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The Resurrection of the Warrior Tradition in African Political Culture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2008


Increased attention has recently been paid to the phase of ‘primary resistance’ when Africa first had to confront western intrusion. The arguments of scholars like Terence Ranger for Eastern Africa and Michael Crowder for Western Africa identify those early armed challenges by Africans against colonial rule as the very origins of modern nationalism in the continent. By this argument, Tanzania's ruling party and its function as a liberating force has for its ancestry both the Maji Maji and earlier rebellions against German rule from the 1880s onwards. African struggles against colonial rule did not begin with modern political parties and western trained intellectuals, but originated in those early ‘primary resisters’ with their spears poised against western military technology.1

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1975

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Page 67 note 1 See Ranger, T. O., ‘Connexions between “Primary Resistance” Movements and Modern Mass Nationalism in East and Central Africa’, in The Journal of African History (Cambridge), IX, 34, 1968, pp. 437–53 and 631–41;Google Scholar‘African Reactions to the Imposition of Colonial Rule in East and Central Africa’, in Gann, L. H. and Duignan, Peter (eds.), The History and Politics of Colonialism, 1870–1914, Vol. I (Cambridge, 1969), pp. 293324;Google Scholar and ‘The “New Historiography” in Dar es Salaam: an answer’, in African Affairs (London), 70, 278, 01 1971, pp. 5061.Google Scholar See also Iliffe, John, Tanganyika under German Rule, 1905–1912 (Nairobi and Cambridge, 1969);CrossRefGoogle ScholarCrowder, Michael, West African Resistance (Ibadan, 1970);Google Scholar and Rotberg, Robert I. and Mazrui, Ali A. (eds.), Protest and Power in Africa (New York, 1970).Google Scholar

Page 69 note 1 Alnaes, Kirsten, ‘Nyamayingi's Song: an analysis of a circumcision song’, in Africa (London), XXXVII, 4, 10 1967, p. 460.Google Scholar Although this description refers specifically to the Konzo it also applies to a large number of similar cultures in Africa.

Page 69 note 2 Ibid. pp. 458–9.

Page 70 note 1 Cf. Huntingford, G. W., The Nandi of Kenya (London, 1953);Google ScholarHollis, A. C., The Nandi: their language and folklore (London, 1909);Google Scholar and Evans-Pritchard, E. E., ‘The Political Structure of the Nandi-Speaking People of Kenya’, in Africa, XIII, 1940, pp. 250–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Page 70 note 2 Eisenstadt, S. N., From Generation to Generation: age groups and social structure (New York, 1971 edn.), pp. 31–2.Google Scholar

Page 71 note 1 Ibid. p. 60.

Page 71 note 2 Cf. Evans-Pritchard, E. E., The Nuer (Oxford, 1940),Google Scholar and ‘The Nuer Age Sets’, in Sudan Notes and Records, 1933–35 (Khartoum), XIX,Google Scholar also Beidelman, T. O., ‘Some Nuer Notions of Nakedness, Nudity, and Sexuality’, in Africa, XXXVIII, 2, 04 1958.Google Scholar

Page 73 note 1 Achebe, Chinua, Things Fall Apart (London, 1958), ch. 7.Google Scholar The ritual killing of Ikemefuna was also discussed by Mazrui, Molly, ‘Aspects of the Relationship between the Individual and Society in Some African Fiction – with special reference to the works of Chinua Achebe and James Ngugi’, Makerere University, Kampala, 1972, pp. 258–63.Google Scholar

Page 73 note 2 Walter, Eugene Victor, Terror and Resistance: a study of political violence with case studies of some primitive African communities (London and New York, 1959 and 1972), pp. 109–10.Google Scholar

Page 74 note 1 Morris, Donald R., The Washing of the Spears (New York, 1965), p. 67.Google Scholar

Page 74 note 2 Ritter, E. A., Shaka Zulu: the rise of the Zulu Empire (London and New York, 1955), p. 14.Google Scholar

Page 74 note 3 Ibid. p. 16.

Page 75 note 1 Omer-Cooper, J. D., The Zulu Aftermath: a nineteenth-century revolution in Bantu Africa (London and Evanston, 1966), p. 27.Google Scholar Consult also Fernandez, James W., ‘The Shaka Complex’, in Transition (Kampala), VI, 29, 0203 1957, p. 12.Google Scholar

Page 75 note 2 H. F. Fynn tells about Dingiswayo's postponement of circumcision ceremonies for military reasons. See Stuart, James and Malcolm, D. McK (eds.), Fynn's Diary (Pietermaritzburg, 1950),Google Scholar and Bird, John, The Annals of Natal, Vol. I (Pietermaritzburg, 1888), pp. 6071.Google Scholar

Page 76 note 1 Mofolo, Thomas, Chaka, An Historical Romance, translated by Dutton, H. F. (London, 1931), p. 137.Google Scholar

Page 77 note 1 Gluckman, Max, ‘The Rise of a Zulu Empire’, in Scientific American (New York), 202, 04 1960, p. 168.Google Scholar See also his article on ‘The Individual in a Social Framework: the rise of King Shaka of Zululand’, in Journal of African Studies (Los Angeles), I, 2, Summer 1974 pp. 113–44.Google Scholar

Page 78 note 1 Consult Karigo Munchi, The Hard Core (Richmond, British Columbia, 1973), pp. 19, 22, and 43;Google ScholarBarnett, Don and Njama, Karari, Mau Mau From Within (New York and London 1966);Google Scholar and Kariuki, J. M., Mau Mau Detainee (London, 1963).Google Scholar

Page 80 note 1 Mitchel, Alexander and Miller, Russell, ‘Amin: the untold story’, in The Sunday Times Magazine (London), 29 10 1972, p. 53.Google Scholar

Page 80 note 2 Ibid. p. 56.

Page 81 note 1 Ibid.

Page 82 note 1 For this version of the origins of the title ‘Dada’ consult Listowel, Judith, Amin (London, 1973), p. 18.Google Scholar An alternative theory is that this is a Nilotic concept denoting ‘patriarch’, and was used as a name by Amin's grandfather.

Page 83 note 1 Voice of Uganda (Kampala), 4 07 1973.Google Scholar See also The Washington Post, 4 July 1973.

Page 83 note 2 Fernandez, loc. cit. p. 13.

Page 83 note 3 Grier, William H. and Cobbs, Price M., Black Rage (New York, 1969 edn.), pp. 4950.Google Scholar