoleon-although it is unclear that the hegemony he
exercised was greater or lesser than his contemporaries like Nyungu ya Mawe, Simba, or
others.However, Mirambo's approaches to political dominance are better known to
Europeans, and for this reason, he makes a stronger impression on the written record.As
a source, he provides an important context for understanding the more remote and
lesser known chiefs such as those in Rukwa.
76. Stanley 19131968:358.
77. Stanley refers repeatedly to the threat posed by the Wazavira. There are no other
references by other writers to this group so far as I can see.Presumably they were
eliminated as a threat between the time that Stanley passed in 1871, and the arrival of
other explorers some two to ten years later.It is not clear whether the term applies to a
clan, secret society, tribe, or brigand group.However, they did seemingly inspire terror
in the anarchic societies Stanley found.
78. The final lonely elephant lasted only a few months in Karema before it too died.
79. Kasogera was described by my informants as Pimbwe (Interviews of Daniel Kasike, and
Zakaria S. Kalulu July 2001). Quoting Carter's diary, Bennett describes him as
Nyamwezi, as does Shorter 1972, p. 270 n. 11.

Lamb (1929) describing the accession of Kasogera indicates that he was probably a
commoner, and/or caravan leader. All sources agree that he was outside the normal line
of Pimbwe succession. His reign was particularly violent.After defeating the Konongo,
probably in the 1860s, Kasogera was deposed by Mfundo.Kasogera in turn went to live
in Sakalilo with the Fipa Chief Kimalaunga. Mfundo reigned cruelly for seven or eight
years before in turn being deposed by Kasogera, who then returned to Pimbwe.Mfundo
responded by seeking refuge with Chief Mirambo in Unyanyembe, and he accompanied
Mirambo in 1880 when he invaded Fipa, Pimbwe, and Simba's polity. Despite
Mirambo's success at Pimbwe, Mfundo refused to stay, and Kasogera retained the
chiefship and immediately purged potential challengers, putting a number to death.
80. See Bennett 1972:111-129, and Lamb 1929.
81. The Nyika (or Nyiha) lived on the Fipa plateau at the time that the Fipa first arrived
before the eighteenth century.The chronicles of the Fipa collected by Willis (1981:49-52
and 62-64) describe them as nomadic hunters and gatherers who fought with the
horticultural and pastoral Fipa until the nineteenth century. A population of Nyika lives
today in Mbozi District of Mbeya Region.
82. Milansi Chronicle quoted in Willis 1981:92.
83. Thomson 18801968:218-219.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

86 I Waters

84. Fatness in women was considered a sign of beauty in several other places. Thomson
(18801968:221) mentions Karagwe.More recently, Mushikwabo and Kramer (2006)
describe the phenomenon in the pre-colonial Rwandan court.
85. Thomson 18801968:221.
86. Thomson (18801968):231; villagers born in Gongwe who were from Sitalike showed us
the remains of the ditch and wall of a Gongwe village in 2001 and 2004.
87. Thomson 18801968:233.
88. Willis (1981:93), writing from a Fipa perspective, describes the alliances that Simba
created as being "a predatory, slave-raiding state in Ukonongo," although it is not clear
that his capacity for slave trading was particularly notable in the context of greater
depredations by Zanzibari Arabs in the Congo.
89. Bennett 1972:134-135, and Shorter 1971:117-120
90. Shorter (1972) also describes the slow demise of the fortresses in Kimbu during the late
nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The stockades of the Pimbwe, according to one
report, also had by 1897 changed character, and were of the type to repel animals, rather
than protect from human enemies (Kjekshus 1996:77).
91. Tambila 1981 and Kjekshus 19771996.
92. In the Rukwa Valley there was also an ecological change as Lake Rukwa inexplicably
dried up (as did other lakes of East Africa at the time, see Calvin 2002:157-158).As a
result, between 1905 and 1929 in particular, vast herds of animals moved into the Rukwa
Valley which became a grassland. See Kjekshus 1996:76-77. For the German assault, see
Willis 1981:206, and Shorter 1972:267-268. The German commander apparently attacked
on the basis of a tip-off from an Arab trader. This tip-off was related to Willis decades
later with some glee by the Fipa story-teller who resented Kimalaunga's maurauding
more then the duplicity of the Arab, or the brutality of the Germans (Willis 1981:206).
93. Interviews with Daniel Kasike.
94. Quoted in Willis 1981:211.
95. Willis 1981:211-214, see also Shorter 1972:267-269.
96. Shorter 1972:321-363.
97. British archival records on microfilm and the Tanzania National Archives are replete
with kinship charts which were used to assess decisions they made about inheritance of
"chiefdoms," and other offices they needed to administer the colony.British ideology
about the legitimacy of kinship in determining chiefs reflected a need to promote
compliant tax collectors to serve the colonial state.
98. See Kigoma District Annual Report 1927, quoted in Waters 2007a:173.
99. Willis (1966:54) lists twenty three chiefs in his list, and apparently used Lamb (1929) as a
source.Other lists provided by oral informants in 2001 were shorter reflecting both
memory compression, and variations in accounts from different lineages. Presumably,
the ancestors of the Pimbwe lived at Maji Moto at least since the eighteenth century, if
not earlier.Pottery shards apparent in ditch walls up to 100 cm. below the current
surface would indicate horticulturalists were there at least several hundred years.The
remains of the dry moat were measured at 315 m. on the north-south axis, and 488
meters on the east-west axis in 2004.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 87

100. Kalulu was probably born in the early 1880s. The death of Kasogera led to a
succession crisis in the late 1880s due to the fact that potential claimants had been
purged following the sacking of Pimbwe by Mirambo/Simba and their ally Mfundo in
1880. As described in the text, Kalulu was from the house of the deposed Chief
Mfundo.Kalulu was chief of the Pimbwe until the 1920s when he was arrested and
exiled by the British for failing to show them deference in a legal dispute.He pressed his
claim to the chiefship for at least ten years after this. According to his grandson Isaac
Lyoba Kalulu, Chief Kalulu died in 1968. Other sources include Daniel Kasike and Chief
Nslamba. All commented on the role of using human hearts as a way to preserve power.
101. The Pimbwe at this point recognized the authority of the Fipa at Nkansi over
them. On the other hand, there was also a tradition that the Pimbwe chief must always
marry a Konongo bride. Sons of this marriage were eligible for the chieftainship upon
the death of the chief (Interviews with Daniel Kasike, 2001).
102. See Moisel 1905.
103. Lamb 1929.
104. Ibid.
105. The southern part of Bismarkburg Region came under British occupation
beginning in 1916.The northern part of Bismarkburg was under Belgian occupation from
Kigoma between 1916 and 1920.In 1920, the Belgians retreated from western Tanganyika
and handed sovereignty over to the British who were to administer the area as part of its
League of Nations Protectorate. Belgium received what is now Burundi and Rwanda as
a Protectorate. Sources: Various oral interviews in 2001.
106. Lamb 1929, and interviews with Daniel Kasike 2001.
107. Multiple oral sources, 2001 and 2004. Especially Daniel Kasike, Zakaria Lyoba
Kalulu, and Msago Omari.
108. Interview with Daniel Kasike and Msago Omari 2001, see also Willis 1966:54n,
Lamb 1929.
109. Likewise though, there is little nostalgia for British rule; interviewees without
exception were Tanzanian nationalists.
110. As Shorter (1972:337) heard his interviewees in the 1960s remark, "after the white
men stopped the Kimbu-Nyamwezi wars, the only people to make war again in Ukimbu
were the white men themselves."
111. Interviews with Chief Nsalamba, Mtemi Beda, Daniel Kasike, and others 2001,
and 2004.
112. Shorter 1972:117-120.
113. Waters 2007a:193-198.
114. Willis 1989:30.
115. Neumann (1998), and Brockington (2002) have written critical evaluations of how
park policies in Tanzania have expropriated traditional land rights from indigenous
peoples.Shetler (2007) has written about the interaction between human ecology, and the
development of parks in northern Tanzania.
116. Waters 2007a:197.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

88 I Waters

117. See Paciotti and Hadley's (2005) description oftrials conducted by Sukuma sungu
sungu in the villages of Mpimbwe sub-division in the early part of the twenty-first
century. Abrahams (1989) also discusses the sungu sungu in the Nyamwezi areas around
118. LeBlanc 2003:147.
119. Chariot 1994:128.
120. The effect of human violence on ecology is apparent when the presence of the
massive herds of Katavi National Park are considered.Katavi today is what in the
nineteenth century was a frontier area in which few of the Konongo, Pimbwe, Gongwe,
or Bende could establish themselves and instead abandoning the land.This
abandonment created the ecological conditions necessary for the large herbivores to
flourish, particularly as human populations declined in the context of repeated
onslaughts of disease and violence.
121. Sources include : Moisel 1904-1905, Willis 1981:57 163, 166, Koponen 1988:82, 198,
Kjekshus (1977)1996:11, 123. Cartography by Janna Waligorski.
122. Moisel 1905.
123. See O'Brien, Waters, and Mapunda 2004.

Notes on Sources: Interviews in Mpanda District, 2001 and 2004

Mpanda District was visited in June-July 2001, and July 2004 for research purposes under the
auspices of COSTECH. A short week long visit was made to Kibaoni (Rukwa) in February 2004
for logistic purposes. The 2001 trip was focused by oral history. The 2004 trip was focused by
archaeology, the results of which are reported elsewhere.

Formal research interviews for which notes were taken are below. Research assistants in
Kibaoni were Mr. Michael Sungula (2001 and 2004), and Mr. Renatus Kaanzyemu (2001). Mr.
Omari Msago played a very important informal role in the development of research protocols,
and facilitation of interviews during both trips.

In Mpanda town, Mr. Gadiel Sindamenya was a collaborator, and we wrote a Swahili papers
"Historia na Kabila ya Wagongwe", and "A History of the Bende" together on the basis of our
interviews. These were distributed locally as photocopies. The assistance and collaboration of
these four men are gratefully noted.

Data and impressions were also gathered in informal settings involving many participants on
trips to the sites of former fortresses at Maji Moto, and Gongwe. The dates of the trips are listed

Formal Interviews

Chief Nsalamba, June 15, 2001, June 19, 2001, June 25, 1991, July 25, 1991, July 6, 2004 (all in

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 89

Mtemi Beda, July 4 and July 9, 2001 (Mpanda)

Batromeo Chundu, June 30, 2001 (Kibaoni)

Beda Shauritanga, June 29, 2001 (Kibaoni)

Brazio Kasumbi, June 29, 2001 (Kibaoni)

Chief Nsalamba and Phillip Mbogo July 26, 2001 (Mpanda)

Clement Mkalala, June 26, 2001 (Kibaoni)

Daniel Kasike, June 20, 2001, June 29, 2001, July 7, 2004, July 14-15 (Kibaoni and Maji Moto)

Adolph Kikwala and Emily Kapama, July 11, 2001 (Maji Moto)

Malko Katala, June 20, 2001 (Kibaoni)

Moris Mapelani, July 2001 (Kibaoni)

Mzee Maruko Katala June 20, 2001 (Kibaoni)

Mzee Zakaria S. Kalulu, July 26, 2001 (Mpanda)

Mzee Zakariah-Founder of the AICT church. June 18, 2001 (Mpanda)

Victory Kalelembe June 22, 2001 (Kibaoni)

Pius Magazi June 21, 2001 (Kibaoni)

Trip to Maji Moto, July 11, 2001 (Kibaoni)

July 14 and 15, 2004: Tour of house of Tadeo Ngomayarufu (Usevya) and Maji Moto (Daniel

Emily Kapana and Mzee Adolph Pigachai Kikwala

Petro Kanyegere (Kibaoni), June 30, 2001

Mzee Isaac Lyoba Kalulu in Mpanda, June 18, 2001

About July 18, 2001, Chief Kakamba II (Tende Sigulu) of the Gongwe People (Mpanda Town).

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

90 I Waters

July 20, 2001-Sitalike Village Office

Lazaro Katabi-Igongwe

Luka Milunga-Igongwe

Paulo Mbulu-Sibwesa

Abel Tende-Igongwe

Bazilio Eduard-Igongwe

Ramadhani Mohamed-Igongwe

July 24, 2001-Visit to Sigulu's Ngoma, Katavi National Park with Gongwe Villagers from


Abe, Yuko. A Bende Vocabulary. Bantu Vocabulary Series No. 13. Research Institute for
Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA). Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign
Studies, 2006.

Abrahams, Roy. "Law and Order and the Ste in the Nyamwezi and Sukuma Area of Tanzania.
Africa. 59, No. 3 (1989):356-370.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. New York: Verso Books, 1991.

Bennett, Norman Robert. Mirambo of Tanzania ca. 1840-1884. New York: Oxford University
Press, 1971.

Burton, Richard (1861) The Lake Regions of Central Africa.

Calvin, William. A Brain for All Seasons. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Cameron, Verney Lovett. Across Africa. London: Daldy, Isbister & Co., 1877; reprinted New
York: Negro Universities Press, 1969.

Chirot, Daniel. How Societies Change. Boston: Pine Forge Press, 1994.

Dean, G. J. W. "Grasslands of the Rukwa Valley." Journal of Applied Ecology. 4, No. 1 (1967):45-

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 91

Hamilton, Gary and Tony Waters. "Ethnicity and Capitalist Development: the Changing Role of
the Chinese in Thailand." In Essential Outsiders: Chinese and Jews in the Modern Transformation of
Southeast Asian and Eastern Europe, ed. by Daniel Chirot and Anthony Reid (Seattle: University
of Washington Press, 1997), pp. 258-84.

Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa.
Boston: Mariner Books, 1999.

Iliffe, John. A Modern History of Tanganyika. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Tanganyika under German Rule, 1905-1912. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

Kjekshus, Helge. Ecology, Control and Economic Development in East African History. 2 ed.;
London: James Currey, 1996

Koponen, Juhani. Development for Exploitation: German Colonial Policies in Mainland Tanzania,
1884-1914. Helsinki: Finnish Historical Society, 1994.

People and Production in Late Precolonial History. Helsinki: Finnish Society for
Development Studies, 1988.

Lamb, J. E. S. The Wapimbwe. Document in Tanzania National Archive, Mpanda Book, 1929.

LeBlanc, Steven A.. Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage. Boston: Harvard
University Press, 2003.

Lemarchand, Rene. Burundi: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1996.

Livingstone, David. The Last Journals ofD avid Livingstone, in Central Africa, from 1865 to his
Death. London: J. Murray, 1874; reprinted Westport: Greenwood Press, 1970.

Maddox, Gregory, James L. Giblin, and Isaria Kimambo. Custodians of the Land: Ecology and
Culture in the History of Tanzania. London: James Currey, 1996.

Moisel, Max Karte von Deutsch Ost Africa. Karema D2 and Bismarkburg D3. (Scale 1:300,000).
Berlin, 1905.

Mushikiwabo, Louise, and Jack Kramer. Rwanda Means the Universe. New York: St. Martin's
Books, 2006.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

92 I Waters

O'Brien, Christopher, Tony Waters, and Bertram Mapunda. "Preliminary Archaeological
Investigations at the Kibaoni Mpimbwe Site, Rukwa Region, Tanzania." Paper presented at the
Africa Studies Association Meetings, Washington, DC, 2004.

Oliver, Roland, and Brian Fagan. Africa in the Iron Age, c. 500 BC to AD 1400. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1975.

Paciotti, Brian, Craig Hadley, Christopher Holmes, and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder. "Grass
Roots Justice in Tanzania." American Scientist, 93 (2005):58-65.

Paciotti, Brian and Craig Hadley. "Large Scale Cooperation among Sungusungu "Vigilantes" of
Tanzania: Conceptualizing Micro-Economic and Institutional Approaches. Research in Economic
Anthropology. 23 (2005): 117-145.

and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder. "Sungusungu: The role of preexisting and evolving
social institutions among Tanzanian vigilante organizations." Human Organization. 63 (2004):

Reid, Richard. Political Power in Pre-Colonial Buganda: Economy, Society, and Warfare in the
Nineteenth Century. Oxford: James Currey, 2002.

Schoennbrun, David. "Violence and Vlunerability in East Africa before 1800 CE: An Agenda for
Research." History Compass. 4/5 (2006): 741-760.

Schuetz, Alfred. "The Stranger, an Essay in Social Psychology." American Journal of Sociology. 49,
No. 6 (1944): 499-507.

Shetler, Jan Bender. Imagining Serengeti. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2007.

Shorter, Aylward. Chiefship in Western Tanzania. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Nyungu-ya-Mawe: Leadership in Nineteenth Century Tanzania. Nairobi: East African
Publishing House, 1969.

Situt, N. W., M. J. Walpole, J. Smight and N. Leader Williams. "Predicting Spatial Aspects of
Human-Elephant Conflict." Journal of Applied Ecology. 40 (2003): 667-677.

Smythe, Elizabeth. Fipa Families. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2006.

Tambila, Anselm. "A History of the Rukwa Region (Tanzania) ca. 1870-1940: Aspects of
Economic and Social Change from Pre-Colonial to Colonial Times." Ph.D. diss., University of
Hamburg, 1981.

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

Social Organization and Social Status in 19th and 20th Century Rukwa, Tanzania I 93

Thomson, Joseph. To the Central African Lakes and Back. Vol. 2. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1881;
reprinted, London: Frank Cass and Company, 1968.

Vansina, Jan. Paths in the Rainforests. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990.

Walsh, Martin T. and Imani N. Swilla.. "Linguistics in the Corridor: a review of research on the
Bantu languages of south-west Tanzania, north-east Zambia, and north Malawi." Journal of
Asian and African Studies. 61 (2001): 275-302.

Waters, Tony. "Assessing the Impact of the Rwandan Refugee Crisis on Development Planning
in Rural Tanzania, 1994-6." Human Organization. 58, No. 2 (1999): 142-152.

"Ethnicity and Burundi's Refugees." African Studies Quarterly. 7, No. 1 (2003):68-75.

__ (2007a). The Persistence of Subsistence Agriculture: Life Beneath the Level of the Marketplace.
Lanham: Lexington Books, 2007.

The Social Construction of Tutsi in Modern East Africa. Journal of Modern African Studies.
33, No. 2 (1995): 243-48.

__ (2007b). When Killing is a Crime. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Books, 2007.

Weber, Max (1946). "Class, Status, Party." In From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, ed. by H.H.
Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1958), pp. 180-195.

Willis, Roy. The Fipa and Related Peoples of South-West Tanzania and North-East Zambia. London:
International African Institute, 1966.

"The Peace Puzzle in Ufipa." In Societies at Peace: Anthropological Perspectives ed. by Signe
Howell and Roy Willis (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 133-145.

A State in the Making: Myth, History, and Social Transformation in Pre-Colonial Ufipa.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981.

Reference Style: The following is the suggested format for referencing this article: Tony Waters,
"Social Organization and Social Status in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Rukwa, Tanzania,"
African Studies Quarterly 11, issue 1: (Fall 2009) [online] URL:

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009

African Studies Quarterly I Volume 11, Issue 1 I Fall 2009


Emmanuel Kwaku Akyeampong (ed.). Themes in West Africa's History. Athens:
Ohio University Press. 2006.

Themes in West Africa's History is an impressive book. The thirteen well-organized
essays essentially represent various aspects of West African history from the pre-
colonial to the contemporary periods. These essays are key learning tools towards an
overall understanding West African history. Additionally, the authors' interdisciplinary
approach as well as their focus on new themes make the book totally different from
conventional history books on West Africa. The book's objective is to discuss "various
disciplinary approaches to West African history, providing overviews of the literature
on major topics, and breaking new ground through the incorporation of original
research." The contributors accomplish this objective through thorough research and
lucid presentations.
Divided into three parts, the book examines new themes that are often not well
taught due to a lack of research and knowledge. Part I chapters are inter-connected with
the focus on the prehistory, ecology, culture, language, and oral traditions of West
Africa. Part II discusses topics on environment, the slave trade, class and caste systems,
religious interactions, diseases, poverty, and urbanization. Finally, Part III considers
some contemporary issues such as the political economy of West Africa, structural
adjustment, military intervention in politics, ethnic conflicts, and the intermingling of
religion and culture, especially Pentecostalism and Islam. All are basic ideas for a better
understanding of the overall history of West Africa. The themes are well connected and
the smooth transition from one theme to another is one of the book's strengths. Another
strong area is that the essays are rich in sources and detailed notes. This is evidence of
comprehensive research on each of the themes discussed. Aside from the references,
each chapter contains recommended sources for further reading that provide an
opportunity for further investigation.
Unlike eastern and southern Africa, where hominid fossil finds have proven the
ancientness of humans in Africa, such discoveries are lacking for West Africa. Artifacts
of material culture, however, provide convincing archaeological evidence of human life
and activities in West Africa over the last 10,000 years. Climatic changes have occurred,
but food production in the savanna and forest regions has consistently supported a
steadily growing population. The development of the Neolithic revolution that brought

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

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs