Africa. N.S. II/1, 2020.

Testata: Africa • Anno di pubblicazione: 2020
Edizione cartacea
pp. 144, ISBN: 9788833133447
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Edizione digitale
PDF • ISBN: 9788867286911
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On “Good Governance”: Towards Reconciling State and Vernacular Views in Southwest Ethiopia
Jon Abbink

“Good governance” has been defined as a necessary condition for (economic) growth and development not only in in developing world but also in the wealthier, developed nations. This paper seeks to sociologically explore the articulation of the ideology of good governance of the post-1991 Ethiopian federal state with versions of legitimate authority, just rule, accountability, economic fairness, etc. with reference to some local ethnic societies in Southern Ethiopia. Similarities and differences will be discussed so as to show that the concept of good governance is multi-dimensional and ambivalent, evoking local notions (and expectations) of a just order and the rule of fairness among citizens as well. In the context of Ethiopia, its constant reiteration as a policy aim may thus also have contributed to citizens’ renewed claim-making as well as their rediscovering their own (cultural) notions of just governance.

keywords: governance, socio-economic development, political democracy, local narratives, legitimacy


Mapping a “Far Away” Town: Ethnic Boundaries and Everyday Life in Marsabit (Northern Kenya)
Erika Grasso

Taking into account the stereotypical image of the small town of Marsabit (Northern Kenya), often described as a “far” and “not Kenyan” space affected by ethnic clashes and famine, appears useful to inquire how social relations build the space of the town reproducing new and ancient ties. The use of the town centre’s maps is a good method for processing qualitative data and to acquire additional information about the urban space. By looking at the maps of Marsabit centre, it is possible to recognize that the ethnic lines in town are porous and flexible. Ethnicity creates and maintains group boundaries offering the very foundation of social interaction and subsequently of the understanding of (urban) space by individuals and groups. To delve into the spatial dimension of ethnic relations may allow a better understanding of the actual reality of a region characterized by fragile political, economic and social balances.

keywords: northern kenya, small town, ethnicity, urban space


A Sociolinguistic Description of Gíing’áwêakshòoda: A Register of Respect Among Barbaig Speakers in Tanzania
Rosanna Tramutoli

This study of gíing’áwêakshòoda, a register of respect used by Barbaig married women in Tanzania to show respect towards their in-laws, adopts an anthropological linguistic perspective that places the register within its cultural context. Linguistic strategies for creating avoidance vocabulary have been described with respect to cases in Australia, Ethiopia and South Africa. However, not much attention has been paid in the literature to the cultural context of such registers of respect. This study presents speakers’ definitions of gíing’áwêakshòoda and shows that it is an important form of social interaction between the members of the Barbaig community, used to build relations of respect among Barbaig speakers.

keywords: register, avoidance, barbaig, anthropological linguistics.


What is a “Slave”? Neo-Abolitionism and the Shifting Meanings of Slavery in Two African Contexts (Highlands of Madagascar, Southern Senegal)
Alice Bellagamba and Marco Gardini

Historical and ethnographic research in two post-slavery African contexts, the Highlands of Madagascar and the Kolda region in Senegal, opens a window on the reaction of the grassroots to emerging human-trafficking/modern slavery discourses, which in both countries have thrived in response to the “neo-abolitionist” stances of the US Department of State and other humanitarian organizations since the early 2000s. The analysis of the resignification of vernacular lexicons for a slave after the legal abolition of slavery in colonial times is a precondition for understanding why the people who still face the consequences of a slave past are often the most reluctant to address their contemporary predicament in terms of human trafficking/modern slavery. Patterns of continuity and discontinuity between histories of slavery and the slave trade and contemporary marginalities are understandable only through the careful historical and ethnographic examination of the cycles of emancipation and re-subjection that have characterized the exit from slavery in these two African contexts.

keywords: slavery, post-slavery, terminology, human trafficking, historicity


Dynasties and Decolonization: Chieftaincy, Politics and the Use of History at the Victoria Falls, from the Precolonial to the Post-independence Period
Joanna Lewis

This article offers a case-study in the use of precolonial history to safeguard political outcomes during decolonization and its immediate aftermath. It explores the reign of Chief Mukuni (Siloka II) who lived near the Victoria Falls, in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia); and whose contribution to the chieftaincy’s spectacular rise to power in the present-day has been hitherto neglected. A dynamic, resourceful and nimble political actor, the Chief’s “history wars” were crucial to his evolving repertoire. After a teething period, his reticence in office was increasingly replaced by belligerence. Micro-aggression became a feature on all sides, culminating in a number of attempts at secession by the chief who narrowly evaded imprisonment. Nevertheless, factors independent of the turbulence peculiar to this period were also significant, particularly geography and the personality of the chief. Moreover, a key strategy he deployed was pre-colonial in origin, namely the continuing diminution of the role and powers of the Chieftainess (Bedyango).

keywords: chiefs, zambia, decolonization, victoria falls, livingstone.


Alcohol and the Travails of Asantehene Osei Yaw
Tom McCaskie

The present article explores the selfhood and reign of Asantehene Osei Yaw (1823-34). It investigates his formation as an individual, and his behaviour and expectations as the ruler of Asante. It looks too into the motives that led to his disastrous military defeat at the battle of Katamanso (7 August 1826). Thereafter it analyses the possible reasons for and the evident consequences of his resort to and dependence upon alcohol as an individual and as a king, and at the nature of his rule between Katamanso and his death eight years later. Throughout this article attention is paid to matters of emotion, affect and performance in the life of an individual African monarch whose impulses and experiences can be traced in unusually revelatory detail in Asante oral historical traditions supplemented by contemporary written commentaries by non-Asante.

keywords: asantehene, oral history, alcohol, selfhood, affect, behaviour.