Skip to main content
×
Home

Provisional notes on the postcolony

Abstract
Abstract

The exercise of power in African states since independence—generalised here under the term the ‘postcolony’—has been marked by a liking for ceremonial and by an exhibitionism that is the more remarkable seeing how illusory are the states’ practical achievements. Furthermore, power is exercised with a degree of violence and naked exploitation that has its antecedents in previous colonial regimes. People's response is a ribaldry that revels in the obscene. The general question is why this power, despite its obvious limitations, is seemingly so effective. More specifically, why does the population apparently collude with its government; how can it laugh at the antics of its rulers and yet at the same time join in celebrating them? The argument put forward here along with evidence mainly from Cameroon and Togo is that, if analysis focuses on the detailed processes and rituals of collusion, it becomes clear that there is an intimacy, an almost domestic familiarity, in the relationship between ruler and ruled which effectively disarms both and turns power-play into performance.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Alima J. B. 1977. Les Chemins de l'unité. Comment se forge une nation: l'exemple camerounais. Paris: ABC.
Amassana J. S. 1991. ‘Chasse à l'homme à Bafoussam à l'occasion de la pose d'une gerbe de fleurs en mémoire de l'exécution d'Ernest Ouandié’, Combattant 465, 24 January, p. 11.
Anjili E. 1990. ‘You must also shave your goatee. TSC orders bearded teacher to drop case’, Standard 23597, 7 April.
Antoine M. 1986. Le Dur Métier du roi. Etudes sur la civilisation politique de la France d'ancien regime. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Azarya V., and Chazan N. 1987. ‘Disengagement from the state in Africa: reflections on the experience of Ghana and Guinea’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 29 (1), 106–31.
Bakhtin M. 1970a. L'Oeuvre de Rabelais et la culture populaire du Moyen-Âge et sous la Renaissance. Paris: Gallimard.
Bakhtin M. 1970b. La Poétique de Dostoievski. Paris: Gallimard.
Bakoa Monda. 1987. ‘Une fete africaine pour Diouf’, Cameroon Tribune 3981, 2 October.
Bakoa Monda. 1989. ‘Heures de tristesse dans le sud-ouest’, Cameroon Tribune 4389, 14, 15 May, p. 3.
Bandolo H. 1988. ‘Radio-tele: les nouveaux defis’, Cameroon Tribune 4264, 15 November, p. 2.
Bataille G. 1962. Death and Sensuality: a study of eroticism and the taboo. New York: Ballantine Books.
Bayart J-F. 1977. L'Etat au Cameroun. Paris: Presses de la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques.
Bayart J-F. 1985. ‘L'Enonciation du politique’, Revue Francaise de Science Politique 35, 343–73.
Bayart J-F. 1989. L'Etat en Afrique: la politique du ventre. Paris: Fayard.
Berry S. 1991. ‘The Significance of Investment: farmers, strategies and agrarian change in Africa’, paper presented to the conference on ‘Identity, Rationality and the Post-colonial Subject: African perspectives on contemporary social theory’, Columbia University, New York, 28 February.
Bigo D. 1989. Pouvoir et obéissance en Centrafrique. Paris: Karthala.
Binns C. A. P. 1979. ‘The changing face of power: revolution and accommodation in the development of the Soviet ceremonial system’ I, Man (n.s.) 14, 585606.
Binns C. A. P. 1980. ‘The changing face of power’ II, Man (n.s.) 15, 170–87.
Binns C. A. P. 1989. ‘Ritual and conformity in Soviet society: a comment’, Journal of Communist Studies 5 (2), 211–19.
Bissi Mouelle. 1989. ‘Communauté urbaine de Douala. Place à M. Pokossy Ndoumbé’, Cameroon Tribune 4372, 19 April, p. 3.
Bonnafé P. 1978. Nzo Lipfu, le lignage de la mort. La Sorcellerie, idéologie de la lutte sociale sur le plateau kukuya. Paris: Labethno.
Boudon R. 1981. La Place du désordre. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Bourdieu P. 1979. La Distinction. Critique sociale du jugement. Paris: Editions de Minuit.
Bristol M. 1985. Carnival and Theatre: plebeian culture and the structure of authority in Renaissance England. New York: Methuen.
Brown E. P. 1983. Nourrir lesgens, nourrir les haines. Paris: Société d'ethnographie.
Buell R. L. 1928. The Native Problem in Africa. London: Macmillan.
Callaghy T. M. 1986. ‘Culture and Politics in Zaire’, unpublished Ms.
Canetti E. 1988. Crowds and Power, trans. Stewart C.. New York: Farrar Strauss & Giroux.
Castoriadis C. 1975. L'Institution imaginaire de la société. Paris: Seuil.
Cohen W. B. 1971. Rulers of Empire. Stanford, Cal.: Hoover Institution Press.
Collignon R. 1984. ‘La lutte des pouvoirs publics contre les “encombrements humains” à Dakar’, Canadian Journal of African Studies 18 (3), 573–82.
Comaroff J. 1985. Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: the culture and history of a South African people. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Coquery-Vidrovitch C. 1972. Le Congo au temps des compagnies concessionaires. Paris: Mouton.
Coquet M. 1985. ‘Une esthétique du fétiche’, Systèmes de pensée en Afrique noire 8, 111–38.
Cushman T. O. 1988. ‘Ritual and conformity in Soviet society’, Journal of Communist Studies 4 (2), 162–80.
Delavignette R. 1950. Freedom and Authority in French West Africa. London: Oxford University Press for the International African Institute.
Doumba J. C. 1982. Vers le Mont Cameroun. Entretiens avec Jean-Pierre Fogui. Paris: ABC.
Dubuch C. 1985. ‘Langage du pouvoir, pouvoir du langage’, Politique africaine 20, 4453.
Ela J. M. 1990. Quand l'état pénètre en brousse. Paris: Karthala.
Elias N. 1983. The Court Society, trans. Jephcott E.. Oxford: Blackwell.
Eno-Belinga S. M. 1976. Cameroun: la révolution pacifique du 20 mat. Yaoundé: Lamaro.
Essono P. 1987. ‘Installation de l'administrateur municipal de Mbankomo. Le fête de la démocratic retrouvée’, Cameroon Tribune 4207, 4 December, p. 11.
Etian E. E. 1988. Allah Ouakbar, ou, le main de Dieu. Yaoundé: ESSTI.
Falassi A. (ed.) 1987. Time out of Time: essays on the festival. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press.
Fauré Y. A. 1978. ‘Célébrations officielles et pouvoirs africains: symboliques et construction de l'état’, Canadian Journal of African Studies 12, 383404.
Foucault M. 1975. Surveiller et punir: naissance de la prison. Paris: Gallimard. [Published in English as Discipline and Punish: the birth of the prison, 1979. Harmondsworth: Penguin.]
Foucault M. 1989. ‘La gouvernementalité’, Magazine Littéraire 269.
Freud S. 1983. Totem and Taboo. London: Routledge.
Gandalou J. D. 1989. Dandies à Bacongo: le culte de l'élégance dans la société congolaise contemporaine. Paris: l'Harmattan.
Geffrey C. 1990. La Cause des armes au Mozambique: anthropologie d'une guerre civile. Paris: Karthala.
Geschiere P. 1988. ‘Sorcery and the state: popular modes of political action among the Maka of south-east Cameroon’, Critique of Anthroplogy 8.
Gilbert M. 1988. ‘The sudden death of a millionaire: conversion and consensus in a Ghanaian kingdom’, Africa 58 (3), 291313.
Goffman E. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.
Guimera L. Maillart. 1981. Ni dos ni ventre. Paris: Société d'Ethnologie.
Guyer J. I. 1991. ‘British Colonial and Postcolonial Food Regulation, with reference to Nigeria: an essay in formal sector anthropology’, unpublished Ms.
Hankiss E. 1988. ‘The “second society”: is there an alternative social model emerging in contemporary Hungary?Social Research 55: 12.
Hatch E. 1989. ‘Theories of social honor’, American Anthropologist 91, 341–53.
Hegel F. 1975. Reason in History, trans. Nisbet H. B.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Henry N. 1991. ‘Africa's “big men” outliving welcome’, Washington Post 278, 9 September, p. 1.
Hyden G. 1980. Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: underdevelopment and an uncaptured peasantry. London: Heinemann.
Ibrahima D. 1989. ‘Bertoua: réjouissances et méditation’, Cameroon Tribune 4372, 19 April, p. 11.
Jewsiewicki J. 1990. ‘Questions d'histories intellectuelles de l'Afrique: la construction du soi dans l'autre au Zaire’, unpublished Ms.
Joseph R. 1986. Le Mouvement nationaliste au Cameroun: les origines sociales de l'UPC. Paris: Karthala.
Joseph R. 1988. Democracy and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kom A. 1991. ‘Writing under a monocracy: intellectual poverty in Cameroon’, (trans. Mitsch Ruthmarie H.), Research in African Literature 22 (1), 8392.
Kott J. 1970. The Eating of the Gods: an interpretation of Greek tragedy, trans. Taborski B. and Czerwinski E.. New York: Random House.
Laburthe-Tolra P. 1981. Les Seigneurs de la forêt. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.
Lachmann R. 1987-1889. ‘Bakhtin and carnival: culture as counter-culture’, Cultural Critique, winter, 115–52.
Lane C. 1981. The Rites of Rulers. Ritual in Industrial Society: the Soviet case. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leach E. 1954. Political Systems in Highland Burma. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Leach E. 1976. Culture and Communication: the logic by which symbols are connected. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lukes S. 1975. ‘Political ritual and social integration’, Sociology, 9, 298308.
Ly Ibrahima. 1982. Toiles d'araignées. Paris: l'Harmattan.
Mado H. R. Mango. 1969. Complaints d'unforçat. Yaoundé: Cle.
Mama Abui. 1989. ‘Un pays qui compte’, Cameroon Tribune 4391, 18 May, p. 3.
Marenya A. 1990. ‘Kenyans mark Moi day with pomp’, The Standard, 23757, 11 October.
Mauss M. 1969. The Gift: forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies, trans. Cunnison I.. London: Routledge.
Mbembe A. 1986. ‘Pouvoir des morts et langages des vivants. Les errances de la memoire nationaliste au Cameroun’, Politique Africaine 22.
Mbembe A. 1988. Afriques indociles. Paris: Karthala.
Mbembe A. 1989a. ‘L'Etat-historien’, in Nyobe R. Um (ed.), Ecrits sous maquis, pp. 1042. Paris: l'Harmattan.
Mbembe A. 1989b. ‘Le Spectre et l'état. Des dimensions politiques de l'imaginaire historique dans le Cameroun postcolonial’, Revue de la Bibliotheque Nationale XXXXIV, 213.
Mbembe A. 1990. ‘Pouvoir, violence et accumulation’, Politique Africaine 39, 724.
Mbonwoh Nzeke. 1987. ‘Le corps de Joseph Awunti repose désormais à Kedju Ketinguh’, Cameroon Tribune 4010, 12 November, p. 3.
McDowell J. 1974. ‘Soviet civil ceremonies’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 13 (3), 265–79.
Miller J. 1990. ‘Carnivals of atrocity: Foucault, Nietzsche, cruelty’, Political Theory 18(3), 470–91.
Mwai Muthui. 1990. ‘Police raid shops for subversive music’, Daily Nation 9193, 2 July, pp. 12.
Mwangi V. 1990. ‘Music cassettes: nineteen on sedition charge’, Daily Nation 9197, 6 July, pp. 12.
Ndjana H. Mono. 1985. L'Idée sociale chez Paul Biya. Yaoundé: Université de Yaoundé.
Ndongo J. Fame. 1990. ‘La marche collective: une technique efficace de communication-spectacle’, Cameroon Tribune, 3 April, p. 3.
Ngayap P. F. 1984. Cameroun. Qui gouverne? Paris: l'Harmattan.
Nouvelle Revue de Psychoanalyse 2, 1970. ‘Objets du fetichisme’, special issue (especially pp. 131–94).
Ntete Ntete. 1989. ‘Un privilege qu'il faut meriter’, Cameroon Tribune 4391, 18 May, p. 15.
Okala J. 1988. ‘Des responsables installés a Abong-Mbang’, Cameroon Tribune 4305, 13 January.
Omoruyi J. 1988. ‘Nigerian funeral programmes: an unexplored source of information’, Africa 58 (4), 466–9.
Owona R. 1989a. ‘Branché sur les cinq continents’, Cameroon Tribune 4378, 27 April.
Owona R. 1989b. ‘Un prix fort’, Cameroon Tribune 4391, 18 May.
Oyono F. 1957. Le Vieux Nègre et la mëdaille. Paris.
Parkin D. 1980. ‘The creativity of abuse’, Man (n.s.) 15.
Politique Africaine II, 7. 1982. ‘The power to kill’, special issue.
Politique Africaine II, 42. 1991. ‘Violence and power’, special issue, June.
Poole D. A. 1990. ‘Accommodation and resistance in Andean ritual dance’, Drama Review 34 (2), 98126.
Roitman J. L. 1990. ‘The politics of informal markets in sub-Saharan Africa’, Journal of Modern African Studies 28 (4), 671696.
de Rosny E. 1977. Les Yeux de ma chèvre. Paris: Plon.
Rothchild D., and Chazan N. (eds.). 1987. The Precarious Balance: state and society in Africa. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
Rudin H. R. 1938. The Germans in Cameroon. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Schatzberg M. G. 1988. The Dialectics of Oppression in Zaire. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press.
Schatzberg M. G. 1991. ‘Power, Language and Legitimacy in Africa’, paper presented at the conference on ‘Identity, Rationality and the Post-colonial Subject: African perspectives on contemporary social theory’, Columbia University, New York, 28 February.
Scott J. 1985. Weapons of the Weak. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Scott J. 1989. ‘Prestige as the public discourse of domination’. Cultural Critique, 12, 145–66.
Scott J. 1990. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: the hidden transcript. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Sennet R. 1977. The Fall of Public Man. New York: Knopf.
Simgba J. B. 1989. ‘La communauté musulmane du Cameroun en fête’, Cameroon Tribune 4383. 7, 8 May, p. 7.
Sipa J. B. 1990. ‘Lettre ouverte au Préfet du Wouri’, Messager 193, 31 July, p. 2.
Stallybrass P., and White A. 1989. The Politics and Poetics of Transgression. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
Tagne D. Ndachi. 1989. ‘Le venin hypnotique de la griffe’, Cameroon Tribune 4378, 27 April.
Tansi S. Labou. 1979. La Vie et demie. Paris: Seuil.
Tansi S. Labou. 1983. L'Anté-peuple. Paris: Seuil.
Tansi S. Labou. 1988. Les Yeux du volcan. Paris: Seuil.
Taussig M. 1988. Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man: a study of terror and healing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Thorn F. 1987. La Langue de bois. Paris: Julliard.
Tonkin E. 1979. ‘Masks and powers’, Man (n.s.) 14, 237–48.
Toulabor C. 1981. ‘Jeu de mots, jeux de vialin. Lexique de la dérision politique au Togo’, Politique Africaine 3, 5571.
Toulabor C. 1986. Togo sous Eyadéma. Paris: Karthala.
Veyne P. 1976. Le Pain et le cirque. Sociologie historique d'un pluralisme politique. Paris: Seuil.
Vidal C. 1987. ‘Funérailles et conflit social en Côte d'lvoire’, Politique Africaine 24.
Wilentz S. 1985. Rites of Power: symbolism, ritual and politics since the Middle Ages. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Zok C. Mien. 1989. ‘Le prêt-a-porter fait du porte-à-porte’, Cameroon Tribune 4378, 27 April.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 39 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 799 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.