Africans and the Politics of Popular Culture 1580463312, 9781580463317

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Africans and the Politics of Popular Culture
 1580463312, 9781580463317

Table of contents :
Introduction - Toyin Falola and Augustine Agwuele
From Primitive to Popular Culture: Why Kant Never Made It to Africa - Hetty ter Haar

Part One: Politics of Culture in Habitual Customs and Practices

Popular Culture of Yoruba Kinship Practices - Augustine Agwuele
Justice from Below: Cultural Capital, Local/Global Identity Processes, and Social Change in Eastern Niger - Antoinette Tidjani Alou
Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes in the Bamenda Grasslands of Cameroon - Emmanuel M. Mbah
Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? A Nigerian Church in Europe - Asonzeh Ukah
Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria: From Yorùbá Bàtá to Bàtá Fújì - Debra L. Klein

Part Two: Politics of Culture in Popular Representations: Films and Performances

Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? Transforming the Self in Contemporary American Cinema - Celeste A. Fisher
Neither Bold nor Beautiful: Investigating the Impact of Western Soap Operas on Kenya - Maurice Nyamanga Amutabi
The Lions in the Jungle: Representations of Africa and Africans in American Cinema - Sarah Steinbock-Pratt
Sexuality in Caribbean Performance: Homoeroticism and the African Body in Trinidad - Denise A. Forbes-Erickson
Family Health Awareness in Popular Yorùbá Arts - Arinpe Gbekelolu Adejumo

Part Three: Politics of Culture in Popular Texts

Literary Cultural Nationalists as Ambassadors across the Diaspora - Nicholas M. Creary
Popular Resistance Literature and the Nigerian Railway Corporation, 1955-60 - Tokunbo A. Ayoola

List of Contributors
Index

Citation preview

Africans and the Politics of Popular Culture

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Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora Toyin Falola, Senior Editor The Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History University of Texas at Austin (ISSN: 1092–5228) A complete list of titles in the Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora, in order of publication, may be found at the end of this book.

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Africans and the Politics of Popular Culture

Edited by Toyin Falola and Augustine Agwuele

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Copyright © 2009 by the Editors and Contributors All rights reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation, no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded, or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. First published 2009 University of Rochester Press 668 Mt. Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620, USA www.urpress.com and Boydell & Brewer Limited PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK www.boydellandbrewer.com ISBN-13: 978-1-58046-331-7 ISSN: 1092-5228 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Africans and the politics of popular culture / edited by Toyin Falola and Augustine Agwuele. p. cm. — (Rochester studies in African history and the diaspora, ISSN 1092-5228 ; v. 42) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-1-58046-331-7 (hardcover : alk. paper) ISBN-10: 1-58046-331-2 1. Popular culture—Political aspects—Africa. 2. Africa—Civilization. I. Falola, Toyin. II. Agwuele, Augustine. DT14.A3746 2009 306.2096—dc22 2009037100 A catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library. This publication is printed on acid-free paper. Printed in the United States of America.

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To Fallou Ngom, a scholar whose future will always be greater than his past. To Ann Albuyeh and Michael Sharp for their dedication to African studies.

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Contents

1

List of Illustrations

ix

Preface

xi

Introduction Augustine Agwuele and Toyin Falola

1

From Primitive to Popular Culture: Why Kant Never Made It to Africa Hetty ter Haar

17

Part One: Politics of Culture in Habitual Customs and Practices 2

Popular Culture of Yoruba Kinship Practices Augustine Agwuele

3

Justice from Below: Cultural Capital, Local/Global Identity Processes, and Social Change in Eastern Niger Antoinette Tidjani Alou

64

Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes in the Bamenda Grasslands of Cameroon Emmanuel M. Mbah

84

4

5

6

41

Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? A Nigerian Church in Europe Asonzeh Ukah

104

Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria: From Yorùbá Bàtá to Bàtá Fújì Debra L. Klein

133

Part Two: Politics of Culture in Popular Representations: Films and Performances 7

Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? Transforming the Self in Contemporary American Cinema Celeste A. Fisher

167

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viii Contents 8

9

Neither Bold nor Beautiful: Investigating the Impact of Western Soap Operas on Kenya Maurice N. Amutabi

185

The Lions in the Jungle: Representations of Africa and Africans in American Cinema Sarah Steinbock-Pratt

214

10 Sexuality in Caribbean Performance: Homoeroticism and the African Body in Trinidad Denise Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson 11 Family Health Awareness in Popular Yorùbá Arts Arinpe Adejumo

237 261

Part Three: Politics of Culture in Popular Texts 12 Literary Cultural Nationalists as Ambassadors across the Diaspora Nicholas M. Creary

277

13 Popular Resistance Literature and the Nigerian Railway Corporation, 1955–60 Tokunbo A. Ayoola

299

List of Contributors

321

Index

327

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Illustrations 5.1

A banner advertising the church in South Africa

112

5.2

A prayer session during an RCCG service

115

5.3

The regional headquarters of the Redeemed Christian Church in South Africa

115

5.4

The Tabernacle of Praise: RCCG South Africa

116

6.1

Ayàn with Yorùbá Bàtá drums

134

6.2

The Òjétúndé group at Èrìn-Ò . sun’s Egúngún celebration

142

6.3

The Òjétúndé group at a local outing. Òjétúndé’s front pocket is full of naira

143

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Preface The “Popular Cultures in Africa” conference held at the University of Texas at Austin, March 30 through April 1, 2007, witnessed a broad array of scholars who provided insightful and lively scholarly debate on the processes of cultures in Africa. In order to document significant aspects of the discussion during the meeting, we collected papers focused on inter- and intra-politicking by peoples of African descent for purposes of self-agitation through popular practices as well as the spread of their lifestyles. This collection is not so much intended to document “a complex of distinctive expression of life experiences”1 but rather to provide an understanding of the quest of people of African descent for the right to express and maintain these distinctive life experiences in the face of competing and inhibitory political and sociocultural forces intent on enforcing some standards, values, and ways of being and doing things in the world. It is an active process of rejection of impositions, be it imposition by existing customs or by external influences. The complexity of this quest requires a broad and interdisciplinary approach, hence, the diverse, complementary chapters whose topics range from lifestyle and religion to visual and print media. We hope that the chapters of this book will promote scholarship on African cultures. We are deeply thankful for the support of faculty members and students who worked tirelessly to make the conference successful. We appreciate the support of the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University San Marcos, and all our sponsors.

Notes 1. Johannes Fabian, “Popular Culture in Africa: Findings and Conjectures. To the Memory of Placide Tempels (1906–1977),” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 48, no. 4 (1978): 315–34.

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Introduction Augustine Agwuele and Toyin Falola Definition and Nature of Culture Culture can be seen as the shared patterns of habitual behaviors, responses, and ideas that people acquire as members of a society. Each generation passes onto the next its tested ways of being and of doing things in the world. These shared norms and values, from an anthropological perspective, constitute the heritage of members of a given community. However, culture is not static; it is continuously modified in response to changing circumstances. As such, what amounts to culture at any given time and what each society recognizes as its heritage requires continuous documentation, examination, reexamination, explication, and careful reflection with respect to its roles and consequences. Such documentation and explication require a careful definition and delineation of the subject matter of culture, a difficult task as attested by the many definitions of culture and approaches to culture, which vary from any one scholar to another within and across disciplines. Sometimes the dragnet of the scope of culture is cast narrowly to distinguish only between “high” and “low” culture; at other times, it is cast broadly to subsume all observable practices, mental attitudes, and behavioral attitudes within a society. The narrow distinction is mainly one of class; it distinguishes between those restrictive and exclusive cultural productions often attributed to polite society and consumed by the nouveaux riches and those cultural productions that are easily accessible to the masses. Contrasting with this class-oriented perspective is the view that culture is a “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom and any other capabilities acquired by man as a member of a society.”1 Another view holds culture2 to be an idea, a mental phenomenon that constrains participants to behave in a particular fashion. Joel Sherzer3 understands culture as symbolic behavior, patterned organizations of, perceptions of, and beliefs about the world in symbolic terms. The many views of culture necessarily generate different theoretical perspectives, research questions, and invariably conclusions. In fact, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn4 collected over two

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2 Introduction hundred definitions of culture. Regardless of the scholarly perspectives and the research question through which the study of culture is approached; it is without dispute that “culture is a learned, symbolic, and at least partially adaptive and ever-changing pattern of behavior and meaning shared by members of a group.”5 Since the early 1970s, there has been a rapid pace to the rate of changes in political, economical, ecological, and social issues engendered on the one hand by post-modernism, post-colonialism, and feminism, and on the other hand by technological advancement and increased mobility, among other factors. Due to these brisk changes, there are alterations to components of culture in one area relative to another. If culture is taken to be a whole and an integrated system6 in which constituent parts not only bear a certain relationship to one another but are interconnected, then changes in one aspect should ripple through related parts. In this case, the study of culture would be a continuous contention with change and the effects of change, and the question of the nature, the significance, and the effects of change in an aspect of culture will be relative to implicated societal institutions and must relentlessly be posted and answered anew. Paraphrasing Clifford Geertz,7 the study of culture draws the greater part of its vitality from the controversies that animate it; it is hardly destined for a secure position and settled issues. It is the vitality about culture that motivates these collected essays. The book is designed to speak to an audience and issues broader than academia, so that we are not mainly talking to each other, trapped in a diminished space.8 Hence the chapters are nontechnical and are written by scholars with varying backgrounds and from various disciplines in the humanities. The epistemology9 that each scholarly field emphasizes underscores and advocates a different aspect of reality. Louis Hjelmslev argues that “there can be no content without an expression, or expressionless content; neither can there be an expression without a content, or content-less expression.”10 In this book, we have broadened the “scope of the content of an expression and of the expression of content” to accommodate the diverse experienced realities of people of African descent. We assume that whatever affects the individual, and occupies his/her attention, falls within this scope and within the realm of culture. The examination of multifaceted issues as we display it in this book, rather than constituting dissonance or creating incompatibility, challenges us to produce a holistic mixture that engages dissenting positions in order to encourage intellectual exchange.

Politics of Popular Practice The difficulty in producing an unequivocal statement that captures the affairs of humans within the society is underlined by the adjective popular,

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Introduction 3 when invoked in connection with culture, particularly, African culture. There is a sense in which the term popular culture signifies a mass-produced form of behavior that emerges from the lives and imaginations of subalterns and that, from the perspective of the intelligentsias and social elites, has the potential to endanger the gains of the Renaissance. Ultimately, “when the term ‘popular culture’ is transferred to Africa, it brings with it a history of conflicts, assumptions and problems.”11 The conflict surrounding popular culture and its use in the process of choosing one’s own way of being and doing things in the world, the expression of experienced realities, the representation of the self, and the acquisition of material and social resources constitute the main themes of Africans and the politics of popular cultures. According to Johannes Fabian,12 the term popular culture (a) suggests contemporary cultural expressions carried by the masses in contrast to both modern elitist and traditional “tribal” culture; (b) evokes historical conditions characterized by mass communication, mass production, and mass participation; (c) implies “a challenge to accepted beliefs in the superiority of ‘pure’ or ‘high’ culture, but also to the notion of folklore”; and (d) signifies, potentially at least, processes occurring behind the back of established powers and accepted interpretations. For those who subscribe to these distinctions, this so-called deviant behavior, every unbridled, boisterous, outlandish, and fashionable display in conduct, speech, appearance, and taste in the consumption of art and media that attracts mass followership, is an indication of “decay” in civilization and, as such, must be halted. Thus, the realm of cultural production and consumption becomes one of conflict and contestation of values and norms, involving individuals, classes, and professional scholars.

Individuals Regardless of how one views them, the issues of culture are substantial, real, and often have existential dimensions. The themes of popular cultures or practices as found, for example, in Karin Barber13 and in this book index the very existential quests and aspirations of the subjects; they are cogent and pertinent, and hence they involve a large number of people who are brought together in a way previously unattested and who are agents actively vested in the conservation and furtherance of their heritage, their ways of being and doing things. Another dimension to this is that as culture changes, individuals and participants in the production and consumption of culture also become transformed. Thus, “the forces that bring about the changes [in culture] are active in the individuals composing the social group.”14 These individuals become instruments in the realm of contestation and are energetic in shaping the narratives, in fashioning the discourses, and ultimately

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4 Introduction in producing the evolution of popular cultural practices that scholars notice and document; after all, this is their heritage, their identity, their essence. It is worthwhile to note that aside from the politics involved in the actual agitation for certain aspects of lifestyles or values, the authors of the chapters of this book are also involved in politics to the extent that they are using a scholarly medium as an outlet for their concerns. In the cultural unconscious, the images and stereotypes of Africa remain largely as defined by popular productions and discourse despite voluminous data and statistics. To this group of scholars, representations of Africa are inextricably yoked to diseases, hunger, war and violence, and using scholarly outlet to agitate against misrepresentation and misperception is a political act.

Classes The realm of popular culture is also the realm of politics across and within social classes. It is a forum for debating and negotiating norms and values that are significantly different from those of the dominant voices within the society. Jostling and contestation often arise when customary or normative popular discourses are at odds with those popular practices that are not immediately recognized as traditional. This contestation, in a manner similar to the distinction between high and low culture, centers on what is considered indigenous and nonindigenous, traditional and nontraditional, customary and borrowed, adopted and bequeathed. Consequently, popular culture is the sphere of contestation between authentic and unique African cultural expressions and those attributable to contact, or believed to be occasioned by the expansion of geographical space through technology and globalization. The realm of popular culture is also a platform for negotiation between generations and institutions on those values that each believes Africans ought to preserve and/or accept from others. Furthermore, the ownership of a cultural artifact, or identification with an item of culture, produces a form of cohesion that infuses belongingness to a group of people, such that what is seen as art or what is seen as an iconic cultural good is fraught with politics. Consider, for example, the six-month 1989 dig in Southwark to uncover the Rose Theatre where Shakespeare staged his plays. The controversy15 surrounding the dig and the Rose Theatre itself shows that culture is a common concern, such that each person or group sees its history tied to a certain practice; the result is often an idiosyncratic sense of the significance of the values being contested. Conflict of this kind also occurs across different scholarly fields. Consider Africa, where the politics surrounding the quest for the preservation of a pristine or authentic African culture is as interesting as it is fierce. The usual culprit in the debate is the dichotomy between indigenous

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Introduction 5 and imported cultures. The way the debate is carried out would suggest that there has been in existence a whole, unified, and homogenous African culture that is gradually being corrupted and degraded by the influx of Western values. The elites, who are vested in preserving this so-called heritage of the Africans assume that “celebrating the ‘traditional’ [is] an affirmation of self-worth, an assertion that African civilization has its own long history and its glories comparable to those of the colonizers.”16 Yet casual observation of members of elites reveals very little “Africanness” about their lifestyle, personal taste, and media consumption except, perhaps, for their public attire and pronouncements which often are presented for social and political gains. Personal experiences with many of these modernized or westernized elites show that they actively discourage the use of their own native language within their family, and they chose to send their children on vacation to places outside Africa. Nevertheless, the westernized intelligentsias, along with the economic and political elites, espouse the view that the coming of Europeans to Africa not only emasculated traditional economies, political processes, and social processes, but that the influx of values, through the uncensored content of Western images in the media and the pervasiveness of Western technologies, has led to the precipitous decline of traditional cultural pursuits. This scandalous ambivalence, that is, professing a preference for a pristine African culture, while not only being alienated from it but being mentally and overtly subservient to and promoting the source of the so-called decline, is not limited to any one group of Africans. In reality, the view that considers some popular cultural manifestations in Africa as having evolved only as a result of the “overwhelming power of western expansion and of the material bases for change”17 proclaims the powerlessness of traditional African culture. Further, this view is simplistic; it glosses over the complex nature and origins of popular (African) cultural practices. While specific elements of popular cultures may be traceable to a certain community or group of people where they are more pervasive, few, if any, aspects of African cultures have ever been sufficiently isolated or coherent enough to be without external influence.18 Thus, it is difficult to brand some popular cultural practices as mere adaptations of foreign practices, seeing that they, like other African cultural practices, are evolved practices and the outcome of many inputs. What, then, is popular African culture? This question provides an opportunity to illustrate conflicts and politics between scholars and across different fields.

Professional Scholars Within the academy, politics or scholarly conflicts in the form of disputations arise with respect to the meaning of popular African culture, which has

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6 Introduction often been presented as a form of syncretism and an emergent consciousness. Arguing for cultural independence and creativity, Johannes Fabian,19 borrowing from linguistics, wrote of “pidgin culture” and the “creolization of culture” with regard to a specific epoch in Katanga. These concepts—pidgin, creolization—adapted from linguistics, have some often overlooked implications: for example, the creolization of culture (or of the world) presupposes a “standard” culture, the point of reference for other derived cultures. This raises the thorny and contentious issue of the “how.” Within the continuum of creolization, there will be forms of cultural practices that range from the basilectal to the mesolectal and acrolectal stages of development.20 Each stage reflects the extent to which a given culture has acquired marked forms from the “lexifier” culture or the degree of their distinctiveness or autonomy from or relatedness to the putative target culture, the superstrate or standard. With respect to Africa, the direction of such cultural progression is not clear: is the standard some form of unalloyed African culture or is the standard some form of Euro-Western cultural observances as practiced somewhere in Europe or as practiced by African elites in some cities of Africa? If the linguistics concept is applicable to culture, then every culture could be seen as a synthesis that generates new consciousness in the form of newer “symbolic behavior, patterned organizations of, perceptions of, and beliefs about the world in symbolic terms,”21 that is, growing either closer or farther from the ideal. Within this linguistic concept is also the idea of becoming, that is, decreolization. As used by David Decamp,22 this term suggests different social and geographical ends for the process of creolization and, by implication, the structural attrition of the Creole.23 It is assumed that as participants move up socially and economically, the existing Creole features (for the purpose of this current discussion, the features of traditional or existing culture) will gradually be replaced by features from the superior culture, leading to the death or attrition of “indigenous” African cultures. (However, chapters 2, 3, 5, and 6 of this book show that this is not the case.) This polarization between so-called “African” and “non-African” culture, or between the “starting point” and the “end point” regardless of the politics attending the discourses, is unwarranted; the poles, if at all they exist, share and project the same underlying meaning and worldview. All (African) cultures are popular cultures, popular because they encompass all spectra within the community of practice and popular because all their manifestations are contemporary; they are the deeds, the ways, not of Africans in the past but of Africans now. As argued by Anthony Woodbury, culture and language are not things, but ways. “This distinction matters because ways, more so than disembodied things, imply collective human agency. Things can therefore simply be lost or replaced over time; while ways are actively shaped, reshaped, and remade by their human practitioners.”24 Premised on this, there is arguably no gestalt African culture that is subject to death; the

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Introduction 7 fear of the attrition of popular African cultures is nonetheless all too real to some and consequently has in some cases generated governmental actions to forestall this possibility. In 2006, for instance, the Ghanaian government banned a gay and lesbian conference that was to be held in Accra. According to the information minister, Kwamena Bartels, “Ghanaians are unique people whose culture, morality and heritage totally abhor homosexual and lesbian practices and indeed any other form of unnatural sexual acts. Supporting such a conference or even allowing it will be encouraging that tendency which the law forbids.”25 Communities, groups, and individuals that are adversely affected by such culture-policies experience these policies as instruments of oppression and persecution rather than cultural preservation, and thus we have politics about culture.

“Primitive” to Popular Ethnographies One significant benefit that resulted from the works of Bronislaw Malinowski (1886–1942) and Franz Boas (1858–1942) is the increase in participant observation and in the entrenchment of fieldwork as the hallmark of cultural studies. Through these practices, numerous volumes of ethnographies were produced, many of which are descriptive reports of exotic practices of exotic people on the outskirts of civilization. This occupation and this methodology as a matter of necessity and expediency fitted neatly into the guiding principles and dominant theoretical dispensation of the time and the interest in preserving cultures that were believed to be disappearing under the onslaught of Western civilization. Far from these “typical tribal monographs ingeniously protected by an ethnographic present and written in obscure scientific and esoteric language . . . that is virtually impossible, particularly for native anthropologists, to falsify, replicate or evaluate objectively,”26 the various issues documented and interrogated in this book concern local realities in the context of persistent developmental issues, modernization, and globalization; they are offered to complement such highly acclaimed works as those of Kwame Appiah, Karin Barber, and Toyin Falola.27 Unlike the classical products of nonindigenous scholars, the popular preoccupation and worldview that are presented in this book transcend the Euro-American choice of any sculpture, any stylized wooden mask, or any other stereotypical imaginations that may be called up as the immediately recognizable signifier of African culture, against which Barber argues effectively.28 Unlike the negative preconceptions of the disfavored ethnographers of (exotic) African cultures, the ethnographies or documented popular practices that are presented in this book are valuable on their own account; they are not the evidence of “emergent consciousness” as suggested by Barber29 and repudiated by Hetty ter Haar (chapter 1), given that Africans, like

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8 Introduction any other people, have always been fully conscious. In addition the accounts presented here form an “indispensable prelude to analysis and theorization” (chapter 3): theorization in order to understand their internal logic, their cohesiveness. and the influencing factors with respect to the sociopolitical existence of Africans. In place of a collection of so-called primitive lifestyles and exotic manifestations of the irrational and barbaric the essays make it possible for us to explore discourses and narrations, to discover representations based on things seen and heard, permitting us to construct and unveil, based on discreet indicators, a set of significations as experienced by another, since observable behaviors are the manifest traces bearing witness to a latent sense, and a collective intentionality to be discovered.30 A mere abstractionist approach will serve only to undercut the discourse, especially the focus on the contents and preoccupations of life. After all, “we know . . . that culture is situational, that culture is political, that the writing of culture involves ethical and intellectual stand taking. . . . We also know that ethnographic context involves multiple and shifting perspectives and necessarily includes questions of positional superiority.”31 The chapters presented here do not make any exotic claims; they simply reengage the reader with the process of examination of the self and the other.

Scope of This Book Broadly, there are two parts to the method of discourse adopted here: the first approach seeks to understand cultural behaviors in terms of their function, role, and significance within the ever-evolving sociopolitical circumstances of the people. This is the functional perspective; it explicates the value or utility of popular cultures in supporting the structures of society. Unlike this pragmatic approach, the second perspective seeks to contextualize the documented observations historically. Given the interrelated internal and external factors that collectively cause cultures to change and societies to transform, this approach seeks to understand which aspects of cultural practices remain or continue and which are erased and why, as a means of determining the factors that enhance the continuity, vitality, or death of a particular cultural practice. The rest of the chapters are expository in nature, underscoring the significant responses of a focus community of practice to demanding circumstances. While these dynamic responses may not always be accorded the weight of tradition, they nevertheless reveal the realm of interaction that enables customary and familiar practices both to survive and to undergo regular modification and reinterpretation. In all likelihood, the title of the book will elicit from experts conflicting expectations and generate strong responses about the scope, content of culture, approach, and manner of discourse. This is intended. We purpose to

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Introduction 9 transcend a narrow definition of culture that will subsume only a limited number of traditionally delineated practices that are unproblematic for a social theory, and to bring together essays with diverse topics, approaches, and foci that cohere on a singular theme: African cultures, by which we mean the ways of life of groups, in the sense of continuities and changes32 in worldview, habitual practices, or access to productive resources induced by changes in political and socioeconomic circumstances that are most synonymous with Africans and recognizable by others. While any rival construal of the scope, content, and approach to the study of culture is welcome, for us, the title of this book serves mainly as a means to draw attention to the quagmire of culture, through the presentation of diverse practices nested in specific communities, practices that to some, perhaps, are negligible, etically, but practices that to their owners are crucial and of existential dimension. The issue of culture is a contentious one because culture is such a familiar word and concept, whose definition seems obvious. To compound this, every person lives and operates her/his own culture by default, often without introspection. Consequently, culture, in addition to being a unique and discernable social structure or system (collective phenomena) has an emotive and individual component, and hence, culture and culture-related issues are all-encompassing. Cornell West33 referenced and discussed Mathew Arnold, who wrote that “through culture seems to lie our way, not only to perfection, but even to safety.” The two pregnant phrases that West examined, “our way” and “safety,” are inherently interlocked in every discussion of popular culture. They underscore the two sides in the conflicting ends of cultural preservation and assertion of individual rights. The one is preoccupied with maintaining an existing system under the rubrics of history, orderliness, and continuity, that is, self-preservation, and the other challenges the system, always making use of popular outlets such as audio-visual and print media, festive occasions, and carnivals, as well as misfortunes such as HIV\AIDS, to challenge hegemony and to re-present the self. Due to the vastness of these two areas, there is no one theory adopted by the book; in fact the inadequacy of existing theories to account for these areas is noted by Hetty ter Haar (chapter 1). There is nothing more certain and reliable than the familiar, especially during times of uncertainty. At such times, it is common for people to eschew modern and contemporary responses and re-embrace traditional customs, values, norms, and responses that now particularly seem tested, proven, and dependable. In the first and second parts of the book, we find documentations of situations that depict a preference for the traditional. For example, among the people of the Bamenda Grasslands of Cameroon, there is a practice of oral conveyance of declaration of war; and attached to this are traditional religious practices within which are subsumed not only the wish for appeasement and compromise, but also the history of the

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Introduction

people that ties them to a common ancestor (chapter 4). The continued operation of traditional kinship by Yoruba people even in the diaspora is another example. This particular form of kinship practice is characterized by an asymmetrical relationship that emanates from a client-patron form of interdependence in the agrarian economy. This practice betrays the Yoruba reliance on people rather than on the state even for those services that are the responsibilities of the state. In addition, the practice shows the traditional relationship to power, and remains a powerful instrument of political and social organization (chapter 2). Although contemporary Yoruba Christians avow equality through the salvation experience, the asymmetry of Yoruba kinship, as shown in chapter 5, has not in the least been attenuated by Christianity or even by the ever-abundant holy spirit. Similarly, in Niger, Tidjani Alou (chapter 3) shows that, in spite of (modern) state construction, the colonial legacy, and Islamic modification of moral and cultural values, the place of a traditional-cum-religious form of adjudication, rather than weakening, has actually become strengthened. Even state operatives seek and use the time-honored measures of crime detection, along with other officially unrecognized forms of endogamous justice, which are not only seen as their heritage but have been shown to be more meaningful to the people, regardless of position and status. The ability to look back to history, to culture, indeed, to heritage ensures connection to the past (cultural and social identity) and rootedness or an anchor to negotiate the future, the modern. The point of interaction between the modern, the westernized, and the traditional becomes the point of cultural production or emergence, if not evolution; often this juncture provides insight into the underlying worldview of the aspirations of the people. For example, it became quite popular in a nation such as Uganda, which experienced tremendous destruction of human and material resources through wars and AIDS in the 1980s, for parents to name their daughter Peace. This practice encapsulates their hopes and aspirations; consequent on the violent past of the nation, Ugandan childhood, according to Kristen Cheney,34 is constructed in everyday discourse as a primary space in which national prosperity will either be made or be broken. A related example is provided by Debra Klein,35 who demonstrates the popular attitude and response to wealth that results from the convergence of the Yoruba worldview with global capitalism. The fallout, according to Klein, is the pervasive entrenchment of money as a source of influence and a means of maintaining kinship and networks. This popular practice of reliance on a “big man” is especially germane to Yoruba culture and to the significance of social status in the understanding of it. Further, Klein illustrates the emergence of particular identities and styles of performance from the intergenerational conflict between members of Yorùbá Bàtá drumming and performing families (chapter 6).

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Introduction 11 Evidence of the interaction of global political and economic policies in the out-fashioning of new popular cultural practices is found even in religion and music. For example, since the 1980s, when many African nations came under the devastating structural adjustment programs of the World Bank, both the church and the music industry became reshaped not only in their missions but by their efforts to obtain foreign partnership or sponsorship. This mission, whether disguised as fulfilling a greater divine grand plan or seen as the internalization of the local, has one goal; the assurance of survival through the inflow of hard currency. Consequently, the religious character of the church on the continent and of its offshoots in the diaspora became altered (chapter 5), as did the nature of itinerant musical performance (chapter 6). Comparable to the manner in which the musical industry seeks international outlet for its productions, the Redeemed Christian Church of Nigeria, according to Asonzeh Ukah, has evolved an entrepreneurial and market logic propelling its involvement in the production, distribution, and marketing of secular, economic goods such as popular culture material (video films, books and booklets, music cassettes, CDs, and so forth). Another aspect of popular culture that is concomitant with the IMF policies in Africa is an increase in migration; a global movement of people that ensures the continuous transmission and infusion of African ways of doing things to the regions where the migrants have found themselves. Often enough, the colonized people retain, as part of their heritage, aspects of the colonizers’ customs and often act as the custodians of the archaic version of the retained practices that over the years have intermingled with their own. An example of this is the reverse missionary activities of Africans, carrying these activities to the West. Chapter 5 shows not only the missionary process of the Redeemed Christian Church of Christ, whose headquarters is in Nigeria, but also the dynamics of its expansion through the active involvement of the church in the life polity of the people (the communal Yoruba lifestyle, chapter 2), and the repackaging of aspects of popular Yoruba culture under the auspices of Christianity. The chapters on cinema (chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10) films and performances explore the tensions in the social, political, and aesthetic consciousness of Africans with regard to the manner in which they are represented by indigenes and others. The postmodern, according to Ken Harrow,36 is not another invention of the West; African postmodernity is being generated in our times as a function of the African cultural response to globalization. This is shown in the explosion of popular and accessible African video cinema that eschews the earlier values of engagement. As a result, cinema, texts, and literary works become powerful instruments that Africans deploy to challenge the “retreat into safe and comfortable truism”37 either from outside or from within. Consider the issue of sexism and double standards of morality for men; popular media through dramas, soap operas, and radio

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plays have become significant instruments for creating awareness and challenging existing views (chapter 8). For instance, the Rwandan radio soap opera, Urunana,38 which takes on controversial issues about sexual health, won the prestigious One World Media Award. Urunana, it was reported, follows life in a fictional village and has an estimated audience of 10 million. According to the director, one of the most controversial stories involved a wife who asked her (cheating) husband to use a condom. Through a fusion of entertainment and education, the soap opera or the drama (chapter 11) addresses taboo issues, especially those surrounding sex and health. Additionally, the availability of foreign (Western) soap operas that depict foreign values invariably empower women to agitate for equality and to become self-assertive, thus leading to changes. The transformative power of popular culture on the social and cultural lives of Kenyan is illustrated by Maurice Amutabi (chapter 8); often, episodes of soap operas become the springboard to discussing desired or normative behaviors. In the ensuing debates, men are usually found to claim that these productions sponsor immorality, permissiveness, and waywardness, especially in reference to women. Consequently, the media are blamed for the so-called importation of Western values and the erosion of African cultures. The issue of how to depict accurately the images of Africans and their history, either in films by Westerners about Africa, on the one hand, or by Africans about Africa, on the other hand, is another area of politics. This subject is inextricably yoked with the issue of power in the sense of “who speaks,” “who can produce the views, the images and represent Africa,” “who can disseminate the discourse,”39 and who can control its production. This concern pitches the establishment against entrepreneurial and nongovernmental organizations. The chapters in part 2 of the book attempt to find evidence from different genres and settings to elucidate the existing voices in the representation of Africa and to interrogate their legitimacy and accuracy. It is not enough to know one’s self or one’s culture; neither is it sufficient to project images that one believes better identify the self and the culture. It is also necessary to be attuned to external definitions and views that others have concerning one’s self and one’s own culture. There is the image of Africa in the mind of consumers of popular cinema and films. This “imagined” Africa was created and is continuously refined and perpetuated in such a way that Westerners are induced to think of Africa and act toward Africans in a certain way (chapters 7, 8, 9). According to Peter Davis,40 the illusion of reality that visual depictions give to patrons is significant in producing stereotypes of Africa. Uncouth images with respect to African languages and African speech sounds remain derogatory, subliminally. Africans continue to be exhibited as objects of recent discovery; Thus, Denise Forbes-Erickson

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Introduction 13 (chapter 10) argues that “Africa is a place for white people to change, to have adventures, to encounter danger, and also to fall in love, to have affairs, and to become rich.” Many more prospectors for riches are spurred on to move into Africa today than in colonial times; they from individuals to multinational corporations. Whereas James Gilbert41 claimed that the “obvious symbols of community control, like the ever present ‘voice of authority’ in Hollywood feature films, have disappeared” chapters 7, 9, and 10 show that Gilbert’s contention does not apply to Africa and Africans, by describing the persistence of the stereotypical view and depiction of Africans in Western cinema and other media. These chapters show that the same trope emanating from the colonial era still continues uninterrupted. Further, they argue that it is not always the case that the movies and documentaries on Africans are mere documentation of objective reality; rather there is the invidious unfavorable comparison of their perceived lifestyle and cultural manifestations with those of the rest of the world. Consider the ever-present bare-breasted African or South American women in documentaries; quite interesting is the warning that precedes them: “this recording contains native nudity.” It remains unclear how the nudity of South Americans, Asians, and Africans differs from the nudity of North Americans and Europeans. Literature is a form of cultural expression and a useful source for understanding how a group of people perceives itself and the world around it at a specific period in time. As products of a specific culture, literary works frequently contain the culture’s ideologies and values, and express them either implicitly or explicitly within the themes the authors employ. Nicholas Creary (chapter 12) examines the early black intellectual responses to the effects of racialized forms of twentieth-century industrial capitalism and the intellectuals’ efforts to freely develop and practice their own cultural identities. The quotidian experience of the people could be gleaned from literature and newspapers (chapters 12 and 13), which provide significant means of agitation and politicking against oppression, repression, and, in the colonial era, against the discriminatory policies of the colonizers (chapter 13). One benefit of this book is that the essays provide, in a sense, modern ethnographic data that allow for the elucidation of aspects of the sociopolitical processes of African lives and struggles and the codification of those issues pertinent to the survival of the individuals and peoples involved. The themes that are reflected and refracted by the observed expressive or symbolic forms allow the authors to interrogate the cultural issues/logic signified by the practices; as such, the themes become powerful vectors of thoughts and worldviews. Whether in the location of the origin of a practice or in the explication of the practice’s subjective and objective meanings, the essays should be of interest to every scholar of African culture.

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Notes 1. Edward B. Tylor, Primitive Culture (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1920), 1. 2. Edward B. Tylor, “A Study of Archeology,” in Anthropology Today, ed. A. L. Kroeber (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), 386–97. 3. Joel Sherzer, “Discourse-Centered Approach to Language and Culture,” American Anthropologist, n.s., 89, no. 2 (1978): 295. 4. A. L. Kroeber and C. Kluckhohn, Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions (Cambridge: MA: Peabody Museum, 1952). 5. Serena Nanda and Richard Warms, Cultural Anthropology, 9th ed. (Belmont, CA: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2007), 86. 6. Franz Boas, Anthropology and Modern Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1928). 7. Clifford Geertz, “Culture War,” New York Review of Books, November 30, 1995, 6. 8. Marc Auge, A Sense for the Other: The Timeliness and Relevance of Anthropology (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998). 9. Bruce Trager made this point in 1998 with reference to archaeology. See B. Trager, “Archaeology and Epistemology: Dialoging across the Darwinian Chasm,” American School of Archaeology 102 (1998): 1–34 10. Louis Hjelmslev, Prolegomena to a Theory of Language, trans. Francis J Whitfield (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1961), 49. 11. Karin Barber, ed., Readings in African Popular Culture (Bloomington, IN: International African Institute in association with Indiana University Press and James Currey, 1997), 3. 12. Johannes Fabian, “Popular Culture in Africa: Findings and Conjectures. To the Memory of Placide Tempels (1906–1977),” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 48, no. 4 (1978): 315–34. 13. Barber, Readings in African Popular Culture. 14. Franz Boas, Anthropology and Modern Life (New York: Norton, 1962), 246. 15. Peggy Phelan, “Playing Dead in Stone, or, When Is a Rose Not a Rose?” in Performance and Cultural Politics, ed. Elin Diamond (London: Routledge, 1996), 65– 88. 16. Barber, Readings in African Popular Culture, 1. 17. Ulf Hannerz, “The World in Creolization,” in Barber, Readings in African Popular Culture, 15. 18. See Toyin Falola, “Intergroup Relations,” in Africa: African Cultures and Societies before 1885, ed. Toyin Falola (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2000). 19. Fabian, “Popular Culture in Africa.” 20. These terms owe their origin to Derek Bickerton, Dynamics of a Creole System (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), who proposed them to account for the relationship between the topmost standard (mesolectal) and original Guyanese creole. Bickerton separated the speakers into three distinct groups, correlating socioeconomic class with the linguistic variety of the speaker. The acrolectal users are of a higher economic standard, while the mesolectal, intermediate, and basilectal occupy the lowest socioeconomic rung of the ladder and their form of speech shows the greatest difference from the standard. 21. Sherzer, “Discourse-Centered Approach to Language and Culture.”

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Introduction 15 22. David Decamp, “Towards a Generative Analysis of a Post-creole Continuum,” in Pidginization and Creolization of Languages, ed. Dell Hymes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), 349–70. 23. Salikoko Mufwene, “On Decreolization: The Case of Gullah,” in Language and the Social Construction of Identity in Creole Situations, CAAS Special Publication Series, vol. 10, ed. Marcyliena Morgan (California: CAAS, 1994): 64. 24. Anthony C. Woodbury, “A Defense of the Proposition, When a Language Dies, a Culture Dies,” Texas Linguistic Forum 33: Proceedings of the First Annual Symposium on Language in Society—Austin, SALSA 1 (1993): 104. 25. See Mail & Guardian online, http://www.mg.co.za/article/2006-09-02-ghanabans-gay-and-lesbian-conference (accessed October 10, 2008). 26. Maxwell Owusu, “Ethnography of Africa: The Usefulness of the Useless,” American Anthropologist, n.s., 80, no. 2 (1978): 312. 27. Kwame A. Appiah, In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (Oxford. Oxford University Press, 1992); Barber, Readings in African Popular Culture; and Toyin Falola, The Power of African Cultures (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2003). 28. Barber, Readings in African Popular Culture. 29. Ibid. 30. Yannick Jaffré, “La Description en Actes. Que Décrit-on? Comment? Pour qui?” in Pratiques de la description, ed. G. Blundo and J.-P. Olivier de Sardan (Paris: Editions de L’EHESS, 2003), 55–73. 31. Laura Nader, “Anthropology!” Distinguished Lecture, 99th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Francisco CA., November 2000, in American Anthropology 103, no. 3 (2001): 609–20. 32. According to Kwame A. Appiah, “cultures are made of continuities and changes.” See “The Case for Contamination,” New York Times Magazine, January 1, 2006. 33. Cornel West, “The New Cultural Politics of Difference,” in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, 5th ed., ed. Russell Ferguson, Martha Gever, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, and Cornel West (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995). 34. Kristen E. Cheney, Pillars of The Nation: Child Citizens and Ugandan National Development (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007). 35. For the documentation and explication of this process, see Debra L. Klein, Yorùbá Bàtá Goes Global: Artists, Culture Brokers, and Fans (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007). 36. Kenneth W. Harrow, Postcolonial African Cinema: From Political Engagement to Postmodernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007). 37. Ibid., iii. 38. “Rwandan Sex Opera Wins Award,” BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/ pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/7453044.stm (accessed May 6, 2008). 39. Harrow, Postcolonial African Cinema, iii. 40. Peter Davis, In Darkest Hollywood: Exploring the Jungles of Cinema’s South Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1996). 41. James B. Gilbert, “Popular Culture,” in “Contemporary America,” special issue, American Quarterly 35, nos. 1/2 (Spring–Summer, 1983): 141–54.

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1 From Primitive to Popular Culture: Why Kant Never Made It to Africa Hetty ter Haar Introduction Students may be forgiven for thinking that African, often taken to mean sub-Saharan, cultures are typically popular cultures, while at the same time entertaining the notion that, as postcolonial theorists have it, the idea of the “primitive” is “a long-abandoned relic of anthropology’s colonial ancestry.”1 Anyone interested in the theoretical background of popular cultures in Africa may find the literature somewhat unclear in this respect.2 It is not always evident whether the phenomenon of African popular culture refers to a (new) category of practice or a shift in paradigm. Rather than examining any particular popular culture as practice, the focus in this chapter will be on the paradigmatic shift. A salient feature of African popular cultures seems to be emergent consciousness and agency,3 which suggests it is not until the appearance of African popular culture as a category of practice that consciousness emerges in Africa. This claim is not a little contentious. There is a second problem, acknowledged less, if at all. This is the problem inherent in the mode of scholarship as advanced by Theory, “emblazoned with a capital T,”4 which has come to dominate in the humanities and the social sciences. Not only does Theory contradict the very possibility of consciousness and agency, but it also prevents the acquisition of a greater knowledge and understanding of (popular) cultures in Africa. But why, one may well ask, should the discussion on African cultures be along these lines in the first place? The answer lies in the colonial and precolonial past, when Western interest in African languages and cultures first began. This traditional concern, then, happens to fit neatly into the dominant theoretical dispensation of today.5 It fits a little too neatly, as this chapter will argue.

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The following observation by Aimé Césaire was made in 1950, when most African countries had not yet gained formal independence, and it is indicative of the views the West held regarding “the primitive” in colonial times: From the psychologists and sociologists et al., their views on “primitivism,” their rigged investigations, their self-serving generalizations, their tendentious speculations, their insistence on the marginal, “separate” character of the nonwhites, and—although each of these gentlemen, in order to impugn on higher authority the weakness of primitive thought, claims that his own is based on the firmest rationalism—their barbaric repudiation, for the sake of the cause, of Descartes’s statement, the charter of universalism, that “reason . . . is found whole and entire in each man,” and that “where individuals of the same species are concerned, there may be degrees in respect of their accidental qualities, but not in respect of their forms, or natures.”6

Although the present theoretical dispensation no longer endorses the “‘separate’ character of the non-whites,” it is not in the sense advocated by Césaire. Rather than extending the Cartesian “charter of universalism,” a universalism has emerged, as a stratagem it seems, to accommodate and include the postcolonial subject. The new universalism privileges the unconscious over any notion of human beings as rational, conscious, and autonomous, thus precluding “apparently autonomous actions of individuals,”7 or agency. The Cartesian and, as will be seen, Kantian conceptions of the human being, regarded as representing—inherently bad—Enlightenment humanism and rationalism, are now virtually taboo. Conceptions of the human being are not just pertinent in relation to the subjects, or practitioners, of African (popular) cultures: they have an impact on the very concept of epistemology as well. If the now dominant idea of the human being is no longer in terms of the conscious and the rational, what then are the implications, if any, pertaining to the theory of knowledge? This chapter will argue that Theory constitutes a mode of scholarship that is detrimental to the attainment of knowledge in general and to the study of African popular cultures in particular. A critique of Theory from a historical perspective will make explicit the philosophical basis for the various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, where the study of popular culture is positioned. Conceptions of language play a central role in the three main sections of this chapter and link them together. The first section concentrates on the (perceived) problems surrounding the concept of popular culture in a specifically African context. It also addresses the issue of why Theory should provide the preferred theoretical approach. The second section follows the trajectory of conceptions of the human being via Kant, Herder, Hegel, and Nietzsche—albeit in the most general of terms and

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bypassing the complexities of each position. This part also examines the current, dominant conception of the subject, which privileges the unconscious. The third section argues that the present theoretical dispensation is detrimental to the study of African cultures and civilizations, and calls for a return to Kantian distinctions. In conclusion, the current, dominant philosophical stance may be indicative of Europe’s refusal to address the past and by implication the postcolonial present.8 It is in addressing the past, when knowledge of African cultures and languages was instrumental in colonial administration and control,9 that the conditions required to construct an adequate theory of popular culture may emerge. This chapter does not provide a theory as such, but merely puts forward the merits of a theoretical approach that is no longer in vogue. Popular Cultures in Africa Johannes Fabian asserts that “serious thought about popular culture inevitably leads one to question the concept of culture itself.”10 The term culture, according to Aijaz Ahmad, “is often deployed as a very amorphous category—sometimes in the Arnoldian sense of ‘high’ culture; sometimes in the more contemporary and very different sense of ‘popular’ culture . . . taken over from Anglo-American sociologies of culture.”11 Geoffrey Galt Harpham appears to confirm Ahmad’s observation and goes so far as to say that “the very term culture is almost defiantly undertheorized,”12 while Fred Inglis maintains that, around the opening of the modern era in 1914, “culture became what it remains: protean, enormous, inclusive, bloodily disputed.”13 The concept of popular culture, then, is problematic by implication, and even more so, apparently, when applied to Africa. This could have the undesirable effect that African popular culture ends up as being whatever anyone says it is or takes it to mean. Frederick Cooper makes a similar point in relation to “identity,” which, he argues, tends to mean too much, too little, or nothing at all,14 while the question really is what conceptual and explanatory work the term is supposed to do.15 Karin Barber writes in the introduction to Readings in African Popular Culture that “popular ‘cultural productivity’ . . . has until recently been assigned a marginal position in scholarship on the arts in sub-Saharan Africa.”16 She observes that “the two categories, ‘traditional’ and ‘elite’ (or ‘modern’/ ’Westernized’), have dominated the study of African cultures,”17 but interestingly no mention is made here of the category of the “primitive.” Barber points out that when the term “popular culture” is transferred to Africa, it brings with it a history of conflicts, assumptions and problems. If it fits uneasily and inadequately

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From Primitive to Popular Culture with European historical reality, how much more slippery and elusive it becomes in Africa.18

A little later Barber muses, “when the distinction between ‘folk’/ ’traditional,’ ‘popular,’ and ‘mass,’ or that between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture is transplanted to Africa, then, the already-porous and ambiguous classifications seem to turn around on their axes and reconfigure themselves into an unstable, almost unusable paradigm.”19 Unease and uncertainty seem to be justified, and it may well be that popular culture in Africa, as a field of study, suffers from being undertheorized but overly qualified. The term popular is used in a variety of meanings, for example, in the sense of relating to “the people” as opposed to the “elite,” but this distinction may be blurred because “‘the people’ so often have networks that stretch into the elite, and regard themselves as potentially part of it.”20 Popular is also used as an aesthetic category, as a moral-political one, and as a category that offers women writers a format to explore issues of gender, sex, and romance.21 These different, but overlapping,22 senses of the “popular” may be indicative of the multidisciplinary approach advocated in cultural studies and Theory. In what seems to be an attempt to create theoretical coherence in Readings in African Popular Culture, Barber argues that in whatever meaning “popular” is used, “one can sense the presence of common concerns.”23 Barber notes that “most of the efforts to name suffering and inequality are not the voices of passive victims; rather, these texts speak of change and progress brought about by the vigorous agency of the underprivileged themselves. These texts and genres seem to be sites of emergent consciousness”24 (italics added). Does this imply there was no agency or consciousness before the emergence of popular culture? Is that the reason why African cultures were until then— but when exactly?—deemed to be “primitive”? There are, however, other considerations concerning the theoretical background. Barber argues that we should not, then, take the “traditional”/”elite” (“modern,” “Westernized”) division that demarcates the field of African culture in so many discourses at face value. Rather we should read it as an indication of something else that it cannot accommodate: the shifting, mobile, elusive space of the “popular,” which is in fact continuous with both the “traditional” and the “modern” categories and which deconstructs all the oppositions which sustain the binary paradigm.25

Does this mean that “the elusive space of the ‘popular’” becomes less elusive through deconstruction of the binary paradigm? Deconstruct, and here it is: popular culture in Africa? At this point it is useful to bear in mind that knowledge of African cultures and languages was instrumental in the administration and control of the colonies. Britain, for example,

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fashioned “a theory that claimed its particular form of colonial domination to be marked by an enlightened and permissive recognition of native culture,”26 and, “in the process, it defined a world of the customary from which there was no escape.”27 The traditional and modern categories Barber refers to may be continuous, but not as innocently as deconstructing the binary paradigm suggests: the customary is itself already tainted by colonialism. It is important to remember that deconstruction proper is a strategy of reading rather than an expression indicating the constructed nature of binary paradigms. As a strategy, it may usefully yield the aporias, the blind alleys, in the discourse on African cultures, the “customary” being a case in point. It may well be that the conceptual origins of African popular cultures are to be found elsewhere, as Isidore Okpewho appears to suggest. He calls for lines of investigation that address “the adjustments of oral literature to the imperatives of urban life but also . . . the stresses we undergo in adjusting both to the pluralistic structure of our societies and from a traditional rural to a technological existence.”28 Graham Furniss in Poetry, Prose and Popular Culture in Hausa mentions the importance of a technological existence as well. He argues that “it would be tempting to see, in the courtly praise-song of these famous praisesingers, a manifestation of a class-defined ‘high art’ as opposed to the ‘popular art’ of the talakawa ‘ordinary people.’”29 There may be an internal tension “within a genre between the expression of esoteric and technical/specialised knowledge and the desire to communicate with people who do not already have that knowledge.”30 Nevertheless, in both specialized and popular culture, the extent to which a particular form, or particular performer, becomes widely known is “the relationship between the cultural product and the media through which it is transmitted.”31 However, this observation does not explain the reasons—artistic, thematic, or otherwise—for a performer’s or genre’s popularity, almost implying that there were no popular performers or popular genres before the introduction of mass media. Could it be that the origins of popular culture are in oral literature, with the emphasis on the verbal? Barber explains that in Readings in African Popular Culture “the emphasis is somewhat biased towards the verbal rather than the visual, and this could be taken as an antidote to the predominant view of Africa as producer of masks, figurines and airport art.”32 She continues by saying that more importantly, this selection of papers seeks to highlight the interpenetration of the visual and the verbal. Genres conventionally identified as “visual art” are often alive with verbal messages: both visible—inscribed upon the canvas—and in the form of implied narratives which knowledgeable observers know how to elicit.33

This insight comes close to the theoretical perspective that views culture as signifying practice, at which point we appear to have moved into the realm

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of Theory and cultural studies and its suppositions. The ambiguity surrounding popular cultures in an African context is actually exacerbated by this currently dominant conception of culture: seen as signifying practice, it comes to include all aspects of culture, or should that be of life? Is popular culture then merely the concept that “might be required to understand contemporary African life,”34 even when “those who live the contemporary African life may have no need for the concept of popular culture”?35 Is it the concept that enables us to describe what it is that “the people” in Africa do, as a kind of ethnography, but without the derogatory connotations of the past? The most readily available literature (in the United Kingdom) on popular cultures in Africa is, when it comes to the theoretical background, concerned with problem spotting rather than problem solving. It is obvious that the circumstances in which Western popular culture emerged as a concept and as practice differ from those in Africa. However, perceiving this difference in circumstances to be the main cause of the problems outlined above would be missing the point, masking the issues at the heart of the problems.

The Primitive as the Unconscious? While Césaire makes reference to the Cartesian “charter of universalism,” he could also have mentioned a more recent philosopher, namely Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), whose conceptions of the human being are just as universal as Descartes’ (1596–1650). However, Césaire probably chose to ignore Kant as, in the words of Christopher Norris, “Kant held some pretty repugnant views on issues of racial,36 ethnic, and gender difference in relation to intellectual powers.”37 It may, therefore, seem to be a dubious enterprise, and not a little crass, to link Kant’s philosophy to popular cultures in Africa. Nevertheless, it is possible to draw a distinction “between these expressions of illiberal sentiment on Kant’s part and, on the other hand, the social bearing of Kant’s [later] critical philosophy.”38 Kant’s thought is also under attack these days because of his conception of the human being, which is exactly the opposite of that found in “the currently fashionable strain of anti-Enlightenment rhetoric.”39 It is precisely that conception that is pertinent here: following Kant, consciousness is already there in all human beings, and not merely “emergent” in the practitioners of African popular cultures. Kant’s Logic (1800) summarizes “‘philosophy in the cosmopolitan sense of the word’ in four questions: What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope for? What is a human being? The first question is answered in metaphysics, the second in morals, the third in religion and the fourth in anthropology.”40 Kant’s Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1798) addresses the final question, “What is a human being?” This makes it immediately clear that his conception of anthropology differs from today’s, when it concerns “the

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study of the physical, cultural, social, and linguistic development of human beings.”41 Anthropology is for Kant a description of human nature,42 and he concentrates on “what humans as free acting beings make of themselves and what they can and should make of themselves.”43 It thus constitutes a contribution “to the political task of the progressive organization of the citizens of the earth, ‘united by cosmo-political bonds.’”44 The important point here is not that Kant presents a view that is yet another Western imposition, but rather that his view embodies a universal, inclusive perspective, as the following quotation shows: The fact that the human being can have the “I” in his representations raises him infinitely above all other living beings on earth. Because of this he is a person, and by virtue of the unity of consciousness through all changes that happen to him, one and the same person—i.e., through rank and dignity an entirely different being from things, such as irrational animals, with which one can do as one likes. This holds even when he cannot say yet “I,” because he still has it in his thoughts, just as all languages must think it when they speak in the first person, even if they do not have a special word to express this concept of “I.” For this faculty (namely to think) is understanding.45

Thus begins the very first paragraph of “On consciousness of oneself” in book 1 of Kant’s Anthropology. Philosophically, all humans as free acting beings live by the “virtue of the unity of consciousness” and are, moreover, rational46—Kant’s views, then, do not confirm Césaire’s observation concerning the “‘separate’ character of the non-whites.” If Kant is controversial, so is his contemporary Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803). Inglis sees Herder as a “genius-pioneer of the first note towards the definition of culture,” with each culture being precious because of its distinctiveness.47 To Raymond Tallis, Herder represents a radical antiuniversalism, at the origin of Counter-Enlightenment thought,48 resulting in later centuries in “the rise of a bloody and aggressive nationalism.”49 However, the focus here is on Herder’s conception of the human being. According to Herder’s first natural law, “the human being is a freely thinking, active being, whose forces operate forth progressively. Therefore let him be a creature of language!”50 Herder regards language as the precondition for consciousness: Now if the human being’s first condition of taking-awareness was not able to become actual without the word of the soul, then all conditions of awareness in him become linguistic; his chain of thoughts becomes a chain of words.51

Nevertheless, man is “so to speak, never the whole human being; always in development, in progression, in process of perfection,”52 which holds true

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for peoples and nations, and their languages and cultures as well, as they are, according to Herder, at different stages of civilization.53 However, “in every people language contains abstractions, that is, is an offprint of reason, of which it was a tool.”54 Herder shares with Kant the notion that all human beings are in possession of reason, but his relevance lies particularly in his linking language and consciousness, in which he differs from Kant, and from Nietzsche, who links language and the unconscious. Herder’s views, then, are not indicative of the separate character of the nonwhite peoples, but they change with the perspective adopted by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831). In The Philosophy of History (published posthumously), Hegel argues that universal history “belongs to the realm of Spirit,”55 and that “Spirit is self-contained existence. . . . Now this is Freedom, exactly. . . . This self-contained existence of Spirit is none other than self-consciousness—consciousness of one’s own being.”56 From here, it follows that “the History of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom.”57 In relation to Africa, he writes that “the peculiarly African character is difficult to comprehend, for the very reason that in reference to it, we must quite give up the principle which naturally accompanies all our ideas—the category of Universality. In Negro life the characteristic point is the fact that consciousness has not yet attained to the realization of any objective existence . . . in which the interest of man’s volition is involved and in which he realizes his own being.”58 African people, therefore, are excluded from Hegel’s “universal” history. A little later, Hegel writes the infamous sentences: At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the world; it has no movement or development to exhibit. Historical movements in it—that is in its northern part—belong to the Asiatic or European world. . . . What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World’s History.59

Hegel perceives “Africa proper” to be the part south of the Sahara, which is “the Gold-land compressed within itself—the land of childhood, which lying beyond the day of self-conscious history, is enveloped in the dark mantle of Night.”60 Africa, then, is “primitive”: without consciousness, the land of childhood and not so much Europe’s Other as utterly devoid of significance. Hegel, spelling out the separate character of African people, might well form the basis of Césaire’s observation. The question is whether and how this view changed over time: if anything, Hegel’s views only intensified with the growing interest in diffusionism, so aptly phrased by J. M. Blaut as “the colonizer’s model of the world.”61 The general interest of the nineteenth century in cultures and their origins grew with Darwin’s publication of The

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Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, with the telling subtitle The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). Evolutionism and diffusionism reinforced Europe’s perceived sense of superiority, culminating in social Darwinism and so-called scientific racism—seemingly offering sufficient grounds to reject the fundamental equality of human beings, and affirming the “‘separate’ character of the non-whites.” Martin Bernal points out that some serious rewriting of history had to take place in order to reach the diffusionist position, which he regards as part of the general move away from Enlightenment thought. He adheres to an oversimplified, but useful, contrast “between the 18th-century Enlightenment, with its interest in stability and the ordering of space, and the Romantic passion for movement, time and ‘progressive’ development through history.”62 The Romantic movement attaches great importance to freedom, and seems to be consistent with Enlightenment notions of freedom, which preclude the justification, on philosophical grounds, of the transatlantic slave trade, slavery, and colonialism. It is, in view of its exploits around the globe and within its own borders, not surprising that Europe was to suffer a crisis, which may be said to constitute a critique of modernity itself. This critique, however, is self-centered to the extreme. The Romantic concern is very much with personal freedom, with the freedom of the individual, who should be able to live life as he sees fit, and emphatically not according to universal, Kantian imperatives, which limit and restrict that freedom. The philosophical writings of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) are illustrative in this respect, in particular his preoccupation with the unconscious, and with classical Greece as the origin of European civilization. However, Nietzsche’s concerns with Greek culture have little to do with historical reality but much more with the perceived reality of his own time, that is, the triumph of scientific culture,63 which he sets out to critique. To Nietzsche, “the basis of human culture is instinctual”64 and the Greek genius arose “in the instinctual, in the immediacy of unconscious creativity.”65 Socrates, on the other hand, “was the inventor of logic and dialectic, the practitioner of a ‘rationalistic method’ who believed firmly in clear concepts, in intelligibility, in a purely conscious knowledge.”66 Socrates and Plato fostered a, to Nietzsche, “absurd rationality . . . that viewed every yielding to the instincts as a defeat,”67 while it is precisely the lack of consciousness that accounts for the Greek genius.68 Whereas in Herder, language is a precondition for consciousness, Nietzsche privileges the unconscious, but without equating the unconscious with the primitive in Hegel’s sense. Nietzsche holds that man is “almost completely ignorant” about himself, that “human consciousness remains a mystery,” and that man “is only arguably a rational being.”69 Nietzsche emphatically does not endorse the Cartesian or Kantian conception of the rational human being; on the other hand, his view puts an end to the “‘separate’ character of the non-whites” of Césaire’s observation.

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It is here that the role of language becomes pivotal to the conception of the human being, replacing the Kantian position. Language, to Nietzsche, “is emphatically not the ‘adequate expression of all realities,’”70 that is to say, words are not adequate expressions of the things they represent, but, in fact, entirely arbitrary designations.71 Language only invents “a self-contained world of its own.”72 Nietzsche’s views on language sound more than familiar, and appear to anticipate de Saussure, culminating in the “linguistic turn” and (post)structuralism, with their far-reaching implications for the concept of the self. According to this conception, the self is merely a set of social relations and these in turn refer to a larger, indeed infinite, system of relations which operates through the self but is largely unknown to it. When I speak, I do not use language and subordinate it to my own purposes; rather it speaks through me: I am not a fount of meaning but a conduit through which linguistic meaning passes; a linguistic site where differences play. Likewise, when I act, I do not operate as free agent upon the social reality outside of me but rather I am operated upon by it; for my actions have meaning only insofar as they realize positions in a system of which I have scarcely any knowledge.73

This means, according to Jonathan Culler, that once the conscious subject is deprived of its role as a source of meaning—once meaning is explained in terms of conventional systems which may escape the grasp of the conscious subject—the self can no longer be identified with consciousness. It is “dissolved” as its functions are taken up by a variety of interpersonal systems that operate through it. The human sciences, which begin by making man an object of knowledge, find, as their work advances that “man” disappears under structural analysis.74

“The attack on the centred self, on the sovereignty of the ego and ordinary daylit consciousness,” does not come from linguistics alone but from psychoanalysis, anthropology,75 and Marxism as well.76 With the explosion of the centered self, the separate character of the nonwhite peoples disappears, but the universal, antihumanist perspective gets rid of consciousness, autonomy, and rationality as well. The suppositions of the current dominant theoretical perspective appear to contradict Barber’s contention that popular cultures in Africa are about emergent consciousness and agency. These are, however, also the suppositions that provide the theoretical framework for the study of popular cultures in Africa. The following section will examine the consequences of these, often overlooked, suppositions in relation to the study of African cultures.

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Kant and the Faculties Kant’s conception of human nature forms the basis for his epistemology: the human mind is conceived as being the same in all men, and serves to order reality.77 According to Allan Megill, there is a generality in Kant that is lacking in Nietzsche, who regards “the process of ‘constructing’ reality . . . as an arbitrary and individual matter,” that is to say, “Kant’s epistemology is attached to a conception of human nature; it embodies, to use the terminology of Heidegger and Foucault, an unacceptable ‘humanism’ or ‘anthropologism.’”78 Nietzsche introduces the notion that knowledge is the expression of an aesthetically creative power in man.79 Knowledge, to Nietzsche, is thus “not a theoretical comprehension of reality,” as it is for Kant, but “rather an entirely self-contained set of anthropocentric illusions,”80 while “‘truth’ is essentially the creation of the language we employ.”81 Alan Megill’s “prophets of extremity”—Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, and Derrida—share an aesthetic, or “aestheticist,” sensibility,82 that is to say, they attempt “to expand the aesthetic to embrace the whole of reality.”83 Aestheticism in this sense refers “to a tendency to see ‘art’ or ‘language’ or ‘discourse’ or ‘text’ as constituting the primary realm of human experience.”84 This aestheticist perspective claims “to liberate its adherents from mundane reality, from all those forces that seek to constrain the individual. Nietzsche’s remedy for all oppression is a simple one, namely to become an artist.”85 The concept of the decentered subject, neither conscious nor reason-centered nor autonomous, has implications for the study of popular cultures in Africa as well and may account for a degree of fuzziness, or, stated more positively and in keeping with Theory’s vocabulary, of fluidity and porousness. What Nietzsche proposes—to become an artist—has been taken to heart, if not by “the people” then by those who write about popular culture, especially Western academics who are generally eminently positioned to make the (artistic) move away from the world. As a result, “literary and aesthetic modes [now] enjoy vast popularity in the social sciences and humanities”:86 “the new literary scholars extol an artistic approach, which yields neither literature nor rigorous thinking about literature. The practitioners of a literary mode aestheticize reality. . . . Anthropologists become literary; historians imaginative. . . . The new literary professors abandon truth for art, and art for art appreciation.”87 It is questionable if such a mode of scholarship is conducive to the acquisition of greater knowledge and understanding of African popular cultures. It may have precisely the opposite effect: rather than addressing reality, as “the people” (have to) do in their often not so everyday lives, this aestheticist, intensely subjective mode implies that writing itself includes praxis, and that it is possible to “write away reality, or simply [to] write an alternative one.”88

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Fabian’s Moments of Freedom: Anthropology and Popular Culture is illustrative of the aestheticist mode: “Though it makes sense to distinguish theory from practice, that distinction itself is made as part of a praxis of, say, scientific inquiry. Anthropological (or for that matter any kind of) culture theory is a kind of praxis.”89 Fabian refers explicitly to his “autobiographic style,” in which he presents “not only research contexts and experiences, but also theoretical developments,”90 but notes that “many find the use of the first person singular in scientific prose distasteful or irksome.”91 He finds it “impossible to start with a disquisition on the concept of popular culture, let alone a definition of it,”92 but proposes that before moving on, conceptual stock be taken.93 (Popular) culture, then, is “not an entity; the term stands for certain discursive strategies. . . . Consequently, when we want to defend the notion of popular culture, we should concentrate on what it makes appear and become known, rather than agonize about the adjective ‘popular.’”94 Nevertheless, Fabian does think that “we need a concept of popular culture,”95 but he still has “no ambition to take on the literature on the subject.”96 If Fabian thinks it not necessary to agonize about the adjective “popular,” deconstruction will not give occasion to do so either. Deconstruction as a strategy of reading is useful for getting rid of “structuralist-inspired binary oppositions” that give rise to “walled-off sciences of the normal and the abnormal, the civilized and the savage,”97 which is the chief merit of poststructuralism.98 This does not justify the claim that “in seeking to transcend these epistemological oppositions embedded in notions of the modern and the traditional, poststructuralism has indeed created the basis of a healthy humanism.”99 Indeed, one cannot help but wonder what happens postdeconstruction? Is it not the case that deconstruction is often no more than a clever academic exercise rather than a call to action? However, there is another, epistemological, aspect to be considered, namely, that deconstruction may result in the disappearance of all, not altogether useless, distinction and differentiation. Deconstructing the binary pair of “high”/”low” culture, for example, has the effect that what may be deemed to be literature, because of its artistic merit and artfulness, is subsumed under the category of “writing” or “text,” oral or written, with the result that literature loses all specificity. Stephen Adam Schwartz argues that “those who seek to attack the principles on which the value of ‘literature’ is based (generally through assessments like: ‘those works are no better than others that have therefore been unfairly excluded’), would argue logically enough for an expansion of the literary canon to include valuable or otherwise marginalized works.”100 On the other hand, those arguing against the specificity of “literature” favor “instead the explosion of the canon, an utter and complete levelling in which anything and everything to which significance can be attributed—any

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‘signifying practice’—is a worthy object of study for a new antidiscipline.”101 It seems that in relation to Africa the literary canon was exploded before it was expanded, in a manner similar to the exploding of the concept of the human being. The result is a complete leveling of everything that may be of significance in African cultures and civilizations, while “popular culture” itself becomes too wide and too unspecific a category. Surely, within popular cultures, too, distinctions should be made as to the aesthetic merit of particular songs, novels, music, plays, and paintings, in other words, when popular culture produces works of art. In the meantime, the canon remains intact, surreptitiously, and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart continues to be the best-known novel by an African author. To explore this point of leveling a little further, the lack of distinction may result in perceiving African philosophy as folk wisdom or traditional worldviews, as Barry Hallen points out in African Philosophy: The Analytic Approach. Hallen argues that “‘traditional’ thought can be of considerably greater philosophical interest than some scholars allow. What these social scientists mean by a traditional culture is one where, when its members are asked to justify fundamental ideas or beliefs, they reply along the lines of: This is what the old-time people told us. In other words, such explanations and justifications themselves amount to little more than an appeal to tradition.”102 Hallen believes that “non-Western cultures have an important contribution to make to the academic philosophical enterprise.”103 Again, African philosophy, seen in terms of popular worldviews, does not appear to merit specialist treatment, and is, with literature, reduced to another discourse, another text, another form of cultural production, of signifying practice. Tellingly, there is no philosophy department in a specialist institution such as the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, London (UK), while African literature is taught not in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities but in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures. The present theoretical dispensation attaches great value to “myth,” which goes back to Nietzschean-Foucauldean and Freudian perspectives. Nietzsche holds that “a culture begins by believing in myth,”104 but there is “the all but inevitable tendency of culture to move from an initial mythic apprehension of the universe to an apprehension that is critical, skeptical, and ironical.”105 Africa, in the eyes of colonizing Europe, might have myths, but had no history, as Africans were thought to be incapable of distinguishing myth from fact.106 African myths have connotations of the oral and the traditional, but also of the prerational and the “primitive.” Therefore, to adopt a Foucauldean approach would be to deny the possibility that myths may possess truth-value. As with literature and philosophy, so with history: here too there is the danger that myth is reduced to nothing but another discourse—and a fiction, precluding the possibility of rewriting history and expanding historiography.

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This new discursive mode is a far cry from the acquisition of knowledge of African cultures in colonial times, when it was so emphatically not a disinterested academic pursuit (if at all possible) but instrumental in the administration and control of the colonies. Britain, as indicated earlier on, was the first “to marshal authoritarian possibilities in native culture,”107 which, in order to be successful, required knowledge of African languages and cultures. It is precisely this interest in languages that forms the crucial link with the present dominant theoretical approach. Theory appears to be radical in that it levels all languages—all languages consisting of arbitrary signs—and thus removes any connotations of linguistic hierarchies that were prevalent in the past. Herder, reflecting the latter stance, writes that all missionaries in all parts of the world complain about the difficulty of communicating Christian concepts to savages in their own languages, and yet of course these communications are never supposed to be a scholastic dogmatics, but only the common concepts of common understanding.108

Herder holds that the “analogy of all savage languages confirms my thesis: each of them is in its way prodigal and needy—only each in its own manner.”109 Such views are indeed, in theory at least, no more than relics of the colonial past. In the same way, it should by now be possible to ignore the “knowledge” that was the result of the diffusionist paradigm. Scholars in the nineteenth century studied the origins and the movements of European languages and cultures, and came to accept that these origins were to be found in India.110 Herder placed human origins in the Himalayas,111 and the aim was to discover “how far across the world this large ‘Indo-European’ culture had spread.”112 Okpewho recounts how the diffusionist approach resulted in the conclusion that if there were similarities between African and European tales, the African tales should “be seen as off-shoots of the parent Indo-European culture”—as, according to the Grimm brothers, “culture can only spread from a superior to an inferior people,” African people being considered racially inferior to Europeans.113 One explanation for the similarities between African and European tales was the probability that Europeans had brought their tales to Africa during the slave trade!114 In the meantime, there are still diffusionist scholars around propagating their own myth of “the European Miracle”115 with all the predictable connotations of European superiority. One consequence of this view is that it is not generally accepted that “Greek culture had arisen as the result of colonization, around 1500 BC, by Egyptians and Phoenicians who had civilized the native inhabitants.”116 The point to be made here is that, in the words of Cheikh Anta Diop, “the ancient Egyptians were Negroes” and that “that Black world is the very initiator of the ‘western’ civilization flaunted before

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our eyes today.”117 By the time Nietzsche was writing about Greece as the fount of European civilization, this knowledge was being swept under the carpet, where it remains to this day. The contemporary move into the realm of Theory and cultural studies makes the seemingly seamless transition from the “primitive” to the popular possible, a transition facilitated by post-Saussurean linguistic thought, as it fits in snugly, and conveniently, with the interest in African languages and cultures of colonial times. Moreover, Theory’s vocabulary of liberation, agency, the everyday, subversion, and resistance—so very apt during the quest for African independence—continues to be seen as appropriate in a specifically African context. Fabian, nevertheless, recognizes that adopting the linguistic model may be problematic, when he argues that “any theory that sets out to demonstrate that linguistic models apply in other areas of culture works, to say the least, with analogies that in effect deny the historical specificity of cultural creation or, worse, the historical nature of culture itself.”118 He could have said that the linguistic model is inappropriate because of its abrogation of the conscious human being. Ultimately, adopting Theory as the preferred theoretical device results in a great leveling of otherwise useful distinctions, requiring a correction, and making a return to Kant at this point appropriate. It is worthwhile to remember “that old (presumptively obsolete) idea that there might be real differences between the various fields and methods of enquiry which have shaped the modern university and its faculty system.”119 The various disciplines are treated as so many “discourses”—knowledge being of an arbitrary, discursively constructed character120—which in turn may result in a facile interdisciplinarity. Fabian maintains that “anthropological studies of popular culture are, or should be, part of the blurring of boundaries between ethnography-anthropology and history (history tout court, not just ‘oral’ or ethnohistory). ‘Historicizing’ of our discipline is under way and has changed it at least as profoundly as the ‘literary turn.’”121 Does such interdisciplinarity amount to a blurring of boundaries, or, in reality, to the adoption of the same theoretical perspective in virtually every discipline in the humanities and social sciences? Theory’s claim to interdisciplinarity is aptly illustrated by the observation that “professors trained primarily in literature began to claim for themselves a commanding position from which to comment importantly on any and all aspects of cultural and political life,”122 just as professors trained primarily in African languages become experts in (popular) cultures in Africa. There is, then, “the need to maintain some grasp of the specific differences between disciplines—differences of scope, method, interest, evidential criteria, explanatory warrant, and justified inference—rather than treating them as so many ‘discourses’ whose truth-claims can then be ‘deconstructed’ in accordance with the latest social-sciences or cultural-studies wisdom.”123

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It is precisely this Kantian notion of maintaining differences between the disciplines that would be beneficial to the furthering of knowledge of civilizations and (popular) cultures in Africa. After all, some kinds of knowledge “may be oriented both toward truth and toward the interests of human wellbeing through their critical-emancipatory character,”124 and a knowledge of popular cultures may do exactly that: serve the interest of human well-being.

Conclusion Aimé Césaire’s quotation from Discourse on Colonialism, so often referred to above and the point of departure for this chapter, is indicative of the Western attitude toward Africa until quite recently. This attitude appears to have changed, philosophically, although a closer examination of contemporary discourse on popular cultures in Africa exposes problems lurking under the surface. The chapter, then, begins with an overview of some real and perceived problems regarding the study of popular cultures in Africa, and notes that the transition from “primitive” to popular culture is uncannily seamless. The interest of the Western world in African languages and cultures was instrumental in commercial, colonial, and missionary activities. With the final acknowledgment that the paradigms of precolonial and colonial times were no longer tenable, African languages and cultures required new paradigms in the postcolonial era. Theory now constitutes the designated approach for all languages and cultures, and its starting point in language, and in particular post-Saussurean linguistics, helped facilitate the conceptual transition from “primitive” to popular culture. The second section, on conceptions of the human being, began with Kant, finding that his universalism has been replaced by an entirely new universalism, originating in an obsession with language and linguistics. While Kant regards the human being as conscious, rational, and autonomous, now the unconscious is privileged. The centrality of the unconscious is of particular relevance to popular cultures in Africa, as it contradicts the claim that a salient feature seems to be emergent consciousness. This contradiction may well be the source of the theoretical problems. Conceptions of the human being are important for views on epistemology as well, as explicated in the third section of the chapter. With the new universalism, scorning truth and reality, there is a real danger that the resulting aestheticist approach will turn the study of popular cultures in Africa into nothing other than ethnography—by another name with another vocabulary. Furthermore, it is not unthinkable that the study of African popular culture becomes a “conversation” among professional academics,125 a conversation that does not transcend the intensely local and subjective as a

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“break from universal and utopian categories.”126 The greatest drawback of the current approach is that it does not do justice to African civilizations and cultures, as it tends to do away with useful distinctions, while the emphasis on culture tends to ignore African civilizations. A theory of popular culture is required: a theory that not only attempts to change one’s view of the world, but the world itself,127 a theory from the ground up, which relates to reality in a new way.128 A return to a Kantian organization of knowledge may be beneficial in this respect. The trajectory outlined in this chapter appears to enable Europe to absolve itself from addressing and admitting its past in relation to Africa. Rather than confronting this past, a profoundly antihumanist philosophical view has emerged from the perceived crisis of Europe itself. The antihumanist, dehumanizing practices of the perpetrators of the slave trade and of slavery, of imperialism and (neo)colonialism, appeared to prove the limitations of the abstract universalism associated with the Enlightenment. If the Enlightenment is derided for the gap between humanist philosophy and antihumanist practice, in recent times philosophical positions themselves have come to display a profound antihumanism. This antihumanism, extended to the whole of humanity, denies the possibility of the responsibility and agency of the conscious human being. That the “unconscious” should now occupy center stage in the discourse is the ultimate paradox! It seems that the perceived emergent consciousness associated with African popular cultures is linked to Hegel’s notion of universal history and the “realization of a rational State,”129 connecting popular cultures as a field of study to decolonization and independence. However, in the postcolonial present, no one is rational, conscious, or autonomous. Nevertheless, Kant’s “fundamental law of the pure practical reason” offers real possibilities toward a true humanism. It states: “Act so that the maxim of thy will can always at the same time hold good as a principle of universal legislation.”130 It does not take long to see that its implementation was, and still is, too radical by far for those who would supposedly stand to lose from it. Finally, in view of the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, it is appropriate once more to mention Hegel, who observes that “the only essential connection that has existed and continued between the Negroes and the Europeans is that of slavery.”131 “Bad as this may be, their lot in their own land is even worse, since there a slavery quite as absolute exists; for it is the essential principle of slavery, that man has not yet attained a consciousness of his freedom, and consequently sinks to a mere Thing— an object of no value.”132 While “slavery is in and for itself injustice, for the essence of humanity is Freedom,” the gradual abolition of slavery “is wiser and more equitable than its sudden removal.”133 But, for freedom, “man must be matured.”134 Of course, consciousness and maturity were already there: Kant was already in Africa—and Europe knew it. . . .

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Notes I would like to thank Dr. Augustine Agwuele, Professor Robert Baum, Charlotte Birch, Kristina Maki, Wambui Muringo Wa-Ngatho, and Rebecca Stoop for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this chapter. 1. Celia Brickman, Aboriginal Populations in the Mind: Race and Primitivity in Psychoanalysis (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 1. 2. See, for instance, Karin Barber, ed., Readings in African Popular Culture (Bloomington, IN: International African Institute in association with Indiana University Press and James Currey, 1997); Johannes Fabian, Moments of Freedom: Anthropology and Popular Culture (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1998); and Graham Furniss, Poetry, Prose and Popular Culture in Hausa (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996). 3. Barber, Readings in African Popular Culture. 4. Daphne Patai and Will H. Corral, eds., Theory’s Empire: An Anthology of Dissent (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 1. 5. The present chapter is not a disquisition on the dominance of Theory, which is discussed in Hetty ter Haar, “Out of Africa: Theory and The Displacement of African Literature,” in Migrations and Creative Expressions in Africa and the African Diaspora, ed. Toyin Falola, Niyi Afolabi, and Aderonke A. Adesanya (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2008), 397–414. See also Patai and Corral, Theory’s Empire. 6. Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Joan Pinkham (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1950; repr. 2000), 56. 7. Andrew Edgar and Peter Sedgwick, eds., Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts (London: Routledge, 2004), 16. 8. Europe is, following Husserl, “not as it is understood geographically, as on a map, as if thereby the group of people who live together in this territory would define European humanity. . . . Here the title ‘Europe’ clearly refers to the unity of a spiritual life, activity, creation.” Quoted in Lewis R. Gordon, Fanon and the Crisis of European Man: An Essay on Philosophy and the Human Sciences (New York: Routledge, 1995), 6. 9. Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996). 10. Fabian, Moments of Freedom, x. 11. Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (London: Verso, 2000), 8. 12. Geoffrey Galt Harpham, “The End of Theory, the Rise of the Profession: A Rant in Search of Responses,” in Patai and Corral, Theory’s Empire, 389. 13. Fred Inglis, Culture (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004), 29. 14. Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 59. 15. Ibid., 64. 16. Barber, Readings in African Popular Culture, 1. 17. Ibid. 18. Ibid., 3. 19. Ibid., 4. 20. Ibid., 5.

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21. Ibid. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid., 5. 24. Ibid., 6. 25. Ibid., 8. 26. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject, 25. 27. Ibid., 21. 28. Isidore Okpewho, African Oral Literature: Backgrounds, Character and Continuity (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), 363. 29. Furniss, Poetry, 9. 30. Ibid., 9–10. 31. Ibid., 11. 32. Barber, Readings in African Popular Culture, 7. 33. Ibid. 34. Fabian, Moments of Freedom, xiii. 35. Ibid., 2. 36. See, for instance, Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, trans. John T. Goldthwait (Berkeley: University of California Press; 2003), 110–11, 113. This work (1764) predates Kant’s later, critical philosophy. 37. Christopher Norris, Deconstruction and the “Unfinished Project of Modernity” (London: Athlone Press, 2000), 17. 38. Ibid. 39. Norris, Deconstruction. 40. Immanuel Kant, Logic, quoted in Manfred Kuehn, introduction to Immanuel Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, trans. and ed. Robert B. Louden (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), xi–xii. 41. Kuehn, introduction to Anthropology, vii. 42. Ibid., xv. 43. Ibid., xiii. 44. Ibid., xi. 45. Kant, Anthropology, 15. 46. Ibid., 234. 47. Inglis, Culture, 14. 48. Raymond Tallis, Enemies of Hope: A Critique of Contemporary Pessimism (London: MacMillan Press, 1999). 49. Ibid., 28. 50. Johann Gottfried von Herder, Philosophical Writings, ed. Michael N. Forster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 127. 51. Ibid., 131. 52. Ibid., 130. 53. Herder, Philosophical Writings. 54. Ibid., 121. 55. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1991), 16. 56. Ibid., 17. 57. Ibid., 19. 58. Ibid., 93.

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59. Ibid., 99. 60. Ibid., 91. 61. J. M. Blaut, The Colonizer’s Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History (New York: Guilford Press, 1993). 62. Martin Bernal, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (London: Vintage, 1991), 204–5. 63. Allan Megill, Prophets of Extremity: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 52. 64. Ibid., 56. 65. Ibid. 66. Ibid., 54. 67. Ibid., 60. 68. Ibid., 56. 69. Ibid., 50. 70. Ibid. 71. Ibid. 72. Ibid. 73. Raymond Tallis, In Defence of Realism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 59. 74. Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics (London: Routledge, 2002), 32. See also Tallis, In Defence of Realism, 59. 75. Tallis, In Defence of Realism, 59. 76. Leonard Jackson, The Dematerialisation of Karl Marx: Literature and Marxist Theory (London: Longman, 1994). 77. Megill, Prophets of Extremity, 53. 78. Ibid. 79. Ibid. 80. Ibid. 81. Ibid., 53–54. 82. Ibid., 2. 83. Ibid. 84. Ibid. 85. Ibid., 63. 86. Russell Jacoby, “Thick Aestheticism and Thin Nativism,” in Patai and Corral, Theory’s Empire, 495. 87. Ibid., 496. 88. Gordon, Fanon and the Crisis of European Man, 101. 89. Fabian, Moments of Freedom, 1. 90. Ibid., xiii. 91. Ibid. 92. Ibid., x. 93. Ibid., 3. 94. Ibid. 95. Ibid., 31. 96. Ibid., 35. 97. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject, 10. 98. Ibid.

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99. Ibid. 100. Stephen Adam Schwartz, “Everyman an Übermensch: The Culture of Cultural Studies,” in Patai and Corral, Theory’s Empire, 362. 101. Ibid. 102. Barry Hallen, African Philosophy: The Analytic Approach (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2006), 13. 103. Ibid., 25. 104. Megill, Prophets of Extremity, 72. 105. Ibid. 106. Hallen, African Philosophy, 300. 107. Mamdani, Citizen and Subject, 22. 108. Herder, Philosophical Writings, 118–19. 109. Ibid., 117. 110. Okpewho, African Oral Literature, 7. 111. Bernal, Black Athena, 219. 112. Okpewho, African Oral Literature, 7. 113. Ibid. 114. Ibid., 8. 115. Blaut, The Colonizer’s Model, 2. 116. Bernal, Black Athena, 1. 117. Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, trans. Mercer Cook (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1974), xiv. 118. Fabian, Moments of Freedom, 15. 119. Norris, Deconstruction, 103. 120. Ibid. 121. Fabian, Moments of Freedom, 30. 122. Patai and Corral, Theory’s Empire, 8. 123. Norris, Deconstruction, 117–18. 124. Ibid., 118. 125. Ahmad, In Theory, 2. 126. Jacobi, “Thick Aestheticism and Thin Nativism,” in Patai and Corral, Theory’s Empire, 491. 127. Catharine MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989). 128. Catharine MacKinnon, Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006), x–xi. 129. Hegel, Philosophy of History, 99. 130. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, trans. T. Kingsmill Abbott (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2004), 31. 131. Hegel, Philosophy of History, 98. 132. Ibid., 96. 133. Ibid., 99. 134. Ibid.

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Part One

Politics of Culture in Habitual Customs and Practices

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2 Popular Culture of Yoruba Kinship Practices Augustine Agwuele Introduction The quest to understand human behavior has remained one of the enduring tenets of anthropological inquiry. In studying the customs and habits of people, understanding the growth and spread of ways of solving perennial problems is one intention, especially gaining insight into the wealth of thoughts that underlie such practices. Thinking along the line explored by Stuart Hall,1 it is extremely difficult to explain complex social processes through one narrow approach, no matter how powerful, especially to explain emblematic narratives that yield predictable outcomes. Nonetheless, the Yoruba kinship system as indexed by its nomenclature provides a useful means for contemplating the popular practices associated with it. Several aspects of the Yoruba kinship system have received extensive attention in literature. In discussing Yoruba kinship practices, Nathaniel Fadipe,2 Solomon Oyetade,3 and William Schwab4 included bòdá/bùròdá and à`ní in their list of Yoruba kinship nomenclature. These terms, borrowed from the English language, were phonologically and morphologically adapted to conform to the syllabic structure of the Yoruba language and were semantically modified to index established cultural and social principles. Elusive, however, in the scholarly discourse of Yoruba kinship terms—indigenous and borrowed—are the motivations for their sociocultural genesis, clear elucidation of the principles that determine and constrain their usage, and the fulcrum of the importance of kinship and kin terms in the regulation of interpersonal and communal relationships among Yoruba people. The present chapter attempts to fill this gap. It argues that the nascent sense of kinship between individuals, within the Yoruba community, and across the Yoruba nation has been catalyzed by internal and external factors that ultimately boil down to stratification. To this extent, the kin terms, that is,

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the terms of address or the terms of reference that are discussed in this chapter, are mainly devices for examining and calling attention to persistent aspects of Yoruba kinship feeling, thinking, and expectations. In addition, through these terms it is possible to make inferences about popular Yoruba kinship practices, as well as their resilience and continuity. One other aim of this chapter is to explore the ways in which kinship practice has functioned as a pervasive, persistent, albeit adaptive strategy for accessing productive resources, participating in social institutions, and providing psychological sustenance to members. Specifically, the chapter describes some ways in which the institution of kinship and kin networks has served as a channel of overcoming social, economic, and political inhibitions and has become a proven and reliable mechanism for coping with the perennial and nascent problems of life. In conjunction with this, the chapter also describes the extent to which the socioeconomic failures that resulted from the shift in the mode of subsistence and the formation of the political (nation-)state have reinforced or altered kinship practices for the Yoruba person regardless of space. The first section of the chapter describes the genesis of Yoruba kinship and its traditional features, locating the practice in the agrarian economic system and social organization. The second section situates the locus of contemporary practices and the factors enhancing kinship’s persistence in the shift to a modern state and the carryover and entrenchment of premodern social stratification, with particular emphasis on how the individual is constrained to revamp the existing system in order to meet existential issues. The final section examines the morphological and functional criteria for the kinship terms and principles that inform their usage. Collectively, the chapter provides evidence of the internal logic and reason that constrain individuals to specific handling. The chosen examples show how coherent themes and behaviors result from the creation of kinship feelings.

Agrarian Kinship and Social Organization In the precolonial Yoruba nation, subsistence was based largely on sedentary farming, hunting, and craft specializations; these were supplemented by fishing, animal husbandry, and trade. The Yoruba agrarian economy was practiced within an integrated hierarchical social structure and stark stratification that ultimately tied the fate and survival of the individual to that of the community. A proper understanding of kinship practice requires a brief excursion into the precolonial era. Since Yoruba society was an agricultural society, the most prized possession of the people was land, their primary productive resource. Land

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remained the property of the lineage and was held in trust by the descent group for the next generation. The right of an individual to land, as a productive resource, as wealth, or for residential purposes, was guaranteed by birth into, and compliance with, the aspirations and values of the agnatic line of descent. The head of the lineal group allocated land to family members for various uses. Authority was vested in this person, and he commanded the loyalty and filial duties of members of his household. For example, every male child was required to serve his father. In most cases, even those individuals who already had their own household still worked on their father’s land,5 and they continued to work for him until they succeeded him to the land. The main goal of the Yoruba nation in general and of the lineage group in particular remained the production and reproduction of the material conditions of its own existence6 as well as the maintenance of the social organization and structures necessary to achieve this goal. It was assumed that the individual survived only to the extent that the group continued. Thus, the attainment of the goal required communal participation in an integrated fashion. In practice, the Yoruba person needed the family to obtain productive resources such as land and labor. While access to and requests for productive resources were the birthright of any member, the granting of such requests and the facilitation of access did not come not without conditions. Relationships within the nation, therefore, were based on a differential reciprocity. For example, if you served your father diligently, and by implication your family and by extension the community, the members of the community, as a community, reciprocated by guaranteeing that you received all that you required in order to lead “the good life” as defined by the society; hence, the existence and practice of the often-noted communal lifestyle of Yoruba people. This communal living assumed its characteristic form, which, as will be shown later, unfolded within a lineage system in terms of kinship. The lineage structure provided the framework for Yoruba kinship;7 it offered the framework for residential, political, and societal organization as well as the enculturation of children. As already mentioned, the descent group or lineage has the appearance of a continuously existing entity. Unlike major corporations that work for profit, however, the primary goal of this consanguine base was its own survival; as such, its economizing activities were carefully orchestrated to assure and sustain the reproduction of the human and material conditions necessary to guarantee the existence of the lineage. The lineage, called idile, was a unilineal descent group that comprised all individuals who traced their birth to one male progenitor. Residentially, the idile consisted of many compounds of multiple families who traced their descent in the agnatic line of a segmented genealogical unit. Within this unit, membership was resolved into hierarchically arranged groups, and each group was differentiated from the others by functional and

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morphological criteria. The hierarchy derived from the principle of patrilineal descent and genealogical differences.8 The social, economic, and political role of an individual was determined by the person’s membership in a patrilineage and position within the hierarchy. Individuals in the society were stratified into seniors and juniors due to their chronological age, achievement, wealth, and title. The pyramidal configuration of the compound and its members encapsulated Yoruba political, social, and interpersonal relationships. For example, “the members of higher ranking lineages are accorded superior social positions . . . they are not merely granted special privileges by the chief, but it is their right, inherent in lineage membership, to avail themselves of the chief’s political powers and economic prerogatives.”9 Those of lower rank were required to accord them deference and respect. Given this differential access to power, wealth, and prestige, members adhered to “a rigidly prescribed series of common and reciprocal rights, duties, privileges, and forbearance in virtually every aspect of social life.”10 The duties and obligations of individuals matched their respective positions within the hierarchy. Thus, power, prestige, and honor were vested at the apex of the pyramid and trickled downward.

The Primary Unit of Existence The precolonial Yoruba were a largely urban people who resided in cities.11 Most cities were heterogeneous in terms of craft specialization, social stratification, and political segmentation.12 The cities were made up of a series of patrilocal residences referred to as agboile (compound[s]). The compound was compartmentalized to hold several families and consisted of three stratified classes of people: (a) members of the patrilineal sib (idile) who resided in the compound and were known as children of the house (omo-ile); these included males and females who traced their descent to a common agnatic antecedent; (b) the wives of the male sib members; and (c) tenants, that is, outsiders (alejo) who were not biologically related to the sib members.13 Within the compound, described as the primary unit for social and political interaction14 and the center of major social, economic, and religious family activities,15 all the members were conscious of their place (ipo) and their obligations (ojuse). Like the individual compounds and their residents, all the agboile that constituted the Yoruba nation were stratified and formalized into one big institution. Understanding the family structure and its organization is necessary for comprehending the kinship practices that evolved within it; the structure of the family, the compound, and the nation was seen reproduced at each layer and in the overall structure of the Yoruba society and politics.

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The Principle of Seniority The status, rank, or position of an individual within the compound was dependent on a series of factors, such as the rank of the lineage into which the individual was born, the relative age of the individual, the individual’s sex, status either as bond or free, status as parent, wealth, and personal achievement in form of title and bravery.16 These factors conferred a grade of seniority on an individual and determined the extent of the influence that an individual exerted in the society. For the females who were married into the compound, seniority was a function of the length of their affiliation— either by marriage or birth of girls into patrilocal kinship.17 Thus, senior status was achieved either by ascription or by personal endeavors. The principle of seniority established a corresponding set of hierarchical obligations that were maintained at all times.18 When addressing or referring to individuals, either in the compound or in the community at large, the kin terms and address forms that were used were graded into series corresponding to the status and position of an individual. These terms indexed the inherent social differences between individuals, for example, between ego and the referent in addition to articulating their respective statuses, obligations, expected behaviors, and expected responses.

Enculturation Into this stratified society and compound with graded groups and individuals, the Yoruba child was born. During their socialization and enculturation, Yoruba children in the homeland experienced three forms of (kin) relationships: consanguineal, affinal, and fictive, these relationships becoming the principal means of establishing their position, eventual office, obligations, and personal disposition. As was reported for the Igbo by Daniel Smith,19 children grew up in the compound setting with a wide range of classificatory mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Throughout the course of their lives, children benefited from the help of their family, mates, and friends and were expected to reciprocate at different stages of their lives in ways specified by custom. The primary goal of the process of enculturation within the compound was to instill in the child a lifelong sense of obligation and inter-dependence, the fulcrum of kinship feeling and practice. In addition to farming, traditional Yoruba people complemented their subsistence through such specialized crafts as weaving, drumming, divining, carving, metalwork, and woodwork. These professions, although organized into guilds to facilitate apprenticeships, were family based. Children born into a family practicing any of these professions understudied their parents and almost invariably succeeded them in the profession. Allegiance to the

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parent and the family assured their inheritance and smooth succession into their estate and profession. During the period of apprenticeship, children would accompany their father as they discharged their various communal duties and obligations, acting as aides in whatever political or social office their fathers may have held.20 These close-knit processes of tutelage instilled in growing persons established customs and practices, leaving them with few personal choices. From the preceding description it is apparent that membership in an agnatic family was a powerful asset that granted an individual access to productive and human resources. In further illustration of this point, consider the life of a young Yoruba man, in the traditional Yoruba nation, who wanted to establish a family of his own. Marriage among the Yoruba was an alliance between two households. It integrated lineages, families, and finally two individuals. When a young man was ready to marry, the family, with the sanction of the lineage, arranged a marital alliance for him. The family paid the dowry, bore the cost of the marriage ceremony, and provided the postmarital patrilocal form of residence. The married man continued to work for his father, who, in appreciation and recognition, allocated to him a piece of farmland for his personal use. None of the provisions made for this young man in his bid to establish a family would be have been possible if he had been denounced or declared persona non grata; he would most likely have had to go into voluntary indenture as shown by Paul Lovejoy and Toyin Falola.21 Since there is no organized society without an organized spiritual philosophy, the aforementioned traditional Yoruba values and lifestyle were anchored on a specific worldview contained within Yoruba cosmology. Yoruba people, both in the past and in the present, believe that the good life is to be realized materially on earth as part of the deeds included in the eternal cycle of life that moves from the ancestors to the living and on to the unborn. Children, wealth, health, and belonging to a family are the essences of life. This worldview informed the Yoruba saying, “Eniyan ni aso mi” (People are my clothing or assurance), which implies that a person without a community is poor. Such a person is poor because none of his achievements can be celebrated, poor because he has no social or economic support for his physical existence, and poor because he lives in obscurity and fades away at death without a trace and without a cult of ancestors to join. Worse, he cannot be reincarnated. Yoruba children were not only born into a stratified home and nation; they were also acculturated to know their duty and to have a conscious understanding of their dependence on the larger unit. In addition, the organization of the compound and the three groups residing in it showed that the degree of relatedness between members was an essential feature implicated in the ability of an individual to access established social institutions and privileges. The preceding cursory historical excursion serves to

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illustrate the core of Yoruba kinship practices. It was shown that belonging in a lineage determines the status of an individual, his eligibility for certain hereditary offices, his occupation, his religious position, and more importantly, his right to the benefits of the Yoruba community. It was also shown that the actualization of the aforementioned communal benefits is contingent on an individual’s ability to maintain the ties of kinship, and to conform to established practices such as showing deference to seniors and meeting obligations to juniors. These customary expectations are proverbially encoded for instructive purposes, for example: “Omode to ba mo owo we yio ba agba jeun” (The child that knows propriety, that knows to give deference where appropriate and to meet his obligations, gains the approval of the community). In Weber’s sense, the Yoruba child is socialized into the web of significance that the agrarian Yoruba community has spun in the nest of human relations, status, and duty. Essentially, other than in terms of the natural natal care of an infant, a Yoruba child is indeed at the mercy and will of the parents and family and invariably the society. A Yoruba child has no real existence outside that made possible by the family, which guards access to land, labor, and funding; paradoxically, the family will cease to exist without the children. The pattern of interdependence that this generates carries over to every form of existential union that a Yoruba person forms; consequently, the kinship model of asymmetrical interdependence is the fulcrum of Yoruba life. Premised on the traditional economic and social conditions that have been described, the resulting pattern of interpersonal relationships and attitudes toward relatives and the implications thereof are observable in Yoruba kin nomenclature.

Traditional Kin Terms and Their Usage The Yoruba kinship practice of bilateral descent is the same as that of the Hawaiian kinship system; however, there was a paucity of kin terms and terms of address. The available terms, whose scope ranged across filial and nonfilial relationships, were organized into themes. These terms and their usage constituted shorthand codes that defined the status of the referents, their position, and their duties with respect to ego. The terms bàbá (father) and ìya/màmá (mother) were used by ego to reference or address his/her parents, but not exclusively. They were also used as generic terms of reference and address for peers of ego’s parents and those older than ego’s parents. In order to distinguish between biological and fictive parents, ego made use of the self-referencing possessive pronoun mi (mine), as in bàbá mi (my father) or ìya/màmá mi (my mother). Parents referred to their child as omo (child) regardless of sex. The generic usage indicated the social standing of the referent. First, it

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was taken to indicate ego’s psychological disposition to the referent, now reckoned as the equal of ego’s parents. Second, it indicated ego’s readiness to accord the referents the deference and respect due to parents. And third, ego expected the referents to assume and perform parental obligations as instituted by the community. There were no personal terms for sibling; however, ègbón (senior sibling), and àbúrò (junior sibling) were used as terms of reference for males or females on the paternal or maternal side. These terms were also used to address fictive kin. A distinction was made by the use of the personal possessive pronoun mi, for example, in the use of ègbón mi or àbúrò mi to denote my older or my younger sibling, respectively. As a mark of respect, ègbón was used to denote and reference fictive kin who were older than ego, while àbúrò was used by ego to address a younger person with whom a kinship relationship existed. It was also used as a term of endearment when referring to younger fictive kin. As noted above with respect to bàbá (father) or ìya (mother), the use of these sibling terms transcended the mere referencing of an individual; for example, when an ègbón deviated from the normative behavior relative to an àbúrò, the sentence “Ègbón ni a de npe yin” (To think that we call you ègbón!), when uttered by the àbúrò, was a strong rebuke and psychological sanction that caused the ègbón to lose face within the society. Finally, in a marital alliance, the terms oko (husband), bale (man of the house), ìyàwó/aya (wife), and iyaale (woman of the house—this term was used in a polygamous situation to denote the first wife) were used. The use of these kin terms made it possible for the Yoruba people to encode in their speech the hierarchical organization of their nation, the entrenched stratification, and the pervasive socioeconomic inequalities and class differences between individuals. The use of kin terms revealed the degree of relatedness between individuals and acted as a reminder to members to constantly adhere to the socially constituted pattern of behavior. Each of the kinship terms when uttered invoked the culturally defined art of interpersonal relationships and highlighted instituted reciprocal obligations and responses. In view of this, the Yoruba person maintained a polite existence, with strict adherence to a prescribed code of interpersonal interactions within the confines of the principle of seniority. A subtle but pervasive feature of this asymmetrical relationship involved the junior constantly courting the favor of the senior, who obliged in return for respect and honor. While a command from a senior was not to be refused; only the benevolent senior received respect, honor, and followership. Given the manner in which this symbiosis manifested itself in practical terms, it is fair to conclude that Yoruba kinship practice evinced fundamental features of patron-client dependencies based on the hierarchical and asymmetrical reciprocal ties and obligations that facilitate such dependencies. Smith made a similar observation about the Igbo people,22 as did Berry for Africa in general.23

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Another aspect of the kinship practice of the Yoruba people was a strong aversion to the use of personal names as terms of address. This was probably due to existing social and class differences and to the clear pressure to maintain a polite distance. The use of personal names, especially the first name, was highly regulated. An older person might call by name those people younger than himself or herself, but it was extremely impolite and insolent to call an older person by name. Among peers who were married and had children, the use of first names was nonexistent. Individuals called one another by invoking the status of the addressee as parent and the names of one of the addressee’s children, for example, father of Ade or mother of Ade. When the older person was of higher status but not a parent, the generic kinship terms bàbá or ìya plus the honorific pronoun were used. This issue is discussed more extensively by Fadipe24 and Oyetade.25 The historical conditions underlying the formation and maintenance of agrarian society instilled interdependence in the individual through customary forms of socialization, education, religion, and the instituted ability to sanction any deviation. This interdependence, as will be shown in the next section, was somewhat changed with the coming of formal education and state formation. The preceding discussions were provided to illustrate the claim that underlying the kinship practices and the communal existence of the agrarian Yoruba era were stark socioeconomic inequalities that were tools of social and political organization and that became spiritually institutionalized as a means of assuring the existence of the nation and coercing individual allegiance. Using this as a point of departure, the next section examines contemporary kinship practices from the perspective of modern economic and societal organization. It will be shown that in spite of modernization, inequality, which has been established as the original and primary factor that fostered the kinship practices of asymmetrical interdependence, continues.

Contemporary Kinship Practices: The Kin Network

Cultural Transformation The customary lifestyle and social organization of the agrarian age was significantly altered by colonialism. Through the establishment of the colonial administration, and the imposition of the English language, education, and other institutions of modernization, the physical and social landscape of the Yoruba nation was greatly changed. The introduction of formal schooling relieved the existing customary pattern of education, that is, apprenticeship, of its position as the dominant means of acquiring skills for labor. European education conducted in the

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English language ushered in foreign values and offered the people other choices and references. According to the Whorfian hypothesis, each language encodes for its speakers a way of perceiving, analyzing, and thinking in the world.26 Thus, language forces hearers-speakers to attend to specific aspects of their experiences and interpret them with a bias according to their sociocultural conventions. Essentially, the values of a community are reflected in its language, and when a speaker learns the language of another community, s/he ultimately learns, along with the lexicon, the attached values and meanings. Given that language may influence conceptual development27 and that there are differences in the way each language and culture partitions and remembers its experiences, the language of any society reflects to some extent the categories and distinctions that are functionally relevant to that society’s ways of perceiving and analyzing events in the world. As a result, the transfer of English to Yorubaland will imply the transfer of the values and attitudes encoded therein. With English as the language of instruction in the new schooling system, Yoruba students imbibed aspects of English values, attitudes, and customs. Of greater consequence, however, was the fact that formal education entrenched European culture as the superior means of achieving power and status. People who, in the preceding era, would have been considered lowly in status seized the opportunity of formal education and the backing of colonial institutions to obtain and consolidate political and economic power, and they now gained seniority and its attendant deference, rivaling the “traditional seniors.” As a result, the existing system and principle of seniority was carried over into the new dispensation. The transition from the customary form of enculturation and education to formalized schooling significantly altered the traditional Yoruba pattern of subsistence. The new occupational options relieved individuals from their dependence on family land and, in a sense, the associated communal ties and obligations. Due to the introduction of new, formal trade, banking, and vocational institutions, the traditional institution of guild-based apprenticeship and its mode of instilling traditional values began to decline. One of the consequences of the changing economizing activities and social circumstances has been a shift in the power structure and in the mechanisms for achieving socioeconomic relevance. Professionals such as doctors and academics, by virtue of their training, became the new elites, whose influence rivals and transcends that of traditional chiefs in commanding allegiance and followership. The traditional residential pattern was also affected by modernization. Yoruba people traditionally led an urban existence,28 commuting to their farm-homesteads from the towns. European enculturation significantly hastened the expansion of old urban centers, the development of new cities, and the concentration of social amenities in the cities. The expansion and

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development of urban centers occurred in terms of size, density, heterogeneity, increased mobility, opportunities for individualism, and permanency.29 Studies have shown that urbanization reduces the power of a single individual over another compared to the situation in rural areas. In the city, the nuclear family is enhanced as the basic unit of interaction, while the bond of the extended family is expected to disintegrate.30 In addition, formalized Western systems of education coupled with state formation are often expected to produce individuals who are first and foremost citizens, with civic duties, responsibilities, and allegiance to the state; in the case of Yoruba people, and probably Nigerians in general, this ideal never quite materialized. Communal holds on individuals, in the form of kinship ties and practices, rather than diminishing, actually become strengthened, metamorphosing into new forms of kin networks in the urban centers and in the diaspora. The continued entrenchment of the individual in kinship ties is due primarily to the failures of the new modern state. For example, the rise of the nation-state and the expected transfer of allegiance from the family to the state ought to be accompanied by the nation-state assuming those responsibilities that were previously in the domain of the commune, such as the provision of productive resources and social and political capital. If this were to happen, then circumstances would be created that would not only diminish the social and economic stratification of the agrarian era, which locked individuals into a senior-junior, patron-client form of kinship practice and into a subservient submission to a commune, but would also assure allegiance to the state, since individuals would be granted equal access to the means of achieving a good life independent of the family. Rather than this, modernization and state formation produced, on an unprecedented scale, newer forms of social, economic, and political inequalities that intensified the gulf between the higher and lower ranked, thus leading to the alienation and exclusion of individuals and invariably compelling and intensifying personal interdependence under the guise of kinship. This is almost a natural response, given that the Yoruba child, as shown above, is enculturated into a life of kinship in accessing communal socioeconomic resources. As the following examples show, the modern Yoruba nation in essence are rife with structural inhibitions that compel the persistence of kinship practice as a coping mechanism. An essential feature of the migrant Yoruba is their unremitting identification with the compound and the hometown. This unfolds in practice through the maintenance of close contacts with kin at home by participating in their lives and fulfilling customarily instituted obligations. Regardless of where they are, Yoruba people consider their place of birth their home, the place to which they will eventually return and in which they will be buried. In a fashion similar to that of the commuting practice of the agrarian era, in

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which an extended stay at the farm-homestead did not remove people from their city-homes, the migrant Yoruba is only a sojourner, whose place and rights are kept intact pending his/her return. The uninterrupted discharge of obligations to the home assures that s/he will effectively occupy his/her rightful place and status when s/he finally returns. In order to assure that they do not become derelict in their duties, those in distant cities and in the diaspora rely on kin and a network of alliances to ensure the safe passage of the money and goods that are needed in discharging their obligations. This network of alliances is assumed within the bonds of an established code of kinship transactions. Consider an excerpt from an e-mail message written to overseas scholars intending to participate in an international academic conference at a university in the United States in 2007. With Nigerians in mind, the organizers wrote as follows: You will need to take with you for your interview the letter of invitation from the University of xxx (to those who have registered for the conference, we shall mail all letters in the next one week. If you have relations in the US, I can mail another copy to them and they can send the letter to you by courier. (emphasis mine)

“Relations in the US,” in this instance, are not mainly consanguineal kin; they include the kin network that operates on the basis of traditional consaguineal and affinal relationships. Why should there be the need for “relations in the US” for the delivery of a mere letter? Answer to this question provides an insight into popular Yoruba kinship practices as well as revealing their persistence in spite of modernization and statehood. It will be shown that the modern state has largely reproduced and reinforced the stratification of the agrarian society; the only outlet for the stratified individual is to enter into the support system of kinship practices. Consider the cited excerpt; due to mail fraud, few Nigerians would entrust important documents to the postal services. Nigerians abroad therefore assume the responsibility of assuring the safe passage of documents, goods, and money to their kin (consanguineal and fictive) at home. In reciprocation, those individuals who are in the homeland assume responsibilities and act on behalf of those in the diaspora so that they are able to meet their obligations and assure their place in the family. For example, the home-based kin run errands for the elderly parents left back home, and they compose and read letters for them; nowadays they receive or send e-mails and maintain cellular phone services. Consider, for example, the use of Western Union or Moneygram to wire funds to family members: in order for the recipients to collect the money that has been sent, a state-issued form of identification is required. The forms of identification that are recognized are a driver’s license, international passport, or national identity card. None of these forms of identification are available to at least 70 percent of the Nigerian population; the

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implication is that the recipient would need the mediation of a “kin” member in order to collect the funds. Consequently, the money is wired to a literate kin member who can meet the criteria for delivery to the household. This “help” ties the participants into an obligatory relationship. Thus, the senders assume some filial responsibility for the couriers. The formation and utilization of kin networks is found among both those in the diaspora and those in cities. For example, on the one hand, individuals migrating to the city from the countryside are initially hosted by the more established kin or kin network members. The hosts, acting as benefactors, provide the newcomers with startup aids in exchange for domestic services. Through this support system, the benefactor acquires seniority and invariably assumes the position of a patron who exercises a lasting influence on the life of the junior. On the other hand, those who reside abroad require a kin network to convey their personal possessions and to report on their living conditions to their family members at home; traditionally, the testimony of an eyewitness carries greater weight and is much preferred to letters and phone calls; thus, when anyone in the diaspora is visiting the African continent, this person often carries personal messages from others to their kin. Kinship relationships are thus structural impositions engineered by exigencies. Formal education is supposed to breed individualism, that is, to produce individuals with civic responsibilities and personal choices. Working away from home and drawing a salary is supposed to provide the financial independence that allows a Yoruba person the luxury of individualism and personal choices not possible in the agrarian era. Unfortunately, this does not happen in practice, aside from the fact that young men and women who earn their keep in the cities are able to enter into marriage without parental consents. These marriages sometimes cut across ethnicity, due to the erosion of ethnic divisions in the metropolis, in government offices, and in colleges. Among educated people, there is greater preference for a single-family home and the maintenance of a nuclear family rather than for the traditional practice of polygyny. In reality, education, a separate abode, independence of family land, and financial autonomy, among other factors of modernization, have not weakened the bonds of kinship. Even where it is possible, individualism is not practicable, due to such structural limitations as the absence of social amenities and the absence of the nation-state in the daily life of an individual. As a result, the already familiar communal lifestyle now takes the form of converting social networks into kinship, and evolves to assure mutual aid and the facilitation of individual kinship obligations across vast areas of geographical and social space.31 A common example of the kin network on a broader scale is found in many large cites in the form of traditional community associations that are formed around modern religious groups, neighborhood friendships, occupational associations, rotating credit associations, and town improvement

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unions.32 The use of kinship terms binds members together and reminds them of their reciprocal obligations. Forced upon individuals, the Yoruba kinship practice is an asymmetrical form of interdependence. Individuals are constrained by the vagaries of circumstance to seek the aid of a senior. Consider, for example, even the very simple issue of transportation. Before contact with Europe, the Yoruba nation did not have public transportation. When it emerged, modern public transportation fell into the private sector, where it remains. Buses or taxis pick up passengers on their routes and collect fees before the passengers are dropped off. The principle of seniority within the scope of kinship relationships requires that the older (senior) pay the fare of the younger (junior) when they accidentally meet in a bus or taxi. The junior and the senior do not have to be filial kin. A senior who does not pay the transport fare loses face and standing, especially where there is no outright apology for one’s inability to perform this duty. The junior is piqued and a serious breach in the relationship results. Where the expected behavior occurs, the position of the senior in enhanced, as is the authority of the senior to command the obeisance of the junior. The ownership and use of personal transportation provides another example. Personal vehicles are status symbols. Anyone with personal transportation is regarded as a senior and is usually called upon in cases of serious medical emergency, for example, when a woman is in labor or in other life-threatening circumstances. By discharging these obligations, the senior ensures the continuance of deference, respect, and obedience from the junior, who by each act of receiving is put one step down. It should be noted that the fundamental impetus to fulfilling these obligations or for entering into and nurturing this functional relationship is that participants view each other as kin; consequently they employ kin terms to linguistically designate this relationship, thus solidifying the filial sentiments. These examples were brought together to support the idea that poverty (due to social, economic, and political inequalities) is integral to the kinship practices of the Yoruba nation. From this perspective, poverty has become a functional and pragmatic means of societal organization; it is a useful tool to restrain, subdue, and reward the individual. Furthermore, the illustrations cohere around the most prominent features of statehood and modernization that ultimately galvanize kinship; these are the introduction of a paper currency and of itinerant salaried work. These two features not only replace land as the superior means of coercion but entrench money as the new means of subjugation. Without land, life in the agrarian economy was unimaginable, and the threat of disinheritance was enough to ensure compliance; money now plays this role in the modern era. Without money or the backing of someone with money or influence, life in the modern Yoruba nation is difficult. As a sequel to the emasculation of land, the entrenchment of money and the emergence of the capitalist economy became new

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channels to acquire prestige and accumulate wealth in dimensions previously unimaginable. Monetary riches have produced stark socioeconomic and political dichotomies that have further grievously stratified the Yoruba people. To the extent that individuals are able to generate power and wealth, they are able to assume seniority within the nation and practically replace the community in providing life opportunities to an individual. They have now become patrons who are courted. It is not uncommon for seniors now to sustain and entrench themselves by a form of patronage and clientelism. Seniors armed with capital resources assume a paternal or philanthropic attitude by systematically making themselves indispensable in the life of those in their sphere of influence; in reality, this may take the shape of denying or granting an individual access to productive resources, or providing financial support and material gifts that bind the recipient to the “good-doer.” On the contrary, an individual without a benefactor, seeing no obvious path to obtain gainful employment, to gain access to the resources of the state, or even to obtain justice in clear cases of violations of their rights, is often forced to seek the help of powerful or highly placed individuals; this invariably turns them into clients and makes them indebted to the seniors. As attested by the testimonies of regular citizens, and reflected in the lyrics of musicians and the comments of observers of social processes in Nigeria, having a powerful patron can hinder or ameliorate state brutality. On a personal level, it can determine access to high-quality medical services, admission to schools, and the acquisition of something as ordinary as a police report or an academic transcript. Significantly, this overt form of clientelism and patronage that rests on the principles of kinship is endemic to Yoruba social organization and categorization. The patron, by assuming the responsibility for the services that the state would normally provide, effaces individual civic responsibilities and by implication, personal choices; ultimately, the patron commands the allegiance of the individual, which would otherwise have gone to the state. This senior is often elevated to the status of babaa ([god]father) within an interdependent relationship, the viability of which depends on the manipulation of kinship thinking, feeling, and behavior. The account given above illustrates how the interplay of social and economic changes and spatial integration has created a variety of new problems that have widened the divide between persons. The popular response to these problems consists of a readjustment of the already institutionalized mechanisms for accessing social and economic resources. Ties to family now become ties to personalities or groups, now reconfigured to function within the existing and established parameters of recognition and sanction of kinship. Essentially, just as lineage membership guaranteed continuous support and provision for the child in the agrarian era, membership in a kin network guarantees a form of extended welfare system that is not provided by

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the state. Applying kinship terms to participants in this kin network attests to the generated bond, the framework of reference, and the encoded reciprocal behavioral expectations.

The Use of English Nomenclature The adoption of English education and the English language as a medium of instruction brought about new social values and configurations. New kinship terms were borrowed from the English language to designate the new kin network and to express the obligations of participating individuals and delineate their rights. In this section, some of these adopted terms are described and correlated with their respective behavioral expectations. A careful examination reveals that the use of English kin terms to denote members of the kin network is guided by an admixture of the principle of seniority, the features of patron-client practices, and the avoidance of the use of personal names to address people. This appears to be a carryover of the ideology underlying the agrarian lifestyle. Traditionally, there are only two terms to designate siblings in Yoruba; these are ègbón and àbúrò, both used by ego regardless of sex. Nowadays, bòdàá and àntìí, borrowed from the English brother and aunt, are used to designate older male and female siblings, respectively. These kin terms are morphologically and phonologically indigenized and also semantically redefined. For example, antii is made to confirm to the V(n)CV structure of Yoruba morphology; it is phonetically modified by the addition of lexical tone and it is used to encode a form of kin type different from that denoted in English. These terms, like traditional ones, are used unidirectionally. In other words, only younger siblings use the terms to address or reference older siblings. The older siblings call the younger by their first names. Unlike the traditional terms ègbón and àbúrò, however, bodaa and antii reflect the sex of the referent. They can also be used in conjunction with the first name of the referent, for example, bodaa X or antii X. There is a semantic shift in the use of the term antii; it has usurped the term sister, which will be shown to have become confined to the Christian sphere. The question of what a child should call a friend of the family without being overly formal or rude confronts every society. The traditional Yoruba community solved this problem by appealing to age, status as parent or not, profession, wealth, and title. The contemporary Yoruba nation operating under traditional assumptions solved this problem by using the terms bodaa and antii. In using these terms, ego binds him- or herself emotionally and socially to the referent, thereby rekindling the existing customary series of differential duties and reciprocal obligations. In this context, the term onku, borrowed from the English uncle, is also used but with constraints. Onku at

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its inception was commonly used by the children of educated families to reference their uncles (kin type), and to address peers of their parents and older fictive kin in general. Nowadays, the term’s users cut across education and class; however, unlike the other terms, onku is a cover term for a lot of kin types. It applies to uncles, cousins, and distant relatives. The use of the terms cousin and nephew are avoided, except by a very few modern families who have adopted Western values and extreme nuclear-family lifestyles. In an informal discussion with some adult Yoruba people in Austin, Texas, and Berlin, Germany, about their attitude to the use of cousin and nephew, they unanimously stated that they felt somewhat uneasy about it, because these terms create feelings of distance. In comparison, the use of bodaa, antii, or onku was said to rouse a feeling of closeness and of a tighter relationship. Finally, a modern wife relating to her husband’s sibling or friend uses onku as a term of endearment in order to avoid calling the person by name. The motivation to use these kin terms is ego’s conscious attempt to incorporate the referents into his or her expanded kin network in order to obtain the traditionally instituted benefits of a kin-based relationship. The final term of address to be discussed is senior: this is an innovation that started in the high school system in the Yoruba nation. Students adopted this term to implement the societal injunction of respect for seniority in a way that is analogous to the term egbon. Since age and grade are natural factors of stratification in schools, students in the same class or grade are seen as peers and they call each other by first names. However, it is rude to call by name a student who is in a higher grade; for this purpose, the English term senior is used. The freshman calls the sophomore “senior” or “senior X.” The sophomore addresses the junior as “senior,” and the junior refers to the senior (final year student) as “senior.” Thus, each student linguistically acknowledges the seniority of a student who is at least a grade above them. Implicated in this term of address are expectations and responsibilities. For instance, the final year students have the most authority among students. They are in charge of maintaining discipline in the absence of the teachers. Some become prefects, students chosen by the teachers to support them in the administration of the school. The prefects can discipline any student except their own mates. They can send students on errands, detain them, assign manual labor to them, or whip them for offences. Similarly, each class exercises authority over the classes beneath it. A student can get into trouble simply by calling someone in a higher grade by his or her first name. Adherence to this code of conduct, which replicates the stratified existence outside the schoolyard, assures the support of seniors and protection from bullies. This form of relationship is akin to the practice of patron-client relationships in the society at large. The use of the term senior, which one adopts to address those of a higher grade in high school, for the most part remains even after graduation.

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The junior continues to address members of the grades preceding them as “seniors” and will speak to them using honorifics. Finally, part of the influence of Western education and the English language is the use of titles and the names of professions as terms of address. The use of these terms is guided by the existing traditional factors of politeness, respect, and the desire for personal connection in order to widen the scope of influence and increase life opportunities. Thus, Yoruba scholars in the United States will use academic titles, for example, “Dr. X” or “Prof. Y,” where they would have used bodaa or antii. These titles, which transcend the professional realm and carry over into society, often generate curiosity among Americans, who wonder why their Yoruba colleagues, who otherwise are on a first name basis with others, treat one another formally. The formality mainly arises from the principle of seniority. In a religious setting, the terms sístà and bródà (with different tonal realizations) are used as terms of address even between husbands and wives. Thus, Christians address one another as bródà X or sístà Y. These terms are used bidirectionally and operate in a fashion similar to that reported for the African American community.33 The Yoruba use of these terms is not driven solely by politeness; it has cultural underpinnings such as adherence to the principle of seniority, avoidance of the use of first names, and the desire to maintain the traditionally instituted reciprocal obligations between senior and junior that provide the access to social and economic resources that is afforded by kinship thinking. For example, members of such Pentecostal movements as Deeper Life, the Redeemed Christian Church, and the Assemblies of God Church, both in the diaspora and in Nigeria, are known for their nepotism in the realm of commerce and employment. Fadipe considers the practice of extending kinship terms and kinship principles to church members a form of compensation for the loss of extended family structures.34 Using this practice, Christians of the same denomination rank themselves closely as parents and older siblings and enforce existing cultural norms. Conclusively, the idea of reciprocal rights and obligations among Yoruba people is a function of the envisioned degree of proximity between kin. The use of the same terms to address a wide range of kin and members of the kin network is based on the sentimental attachments that obtain within filial relationships. By accepting these terms, you sign a cultural contract that confers on you family membership and access to the traditionally instituted form of respect provided to elders within the community and access to the attendant sanctions. You, on the other hand, promise to meet your filial obligations. For you to renege will be to incur strong social sanctions from the community. Essentially, contemporary Yoruba kinship practices are reflections and extensions of the existing sensibilities and ties to the community. The decay of the modern nation-state remains the agent for the furtherance and sustenance of the client-patron ideology of the kinship practices

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that are incorporated in the maintenance of the indigenous model of social order; “a congeries of localized network[s] focused on big men.”35

The Principle Guiding Forms of Address The question might be raised, what is the uptake of kinship relationships among the Yoruba; how, in other words, does a hearer perceive a linguistic code to have the force that it possesses? Following John Searle, illocutionary acts are utterances that express the intentions of the speakers, as in requests or questions, and that cause hearers to do something; these utterances as a result become perlocutions.36 On being addressed by the kinship term bodaa or sistaa the hearer is tied into the bond of kinship that forces on him or her the duties of kinship, thus engineering a new mutual form of expectations and handling that operates within the framework of approval and sanctions contained in Yoruba culture. Essentially, the Yoruba person, having been schooled in Yoruba culture, hears the use of a kinship term and on the one hand immediately understands the intention of the speaker; on the other hand, the speaker directs the hearer to a proposition, the acceptance of which causes the hearer to behave in accordance with the propositional content of the utterance. Thus, there develops a reciprocal commitment from the hearer and the speaker to the underlying cultural behavioral pattern inherent in the proposition. In other words, the culture is the facilitating or felicity condition that causes each participant to adhere to sets of principles contained in the linguistic terms. Malinowski describes interaction as phatic communion: “The whole situation consists in what happens linguistically. Each utterance is an act serving the direct aim of binding hearer to speaker by a tie of some social sentiment or other. Once more, language appears to us in this function not as an instrument of reflection but as a mode of action.”37 It is fair to conclude that in spite of a shifting vista of social, economic, and power issues, the realities of Yoruba existence, especially the aspect that galvanizes kinship behavior, remain changeless regardless of time and space; so does the Yoruba solution to the problem, regardless of its guises. Yoruba kinship is a means of control whose efficacy is stronger than the force of the state. Unlike the state’s force, kinship does not annihilate people when its ideals are violated; rather it robs them of all the benefits of a society and reduces offenders’ quality of life below the level of slavery.

Conclusion The contexts that have been considered include the historical-cum-political genesis of the use of kinship terms, social condition, and setting both in the

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agrarian and postagrarian eras. Popular Yoruba kinship is propelled by the spiritual doctrine of a communal lifestyle. The blanket term communal lifestyle allows the otherwise inhuman subjugation of the junior to be described by words that invoke a utopic nostalgia for something that never existed except in the realm of myth, but that invariably ties the weak, the junior, in bondage to the strong, the senior. This worldview defines the hierarchical placement of individuals as the core of its social organization and the glue of continuity. Central to the discussion of this chapter is the idea that the extension of kinship practice to include networks of alliances and fictive kin is a form of social, cultural, and economic “capital”38 that the Yoruba people create. They operate the popular kin networks to enhance their “access to opportunities, information, material resources, and social status,” especially in the diaspora and in urban centers.39 The kin network ties arise conveniently from a network of relationships due to residential, professional, or religious association. According to P. Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz, the basic reference unit in Nigeria, as elsewhere in Africa, remains family-and kin-based: it is the fundamental “circle of trust” within which individuals operate.40 Further, Chabal and Daloz state that political elites and, I should add, each member of the society for that matter, seeks to establish principles of mutual aid, of patron-client reciprocity, based on the model of kinship and family relations. Thus, the idea of kinship remains for the Yoruba the raison d’être of social relationships and interaction. The use of English kinship terms is a functional endeavor that gives coherency and continuity to customarily sanctioned asymmetrical relationships and obligations. This practice furthers the corporate nature of the kin and intensifies communal cohesion and solidarity; access depends strictly on participation in social and economic institutions that often involve an absolute adherence to patronage and clientelism. Quite significantly, patronage and clientelism manifest as, and are sustained by, inequality and stratification; these, arguably, are the major means of organizing the elaborately formalized Yoruba society. The seniors are empowered to the disadvantage of the juniors; they keep their exalted position by deliberately perpetuating inequality and by carefully limiting access to power, prestige, and privilege. The juniors are pacified with the promise and hope of assuming similar exalted positions in time and with good behavior. An ontological understanding of contemporary kinship practices and the use of kin terms reveals that the evocation of kin nomenclature serves to do the following: (a) expand the kinfolk to include fictive kin; (b) avoid the gulf that would otherwise be suggested if these network kinfolks were to be designated as fictive kin instead of siblings; and (c) reinforce the social contract that binds the participants of a kin network relationship and bring to consciousness their statuses and obligations. The person called oga (boss), for example, is expected to make large monetary and material donations

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at the wedding ceremony of the person who calls him oga. Such Yoruba proverbs as “Eniyan nla ni nse nkan nla” (A big person does big deeds) are mnemonic means of reinforcement of these customs. Maintaining a senior position requires the continuous deeds of a senior. In the agrarian time, “seniority conveyed authority and access to the productive services of others but was also dependent on them.”41 This, in reality, has not changed. The seniors boost their reputations based on their so-called generosity, while the deprived juniors remain fastened to the handouts of the elders and seek to be aligned with them in order to gain access to otherwise unattainable resources. From this asymmetrical relationship and structure of interdependence stem the social and political organization of the Yoruba nation. By closely and disproportionately regulating access to power and influence, the hierarchical basis of the society is enabled to continue and persist on the basis of kinship feelings, thinking, and handling. In conclusion, it is fair to state that the often-eulogized modern Yoruba popular culture of a communal lifestyle and cohesiveness based on kinship is a functionally induced practice that would not continue if it were not for the need to compensate for the absence of the state in the life of the ordinary individual. Contemporary social circumstances and socioeconomic inequalities compel the Yoruba person to create extended communities that expand the reciprocal obligations of kinship across vast areas of geographical and social space42 and beyond the boundaries of immediate kin.

Notes 1. Stuart Hall, ed., Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (London: Sage Publications). 2. Nathaniel Fadipe, The Sociology of The Yoruba (Ibadan, Nigeria: Ibadan University Press, 1970). 3. Solomon Oluwole Oyetade, “A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Address Forms in Yoruba,” Language in Society (1995): 515–35. 4. William Schwab, “The Terminology of Kinship and Marriage among the Yoruba,” Africa: Journal of The International African Institute 4 (1958): 301–13. 5. Samuel Johnson, The History of the Yorubas (Lagos: CSS Press, 1921), 102–3. 6. Simi Afonja, “Changing Modes of Production and Sexual Division of Labour among the Yoruba,” Signs 7, no. 2 (1999): 304. 7. Schwab, “The Terminology of Kinship and Marriage among the Yoruba.” 8. See William Schwab, “Kinship and Lineage among the Yoruba,” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 25, no. 5 (1955): 353; Schwab, “The Terminology of Kinship and Marriage among the Yoruba”; and Fadipe, The Sociology of The Yoruba. 9. Schwab, “Kinship and Lineage among the Yoruba,” 356. 10. Ibid., 354.

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11. See William Bascom, “Social Status, Wealth and Individual Difference among the Yoruba,” American Anthropologist, n.s., 53, no. 4 (1951): 491; William Bascom, “Urbanization among the Yoruba,” American Journal of Sociology 60, no. 5 (1955): 448; and J. S. Eades, The Yoruba Today (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980). 12. William Bascom, “Yoruba Urbanization,” Man 58 (1958): 191. 13. See Bascom, “Urbanization among the Yoruba”; and Bascom, “Yoruba Urbanization.” 14. Johnson, The History of the Yorubas. 15. Rotimi Adewale, “Paradox of ‘Progress’: The Role of Western Education in the Transformation of the Family in Nigeria,” Anthropologist 7, no. 2 (2005): 139. 16. See Bascom, “Social Status, Wealth and Individual Difference,” 491. 17. William Bascom, “The Principle of Seniority in the Social Structure of the Yoruba,” American Anthropologist, n.s., 44, no. 1 (1942): 37–46. 18. P. C. Lloyd, Power and Independence: Urban Africans’ Perception of Social Inequality (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974). 19. Daniel J. Smith, “Kinship and Corruption in Contemporary Nigeria,” Ethnos 66, no. 3 (2001): 344–64. 20. P. C. Lloyd, “Agnatic and Cognatic Descent among the Yoruba,” Man, n.s., 1, no. 4 (1966): 488. 21. Paul E. Lovejoy and T. Falola, ed., Pawnship, Slavery and Colonialism in Africa (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2003). 22. Smith, “Kinship and Corruption in Contemporary Nigeria.” 23. Sara Berry, “Social Institutions and Access to Resources,” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 59, no. 1 (1989): 41–55. 24. Fadipe, The Sociology of the Yoruba. 25. Oyetade, “A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Address Forms in Yoruba.” 26. Benjamin L. Whorf, in J. B. Carroll, ed., Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1956). 27. S. Waxman and T. Kosowski, “Nouns Mark Category Relations: Toddlers’ and Preschoolers’ Word-learning Biases,” Child Development 61 (1990): 1461–73. 28. See Johnson, The History of the Yorubas; and Bascom, “Urbanization among the Yoruba.” 29. See Louis Wirth, “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” American Journal of Sociology 44 (1938): 1–24. 30. See Wirth, “Urbanism as a Way of Life”; and Morris Axelrod, “Urban Structure and Social Participation,” American Sociological Review 1 (1956): 21. 31. See Smith, “Kinship and Corruption in Contemporary Nigeria.” 32. See D. R. Aronson, The City Is Our Farm (Cambridge, MA: Schenkman, 1980); and Eades, The Yoruba Today, 61. 33. See Elijah Anderson, A Place on the Corner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), as well as C. B Stack, “All Our Kin”: Strategies for Survival in the Black Community (New York: Harper and Row, 1974). 34. Fadipe, The Sociology of the Yoruba, 316. 35. Christopher A. Waterman, “Our Tradition Is a Very Modern Tradition. Popular Music and the Construction of Pan-Yoruba Identity,” in Readings in African Popular Culture, ed. Karin Barber (Bloomington, IN: International African Institute in association with Indiana University Press and James Currey, 1997).

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36. John R. Searle, Mind, Language and Society: Doing Philosophy in the Real World (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999). 37. Bronislaw Malinowski, “The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Languages,” 1923, in The Meaning of Meaning, 2nd ed., ed. C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1930), 315. 38. Pierre Bourdieu, “The Forms of Capital,” in Handbook of Theory and Research in the Sociology of Education, ed. J. G. Richardson (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), 241–58. 39. Helen R. Ebaugh, “Fictive Kin as Social Capital in New Immigrant Communities,” Sociological Perspectives 43, no. 2 (2000): 189–209. 40. P. Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz, Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument (Oxford: James Currey for the International African Institute, 1999), 27. 41. Berry, “Social Institutions and Access to Resources,” 8. 42. Smith, “Kinship and Corruption in Contemporary Nigeria,” 351.

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3 Justice from Below: Cultural Capital, Local/Global Identity Processes, and Social Change in Eastern Niger Antoinette Tidjani Alou Introduction Lougou and Bagagi are two villages marked by the survival of the traditional Azna culture and religion in Hausa-speaking eastern Niger.1 Sarraounia in the Hausa language means “queen”2 or female chief but may designate various more or less minor functions of female leadership when written with a lower case s. More significantly, this title refers, in the specific context of our field enquiry and of Niger’s recent history, to the functions of the priestesschief of Lougou. Lougou, village of the Sarraounias, is situated in one of the relatively densely populated zones of Niger, part of the eastern Hausa-speaking region sometimes referred to as Mawri country (le pays mawri), which well into the twentieth century, and indeed until recently was known for its unswerving faithfulness to the traditional Azna religion.3 It is also noted for its opposition to Islam, from the Fulani jihads in precolonial times to the early postindependence era.4 The title Sarraounia refers, in particular, to a line of descent of women from whom was selected the female leader who exercised both noncentralized political power and religious authority. This religious authority has long become the only remaining—and contested— prerogative of the Sarraounia.5 Currently, Lougou and its seven allied villages represent the last, impoverished bastions of this once prosperous female chieftaincy.6 Similar vestiges exist in neighboring regions of eastern Niger and northern Nigeria, where functions like those of the Magaram, Magajiya, Iya or Inna, and Jekadiya persist in more or less vibrant forms. The Sarraounia has a counterpart in the spiritual world of the bori cult.7 This is an eponymous genie to whom sacrifices are offered, in particular by Sarraounia’s high priest, the Bawra, chief of Bagagi. The function of this

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Justice from Below 65 particular religious—and formerly also political—leadership is inscribed in the social, cultural, and political world of the Azna. The worldview of the Azna people derives from cults of nature and its spirits, and it recognizes the crucial character of religious and social dynamics based on an ongoing quest for balance between the male and female elements of the cosmos and of society.8 Today in Niger, the title Sarraounia conjures up images of Sarraounia Mangou, the most famous of the Sarraounias, who strongly resisted French domination. This great feat is marginally represented in literature, in Abdoulaye Mamani’s novel, Sarraounia (1980), in Med Hondo’s prize-winning film, Sarraounia (1987), and in a children’s book also entitled Sarraounia (2004), inspired by Mamani’s novel.9 Other tributes to this historical feat are found in neotraditional ballets, popular representations, remote archives, and scanty historical accounts.10 Sarraounia Aljimma (sometimes written as Aljoumma) currently wears the sandals of the historical female leader, Sarraounia Mangou. Her leadership, beyond the local levels of the village and of the region, is, moreover, situated within the broader national, social, political, and religious landscape where women have increasingly been relegated to the background, in both public and private spheres, particularly over the last one hundred years.11 According to the foundation narrative that introduces the judicial ritual of Tunguma as a legacy of the “First Times,” the chieftaincy of Lougou originated in the kingdom of Daura or Dawra, one of the seven original Hausa states.12 Unlike other Hausa kingdoms of northern Nigeria, Daura is among the few Habe13 kingdoms that managed to remain independent, despite territorial losses, until Europeans arrived. As already mentioned, Lougou, which claims descent from Daura, remained un-Islamized well into the second half of the twentieth century.14 The Daura kingdom was named after one of its famous queens, Queen Daurama.15 It was the first of the seven original Hausa states or Hausa Bakwai16 and it had seventeen queens as its earliest rulers.17 The legends and myths of Hausaland, in present-day Nigeria and Niger, resound with the feats of royal female warriors and recall illustrious queens of the sixteenth century, like Queen Amina and her sister Queen Zaria (after whom the town of Zaria, in northern Nigeria, is named). A few cultural vestiges in current Hausa courts testify to the public positions of power formerly held by women, usually, but not exclusively, of noble birth. The Sarraounias, who share this legacy, were never warrior queens despite fictional accounts. Nevertheless, the survival of the Tunguma ritual and the respect attached to it by practitioners and supplicants attest to the operation and pertinence of current ante-Islamic practices in a country that defines itself officially as predominantly Muslim. Various versions of the foundation narrative of Lougou18 recount how the first Sarraounia fled her kingdom to avoid assassination at the hands of male relations contesting her accession to the throne of Daura. This attempt on

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her life, which was consequent to a movement toward the masculinization of leadership that was riding on the waves of Islamic conquest. This masculinization of power was legitimized by the Bayajidda myth,19 which according to Bivins has been in circulation since before the nineteenth century. “European visitors to central West Africa collected variations of a legend which claimed to describe the origins of the Hausa people.”20 These narratives, as relayed by Islamic ideology among other means, feature an Arabic prince, Bayajidda, son of the king of Baghdad, in the redemptory role of the civilizing hero of the new Daura. For many, this legend has eclipsed and erased the memory of centuries of female power.21 The foundation narrative of Lougou, village of the Sarraounias, suggests an opposition to a formerly accepted public exercise of female leadership in the kingdom of Daura, a space where both men and women of noble blood could rule. It also relates the origin of the Tunguma ritual, which was to become, upon settlement in a new land, an important element of the groundwork of the new society originating in exile: According to history, she [Sarraounia] originated in “kasan Misra” [Egypt]. Then they left for Daura. . . . But a plot was fomented to remove her. . . . So, she escaped with her people during the night. . . . It was on the way that Tunguma spoke to them, according to what we were told. When they turned around, they saw nothing, nobody. Once more the call was heard. The stone told them it was the one speaking to them. It asked them to take it along and to appeal to it when they needed to solve a problem. Upon their arrival in this zone [present-day Lougou and its environs], the stone asked to be deposited at the foot of a baobab tree. At the time, Tunguma was only in the service of the “Mazan Lougou” [men of Lougou]. But nowadays it is in the service of everyone; people from different backgrounds are able to request its service.22

The ritual in which this stone of justice is consulted seems to include characteristics of both the ordeal and the oracle as defined by Raynal.23 Like the oracle, it is a “modality of proof, of possibly secret character” aimed at finding “the origin of evil” through an appeal to telluric forces. It seeks to decide on “the person or spirit guilty of an infraction” with the additional element of “judgment and sanction,” especially if the latter is understood as being possibly “sacred” as well as “secular” (integrating material reparation, apologies, efforts at reconciliation, and future good relations).24 This ritual will now be described. The Tunguma Ritual: When a Stone Is Not a Stone First, I will describe the judicial ritual Tunguma as observed through its instruments, authorities, and users, its space and rites of enactment, its approaches to justice, and the response of users to its judgments. These will then be examined

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Justice from Below 67 from the viewpoint of local and national pertinence, especially the need for selfreliance in the face of the inefficacy of the nation-state. Finally the question will be viewed from a more universal point of view, relating specifically to legal globalization under the Washington Legal Consensus. In the praise songs25 (kirari: invocations) addressed to it as an introit to the ritual, the stone Tunguma is variously designated as “son of Sarraounia,” “stone of Sarraounia’s [home]land,” “stone of Daura,” “stone of Bornu” (a neighboring emirate), “the stone that informs,” and “the one that answers those who ask.” Maigari, the chief celebrant, adds his chant of praise: “Those who come laughing return crying!” and “You justify those in the right, [you] dismiss the liar.” These words evoke the origin of the stone, its relation to Sarraounia’s chieftaincy, and its moral and judicial function, while underlining its prestige, inscribed in a culture of praise. For the adepts in animism and in syncretic Islamic practice who come from all over the region, and beyond, to consult it, Tunguma, despite appearances, is no ordinary stone. It is not the same as many similar stones strewn on the ground at the site of the ritual some three kilometers from Lougou, Sarraounia’s village. Tunguma prolongs Sarraounia’s power.26 As uninformed members of the assembly are told: “Nan ma wurun iko ne” (This is also a place of power). We heard this information-reproach directed at two young supplicants perceived by the celebrants as being inappropriately dressed (one was wearing sunglasses, the other a tam). The stone, treated with deep respect, can only be manipulated and approached by authorized persons from Sarraounia’s entourage, like the celebrants, bearers, and other priests. We asked the priest, Magagi, to tell us about the characteristics of the stone: is it inhabited by a genie or is it a simple stone? To the first part of the question he responded: “There is a spirit in it. How else would it respond? It is God’s power [ikon Allah].” The answer to the second part, which seems surprising at first, was this: “It’s a stone.” Prior to the ritual, we broached the subject of Tunguma, during an interview with the Maigari (village chief) of Lougou: Q: What is the ritual that surrounds the stone Tunguma? A: There is a ritual that is done before it is questioned. The stone is first given water to drink then the usual greetings follow. It is Magagi who takes care of this ritual. Q: In what language does one speak to Tunguma? A. In Hausa. Q: The same language as today? A: Of course. When you have a problem to submit to it you can do it in your language and even in your heart, without speaking, if you want. If the answer is positive it advances toward you; if not it moves back. People come even from Niamey. Even the authorities come here, the politicians too.27

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As it is now quite accessible and has even been filmed for television,28 we were able to observe the ritual at close quarters. Except in moments of heightened tension (when the horses—bearers of the stone—executed rapid and sometimes somewhat violent gallops among the members of the assembly), the relaxed atmosphere allowed us, in addition to tape-recording, to question members of the assembly and to take abundant notes, which we later compiled and compared. These tape recordings and notes have been used in writing the present description and the accompanying analysis focusing on the place of this ritual in the religious, economic, and judicial landscapes of the region and of the country as a whole. January 25, 2004. Site of the Tunguma ritual, some three kilometers from Lougou. It is Sunday, day of this traditional cult. When we arrive on the spot, Maigari (the village chief) is already present and his horse is waiting nearby. The ritual takes place in a landscape formed by a plateau within a valley. The ground bears the marks of active water erosion coming from surrounding plateaus. Tunguma is situated at about forty meters from a gully. Of ordinary appearance, the stone, which remains on the site, placed directly on the ground, resembles other dark-colored stones scattered here and there. . . . We find a small assembly of individuals waiting, some thirty or forty meters east of the stone. Nobody approaches the stone, except Magagi, the chief sacrificer of Lougou, who places his white cloth on a shrub two meters from the stone. Our truck is parked not far from Maigari’s horse. A radio, fixed to a bush, announces the results of the national wrestling championship, which elicits comments, laughter, and shouts that will continue as a background noise even after the beginning of the ceremony. The celebrants count money. We see thousand franc and five hundred franc notes being passed from hand to hand, among the celebrants. A voice announces the sum of 4,500 francs; then another sum of 3,000 francs; there’s a heated discussion on expenses. Negotiations . . . Each one is asked to say what he thinks about the money. Is the money enough? . . . Even if it does not amount to 5,000 francs (the fixed rate for a case of sorcery), if Magagi agrees . . . well . . .

Magagi is seated facing the stone a few meters away, to the east, a clean pile of sand between him and the stone. The radio stops when the first case starts to get really interesting, demanding the full attention of the assembly. The assembly includes Magagi and his aides, villagers who have come to question the stone or to watch the proceedings, a few old priests, the researchers from our team, and our driver, all adults.29 Proceedings of the Ritual On this occasion, five cases were brought before the stone, following the opening ceremony. This discussion will focus on only one, the major case of

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Justice from Below 69 the day, concerning the extremely serious problem of a suspicion of witchcraft in one family, resulting, purportedly, in repeated cases of madness among certain members of the victimized branch. The cost of this type of case, the most expensive, is 5,000 CFA francs. In other types of cases, petitioners can give at their discretion.

The Opening During the ritual, the plaintiffs/questioners/supplicants sit facing the stone. In front of them, there is a clean heap of sand that they throw while addressing queries. . . . Magagi is the first to approach the stone. The others stand a bit in retreat. He begins by putting the talla (carrying device) and the calabash containing water on the ground. Water, brought from the village in a (plastic) container, is poured into the calabash then used to water the stone. Maigari repeats this gesture three times, while reciting prayers, and bringing sand taken from the heap in front of him to his forehead. Once the stone has been hoisted to their shoulders on the talla, the two “horses” start to move to and fro, here and there. Magagi explains that this play is how the stone shows that it is present and active.

Once all this is done, Magagi removes the cloth that he has been wearing wrapped around his body and places it on a nearby shrub. Then he returns to his position. While waiting, he chews tobacco. The money collected from the parties is deposited a few inches to the east of Tunguma, by one of the horses (doki, horse = carriers) of Tunguma, who takes care to secure it with a small stone. One of the carriers puts Magagi’s cloth, which he removes from the shrub, around his body before taking up his burden, that is, the stone. Magagi sits to the east of the sand heap, which he carefully encircles between his legs. He is almost sitting on his crossed left leg while the right leg is kept elevated. He takes a bit of sand, carries it to his face, and then throws it in the direction of the stone. The operation is repeated about forty-five times, accompanied by prayers/invocations. Then the carriers get going. . . . We are told, in response to our questions, that the carriers are dan maza (kin originating in the male branch of Sarraounia’s lineage), whose fathers were carriers before them. We are also told that the sum collected goes to the carriers, who divide it among themselves. After the stone has demonstrated its presence, the questioning can begin. Magagi tells the stone, “Stop now and tell us what we want to know.” Now that the initial rites have been accomplished, the assembly is asked to sit. The carrying of the stone follows an intricately ordered ballet of gestures and words. The supplicants/questioners/plaintiffs sit near Magagi and one by one address their queries to the stone while throwing small quantities of sand in its direction. At the end of the proceedings, Magagi once again

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addresses praises and thanks to the stone, while instructing it to resume its repose until the next ritual: “Dan Sarraounia komo ka zamma babu tambaya” (Son of Sarraounia, return to your rest; there are no [more] questions). Before depositing the stone, the carriers touch the shrub next to which Tunguma reposes, and then withdraw, moving backward. The ritual of depositing is an intricate reversal of the ritual of the taking up of the stone. . . . The stone is finally deposited on the ground. And the same gestures marking the beginning are repeated in reverse.30

Judgment of a Case: Accusation of Witchcraft The plaintiff/questioner, Boubacar, represents his father who is suspected/ accused of witchcraft. . . . The carriers come and go while Magagi pronounces words while throwing sand. Questioners must address themselves to the stone. Thus Boubacar speaks: “Tunguma, it is me, Boubacar, son of Assoumane. If it is Asoumane who cast an evil spell that drove so-and-so [the person’s name is inaudible] insane, come and show us.” The request is repeated again and again, upon the instructions and encouragement of the celebrants and of the assembly. Magagi, Sarraounia’s chief sacrificer, encourages Boubacar to repeat kaara (again); repeat the request to the stone, again and again. Boubacar repeats the question, again and again, to the stone.

Magagi asks Tunguma to reveal the truth: is it Assoumane who has cast an evil spell? They ask the stone to come and answer. Magagi asks the question while throwing sand in front of him: Is Assoumane working with Dogoua (a very dangerous spirit)? The carriers come and go. . . . No clear answer emerges; it is therefore necessary to propose a new hypothesis: If Assoumane is not the one who cast an evil spell, is it someone else? It is Boubacar, son of the accused, who must formulate this question. Is it somebody in the family? The stone advances toward the plaintiffs: positive answer. Then, who? Various members of the lineage are named, one by one, in order to ask whether the evil spirit is in either branch of the family and so on. The correct procedure is explained to the plaintiff/supplicant. Tunguma answers “no” to all the names. No one has cast an evil spell. The consultation continues, with general discussion and interpretation of this verdict, which is not questioned. Verdict: There is no intention to do harm on the part of anyone. A dissatisfied ancestral genie, forsaken by the family, which has converted to Islam, is the cause. The family elders must get together to arrange reconciliation with the spirit, in order to put an end to the attacks. . . . Boubacar’s interpretation is that his branch of the family is not involved. . . . He is corrected; it is a problem that concerns the entire family, and that lies beyond the competence of Islam. . . .

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Justice from Below 71 After the verdict, advice is given to the opponents. The discussion becomes general: This is a matter of the spirit realm; this Islam does not prevent the sacrifice of reparation required; Islam has nothing to do with it, the family has been suffering from attacks of insanity for twenty to thirty years, sudden attacks of insanity. The stone has designated the family as a whole as having a problem. Boubacar explains why he and his family, converted Muslims, cannot accomplish the ritual prescribed. People explain to him that this has nothing to do with Islam. To free the family from the effects of the genie, from its damage, they must do what has to be done. After the hearing, advice continues to come from left, right, and center.31

Discussion: The Tunguma Ritual, Sarraounia’s Power,32 and New Local and Global Sociocultural Dynamics and Change The Tunguma ritual described above throws light on spiritual/judicial “mechanisms that escape, for different reasons, from both the indigenous and the foreign gaze.”33 The significance of this traditional spiritual/judicial process includes implications for the state of Niger and its legal practices. Specifically, an examination of this process highlights the ways in which formal modes of justice compare to informal forms of popular justice like ordeals and oracles, in Niger and beyond. Tunguma occupies an interesting position in the popular legal landscape of the region. Compared to the official legal machinery of the state, its judgments are fast; the persons “standing trial” and the public all participate voluntarily. According to field observations, the celebrants in charge of the ritual are respected and the verdict is not questioned. The procedure is simple, it is relatively cheap, and it is conducted in a language (Hausa) that everyone understands. The judicial authority can be addressed directly, using simple words, in the language of one’s choice or even in the silence of one’s heart. There are no appeals, no recourse to other authorities seen as superior. These facts are similar to those observed by Thomas Kelley in the case of the gon oracle that is consulted in the urban Zongo neighborhood of Niamey.34 The Tunguma ritual of justice is one with a human face. Beyond the verdict, Tunguma offers advice for reconciliation, thus ensuring the improvement of relationships that have been undermined or threatened by conflicts and social disorder. This is not to say that this form of justice is perfect or that it is applicable in all cases, but rather that it meets the requirements of those who have recourse to it, and who do so in all confidence and respect. This alternative form of justice fills a vacuum left by the legal mechinism of a state that is physically distant and difficult to reach for various reasons including the use of a foreign language, the associated high cost, the

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complex procedures, fear, and corruption. Beyond this, Tunguma enjoys a high reputation and prestige among the population, so much so that it has been called to the aid of the national police force, state officials, and public personalities. According to an anecdote collected in the field, under the Kountché regime, a number of unsolved murders took place in the Department of Dosso.35 The population was worried. The préfet of Dosso, summoned by the head of the state to solve the problem, went to a Sunday meeting of Tunguma, together with the sous-préfet of Dogon Doutchi, a man of the region, to consult Tunguma. Tunguma is said to have identified the culprits: five persons, including a woman.36 This story reveals certain aspects of the relationship between the state and traditional power. It also underlines the accumulation of systems rather than the replacement of the traditional authorities by those of the modern state. Details of this incident also highlight the economic stakes attached to the ritual—and the conflicts that these stakes have the capacity to generate. For example, according to Guimba Kaboyé, one of Sarraounia’s sacrificers, the préfet of Dosso sent a sum of 100,000 CFA francs for “court expenses” (or rather as the promised sum). According to Guimba Kaboyé, the Serkin Arewa of the time gave only 25,000 francs to the relevant Lougouan spiritual authorities, unduly retaining the rest for himself.37 The ritual under discussion is a living phenomenon in which Muslims as well as syncretic believers participate. It underscores the continued vivacity of traditional religious practices in Niger. The ritual is maintained and used despite the notable rise of Islam and its promotion in the public arena. Generally, a high degree of confidence is placed in the efficacy of the verdict, even if some individuals have reservations regarding symbolic sanctions requiring reparation through traditional non-Muslim rites, such as sacrifices to propitiate ancestral spirits. The Tunguma ritual is seen as a testimony to Sarraounia’s power, which extends beyond her physical presence and her personal action. It underscores the popular acknowledgement of her status as the possessor of the “truth” and the “solutions” to problems.

Ritual and the Economy There are, moreover, economic stakes attached to the Tunguma ritual. On the one hand, the ritual requires no form of sacrifice whatsoever from the complainant, which makes it relatively inexpensive. On the other, Tunguma generates income benefiting the sacrificers and carriers. For a consultation concerning a case of theft or witchcraft, each party to the conflict brings the sum of 5,000 CFA francs. For other requests, the sum is at the giver’s discretion. On some Sundays, the income is relatively substantial

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Justice from Below 73 and disagreements are likely to occur on how to divide it among those who officiate. Resources being scarce, the income generated sometimes results in conflicts.38 The ritual at this level is also related to economic power. In other words, spiritual power is convertible into cash—economic power—and is indeed thus converted, transformed into economic stakes and social conflicts.39

From One Power to Another The fieldwork sharpened our awareness of how the figure of Sarraounia, the mythical narratives, and the various discourses and representations related to her are inserted into the history of contemporary Niger. Related narratives and discourses, as well as the representations they unveil, emphasize the changes in progress in today’s Niger. The legacy of colonization, Islamization, the ongoing processes of modern state building, and the modification of moral and cultural values have left unscathed neither the powers of the past nor the spaces and sites of the intangible heritage that embody this legacy. As already observed, these powers do not seem to be outmoded or entirely disavowed. But the conflicts that mark the relations between the holders of these powers and certain manifestations of reticence regarding the application of sanctions seem to indicate the sociocultural change in progress. The change involves a struggle around stakes related to other powers such as the modern state and/or its partners, income for development and projects (including education, which allows, under favorable conditions, access to development income), and Islam, notably the rise in Wahabism. There exists, in these spaces, the awareness that two broad types of powers exist: the first related to traditional knowledge and know-how, the second related to other kinds of knowledge and savoir faire. Facing the latter, the powerful persons of yesterday are seen as the rejects of today, their influence having been superseded by those holding other forms of power, though not totally annulled, due to their retention of rites, rituals, and spiritual competences that remain respected and solicited. Nonetheless, resentment and disappointment, as well as the conflicts they nourish, are all the more intense as the localities that perceive themselves as wronged also observe neighboring localities with a less illustrious history that appear to have succeeded by aligning themselves with the new (state) power holders. This reversal of the former hierarchy provokes envy and ill-will, deleterious to a culture of peace. At any rate, the positive effects of the Tunguma ritual and the prestige it enjoys among users are all derived from the fit between the law and the society it addresses. This point will be further examined below.

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Social Change As Soulier notes, the fact that the overwhelming majority of African societies have (logical) recourse to customary systems in order to resolve conflicts does not imply that these societies are either “paradisiacal” or “infernal,” or indeed anything other than “ordinary human communities in quest of continuity” order, and peace.40 Obviously, outright conflict and latent conflict do exist, as we have seen concerning the distribution of the economic income derived from the Tunguma ritual and the consultation of the stone. Beyond economic stakes, conflicts involve classic questions related to a social atmosphere of suspicion and its corollary—accusations of the practice of witchcraft, perceived as a crime in African societies. This draws attention to certain points of the case considered in this chapter, underscoring simultaneously the endogenous management of conflict, and, of course, of crime, on the one hand, and the crucial question of social change, on the other. To consider just one or two examples, remember that Boubacar and his relative were upbraided for not respecting the dress code required for those walking, as it were, on holy ground. This indicates their ignorance of proper deportment and thus their distance from ancestral practices and norms. But other, more discrete indicators also emerge. Boubacar and his cousin are on a very important mission, given the extreme gravity of the suspicion looming over Boubacar’s father and therefore his household, not to mention the impact on interkin relationships. But they are both young men, intervening and assuming responsibility in lieu of their elders, and specifically in lieu of lineage heads, whose function is ideally to enforce order, to prescribe for major crimes like homicide and incest “penalties” that are “both sacred and secular.”41 Moreover, as Raynal42 remarks concerning parts of central Africa, a crime like witchcraft incurred in the past the most severe of all sanctions, “expulsion from the lineage,” resulting in exile and/or social death, or even physical death at the hands of the community. At any rate, the elders here speak through their absence and silence, which are all the more eloquent as it is the lineage head who is supposed to take measures aimed at settling intrakin disputes and at attaining reconciliation.43

The Tunguma Ritual in State and Global Legal Processes The judicial-religious ritual of Tunguma represents a finely tuned ballet of precise gestures and invocations in which the lineage relationships of the celebrants and their assistants intervene in the larger context of the chieftaincy of Sarraounia and of the Azna worldview. These family and intraclan relations never appear simple. They anchor the ritual not only in Lougou

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Justice from Below 75 but in the region as a whole, through networks of interrelationship, kinship, and exchange. But this ritual is also related to religious/cultural capital, gender, the local economy, and local practices of justice from below, as an alternative, nonstate form of justice to which plaintiffs/supplicants, self-perceived victims, celebrants, and most spectators adhere. The ritual is related to the construction of a national identity through the cultural actions of the state, as in the matter of the intangible heritage sites proposed for recognition to UNESCO (Niger listed the historical village of Lougou among its 2005 proposals), and to the crucial and related issue of state construction, government, and administration, revealing, notably, the failures of formal legal coverage and the recourse of public officials—who have access to formal justice—to informal, time-honored measures of crime detection, alongside the official nonrecognition of various forms of endogenous justice. Indeed, we need to note that despite the attested adherence of users to this ritual and others of the same kind,44 the legal status of these practices does not reflect the popular approval of them. Chaibou45 notes that the imposition of an official (often unadapted and dysfunctional) modern law46 is an effect of globalization, which, as we know, more often than not means Western “normalization” logic and economic interests.47 Though the preamble to the Nigérien constitution proclaims that it is important that the people of Niger conserve their “spiritual and cultural identity” related to custom, article 51 of the law of March 16, 1962, underlines that customary law, usually read as Islamic law, is entitled to intervene in, and only in, the following cases: “the state of persons, the family, marriage, divorce, filiation, inheritance, donation and testaments” and in the case of traditional land tenure (formally registered sales, and so forth, are not included).48 In this Nigérien context, crimes are perceived as voluntary offenses against people and their material and symbolic goods disrupting social order and peace, but also as actions originating in (evil) spiritual forces linking society to the cosmos. Guilt is understood as being attributable to persons and/or to spirits. Yet the formal state law inherited from France in no wise envisages social disorders linked to problems like witchcraft. This leaves an entire chunk of socioreligious reality outside the ambit of the law as conceived in modern, Western terms. This law is moral, but not religious; it covers material property, but not questions of psychic interpretation or locally understood questions of community peace. The modern Western law that functions as a model here is not that of ancient Greece or Rome, where the daughter of Themis was in charge of natural productivity, discipline, and justice, and where, as Soulier reminds us, “In the case of doubt diverse modalities of proof of a more or less—and even exclusively—religious character were used: acts of divination . . . oaths, ordeals” to the end of restoring social balance, cosmic order, and peace.49 The question here is one of the fit between the society, whatever its form and historical situation, and the type of law

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that is officially retained if not effectively enforced in toto and in all cases (coverage and adherence). But what is the situation in Niger today? Rituals like Tunguma have no official legal status and encounter opposition from two forms of globalization: new religious globalization represented by Wahabist interpretations of Islam and legal globalization under the Washington Legal Consensus. These influences prolong the less recent colonial forms of globalization experienced by the people of Niger and elsewhere. A brief historical reminder of the status of endogenous judicial practices seems important at this point. Access to civilization and then access to First World prosperity are the grand successive pretexts given for imposing Western norms, specifically, European legal systems and the Washington Legal Consensus, on others. Wide syncretic margins of maneuver (necessarily) obtained even under the influence of Islamic religious globalization in Africa, in the process of which “some pre-Islamic rites remained part of the ceremonies that sustained monarchical authority” in the animist Hausa states of western Africa.50 In African Sufist forms of Islam, syncretic practices continued to be tolerated prior to the recent rise of Wahabism. But under colonial rule, tolerance was not exactly the state’s policy and will. Tonkin contends that in certain specific cases in West Africa, traditional religious authority and practice were frowned upon, to say the least, and “by about 1900, colonialists felt threatened by their secular and their spiritual power and smashed them [oracles and other divination practices] physically, though not spiritually.”51 Ebbe and Abotchie note for Ghana52 the survival of the informal criminal justice system that Arzika, Chaibou, and Kelley report for Niger. Ebbe and Abotchie affirm that during the colonial era, chiefs were allowed to administer justice based on African customary laws, as long as these laws were not in violation of English laws and values. This functioned as a restricted expedient of legal coverage filling in the void left by colonial rule. However, policy, legal procedure, and the police force penetrated the inland territories, as far as they could afford to and as priorities dictated, and enforced English law and order in order to protect vested English interests and their ideological corollary: English values. Concerning Niger, Arzika,53 commenting on the imposition of Western law, affirms that the process was aimed at eradicating all other legal forms and references. For, in Afrique Occidentale Française (AOF)—to which Niger belonged under French colonial rule, the Decree of May 25, 1912—concerning access to French nationality during colonial rule—was followed by an ordinance from the governor-general of AOF underlining procedures (October 29, 1912). It stipulated that the access of natives to French nationality demanded a definitive repudiation of their traditions. Unlike the treatment reserved for traditional African religions, Islam was initially favored as a civilizing factor,54 until the Tuareg uprising in the Aïr

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Justice from Below 77 region in 1916. Following this, “the prerogatives in terms of penal law were removed from the hands of local animist or Muslim chiefs, who were left to administer only litigation in matters of civil and commercial law.”55 But this did not prevent the survival and practice of local legal procedures, which continued to regulate social life, although Western law remained feared, if known. According to Arzika, “Nigérien customs have not all succumbed to the particularly seductive precepts of Islam. Islets of resistance still persist today, notably among the Azna and in certain animist centers (Bagagi, Lougou) and ante-Islamic practices continue even in Islamized ethnic groups.”56 However, the current picture seems rather more complex.

Conclusion Despite strong evidence of the current pertinence, fit, and accessibility of magico-religious rituals like Tunguma at various levels, and in spite of its connection to diverse sociocultural orders and values, Arzika’s praise of resistance, formulated in confident terms in 1985, now resonates with accents of eulogy. His hopes and advocacy for a single civil code respecting, as far as possible, “all of the legal components of the country”57 have little or no chance of becoming a reality in Niger. This is due to a combination of strong opposing forces, not least of which is the big stick of the aid conditionalities inscribed in the Washington Legal Consensus. In the meantime, informal magico-religious judicial procedures thrive in the country’s urban and rural milieus alike, and the French procedural ritual continues to be experienced in the context of Niger, a “society of oral tradition that recognizes conciliation as the principal mode of settling conflicts,” as “the transfer of a foreign body,” while scholars brood over the imbroglio of contradictory logics.58 Despite their various orientations and concerns, they nonetheless converge on a number of interrelated observations comparing and contrasting, within African societies, endogenous legal systems that later became discredited but not totally displaced by formal legal systems inherited from the West. Scholars underscore a number of salient points including the following oppositions: • •



a legal system that is oral vs. a legal system based on writing; a legal system that integrates law as a part of religion and regards both as attributes of the chief,59 to be personally enforced, or to be enforced through delegation, vs. a legal system that sets law apart from religion; a legal system whose proceedings and rituals are familiar vs. one whose proceedings and rituals are unfamiliar (how does one see the judge, present the case?);

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a legal system favoring inclusion and integration: plaintiffs and suspects are not isolated and ignorant individuals facing trial but members of a family that has a recognized legal responsibility, seeking reparation/reconciliation as such, within the community, with its participation, and in the context of codes that are accepted and understood), vs. one producing legal exclusion, one whose language is doubly foreign, being French in the case of Niger and legal jargon in all cases; a legal system whose authorities inspire trust and respect, a system that is believed to be infallible, usually eliciting neither protest nor appeal, vs. one whose authorities inspire fear and suspicion, one that is seen as “unappealing” since it emphasizes sanction and repression over reconciliation;60 a legal system that is “complete,” i.e., “mystic, religious and social,” thus potentially serving the end of re-placing the individual within a society linked to the ancestors and divinities and thereby resolving conflict, restoring social and cosmic order,61 vs. one that removes and ignores preponderant, structuring religious and psychological factors and magico-religious “evidence”; a legal system structured around ad hoc family/community negotiation; one that ignores distinctions like “public law,” “private law,” “common law,” and “criminal law,”62 vs. a formal legal system structured around rules that introduce unknown elements or elements perceived in a different manner, including notions like limitation, inadmissibility, set term of proceedings, nullity of acts of proceedings, and so on.63

In conclusion, the system that fits is the one that is fought against and deprived of recognition, while the system that does not fit is valorized and recognized if not always effectively enforced or readily enforceable. Nonetheless, this should not lead us to ignore the misfit or inadequacy of traditional judicial systems in the context of certain modern relationships, transactions, and situations that evolve outside the rules envisaged by local rural societies but are part of the national and global, private and public, social and legal milieus. Moreover, it is in vain that scholars advocate a balance between the Western legal system and the advantageous elements of traditional law as the best of both worlds. This is not possible in the context of a struggle between adversaries of unequal strength: islets of animism versus various centers of Islamic influence abetted by the state. A utopian balance between traditional and modern law is also precluded by the founding principles of Western law, which render “traditional evidence” and traditional beliefs in magic inadmissible in a court dispensing law based on a totally different set of values and references. And never the twain shall meet. Nonetheless, the

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Justice from Below 79 magico-judicial processes will still continue to function for as long as they are required. And until then, the Washington Legal Consensus and many aspects of formal national law will remain “law on paper.” Or, as the French say, in more graphic terms, a lettre morte (literally, a dead letter).

Notes 1. The field enquiry on Sarraounia was carried out by the following researchers from the research group on “Littérature, Genre et Développement. Visions et Perspectives Nigériennes” (Literature, Gender and Development. Nigérien Visions and Perspectives) based in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, Niger: Antoinette Tidjani Alou (team leader), Aïssata Kindo-Patengouh, Boukary Issa, Baba Saïdou, and Gado Yahaya. The three last members were then postgraduate student members of the research group. 2. Use of the term “queen” instead of the term “chief’ is part of the mystique the Sarraounia figure exercises. In fact, the second term seems more appropriate given the size of the chieftaincy, compared to others in the region and beyond, even in bygone days of prosperity and respect and considering the relatively noncentralized type of leadership, integrating delegation, that was involved even in the days when the Sarraounia was also a political authority. 3. See Marc-Henri Piault, Histoire Mawri. Introduction à l’étude des processus constitutifs d’un Etat (Paris: CNRS, 1970); and Mohamadou Arzika, “Droit et société au Niger. L’Evolution du droit coutumier” (PhD diss., Université de Strasbourg III, 1985). 4. See Piault, Histoire Mawri; Anna Mooijman, “Mata masu dubara da asiri suke daga: The roles of women and gender complementarity in Hausa folktales” (PhD diss., Temple University, 1998, 51); and Antoinette Tidjani Alou, “Rapport de l’enquête de terrain sur la Sarraounia, menée à Lougou et Bagagi, du 21 au 28 janvier 2004” (internally circulated by the Faculté des Lettres et Sciences humaines, Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, Groupe de recherche, Genre, Littérature et Développement, 2004). 5. See Piault, Histoire Mawri, 51, 57, 60, 107–8, 111, and 136. 6. For more details, see A. Tidjani Alou, “Rapport de l’enquête de terrain sur la Sarraounia”; and Nicole Moulin et al., Lougou et Sarouniya (Rennes. France: Tarbiyya Tatali, Arewa collection, 2007). 7. See Nicole Échard, Bori: Aspects d’un culte de possession Hausa dans l’Ader et le Kurfey Hausa du Niger (Paris: CNRS, 1978). 8. See, for example, Piault, Histoire Mawri; Nicole Moulin, “Saraunia en pays maouri” (PhD diss., Paris, EHESS, 1984); Les traditions de Lougou, de Birnin Lokoyo et de Massalata: La parole à qui la détient. Entretiens avec Sarraounia Gado et son entourage, en hausa avec traduction française, ed. Boubé Gado (Niamey: IRSH, 1986); Gado et al., Les traditions de Lougou, de Birnin Lokoyo et de Massalata. 9. See the children’s book, Halima Hamdane and Isabelle Calin, Sarraounia. La reine magicienne du Niger (Paris: Éditions Cauris, 2004).

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10. Muriel Mathieu, “La Mission Afrique Centrale” (PhD diss., Université de Toulouse, 1975); Muriel Mathieu, La Mission Afrique Centrale, Racines du Présent series (Paris: Harmattan, 1996); and André Salifou, Histoire du Niger (Paris: Nathan, 1989). 11. See F. Agnès Diarra, Femmes africaines en devenir (Paris: Anthropos, 1971); Adama Konaré-Bâ, Dictionnaire des Femmes du Mali (Bamako, Mali: Jamana, 1993); and Fatimata Mounkaïla, “Femmes et politique au Niger: présence et représentation,” in Niger: Etat et Démocratie, ed. Kimba Idrissa (Paris: Harmattan, 2001). 12. See “Nigeria” in Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, 2007 (accessed August 17, 2007). 13. The term “Habe or haabe in Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani, designates unbelievers, animists, persons not converted to Islam. This loaded and pejorative term must be placed in the context of the African jihad of the nineteenth century that was led by the Fulani founders of the Sokoto Caliphate and in the context of its contemporary outgrowths. For a discussion of the economic, political, and ideological ramifications related to this regional process of Islamization, see, for example, Janet Roitman, Fiscal Disobedience: Anthropology of Economic Regulation in Central Africa (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), chapter 5. 14. Piault, Histoire Mawri; and Arzika, “Droit et société au Niger,” 260. 15. Mary W. Bivins, “Daura and Gender in the Creation of a Hausa National Epic,” African Languages and Cultures 10, no. 1 (1997), 1–28. See also the authors cited in Bivins’s article. 16. These are known as the seven “legitimate” Hausa states. As Bivins mentions in “Daura and Gender,” there are also seven “illegitimate” Hausa states, the “Banza Bakwai,” descending from the polygamous union between the Arabic prince Bayajidda, of mythical fame, and his Hausa concubine. See note 25 below. 17. See Mooijman, “Mata masu dubara da asiri suke daga,” 52 (citing Renee Pittin, “Marriage and Alternative Strategies: Career Patterns of Hausa Women in Katsina City” [PhD diss., University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, 1979], 59), in Catherine Coles and Beverly Mack, ed., Hausa Women in the Twentieth Century (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991). 18. See for example, Piault, Histoire Mawri; Moulin, “Saraunia en pays maouri”; Gado et al., Les traditions de Lougou, de Birnin Lokoyo et de Massalata; and Tidjani Alou, “Rapport de l’enquête de terrain sur la Sarraounia.” 19. See, for example, the contributions of Mary Wren Bivins, “Daura and Gender”; and Bivins, Telling Stories, Making Histories: Women, Words, and Islam in NineteenthCentury Hausaland and the Sokoto Caliphate (London: Heinemann, 2007). 20. Bivins, “Daura and Gender.” 21. Erasure functions in official history writing. The electronic version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, for example, notes only post-Bayajidda male Islamized rulers, alongside aspects of current life in Daura. It disavows the longstanding and significant female leadership when it notes merely in passing that Daura “was founded by a queen and was ruled by women in the 9th and 10th centuries,” before going on to list by date and period the reigns of successive male Muslim rulers. It must be noted, however, that the claim made by the Hausa people themselves, once converted to Islam or influenced by Islamic culture and ideology, through a reworking of oral history, of descent from an “ancestor from the east,” prior to colonization, contributed

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Justice from Below 81 to this erasure, which was further abetted by European colonial rule. As authors like Arzika, “Droit et société au Niger,” 295, 298, among numerous others, have shown, colonial rulers tended to valorize Islam as an intermediate civilizing factor, coming to the assistance of an undermanned colonial government, a strategy sometimes upset by Islamic revolts like the Aïr revolts in Niger in 1916. Thus, a people originating in kingdoms ruled by non-Muslim Hausa women and men, as of the ninth and tenth centuries, finds itself descending, due to identity (re)construction via foundation narrative, from the polygamous union between a Muslim Arab prince and an animist Hausa queen, a princess from Bornu, and a nonnoble concubine. Stakes in this narrative are also held by “Islamic reformers, colonial administrators and Western-trained historians,” not only in order to show symbolically “that Hausa culture sprang from the ennoblement of the local stock by an outsider from the Islamic East, but also to represent Islam’s power to effect the transformation of Hausa society from matrilineal to patrilineal descent, and the removal of Hausa women from the sphere of public power” (Bivins, “Daura and Gender,” 1). 22. Interview with Amera Mane, Lougou, January 23, 2004. 23. Maryse Raynal, Justice traditionnelle, justice moderne: Le devin, le juge et le sorcier (Paris: Harmattan, 1994), 218–47. 24. See Obi N. Ignatius Ebbe and Chris Abotchie, “Ghana (Post-Colonial Nation State),” in Crime and Crime Control: A Global View, ed. Gregg Barak (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000). 25. Foundations narratives integrate the local “culture of praise” I have discussed in previous papers the Sarraounia figure as seen in the literary and historical texts. See Antoinette Tidjani Alou, “Chants de gloire pour une femme de pouvoir. Sarraounia dans le texte,” in Epopées et identités: Rois, peuples, héros, divinités, ed. Danielle Buschinger and François Suard, Médiévales, no 38 (Amiens, France: Presses du Centre d’Etudes Médiévales, Université d’Amiens, 2005); and Antoinette Tidjani Alou, “Sarraounia et ses intertextes: Identités, intertextualité et émergence littéraire,” Revue Electronique Internationale des Sciences du Langage, Sudlangues, 2006, http: //www.sudlangues.sn (accessed July 15, 2007). 26. On the signification of the notion of “power” in the Azna worldview, see Piault, Histoire Mawri; and Arzika, “Droit et société Au Niger,” 263. Arzika notes that among the Azna, the chief does not rule by means of his own personal force, as occurs in the case of other groups governed by chiefs of war (known under titles like Wonkoy, or Mayaki, in the Hausa and Zarma languages, respectively): “on the contrary, it is religion that imposes its rules and none can undertake any enterprise whatsoever outside its boundaries” (my translation). 27. Tidjani Alou, “Rapport de l’enquête de terrain sur la Sarraounia,” 32. All tapes/transcripts and collected data are kept at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, Niger. 28. See the documentary film Lougou, Village Mythique, produced by Rabé Oubandawaki (Niamey: ORTN, 2006). 29. However, in the televised documentary cited above, women are seen observing the ritual with their babies and small children. This passage is based on observations by Boukary Issa, Aissa Kindo Patengouh, and Antoinette Tidjani Alou. 30. Observations by Baba Saïdou, Boukary Issa, and Aïssata Kindo-Patengouh. 31. Observations by Antoinette Tidjani Alou.

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32. See note 27 above. 33. Pierre Bourdieu, Les règles de l’art: Genèse et structure du champ littéraire (Paris: Seuil, 1992), 17, my translation. 34. Thomas A. Kelley, “Exporting Western Law to the Developing World: The Troubling Case of Niger” (March 4, 2006), bepress Legal Series, Working Paper 1057, http://law.bepress.com/expresso/eps/1057 (accessed May 27, 2009). 35. Seyni Kountché (July 1, 1931–November 10, 1987) was a military officer who in 1974 led a putsch against Diori Hamani, Niger’s first president. He ruled the country, under a military regime, from 1974 until his death in 1987. 36. Tidjani Alou, “Rapport de l’enquête de terrain sur la Sarraounia,” 23. 37. Ibid., 37. 38. Moulin, “Saraunia en pays maouri.” 39. See Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron, La Reproduction: Éléments pour une théorie du système d’enseignement (Paris: Minuit, 1970), 110. 40. Gérard Soulier, “Les institutions judiciaires et répressives,” in Traité de science politique: Les régimes politiques contemporains, vol. 2, ed. Madeleine Grawitz and Jean Leca (Paris: P.U.F., 1985), 514. 41. Ebbe and Abotchie, “Ghana (Post-Colonial Nation State),” 51. 42. Raynal, Justice traditionnelle, justice moderne. 43. Ebbe and Abotchie, “Ghana (Post-Colonial Nation State),” 51. 44. See, for example, Arzika, “Droit et société au Niger,” 16 and 260; Raynal, Justice traditionnelle, justice moderne; Ebbe and Abotchie, “Ghana (Post-Colonial Nation State),” 51; Elizabeth Tonkin, “Consulting Ku Jlope: Some Stories of Oracles in West Africa,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 10, no. 3 (2004); and Kelley, “Exporting Western Law.” 45. Chaibou, “Le Transfert des concepts du droit processuel français au Niger” (PhD diss., Université d’Orléans, 1987). 46. See two papers by Mahaman Tidjani Alou, “La justice au plus offrant,” in La Corruption au Quotidien. Politique Africaine 83 (2001): 53–78, and “Corruption in the Legal System,” in Everyday Corruption of the State. Citizens and Public Officials in Africa, ed. G. Blundo and J. P. Olivier de Sardan (London: Zed Books, 2006). 47. Kelley, “Exporting Western Law.” 48. See “Law of March 16, 1962: Organizing the Competence of the Jurisdiction of the Republic of Niger,” Journal officiel, no. 7 (1 avril 1962), Niamey, Archives nationales du Niger. 49. Soulier, “Les institutions judiciaires et répressives,” 511, 517. 50. “Nigeria,” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, 2007. 51. Tonkin, “Consulting Ku Jlope.” 52. Ebbe and Abotchie, “Ghana (Post-Colonial Nation State),” 50. 53. Arzika, “Droit et société au Niger,” 281. 54. Ibid., 295. 55. Ibid., 298. My translation. 56. Ibid., 260. My translation. 57. Ibid., 30–32. 58. Kelley, “Exporting Western Law.” 59. Ebbe and Abotchie, “Ghana (Post-Colonial Nation State),” 51.

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Justice from Below 83 60. 24–29. 61. 62. 63.

Chaibou, “Le Transfert des concepts du droit processuel français au Niger,” Raynal, Justice traditionnelle, justice moderne, 186. Kelley, “Exporting Western Law,” 15, 28. Raynal, Justice traditionnelle, justice moderne.

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4 Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes in the Bamenda Grasslands of Cameroon Emmanuel M. Mbah Introduction The Bamenda Grasslands of Cameroon, former British colonial Bamenda Division, or present-day North-West Province, is one of the ten provinces that make up Cameroon. This region has been variously referred to as the Western Grassfields, Bamenda Grassfields, Bamenda Grasslands, Bamenda Division, Bamenda Province, and North-West Province.1 It covers a total surface area of roughly 17,409 square kilometers, approximately 3.7 percent of the total surface area of present-day Cameroon.2 The North-West Province is composed of the former administrative divisions of Bamenda, Wum, and Nkambe, which together made up Bamenda Province, which lasted until the independence of Cameroon in 1961. Four new divisions have been created out of the former three. These are Bui, Momo, Boyo, and Ngoketunjia, with headquarters in Kumbo, Mbengwi, Fundong, and Ndop, respectively. Migration into the region is relatively recent, taking place just before the advent of colonial rule in the nineteenth century. During the early years of migration, most of the ethnic groups and communities that occupy the Bamenda Grasslands today were involved in frequent wars over control and ownership of land. As a result, neighborly coexistence and the day-to-day activities of these ethnic groups were, for a long time, dominated by an uneasiness that translated into a political calculation aimed at reducing, managing or resolving disputes, especially boundary disputes. These societies were endowed with a rich tradition that enabled them to set appropriate guidelines for the resolution of their numerous boundary and interrelational disputes. Popular culture, the elements of tradition or the accepted norms of a society that have been recognized and used throughout the years, was employed

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 85 by these communities on numerous occasions to preempt or delay wars, and to transit from war to peace. These popular practices include, among others, marriage rites, traditional celebrations, sporting events, sacrifices, and traditional alliances, and the weekly market. These practices served in many situations as means of managing, reducing, or resolving disputes among groups in the region. These events, usually characterized by alliances and blood pacts, had the advantage of emphasizing the prowess of a united people and served as a deterrent to conflict because aggressors would be hesitant to engage any member of the alliance. Traditional precolonial Bamenda societies practiced a nonviolent approach to conflict resolution; this practice still remains, a veritable part of the tradition of these societies. This chapter investigates the issue of conflict resolution in three stages. First, it examines the different ethnic groups in the region. Then, it discusses ethnic sources of boundary disputes, and finally, it examines the role of popular culture in the reduction of boundary disputes in the region.

Ethnic Groups in the Bamenda Grasslands of Cameroon Five distinct ethnic groups make up the population of the Bamenda Grasslands. These include the Tikar, Widikum, Chamba, Tiv, and Mambila. (To this broad classification could be added the Fulani, who were late arrivals.) This classification became official during the 1953 census and derived from the various reports written by British colonial administrative officers in the region.3 During the period of migrations and settlement, especially in the decades before the close of the nineteenth century, these five ethnic groups went through a process of blending. It is assumed, for example, that when the Widikum arrived at the Bamenda Plateau, they met, mingled, and intermarried with groups of invading Tikar who had entered the plateau from the east. A comparison of the linguistic characteristics of the two groups is used to justify this assertion.4 What follows is a brief overview of each of these ethnic groups through the oral traditions that explain their settlement, beginning with the Tikar. The word Tikar, as used by British colonial administrators, referred to the people of the east and central Bamenda Grasslands “whose dynasties claimed an origin from the region of the upper Mbam River and its tributaries.”5 Depending on the oral traditions of the various Tikar chiefdoms, they claim to have migrated from Ndobo, Kimi, or Rifum, using specific routes in their journey from the north.6 Tikar chiefdoms have many sociopolitical institutions in common, including the princely society of Nggiri and the regulatory societies of Kwi’fo, Nggwerong, and Nggumba, brought down with them during their years of migration, and this supports their

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claim to a common ancestry. By the close of the eighteenth century, powerful groups among them such as the Nso and Kom had already established permanent settlements in the region, and the most powerful among them embarked on territorial expansion at the expense of aborigines and immigrant communities.7 The Widikum ethnic group occupies much of the south, southwest, and south-central portions of the Bamenda Plateau. Widikum clans include Moghamo, Menemo, Ngemba, Ngie, Ngwo,8 and some communities in the Menchum Valley such as Beba-Befang.9 According to Widikum oral tradition, the group came to the Bamenda Plateau from the Mamfe depression in present-day South-West Province of Cameroon. Under their leader, Mbeka, they settled at Tadkon, believed to be their original settlement, in the southern stretches of the Bamenda Grasslands. Some Widikum traditions, however, hold that their original point of dispersion was not Mamfe but the old market site of Tadkon, where Mbeka, their primal ancestor, is believed to have emerged from a hole, changed into a “river-guarding spirit,” then into a man, before starting the formation of the group.10 After settling at Tadkon for some time, the sons of Mbeka split into several factions due to succession rivalries and in search of fertile soils. While some stayed behind, a majority of them climbed the escarpment onto the Bamenda Plateau and eventually settled on its southern fringes.11 Again, the oral traditions of the various Widikum factions vary from group to group on how they dispersed from Tadkon. It is, however, obvious that during these movements the factions were weak and were constantly harassed by stronger and more cohesive groups such as the Fulani and later on the Bali Chamba, forcing them to relocate to more defensible sites.12 The current settlements of many Widikum factions resulted from such harassment. The Bali Chamba, as an ethnic group, are relative newcomers to the region, though their impact was felt much more strongly than that of previous immigrant groups, and is still being felt today. Their arrival was characterized by raids and invasions, which resulted in the disturbances that plagued the Cameroon Grasslands before the close of the nineteenth century. Their presence, which is still being contested today by neighboring communities, completely changed the course of the history of the region.13 The Chamba were “a loose confederacy of raiding bands that evolved into a hierarchically organized mini-state.”14 They migrated from Koncha (Kontcha) in the Adamawa regions of Nigeria and Cameroon as a result of famine and pressure exerted upon them by the Fulani from Yola in Nigeria. Their movement south began in the first half of the nineteenth century under the leadership of Ta Gawolbe, the great-grandfather of the future Galega I of Bali Nyonga.15 The Chamba migrated southward from the right bank of the River Deo, making their first stop at Tibati. From Tibati, they continued into Tikar country, where they joined forces with some Tikar, the Mbum, and the

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 87 Wute, who were equally warlike groups. Moving south, they waged successful wars against the Yoko, the Ngambe, and the Bamum.16 The Chamba continued south from Bamum, defeating the Bagam, Bamenjinda, Babaju, Nkwen, Mankon, Bafut, Meta, Batibo, and Pinyin communities. They eventually arrived at Bafu-Fundong near Dschang, where they were defeated; their chief, Ta Gawolbe, was killed in that battle. This defeat forced them to retreat to Bagam, where rivalry over succession split them into the following factions: Bali Nyonga, Balikumbat, Bali Gasho, Bali Gangsin, Bali Gham, Bali Muti, and Bali Kontan.17 Bali Nyonga and Balikumbat had the largest followings and proved to be the strongest of the factions. Bali Nyonga eventually settled on its present site by defeating the original Widikum settlers, the Baforchu, Ngyen Muwa, and Ngyen Mbo communities, who were deprived of their ancestral homelands.18 Balikumbat established its own dynasty around the hills and plains of Ndop after defeating the Bamumkumbit. From this vantage point, they waged wars against their blood brothers, the Bali Nyonga, as well as against other chiefdoms of the Ndop plain. In many of these wars they were successful, and their suzerainty was recognized by the defeated groups including Babanki Tungo, Bamessing, Bamumkumbit, Bamali, Bafanji, Bambui, Bambuluwe, and Bambili.19 The fourth and fifth groups in the present classification are the Tiv and Mambila, who presently occupy the Aghem and Menchum Valley area. According to oral tradition recorded among the Aghem people, these groups migrated from the Tiv-occupied Benue lands of northern Nigeria. Moving south they stopped at the forest of Isu, where they split into numerous factions. By the first half of the nineteenth century, most of the breakaway factions had already settled on their present locations in the Cameroon Grasslands after defeating and incorporating or chasing away aborigines from the valley. In the mid-nineteenth century, they embarked on a series of expansionist wars and succeeded in subjugating the Essimbi and the BebaBefang and bringing them under the Aghem and Menchum Valley Federation. Their sovereignty did not last long, as they were themselves harassed between 1840 and 1850 by Fulani slave raiders.20 The close of the nineteenth century was characterized by large-scale emigration from the Menchum Valley, resulting in the establishment of eight independent village chiefdoms: Aku, Ide, Befang, Beuta, Ngo, Essimbi, Okoremanjang, and Mantung. The subjects of these chiefdoms speak different languages and do not agree on a common ancestral origin. While the Ide, Modelle, Aku, Befang, Bangwi, and Okoremanjang claim to be descendants of the Widikum ethnic group, the Ngo, Mantung, and Beuta claim to belong with Aghem. This notwithstanding, during the precolonial period, the Aghem and Menchum Valley chiefdoms established a formidable trade network, which brought them into close contact with neighboring villages such as Kom and Bafut, with whom they exchanged palm oil, livestock, and ironwork.21 Trade between Aghem

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groups and their neighbors served, on numerous occasions, as a cushion against conflicts, including boundary disputes. The last group in our current classification, the Fulani, entered the Bamenda Grasslands relatively late, in search of good, disease-free pastures.22 Scholars disagree as to the origin of the pastoral Fulani, who are essentially different from the other inhabitants of West Africa. While some believe that they originated in India, others link them with the Egyptian Hyksos, and yet others connect them with the gypsies of Europe.23 A majority, however, do agree that the Fulani are a blend of the Berber and Tukolor of the Futa Jalon region of Guinea, where two different groups could be distinguished, the village Fulani and the pastoral Fulani.24 Fulani migrations began at the close of the tenth century, and were initiated by the pastoral or cattle-raising Fulani. During this period, the wealthier pastoral Fulani, accompanied by the village Fulani, moved out of Futa Jalon with their cattle. They migrated eastward toward the Mande-speaking communities.25 The exact date of their arrival in the Cameroon Grasslands of Bamenda has not been ascertained with accuracy. It is, however, believed that by 1916 a few Fulani were already present in the region. By 1923, their numbers had increased significantly. One of the earliest Fulani to settle in the Bamenda Grasslands was Ardo Sabga, who arrived with his followers in 1916 from Banyo in northern Nigeria.26 A significant number of the early Fulani arrivals came from the Hausa lands of northern Nigeria, where there existed too much pressure on land. The promise of water, good pastures, and the disease-free Bamenda Grasslands motivated these early Fulani immigrants. Fulani migrations into the Bamenda Grasslands continued in various waves until the end of British colonial rule in the Cameroons in 1961.27 The study of ethnic groups and migrations in the Bamenda Grasslands suggests that the present occupants of the region are recent migrants who came because of adventure, the search for fertile soils for agriculture and livestock, or religious persecutions, invasions, and raids. The influx of so many groups into the region during a relatively short period of time was likely to result in conflict over land use. These groups entered the region fully conscious of the importance of land and land ownership, and by the end of British colonial rule in the Southern Cameroons in 1961 the Fulani remained the only ethnic group that did not have a permanent grip over specific parcels of land. Ethnic and village disputes over land in the region have persisted to this day and have been partly responsible for influencing the traditional beliefs and practices that have shaped the popular culture of the region. But before discussing the influence of popular culture on the reduction, management, and resolution of boundary disputes, it is necessary to examine the ethnic sources of boundary disputes in the region.

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 89 Ethnic Sources of Boundary Disputes Ethnic considerations serve as frequent sources of local boundary disputes in Africa. An ethnic group is “a group with some kind of corporate identity or allegiance; it also expresses loyalty to a common culture which parallels or transcends loyalty to the state.”28 Ethnicity has been responsible for many a boundary dispute in the Bamenda Grasslands. This is particularly true in frontier areas where there is an ethnic population overhang, that is, a situation where an ethnic group is cut across by a boundary; in other words, a situation where parts of the same ethnic group are placed on either side of a boundary.29 An example of a boundary-related dispute resulting from an ethnic population overhang occurred in 1945 between Babanki Tungo and Bamessing in the Ndop plain area. The origins of this boundary conflict can be traced back to a chieftaincy dispute that occurred in Babanki Tungo in the 1920s, a dispute that eventually was settled in favor of one of the factions. Dissatisfied with the settlement, members of the unsuccessful faction moved out of the village in 1923 and began settling in an adjacent and uninhabited territory that belonged to the village of Bamessing but shared a boundary with Babanki Tungo, their homeland. By the early 1930s, this new settlement had grown to about twenty-five compounds and its inhabitants elected to pay taxes through Bamessing, thereby recognizing its suzerainty. When the chief of Babanki Tungo died, his son, Asik, decided to make peace with Babanki Tungo’s blood brothers, the members of the overhang or splinter group settling on Bamessing territory. When the peace efforts succeeded, the splinter group decided to switch allegiance by recognizing Asik of Babanki Tungo as its chief, as well as opting to pay taxes through Babanki Tungo, its original village. It did not take long for Babanki Tungo to lay claim to the territory settled by its overhang population on the grounds of effective occupation even though this territory originally belonged to Bamessing. This marked the beginning of the land/boundary dispute between Babanki Tungo and Bamessing, as the latter would not let go of part of its territory.30 The dispute between Bali Nyonga and neighboring Widikum villages, which culminated in the Bali-Widikum War of 1952, also had an overhang twist to it. It was provoked by the overhang Widikum subjects living on Bali Nyonga territory in Mbufung, Bossa, Ngyen Muwa, Bakaw, and Bali Nyonga town proper. Their numerous complaints of unbearable conditions and suffering under Bali Nyonga encouraged their Widikum brothers to renew their claims over all land occupied by Bali Nyonga.31 Apart from the overhang effect, ethnic/village boundary disputes have also developed in the region wherever there is a feeling that particular ethnic groups are favored by administrators, both colonial and postcolonial. Mark W. Delancey has rightly opined that “if an ethnic group has a particularly significant or pivotal place in the political environment, the likelihood that its

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demands for some form of alteration in the boundary status quo will result in the formulation of government policy is greater.”32 During the period of colonial rule, the privileged position accorded the village of Bali Nyonga by the Germans, and later the British, against Widikum groups stood out. Bali Nyonga used that opportunity to extend its boundaries at the expense of the Widikum groups.33 The result was boundary disputes between Bali Nyonga and all its neighbors. In the 1990s, the chief of Balikumbat, Doh Gah Gwanyin, a protégé of the current government of Cameroon, attempted to use his pivotal political position to alter some boundaries between his village and neighboring villages, notably Bafanji. Today, the consensus in the NorthWest Province is that the Balikumbat-Bafanji conflict, which resurfaced in 1995, emanated from this political machination.34 The absence of specific avenues for land acquisition during the migrations and settlement of the various ethnic groups and the lack of consensus on oral traditions of migrations and settlement have long been sources of boundary disputes in the region. Precolonial migrations and settlement took place in successive waves, with migrants either settling where the land was plentiful and empty or using force to settle where it was occupied. There was no clear-cut procedure on how and where to settle or the limits of settlement locations, and no land tenure legislation guiding groups on how to settle. Moreover, “prior to European occupation, the land available to any village depended entirely upon the fortunes of war, and doubtless varied from year to year.”35 Native/customary law during precolonial times, if it existed at all, probably sanctioned the belief that might was right.36 Thus, at the beginning of colonial rule, with the establishment of colonial laws, conflicting claims by oral traditions led to numerous disputes over land and boundaries between ethnic groups and villages. To colonial authorities, such conflicting oral traditions became a very vexing issue. Oral traditions of migrations and settlement, which have become part of the popular culture of Bamenda Grassland communities, have increasingly become more confusing, less convincing, and sometimes very contradictory. A typical example is the case of the conflicting claims and counter-claims by the villages of Ngyen Mbo and Bali Nyonga over their disputed territory. On the one hand, the Ngyen Mbo community claims that the Bali Nyonga came to them and sought protection, after fleeing due to persecution by the villagers of Balikumbat, their blood brothers, around the mid-nineteenth century. Based on that oral tradition, Ngyen Mbo gave them a piece of land known as Wumkai, the site where the present town of Bali Nyonga is situated, and even aided them in repulsing Balikumbat. According to this Ngyen Mbo narrative, the giving of land to Bali Nyonga was followed by a ceremony during which a fig tree was planted at Wumkai by the head of the Ngyen Mbo community. The Ngyen Mbo claim to have lived in peace with Bali Nyonga until the establishment of German colonial rule at the close of

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 91 the nineteenth century. Encouraged by the Germans, and later on by the British, Bali Nyonga started encroaching on the land surrounding Wumkai, which belonged to Ngyen Mbo and other Widikum groups. It was only through colonial encouragement and support, the tradition claimed, that Bali Nyonga suzerainty was recognized over Ngyen Mbo.37 Bali Nyonga oral tradition, on the other hand, claims that the so-called Wumkai had already been conquered by the Bali Kontan, one of the groups that emerged from the splitting of the Bali Chamba, who followed up their conquest by annexing the land surrounding Wumkai. The Bali Nyonga maintain that they took over the land by defeating Bali Kontan, not Ngyen Mbo, who they say had already been subjugated by Bali Kontan. During the 1930s, they rightly contend, some Widikum groups were allowed to remain on some portions of land surrounding Wumkai, on condition that they paid tribute to the fon of Bali Nyonga. Bali Nyonga oral traditions also maintain that the giving of land to the Widikum took place some fifty to sixty years before the advent of German colonial rule.38 But the Ngyen-Mbo argue that nothing ever existed by the name of Kontan, which to them was a misnomer for kwatad, meaning seven, an allusion to the seven Bali Chamba groups who originally sought protection from the Ngyen Mbo.39 These conflicting oral traditions boil down to one basic question: “Did the Bali-Nyongas come to their present site of Bali-Nyonga alias ‘Wumkai’ . . . as refugees or as conquerors? How did they come to occupy the area outside Wumkai?”40 Unfortunately, this is a very difficult question based on the cultures, the evidence, and the circumstances surrounding the dispute. However, both researchers and administrators are largely convinced that Bali Nyonga’s settlement on its present site had some elements of conquest in it. They are equally convinced that without being propped up by the colonial authorities, Bali Nyonga would have been driven out of that territory, especially during the 1920s when the surrounding Widikum villages became more organized, and due to the fact that these villages, all belonging to one ethnic group, form a formidable ring around Bali Nyonga. Conflicting oral traditions of this sort made consensus between parties difficult, as each side held tenaciously to its story, rendering the dispute all the more difficult for colonial authorities to resolve, due to the shortage or absence of convincing records on the true history of the people and of records of earlier decisions.41 A similar example where conflicting oral traditions have intensified local boundary disputes between villages and ethnic groups in the region is the dispute involving the four villages of Balikumbat, Babanki Tungo, Bamessing, and Bamali in present-day Ngoketunjia Division. This dispute, which began in 1921, had all four villages laying claim to territory based on ancient rights.42 Another dispute, that between Santa Mbei and Pinyin, which began in 1995, resulted from claims to ancient rights over ancestral lands.43

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The generalized hostility between ethnic groups during the period of migration and settlement and its intensification during the transition from German to British colonial rule was a further ethnic source of boundary disputes in the region. When conflict breaks out between groups that are antagonistic to each other, their artificial boundaries usually serve as catalysts provoking hostilities between them. Boundary disputes serve here as a pretext for communities wishing to vent their anger or hostility on others: “The forces which generate boundary conflict may arise outside of the boundary issue area,” in the larger diplomatic environment of those communities, “but the policy which is formulated in response to such stimuli is clearly pursued within it.”44 Generalized hostility was in part responsible for the numerous disputes that plagued the Ngemba clan of the Widikum ethnic group after 1916, disputes between Mankon, Akum, Nsongwa, Mbatu, Chomba, and Bafut. This hostility resulted from intrigues between the chiefs and elders of the villages, who were intent on exploiting to their advantage the change from German to British colonial rule. This eventually led to a coup by which the village of Akum forcefully occupied the territory between Santa and the former Anglo-French colonial border. The land/boundary dispute between Akum and Mbatu also emanated from intrigue that developed into hostile relations because Mbatu had constantly supported Mankon, the traditional enemy of Akum, in disputes between Mankon and Akum. This hostility also emanated from the “admittedly truculent attitude of the chief of Mbatu”45 and the dysfunctionality accompanying many of his actions. In the atmosphere of dysfunction characterized by generalized hostility between ethnic groups who had decided to take advantage of the difficult transition from German to British colonial rule between 1918 and 1920, the village of Bali Nyonga was predisposed to encourage a land/boundary dispute between Nsongwa and Mankon because of its rivalry with Mankon. This ploy aimed at distracting Mankon, a powerful adversary, from actively participating in the land claims against Bali Nyonga initiated by the Widikum. After reviewing the evidence pertaining to the dispute between Nsongwa and Mankon, British colonial authorities became convinced that the account given by the spokesmen from Bali Nyonga in support of the claims made by the village of Nsongwa was inaccurate, exposing the old ethnic antagonism between Bali Nyonga and Mankon.46 Similar disputes encouraged by this wave of generalized hostility included those between Mankon and Bafut, Nkwen and Baforchu, and Bali Nyonga and the Widikum groups.47 Today, the prevailing relationship between Santa Njong and Bamock is one of acute hostility, resulting from suspicions by the latter that the government is encouraging the former in their boundary dispute. The Bafanji are equally convinced that the Cameroon Government instigated Balikumbat to commence hostilities in the Bafanji-Balikumbat conflict of the 1990s.48 Such

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 93 convictions only intensify the atmosphere of hatred and hostility, which can only be diffused through resolute action. Generalized hostility leading to boundary disputes frequently manifests itself when there is a change in leadership, when the new leaders are either expansionist or reconciliatory.49 In the Bamenda Grasslands, the accession of a new chief or fon can be cataclysmic, at one end of the pendulum’s swing, or anti-cataclysmic at the other. Thus, while the accession of Fon Ganyonga II of Bali Nyonga in the early 1980s increased tension between Bali Nyonga and its neighbors,50 the accession of Fon Angwafor III had the opposite effect on relations between Mankon and neighboring Ngemba villages. It is obvious, then, that “a regime change often marks a far reaching shift in the ideology, guiding assumptions and norms of conduct for the unstable state.”51 At the village level, this might result in a breakdown in traditional diplomacy, leading to a reversal of traditional pacts and agreements and an eventual collapse of hitherto good relations between neighboring ethnic communities and villages. The forces of tension that emanate from worsening relations might in turn initiate a wave of land/boundary-related disputes. Moreover, “since a regime change fosters suspicion, uncertainty and fears”52 on the part of neighboring communities, particularly over what action the new leader might take, land/boundary disputes may be used by those neighbors to test the direction of action to be pursued by the new leader.53 Conflict becomes inevitable if the test goes wrong. The struggle for autonomy is another ethnic/village source of local boundary disputes between groups in the region. It gained notoriety during the early days of British colonial rule when Widikum ethnic villages living under the suzerainty of Bali Nyonga used the opportunity of the change from German to British colonial administration to declare autonomy from their former Bali Nyonga overlords.54 Land/boundary disputes of this type begin when land settled by the group declaring autonomy is claimed by the overlord. Many examples abound, but two of them, the dispute between Mankon and Banjong and that between Bambui and Fungie, are worthy of note. The land/boundary dispute between Mankon and Banjong (Njong} resulted from Banjong’s attempt to free itself from Mankon overlordship in 1923. Before the advent of British colonial rule, the Banjong had abandoned their original settlement near Mankon because of persistent insults and harassment from Mankon. The Banjong people were received and resettled by Bali Nyonga, on condition that they recognized the suzerainty of the fon of Bali Nyonga. In 1916, Banjong declared autonomy from Bali Nyonga by refusing to pay taxes through it, thereby refusing to recognize Bali Nyonga suzerainty. The question of the ownership of the land occupied by the Banjong under Bali Nyonga suzerainty then arose. Bali Nyonga reacted by razing Banjong houses and chasing the Banjong out of the land.55

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The Banjong then returned to their original site on Mankon territory, where they agreed to pay taxes through its chief, and by so doing, recognized his senior status. When they had barely resettled, the Banjong again declared autonomy from Mankon and refused to pay taxes through its fon, claiming the land they now occupied as theirs. This was the beginning of a land dispute between Mankon and the Banjong, centered on who owned the land occupied by the Banjong. This dispute was only resolved when the British colonial authorities resettled the Banjong near Santa territory.56 A similar dispute over autonomy was introduced between Bambui and Fungie, when Fungie declared autonomy from Bambui. Before the advent of colonial rule, the village of Bambui shared boundaries with Bafut, Nkwen, Awing, Bamessing, Bali Kumbat, Babungo, and Kom. There was no mention of Fungie, as the Fungie people were not present in the area at the time.57 At about the close of German colonial rule, Fungie subjects were chased out of Kom, their original abode, as the result of a chieftaincy dispute which they lost. They migrated to Big Babanki and sought protection from its chief. The Big Babanki gave them land on which to settle. An attempt by the Fungie to create an independent unit in Big Babanki annoyed the latter, who chased them away. The Fungie moved on to Bambui and were offered land to settle on. In this arrangement, Fungie agreed to recognize the suzerainty of the chief of Bambui and pay taxes through him. But a renewed zeal for autonomy led to their expulsion from Bambui territory in 1925. This was followed by more than a decade of peace negotiations, and by 1939, Bambui allowed the Fungie to resettle on Bambui land. There was relative peace between Bambui and the Fungie until 1996, when the latter again declared autonomy from Bambui.58 The dispute over autonomy between Bambui and the Fungie was transformed into a land dispute in 1996. The dispute commenced when the chief of Bambui sent royal servants to work on his raffia groves close to the Fungie settlement. These servants were chased away by Fungie subjects who claimed both the raffia grove and their own autonomy. The Fungie, who had already installed a kwifon (traditional symbol of authority), in their palace were alarmed when the chief of Bambui, Angafor Moh-Mboh II, dispatched ten of his retainers to forcefully take away the “purported” kwifon from the home of the Fungie village head, Tih Fungie. The Bambui supported their action by invoking a traditional custom, which maintained that there cannot be two kwifon in one village. The Bambui further maintained that since they inhabited a quarter in Bambui, the Fungie could not declare chieftaincy or autonomy over part of Bambui land, especially as a 1994 court decision had declared Fungie part of Bambui.59 The Fungie have continued to insist on their separateness from Bambui, claiming that they are merely neighbors to Bambui and thus deserve an autonomous chieftaincy. A permanent solution is still awaited. A very recent local land/boundary dispute over autonomy

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 95 developed in 1996 between Santa Njong and Bamock, when Bamock proclaimed autonomy from Santa Njong by declaring their right to have a separate chiefdom.60 Meanwhile, other ethnicity-related boundary disputes in the region have resulted from expansionism and pride. The old expansionist tendencies of ethnic groups or villages that existed during precolonial and colonial times have resurfaced in some areas recently. A case in point is that of the Bali Nyonga community, which has been struggling to extend its territory to include all the land it owned during the precolonial and colonial periods.61 Similarly, Balikumbat is struggling to expand its territory to include Bangang, at the expense of Bafanji and in defiance of colonial and postcolonial judgments.62 Finally, religious concepts of land ownership employed in formulating a traditional concept of boundaries between African communities63 have also played a part in intensifying ethnic differences over village communities in the Bamenda Grasslands. Traditional ownership of land in these societies ensured that land was considered the spiritual resting place of traditional gods and ancestors who were responsible for protecting both the people and the land. Land in traditional African societies, as in most African societies today, was littered with shrines and other sacred places where gods and ancestors were worshipped. Graves, wells, waterfalls, forests, hills, and monuments could not be separated from the community. In the Bamenda Grasslands, for example, most of these treasures assumed a theatrical function, and they were located mostly in frontier zones where sacrifices were performed by communities “sharing” the frontier, to appease the gods so that peace would reign in the land. Traditional African societies referred to land as the “earth”: The earth was sacred, “a spiritual value, a beneficial source—the home of ancestors, ‘the plain of one’s bones.’”64 These religious concepts of land ownership led, and still lead, to conflict between groups fighting to recover land on which are located graves, ancestral places of sacrifices and worship, and monuments. In the dispute between Bali Nyonga and Guzang, for example, the Guzang community laid claim to the disputed territory partly on the grounds that their ancient places of sacrifice and worship and ancient stone monuments were located on it.65 Similarly, in the dispute between Bambili and Babanki Tungo, the present chief of Bambili, Awemu I, made a claim to the disputed territory based on religio-spiritual factors. The Babanki Tungo are claiming ancestral rights on the same piece of land, maintaining that in precolonial days, they removed old pots and pipes from it.66 These examples suggest that the issue of ancestral rights as claimed by ethnic communities has a great deal to do with land and boundary disputes in the Bamenda Grasslands. What is even more revealing is the fact that traditional Bamenda societies were well equipped to reduce/resolve these disputes.

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Popular Cultures and the Reduction of Boundary Disputes In the traditional precolonial societies of the Bamenda Grasslands, as in most African traditional societies, neighborly coexistence hinged on an unconscious fear or a political calculation embedded in the subconscious aimed at reducing conflict between groups. In these societies, there existed many different modalities for conflict reduction and the promotion of peace as well as appropriate channels along which to move from war to peace. War was canalized by numerous oral conventions structured by traditional religious beliefs or popular culture. The form of a declaration of war constituted a desire for appeasement: room was always made for compromise and nonviolence. The declaration of war was usually delayed for long periods, it was sent using varying symbols, and the adversary had the choice of opting for peace. The adversary had the choice of a spear for war, or a traditional plant known as nkeng for peace. Thus, contrary to outmoded colonial works, which considered the Bamenda Grasslands to be an area plagued with numerous and continuous wars that only came to an end with the introduction of colonial rule, traditional Bamenda Grassland societies experienced a culture that was manifested through dialogue, compromise, coexistence, and peace.67 Conflict reduction, therefore, was truly a part of the popular culture of precolonial Bamenda Grassland societies. Oral traditions from many societies of the Western Grasslands agree that in precolonial days, alliances aimed at reducing conflict were concluded between chiefs throughout the area. Though they were of a magical, religious, or spiritual nature, these alliances were not very different from modern diplomatic alliances. There were two basic forms of alliances between ethnic groups and chiefdoms in the Bamenda Grasslands. The first form of alliance was concluded between ethnic groups or chiefdoms of equal strength, in order to reduce conflict between them, with the aim of binding them together in a fraternal union capable of warding off stronger, aggressive, and hostile groups. The second form of alliance was concluded between stronger and weaker chiefdoms/ethnic groups, the former acting as protectors of the latter, which felt threatened by the former and/or by other strong powers in the vicinity. Alliances of this sort had the advantage of emphasizing the prowess of a united and allied group and served as a deterrent to conflict because aggressors would be hesitant to engage any member of the alliance.68 A majority of alliances in the Bamenda Grasslands were sanctioned by blood pacts or other sacrificial and pacifying acts or treaties, which were respected by all the parties involved. The existence of sacrificial alliances sanctioned by blood pacts not only guaranteed the maintenance of order and the reduction/resolution of conflict but also ensured the attainment of durable peace and concord between the ethnic groups bound by such alliances. Furthermore, sacred and solemn oaths were sworn by all members of the alliance, joining

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 97 them together.69 Apart from acting as deterrents to land/boundary disputes, these alliances also performed the duties of conflict management and resolution between members, if such a dispute erupted. Because of the many land/boundary confrontations between Bamenda Grassland ethnic groups and chiefdoms, it became imperative to demarcate zones of influence with trenches, to ensure that the traditional resting places of gods and ancestors remained on the correct side of the boundary. In this context, land could never be fragmented or severed from a community, even if it was situated far away from the group. In demarcating boundary enclaves in such societies, great care was taken to include solemn places of sacrifice within the territory of the rightful owners.70 On the occasion of such demarcations, the popular culture of the Grasslands of Bamenda ensured that sacrifices and pacts were performed and alliances were concluded between all parties involved in the demarcation process. Once the frontier was traced and the trench dug, a dog, goat, or sheep was fed with palm wine and burned alive in the trench. The plant of peace, popularly known as nkeng in the region, was planted along the trench, on the demarcated boundary. Those who violated that boundary were expected to meet with bad luck.71 In precolonial Bamenda Grassland societies, sacrificial alliances were concluded using blood from slaves and, later on, dogs, goats, and sheep (after the advent of colonial rule, the practice of sacrificing slaves was discontinued). The use of blood to cement alliances gave these alliances a cultural, theatrical, spiritual, and sacred/solemn character. Examples of such alliances include the treaties that were signed between Bali Nyonga and other groups of the Bamenda Plateau region during the precolonial period; the defensive treaties between various Widikum ethnic communities; the treaties between Mankon, Bafut, and Nkwen; and those concluded between the chiefdoms and confederacies of the Ndop plain.72 Oral traditions collected in the Western Grassfields in 1960 describe a spectacular sacrificial alliance made by Balikumbat and Bamum just before British colonial rule, the aim of which was to prevent land/boundary disputes. On the day the traditional rites of the alliance were performed, two slaves were sacrificed: one from Bamum was buried facing Balikumbat, while one from Balikumbat was buried facing Bamum. This was done in the presence of their leaders. After the slaves were buried, a blood pact was concluded in which blood from the traditional rulers of both Balikumbat and Bamum was mixed with kolanut paste and eaten by members of both camps. A fig tree was then planted on the common boundary. This alliance, which took place during the reign of Ga Nyangi of Balikumbat, was performed to guard against future land/boundary disputes between Balikumbat and Bamum: It ensured that peace would prevail between them. A similar alliance was concluded between Balikumbat and Bafut, and was recently reawakened by Fon Galabe II of Balikumbat.73

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Other examples of the use of elements of culture in the resolution of boundary disputes involve Nkwen and some of its neighbors. The Nkwen villagers used sacrificial and pacifying alliances to promote peace with their neighbors, Bafut and Bambui. Depending on the importance of the particular alliance, Nkwen and its neighbors used slaves, dogs, or goats. In resolving land/boundary disputes, Nkwen and its neighbors sharing a common boundary met at the frontier. Once the process of tracing the boundary was finished, a slave, dog, or goat was buried on the agreed boundary. A fig tree was planted at the burial spot, and this was followed by blood pacts through which both parties swore to respect the boundary line or enclave. If the fig tree withered, it implied that one of the parties had not been sincere when the sacrifices were performed. When this happened, the pact was no longer binding on any of the parties and was abrogated. The nineteenth-century Nkwen-Mankon alliance collapsed in this way.74 The Nso in present-day Bui Division of the North-West Province also performed boundary sacrifices so that peace would reign between them and neighboring chiefdoms such as Kom, Bum, Baba, and Bamessi.75 The precolonial and colonial history of portions of the Western Grasslands is rich with such sacrifices and pacts: their role in reducing, if not resolving, land/boundary disputes before colonial rule and even during its advent can not be overemphasized. Alliances did not have to take the form of sacrifices. Marriage alliances also played an important role in reducing land/boundary disputes in traditional societies of the Bamenda Grasslands. Popular culture in most traditional African societies ensured that boundaries were perceived along lines of “social” ties or connections within the community and in relation to neighboring communities.76 In this regard, women played a crucial role in peace initiatives in the Bamenda Grasslands. In this region, as in other traditional African societies, women were regarded as symbols of life and peace. Because of this, women have been used successfully in pacification strategies. In traditional societies of the Bamenda Grasslands, popular culture dictated that women married into chiefdoms other than their own. Inter-chiefdom marriages in the region were vital for diplomatic relations to succeed; at the same time, such marriages toned down land/boundary disputes between chiefdoms engaged in a marriage alliance. The effectiveness of marriage alliances in land/boundary conflict prevention and reduction was popular knowledge in Bamenda Grassland societies; it made these societies conceptualize war and peace from the point of view of the circulation of women, knowing that the exchange of women was an alternative to the exchange of blows. A dissuasive matrimonial strategy thus developed between Bamenda Grassland societies, which served either to reduce land/boundary and other disputes or to lessen their intensity,77 and explains why boundaries were more elastic and less rigid in traditional Africa than elsewhere.78

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 99 As a preemptive measure, a visiting neighboring chief was usually presented with a young bride by his host. This was done with the calculation that princes (nephews) born of this bride would never shed the blood of their uncles.79 This matrimonial strategy was successful in some parts of the Bamenda Grasslands: the marriage alliance between Guzang and Bali Nyonga, sealed by the offer of a Bali Nyonga bride to Chief Mbah-Nyamsig of Guzang during the period of British colonial rule, reduced hostility over the land/boundary disputes between Guzang and Bali Nyonga. When Chief Mbah-Nyamsig of Guzang died in 1982, he was succeeded by a son of the Bali Nyonga bride. Recently, it has become difficult for the Guzang and the Bali Nyonga to take up arms against each other; relations between the two have mellowed. Thus, in spite of the numerous confrontations over land and boundaries between the Widikum ethnic group on the one hand and the Bali Nyonga village community on the other, the Guzang have always avoided getting entangled in the confrontations. Even when all villages of the Widikum ethnic group took up arms against Bali Nyonga in 1952, Guzang did not participate. Today, however, the people of Gumbo quarter in Guzang complain that the Guzang–Bali Nyonga matrimonial alliance is detrimental to Guzang; they maintain that Bali Nyonga has continued, unchecked, to encroach on land owned by the village of Guzang at Gumbo.80 Because of the importance of marriage alliances in the reduction, management, and resolution of land and boundary disputes, many Bamenda Grassland chiefs have sought to acquire wives from neighboring chiefdoms. Chief Tchebo of Akum, who died in 1917, had nine wives: five came from Akum, one from Nkwen, one from Pinyin, one from Awing, and one from Meta. Fon Angwafor II of Mankon, who died in 1920, had wives from Mankon, Meta, Bafut, Njong, Nkwen, Nsongwa, Mbatu, Awing, and Bali Nyonga. Finally, a former chief of Nkwen had wives from Kom, Bafut, Bambui, and Mandankwe.81 Chief Mbah of Batibo, who died in 2006, had wives from neighboring Bessi and other villages. Due to this diplomatic and matrimonial strategy based on popular culture, influential members or elders of ethnic/village communities began to seek wives from influential families in neighboring villages. The circulation of women between chiefdoms and ethnic communities became significant in conflict reduction as the women served as intermediaries between their husbands and their villages of birth. They were confidants to the chiefs or village elders who were their husbands; they had access to information concerning possible threats to peace and could easily transmit that information to their kith and kin. These women served both as wives and as intelligence officers.82 Sporting events also played a role in land/boundary conflict reduction, especially during the conflict management process, in traditional societies of the Bamenda Grasslands. In the event of an outbreak of hostilities between two villages, sporting events were organized based on the popular culture of

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the ethnic/village groups, and prominent athletes from both villages took part. This worked well in conflict reduction because it converted hostile energy to constructive uses. The Widikum ethnic group, for example, frequently organized wrestling bouts between villages with land/boundary disputes; these bouts replaced confrontations and hostilities.83 In addition to sporting events, funerals, enthronement ceremonies, and other celebrations have served, and still do, as occasions for reconciliation and peace. During the enthronement of a chief, for example, neighboring chiefs having land/boundary disputes with the village of the newly enthroned chief take the initiative to wipe the slate clean and recommence negotiations with the new chief to iron out their differences. The participation of various chiefs in these negotiations was, and still remains, an effective strategy working in favor of conflict management and in some instances resolution.84 Finally, institutions such as the kwifon and the traditional market also play significant roles in boundary conflict reduction, management, and resolution. The Bamenda grassland kwifon is a traditional institution among some lineages in the region. Its purpose is to prevent conflict and/or to aid in its resolution through injunctions that it places on the disputed territory, as well as by simply proclaiming or imposing peace.85 Although injunctions do not necessarily result in resolution and compromise, since they are able to place land use on hold, they have the advantage of managing the dispute while resolution strategies are being sought. The location and function of markets in traditional societies of the Bamenda Grasslands was based on the popular culture of the various ethnic groups. By facilitating the exchange of goods and services, markets functioned as a theater for conflict management and resolution, with traders serving as negotiators and receiving special immunity.86 Before the advent of European colonization, Bamenda Grassland popular culture ensured that markets, which were held weekly, were located in frontier zones, or between villages, so as to ensure its neutral status. A bridge of peace between neighboring communities was easily discussed, managed, or resolved during the weekly market. Here, traders could invoke their immunity by serving as negotiators.87 Their role in minimizing conflict before it descended into crisis cannot be overemphasized: They softened the underlying issues in the conflict, making it possible for the chiefs and elders of the villages in conflict to begin meaningful discussions on resolution strategies. Precolonial methods of conflict reduction in the Bamenda Grasslands, which hinged essentially on the popular culture of the various ethnic/village communities, were successful in establishing concord and peace between these communities. Some of these strategies can still be effectively employed today in reducing, managing, or resolving the numerous land/boundary disputes witnessed in the area.

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 101 Notes 1. The term grassfields was coined by German colonial authorities in reference to that part of the Cameroons where highlands and lowlands are carpeted with extensive grasslands. 2. Statistics Year Book for the North West Province: 1987/88–1993/94 (Bamenda, Cameroon: Provincial Services of Statistics and National Accounts, December 1995), 5. 3. E. M. Chilver and P. M. Kaberry, Traditional Bamenda: The Precolonial History and Ethnography of the Bamenda Grassfields, vol. 1 (Buea, Cameroon: Government Printer, 1966), 6. See table 1. 4. Ibid., 5. 5. Ibid., 22. 6. Ibid., 22–23. 7. Paul Nchoji Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy: A Study of Inter-chiefdom Relations in the Western Grassfields, North West Province of Cameroon (Yaoundé, Cameroon: University of Yaoundé, 1987), 23. 8. Ibid., 28. 9. Cameroons under United Kingdom Administration: Report for the Year 1955 (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office for the Colonial Office, 1956), 3. 10. Chilver and Kaberry, Traditional Bamenda, 13. 11. Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy, 28. 12. Ibid. 13. W. E. Hunt, DO, “An Assessment Report on the Bali Clan in the Bamenda Division of the Cameroons Province,” in file no. Ab 5, 1925, 10–14 (National Archives Buea, hereafter cited as NAB). 14. Ibid., 28. 15. Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy, 29. It was in 1806 that Usman Dan Fodio of Sokoto gave the first emir of Yola, Modibo Adama, a white flag to carry out a jihad against infidels. Adama entered Koncha in 1835, and the town fell. 16. Hunt, “An Assessment Report on the Bali Clan,” 11. 17. Ibid., 13; Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy, 29. It is believed that a group of Bamileke chiefs did form an alliance to defeat the Bali. 18. Chilver and Kaberry, Traditional Bamenda, 15–16. 19. Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy, 29–30. 20. Ibid., 30; Chilver and Kaberry, Traditional Bamenda, 34. 21. Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy, 30–31. 22. J. D. Fage, A History of West Africa: An Introductory Survey, 4th ed. (London: Cambridge University Press, 1972), 35–36. 23. Mathew A. Seino, The History of Cameroon (Bamenda: Victory Press, 1981), 109. 24. Sale Suliy, “Farmer-Grazier Conflict in Bui Division, 1916–1989” (master’s thesis, University of Yaoundé, 1990), 5. 25. Fage, A History of West Africa, 36. 26. P. N. Nkwi and J. P. Warnier, Elements for a History of the Western Grassfields (Yaoundé: University of Yaoundé, 1982), cited by Suliy, “Farmer-Grazier Conflict in Bui Division,” 5. 27. Seino, History of Cameroon, 109.

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28. B. W. Hodder, Africa Today: A Short Introduction to African Affairs (New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1978), 44. 29. Mark W. Delancey, ed., Aspects of International Relations in Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979), 164. 30. “Balikumbat-Babanki Tungaw-Bamessing and Bamali Boundary Dispute,” in file no. 3661, Qf/b, 1944 (1), 1944, 10–20 (NAB). 31. Nigeria Gazette 40, no. 27 (Lagos: June 8, 1953): 570–71. 32. Delancey, Aspects of International Relations in Africa, 167. 33. “Bali-Widikum Land Dispute,” in file no. C. 77/497, April 27, 1994, 12 (NAB); “Bali-Guzang Boundary,” in file no. 9570, 11–14. 34. Randy Joe Sa’ah Azeng, “Why SCNC Operates Freely in North West Province: Bell Luc Lies about Bafanji-BaliKumbat Conflict,” in Cameroon Post, no. 0263 (August 7–14, 1995), Bamenda, 7; interview with Godwin Agwe Lee Abam, Mbengwi, September 5, 1997. A majority of those interviewed in the province hold this view. 35. “Balikumbat–Babanki Tungo–Bamessing–Bamali Boundary Dispute,” in file no. 3661, 32 (NAB). 36. Ibid., 32. 37. Nigeria Gazette 40, no. 37 (Lagos: June 8, 1953): 566 (in NAB). The Ngyen Mbo have refused to accept any theory that suggests that the Bali Nyonga might have occupied their present sites through conquest. 38. Ibid., 567. 39. Ibid. 40. Ibid. 41. “Balikumbat–Babanki Tungo–Bamessing–Bamali Boundary Dispute,” in file no. 3661, 31 (NAB). 42. Ibid., 17. 43. Kum Set Ewi, “Santa-Awing Land Dispute: 3 Held Hostage Following Renewed Conflict,” Herald, no. 222 (Yaoundé: July 17–19, 1995), 3. 44. Delancey, Aspects of International Relations in Africa, 169. 45. “Bangangu-Bambetu Land Dispute, Bamenda Division,” in file no. 2124, Qf/b, 1939 (2), 1939, 28 (NAB). 46. Ibid., 12 and 23. 47. Verkijika G. Fanso, “Trans-frontier Relations and Resistance to CameroonNigeria Colonial Boundaries 1916–1945” (doctoral diss., University of Yaoundé, 1982), 47–56. 48. Tangwa, “Note to His Excellency the Governor,” in file no. GNW/54, 1–2 (Governor’s Office Bamenda, hereafter cited as GOB). 49. Delancey, Aspects of International Relations in Africa, 171. 50. Interview with Daniel Akum, Ngyen Mbo, August 18, 1993. 51. Delancey, Aspects of International Relations in Africa, 171. 52. Ibid. 53. Ibid. 54. Hunt, “Assessment Report on the Bali Clan,” 18–20. 55. “Bali-Bamengen Land Disputes, Bamenda Division,” in file no. 734, Qf/b, 1943 (2), September 9, 1943, 4–5 (NAB). 56. Ibid. 57. Interview with Simon Yong Nkwain, EYPIC, Bamenda, May 24, 1997.

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Popular Culture and the Resolution of Boundary Disputes 103 58. Simon Yong Nkwain, “The Conflict between Fungie and Bambui” (paper presented at a seminar on conflict resolution, organized by the Ecumenical Youth Peace Initiative Commission, Bamenda, May 24, 1996), 1–4. 59. Abeng Abanda, “North West Tribal Wars: Blood Bath in Bambui as Fungie Attempts to Declare Autonomy,” Herald, no. 310 (Yaoundé, May 13–15, 1996), 3. 60. Christian Mbipgo Ngah, “Santa: DO Escapes Manhandling for Taking Sides in Land Dispute,” Herald, no. 324 (Yaoundé, July 1–2, 1996), 2. 61. Wanfon Tenyen Achobang, “The Bali-Nyongas are Refugees on Widikum Land,” Cameroon Post, no. 0239 (Bamenda, October 25–31, 1994), 2. 62. Fon Ngwefuni II Y. A., “Prefectoral Order No. 79/1996 Appointing a Commission to Examine and Settle the Inter-Village Land Dispute Between Bafanji and Balikumbat Villages in Balikumbat Subdivision,” file no. GNW/54, July 17, 1996, 1–4 (GOB). 63. Fanso, “Trans-frontier Relations,” 14–15. 64. Ibid. 65. “Bali-Guzang (Babujang) Boundary, Bamenda Division, Cameroons Province,” in file no. 9570, Qf/b, 1943 (1), 1943, 2–3 (NAB). 66. Fidelis Makwondo Cheo, “Bambili and Her Neighbours: Inter-village Relations Since 1961” (MA thesis, University of Yaoundé 1, 1996), 37. 67. Bah Thierno Mouctar, lectures: “The Resolution of Conflicts and Promotion of Peace: Historical Perspectives,” University of Yaoundé I, November 1995. 68. Ibid.; and Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy, 41–42. 69. Mouctar, lectures: “The Resolution of Conflicts and promotion of Peace,” November 1995. 70. Fanso, Trans-Frontier Relations, 15–17. 71. Mouctar, Lectures: “The Resolution of Conflicts and Promotion of Peace,” November 1995. 72. Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy, 99. 73. Ibid., 100. 74. Ibid., 99. 75. Ibid., 43. 76. Fanso, “Trans-frontier Relations,” 18–20. 77. Mouctar, lectures: “The Resolution of Conflicts and Promotion of Peace,” November 1995. Confirmed in an interview with Godlove Mbah, Batibo, July 10, 2005. 78. Fanso, “Trans-frontier Relations,” 18–20. 79. Interview with Pa Lucas Teboh, Batibo, November 10, 1997. 80. Interview with Alan Akom, Guzang, November 13, 1997. 81. Nkwi, Traditional Diplomacy, 46–47. 82. Ibid., 47–48. 83. Interview with Pa Anye Ayeahfor, Alabukam-Mankon, November 9, 1997. 84. Interview with Christopher Teboh, Batibo village, June 10, 2005. 85. Interview with Bobe Michael Nkwi, Fundung, November 22, 1997. 86. Mouctar, lectures: “The Resolution of Conflicts and Promotion of Peace,” November 1995. 87. Interview with Pa Anye Ayeahfor, Alabukam-Mankon, November 9, 1997.

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5 Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? A Nigerian Church in Europe

Asonzeh Ukah Introduction1 The presence of African Christian churches in Europe is not a new phenomenon.2 However, in recent decades there has been an expansion of these churches that has coincided with the era and processes of globalization. These organizations have not only captured public (popular) imagination by their specific roles as ethnic minority congregations developed in response to the critical experiences of marginality,3 but they have also become the subject of news items due to their activities. This chapter examines the dynamics of expansion of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the United Kingdom (RCCGUK). This church opened its first parish in Britain in 1981 but has multiplied in the United Kingdom to 181 parishes with a total membership of 45,377 as at the end of October 2004. What is responsible for this proliferation of congregations in a continent that has been characterized as “unresponsive to [a] revivalist message”?4 This chapter will provide a demographic profile of the RCCGUK, compare some of its salient features with the parent organization in Nigeria, and see how creative adaptation and innovation fuel expansion as well as strategies of mission growth in a foreign milieu. In the last decades of the twentieth century, the presence of Christian religious organizations with roots in Africa became a common sight in many European cities. Although many of these religious groups were established in Europe by Africans, a good number are branches of mother churches originally founded in Africa by Africans. In the era of globalization, with increasing interpenetration of culture, images, funds, ideas, and

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 105 personalities, many Christian organizations founded in Africa have made the “re-evangelization” of Europe and other societies of the northern hemisphere a strong part of their missionizing rhetoric. In these churches, the foreign mission department has come to be accorded great importance and resources. In some cases, it has become an industry, yielding staggering amounts of money to church founders who not only pioneer the rhetoric of re-missionizing the West but also double as immigration/ visa consultants and travel syndicate members. Many Pentecostal church founder-owners have erected large financial and economic empires on money collected from individuals intending to travel to the West, with the promise of sending them as evangelists and missionaries to Europe or North America.5 Mbinglo Nsodu aptly characterizes this group of pastors as “visa contractors.”6 Increasingly, however, churches of African descent or founded by Africans in Europe are becoming a formidable presence in Europe. These groups are increasing in number as well as in the forcefulness with which they assert and insert their social presence within a dominantly non-African environment. In the United Kingdom, for example, these organizations not only carry out their religious functions, but they have for various reasons become the subjects of interesting news items in recent years.7 As they are expanding at a rapid rate, they are also becoming objects of curiosity, intrigue, and now academic interest.8 The presence of these almost exotic religious groups in almost alien surroundings ties together a number of subjects that have recently gained some form of ascendancy in the academic disciplines of anthropology, religious studies, and sociology, such as the subjects of transnational religion, migration, and religious globalization. The significance of these studies is wide ranging: some explore the dynamics of the religious expansion of particular organizations, or the role of religion in the lives and experiences of immigrants (for example, how does religious participation empower the immigrant to organize and make sense of his or her life in an alien culture?), or the effects of migration on religious organizations. From the point of view of many religious participants, religious zeal or evangelism is frequently factored into the varied purposes for migration. As well, there are unexplored relationships between aspects of transnational religion and migration that will help in explaining the dynamics of religious expansion and the vibrancy of migrant religious organizations. The explosion of migrant religious communities in Europe and North America is reshaping the religious landscape of Western host communities and limiting the rate of decline of Christianity generally by invigorating and diversifying its manifestations. However, since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, migrant religion has increasingly come under state security scrutiny as a potential agent for terrorist fund raising, recruitment, and infiltration.

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The present study investigates the variations in the vitality and modalities of operation between a Nigerian New Pentecostal church and its European branches, specifically, its congregations in the United Kingdom (UK). Recent developments in the religious economy of Nigeria have had a tremendous impact on migrant religious behavior in the Nigerian diaspora. As churches in Nigeria have rebranded themselves relative to the political, economic, and social circumstances of the country since the mid-1980s, when the World Bank/International Monetary Fund-inspired structural adjustment program was imposed on the country with massive ruptures in national life, the religious character of Nigerian communities in the diaspora has altered as well. Religious rebranding is not used in this chapter as a mere metaphor. Religious organizations engage in product branding as a strategy of interfirm rivalry and competition, a means of surviving in a crowded, stifling marketplace, and a strategy of achieving organizational goals. Branding introduces change in a corporation’s public image and the value of its services and goods; rebranding introduces further layers of changes in the self-representation of a corporation and its products and services. It refashions the social and commercial perception of a corporation’s goods and services, and hence, its strategic positioning in the market relative to other competitors. Successful branding and rebranding create positive images and associations in the minds of consumers and “evoke strong emotions and command high levels of loyalty.”9 For churches, a successful branding/rebranding enunciates what Magbadelo describes as a “paradigm shift” that blurs old boundaries between the church and the larger society.10 Rather than insist on counter-cultural values and norms, these churches adopt the exact features and practices that the wider society considers important and relevant in negotiating the complexities of modern life. One important example is the adoption of commercial and urban practices such as competition and advertising. A hallmark of Nigerian social life, including its political culture and economic relationships, is the rapacious presence of clientelism. Pentecostalism, rather than trying to provide a solution, simply invents its own client/patron system of networking in competition with the secular variant.11 Furthermore, family firms have played significant roles in sustaining a large number of individuals in times of struggle in Nigeria; churches have increasingly turned into “family businesses” in which control of power and resources is increasingly vested in the hands of a founder and his/her spouse and children, stifling transparency and accountability.12 Churches, particularly the New Pentecostal strands, have aggressively engaged the media in competing for membership, social and market visibility, and publicity for their services and goods. These churches not only produce religious goods and services, but they have evolved an entrepreneurial and market logic that guides and informs their involvement in the production, distribution, and marketing of secular, economic goods such as popular

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 107 culture material (video films, books and booklets, music cassettes, CDs, etc.). The use of the media, particularly in advertising, has facilitated the creation of religious brands and brand visibility, and hence the public image of successful religious corporations for some of the super-mega-churches. Creative media use by pastors has facilitated the cultivation of a public image of “big men of the big God.”13 Documenting a similar phenomenon in Ghana, Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu claims these churches use the media to externalize their theology of material well-being and self-definition as modern organizations that enjoy God’s grace and approval.14 No church better illustrates the dynamics of transnational Pentecostalism and the phenomenon of religious rebranding than the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Nigeria. Understanding how the RCCG became the most popular and the richest as well as the fastest-growing Nigerian Pentecostal church, with more than 10,000 branches in more than ninety countries,15 will enable us to put into perspective the rapid expansion it is witnessing in Europe, particularly in the UK in what the church calls the RCCGUK. The success of the RCCG illustrates the increasing presence and influence of Christianity from developing societies in the southern hemisphere within developed societies in the northern hemisphere, the social impact of Nigerian Christianity in Europe, and the dynamics of the RCCG’s global expansion and claim to global appeal. The consolidation of Nigeria’s New Pentecostalism in the 1990s saw the growing importance of linkages to external centers of power (perceived or real), resources, prestige, and funds. It became very prestigious for churches to emphasize how many branches they had outside the country. If there are any branches in Europe and North America, it is taken that the church has “arrived,” has achieved a realized goal. These new churches, many of them founded or rebranded (refounded) in the 1980s and 1990s, often created their external outposts in Europe and North America in milieus where there existed (and still exist) concentrations of Nigerian immigrant population. The Nigerian diasporas, rather than Western religious organizations, became the initial anchor points for the external linkages of these churches. While it is true that some of these churches craved for some form of relationship or informal working partnership with large Western evangelical groups, particularly in the United States, others were more intent on strategizing and cultivating in-house groups or cells among willing Nigerians in the West. As young, educated Nigerians moved out of Nigeria in torrents during the turbulent 1990s, so also did the presence of these churches grow in many cities of Europe and North America. The RCCG planted its first parish in the United Kingdom in 1989. The parishes of the church—as local congregations are formally called—have proliferated greatly, such that the UK represents the second strongest diasporic center of the church—after the North American (RCCGNA) center.

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The church’s general overseer visits the UK several times a year to consolidate efforts at further expansion, holding special revival services and conducting ordinations of clergy. This chapter is an exploratory attempt to provide some empirical answers based on the dynamics of the religious life and organization of the RCCG in the UK. It is important first to provide an historical overview of the RCCG in Nigeria.

The RCCG: Historical Setting The Rev. Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi, an estranged prophet and apostle of the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim (hereafter referred to as C and S) founded the RCCG. Born in 1909, Josiah became a traditional healer before converting to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) version of Christianity in 1927. After only four years in the CMS, he joined the newly established C and S movement in 1931. He migrated from his hometown of Ondo, through Ile-Ife, to Lagos, where he soon rose to the rank of prophet and apostle, and formed a small band of followers around himself called Egbe Ogo Oluwa, the “Glory of God Fellowship.” In 1952, he was excommunicated for insubordination to the authority of the C and S leadership in Mount Zion Church, Lagos. He transformed his small band into a church and changed the name, finally, to the Redeemed Christian Church of God, claiming it was a name divinely revealed to him. For four years (1956–60), this church was affiliated with the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa, a relationship that was terminated after Nigeria gained political independence. When in 1979 the founder traveled to the United States, senior pastors of the church took the event as fulfillment of a divine prophecy pointing to the global spread of the church before the second coming of Jesus Christ. When Josiah died in November 1980, there were thirty-nine parishes, all in Lagos and its environs, with a membership of less than a thousand, nearly all of them of Yoruba ethnic extraction. Just before his death, Josiah nominated Enoch Adejare Adeboye, a university lecturer with a doctorate in mathematics, as his successor. Adeboye had spent only seven years as a member of this church, and was himself only thirty-nine years old when he took over the reins of power in January 1981. After an initial period of leadership tussles that saw the church splinter into factions, the new leader set before him the task of turning around the fortunes of a church that was aptly described by one of its senior pastors as “a tribal church.”16 This church straddled the Aladura movement and the classical Pentecostalism of the Assemblies of God and Four Square Gospel Church variety. The era of the successor to the founder saw the rapid overhaul of the church, a process that could unarguably be termed a case of “religious

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 109 rebranding.” Branding and rebranding are strategic elements in corporate identity management. Rebranding is not restricted to corporate organizations; religious organizations, which now exist in a vibrant, dynamic, and competitive religious market also engage in rebranding in order to attract and maintain a market niche (aiming at a specific public or discrete group), remain vibrant, and stay competitively effective.17 In the post-founder period, rapid changes were introduced in such spheres as organization, doctrinal orientation, and ritual practices. New doctrines of prosperity and wealth, new services of revival (advertised as miracle events), and new strands of parishes were established and promoted aggressively through the mass media (posters, billboards, radio, television, etc.). More importantly, a new class of educated pastors was recruited to promote the new image of the church as a modern, translocal, and mobile corporate organization in tune with the latest ideas and practices in the business and cultural spheres. Through this new religious class of professionals, the church soon exploded with parishes outside the country, particularly in societies with sizable numbers of Nigerian immigrants.18 Today, the RCCG is the fastest growing New Pentecostal church in Nigeria and its overall leader is by far the most popular and politically the most powerful Pentecostal figure in the whole country. Some monthly and annual religious events that he presides over attract large crowds of people ranging from 100,000 to 500,000 or more. The leader’s closeness to his ethnic compatriot, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian president, worked to pull many politicians and top government officials into the church. Adeboye is a frequent guest of the president at the State House, where he presides over prayers on behalf of the nation. At the sprawling ten-square-kilometer Redemption Camp, he frequently hosts politicians and government officials.19

The RCCGUK: The Data20 Pastor David Okunade established the first RCCG parish in the UK in 1989 on Baker Street in central London. In 1990, this parish moved to Islington, also close to the center of London. In 2004, there were 161 parishes of the church scattered all over the UK and an additional twenty parishes in Ireland, making 181 parishes in what the church technically calls the RCCGUK.21 These parishes vary in sizes from the very large with 3,272 congregants to the very small with twenty-seven persons. The combined population of all the RCCGUK parishes at the time of the fieldwork in 2004 was put at 45,377 persons. This figure is broken down thus: men 12,153; women 19,426; and children (aged twelve years and under) 13,798. The average parish population is 251 persons. With the exception of a few individuals, all the members of the RCCG are first generation immigrants, who came to the

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UK after 1980. Membership is generally youthful, those in the age bracket of twenty-one to forty making up the largest group. The congregations have an impressive size, therefore, considering that this is an alien environment and much work and money (securing a worship place and furnishing it adequately) go into setting up a parish structure. Of the 181 parishes that grew out of the 1989 initial attempt, 125 (69 percent) are located in London while the rest (56, or 31 percent) are in other parts of the UK and Ireland. This is reminiscent of the church’s development in Nigeria, where more than half of all its parishes in Nigeria are concentrated in Lagos State alone, and 80 percent of its parishes are found in southwest Nigeria, with about 13 percent in the southeast and the middle belt and 7 percent in the north.22 The pattern is also replicated in South Africa, where nearly 85 percent of all RCCG parishes are concentrated in Johannesburg. Although the RCCGUK was made up of 181 parishes in 2004, there were more pastors than there were parishes. In the Jesus House parish—located on Brent Terrace, in Brent Cross, North London—alone, there were about six pastors. Since the parent organization of the RCCGUK is, to a significant extent, still clothed in ethnic trappings, it may be helpful to examine the ethnic backgrounds of the leaders of the different parishes. Of the 181 parish pastors in 2004, 158 (87 percent) were clearly of Yoruba ethnic extraction, 19 (10 percent) were non-Yoruba Nigerians, and 4 (2 percent) were non-Nigerians. Although there was a female Jamaican pastor, there was no British pastor (white or black).23 The RCCGUK was predominantly a black migrant church.24 Nigerians dominated the leadership as well as the membership. There was, however, a growing percentage (4 percent) of members from other black countries of the world: Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Jamaica. Of interest in the church’s attempts to break out of its ethnic enclave was the drive to recruit members from the Caribbean Islands. Slightly more than 1 percent of members came from the Jamaican and South American communities. The remainder consisted of white Britons, mainly the spouses of Nigerians who were members of the church. There was an admission of lack of progress among whites. This was a source of great challenge, if not irritation, to the leadership of the church. The significance of these figures is that there is a strong correlation between the ethnic background of a pastor and leader of a parish and the membership of the congregation. Where a pastor is Yoruba, most of his/ her parishioners are likely to come from the same ethnic group. In a sense, this is a form of ethnicization of Pentecostal practice and groupings.25 The most important exception to this pattern of cultural association is the Jesus House congregation, where the parish pastor is non-Yoruba while the congregation members are nearly 75 percent Yoruba. Immigrants associate with familiar persons and objects in an attempt to reproduce cultural familiarity and anchor identity. Such reproduction preserves cultural and ethnic

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 111 identity and reinforces solidarity based on ethnic sentiments.26 Here, ethnicity is overlaid with Pentecostal identity, thus generating multilayered constructions of network and identity. Although the RCCG presents itself as a Pentecostal organization, it is at core a born again Yoruba institution that reinforces the core values of Yoruba ethnicity translated into born again idioms. This is the case whether the RCCG congregation is found in Lagos, Johannesburg (see fig. 5.1), Texas, or London. Women generally predominate in RCCG parishes in the UK; they make up about 43 percent of the overall membership, with men at 27 percent, and children at 30 percent. Consistent with the gender composition in the parent organization in Nigeria, this is very significant and shows where the pull lies.27 Women, particularly young women, are frequently strategically positioned to attract and hold the attention of men, thus pulling these men into the church. Many prominent conversions to the RCCG in Nigeria and elsewhere have been as a result of pressures mounted by women on men, often but not necessarily their spouses. Also, the large number of children is important because they will replace the adults in the future if they remained within the fold. Like the congregations themselves, the leadership is youthful, with almost all the pastors being first generation immigrants. However, in terms of the gender composition of the pastors in 2004, there were only 35 female heads of parishes (19 percent) as against 146 male (81 percent) heads of parishes in the RCCGUK.28 Considering that in the first twentyeight years of RCCG history (during the leadership of the founder) in Nigeria there was no female ordination, one would concede that an improvement has been registered in the drive toward equality in gender representation among the clergy. The first females to be ordained were Adeboye’s wife and the founder’s widow just after Adeboye took over leadership in 1981.

Administrative Structure The RCCGUK’s administration is different from what obtains in Nigeria but similar to the administrative structure of the church in the United States and Canada, commonly called the RCCGNA (RCCG North America). A Board of Coordinators under a chairman who reports to Adeboye directly governs the RCCGNA. The 315 parishes of the RCCGNA are divided into twenty-two zones, each under a zonal coordinator. All the zonal coordinators make up the Board of Coordinators. Similarly, at the apex of the RCCGUK’s administrative structure is the chairman of a three-person RCCGUK Executive Council. Members of this council oversee the activities of all the parishes of the church in the UK and Ireland. In 2004, the RCCGUK was divided into eighteen areas; these areas were further grouped into eight zones. Each zone was made up of a collection of parishes called

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Figure 5.1. A Nigerian church in South Africa. Photograph by author, 2008.

“areas,” each consisting of a number of parishes, each under an area pastor who reports to a zonal pastor (who is a member of the Executive Council). Each of the three members of the Executive Council is responsible for a number of administrative zones, between two and three. The Executive Council, through its chairman, reports directly to the general overseer of the church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

Features of the RCCGUK The parishes of the RCCGUK are not monolithic; they are internally diverse and multistranded. Some, like Jesus House located at Brent Cross, North London, are cosmopolitan in outlook and identity, with many members drawn from middle-class members of professions such as medicine, law, and academia. These cosmopolitan parishes use the very latest media technology in their religious services to emphasize a universalistic disposition and aspiration. This global aspiration, their leaders often claim, is rooted in the vision of their founder, Josiah, who was said to have prophesied that the RCCG would spread to all parts of the world before the second coming of Christ. The public rhetoric of reverse mission in the RCCG is partly rooted in this vision: to spread the gospel to the ends of the world before Christ’s second coming. The leader of Jesus House parish believes that the

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 113 level of sophistication and the exhibition of hi-tech modernity should itself be a resource to lure cosmopolitan youths, who are technologically savvy, into the church.29 Technology also is a status-endowing symbol, giving the church social prestige as a modern, up-to-date institution that can compare with other modern institutions on an almost equal footing. Some other parishes stress their rootedness in their Nigerian background by using the Yoruba language in Sunday worship. An example of such a parish with a particularistic vision—as opposed to the more cosmopolitan parishes like Jesus House—is Apata Irapada (Rock of Redemption), established in 1999 in Camberwell and having a membership of about 400, almost all of them Yoruba. The church has established “a daughter parish” bearing the same name in Hackney, East London. The mother parish claims to be “a church with the understanding of ‘Redemption for all languages’ and diversity of approach to ministry.”30 There is a large of population of Nigerians from the Yoruba ethnic group to which this parish attempts to provide services and whose needs it attempts to meet. One of these needs is to communicate in Yoruba instead of English. Attempts to cater to ethnic interests and functions may actually militate against the RCCG’s rhetoric of being a vehicle for the redemption of all peoples and cultures. Even non-Yoruba Nigerians feel alienated in an overwhelmingly Yoruba congregation. Other RCCGUK parishes can be arranged on a continuum of cosmopolitanism on the one side and particularism on the other. In some of the parishes I visited in London, Yoruba dominance was strongly felt immediately after the service when many of the congregants switched from English, which was the language of worship, to Yoruba while drinking tea or coffee or eating biscuits in the church foyer. A few non-Yoruba members stood around, lost in the cacophony of vernacular conversations going on around them. Another important feature of the RCCGUK is its hybrid nature. Many parishes emphasize the mission of the church to bring in people and cultures from all over the world into one organization called the RCCG. As a result of this vision, or rather aspiration, the parishes are positively disposed to incorporate performances (songs and dances) from diverse cultural backgrounds into their services, particularly at such mega-events as the Festival of Life, which is held in London three times each year. While the hybrid nature of the church is quickly noticed, a segment, although in the minority, stresses the element of purity in the church’s mission and activity, faithfulness to God’s word, and faithfulness to the vision of Josiah Akindayomi, of preaching the “undiluted” word of God. A further significant feature of RCCGUK congregations is movement or impermanence, which is a factor in the life of the immigrant. There is a high degree of instability in membership, which revolves around a core of stable members—those who have acquired their immigration papers and

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do not have any immediate plans or intentions to leave the UK. There is a movement of persons from Nigeria to the UK, but also a movement from other parts of the Western world to the UK as well as from the UK to other places. Some church members observed that some of their former fellow worshippers who found it difficult to secure the immigration papers necessary to obtain permanent residence and work permits have moved on to such countries as Canada, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. As some move out, others move in from other parts of Europe, for example, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium. In like manner, ideas, materials (audiovisual tapes, books, and magazines), images, and funds crisscross borders in an apparently unbounded space. Some pastors narrated how they were helping to coordinate the movement and flux as well as sustaining it. In 2004, Jesus House, for example, was paying the salaries of some twenty-two RCCG pastors in Asia and Eastern Europe; these were pastors working in financially weak, fledgling parishes or outposts.31 Jesus House was also assisting in securing travel documents for pastors in Nigeria planning to come to the UK as missionaries or to carry out specific tasks for the church (for example, as “guest pastors”) or even for further studies. Because the churches are competing for the attention of young men and women who are ordinarily drawn to popular culture, there is a strong trend within these churches to creatively adapt church services and events to resemble forms of popular entertainment: including good music,32 trendy dressing, weekend picnics, sports events, and a host of other activities. Parishes use popular pastime events, such as moviegoing, to attract youths to the church and utilize the opportunity to proselytize them. There are a number of para-church groups that have been founded specifically to cater to the interests of spinsters and bachelors, newlyweds, children, teenagers, and so forth (see fig. 5.2). While individual parishes are autonomous and are registered as individual charities linked to a mother charity, they are encouraged by the structures set in place in the Central Office to abide by the legal provisions of the country. The Central Office of the RCCGUK is located in Hertfordshire. There is a deputy charity administrator (who doubles as a parish pastor), an office manager, an events/programs coordinator, and an accountant. Through this Central Office, RCCGUK parishes33 have been registered for trusteeship beginning in 2000 and, as a result, come under the Charities Act of 1993. As a consequence of coming under this legal umbrella, the parishes have the obligation of keeping proper financial records and maintaining accountability, good administration, and transparent management of their organizations. The Central Office makes the member parishes rule compliant so as to avoid falling afoul of the law and incurring debilitating penalties, fines, or even criminal prosecution. This sort of rule-compliant culture is in sharp contrast to the prevailing practice in Nigeria among

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Figure 5.2. A banner advertising an RCCG event in South Africa. Photograph by author, 2008.

Figure 5.3. The regional headquarters of the Redeemed Christian Church in South Africa, illustrating the physical location and manner of advertising the church. Photograph by author, 2008.

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Figure 5.4. The Tabernacle of Praise: RCCG South Africa, illustrating the physical location and manner of advertising the church. Photograph by author, 2008.

Pentecostal church leaders and owners. In Nigeria, church government is highly personalized and informal; records are hardly kept or hardly made public where they are kept; a personality cult predominates as a result, and church leaders function as chief executive officers and presidents of religious empires.34 Some large parishes such as Jesus House have individual structures that enable them conform to the regulations of the social environment in which they operate. There are two accountants in charge of the financial department at Jesus House, an officer in charge of marketing, another in charge of technology and information services, a statistician in charge of members’ services,35 and so on. In addition to giving the church the image of a properly administered organization that fits within the legal framework of its host society, the employment of appropriately qualified personnel presents the church as a corporate citizen on a footing equal to other corporate citizens. With this social and public image, the church hopes to appeal to middle-class individuals who are familiar with business image, taste, and discipline.36 More significantly, the church wants to be respected and treated in such a manner by the political authorities of the UK. In this respect, the Jesus House parish is successful, as Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, celebrated his fifth-ninth birthday on November 14, 2007, in the parish. Also in attendance at the church service were the Duchess of Cornwall, the Mayor of Barnet, and the Bishop

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 117 of London, Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres. Prince Charles informed the congregation during the celebration that You are all a marvelous example of how so many people whose families originate from the Commonwealth have yourselves brought new life into the Christian Church in the United Kingdom thereby completing the cycle started by missionaries from Britain so many years ago. So we have that to thank you for.37

Methods of Expansion The RCCG’s expansion in Nigeria started in the late 1980s. By the mid1990s, Adeboye had evolved a doctrine of establishing parishes within five minutes’ walking distance of each other as a way of covering the social landscape and putting pressure on individual pastors and committed members to take up the responsibility of founding parishes with their own resources. Church planting became a metaphor for multiplying parishes of the church all over Nigeria and abroad. Adeboye taught his followers that wherever they were sent on work transfer or on study outside Nigeria, they must establish a parish of the church if none existed there. These members were made to believe that they had entered into a covenant with God, and that they must not worship in any church other than the RCCG. This is the doctrine that spurred and sustained the proliferation of small-sized parishes inside and outside Nigeria. Congregations are founded in three principal ways. The first method can be termed “the daughter parish system.” A rich parish in Nigeria, mainly one of the many model parishes in Lagos, or in the United States could sponsor the establishment of a parish in the UK or in any other part of the world. This sponsoring parish would provide the initial funds for hiring and furnishing a worship center and financing an initial missionary, principally a pastor. The new parish becomes “a daughter parish,” while the mega-parish in Lagos becomes “a mother parish.” The latter ceases to provide supervision and funding when the former becomes self-sustaining and is incorporated into the worldwide RCCG through registration with the International Headquarters of the RCCG, at Redemption Camp, near Lagos. The second method can be called “the individual initiative.” A committed RCCG member who is visiting a foreign country for a fairly long period of time or for purposes of study may gather a number of people together and form them into a worship community. The member finances the community as an individual and heads it as an unordained minister. If and when this small community proves viable, s/he contacts the RCCG HQ and registers the community as an autonomous parish. If the founding takes place in the UK, the person in charge contacts the RCCGUK Central Office and through

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this channel the new parish is incorporated in the RCCG family. The community is thereafter enabled to register with the relevant bodies within the host society. Often the founder, no matter what his occupation is, will begin to retrain to become a pastor by undertaking some of the academic and religious programs that are necessary to qualify him for ordination.38 So we have professionals in medicine, law, and various academic disciplines relinquishing their professional occupations to retain the headship of a parish; this is particularly frequent if the parish is in Europe or North America.39 The third method is used when a rich parish in the UK commissions a certain number of its members to start a new community elsewhere in the neighborhood. The sponsoring church becomes the mother church and the new parish becomes the daughter church. In the RCCGUK, there is a way of ascertaining which parishes constitute a line of descent from a single mother parish. They all bear similar names: all the parishes that have the ending “for all nations” as part of their names constitute a family or lineage. There are four parishes that have the prefix “Fountain of”; four that have the prefix “Garden of Hope”; and four that have the prefix “Garden of the Lord.” Each of these forms a family. There are six parishes that bear the name “Holy Ghost Zone”; these are only differentiated by their geographical location (London, Kent, Eltham, Coventry, Liverpool, and Northampton). There are four Jubilee churches forming a Jubilee family. The different parishes both in Nigeria and in the UK compete among themselves in terms of the number of daughter parishes they have each been able to bring to “birth” (as the pastors like to put it).40 These methods of proliferation have ensured that the parishes remain predominantly black and Nigerian in composition, content, and ethos. All the principal religious actors involved in setting up parishes begin with Nigerians and continue their expansion with the core membership that is almost always and everywhere Nigerian or black. The advantage of this is that it is easier to work with and from the known to the unknown. However, once the known target group has been constituted as a community, it is difficult to appeal to other groups, who often feel intimidated and who are aware of the popular media image of the Nigerian character.

Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? Through the above-enumerated features, the RCCGUK and its affiliate parishes and members mediate and assert an alternative, hybrid religious and social identity and institutions. Individual congregants display multiple identities: at different times and places some mediate a Nigerian or Yoruba identity, and at other times they mediate a Christian, born again identity. There is also the identity of the person living and working abroad, particularly in

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 119 Europe. These identities and the institutions that help facilitate or mediate them are significantly different from what obtains in the parent organization in Nigeria. For one thing, members of UK parishes exhibit higher levels of religiosity than they had before coming to the UK. The increased involvement in religious activities often leads to ordination, as a reward for commitment and for reasons of socioeconomic security, but also as a means of securing a firm foothold in the host society. For those who go for ordination in the UK, this is also an adaptive strategy and response to the new milieu in which they find themselves as well as a public declaration of intense commitment. Pastors of the church are recognized both by the legal authorities and by the larger British Christian associations. This recognition and these alliances afford the pastors a certain leverage with which to interface with British officials in respect of their members. The RCCGUK as a religious structure, is a platform from which its pastors undertake to launch an evangelistic crusade to reconvert a wayward society. The rhetoric is that British society is postmodern, post-Christian, and increasingly paganizing, a spiritually hard-hearted environment in which to work and live and achieve God’s purpose. In a large poster displayed at the Redemption Camp of the RCCG in Lagos in 2002, Europe was called “a prodigal continent.” The church believes that Europe has squandered the vocation that God gave it in bringing Christianity to Africa. Now, Africa, like a responsible child, should respond to the spiritual needs of Europeans. It is the mission of the church to permeate European society and rejuvenate it with the word of God by “taking the church out of the church,” as the head pastor of Jesus House and chairman of the RCCGUK Executive Committee, Pastor Agu Irukwe, phrased it. The idea of taking the church out of the church is at the heart of Irukwe’s re-missionizing strategy. It means getting involved in social and civic duties that benefit the immediate environment in which it operates. Carrying out these duties in its neighborhood means that its presence will be registered and noticed and fresh members may be recruited. The practice that is prevalent in Nigeria is for the church to wait for people in need to come to it in search of succor; but in Europe such a style of ministering to a fairly socially and economically comfortable population lacks purpose and results. Partly because of the existence of the alternative church structures, members of the RCCG are not readily absorbed by the host society, although there is a deliberate push by church leaders to bring their followers into the mainstream of social life. With a membership of nearly 1,500, Jesus House attempts to bring in people from diverse cultural and national backgrounds, and so can be said to be inclusive. Apata Irapada, on the other hand, emphasizes its original Yoruba identity through the use of language and other cultural paraphernalia. By strongly stressing their cultural roots, Apata Irapada and its daughter-parish become exclusionary of persons who are not Yoruba

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or do not identify with the Yoruba culture. There are other parishes lying in between these two poles that display varying degrees of exclusionary and inclusionary tendencies; they radiate the predisposition to attract people from varied cultural backgrounds by de-emphasizing Yoruba (or Nigerian) elements and at the same time make efforts toward holding on to their cultural constituency—which may be deeply Yoruba and/or Nigerian. Striking a feasible balance between the two poles defines success, but this is not easy considering the methods of membership recruitment. In order to present a cosmopolitan and all-inclusive character, some parishes of the RCCGUK make little mention of the religious history of the RCCG. Some parishes have started jettisoning what was until now the norm of placing the church’s highly symbolic logo on their Web site or letterhead, and so forth. For these parishes, the past is not as important and urgent as the present and the future. At Jesus House, for example, no one seems to know anything about Josiah, the founder of the RCCG, but they do know about the founder of the parish, Tony Rapu. Tony Rapu was one of three young, enthusiastic initiators of the model parish system in the RCCG from 1988 onward. The model parishes were designed to be different from the older parishes inherited by Adeboye from the founder of the church. They incorporated modern music and bands and did not place restrictions on membership through the demands of a dress code or behavioral requirements. The first model parish was opened in 1988 and headed by Tunde Bakare, a lawyer, who seceded from the church the following year, establishing his own church called Latter Rain Assembly. (He has since remained an acerbic critic of Adeboye and his policies and politics.) The second model parish was established in 1989 and headed by Adegboye Adetola, a banker. On May 5, 1991, Tony Rapu, a medical doctor by training, sold all he had, including his car, and channeled the funds into opening the third model parish, located in Apapa. In 1997, he too seceded from the RCCG. He established his own church, called This Present House, in Victoria Island, Lagos, in October 1999. The unusual name of the church is derived from Haggai 2:9 “The glory of this present house shall be greater than the former,” as if it were a comparison, or competition, with the RCCG. Officials of the RCCG claim that Adeboye still laments Rapu’s secession. The religious memory of Jesus House parish is that of the recent past, and it is important to investigate how far the RCCGUK can recover, assert, or invent the religious history of the mother group, the pristine purity of Josiah’s vision, mission, and intentions, which have come to mean a great deal to the classical strand of parishes in Nigeria. According to the pastor of Jesus House, the uniqueness of the church stems from the original visions and ideas of Tony Rapu rather than from those of Josiah or even Adeboye.41 Agu Irukwe, head pastor of Jesus House, trained as a lawyer in the UK and practiced in Lagos. While he was in Lagos, he was recruited by Tony Rapu

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 121 to replace Rapu as pastor of Jesus House in 1994. In addition to being the head pastor of Jesus House, Irukwe also doubles as the chairman of the threeman Executive Council of the RCCGUK. Irukwe is the son of Professor Joe Irukwe, the controversial former president general of the Pan-Igbo cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo. Irukwe and the parish he leads may be quite unique in the RCCG; Irukwe is not Yoruba but heads a parish that is predominantly Yoruba. This is very important in understanding the self-understanding of Jesus House and the way its members negotiate meaning, history, and memory in the context in which they live. It is this uniqueness that marks the church as the quintessential parish of the RCCGUK for tomorrow. Further, it is this unique vision of Tony Rapu that makes Jesus House a refuge for a large number of migrants seeking a foothold in the UK and seeking to regularize their immigration papers, get work permits, and so forth.42 Persons having difficulties with immigration authorities or requiring some form of legal representation in their dealings with the state authorities receive assistance from the church. In the vision of the church, one way of reconverting Europe is to help struggling Africans secure proper permits to live and work there and remake them into missionaries carrying out the church’s ideas and programs of a reverse mission. For the RCCG, operating in a vibrant but tight religious market, an increase in membership means survival in terms of power, resource mobilization, and spread of influence. Discreetly capturing and rehabilitating stranded migrants through its networks of immigration lawyers, counselors, resource persons, and so on swells its numbers. It is a resource mobilization that helps the church expand its frontier of missionary work and influence. Whatever one may think of asylum Christianity—for example, that it is a type of religious community that is trapped in its ethnic enclave—it is being reconstructed and refocused into missionary instruments, subtly but inescapably asserting the church’s power and presence in Europe. Legal battles over immigrant status for some people are often mobilized from the church, where “connections” and past experiences with similar issues are easily deployed to support the application of a “brother” or a “sister” in need. The churches also function as centers for the coordination of employment and the dissemination of news concerning possible job openings; pastors direct members to sites of possible employment, giving them letters of reference and testimonials. When this is done successfully, the church has helped in restructuring a member’s personal self-worth and economic productivity. These are some of the factors that make the large, Nigerian-founded diasporic churches very attractive to many Nigerian immigrants. This reinforces Patrick Kalilombe’s assertion that “In situations of need, like those of strangers in a foreign, largely hostile and unpredictable society, one should be able to look to the church as the primary source of support, protection, help and fellowship.”43 The churches, therefore, function as orbs around which several networks spin; some of these are clearly

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religious and social and others are clearly economic, political, and legal. A significant figure in the legal functioning of his church is the head of the RCCGUK, himself a lawyer trained in the UK, and so having a full understanding of the dynamics of the interface between religion and immigration in the UK. In the context of experiencing life inside RCCG parishes in the UK (as well as in other countries outside Nigeria), these parishes (as physical buildings and locations as well as communities of believers) go beyond being places of religious and spiritual activities such as worship, Bible study, and prayer meetings. The large parishes like Jesus House represent corporate entities without any motif of traditional Christianity such as the Cross or any other images relating to religion or Christianity. The corporate architecture gives the impression of professionalism, competence, and audacious authority. According to Pastor Agu Irukwe, the parish he heads would compete favorably with any corporate organization in terms of physical architecture, office layout, and professional staff with the requisite training and experience.44 Such places resemble the mega-churches of America, where the image of religion is reinterpreted to fit modern, market-oriented tastes. They are also more than locations for recreational activities such as picnics, excursions, and weekend meetings. They are properly places and contexts of renegotiation of authenticity between church members and their host society. The names of some of the parishes signify their aspirations, revealing what they intend to become in their greater unfolding. Two examples will suffice. There are a number of parishes with “International” or “For All Nations” in their names.45 The intention of these churches and others is to embrace other peoples and cultures. Although flux and movement characterize them, they no longer see themselves as strangers but as people divinely destined to develop some permanence, not just in their physical locale but also in their influence in the society, economy, culture, and politics. In an issue of one of Jesus House’s magazines, Outflow, there appears a piece titled “Putting Jesus Back into [UK] Politics.”46 Even the name Outflow is instructive: there is expected to be an outflow of reformative and transformative power from the church to the wider society, which will in due course prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus. In its public posture, the RCCGUK presents itself as an organization processing the emergence of a new culture of divinity that will rejuvenate British society as part of the church’s mission of preparing humankind for the end time. A second example of the importance of church names can be seen in the parishes with “Connection” or “Connections” as part of their official names.47 These names signify the intention of the churches to be points of social and divine connection. It is important that some of the names are in the plural; they bring out this point more forcefully. The churches see themselves as centers of social, economic, and spiritual networks that will bring about the

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 123 reordering of their host and home societies. For Nigerians, “connection” evokes powerful images of a clientelist sociopolitical system dominated by rent collectors, which is a very pervasive system in their home country but also in the New Pentecostal churches, as has been pointed out earlier in this discussion.48 No one without a “connection” to powerful patrons or “godfathers” achieves anything worthwhile in society.49 In the UK, the church fulfills the patron or godfather role for the Nigerian immigrant community. Immigrants need strong, powerful, result-producing connections to enable them to adapt and adjust to their new environment and to achieve legal status and prosperity. The church presents itself as an interface between members and God; in the same way, it works as the connecting point between stranded, confused immigrants and their host society. The congregations of the RCCGUK are not geographically bounded, isolated groups. They represent open, dynamic, interlocking networks of persons, ideas, symbols, practices, and funds; this is unlike the situation in Nigeria, where the emphasis is more on the vertical element in patron/client ties than on the lateral, diffused dimension. The stability and vitality of the UK congregations derive partly from this network structure and partly from the “aggressive, dogged, rugged evangelism” that has come to characterize their public mission in recent decades, according to Irukwe. This rhetoric of evangelism has fused with the dynamics of movement of the new, mobile, religious class from which the church’s clergy is drawn. Members of this class crisscross Africa, Europe, North America, and Australasia, carrying with them the ideas, practices, and doctrines of their leader. As they move about, they also bring along some of their spouses, relations, friends, and well-wishers, thus expanding the help network as well as supporting other immigrants searching for secure places to settle and familiar persons and communities to rely on. The RCCGUK illustrates the dialectical relationship between the unmooring of religious ideas and practices in a de-developing society (such as Nigeria) and their re-mooring or anchoring in a developed society (such as the UK). The pastors who plan to bring back a recalcitrant British society from the brink of spiritual perdition stress the rhetoric of the reverse mission. The public posture of re-evangelizing Europe helps the group to create a fresh spiritual imagination of labor and ambition, articulate a specific identity, and present a public meaning and understanding of its physical and social presence in the host society. Part of the function of the theology of re-missioning Europe is the (re)production and preservation of community identity (Yoruba/Nigerian/African/Christian/Pentecostal/global). As these diverse identities are negotiated almost simultaneously, the church members live as “locals” and “nonlocals” at the same time. They are deeply steeped in their local Nigerian life-world and at the same time have an everpresent consciousness of the nonlocal Pentecostal community and fellowship that drives their zeal and informs some of the dialectics of contest and

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context. For Nigerians in the UK who are members of the RCCG, connection and network form an important pathway of migrant incorporation into the host society; the agenda of the church are espoused and given social force by the conviction and practices of those who are most in search of solidarity and empowerment. This pathway of religious involvement is all the more important to migrants who come from a traditionally religious culture where there is little or no separation between the sacred and the secular, the political and religious, as is evidenced in the social and political history of Nigeria.50 Religion has figured in virtually all aspects of political, economic, and social negotiation and contestation in the country and continues to do so. According to G. A. Akinola, “Nigeria’s reputation as a deeply religious country is firmly established. A former head of state spends his retirement organising prayers across the country, while the incumbent [Olusegun Obasanjo] proclaims his born-again Christian status at every opportunity. . . . The country, though officially secular, now features religious rituals in public offices, institutions and functions. Churches and chapels compete with mosques in government houses and students’ college hostels.”51 Even in the face of the increased mobilization of religion in national life, “Nigeria,” according to Jeffrey Tayler, “has become the largest failed state on earth.” It is “a country where ethnicity trumps citizenship, religion trumps ethnicity, and power trumps religion,” and the president “claims to have been born again in prison, and is prone to wear his religion on his sleeve.”52 Migrants from this cultural background will easily feel at home stepping onto the platform of religion in negotiating a legal and socially acceptable entrance into and foothold in their host society. Generally, religion is an important resource for migrants, as Fenggang Yang and Helen Rose Ebaugh observe: “Historically, religious institutions were among the most important resources that immigrant groups used to reproduce their ethno-religious identity in new surroundings and to help them adjust to the challenges of surviving in a demanding and often threatening environment.”53 The program of re-missionizing renders the proliferation of congregations intelligible; it motivates the mobilization of resources, principally but not exclusively money, and the creation of intensive networks that bring in funds for the task at hand. On Sunday, November 28, 2004, the general overseer of the RCCG, Pastor Adeboye, ordained sixty-four deacons,54 fortyfive deaconesses,55 thirty-three assistant pastors,56 and twelve pastors in London. This was in furtherance of the church’s rhetoric of “taking over the land of Europe.”57 Giving the sermon at the ordination event, Adeboye prayed: “God, we beseech you to give us this land [Britain].” This fervent plea evokes the takeover of the heavily fortified city of Jericho by the wandering Israelites, who, under the leadership of Joshua, had prayed a similar prayer and received a positive outcome. Marching around the city walls once

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 125 a day for six days, and on the seventh day repeating the ritual match seven times and then sounding the trumpet of victory that saw the walls come down in rubble, Joshua and his army of followers proceeded to destroy the city by fire (Joshua 6–8). This is hardly the fate Adeboye and his army of pastors and devoted followers desire for British or European society. The desired takeover of Europe by the expanding RCCG aims at using religion as a transformative ideology and instrument of occupation to control the society by influencing the social, economic, and political conduct of a large section of the society. The RCCG regards Europe as a prodigal son who has squandered the fortune he inherited and is in need of rehabilitation by reevangelization. The new pastors and recruits to the RCCG family are bearers of this re-evangelization. The re-missionizing rhetoric provides a significant spiritual motive to migrate; it also provides cognitive and affective mechanisms with which to negotiate the hardships and deprivations that individuals encounter in the process of establishing themselves in Europe.58 This narrative of the reverse mission helps the group contest the meaning(s) of Christianity and modernity as well as alternative publics and citizenship in the context of globalization.

Conclusion This chapter illustrates the politics of a transnational religious empire, the RCCG, and its efforts to break through the ethnic and cultural barrier in the United Kingdom. This religious empire operates not just in the UK or in Europe in general, but also in the West African countries of Benin, Ghana, and Cameroon. The RCCG is a global church that is overwhelmingly faithful to its cultural and local roots in its doctrines, practices, leadership, and membership. Its spread to more than ninety countries has not altered its Nigerianness in any significant way. In fact, its Yoruba characteristics are underlying features of its leadership and membership composition, regardless of the two non-Yoruba pastors, Rapu and Irukwe, who are outliers. It will take not just Nigerians in London but also other citizens of the city to significantly introduce lasting changes in the religious and social demographics of Britain. Because of its markedly enchanted, magical worldview and faith-gospel orientation, the church has yet to appreciably adapt to the milieu of its European host society. This does not, however, explain why the church does not win converts from other West African societies. People from these societies perceive the church with suspicion as an aggressive religious empire-building project from Nigeria, and so they cautiously observe it from a distance.59 Another factor that perhaps accounts for the RCCG’s lack of broad-based global appeal is its practice of the “direct ecclesiastical transplant,”60 that is, founding branches, using the same style and methods that

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have worked so well in Nigeria, without partnering with Pentecostal groups in their host societies. Nigerians simply recruit other Nigerians—which is the easiest thing to do in a foreign land where familiarity breeds confidence— and ask these new recruits to bring in their friends, who often happen to be fellow Nigerians. The RCCG, thus, is a local global church; it is local in its composition and character, and it can be found in places with sizable numbers of Nigerians. It is a global church without global appeal. However, the presence of such a large number of RCCG congregations in the UK, densely populated by young, expectant immigrants having multiple but global identities, is in itself a qualitative shift in demographic and religious culture from the situation only two decades ago. Such a qualitative change inexorably alters the parameters of judging what is global and local in the dynamics of transnational religious processes. The activity of a group like the RCCG unarguably contributes to the effervescence of religion in “spiritually recalcitrant Europe.”61 According to a Yoruba saying recounted by J. D. Y. Peel, “Bi ewe ba pe l’ara ọsẹ, yio di ọsẹ” (If the leaf stays long upon the soap, it will become soap).62 The church expects that over time it will succeed in converting substantial numbers of Europeans who live within its area of influence. Although it is not the soap that becomes a leaf when they have been in contact for a long time, the importance of the saying in relation to the nature and life of the RCCG in the UK and in the West generally is that “people (and by extension, institutions and organizations) will adapt to the circumstances they are placed in, gradually taking on the characteristics of a new environment.” It is the wisdom of the saying that undergirds the potency of missionary Christianity in Yorubaland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although the changes noted in the religious culture and demographic composition of European cities are small, they may be irreversible. Also irreversible is the RCCGUK’s self-perception and self-representation as not a Yoruba church, not an African church, or even a British church but a church of/for all nations, a church with global connections. The group believes it embodies a true Christian identity and message with global relevance and implications. The RCCGUK strongly believes in being able to convert or rechristianize prodigal Europe. This self-portrayal is not only evident in the names of individual parishes; it is also a constant refrain in the sermons and projections of the leaders and many of their followers. This public portrayal is very much a matter of self-imagining for the future, a future project and ambition, an aspiring perspective for the group; the reality on the ground as well as the existing mechanisms and structures clearly show that it might be easier for the soap to become a leaf than the UK or Europe to become Christian according to the style and theology of the RCCG. Although the RCCGUK stresses signs and miracles and the material rewards of being a born-again Christian, it is already becoming more like its host society in its assimilation of many aspects of British life and market culture into its self-arrangement. Some

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 127 of the features of British society that the RCCGUK is assimilating include the work ethic (attention to detail). The corporate outlook of the church is a clear carryover from its immediate environment: for example, in the use of specialists/professionals in specific tasks in the church, such as former bankers working as church accountants, professional psychologists as church counselors and youth workers, professional statisticians as church attendance record keepers, and computer programmers. Record keeping and transparency, which are rarely strong points of African Pentecostal churches, are certainly a reflection of the political economy of public religion in the UK.

Notes 1. The fieldwork upon which this paper is based was carried out between September and December 2004 when I was a research fellow in the Leventis Research Fellowship Programme (LRFP) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. I am deeply grateful to Professor J. D. Y. Peel, who was my mentor during the program, for his support. An earlier draft of this chapter was presented at a workshop on “Afrikanishe PfingstKirchen in Deutschland und Afrika,” held at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, July 21–22, 2005. I am grateful for the comments of fellow participants, particularly Professor Ulrich Berner and Professor Ute Luig. Also, I am grateful to Professor Ogbu Kalu and Dr Richard Burgess, who read earlier drafts and proffered suggestions. The usual caveats hold, however. 2. Gerrie ter Haar, Halfway to Paradise: African Christians in Europe (Cardiff, UK: Cardiff Academic Press, 1998); and Hermione Harris, Yoruba in Diaspora: An African Church in London (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). 3. Patrick Kalilombe, “Black Christianity in Britain,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 20, no. 2 (April 1, 1997): 306–24. 4. José Casanova, “Religion, the New Millennium, and Globalization,” Sociology of Religion 62, no. (2001): 422. 5. Recently, in Nigeria, Bishop Adeoji Idowu, founder-owner of Christ Care Group Ministry in Lagos, and Rev. Isaac Adedejo, founder-owner of Call for Harvest Church, Okuku, Osun State, defrauded some people of moneys totalling N30 million (between May and July 2004) with the promise of sending them to the United States as missionaries from their churches. Each of the victims of the scam were made to pay, according to police report, N165,000 as training fees; N5,500 for boarding pass; N3,000 for church registration (as only church members would travel); N30,000 for basic allowance; and N10,000 for clearance (N139 = US$1), among other fees and charges stipulated by the church founder-owners (see “Bad Priests,” Daily Sun (Lagos), May 19, 2005, 4). 6. Mbinglo Ndodu, Black Angels in the White Man’s Country (Accra, Ghana: Derisco, 2004). 7. A couple of years ago, London-based Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), owned by Nigeria’s mega-prosperity preacher, Matthew Ashimolowo, came under the administration of the British Charity Commission for flouting financial procedures. Also, the Kenyan televangelist, Archbishop Gilbert Deya, has been

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investigated with regard to his “miracle baby” ministry, which a British judge has linked to an international child trafficking syndicate. At the centre of Deya’s trouble is “ruthless” “financial greed,” according to Justice Ryder (see Evening Standard [London], Friday November 12, 2004, 1 and 6). Both events have thrown the media and administrative spotlight on African religious groups in the United Kingdom (UK). 8. The upsurge in religious scandals in recent times in many societies is a pointer to the vitality of religion, increased media coverage, increased public desire and demand for transparency and disclosure, and a certain degree of vitiation and attenuation of religious authority in these societies. Some scholars have termed this an “abrogation of religious authority”: Anson Shupe, William A. Stacey, and Susan E. Darnell, “Introduction,” in Anson Shupe, William A. Stancey, and Susan E. Darnell, eds., Bad Pastors: Clergy Misconduct in Modern America (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 1. However, this is not exactly the case in African societies, where members of the clergy are still highly respected and trusted even in the face of reported and proven abuses of such trust: see Asonzeh Ukah, “Piety and Profit: Accounting for Money in West African Pentecostalism (Parts 1 and 2),” Nederduitse Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif 48, nos. 3/4 (2007): 621–48. 9. Kent D. Miller, “Competitive Strategies of Religious Organizations,” Strategic Management Journal 23 (2002): 435–56; Asonzeh Ukah, “Branding God: Advertising and the Pentecostal Industry in Nigeria,” Liwuram: Journal of the Humanities 13 (2006): 83–106; Steven M. Kate and Charlene Goh, “Brand Morphing,” Journal of Advertising 32, no. 1 (2003): 59–68; and John Noble, “Branding: From a Commercial Perspective,” Brand Management 13, no. 3 (2006): 209. 10. J. O. Magbadelo, “Pentecostalism in Nigeria: Exploring or Edifying the Masses?” CODESRIA Bulletin, nos. 1 and 2 (2005): 46. 11. In terms of social networks, Nigerian Pentecostals have created alternative but not contrary networks that use the same methods of social engineering in appropriating state resources. For details of some of these methods, see Jordan Daniel Smith, “Ritual Killing, 419, and Fast Wealth: Inequality and the Popular Imagination in Southeastern Nigeria,” American Ethnologist 28, no. 4 (2001): 807–26; and Jordan Daniel Smith, “‘Arrow of God’: Pentecostalism, Inequality and the Supernatural in Southeastern Nigeria,” Africa 71, no. 4 (2001): 587–613. 12. Stephen Ellis and Gerrie ter Haar, Worlds of Power: Religious Thought and Political Practice in Africa (London: Hurst, 2004), 137; cf. Marianne Bertrand and Antoinette Schoar, “The Role of Family in Family Firms,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 20, no. 2 (2006): 73–96. 13. Kalu Ogbu, African Pentecostalism: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 103. 14. J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, “Of Faith and Visual Alertness: The Message of ‘Mediatized’ Religion in an African Pentecostal Context,” Material Religion, no. 3 (2005): 340–46. 15. E. A. Adeboye, “Open Doors to Total Recovery,” Holy Ghost Message, March 2005, http://main.rccg.org/holy_ghost_service/2005_hgs/hgs_Mar_05.htm (accessed June 28, 2005). 16. Personal interview with Pastor Johnson Funso Odesola, Redemption Camp, Lagos, January 6, 2001. Transcript archived at the Department for the History of Religion, University of Bayreuth, Germany.

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 129 17. On the use of marketing strategies of competition by religious organizations, see Michael R. Darby and Edi Karni, “Free Competition and Optimal Amount of Fraud,” Journal of Law and Economics 16, no. 1 (1973): 67–88; A. H. Walle, “The Positioning of the Good News: The Christian Gospels as Marketing Communications,” European Journal of Marketing 22, no. 6 (1988): 35–48; Robert E. Morgan and Carolyn A. Strong, “Marketing Orientation and Dimensions of Strategic Orientation,” European Journal of Marketing 32, nos. 11/12 (1998): 1051–73; and Gerald Vinten, “Business Theology,” Management Decision 38, no. 3 (2000): 209–15. 18. For details of the RCCG’s processes of expansion, see Asonzeh Ukah, “Mobilities, Migration and Multiplication: The Expansion of the Religious Field of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Nigeria,” in Afe Adogame and Cordula Weißköppel, ed., Religion in the Context of African Migration Studies (Bayreuth, Germany: Bayreuth African Studies Series, 2005), 317–41; Asonzeh Ukah, “Those Who Trade with God Never Lose’: The Economics of Pentecostal Activism in Nigeria,” in Christianity and Social Change in Africa: Essays in Honor of J. D. Y. Peel, ed. Toyin Falola (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2005), 251–74. 19. Asonzeh Ukah, A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power: A Study of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008), 199–207. 20. The data were collected by interviewing individuals and organizational leaders; observing religious and social meetings and special events; reviewing church documents, magazines, and fliers; and holding discussions with church members. I thank Pastor Agu Irukwe, chairman, RCCGUK Executive Council, who instructed his workers to assist me during my fieldwork. The names of informants are withheld in order to protect their identity, with the exception of a few leaders whose positions it is unnecessary to disguise, such as Pastor Agu Irukwe. 21. At the end of 2007, there were 146 branches of the RCCG in London, 95 outside London, and 70 in Ireland, bringing the total to 311. This report, however, will be based on the figures derived from the field research in 2004. 22. Ukah, A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power, 91; also Olufunke A. Adeboye, “Transnational Pentecostalism in Africa: The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Nigeria,” in Entreprises Religieuses Transnationales en Afrique de l’Ouest, ed. Laurent Fourchard, André Mary, and René Otayek (Paris: Karthala; and Ibadan: IFRA, 2005), 449–65. 23. I am aware that some pastors may claim dual citizenship and may self-consciously regard themselves as “British citizens,” but this fact does not detract from my emphasis that the RCCG in the UK is an overwhelmingly Nigerian-Yoruba religious community. The impact of persons with dual citizenship in these churches on their ability to recruit members with Caucasian backgrounds is yet to be seen. I am thankful to Dr. Richard Burgess for this observation: e-mail communication, February 14, 2008). 24. The church does not see itself as a “black church,” but this is more a descriptive designation than a normative one. Regarding the diverse senses in which the category could be useful and analytically deployed in the study of variations of Christian traditions, see Patrick Kalilombe, “Black Christianity in Britain”; and Sandra L. Barnes, “Black Church Culture and Community Action,” Social Force 84, no. 2 (2005): 967–94. 25. An important feature of ethnic religions is that they cater primarily to ethnic interests and are organized according to ethnic values and sentiments (see Os Guinness, The Grave Digger File (London: Hodder Christian Paperbacks, 1983), 142.

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26. Fenggang Yang and Helen Rose Ebaugh, “Transformations in New Immigrant Religions and Their Global Implications,” American Sociological Review 66 (2001): 270. 27. Asonzeh Ukah, “The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Nigeria. Local Identities and Global Processes in African Pentecostalism” (PhD diss., University of Bayreuth, Germany, 2003), 162. 28. This is a rough estimate, since there is often more than one pastor assigned to a parish. But this estimate paints a general picture of what obtains in the RCCG in Nigeria as well as in the diaspora. 29. The activities of Jesus House Parish refute the old social science assumption that modernization translates directly to a vitiation of the public power of religion. 30. See RCCG Directory in the UK, http://www.kingsparish.org/recg_directory. html (accessed May 27, 2009). 31. According to Pastor Agu Irukwe in an interview on November 10, 2004, the parish he heads (Jesus House) expends about £38,000 monthly on salaries for its sixteen-member staff and on pastors in Eastern Europe. 32. One significant feature of African migrant Christianity is the vibrancy that accompanies worship and contextualizes the experience of living away from home, creating continuity in moments of rupture. 33. Not all the parishes had been so registered at the time of this field research. 34. Ukah, “Piety and Profit,” 644. 35. One of the duties of the coordinator of members’ services is to compare the number of members to the amount of money the church takes in every month through tithes, offerings, and donations. A drop in the income of the church would reflect a drop in membership. Through this method, the church takes proactive steps to forestall what Pastor Agu Irukwe calls “backdoor exits,” that is, when people come into the church and exit unceremoniously. As the church records new affiliates, it is expected that this intake will be reflected in its income. This duty is an indication of the deployment of rational, market-oriented methods in church administration. 36. The RCCG is not one church but a collection of multistranded churches, some parishes appearing similar and some appearing very untypical. The Jesus House parish is unapologetically untypical. Similarly, the Model Unity parish in Parktown, Johannesburg, is also untypical of RCCG parishes. A typical RCCG parish would not, for example, preach a sermon on human suffering as part of the Christian experience because, according to the overall leader of the church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, it is not part of the lot of a born again Christian to suffer. But Pastor Agu preaches sermons with a strong emphasis on the Cross. All over the world, the parishes of the RCCG, therefore, tend to exhibit a varying ethos based on the backgrounds and visions of their own pastors/leaders. For details of the different strands of the RCCG parishes and their different doctrinal and social emphases, see Ukah, A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power, 110–18. 37. Dan Wooding, “Prince Charles Marks 59th Birthday with Tribute to Black Churches in the UK,” ASSIST News Service (ANS), http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/ 2007/s07110095.htm (accessed May 13, 2008). 38. This method of founding parishes provides the church with highly qualified manpower and also provides an avenue for students who do not want to return to Nigeria at the completion of their academic programs in the West to remain as pastors of congregations.

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Reverse Mission or Asylum Christianity? 131 39. There are many examples that can be cited in bolstering this position. Pastors Agu Irukwe of Jesus House and Albert Odulele of Glory House trained and practiced as a lawyer and a medical doctor, respectively, before relinquishing their professional practices to head parishes of the RCCG in the UK. 40. This system of founding RCCG parishes is an interesting case of an independent reinvention of the mother/daughter “lineages” that developed in the spread of medieval monastic orders like the Cistercians or Cluniacs (I thank an anonymous reviewer for pointing out this parallel). 41. Personal interview with Pastor Agu Irukwe, Jesus House, Brent Terrace, Brent Cross, London, November 10, 2004. 42. I thank Eniola Hassan for providing some insights into these issues and examples of them. 43. Patrick Kalilombe, “Black Christianity in Britain,” 310. 44. Personal interview with Pastor Agu Irukwe, London, November 10, 2004. 45. ( i) Church of all Nations (Kent); (ii) Glory International Worship Centre (Catford); (iii) House of Glory for All Nations (Middlesex); (iv) International Christian Centre (Romford); (v) Jubilee House for All Nations (Essex); (vi) Spring of Life for All Nations (Essex); (vii) Victory Centre for All Nations (Luton); and Jesus House for All Nations (Brent Cross, London). 46. Outflow, an in-house magazine of Jesus House church, June 2004, 8. 47. (i) Liberty Christian Connections (Essex); (ii) Living Faith Connections (Plaistow, London); (iii) Royal Connections (Plaistow, London); and (iv) Royal Diadem Connection (Essex). 48. Charles Gore and David Pratten, “The Politics of Plunder: The Rhetorics of Order and Disorder in Southern Nigeria,” African Affairs 102 (2003): 211–40. 49. See Human Rights Watch, Criminal Politics: Violence, “Godfathers,” and Corruption in Nigeria, October 11, 2007, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2007/10/08/ criminal-politics (accessed March 9, 2008). 50. Examples of the multilayered process of the politicization of religion and religionization of politics can be found in numerous studies, such as those of Yusuf Bala Usman, The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria 1977–1987 (Kaduna, Nigeria: Vanguard Printers and Publishers, 1987); Matthew Hassan Kukah, Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria (Ibadan, Nigeria: Spectrum Books, 1993); Iheanyi M. Enwerem, A Dangerous Awakening: The Politicization of Religion in Nigeria (Ibadan: IFRA, 1995); and John Chidi Nwafor, Church and State: The Nigerian Experience (Frankfurt am Main, Germany: IKO, 2002). 51. G. A. Akinola, “Religion and the Obasanjo Administration,” Guardian, Lagos, March 20, 2006, http://www.guardiannewsngr.com/editorial_opinion/article02 (accessed May 3, 2006). 52. Jeffery Tayler, “Worse Than Iraq?” Atlantic Monthly, April 2006, http://www. theatlantic.com/doc/200604/nigeria (accessed May 22, 2006). 53. Yang and Ebaugh, “Transformations in New Immigrant Religions,” 269. 54. Twenty-one of these were for the parishes of the RCCG in Ireland. 55. Seventeen of these were for the parishes in Ireland. 56. Eight were ordained for Ireland. 57. See 2004 Ordination service brochure, 6–9. One deacon and three deaconesses were also ordained for the parishes of the RCCG in Nigeria.

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58. During the ordination ceremony, Adeboye had to tell his pastors that he was aware of the “behind the scene negotiations and lobbying” between the candidates for ordination and their superior, and that some senior pastors had been lobbying him by writing letters in support of their candidates. He was clear that many might be seeking ordination in the RCCG as a way to cope with the hardships and uncertainties of migrant life in the UK. 59. This view became evident in my discussions with Cameroonians in Douala and Yaoundé during 2005. Many Cameroonians regard what they call “Nigerian churches” as religious enterprises primarily aimed at making money. The laws regulating religious association and practice in Cameroon are evidently framed against the backdrop of state and individual concern about “commercial Nigerian pastors” and “fake Pentecostal missionaries from Nigeria.” See Robert Mbe Akoka, “New Pentecostalism in the Wake of the Economic Crisis in Cameroon,” Nordic Journal of African Studies 11, no. 3 (2002): 364 and 366. 60. Paul Freston, “The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God: A Brazilian Church Finds Success in Southern Africa,” Journal of Religion in Africa 35, no. 1 (2005): 36–37. 61. José Casanova, “Religion, the New Millenium, and Globalization,” Sociology of Religion 62/4 (2001): 422. 62. J. D. Y. Peel, Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 248.

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6 Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria: From Yorùbá Bàtá to Bàtá Fújì Debra L. Klein Introduction Lead vocal: Second vocal: Lead: Second: Lead: Lead vocal: Second vocal: Lead: Second: Lead:

Èmi láiyé! Èmi! Èmi! Èmi láiyé! Èmi láiyé mi! Èmi! Èmi! Èmi láiyé. Èmi láiyé mi!1 It’s me, alive in the world! It’s me! It’s me! It’s me alive in the world! It’s all about me! Me! Me! It’s always me. Me, alive in the world!

Wasiu Alabi’s catchy melody and lyrics, consisting of every possible combination of the words èmi (me), láiyé (alive in the world), and mi (me), became a popular choral refrain with the cohort of fújì-loving bàtá artists in the rural ` ` sun, Nigeria, during the late 1990s. Whenever I joked with town of ẸrìnỌִ these artists about their potential stardom as globally renowned fújì front men, they would try to out-perform each other by singing and dancing some version of the tune, “Èmi láiyé mi.” Not only are the words and melody easy to remember, but they represent a significant shift in the style and content of performance for extended families of drummers and dancers who specialize in traditional Yorùbá Bàtá. “It’s All about Me” gave the young artists the creative license to transform their traditional artists’ identities into pop culture personae (see fig. 6.1). However, these young artists’ fathers criticized

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Figure 6.1. Ayàn with Yorùbá Bàtá drums. Photograph by author, 1997.

their children’s “all about me” culture for its diversion from tradition, àsà ìbílè. What can we learn from this generation gap in a rural Nigerian town during the late 1990s? By examining the emergence of a bàtá fusion out of traditional bàtá, we will see how two generations of artists crafted particular cultural identities and performance styles in order to successfully participate in waning Nigerian markets for bàtá as well as in growing international markets for traditional African culture. We will also see how these two generations collaboratively perform Yorùbá Bàtá to ensure its sustainability and relevance today. Passed down from generation to generation, Yorùbá Bàtá is a centuries-old drumming, singing, and masquerade tradition from southwestern Nigeria. My long-term ethnographic research2 with Yorùbá Bàtá artists has ` revolved around the extended family of Làmídì Àyánkúnlé in Ẹrìn-Ò sun. One of the few compounds that continues to school its children in the art of traditional drumming, Àyánkúnlé’s family consists of about two hundred members, spanning five generations and five different towns in Òsun and Kwara states. While the bàtá tradition has been reinvented from generation to generation, evidence suggests an ongoing reinvention of bàtá to the chagrin of the elders in the Àyánkúnlé family, who differ with the younger generation on this change. In order to understand and articulate this dynamism, especially young artists’ early attempts to merge bàtá with the popular musical genre of fújì, I differentiate between the following two generations of artists.

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 135 The traditional “Yorùbá Bàtá generation,” whose members are in their fifties and sixties, came of age in a newly independent and hopeful Nigeria. They have traveled the world as representatives of traditional culture since the 1960s, witnessed their tradition lose substance and meaning with the passing of each generation, and have come to see bàtá as an endangered culture form. The “Bàtá Fújì generation,” whose members are in their twenties and thirties, came of age during two military dictatorships in which Nigeria’s political economy plummeted into turmoil. They have traveled minimally with their fathers, inherited the bàtá tradition and networks, invented bàtá and pop music fusions in order to keep their tradition relevant, and relate to bàtá as an evolving popular culture form. While the late 1990s was economically challenging for most Nigerians,3 the members of the Yorùbá Bàtá generation sought refuge in overseas networks they had built around the celebration and perpetuation of Yorùbá Bàtá: they continued to successfully recast themselves as traditional performers in a global market. Meanwhile, the Bàtá Fújì generation invented a new performance genre through which its members revitalized their profession as purveyors of traditional culture during times of economic stress and cultural globalization. The market for bàtá performance has slowly changed through the past fifty years due largely to cultural, religious, and economic factors, such as the following: (1) the social pressure to identify with Islam or Christianity has resulted in dwindling support for bàtá, since bàtá is still associated with òrìsà, the pantheon of Yorùbá spirits/gods/goddesses, even though bàtá is also a secular entertainment tradition; and (2) increasing migration from the countryside to urban centers has meant that ceremonies are mostly held on weekends, when families and friends have time to travel back to their country homes to celebrate funerals, marriages, or naming ceremonies, thus confining the artists’ performances to weekends. It is within this changing political, economic, and cultural context that both generations of bàtá artists are reinventing their roles as traditional performers. As an anthropologist trained in the United States during the 1990s, my primary methodologies include language study, long-term participant observation, semi-structured interviews, conversations, and life histories. Building on feminist4 and contemporary anthropological theory,5 I incorporate my subject position into my descriptions to clarify my epistemology. Specifically, my methods of data collection included the following sets of research activities between 1996 and 1998: (1) participant observation within Àyánkúnlé’s family compound in Èrìn-Òsun; (2) apprenticeship to bàtá drummers and dancers, following performers during their outings to learn and practice skills; (3) participation in the daily occupations of the artists and their families, including farming, barbering, carpentry, hair weaving, kolanut processing, assembling drums for sale, and cultural brokerage; (4) informal and formal interviews with more than thirty men and

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women of drumming and masquerade families, their friends, and audiences regarding their changing profession and performances; (5) audio and video documentation of performances and other work activities; (6) collection of national and local newspaper articles about arts and culture in Nigeria; (7) participant observation with state and privately sponsored cultural institutions, such as the Òsun State Cultural Center and the Niké Center for Arts and Culture; (8) archival and interview research on the history of Èrìn-Òsun town; and (9) twenty life-history interviews with members of three generations of drumming and masquerade artists in Òsun State.6 Through analyses of interviews with bàtá artists, Bàtá Fújì performance (recorded in 1997), and a traditional masquerade skit (recorded in 1995), this essay will illustrate the following: (1) tensions between the Yorùbá Bàtá and Bàtá Fújì generations; (2) how the members of the Bàtá Fújì generation incorporate Yorùbá popular music and their overseas sensibilities into their worldly fusion; and (3) how the generations collaborate to produce social and political critique from a Yorùbá perspective. While the Yorùbá Bàtá generation identifies strongly with a precolonial, pre-Islamic Yorùbá culture, the Bàtá Fújì generation has crafted an identity that comfortably fuses Yorùbá, Islamic, and global cultures.

Background: Àyàn and Òjé Performance Training their children in the art and profession of bàtá and/or dùndún drumming, Yorùbá drumming families celebrate and honor òrìsà Àyànàgalú. Children born into an Àyàn lineage are thus given names beginning with the Àyàn prefix, such as Àyánkúnlé, meaning “drum spirit fills the house.” Òjé families or eléégún òjè are entertainment masqueraders—also known as agbégijó, alárìnjó, and apidán.7 Children born into an Òjé lineage are given names starting with the Òjé prefix. Òjé families work closely with Àyàn families: Òjé dancers dance, praise sing, and perform acrobatic and masquerade displays, while Àyàn drummers provide the accompanying drum rhythms and texts. I refer to the Èrìn-Òsun Àyàn and Òjé group (with whom I performed and lived) as the “Òjétúndé group.” During the duration of my fieldwork, Òjétúndé was the group’s most senior masquerade dancer, whose primary occupation was to sustain and travel with his alárìnjó group. Having spent days on end for several years with Àyàn and Òjé artists in Èrìn-Òsun and on the road, I came to experience and understand their version of bàtá drumming and masquerade dancing as the fusion of popular and traditional performance styles. Somewhere in between bàtá and fújì lay the Òjétúndé group’s self-styled genre that the group called “Bàtá Fújì.” I call this fusion pop tradition—a worldly, innovative, gendered, and uniquely

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 137 Yorùbá fusion. I was introduced to fújì music through the albums of Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, known as “Mr. Fújì” by his fans. The Yorùbá term fújì refers to a cluster of popular music and dance styles, produced and patronised mostly by Muslims, and performed live at parties and life-cycle celebrations—naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals and business launchings—in cities and towns throughout southwestern Nigeria.8

The Àyàn drummers in their teens and twenties have formed and performed with their own fújì bands since the rise of fújì’s popularity in the 1980s. Within Ìyálójà’s compound, the name of Àyánkúnlé’s extended family home, the boys’ dedication to fújì created tension between the older and younger generations of drummers. The older drummers worried that their boys were wasting their time playing music that was not rigorous or meaningful. Additionally, Làmídì, head of the Yoruba Bàtá generation, in particular, views fújì as a “Muslim” versus “Yorùbá” style and is thus quite critical of its popularity as a Yorùbá genre. As Karin Barber and Christopher Waterman illustrate,9 however, fújì—like oríkì (praise singing)10 and bàtá—is eclectic and incorporative and thus distinctly Yorùbá, emerging from the struggles (against Muslim jihadists, Christian missionaries, and each other) of the nineteenth century. With roots in Yorùbá praise singing and Muslim music (particularly vocal style), fújì emerged out of the pivotal turbulence of the nineteenth century, which necessitated the first-time formation of a Yorùbá “ethnic” consciousness or pan-Yorùbá identity. Barber and Waterman thus argue that fújì music’s evocation of a “Yorùbá” identity is quite distinct from oríkì’s (or bàtá’s) evocations of various Yorùbá subgroups such as Ìjèsà or Ègbá.11 Through my analysis of a Bàtá Fújì performance, I build upon this argument to show how the Bàtá Fújì generation embraces the ideologies of bàtá and fújì at once. On the one hand, the boys identify as Àyàn performers from Èrìn-Òsun, tracing their roots to Àyànàgalú. On the other, they identify with a pan-Yorùbá popular music genre with strong ties to Muslim music. The fusion of these modes of identification with their sense of global citizenship is pop tradition. On the other hand, Làmídì Àyánkúnlé has strategically reinvented àsà ìbílè—traditional culture. Through his collaborations with Europeans and U.S. Americans, Àyánkúnlé began to promote himself as a teacher of Yorùbá traditional culture, defining his version of àsִà (traditional culture) against the cultures of Islam and Christianity. It is no accident that Làmídì earned his nickname, “Father of Foreign Lands,” in conjunction with his self-fashioned identity as a traditionalist. Willing to represent Africa, Àyánkúnlé has strategically wielded his status as a traditionalist to play the postcolonial market. As pop traditionalists, the members of the Bàtá Fújì generation continue to build upon Àyánkúnlé’s momentum by figuring out ways to transform their art and identities in the world.

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Pop tradition combines both a bàtá and a fújì sense of ayé, worldliness. Àyánkúnlé, for example, explains how the Yorùbá alárìnjó tradition has a long history of travel and wide reception: Even before when we were in Yorùbá country, we used to travel around. We traveled with the alárìnjó Egúngúns to perform—like the groups of Ayelabola, Ajangila, and Òjétúndé. They used to dance from place to place. Our fathers before us have been traveling around. Traveling is a part of us. Our fathers before us traveled around everywhere. It is only during our own time that we have traveled to foreign towns overseas.12

Emerging from their alárìnjó heritage, Òjétúndé’s group members identified as individual performers from Èrìn-Òsun. Identifying as individuals who are part of a traveling ancestral lineage is resonant with a bàtá tradition of worldliness. The fújì sense of worldliness allows Èrìn-Òsun artists to identify with and spread a larger movement based on a pan-Yorùbá identity. By calling itself “Bàtá Fújì,” the Òjétúndé group becomes part of the world as representatives of “the Yorùbá.” This pan-Yorùbá identity—incorporating Islam, Christianity, and Western cultures—exists in tension with Àyánkúnlé’s selfmade identity as master of traditional culture (àsà ìbílè). Even before the fújì craze hit Èrìn-Òsun, the Yorùbá popular theater movement of the 1940s and its various expatriate participants in Òsogbo swiftly incorporated Èrìn-Òsun artists. This was a moment during which artists called upon and continued to fashion a pan-Yorùbá identity in resistance to the British colonials. Popular artists sought out Èrìn-Òsun bàtá players as representatives of traditional culture: the young Àyánkúnlé was heavily scouted for his talents. In his early years as a professional bàtá artist, Àyánkúnlé began to identify with a type of Yorùbá tradition that countered a colonized identity. Àyánkúnlé’s family’s long-term relationships with Yorùbá and international collaborators—who have looked to the members of the family as representatives of Yorùbá tradition—have altered and shaped Èrìn-Òsun artists’ status within Nigeria and their identities as citizens of the world.

A Yorùbá Bàtá Generational Perspective The tension between fathers and their sons over what constitutes a worthwhile Yorùbá performance was rife throughout my fieldwork. It played itself out within everyday discourse and artistic practice. Àyánkúnlé’s generation of drummers would often joke with each other about the vapid lyrics of fújì music. Àyánkúnlé’s junior brother, Rábíù Àyàndokun, a wellrespected and well-traveled bàtá drummer active throughout the 1980s in

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 139 various Lagos-based fújì bands, is quite concerned that fújì music could distract the Bàtá Fújì generation from becoming well versed in their bàtá drumming heritage. In one of our interviews, Àyàn thoughtfully situated fújì in the context of Yorùbá music history, all the while comparing the popularity of fújì to traditional bàtá: It has no meaning to me. You know, fújì is just like what I am talking about. Fújì is not traditional music. It started from sakara music. There were some musicians in the past—we call them sakara musicians—like Yusuf Olatunji. Yes, that’s where fújì music took its source from. But they changed its tempo into a fast one. Later, they introduced gangan drums into it. Then they brought jazz drums into it from jùjú. You see . . . the vocal style is from sakara, but they quickened the tempo. They even brought some slang and jokes into it. Then they took the sound and invented different styles. For example, my son can say he wants to play aro (a type of drum) fújì, and he goes to brother Saka, the aro player. And he introduces it into his own fújì to make a different style. . . . What I am saying in essence is that if we work at making bàtá popular and respected, it will become like fújì. But if we don’t work bàtá—if we depend on playing at funeral ceremonies without invitations—bàtá won’t compete with fújì. And if you have played abroad like me, you know that the desire to play at home is very low. This means that we should gather ourselves and try to hold a practice session to bring out something tangible and different. But right now, it is not possible to do such a thing because if there is a funeral ceremony, Òjétúndé and others will go there to play for money. They know that if they don’t go, nobody will invite them. So, if we can change the context and expectations for bàtá, it could be just like fújì in terms of receiving invitations. You see, bàtá music—accompanying ìwì,13 for example—is more meaningful and more melodious than fújì. Before any fújì man can collect money from me, I must have drunk a lot. He can’t praise my oríkì very well. If I ask my wife14 to chant my oríkì now, Àyàn15 may also give her money because as she sings my oríkì, she sings part of Àyàn’s oríkì—because we share a family history. But . . . fújì musicians can not sing orobokibo16 while dancing and expect me to give them money when I am not mad [laughs]!17

While Àyàn may be critical of fújì as a meaningful genre, he recognizes its overall acceptance and popularity—especially as evidenced by the community support for fújì performances. Preferring bàtá drumming and masquerade singing and dancing to the “nonsense” of fújì lyrics and posing, Àyàn dreams about changing the shape of traditional bàtá performance as it has been passed down for centuries. Why not imagine a staged venue for bàtá performers, to which they are invited and for which they are compensated and appreciated for their expertise and entertainment? Àyàn’s generation of performers—some of whom have traveled and performed overseas—has no patience for the types of local gigs that require lots of (often uninvited) effort in exchange for little financial support. The coexistence of bàtá and

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fújì and the cross-participation of young artists in both genres provide grounds for rich debates around the meaning of tradition within local and global contexts. This chapter illustrates the generational shift in the culture of bàtá performance, from the performance of “tradition” to what I call “pop tradition”— an innovative, popular, worldly, gendered, Yorùbá style and identity. In order to keep bàtá culture alive, members of the Bàtá Fújì generation fused traditional bàtá with the popular musical genre of fújì, invoking their lineage-rooted skills as a means through which to participate in a Yorùbá-wide music movement. The “pop” part of pop tradition signifies this generation’s desires to identify with a pan-Yorùbá culture, fueling a particular worldliness rooted in the Àyàn tradition as well as a modern Yorùbá identity.18 While Àyánkúnlé and Àyàn are critical of their sons’ inventions of pop tradition, almost seeing this shift as a sellout, they also admit that local performance venues are depressingly different today than in their apprenticeship days. Both Àyánkúnlé and Àyàn came of age playing for frequent òrìsà ceremonies. And as these ceremonies became less frequent, the nation-state made an effort to support the art and identities of traditional artists through the sponsorship of state, regional, and national cultural competitions and festivals, such as NAFEST, as well as through the funding of cultural centers.19 In Àyánkúnlé’s version of the past, bàtá drummers were respectfully invited by town royalty and families to celebrations during which they were treated as guests.20 Nowadays, the Òjétúndé group often shows up to events without a personal invitation. Since radio advertisement has become the prevalent mode of advertising local events, the dissemination of invitations to any event has become relatively impersonal. Whenever Àyánkúnlé questioned my decision to follow the Òjétúndé group from town to town without an explicit personal invitation, he would simply ask: “Who will give you food?” Frustrated by their dwindling patronage, loss of their customary preeminent position, and altogether lack of community respect for bàtá artists, Àyánkúnlé himself refused to perform at just any event, if it meant buying his own food, paying for his own transport, and returning home with little gain. Instead, Àyánkúnlé chooses to survive by working his overseas networks. Yet the Òjétúndé group has no other option: its members still eke out their existence by going out and working the streets for a living. Despite his frustration, Àyánkúnlé still encourages his boys to train and practice by playing with the Òjétúndé group.

Performing Pop Tradition In this section, I analyze a Bàtá Fújì song text excerpt from a local performance outing: the story of Bàtá Fújì’s identity frames the excerpt. Lead

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 141 vocalist Saidi Òjétúndé’s song tells the story of Òjétúndé’s group taking the world by storm, joining the popular genre of fújì music with its traditional bàtá roots, and finally merging the two performing art forms and lifestyles into one—Bàtá Fújì. Through the use of traditional iwì—a genre of neotraditional praise poetry—text, Òjétúndé fills in the frame with references to his own stamina as a traditional artist and to my dancing and presence. In this performance moment, Òjétúndé and I both form integral parts of Bàtá Fújì. Òjétúndé’s narrative conjures dialogue between the broader world and the specifics of Bàtá Fújì, between the nonhuman realm of trees, water, and goats and the human realm of dance and music. Inherent in the praise narrative genre is the invocation and presence of God, Ólórun, and/or òrìsà. Spiritual forces and forces of nature are the initial addressees in the opening section and thus remain present as objects of praise and subjects of inspiration throughout the performance. It was mid-May, the height of Egúngún season in Èrìn-Òsun (see fig. 6.2). In fact, the celebration described in this section was sandwiched between Èrìn-Òsun’s annual Egúngún celebration at the town palace on Friday and family Egúngún outings on Sunday. Òjétúndé’s group and the Àyàn drummers were thus busily employed during this particular weekend and season. Working the Egúngún season is not entertainment as usual, but spiritually heightened, inspired, and committed work. In addition to their regular performance duties, Òjétúndé’s family and the Àyàn drummers participate in private rituals during which they respectfully don representative masks and play particular rhythms to invoke the ancestors of family members. This was the season when Òjétúndé’s group performed their alárìnjó skits rather regularly, replete with heavy, breakable masks and costumes. In the context of the Egúngún season, the Saturday naming ceremony evoked below exemplifies a regular working day for Òjétúndé (see fig. 6.3), the Àyàn drummers, and me. My brief field journal entry below reflects the everydayness of such a local outing within a familiar community: A typical Erin òde (outing) of sorts. Òjétúndé mostly sat while watching his sons, Saidi and Wasiu, praise and entice the crowd. The drummers included: Basiru on àkúbà (two conga-like drums attached as one for carrying); Taufi and Alani traded off on omele abo and omele mִéta; and Dayo on ìyáàlù. Sakira danced, while Latifa and Folaju would occasionally join in. It was a naming ceremony. The celebrating family lived close to Ìyálójà’s compound where they held their party, just south of the CMS church.

Taking note of the masqueraders and drummers who played at the various events allowed me to assess the significance of an event as a paid outing and social occasion. If the event was potentially lucrative, Òjétúndé would ask his more experienced and seasoned lead drummer to accompany his dancers.

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Figure 6.2. The Òjétúndé group at Èrìn-Ò . sun’s Egúngún celebration. Photograph by Rafiu Àyánkúnlé, 1997.

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Figure 6.3. The Òjétúndé group at a local outing. Òjétúndé’s front pocket is full of naira (Nigerian currency). Photograph by Rafiu Àyánkúnlé, 1997.

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In this case, one of the younger “guy” Àyàn drummers, Dayo, volunteered to play, garnering more experience and hopefully some cash. Dayo was not a regular member of the Òjétúndé entourage. The supporting drummers also used this event as a training opportunity. Taufi coached his younger brother on the omele méta while he played the omele abo. In outings with higher stakes, Taufi always played the omele méta, working crowds with technique, skill, and creativity that he alone has developed over the years. Alani, Taufi’s younger brother, often played the àkúbà, the drum requiring the least skill but the most strength to cart around all day. Basiru often played the omele abo, the drum that deceivingly fades into the background as it provides the texture against which the lead drum improvises. A skilled and mature player like Basiru, however, also uses the omele to “talk” and converse creatively with the ìyáàlù, the lead drum. Although the drummers for the event were Òjétúndé’s second string, they were nonetheless well-respected and well-trained drummers of Ìyálójà’s compound. Saidi Òjétúndé’s role as lead singer, dancer, and acrobat was thus heightened that day, since he was indeed the most practiced and skilled performer playing his own instrument. With less experience playing local events, Òjétúndé’s junior brother, Wasiu, was a solid backup singer and coperformer. Òjétúndé’s father went along to support his group and reap the social benefits of a festive occasion—beer, food, and flirtation. As I had already been living in Èrìn-Òsun for six months by this time, my presence and dance style no longer created such a spectacle. Perhaps the most spectacular marker of my presence was my Sony professional Walkman, attached to a lapel microphone that Òjétúndé wore. After reaching a certain degree of comfort and familiarity with Òjétúndé, I had finally asked his permission to record his performed ìwì. Deciphering Òjétúndé’s metaphorical text allows us to interpret the Òjétúndé group’s spoken stories and messages. A narrative genre requiring much self-reflection, iwì provides structure for Òjétúndé’s stories about his group’s worldliness, innovation, and Yorùbáness. Òjétúndé and his chorus improvised the iwì that appears below in order to introduce his group, including me, to his father’s friends: Song: Kàtígórì o, sóùn nìlé-ayé Kàtígórì o, sóùn nìlé-ayéé Àràbá ti túnra múú Odò ń gbánène lọoo A tún ti yi fúújì paadà oo Sí Bátàà Fuùjì o Òkun ree, òִ sa rééé Ẹní bá le wִè Ó yá kán lumi Katígórì o, bàì katígórì o

Category, oh it’s the world Category, oh it’s the world Àràbà tree get well-prepared River is carrying away anène tree We’ve changed fújì back again To Bátàà Fuùjì This is the sea, the ocean here He who can take a bath Now go inside the water Category, oh by category

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 145 Sóùn nìlé-ayeèè, báì kàtígórì oo Sóùn nìlé-ayeèè Àràbá ti túnra múú Odò ń gbárère lọoo A tún ti yi fúújì paadà o Sí Báatà Fuùji o Òkun ree, òִ òִ sa rééé Ẹní bá le wִè Ó ya kán lumi Bִólִórun ò bá rìtáyà mi o Débì, mi o ní rìtáyà áara mii Èmil Àmàó Óọlִ ִ óádéé Voice: Ewúrִê ń walápatà bíi kó kú, kó kú Àlàbí, má wòran máà Ewúrִê ń walápatà bíi kó rִôrun o Bִólִórun ò bá rítáya mi Débì, n ò ní rítáyà áara mii Àyánkִémi, mà ma réé o Ó seré ju fíftì lִóọ Débì, jó bí Olókun Ò ִ kun ìkִòtó Àyan sá n ` jó bí Òlִ ִ ósa Omì lẹgbẹẹ Àyánkִémi, jó bí Olókun Òkun Ìkòtó Débì, n` jó bí Òlִ ִ ósa Omì lẹgbẹẹ Ó yá jóó, joò jóó ó oo Ma sִólu si o nibàdi oo Ọmọ tó fọlá ràn mí Màa ba ọ délédéléé Ó yá kóo yִòdí e sִéyùn kó o jó Emi tí ò jójó Àtàndá Kò ń jó Bátàà Fuùji o

It’s of the world, by category It’s of the world Àràbà tree get well-prepared River is carrying away anène tree We’ve brought fújì back again To Báatà Fuùji This is the sea, this is the ocean He who can take a bath Now go inside the water If God does not retire me Debbie, I will not retire myself I am Àmàó Óọlִ ִ òádéé The goat is looking at a butcher wishing him death Àlàbí, don’t be carried away Goat is looking at butcher wishing for his transition If God does not retire me Debbie, I will not retire myself Àyánkִémi, here she is She has played more than fifty Debbie, dance like Olókun, sea dancer Àyàn is just dancing like owner of the ocean, great water Àyánkêmi, dance like the Goddess of the Sea, sea dancer Debbie, is dancing like Goddess Of the ocean, great water OK dance, dance and dance I’ll beat the drum to your butt Child who extends dignity to me I’ll follow you home, o home Ready, shoot your butt back and dance He who doesn’t dance Àtàndá’s dance Will not dance Bátàà Fuùji21

As singer and speaker of the above text, Òjétúndé was backed up by the Àyàn drumming ensemble and two dancers, Wasiu and me. The excerpt above was part of Òjétúndé’s self-introduction section, in which he poetically situated himself and his group in the nonhuman and human world. Easily broken down into four distinct sections, following Davis,22 traditional iwì Egúngún always begins with ìbà, a section in which the singer addresses

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and honors her/his ancestors and the nonhuman spirit world for making her/his life and song possible. The second section is a self-introduction, in which the artist introduces her/himself to the audience by singing her/his own praise names, accomplishments, and other relevant material about her/himself. The third section is the body of the song/chant, addressing the audience. This section includes a combination of the following: personal oríkì (oríkì orile); prayers and incantations; proverbs, jokes, or anecdotes; and comments on local or overseas culture. The final section is a series of songs that refers back to the content of the previous sections.23 The text quoted served to tell the audience about the group’s unique style and contributions to the world, all the while preparing the audience to receive praises and offer appropriate gifts of naira. After humbly acknowledging the power of the sea and God to “retire” him, as a butcher might decide to kill a goat, Òjétúndé expressed his desire to live life at God’s will. He addressed me directly: “Debbie, I will not retire myself.” Praising me so that I would dance well, Òjétúndé evoked the goddesses of the ocean and the sea to encourage my performance. After commanding me to dance a specific step of ijó oge (a dance of elegance characterized by the motion of the buttocks), Òjétúndé reminded our audience that my dance was the dance passed down by his father (referring to his father by his oríkì, “Àtàndá”). Finally, Òjétúndé summarized by claiming “Àtàndá’s dance” to be a defining feature of Bàtá Fújì. This is an appeal to the long-held tradition to which he and his more traditional view of the music subscribe; it also attests to the authenticity and longevity of the traditional form of music, which, as such, is presumed to be of greater value than the popular Bàtá Fújì. The emergent theme is that Òjétúndé and his family have been blessed to have made their mark on the world as performers of Bàtá Fújì—a unique blend of the traditional and the popular that I call “pop tradition.” The pop tradition of Bàtá Fújì is thus a fusion of an “it’s always been this way” tradition and a pan-Yorùbá popularity, beginning and ending with Òjétúndé’s ancestors and his group. As I elaborate the meaning of Òjétúndé’s ìwì, I will outline three emergent analytical points characterizing pop tradition: (1) worldliness; (2) innovation within local and regional settings; and (3) the use of traditional song structures and dances to tell new stories. Beginning his introduction with the phrase, “Category, oh it’s the world,” Òjétúndé literally situates himself and the Òjétúndé group within the world—extending beyond Èrìn-Òsun to include places overseas as well as the seas themselves. Ayé or “world” in the Yorùbá sense also evokes the idea of having a chance in the world to fulfill your life’s destiny. The first word in the whole text, yet a rather out-of-place one, kàtígórì, represents Òjétúndé’s attempt to play with the English “category” by incorporating it into traditionally structured Yorùbá verse. The sound of the word “category” is meant to point to Òjétúndé’s knowledge of and ease with the English language.24

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 147 From the opening of his introduction, Òjétúndé marks himself and his group as worldly—in the three senses mentioned above: (1) having participated and performed in various geographical settings, from Èrìn-Òsun to overseas; (2) fulfilling the group’s destiny to inhabit the “house of the world” (ilé-ayé) in the form of Bàtá Fújì; and (3) being versed in English as well as traditional Yorùbá, combining both in the framing phrase. Additionally, the invention of the style “Bàtá Fújì” invokes the Èrìn-Òsun artists’ association and identification with fújì music—a music genre that emerged out of the nineteenth-century history of cultural mixing and eventual creation of a first-time pan-Yorùbá identity. The Òjétúndé group’s worldliness is thus linked with a popular Yorùbá identity. I also offer the term worldly here to describe Òjétúndé’s presentation of himself and his group in its most common-sense English usage: a proudly performed sense of having been around the world and back again. As welltraveled performers, Òjétúndé and his group boast access to international languages, networks, and resources that transform their senses of themselves in “the world.” Performing his worldliness allows Òjétúndé to proclaim a particular mobility, importance, and worldwide fame. Community-based audiences respect and appreciate the worldliness of their hometown artists and are proud to associate with Òjétúndé and his group. My presence is another key marker of the Òjétúndé group’s worldliness. My apprenticeship as a dancer and more authoritative guise as a researcher who lives in Làmídì’s compound lends an exaggerated validity to all that Òjétúndé boasts through his song—that his group is at the center of the world. Having traveled to the far reaches of the world, Òjétúndé and his group always return home to Èrìn-Òsun. For the most part, Òjétúndé’s group and the Àyàn boys aspire to build their lives in or around their hometown. Òjétúndé’s performance of his own worldliness depends upon his rootedness in Èrìn-Òsun and his performance of Yorùbá ìwì for a local audience. That I have come from overseas to study the bàtá of Òjétúndé’s group illustrates and validates the group’s having been around the world. How else would I have known to come to them? The world invoked by Òjétúndé also includes the ocean and the sea as powerful forces of inspiration, movement, and decision. When Òjétúndé encourages me to dance like the goddesses of the ocean and sea, he incorporates me into yet another articulation of the world—a Yorùbá cosmos defined by the presence of Yorùbá òrìsà. Òjétúndé’s performed worldliness is thus rooted in a Yorùbá cosmology that guides traditional praise poetry. Taking its cue directly from popular Nigerian bands—from fújì to jùjú— Òjétúndé’s group has coined its own innovative performance style called Bàtá Fújì, a style that took shape during local performances. By performing and then naming its own category of music, a popular music group becomes the master of its own genre, which it then celebrates as unique and innovative.25

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Two examples of popular groups that invented their own blended genres during my stay in the early 1990s are Shina Peters’ “afro-jùjú” and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister’s “fújì garbage.” Afro-jùjú and fújì garbage are both specific forms of jùjú and fújì performed solely by these artists and their groups. Fújì garbage is an album-specific genre that grew out of a multiple-part series by that same title, becoming so well recognized and commercialized that it inspired a particular set of dance moves. These song styles and dances were made popular through live performances, radio play, cassette sales, and bootlegging, as well as the emerging music video market.26 The members of the younger generation of the Òjétúndé group has been a lifelong audience for certain types of popular music, having listened to, appreciated, and emulated fújì music since their early childhood. Like many Nigerian youth and young adults, these traditionally trained artists have also learned to idolize and copy their favorite pop front men. Combining an Islamic vocal tradition with Yorùbá drumming, fújì music is generally most popular among Muslims. In their discussions of Yorùbá traditional performance, Waterman,27 Barber,28 Barber and Waterman,29 Margaret Drewal,30 and Andrew Apter31 have argued effectively for the malleability, adaptability, and flexibility built into Yorùbá tradition. Waterman captures well a sense of Yorùbá oral traditions: Although Yorùbá traditions have been reworked with an eye to present and future interests, cultural memory, carried in oral traditions, constrains the play of strategic reinterpretation. Yorùbá notions of tradition are neither etched in stone nor spun of thin air.32

While Òjétúndé’s ìwì performance, for example, relies upon an inherited tradition of metaphorical language and Yorùbá cosmology, the ìwì tradition has always incorporated commentary on current cultural and political issues. Following the ìwì tradition, Òjétúndé weaves the story of Bàtá Fújì into generations-old song structure and verse. Understanding that Yorùbá oral traditions require innovation to maintain their social relevance, I ask what is unique about Bàtá Fújì as a particular innovation within alárìnjó performance. What makes the Òjétúndé group’s rendition of bàtá a popular tradition as opposed to a thriving “traditional” tradition? As in my discussion of Yorùbá popular music above, I draw my use of the term popular from the post-nineteenth-century emergence of a pan-Yorùbá identity. Whereas bàtá was rooted in specific Yorùbá ancestral lineages, fújì emerged out of a nineteenth-century history of Islamic colonization, during which Yorùbá and Islamic musical styles merged. Fújì is thus popular because it cuts across distinct Yorùbá subgroups. Different groups of Yorùbá people could collectively identify with a common musical genre. By combining bàtá with fújì, the Òjétúndé group chooses to identify as “Yorùbá”—bringing bàtá into the realm of the popular.

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 149 The Òjétúndé group’s “tradition” is the alárìnjó tradition. Àyàn and Òjé lineage members have performed as traveling theater groups to entertain diverse audiences for at least two hundred years. My ongoing genealogy—gathered through extensive life-history interviews with more than twenty members of Ìyálójà’s compound—traces the art and occupation of alárìnjó back to the 1790s, just before the Fulani invaded southern Nigeria and forced the migration of countless Yorùbá people to previously unsettled southern regions, including Èrìn-Òsun. Oral historical sources33 date the origins of bàtá drumming back to the fifteenth century, when Sàngò, probably the fourth king of Òyó, was said to have hanged himself and was subsequently deified.34 Sango’s favorite drum ensemble, bàtá, is storied to have been institutionalized as a lineage-based tradition since the fourteenth or fifteenth century.35 Èrìn-Ò . sun artists can trace their bàtá lineage back to the 1800s, thus they contrast bàtá’s ancient origins with the emergence of the syncretic music of jùjú and fújì in the early to mid 1900s. While Yorùbá oral traditions always change, it is the sense of “tradition” existing from the beginning of time that I reemphasize here. Scholars such as Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger,36 and Marilyn Ivy37 (1995) have taken pains to show how traditions are always “reinvented” within particular historical, political, and social contexts: the so-called original tradition may never have existed. As a thriving tradition, bàtá has endured as a lifestyle and an artistic practice: Òjétúndé and his supporting drum ensemble create songs that their two-hundred-year-old ancestors would still recognize. Bàtá Fújì is a tradition because it is rooted in an embodied historical past and in Yorùbá cultural memory. Members of Bàtá Fújì are loyal to the inherited structure, form, content, and spectacle of their ancestors’ work. Whenever I asked the oldest Àyàn and Òjé performers to describe the alárìnjó performances in which they participated as children, they all said the same thing— their outings were exactly like those of Òjétúndé’s group today. Àyàn and Òjé artists agree that the Òjétúndé group and the Àyàn boys are traditional artists because they maintain the inherited integrity of their practice. So what does fújì have to do with bàtá? Why the innovation of Bàtá Fújì? Comprised of young “guy” performers, the Òjétúndé group feels culturally in tune with the popular music scene and thus reinvents itself as a “popular” alárìnjó (traveling) group. Not only are they hip with the times, but the group has a message to purport: the roots of fújì can be traced back to bàtá, and the two will now rejoin. “We’ve brought fújì back again to Bàtá Fújì” is Òjétúndé’s way of evoking the historical relationship between the two performance styles. The Òjétúndé group manifests Bàtá Fújì by incorporating many artistic and symbolic aspects of fújì into its traditional alárìnjó program. For example, the Àyàn drummers prefer to wear their most “guy” clothes to their performances—baggy name-brand blue jeans, T-shirts with U.S. designs, baseball caps, sporty footwear, and sport watches. Sporting

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these Western-inspired costumes, the Àyàn boys make clear their alliances with urbanized pop culture as opposed to traditional village life. Artistically, Òjétúndé and Wasiu quote popular fújì lyrics, such as “Èmi láiyé mi,” in their choral refrains, sending the Àyàn boys into a quick-paced frenzy on the drums, permitting them to break into their fújì groove. Sakira as well is quite skilled at inserting popular dance movements, gleaned from various cultural sources, into her traditional dances. Without doubt, one of the most compelling aspects of fújì for the young “guy” artists is its popularity among masses of Yorùbá people. Becoming popular—well known, well respected, well recognized, and well supported—is also becoming “big” in Yorùbá culture; this cultural value persists. By naming Bàtá Fújì a pop tradition, I contribute to the Òjétúndé group’s desired effect: to revive the bàtá tradition by proclaiming its popularity. The Òjétúndé group strategically sings its own popularity by associating and sharing roots with fújì—the most widespread music in Èrìn-Òsun and the surrounding towns. My final analytic point is that the Òjétúndé group uses traditional songs and dances to tell new stories about the persistence of the alárìnjó performance tradition in the nonhuman and human world of the late 1990s. Originating within the context of a Yorùbá cosmological framework, ìwì text evokes structures of the cosmos in order to best situate Bàtá Fújì. In the threefold structure of the cosmos, ilé-ayé is the middle domain in which humans live.38 While Òjétúndé begins his introduction by professing that “it’s the world” in which his group exists, he also invokes the other two domains of the cosmos: the earth below the world, which usually includes nonhuman forces such as forest spirits; and the sky, including the spirits of the ocean and the sea. Praise songs remind the participants that they are part of a larger universe that extends above and below the world. This is an old story that most audience members know and believe to some extent, even if they have committed to forgetting Yorùbá cosmology in light of their faith in Islamic and Christian cosmologies. Òjétúndé thus weaves the story of Bàtá Fújì into this takenfor-granted story of the cosmos. Even though the force of the river always threatens to wash away the àràbà and anène trees, the trees withstand the changing flows. Like the rooted trees, bàtá also withstands the flows of change. The force of a tradition like bàtá welcomes one of its many distant manifestations, fújì, back to its roots by a merger into one—Bàtá Fújì. Joined with fújì, bàtá cannot be easily swept away. Òjétúndé associates Bàtá Fújì with the sea and the ocean, the nonhuman forces of the world that have power to give strength to, nurture, and connect Yorùbá people to other people “overseas.” As Òjétúndé derives his own strength from the ocean, he gains faith that he will not die, like a goat at the hands of a butcher, before his time. Likewise, his life’s work will not die before its time.

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 151 Bàtá and fújì are related traditions grounded in a shared cosmological order that emphasizes interconnections among the house of the sky, the house of the world, and the earth. Performing reverence for the sky, world, and earth, Òjétúndé prays for the continuation of bàtá in the form of Bàtá Fújì. Òjétúndé’s prayer is at the same time a praise song for his ancestors, especially his father who trained him. In 1990s Èrìn-Òsun, singing and chanting ìwì was a transgressive art, as it presents Yorùbá traditional thought and practice as alternatives to the dominant Christian, Muslim, and capitalist thought and practice. By moving bàtá into the pop culture arena, young Òjé and Àyàn artists update and refashion their inherited tradition’s relevance in the world. My membership in the Òjétúndé group was striking evidence of Bàtá Fújì’s sustained stint as a local pop favorite. As a pop tradition, Bàtá Fújì became a political project that redefined ways of being Yorùbá in the world during the 1990s.

Òyìnbó Skit: Yorùbá Bàtá and Bàtá Fújì Collaborations This section features an analysis of a classical Yorùbá Bàtá masquerade skit in which two masqueraders, through their dance, tell a humorous and entertaining story about white people while wearing masks and costumes. Bàtá ensembles have been performing versions of this skit since they first encountered white people as missionaries in the early nineteenth century. In this particular performance, members of both the Yorùbá Bàtá and Bàtá Fújì generations collaborate to perform for a diverse audience of national and international tourists and festival celebrants. In this context, the Òjétúndé group changed performance modes from its pop traditional to its traditional repertoire. Events such as these remind both generations that Yorùbá Bàtá classics continue to translate across generation and culture, offering entertainment and social critique from a Yorùbá perspective. Adding a theatrical element to the music, singing, and dancing of Bàtá Fújì, Yorùbá Bàtá masquerade performances allow the artists the freedom to express themselves as masked characters. Since the masks personify archetypal characters from Yorùbá and Nigerian history and culture—the colonial, the drunk, the goat, the prostitute, the Fulani herder, the wife, the mother, and so forth— the Bàtá Fújì generation has begun to tell new stories, inserting new spins, through these archetypal masks. Though performances like the òyìnbó39 couple-skit—in which Yorùbá performers portray European colonials with some sort of mocking or critical intent—have been the subject of scholarly treatment,40 it is useful to interpret the Ò j étúndé group’s version of the skit within the context in which it was performed in August 1995. Both Yorùbá Bàtá and Bàtá Fújì artists were invited to perform a series of masquerade skits for three hours, from

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late afternoon to early evening, at the Cultural Heritage Hotel during the renowned Òsun Òsogbo festival. An inspired performance that provoked a continuous stream of audience response, the skit portrayed the body habits of a typical white man and woman. The scene quickly revealed the man’s attraction for the woman and then developed into a dance in which the characters expressed and negotiated their mutual attraction. Upon review, one of the few moments of audience-performer contact was a momentary flash: when the only real white man in the audience snapped a flash photo of the masked white man and then shook and kissed his gloved hand. I look to Michael Taussig’s discussion of mimesis and alterity41 to examine the story of the copied white man and woman. Interpreting the dancers’ movements and dramatizations, I analyze this skit with respect to the production of race, gender, and sexuality throughout the staged portrayal of white desire.42 Àyàn arranged this performance because he had met some interested tourists, staying at the hotel, who had expressed interest in seeing his family’s traditional bàtá performance, including masquerades. Representing their Yorùbá traveling theater heritage, this type of staged venue made members of the Yorùbá Bàtá generation proud. Having arranged the spectacle, Àyàn himself joined the Òjétúndé group’s first string drummers, alternating between playing the ìyáàlù and omele abo throughout the evening. Grateful to participate in one of Simiyu’s rare public performances, I joined the show primarily as a videographer, lending a certain degree of validity to the group’s self-proclaimed worldliness. While Òjétúndé called upon me to dance toward the end of the show, my primary role during that summer’s tourist season was that of a cultural broker: the Èrìn-Òsu  n artists called upon me to translate, arrange workshops, and host European and U.S. tourists in Èrìn-Òsu  n. The audience for that evening was fairly eclectic and spontaneously assembled, consisting mostly of adult Yorùbá tourists and locals celebrating Òsun Òsogbo in some form or another. The non-Yorùbá audience members included an older British couple, a U.S. American woman tourist, and me. Children came and went throughout the show, as did hotel employees serving drinks. Though the venue was packed, there was room for only about twenty or so audience members. Onlookers joined the audience by sitting on top of the concrete wall surrounding the courtyard. Though I have since observed and participated in countless versions of the Òjétúndé group’s twohour alárìnjó assemblage of praise singing, dancing, acrobatic displays, and character skits, this particular show was my first opportunity to observe the full two-hour presentation. While all of the character skits are rife with social critique and commentary, I was drawn in by the òyìnbó couple-skit because of its multivalenced critiques of race, gender, and sexuality. Building on Drewal’s description of the òyìnbó couple-skit as “a parody of the European propensity to display affections publicly,”43 I interpret the portrayal as a multilayered commentary on the habitus of òyìnbóness

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 153 and Yorùbáness. While the skit asks its audience to ponder the kinds of embodied structures white people reproduce below the level of discourse,44 it implies a comparison with a Yorùbá norm. In this skit, the white couple represents the antithesis of the Yorùbá aesthetic of ìwà l’eִwà,45 beautiful character emanating from the inside out. The white couple’s overt displays of attraction and sloppy swaggers are particularly notable in contrast to the Yorùbá aesthetic of ìwà l’ewà. During British colonialism, this skit provided a ritualized context through which Yorùbá people could mock and mimic British bodily aesthetics. By suggesting that white people did not even display ìwà l’ewà, the performers maintained their sense of cultural pride and created a context for resistance. During the neocolonial 1990s in Nigeria, whiteness continued to represent oppression, appropriation, and imperialism; however, Èrìn-Òsun artists’ collaborations with white artists, scholars, and fans since the 1960s had introduced them to white people who were fighting for equality, decolonization, and freedom for all people. During the 1990s in Òsun State, I would say that Yorùbá people were ambivalent about òyìnbó people and culture. Performing the òyìnbó couple-skit became a means through which Yorùbá artists could express their critical interpretations of white people’s bodies, habits, and sexuality. As Drewal46 and countless Yorùbá performers have already taught, Yorùbá elégún òjè47 performances provide rich, multivalenced instances in which histories are constantly revisited and revised in hypersensorial modes, including improvisation, parody, and play. Describing the ways in which elégún òjè performances mediate between past and present, Drewal puts it best: The performances . . . operated in a field between presumed pasts that are, from a Yorùbá perspective, documented in myth and the performers’ and spectators’ involvements in the moment. The masks themselves, then, not only mediated the spirit world and the phenomenal world, the past and the present, but they also mediated oral texts—themselves flexible through repeated performances—and the current social context, transforming a verbal, narrative form into a fragmented, multichanneled, multidimensional one of masks, songs, drumming, and dance.48

Though elégún òjè performances are hardly everyday events in Nigeria, they provide reflexive contexts during which performers and audiences alike negotiate and critique everyday discourses and practices. The analysis that follows examines Yorùbá performances of race, gender, and sexuality within the landscape of neocolonial relationships forged between Yorùbá artists and their white friends, fans, sponsors, and researchers. Homi Bhabha’s discussion of the ambivalences produced between stereotypes of white and Yorùbá subjects combined with an analysis of power open up more contextualized readings of the following white couple-skit.49

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The White Couple Takes the Stage As soon as the elégún òjè reappeared on stage as a proud, confident, swaggering, trouser and sport-coat laden, white-masked man, the mostly Yorùbá crowd roared with laughter and applauded with approval. Mimicking white men’s everyday gestures, the performer secured the wonder of the audience by repeating a few (stereo)typically white, male actions. Displaying his transformation into a white man, the performer exaggerated certain bodily habits, first establishing a bouncy, arrhythmic strut. Picture a large-nosed, glistening white mask balanced upon sloppily swaying shoulders, a slouching chest, a tucked-under butt, and turned-out legs and feet. As in all elégún òjè performances, the success of the parody hinged upon the performer’s and audience’s improvisational skills and imaginations. Without hesitation, the white mask strutted over to the only real white man in the audience who, upon translating the cue, appropriately assumed his character. As though he had rehearsed this skit several times before, the complicit tourist snapped a photograph of his copied self, and then shook the performer’s green-gloved hand. Seemingly inspired by the spectacle of the moment, the gleeful, beyond-middle-aged white man concluded this mimetic exercise by bowing his head before the performer and then kissing his hand. Next, the performer shook the hand of the white man’s wife and continued to enlist the rest of the audience’s participatory support by shaking many of their hands, one after the Other. Drawing from Gates’s discussion of African American traditions of signification, Drewal characterizes Yorùbá ritual practice as “play” (eré) in at least two related senses. First, such practice is repetition with revision, so that revision of the signifier disrupts the signified/signifier equation and opens up meaning.50 Second, ritual play is about the performer’s (and to some extent the audience’s) improvisational risks—risking the transgression of the boundaries of appropriateness.51 Insofar as such play is parodic, it signals some kind of “ironic difference” from what is taken as conventional or from a past experience/performance. When parody works, it successfully calls upon (what Taussig has elaborated as) the mimetic faculty—the faculty to “copy, imitate, make models, explore difference, yield into and become Other.”52 After a repetitive and provocative exploration of mimesis and alterity, Taussig reiterates his main point: “the power of the copy to influence what it is a copy of.”53 As the copy of the white man magically took on the power and character of the original, the original white man was moved. I too was moved: I too was influenced to the point of self-reflection and critique. “Rather than attempting to fool the audience into believing that they are indeed spirits, these masked performances are ritual ‘play.’ The mask itself is a reflexive comment on the performer’s role as a masker.”54 In the skit I have begun to sketch, the masker is not a white man, but he is also not not

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 155 a white man. This built-in reflexivity and ambiguity within the performance genre itself allows for multiple and endless readings of the on-the-surface stereotypical characters. As I review the video copy of the òyìnbó couple-skit’s first sixty seconds, I re-experience the magic of mimesis each time. I am moved by the moment when the power of the copy—the masked white man—influences, touches, compels, interpolates what it is a copy of—the original white man. My subject position is also laid bare: I am forced to reflect on the humor of my own habitus in Nigeria while I ingest my copied self. All the while, I wonder how the original white man knew his part so well: he had never even seen an elégún òjè performance before, nor had he met the performers. This is a familiar “contact” skit. When a white man meets another white man for the first time, they shake hands. However, by snapping the masked man’s photograph before the handshake, the tourist admits that he is not fooled. The kiss on the gloved hand—also out-of-line with the original white man contact skit—is a way for the tourist to display his approval of the copy, confessing aloud that he understands that the man behind the mask is always already a Nigerian mimicking a white man. Transgressing the boundaries of appropriateness, the white man is able to break out of the rigidity of the handshake by adding in the emotive kiss. Observing the British tourist’s improvised response to his encounter with a white Yorùbá man, I am reminded of Taussig’s analysis of U.S. citizen Marsh’s transformation into a white Indian in the Panamanian jungle: What better way for a white world to capture the alternating rhythm of mimesis and alterity than with the uncanny image of the white Indian? On the one hand is the mimetic revelation of whiteness, on the other, the alterity of the Indian hidden in Darién jungles, the two “moments” of mimesis and alterity here energizing each other, so that the more you see the phenomenon as mimetic, as “like us,” the greater you make the alterity, and vice versa.55

While the white tourist recognized the mimesis of himself—in the whiteness of the Yorùbá performer—he also experienced the alterity. Though he easily shook the masked white man’s hand, he comfortably slipped back into the ease of objectifying (required by the audience, but particularly by a white audience) when he snapped the photo. The flash photo, as it became a crucial part of the performance, reminded everyone of the performer’s alterity—a Yorùbá man becoming a spectacle to please a white man. While Bàtá Fújì reflects the younger artists’ connectedness with fújì and global markets for African tradition, the collaborative performance of the òyìnbó couple-skit offers something that Bàtá Fújì does not: an embodied style of storytelling that does not rely on the Yorùbá language to convey its meaning. The artists’ critique and exploration of race and culture difference were accessible to a Yorùbá and foreign audience and thus opened up

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the space for dialogue across cultures. The Yorùbá Bàtá generation, having performed throughout Nigeria and on international stages since the 1950s, understands the translatability of masquerade skits across cultures. Through such collaborative venues, the Yorùbá Bàtá Generation aims to train the next generation so that it will continue to engage diverse audiences through traditional performance modes, such as masquerading.

The White Woman Appears While the white-masked man continued to play with the audience by performing white man’s habitus, the white woman (played by a man, of course) strutted onto stage, barely balancing in her glimmering, pump-styled, white heels. Her shiny white mask matched that of the man, except her dark hair56 flowed messily down the back of her head, a clump dangling at the side of her face. She wore a conservative-styled navy blue dress with white polka dots—rounded neck, long-sleeved, cinched at the waist, stopping just below her knees. Her most exaggerated prop was her sparkling white purse hanging from her right shoulder, her left hand casually, yet constantly, grasping the purse’s strap. Taking her turn with the audience, she paraded back and forth across the stage for their perusal, performing white women’s habits—loosely striding with turned-out feet, displaying her purse as though it were part of her body, her left hand attentively on or near it the whole time. Sometimes, she swiped the clump of hair away from her face, only to let it fall back again the very next moment. Always on opposite sides of the stage, she and the man walked briskly past each other to occupy opposite corners, hardly acknowledging each other’s presence. Finally, the white man signaled the bàtá drummers to stop playing so that he could speak to the woman. Mimicking English, he sang with a rising intonation, “How are you?” As the audience laughed and anticipated the woman’s response and the man’s next move, the woman again walked briskly past the man and averted her eyes from his, bowing her head, perhaps uttering “fine,” but it was difficult to hear their voices beneath the masks. As he approached her body for the first time, he offered her his right hand while half of her body was still turned away from his. As she shook his hand, he touched her shoulder and she quickly, if awkwardly, reciprocated by touching his shoulder. Though the man’s words were incomprehensible to most audience members at this juncture, it became clear that he would now have to further persuade and convince the white woman to accept him—perhaps as a dance partner, a lover, a friend? During the next few minutes, she acted out the hard-to-get woman who strutted back and forth across the stage, always moving away from her suitor. The white man, of course, played the hip, corny-yet-suave, sweet-talker. He aroused

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 157 the audience to applause by moving toward her in that overconfident, loosekneed, shoulder-bobbing strut, one hand in his pocket, the other hand gesturing like someone (mocking someone?) with money (rubbing the thumb against the fingers). After slight deliberation, she joined him in a Europeanstyle folk or ballroom dance. An important parody in the elégún òjè repertoire, the òyìnbó couple-skit is appropriate partly because a Yorùbá couple-skit is not. Subjecting a white couple’s race, gender, and sexuality performances to scrutiny and critique is more sanctioned than subjecting a Yorùbá couple to such critique. The unfolding parody described above heralds the white man’s masculine powers of seduction. With hilarity, the audience cheers its man on as he tries to win over his object of attraction by displaying his own desirability. The white woman succumbs to the pressure of seduction quite easily, as white women do. While the scenario could have taken place between a Yorùbá man and woman, the power of the story lies in exposing the spaces of overlap and ambivalence between òyìnbó and Yorùbá gender and sexuality. While the performer’s portrayal of masculinity—man as natural seducer— applies to both Yorùbá and òyìnbó cultures of gender inequality, the portrayal of whiteness elicits the laughs, lessening the effect of the critique of Yorùbá gender inequality. Only white people would display their intimate negotiations so publicly. Much like the white man’s, the white woman’s stance, posture, and appearance are white—tucked-under butt, feet turned out from the hips, slouched shoulders, and sloppy struts across the stage. Sexually available, yet shy and stubborn (hard-to-get), she is ultimately possible to persuade. So far, the white woman has developed her character primarily in relation to the white man. Unlike the white man, the white woman has yet to establish much of a relationship with the audience (by making jokes or shaking hands) or with the drummers. While participating in the skit, the audience has been prompted to root for the man, the skit’s focal point, at the expense of the white woman’s further character development. The white man’s desire for the white woman occupies center stage, while the white woman’s desire remains understated, underexaggerated, and underplayed. The elégún òjè repertoire includes two extreme portrayals of Yorùbá women: the Prostitute and the Bride, each the subject of her own skit. The Prostitute, the “woman who laughs too much” mask with buck teeth, enjoys dancing at her own made-up pace and displays her irreverence by telling the drummers what to do. The Bride always concludes the show, performing a beautiful Yorùbá woman’s stance, posture, and appearance—”gentle, smooth, understated.”57 Portraying Yorùbá women’s propensities for badness and goodness, these skits do not risk too much. In the 1990s, the òyìnbó couple-skit thus came to represent not only negotiations of white gender and sexuality but also reflections on Yorùbá gender and sexuality.

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They Dance and Then They . . . Breaking into a brief Yorùbá song about the òyìnbó dance he and she were about to perform together, the white man cued the drummers to resume playing, while grabbing the white woman’s hand. For a few beats, they held hands while executing a type of bouncy shuffle, one leg scissoring in front of the other like a Russian-Jewish folk dance step. Letting go of the other’s hand, each twirled in circles and continued to shuffle on her and his own. Inspiring instant applause, the couple came together, faced each other, joined hands, and in perfect symmetry, mirrored each other in a series of side-kicks—one leg and then the other, in lively unison. Executing what appeared to be a tricky move, both the woman and the man simultaneously turned around in full circles, holding each other’s hands above their heads all the while. After a few repetitions of these choreographed maneuvers, the couple and the drummers stopped their dance. The drama of seduction would have to continue. As he walked away from her, she followed. He turned to face her, and she walked away from him. They stared at each other from opposite ends of the stage. “Fun-mi ni address now” (Give me your address, OK), he pleaded, his body poised to seduce—hand in pocket, chest leaning forward, weight resting on the back leg, hip jutting outward. After momentary hesitation, she opened her purse, pulled out an imaginary pen, scribbled her address on her imaginary piece of paper, handed it over to him. Satisfied, he read the address and walked firmly over to her as if with purpose. They embraced and kissed passionately on the lips, massaging each other’s backs. Appropriately enchanted, the audience “ooed” and “ahhed” while the drummers began their fast-tempoed commentary. And then she, for the first time in the skit, took control of the ensuing action. She motioned with her wrist for the drummers to stop playing, strutted proudly over to the man, apparently opening a moment of verbal negotiation, to which the man responded by offering his hand. They shook hands and simultaneously broke into their Russian-Jewish jig. The finale of the òyìnbó couple-skit elucidates the power of its mimicry by opening up and closing spaces of ambivalence. colonial mimicry is the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject of difference that is almost the same, but not quite. Which is to say, that the discourse of mimicry is constructed around an ambivalence, in order to be effective, mimicry must continually produce its slippage, its excess, its difference.58

While the white couple’s displays of affection and sexual desire are excessive, they also elicit genuine audience approval. Despite some initial doubt, the white woman seems quite content with her newly formed romantic alliance

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 159 with the proud white man. The differences (where they may be argued to exist) between the white man and his Yorùbá counterpart beneath the mask are subtle, if not ambivalent. On the one hand, Yorùbá men and women engage in negotiations of desire similar to those of the masked white couple. On the other, the excess and public spectacle of the sexual alliance are Yorùbá interpretations of white practices. While a critique of white gender and sexuality is clear, the mimicry opens a space for self-reflection. The skit allows for a critique of Yorùbá as well as white masculinity: the man always assumes center stage, gets all the laughs, and comfortably inhabits the body of the ambitious seducer. In the end, the portrayal of the white woman is ambivalent. After performing her coy, suspicious, and seducible self, the woman takes charge: she shakes the man’s hand, a more business-like gesture than the kiss, perhaps signifying the equality of their union. I read the ambivalence as both a critique of òyìnbó women’s looseness and a celebration of their strength. The portrayal thus opens a reflection on the complexity and variability of Yorùbá and white women’s gender and sexuality. The òyìnbó couple-skit parodies the mimesis and alterity of white and Yorùbá performances of race, gender, and sexuality. The Òjétúndés’ bodies, beneath the masks, play the extremes and in-betweens of whiteness and Yorùbáness.

Those Who Don’t Dance Our Ancestor’s Dance Will Not Dance Bàtá Fújì While Rábíù Àyàndokun and Làmídì Àyánkúnlé do not easily recognize themselves in the new clothes of Bàtá Fújì, their children have successfully invented an Islamic-Yorùbá world music fusion. Although the Yorùbá Bàtá generation has been frustrated by what it sees as the frivolity of fújì, a close look at Bàtá Fújì song texts proves that the Bàtá Fújì generation has preserved the structure and other-worldly content of bàtá praise poetry. The Bàtá Fújì generation embeds the teachings of its ancestors in its own story: it derives its strength from Ólórun and/or the òrìsà, reveres the forces of nature, identifies with fast-paced and playful fújì music, collaborates with foreigners, and is placing its tradition on the world map. The Bàtá Fújì generation has consciously taken its inherited tradition to the next level. As Òjétúndé sang, “He who doesn’t dance Àtàndá’s dance will not dance Bàtá Fújì.” In other words, a rootedness in the ancestral tradition is necessary for participation in Bàtá Fújì’s pop tradition. The Bàtá Fújì generation did not experience Islamic or British colonization firsthand and has grown up in an age of globalization; its artistic fusion represents its eclectic identity as a generation of Yorùbá-rooted global citizens. For the Yorùbá Bàtá generation, however, bàtá represents the cultural authenticity and power of an ancestral tradition that preceded the advent

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of Islam and colonialism. When both generations performed for a mixed audience of locals, foreign tourists, and visiting festival celebrants, both generations choreographed a three-hour performance featuring a repertoire of traditional masquerade skits and bàtá rhythms. A close interpretation of the white couple-skit performance illustrates the capacity of masquerade performers to tell stories to and improvise with diverse audiences. Collaborative performances thus become vital training grounds upon which the Yorùbá Bàtá generation passes the torch to its children, who are generating new stories through praise poetry, bàtá rhythms, and ancestral masks. Despite the waning popularity of bàtá in the local market during the 1990s, both generations—in conflict and collaboration—reinvigorated their shared tradition by honing the tools of their trade: negotiating and critiquing the changing world through traditional mechanisms of innovation and reflexivity.

Appendix

Formal Interviews and Praise Song Recordings Ajangila, Saaki. Èrìn-Òsun, November 1997. Ayan, Dayo and Basiru. Èrìn-Òsun, June 12, 2005. Ayan, Simiu. Èrìn-Òsun, November 27, 1997. Ayan, Taufik, Dayo, and Basiru. Èrìn-Òsun, February 20, 1997. Àyánkúnlé, Làmídì. Èrìn-Òsun, August 18, 1995. Èrìn-Òsun, October 1996. Èrìn-Òsun, January 2, 1997. Èrìn-Òsun, February 1997. Èrìn-Òsun, June 6, 2005. Àyánkúnlé, Làmídì, Báyo Ogundijæ, and Saidi Ojetunde. University of Ifë, September 12, 1997. Ayantayo, Muda. Èrìn-Òsun, February 6, 1997. Chief. Iragbiji, January 21, 1997. Iragbiji, June 6, 2005. Durolu, Alahaji. Èrìn-Òsun, August 9, 1997. Kojede. Èrìn-Òsun, June 8, 1997.

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 161 Èrìn-Òsun, June 12, 2005. Oba Yusuf Omoloye Oyagbodun II. Èrìn-Òsun, February 6, 1997. Ojetunde. Èrìn-Òsun, December 12, 1996. Èrìn-Òsun, January 3 and 4, 1997. Ojetunde, Saidi. Èrìn-Òsun, May 10, 1997. Èrìn-Òsun, October 1, 1997. Ojetunde, Sakira. Èrìn-Òsun, February 20, 1997. Ojewoye, Ìyàwó. Èrìn-Òsun, March 5, 1997.

Notes 1. Lyrics by Wasiu Alabi, famous fújì band leader. 2. I met and lived with the Àyánkúnlé family for three months in 1990 while I was an exchange student at the University of Ibadan. I conducted my dissertation fieldwork in Èrìn-Ò . sun from 1996 to 1998. I also conducted research for two twomonth periods in 1995 and 2005. 3. Jane I. Guyer, LaRay Denzer, and Adigun Agbaje, eds., Money Struggles and City Life: Devaluation in Ibadan and Other Urban Centers in Southern Nigeria 1986–1996 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2002). 4. Lila Abu-Lughod, Writing Women’s Worlds (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); Ruth Behar and Deborah Gordon, eds., Women Writing Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995); Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres, eds., Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990); Anna Tsing, In the Realm of the Diamond Queen (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992); and Kamala Visweswaran, Fictions of Feminist Ethnography (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992). 5. James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988); James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997); Renato Rosaldo, Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989), and Anna Tsing, Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005). 6. Most of this data is stored in my personal archives. I have digitized all of the video footage and I intend to make it available. I have edited some of the video footage into short films that are available on http://www.youtube.com. 7. Karin Barber and Christopher Waterman, “Traversing the Global and the Local: Fújì Music and Praise Poetry in the Production of Contemporary Yorùbá Popular Culture,” in Daniel Miller, ed., Worlds Apart: Modernity through the Prism of the Local (London: Routledge, 1995), 337. 8. Barber and Waterman, “Traversing the Global and the Local,” 243.

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9. Ibid., 258. 10. Oríkì are praise songs that name and historicize particular people, lineages, or towns. For a thorough and detailed treatment of the history, meaning, and performance of Yorùbá oríkì, see Karin Barber, I Could Speak until Tomorrow: Oríkì, Women and the Past in a Yorùbá Town (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991). 11. Barber and Waterman, “Traversing the Global and the Local,” 259. 12. Làmídì Àyánkúnlé, interview, August 8, 1995. 13. Ìwì are masquerade praise song texts specifically performed by singers from masquerade lineages. 14. Simiyu’s wife is from a masquerade lineage and has performed extensively as a masquerade singer and dancer. 15. Àyàn is the nickname of my friend and research assistant who was present during this interview. Àyàn is also a member of Simiyu’s lineage and is considered a brother in Yorùbá kinship terms (a cousin in U.S. kinship terms). 16. These are slang sexual lyrics of a popular fújì tune. 17. Rábíù Àyàndokun, interview, November 27, 1997. 18. This chapter builds on Waterman’s insights in his article, “Our Tradition Is a Very Modern Tradition: Popular Music and the Construction of Pan-Yorùbá Identity,” Ethnomusicology 34, no. 3 (1990): 367–79. Waterman argues that Yorùbá artists are fully aware that their traditions change with the times and that they self-consciously incorporate these traditions into popular music genres that cut across town and ethnic divides. 19. Debra Klein, Yoruba Bàtá Goes Global: Artists, Culture Brokers, and Fans (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007). 20. Invitation—an incredibly meaning-laden concept for both Àyánkúnlé and Àyàn—is the social practice of creating a guest. Hosting guests is a very scripted and valued Yorùbá practice. In the days before the British, the story goes, talking drummers and their masquerade troupes were indeed itinerant, always on the move, yet they were respected as guests rather than beggars: endless quantities of well-prepared food, alcohol, and water, as well as lodging, were the minimum offerings in exchange for skillful and inspirited performance. 21. Saidi Òjétúndé, transcription by Rasheed Ayandele, May 1997. 22. Ermina Davis, “In Honor of the Ancestors: The Social Context of Iwi Egúngún Chanting in a Yorùbá Community” (PhD diss., Brandeis University, 1976). 23. Ibid., 192. 24. The Òjétúndé group’s sporadic use of English is effective in this context because their audience, for the most part, does not speak English. So any non-Yorùbá word is an exotic signifier of their worldliness. While the Òjétúndé performers do not speak English, they have been around enough to have picked up certain words and phrases. 25. Christopher Waterman, Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 17. 26. Onookome Okome and Jonathan Haynes, Cinema and Social Change in West Africa (Jos: Nigerian Film Institute, 1995); Bob W. White, “Soukouss or Sell-Out? Congolese Popular Dance Music on the World Market.” in Angelique Haugerud et al., ed., Commodities and Globalization: Anthropological Perspectives (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).

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Performing Pop Tradition in Nigeria 163 27. Waterman, Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music. 28. Barber, I Could Speak until Tomorrow. 29. Barber and Waterman, “Traversing the Global and the Local.” 30. Margaret Drewal, Yorùbá Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992). 31. Andrew Apter, Black Critics and Kings: The Hermeneutics of Power in Yorùbá Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). 32. Waterman, Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music, 12. 33. Ade Obayemi, “The Yoruba and Edo-speaking Peoples and their Neighbours before 1600,” in History of West Africa, vol. 1, ed. J. F. A. Ajayi and M. Crowder (London and Nigeria: Longman, 1976); and Akin Euba, Yorùbá Drumming: The Dundun Tradition (Bayreuth, Germany: Eckhard Breitinger, 1990). 34. J. A. Atanda, An Introduction to Yoruba History (Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1980). 35. The fifteenth-century reign of Sàngó marks the earliest documented use of bàtá drum ensembles in royal contexts, Euba, Yorùbá Drumming. The original source of bàtá was perhaps north of the Niger River before it was institutionalized and popularized in Old Òy ִ óִ during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. See Amanda Vincent, “Bàtá Conversations: Guardianship and Entitlement Narratives about the Bàtá in Nigeria and Cuba” (PhD diss., School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, 2006). 36. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). 37. Marilyn Ivy, Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995). 38. Based upon oral history, songs, and other forms of symbolic language, Peter Morton-Williams delineated a model to help explain Yorùbá cosmology and cult organization. His model divides the cosmos into three: ilé òrun (house of the sky), ilé ayé (house of the world), and ilè (earth). In ilé òrun, Ólórun (owner of the sky) or Olódùmarè is the one who guides the òrìsà, the numerous gods and goddesses who dwell in that domain. Ará örun (sky people) also exist in the sky as the spirit doubles of the living and the souls awaiting rebirth. Ilé ayé is the domain of humans where good relations must be maintained with those of the sky and earth realms. Ilé is the domain of Onílé (the earth owner), who receives the souls of the dead who become earth-dwelling spirits. Ancestors and other dead people pass through the earth on their way to the sky, where they are reincarnated. Forest and tree spirits also live in Onílé’s domain. See Peter Morton-Williams, “An Outline of the Cosmology and Cult Organization of Òy ִ óִ Yorùbá,” Africa 32: 336–53. 39. Literally meaning “peeled back honey,” òyìnbó is the term used by Yorùbá speakers to mark foreigners. While òyìnbó literally refers to skin color, it is inextricable from nationality: for example, all U.S. citizens—white, African American, Asian American, Latin American, and so on—are considered òyìnbó. In its most generalized meaning, òyìnbó comes to stand for a privileged status. 40. Drewal, Yorùbá Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency; Clifford, The Predicament of Culture; Michael Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses (New York: Routledge, 1993).

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41. Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses. 42. Robert Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race (New York: Routledge, 1995); Carolyn Martin Shaw, Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Sex, and Class in Kenya (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995); Paulla Ebron, Performing Africa (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002); Paulla Ebron, “Traffic in Men,” in Gendered Encounters: Challenging Cultural Boundaries and Social Hierarchies in Africa. ed. Maria Grosz-Ngate and Omari H. Kokole (New York: Routledge, 1997). 43. Drewal, Yorùbá Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency, 4. 44. Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990). 45. Ìwà l’ִewa means “character is beauty” and can be translated to mean “presence is beauty” or “beautiful character.” A valued and recognizable Yoruba aesthetic category, ìwà l’ִewa is an outwardly expressed internal quality that Omófolábò S. Àjàyí terms “stance”; see Omófolábò S. Àjàyí, Yorùbá Dance: The Semiotics of Movement and Body Attitude in a Nigerian Culture (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1998). 46. Drewal, Yorùbá Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency. 47. Elégún òjè are ancestral masquerades for entertainment, also known as agbégijó, alárìnjó. and apidán. The òyìnbó couple-skit is one example out of the vast repertoire of elégún òjè skits. 48. Drewal, Yorùbá Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency, 102. 49. Homi Bhabha’s approach to “performativity” asks how subjects negotiate spaces between stereotypes of Self and Other. When people perform their identities, they inhabit interstitial spaces between the fixity of a stereotyped Self and its implied Other. Thus, performed narratives interrupt the time and space logics of “pedagogical” (chronological, official) narratives and indicate the multiplicity of identities within a given situation or discourse. Yorùbá performativity and play resonate loudly with Bhabha’s notion of making cultural meaning in between stereotypes. I attempt to read the òyìnbó couple-skit between the stereotypes. See Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994). 50. Drewal, Yorùbá Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency, 5. 51. Ibid., 7. 52. Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses, xiii. 53. Ibid., 250. 54. Drewal, Yorùbá Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency, 92. 55. Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses, 174. 56. Many of the masks consist of a variety of organic materials that have sacred significance. This òyìnbó woman’s hair, for instance, is made of a colobus monkey pelt; see Ulli Beier, “The Agbegijo Masquerades,” Nigeria Magazine 82 (1974): 192. 57. Drewal, Yorùbá Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency, 101. 58. Bhabha, 86.

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Part Two

Politics of Culture in Popular Representations: Films and Performances

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7 Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? Transforming the Self in Contemporary American Cinema

Celeste A. Fisher Introduction Drawing on the work of pragmatic philosopher George Herbert Mead, symbolic interactionists argue that the self is a “reflexive process that includes a person’s subjective stream of consciousness (perceptions, thoughts, feelings, plans, and choices) as well as his or her concept of self as a physical, social and moral being.”1 What is central to this perspective is that transformation, as well as the ability to sustain one’s sense of self, is inextricably linked to one’s relationship with others. Thus, it is through our interactions with others that we get a sense of who we are—our selfhood.2 Working outside the field of symbolic interactionism, sociologist Erving Goffman has been credited with contributing to the field of symbolic interactionism with his work on role performance.3 In his seminal book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman, the founder of dramaturgical theory, argues that the way in which we present our selves is based on what we are expected to do and be in a given situation. Relying on scripts, props, costumes, settings, and gestures, we are all performers or actors who change our behavior based on the roles that we play and our interaction with others in a given situation.4 This perspective presupposes multiple identities and selves that depend on the social context in which we live.5 Thus, according to this view, selves are not stable entities, because “we establish a new self in every situation.”6 It is this shift or change, arguably present in all narrative cinema, which is at the heart of the transformation narrative.

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The transformed or newly discovered self, as a primary element in the narrative, is a relatively common theme in American cinema. On an intellectual level, the appeal for audiences is that many of these films present a moral dilemma and an opportunity for change. Characters decide what is “good” or “bad,” or are called to differentiate between “right” and “wrong.” For each choice, there are consequences. Those who start out “bad” can, in some cases, become “good.” According to M. Wayne Clark, “To be redeemed . . . is to be rescued from destruction. It is a saving grace that removes a person from that which would destroy the value of being, and the very notion of being, itself.”7 Cinematic representations of redemption depend on the ability of the character to understand, acknowledge, and make amends for the transgressions of the past, in return for which he or she will become a new (read, better) person.8 Conversely, the character that starts out “good” but turns “bad” is, in many instances, punished, and is ultimately tormented, isolated, or destroyed.9 The most obvious example of the newly discovered self in cinema is seen in horror films. In this genre in particular, transformation is first and foremost physical, a transformation in which the human body, through some mishap or fault of man, is changed into an “animal,” which can be characterized by changes in physical features such as altered bone structure, excessive hair growth, and so forth. The new body, thereby, comes to represent a change in identity and stream of consciousness.10 When the physical transformation is less dramatic, material expressions of self (i.e., costumes and props), changes in behavior (i.e., gestures), dialogue, and setting are usually sufficient to suggest a change in consciousness.11 In order to more fully understand how characters are transformed within American cinema, it is important to bring into the conversation a brief discussion of identity. The concepts of self and identity are two distinct but interrelated ideas. Although there are variations, identity here is defined most simply as how we label specific aspects of the self. These are the strongly held images we have about who we are.12 Thus, as identities are transformed, so goes the self. Identities such as gender and race are socially constructed categories that shape the way we see the world and the way the world sees us, and thus the way we move within it. These categories connect and disconnect us from others.13 Some scholars contend that one displays the attributes that define us to others based on the history of our body. Patricia Hill Collins, for example, argues that the history and visibility of black female bodies reinscribe sexualized racist ideology.14 Others, however, contend that the socially constructed categories as commonly used are becoming obsolete in a global world; therefore, new identities are being formed on the basis of other criteria, such as common beliefs or goals.15 In a critique of scholars concerned with how identities are “marked on the body,” a term taken from Linda Martin Alcoff,16 David A. Hollinger writes that

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Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? 169 The postethnic principle of “affiliation by revocable consent” encourages individuals to join forces with other people with whom they “identify,” but to choose for themselves just how much of their energies they want to commit to this or that solidarity, including one founded on common ancestry.17

Emphasis on the first view suggests that one has little choice in determining who one is in the world. The second view implies that the individual has a greater ability to define him- or herself. This chapter explores the representation of identity transformation within the context of films whose narratives center on blacks within the United States. Specifically, I am concerned with how and why black Americans become “African” or pan-African in cinema. In other words, I am interested in the moment at which a character’s appearance and/or behavior is modified in a manner that is reflective of our notions of what it means to be African. At what point in a narrative do cultural expressions such as clothing, hairstyles, and music and/or behaviors change to embody the spirit of Africa? And how is that transformation viewed by the audience? Is the transformed self viewed as more “authentic,” more black?18 Do these changes signal a conscious antiassimilationist stance within the context of the United States? Or do they serve to reclaim a past that one has lost? To address these questions, I provide a semiological analysis, applying the meanings of signs and symbols in the tradition of Roland Barthes, to two films, A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Daniel Petrie, and Haile Gerima’s independently produced and distributed Sankofa, in congruence with Goffman’s dramaturgical framework, as a way to illuminate the cinematic social interactions or performances of the character under study in each film.19 This method incorporates the concept of the self that has developed within the field of symbolic interactionism, but that was not explicitly articulated by Goffman.20 The films were chosen on the basis that they place the transformation of one’s ethnic identity from black American to pan-African at the forefront of a fictional narrative—in the characters of Mona in Sankofa and Beneatha in A Raisin in the Sun. In this way, Sankofa and A Raisin in the Sun are similar to Julie Dash’s critically acclaimed film Daughters of the Dust and Spike Lee’s commercially successful Malcolm X.21 Films such as Charles Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger and Kasi Lemmon’s Eve’s Bayou have dealt in a more subtle fashion with the influence of Africa on their characters.22 And while Steven Spielberg’s muchheralded film The Color Purple, based on Alice Walker’s 1982 award-winning novel, plays an important role in constructing pan-African identity on screen in the character of Nettie, Celie’s younger sister who travels to Africa with missionaries, Nettie’s role is not a major focus of the film.23 Similarly, Jonathan Demme’s adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel focuses more on the impact of slavery on black Americans than on pan-Africanism.24

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In addition to placing the transformation of ethnic identity at the forefront of the narrative, the films selected depict the time period in which they were produced, which is helpful in contextualizing each film. Finally, both A Raisin in the Sun and Sankofa were selected because they played, and have continued to play, an important role in American popular culture. The next two sections focus separately on the characters of Beneatha in A Raisin in the Sun and Mona in Sankofa. Each section includes an overview of the film, a close analysis of the character, and the role each film plays or has played in American popular culture. A further section compares and contrasts the characters in their respective films. The chapter concludes by addressing the major questions posed by this study.

Beneatha in A Raisin in the Sun While much popular and scholarly attention has been given to the 1959 theatrical production of Lorraine Hansberry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, A Raisin in the Sun, far less attention has been given to its screen adaptation, which opened in movie theaters in 1961.25 Directed by Daniel Petrie, the film chronicles the lives of the Youngers, a working-class black family living in Chicago in the 1950s, and their quest for the “American Dream.” The story revolves around the family matriarch’s desire (the matriarch is Lena Younger, played by Claudia McNeil) to spend the $10,000 they are about to receive from her deceased husband’s insurance policy on a new house for the family, which happens to be in an all-white neighborhood, and a medical school education for her daughter Beneatha, played by Diana Sands. Lena’s son, Walter Lee (Sidney Poitier), however, has other plans.26 Much like the play, the majority of the film takes place in the cramped living room of the apartment that Lena and Beneatha share with Walter Lee and his family. The setting not only identifies the family’s class position; it also positions the audience as voyeurs in the lives of the Youngers, because nearly the entire performance takes place in this private setting—in what Goffman refers to as the “backstage region.” From this perspective, the audience gets an intimate look into the characters’ lives.27 Beneatha wants to become a doctor, but she has other interests as well—most of which, it seems, are fleeting. In the first scene in which she appears, she is involved in an exchange with her mother and sister-in-law (Ruby Dee). From their conversation, we learn that Beneatha has at some point played the guitar, ridden horses, and taken up photography—none of which she is particularly interested in doing anymore. Confused by her need to go from activity to activity, her mother asks her why she flits from one thing to another. Beneatha responds, “I don’t flit. I experiment with forms of expression.”28 When her mother asks her what she wants to express, she

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Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? 171 replies, “Me.” This early exchange between Beneatha and her family members positions Beneatha as unsettled, suggesting that her interests and by extension her sense of self are under negotiation. Her “flitting about” is an attempt to find herself. Further, Beneatha’s pursuits are middle-class pursuits. Having the ability to go from horseback riding to photography to playing the guitar is generally not an option for the lower classes. This scene, therefore, also marks Beneatha as special within her family unit in that, despite the family’s tenuous economic position, she has the opportunity to “experiment with forms of expression.” Yet, it is apparent that Beneatha’s experimentation has limits. This becomes painfully clear in the scene in which her mother commands her to believe in God. In the final analysis, however, Beneatha’s opportunities or choices are linked to her male suitors, George Murchison (Lou Gossett Jr.), a young man from a wealthy black family in Chicago, and Joseph Asagai (Ivan Dixon), a native of Nigeria. The two men are important in the contrast that they provide to one another. In the first scene in which Asagai appears, he reminds Beneatha of how they met. It is in this scene that we see the influence that Asagai has on Beneatha’s sense of self. He states, “You came up to me and said, Mr. Asagai, I would very much like for you to tell me about Africa. You see, Mr. Asagai, I am looking for my identity.” By approaching Asagai, by articulating such a request, and by the formality in which she addresses him (suggesting a level of respect), Beneatha seems to be showing us that she believes Asagai holds the key to her true identity. Clearly, Asagai represents Africa to her. Beneatha’s statement seems to reflect her search for her authentic self, which she believes may be found in Africa, as well as her possible attraction to Asagai. George, on the other hand, appears to represent the “successful” assimilation of blacks into American society. During George’s discussion with Beneatha’s brother Walter Lee, we learn that his father has done well with investments, that he travels regularly to New York, and that he is a patron of the arts. In this instance, capitalism and high culture represent assimilation. Beneatha, however, considers George boring, perhaps because she is already familiar with what assimilation means for black people in the 1950s or because George himself is actually boring. Whatever the case, her resistance to George’s way of life becomes apparent in her annoyance at repeated teasing by her family that she should and will marry a rich man—thus confining her to a more traditional gender role in which marriage is a means of upward mobility, despite her own potential for becoming a doctor. Beneatha’s struggle with the way in which Africa relates to her American identity is reflective of the Du Boisian concept of “twoness,” that is, the double consciousness that blacks in America must reconcile within themselves.29 Here, it is embodied in the characters of George and Asagai, where the former represents complete assimilation into American culture, which

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appears to be devoid of a cultural connection to black culture and history, and the latter represents a new pan-African identity. If we place them on a continuum, George represents blackness in America and Asagai represents a more “authentic” blackness. The reason why Agasai is considered more authentically black than George can be found in the writings of other black authors of the same period. In discussing black literature and the black arts movement of the 1960s, Keith Byerman notes that For most of American society (including many blacks) Africa was timeless paganism and slavery a cultural nullity, either because blacks were considered incapable of civilization or because the inhumanity of slavery reduced them to silence. The 1960s quest for black authenticity became, in part, a search for a usable past to be found in ancient African and Muslim kingdoms; in African and Muslim names and dress; in narratives of revolts; in folklore, music.30

Clearly, Beneatha is also in search for a “usable past,” although it appears that her attempt at establishing a cultural connection to Africa is linked to romance and the exotic, thus reflecting a romanticized notion of what it means to be black. Asagai, a student from Nigeria, seems to be enamored with Beneatha, which appears to feed her curiosity. Her interest in him is suggested in the way that she primps and the way that she prepares her mother before his arrival. Asagai gives her records and cloth from his homeland (props and a costume representing Africa) and a Yoruba nickname that means “one for whom food is not enough,” suggesting her search for knowledge—seemingly aware that naming plays an important role in identity construction. Later, he tries to convince her to marry him and return to Africa, where she can also be a doctor. After describing the beauty of his homeland, he tells her, “Three-hundred years later, the African Prince rose up out of the sea and swept the maiden back across the Middle Passage over which her ancestors had come.” To which she responds, “Nigeria?” And he replies, “Nigeria. Home.” Their interaction sounds very much like a fairy-tale in which Beneatha would be returning to her African roots where she would be, in a sense, royalty. In citing the Middle Passage, Asagai’s statement signifies the historical connection of Africa to America. As part of the dialogue, Asagai also alludes to the desire for blacks in America to assimilate into American culture, read white American culture, and the difference in black bodies. Asagai goes on to say in reference to Beneatha, “This is not so much the profile of a Hollywood queen, but a Queen of the Nile. . . . Assimilation is so popular in your country.” Beneatha then snaps, “I am not an assimilationist.” Her anger seems to be a response to Asagai’s intimation that the visibility of her body will not allow her to truly assimilate into American society no matter how much she may try.

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Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? 173 Props and costumes play an important role in Beneatha’s attempt at transformation. This becomes evident in the scene in which Beneatha replaces a jazz record playing on the phonograph (jazz being an art form rooted in black American culture) with a record that Asagai has brought. Draped in the cloth that he has given her, she bellows, “Enough of that assimilationist junk!” While her comment and clothing may suggest that Beneatha is an antiassimilationist, her dance (along with the stereotypical gestures of an African hunter enacted by her brother) reveals that her idea of Africa is more rooted in white representations of it than anything else. So, although her costume and props are authentic, her performance is not authentic for those with whom she interacts or for the film’s audience. As a result, it appears that Beneatha’s romanticized notion of Africa, which is embodied in the tall, dark, and handsome Asagai, may not be strong enough to fully transform her, because she is also greatly influenced by her family, which wants her to marry a rich man and believe in God. Examining letters between the producers of A Raisin in the Sun and Columbia’s executives, film scholar Mark A. Reid notes the impact that Columbia Pictures had on censoring the film’s script. Reid notes specifically that Hansberry was not allowed to add to or change any of the modifications made by studio executives for fear that it might alienate some filmgoers. Reid explains that Beneatha’s pan-Africanism was toned down in the final version of the screenplay because the audience was not going to be limited to black pan-Africanists and white liberals. “The intended audience included British and French colonialist sympathizers, and Columbia’s recommended deletions recognized their presence.”31 The retention of those deleted lines would undoubtedly have changed the way in which American audiences viewed Beneatha. Toning down her more “radical” sensibility made her more palatable to a large mainstream audience. Lisbeth Lapari notes that more than one-third of the original screenplay was cut to accommodate Columbia’s executives.32 It is not my intention here to compare the play to the film, because, as Marshall McLuhan argues, media, in its various forms, have different technical constraints, social influences, and viewing audiences. As a result, it is important to note that the film differs from the play in one key aspect relating to Beneatha’s physical appearance.33 In the original version of the play, Beneatha, after being teased by Asagai about her straightened hairstyle, cuts her hair to reveal her “close-cropped, unstraightened hair.”34 The scene, however, was omitted from the 1959 production on Broadway and was left out of its subsequent adaptation to film. In discussing its removal from the play, Robert Nemiroff, Hansberry’s husband, notes that very few black women wore their hair naturally during that time, which made it difficult to find a style that was flattering to Diana Sands’ facial structure.35 Undeniably, hair plays an important role in cultural definitions of feminine beauty, and

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in some instances—particularly in the case of black hair—it plays an important role in the politics of resistance.36 So, although Beneatha is prompted by Asagai (her suitor/mentor) to go natural, suggesting the strong influence that he has over her, the scene in which Beneatha displays her cropped hair makes a powerful statement about her political position. This is particularly important to note in light of the restrictions that were placed on the screenplay by Columbia executives. For it is the inclusion of this scene that helps audiences understand Beneatha’s commitment to discovering her own blackness. Within the context of a burgeoning civil rights movement, the changes within this narrative make sense. Hollywood films, for the most part, do not challenge the status quo; rather, they often support the dominant ideology of the time. The popularity of the original play in 1959 and its release as a movie in 1961 reflected the growing mood of the country concerning racial equality. This was solidified in the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which it was determined that separate was, indeed, not equal. And although the film did not achieve the financial success of the play, A Raisin in the Sun’s reincarnation as a musical in 1973, its television adaptation for PBS in 1989, and its revival on Broadway in 2004, among countless productions that have been produced all over the world, demonstrate how much Hansberry’s themes resonate for contemporary audiences, both black and white, so much so that ABC recently aired a new adaptation of the play starring hip hop artist and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs as Walter Lee Younger, Sanaa Lathan as Beneatha, Audra McDonald as Ruth, and Phylicia Rashad as Lena Younger, all of them reprising their roles from the play’s Broadway revival.37 It seems reasonable, then, that the themes resonate with contemporary audiences, because the American dream of upward mobility lives on, and opposition to integration continues to exist. The black nationalism of the 1960s, forced school busing in the 1970s, challenges to affirmative action in the 1980s (although these were not directly concerned with integration), and persistent housing discrimination over decades let the world know that integration is not something that is embraced by everyone.38

Mona in Sankofa In the early 1990s, the “buppie” or “Black Urban Professional” (the counterpart to the “yuppie” or “Young Urban Professional”) had come to represent the ultimate black American “cinematic nightmare of assimilation” in films such as Livin’ Large, Strictly Business, and Mo’ Money.39 Similar representations of uptight, culturally disconnected, materialistic black professional males existed on television as well.40 In these media representations, there is

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Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? 175 a connection between upward mobility and losing or denying one’s “blackness.” The male characters in these narratives take on stereotypical “white” characteristics (e.g., lack of rhythm), values, beliefs, speech patterns, and conservative dress in order to achieve the American dream.41 Clearly, assimilation equals whiteness, and whiteness is bland. The negative portrayal of the black urban professional climbing the corporate ladder suggests that if an individual assimilates into corporate America, he will lose his connection to his community and will ultimately be unhappy. Thus, the representation, then, is that of a “sellout,” suggesting that there is a blackness that is more right, more authentic. Integration, which encourages the desire to assimilate, is therefore undesirable. During this time, Ethiopian-born and UCLA-educated filmmaker Haile Gerima wrote, directed, and produced Sankofa. This 1993 film, whose title translates from the Akan word as “One must return to the past in order to move forward,” had difficulty in finding a distributor.42 In contrast to the mainstream studio interest exhibited by Columbia Pictures in A Raisin in the Sun, Gerima’s film met with strong opposition because of its subject matter, despite winning the Grand Prize at the African Film Festival (Milan, Italy); receiving the Best Cinematography award at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso); and being screened at the Berlin International Film Festival (Germany), at which the film was nominated for an award.43 As Austin Algernon points out, Sankofa is one of the most important “African-centered” films of its period.44 The film tells the story of a black American woman’s spiritual journey into the past, which leads her to discover her own identity and sense of self. On a beach in Ghana, the audience is first introduced to Mona, an American model played by Oyafunmike Ogunlo, posing for a white photographer—wearing an animal print swimsuit and a straight gold wig.45 Performing for the camera, she moves seductively on the ground, laughing and smiling as she changes position. The point-of-view shot used positions Mona as the object of the gaze—her image is the creation of the photographer and, by extension, the viewer.46 Highly sexualized, she is objectified for the purpose of commodification. As Collins points out, the “objectification of Black women’s bodies turns them into commodities that can be sold or exchanged on the open market.”47 The use of the point-ofview shot, which instructs the audience to see Mona in this way, suggests the photographer’s and the viewers’ complicity in the cultural production and maintenance of this image. Mona’s spiritual journey begins when she enters a slave castle after a photo shoot in which she is dressed in African clothing. As she walks through the corridors of the castle, she appears to see Africans chained together in a room. Everywhere she turns, it seems, there are Africans in chains. Startled, she tries to leave the castle but is confronted by white slaveholders who grab

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and restrain her. In response to her attackers she yells, “I’m not African! I’m American!” Stripped naked and branded, her black body is dehumanized. Her attempt to separate herself from the Africans is ignored by the slave masters, signifying that there is no distinction to be made. As the setting changes, there is a drastic change in her identity and sense of self. Transported across space and through time, Mona is now Shola, a house slave on the Lafayette plantation in Louisiana, who was, as she states, “born a slave, so it was easier to accept things.” Shola is unaware that she is Mona, an American fashion model from the twentieth century, which allows for a purer experience because Shola only knows of life on the plantation and of herself as the possession of another.48 Shola’s passivity becomes evident when her male companion, Shonga, a slave who has been moved from a plantation in the West Indies, talks about revolution; she tries to convince him to keep quiet, so that he will be safe. When he attends secret meetings and plots to escape, she wants no part of it. Her fear of punishment keeps her under control. Shola’s eventual transformation is fueled primarily by the traumas that she experiences at the hands of the overseers and her interactions with rebellious slaves.49 In a horrific scene after her attempted escape, Shola is taken to a church where she is stripped naked and her hair is cut off. Cutting her hair is an attempt to strip her of her femininity. Removing her clothing means she is again reduced to a black body. Shola is told that she is being whipped because of her association with “heathen” Africans. The setting of her horrific beating in a church is significant in that it associates violence and slavery with Christianity. The church becomes a place of oppression rather than salvation. It is at this point that she decides that she no longer cares about upsetting the masters. When Shonga nurses her back to health, he puts a sankofa bird around her neck. Shola says that, after this, she is no longer afraid of anything.50 Her acceptance of the bird signifies her change in faith and her trust in Shonga. As further punishment for her crime, Shola is put into the fields to work. This is a pivotal moment for Shola. Her brutal beating and subsequent demotion to the role of a field hand change the way in which she views herself. Shola is further transformed when her friend Nunu dies at the hands of Nunu’s conflicted son. It is at this point that Shola’s behavior changes. Shola commits herself to revolution by participating in a ritual that other slaves, who are united in rebellion, have gone through. It is this backstage (or private) behavior that allows the slaves an opportunity to gather the strength to revolt. Through a series of cross-cuts between the rebellion on the plantation and a soaring bird flying over the ocean, and finally a return to the slave castle, it can be inferred that Shola dies during the insurrection and is returned home to Africa. The violence of the revolt cross-cut with close-ups of Mona’s face suggests the trauma and sense of fear that one experiences as one is

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Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? 177 being transformed. Emerging from the slave castle, Mona goes forward into the daylight screaming, “Somebody, help!” Naked, she appears like a newborn baby emerging from the womb, her nude body and natural hair signifying rebirth. A woman wraps her in a cloth and tells her, “Welcome back. Embrace me.” Following a drumbeat, Mona walks past the photographer, who wants to continue the photo shoot, eventually finding a group of people sitting and listening to the music. There she sees someone who resembles Nunu, the slave woman who tried to teach the other slaves about their African heritage. Nunu smiles and nods her head affirmatively as she sheds a tear, signifying her joy that Mona’s transformation is now complete. Politically aware, Mona is no longer interested in participating in the selling of black bodies for white economic gain. Shola’s interaction with Nunu plays a significant role within the film’s narrative. Nunu is the teacher, the keeper of African history in the new world. Nunu’s stories of her homeland keep the slaves connected to something larger than their experiences on the plantation. Nunu represents “home.” Her death at the hands of her son Joe, who has struggled with his own mixed racial identity, demonstrates how white supremacy stripped (or killed) African history and culture for those who lived under the plantation system. Joe, a mulatto, represents the internal conflict experienced by one who does not know his past.51 The death of Nunu is a lesson for Shola/Mona. Nunu represents Africa’s past and present. Her offspring Joe represents the black presence in America. Until he realizes that he is the product of a rape, he does not recognize his connection to his own mother. In the end, he realizes who his mother is and demands respect for her. By killing the priest who has labeled her a heathen, he is denouncing the use of Christianity and European ideals to subjugate his people. Mona is a much simpler character than Beneatha in A Raisin in the Sun. She consumes only a small portion of screen time and is essentially voiceless, yet she is a very important part of the narrative. When she is seen as a fashion model on a beach in Ghana, the audience only knows that she is the object of the gaze, an image framed by a white photographer. She is intentionally left blank to signify the assimilation of blacks into American culture. By her job as a fashion model and the manner in which she is dressed, she reproduces the construction of black women as animalistic within American culture, and the black body as commodity. In the end, Mona becomes “authentically black” for the audience, because now she not only remembers and understands her past, but she no longer lets whiteness define her. Despite the difficulties encountered in distributing Sankofa, which cost an estimated one million dollars to make, it grossed nearly 2.7 million dollars in the United States during its movie theater release—a clear indication of its popularity.52 It was shown initially in churches, community centers, and rented theaters, and “black communities celebrated the film as a genuine

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articulation of the African Diaspora holocaust.”53 Since its release in movie theaters, the film has gone on to achieve cult film status.

Chosen and Unchosen Identities Both films are an important part of cinematic history because they examine pan-Africanism from the perspective of those who are seeking change and those who are not. In Sankofa, Mona is unwittingly transformed when she enters the slave castle in Ghana. As an assimilated black American, she initially sees herself as unconnected to Africans and her African past. Mona is transformed because she remembers. Her spiritual transformation is complete because her experience in the castle is associated with the painful past of her ancestors. She has been redeemed. And centering her experience of remembering within a slave castle allows the audience to see the importance of physical space (or setting) to one’s history and sense of self. Thus, Mona’s identity is not a personal choice. She does not decide who or what she is. Her identity is “marked on the body.” It contains a history that cannot be denied. In contrast, Beneatha takes an antiassimilationist position that is based on her romanticized notions of Africa. The audience is unclear as to whether or not she will be fully transformed because of the social forces that impact her life in America. But clearly, she needs to learn more about the past before she can truly be transformed and know who she is. In effect, her performance must be seen as believable for the audience to consider whether or not her new identity is authentic or not. But by the end of the film, she is clearly still in search of her identity; this suggests that one’s identity is to some extent a personal choice, not something that is solely imposed by society. Identities as constructed in A Raisin in the Sun are either chosen or not chosen within the context of integration. The themes within A Raisin in the Sun are so enduring because many black Americans are still trying to negotiate their place in society and to learn more about themselves. In the film, Beneatha demonstrates the desire for change and the significance of choice and opportunity. Conversely, Sankofa remains an important work because it provides black Americans with a gateway into the past that goes beyond slavery and oppression in America. In the film, Mona addresses an unconscious need and a discoverable identity. The general themes in both films relate to hope and a new beginning.

Conclusion Within the context of these two films, it appears that a conscious antiassimilationist stance associated with romantic notions of Africa is a tenuous means

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Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? 179 at best of affecting long-term change. And while it is acknowledged that the role of individual desire in determining one’s sense of self is important, this position is primarily an emotional one, not grounded in an experiential or intellectual understanding of the new identity and therefore more prone to distraction than one in which this knowledge has been obtained. As such, this transformation cannot be viewed as “authentic,” because there is no real understanding of the true nature of the identity that one wishes to assume. Through understanding and remembering comes “authentic blackness.”

Notes The title of this chapter is taken, in part, from Olga Idriss Davis’s “The Door of No Return: Reclaiming the Past through the Rhetoric of Pilgrimage.” In this article, the author explores the pilgrimage of black Americans to slave castles in various parts of Africa. See Olga Idriss Davis, “The Door of No Return: Reclaiming the Past through the Rhetoric of Pilgrimage,” Western Journal of Black Studies 21, no. 3 (1997): 156–61. 1. Kent L. Sandstrom, Daniel D. Martin, and Gary Alan Fine define George Herbert Mead as a pragmatic philosopher. See Kent L. Sandstrom, Daniel D. Martin, and Gary Alan Fine, Symbols, Selves, and Social Reality: A Symbolic Interactionist Approach to Social Psychology and Sociology, 2nd ed. (Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing Company, 2006), 4–7. They derive their definition of the self from two essays: Chad Gordon, “Self-Conceptions: Configurations of Content,” in The Self in Social Interaction, ed. Chad Gordon and Kenneth J. Gergen (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1968), 115–36; and Viktor Gecas, “The Self-Concept,” Annual Review of Sociology 8 (1982): 1–33. See Sandstrom, Martin, and Fine, Symbols, Selves, and Social Reality, 93. 2. Sandstrom, Martin, and Fine, Symbols, Selves, and Social Reality, 93. 3. Ibid., 210. 4. Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York: Doubleday, 1959). 5. Sandstrom et al, Symbols, Selves, and Social Reality, 93. 6. Ibid., 110. 7. Wayne M. Clark, “Redemption: Becoming More Human,” Expository Times 115, no. 3 (Dec. 2003), 81. 8. For example, see American History X (New Line Cinema, 1998, dir. Tony Kaye) and Monster’s Ball (Lions Gate Films, 2001, dir. Marc Forster). Both films deal with the transformation of a racist, white male character in American society. For a discussion of Monster’s Ball, see Celeste A. Fisher and Carol Wiebe, “Race, Sex, and Redemption in Monster’s Ball,” Ethnic Review 26, no. 2 (2003): 68–80. 9. For example, see Set It Off (New Line Cinema, 1996, dir. F. Gary Gray), in which four women who experience sexism and racism are transformed into criminals. 10. In this narrative, the character takes on the form of the monstrous, imbued with all the characteristics of nonhumans; in some cases, these include excessive hair growth, canine teeth, an increase in body size and/or a change in type, and strength. Accompanying these physiological changes are behavioral changes such as increased aggression. The newly discovered self, whether good or bad, is a deviant in society,

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and is seen as a threat to society because of its appearance. If or when the monstrous returns to its former self, it is merely an illusion, because one cannot excise what one truly is. Put another way, one cannot deny what one knows, once it becomes known. The monstrous, then, is often destroyed or lives in torment and isolation, because it cannot fully exist in or be accepted by society. For example, see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Paramount Pictures, 1931, dir. Rouben Mamoulian; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [MGM], 1941, dir. Victor Fleming); The Werewolf (Universal Film Manufacturing Co., 1913, dir. Henry MacRae; Columbia Pictures, 1956, dir. Fred F. Sears); and The Fly (Twentieth Century Fox, 1958, dir. Kurt Neumann; Twentieth Century Fox, 1986, dir. David Cronenberg). Vampire films such as Nosferatu (Film Arts Guild [1929], 1922, dir. F. W. Murnau); Dracula (Universal Pictures, 1931, dir. Todd Browning; Universal Pictures, 1958, dir. Terence Fisher; Universal Pictures, 1979, dir. John Badham; Columbia Pictures, 1992, dir. Francis Ford Coppola), Ganja and Hess (Kelly/Jordan Enterprises, 1973, dir. Bill Gunn); and Interview with the Vampire (Geffen Pictures, 1994, dir. Neil Jordan) are also included, although the physical transformation is less pronounced than in the previously mentioned films. Julia Kristeva provides an important analysis of transformation in horror in her book, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982). Beyond horror films, the representation of the transformed body has occurred in films that focus on racial identity. In Melvin Van Peebles’s preblaxploitation-era drama/comedy Watermelon Man (Columbia Pictures, 1970, dir. Melvin van Peebles), the main character, played by Godfrey Cambridge, is physically and permanently transformed from a white bigot to a black man, who, because of his interactions with the white people he encounters, develops a new black consciousness. In the film, the audience is asked to consider that his transformation is the result of his obsession with tanning and the Other. 11. Passing narratives are one example of this type of transformation. See Pinky (Twentieth Century Fox, 1949, dir. Elia Kazan), Imitation of Life (Universal Pictures, 1934, dir. John M. Stahl; Universal Pictures, 1959, dir. Douglas Sirk), and Devil in a Blue Dress (Columbia TriStar, 1995, dir. Carl Franklin). 12. Sandstrom, Martin, and Fine, Symbols, Selves, and Social Reality, 67. 13. Ibid., 41. 14. Patricia Hill Collins, “The Sexual Politics of Black Womanhood,” in Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2000), 123–48. 15. David A. Hollinger, “From Identity to Solidarity,” Daedalus (Fall 2006), http://history.berkeley.edu/faculty/Hollinger/articles/identity_to_solidarity.pdf (accessed June 11, 2009). 16. Linda Martin Alcoff, Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 5. 17. Hollinger, “From Identity to Solidarity.” 18. “Authentic blackness” is a problematic term, in that it is often connotes essentialist views of what it means to be black, thereby supporting the notion of “acting black” or “acting white.” Here, I am not interrogating its legitimacy—just whether characters within the films are coded in such a way as to be interpreted by the audience in this way. It is my intention to let the films speak for themselves with regard to what they say to the audience.

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Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? 181 19. A Raisin in the Sun (Columbia, 1961, dir. Daniel Petrie) and Sankofa (Mypheduh Films, 1993, dir. Haile Gerima). 20. Goffman’s theory has been criticized for not dealing directly with people’s thoughts and interpretations and for being too rigid. Sandstrom, Martin, and Fine, Symbols, Selves, and Social Reality, 210. Also see Norman K. Denzin, “Much Ado about Goffman,” American Sociologist 33, no. 2 (Summer 2002): 105–17. But according to George Psathas, Goffman himself used hybrid approaches to add greater depth to his analyses. George Psathas, “Theoretical Perspectives on Goffman: Critique and Commentary,” Sociological Perspectives 39 (November 3, 1996): 383. 21. Daughters of the Dust (Kino, 1991, dir. Julie Dash) and Malcolm X (Warner Brothers, 1992, dir. Spike Lee). Malcolm X was made for approximately $34 million. Since the film’s release, it has grossed over $48 million in movie theaters and more than $19 million in rentals in the United States alone (Internet Movie Database, Malcolm X, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104797/business [accessed July 24, 2008]). 22. To Sleep with Anger (Columbia, 1990, dir. Charles Burnett) and Eve’s Bayou (Trimark, 1997, dir. Kasi Lemmons). Mary Ellison, “Echoes of Africa in To Sleep with Anger and Eve’s Bayou,” African American Review 39 (2005): 213–29. 23. The Color Purple (Warner Brothers, 1985, dir. Steven Spielberg). 24. Beloved (Touchstone Pictures/Harpo Films, 1998, dir. Jonathan Demme). 25. Lloyd W. Brown, “Lorraine Hansberry as Ironist: A Reappraisal of A Raisin in the Sun,” Journal of Black Studies 4, no. 3 (March 1974): 237–47; Mary Louise Anderson, “Black Matriarchy: Portrayals of Women in Three Plays,” Negro American Literature Forum 10, no. 3 (Autumn 1976): 93–95; Margaret B. Wilkerson, “A Raisin in the Sun: Anniversary of an American Classic,” in “Theatre of Color,” special issue, Theatre Journal 38, no. 4 (December 1986): 441–52; Charles J. Washington, “A Raisin in the Sun Revisited,” in “Black Women Writers,” special issue, Black American Literature Forum 22, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 109–24; David D. Cooper, “Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun,” Explicator 52, no. 1 (Fall 1993): 59–61; Angeletta K. M. Goudine, “The Drama of Lynching in Two Blackwomen’s Drama, or Relating Grimké’s Rachel to Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun,” Modern Drama 41, no. 4 (1998): 533–45; and Robin Bernstein, “Inventing a Fishbowl: White Supremacy and the Critical Reception of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun,” Modern Drama 42 (1999): 16–27. The popular and scholarly attention given to A Raisin in the Sun is most likely due in part to the fact that it was the first Broadway play written by a black woman and the first play directed by a black person, Lloyd Richards, on Broadway. Richards received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of the Year. Mark A. Reid and Lisbeth Lipari also note that the film has not received as much attention as the play. Mark A. Reid, “Take a Giant Step. A Raisin in the Sun. The U.S. Black Family Film,” Jump Cut 36 (May 1991): 81–88; Lisbeth Lipari, “‘Fearful of the Written Word’: White Fear, Black Writing, and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 90, no. 1 (February 2004): 81–102. 26. All of the principal players reprised their roles from the Broadway production. 27. I am distinguishing between the film audience and Goffman’s concept of the audience, which is concerned with those involved in observing the interaction— in this case, on screen. Here, and throughout this chapter, all references to “the audience” refer to the film audience. 28. All dialogue quoted in this chapter is taken from repeated viewings of each film. It is based solely on my understanding, and not on the film script.

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29. W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 100th Anniversary edition (New York: Penguin Group, 1995), 45. 30. Keith Byerman, “Remembering History in Contemporary Black Literature and Criticism,” American Literary History 3, no. 4 (Winter 1991): 811. 31. Reid states that executives wanted the lines “Africans need liberation from the British and French” and “all Africans are revolutionaries today” eliminated from the screenplay. Reid, “Take a Giant Step.” 32. Lipari, “Fearful of the Written Word,” 81. 33. McLuhan discusses the differences in media in his influential book, Understanding Media. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964). 34. Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (New York: Modern Library, 1995), 64. 35. Robert Nemiroff, introduction to Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, xvi. 36. Shauntae Brown-White, “Releasing the Pursuit of Bouncin’ and Behavin’ Hair: Natural Hair as an Afrocentric Feminist Aesthetic for Beauty,” in “Black Women’s Politics through Cultural Expression,” special issue, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics 1, no. 3 (2005): 295–308; Tracey Owens Patton, “Hey Girl, Am I More Than My Hair? African American Women and Their Struggles with Beauty, Body Image and Hair,” NWSA Journal 18, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 24–51; and Paul Dash, “Black Hair Culture, Politics and Change,” International Journal of Inclusive Education 10, no. 1 (January 2006): 27–37. 37. The musical Raisin won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1974. A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway, Official Site, http://raisininonbroadway.com/news.html (accessed February 21, 2007). The television adaptation of the play for PBS, directed by Bill Duke, stars Esther Role (Lena Younger), Danny Glover (Walter Lee Younger), Kim Yancy (Beneatha), and Starletta DuPois (Ruth Younger). The Broadway revival, directed by Kenny Leon, starred Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Sanaa Lathan, and Audre McDonald. Phylicia Rashad became the first black actress to win a Tony award for Best Actress in a Play for the role of Lena Younger in 2004. Audre McDonald won for Best Featured Actress. A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway, Official Site. Also see Ernio Hernandez, “John Stamos Joins Cast of ABC-TV’s A Raisin in the Sun,” Playbill, November 27, 2006, http:// www.playbill.com/news/article/103788.html (accessed February 21, 2007); and “ABC Television Network. Movie Adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun Premiers Feb. 25, 2008 on ABC,” press release, August 16, 2007, http://www.abcmedianet.com/web/progcal/dispDNR.aspx?id=081607_01 (accessed November 29, 2007). 38. “Affirmative action consists of activities undertaken specifically to identify, recruit, promote or retain qualified members of disadvantaged minority groups to overcome the results of past discrimination and to deter discriminatory practices in the present.” Cedric Herring, “Is Job Discrimination Dead?” Contexts 1, no. 2 (2002): 16. 39. Ed Guerrero discusses the buppie character in the films Livin’ Large (Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1991, dir. Michael Schultz), Strictly Business (Warner Brothers, 1991, dir. Kevin Hooks), and Mo’ Money (Columbia, 1992, dir. Peter MacDonald). See Ed Guerrero, Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993), 191–94. 40. For example, see The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (Warner Bros. Television, NBC Productions, Quincy Jones Entertainment, 1990–96). 41. Guerrero, Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film, 194.

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Reclaiming the Past or Assimilationist Rebellion? 183 42. Mark A. Reid, Black Lenses, Black Voices: African American Film Now (Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 2006), 114–16. Also see Anthony C. Murphy, “Sankofa: Distributive Justice—Haile Gerima’s Film Gets New Opportunities for International Distribution from Mypheduh Films, Washington, D.C.,” American Visions (October– November 1994). 43. Reid, Black Lenses, Black Voices, 114–16. 44. Algernon Austin, Achieving Blackness: Race, Black Nationalism, and Afrocentrism in the Twentieth Century (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 157. 45. Black women in magazine advertisements have routinely been represented as “animalistic.” See Jean Kilborne’s Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women (Media Education Foundation, 1999, dir. Sut Jhally), a video presentation of a lecture by Kilborne. Patricia Hill Collins links this particular representation of black female sexuality to the European exhibition of Sarah Bartmann (referred to as the Hottentot Venus) during the early part of the nineteenth century, as well as the display of black women on the auction block, and their “scientific” comparison to animals. Collins, “The Sexual Politics of Black Womanhood,” 139–40. 46. For a discussion of how film techniques are used to objectify women in cinema, see Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema,” Screen 16, no. 3 (Autumn 1975): 6–18. 47. Collins, “The Sexual Politics of Black Womanhood,” 132. 48. In an interview conducted by Pamela Woolford, Gerima states that the slave’s identity is “fully determined by the context of the plantation.” Pamela Woolford, “Filming Slavery: A Conversation with Haile Gerima,” Transition: An International Review, 64 (1994): 92. 49. Kandé also briefly notes these experiences as significant in the transformation of Mona. See Sylvie Kandé, “Look Homeward, Angel: Maroons and Mulattos in Haile Gerima’s Sankofa,” Research in African Literatures 29, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 13. 50. The sankofa bird is an important symbol of Mona’s transformation. Sandra M. Grayson, Symbolizing the Past: Reading Sankofa, Daughters of the Dust, and Eve’s Bayou as Histories (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000), 30. 51. Both Kandé and Grayson examine the film from a historical perspective. Kandé also addresses the contrasting portrayals of the mulatto and maroon characters in the film. Kandé, “Look Homeward, Angel: Maroons and Mulattos in Haile Gerima’s Sankofa.” Also see Grayson, Symbolizing the Past: Reading Sankofa, Daughters of the Dust, and Eve’s Bayou as Histories. 52. Internet Movie Database, Sankofa, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108041/ business (accessed June 24, 2007). 53. Reid, Black Lenses, Black Voices, 114, 116.

Films American History X (New Line Cinema, 1998, dir. Tony Kaye). Beloved (Touchstone Pictures/Harpo Films, 1998, dir. Jonathan Demme). The Color Purple (Warner Brothers, 1985, dir. Steven Spielberg). Daughters of the Dust (Kino International, 1991, dir. Julie Dash). Devil in a Blue Dress (Columbia TriStar, 1995, dir. Carl Franklin).

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Paramount Pictures, 1931, dir. Rouben Mamoulian; MetroGoldwyn-Mayer [MGM], 1941, dir. Victor Fleming). Dracula (Universal Pictures, 1931, dir. Todd Browning; Universal Pictures, 1958, Terence Fisher; Universal Pictures, 1979, dir. John Badham; Columbia Pictures, 1992, dir. Francis Ford Coppola). Eve’s Bayou (Trimark Pictures, 1997, dir. Kasi Lemmons). The Fly (Twentieth Century Fox, 1958, dir. Kurt Neumann; Twentieth Century Fox, 1986, dir. David Cronenberg). Ganja and Hess (Kelly/Jordan Enterprises, 1973, dir. Bill Gunn). Imitation of Life (Universal Pictures, 1934, dir. John M. Stahl; Universal Pictures, 1959, dir. Douglas Sirk). Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (Geffen Pictures, 1994, dir. Neil Jordan). Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Images of Women (Media Education Foundation, 1999, dir. Sut Jhally). Malcolm X (Warner Brothers, 1992, dir. Spike Lee). Mo’ Money (Columbia, 1992, dir. Peter MacDonald). Monster’s Ball (Lions Gate Films, 2001, dir. Marc Forster). Nosforatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Film Arts Guild, 1922, dir. F. W. Murnau). Pinky (Twentieth Century Fox, 1949, dir. Elia Kazan). A Raisin in the Sun (Columbia Pictures, 1961, dir. Daniel Petrie). Sankofa (Mypheduh Films, 1993, dir. Haile Gerima). Set It Off (New Line Cinema, 1996, dir. F. Gary Gray). Strictly Business (Warner Brothers, 1991, dir. Kevin Hooks). To Sleep with Anger (Columbia Pictures, 1990, dir. Charles Burnett). Watermelon Man (Columbia Pictures, 1970, dir. Melvin Van Peebles). The Werewolf (Universal Film Manufacturing Co., 1913, dir. Henry MacRae; Columbia Pictures, 1956, dir. Fred F. Sears).

Television Programs The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (Warner Brothers Television, National Broadcasting Company [NBC], 1990–1996). A Raisin in the Sun (Monterey Home Video [PBS], 1989, dir. Bill Duke; American Broadcasting Company [ABC], 2008, dir. Kenny Leon).

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8 Neither Bold nor Beautiful: Investigating the Impact of Western Soap Operas on Kenya Maurice N. Amutabi Introduction In this chapter, I treat The Bold and the Beautiful as a device, as a social force or agent of change—an apparatus that reorganizes domestic and public space, introduces new tastes and nuances, and provides possibilities of rearranging family relations, redefining love, and reorienting gender relations in societies. This soap is an example of a device that the West uses to stir up social change in the South, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I believe that the discussion of this soap opens up the discursive spaces in which various taboo subjects such as love and sex, marriage and divorce, gender equality and equity, class, and power in Kenya can be discussed. This soap represents alternative areas in which debates on key social and moral questions regarding Western influence in Africa can be held, using Kenya as a case study. I demonstrate that soaps such as The Bold and the Beautiful have contributed extensively to the founding of democratic public and private spheres while undermining local cultural traits. Soaps elicit creative tension, inscribing certain behavior patterns, ideas, and values in the minds of the viewers while simultaneously critiquing discourses of the “normal” in societal perceptions of love and sexuality, marriage and divorce, and gender relations in general. My investigations and my conversations with a cross-section of Kenyans with regard to their viewing of The Bold and the Beautiful revealed that the soap has significantly impacted on Kenya’s social and cultural spaces. Therefore, I argue that this soap, which airs on television stations in Kenya1 such as the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Kenya Television Network, and Nation TV, has had a transformative effect on Kenya. The soap articulates and affects the convergence of cultural, social, and gender

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traditions. On the basis of my research it can be argued that this soap opens ways to comprehend Kenya’s consumption of Western television programs quite profoundly. Debates on this American soap opera in Kenya serve as an example of public discussion over cultural meanings of television images and their interpretation and appropriation in the country. This approach validates, for instance, the discussion of the cultural and social roles of women in comparison to the representations in Kenyan television programs. The images, plots, and characters in this soap illustrate how social and cultural discourses need to be taken seriously, in whatever media they may appear. In the past, such representations in the media have been seen as innocent or neutral, and merely for entertainment. In my opinion, soaps are strong vehicles of social change, and those who believe otherwise should rethink any notions of seeing them as mere entertainment, because they question freedom of choice, as in the case of the lead character in the soap, Brooke. Arising from this analysis is a reconsideration of Western marriages and relationships, often represented as benign, morally upright, democratic, and free, and giving women agency. In the end, it becomes clear that such assumptions about Western society need to be carefully examined and reevaluated. This is because in this soap opera, conventional marriages appear as sad comedies, while patriarchs and matriarchs are revealed as internally conflicted, dealing with a great deal of marital stress and the pain of infidelity. Characters are presented as forms of cultural texts (and subtexts), in which the viewers have to read and decode certain symbols and messages. A close examination of this soap reveals that it undermines the proximate patriarchal authority of men by taking possession of the family and presenting it as a unit of consumption, while inscribing new meaning to patriarchal hierarchies through the use of decidedly sexist language. In the 1990s, the soap generated a lot of interest in social, cultural, and political circles in Kenya. This was the time when gender and feminist discourse was on the rise, following the 1985 Nairobi celebration of the United Nations Decade for Women and the 1995 Beijing Conference. In my analysis, the soap characters are seen as social and cultural devices, used for redefining gender roles. For example, Brooke generated the greatest interest in Kenya because of her refusal to play the traditional role of a woman. She was a rebel. She defied the existing social order for women. Her behavior did not conform to the cultural structures in many Kenyan societies. Controversy was seen when Brooke married Eric, after breaking up with Ridge, who was apparently Eric’s son. Although it later turned out that Ridge was not Eric’s biological son, this revelation came much later, after the emotional damage to moralists had already been done. In later episodes, Brooke married Thorne, Ridge’s half brother. Also, Brooke had an affair with her sonin-law Deacon, the husband of her daughter Bridget. The affair resulted in a child. Thus, it was not just the cultural contradiction that caused great

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 187 interest in Brooke, but her defiance of the male-dominated order in her own society. In many of my interviews with men, I found that Brooke was despised and called all kinds of names. “What she did was absurd and completely unacceptable; she must be the typical bitch and whore in the American parlance,” one respondent noted. Some insisted that her actions were deplorable. They just could not fathom why a woman would want to do such things. Brooke’s behavior was regarded as breaking a taboo, by making a father and son “share” a spouse. Perhaps due to cultural conditioning and the roles culturally assigned to women, many men in Kenya were incensed by Brooke’s character, more than they cared to admit. As a woman, Brooke was not expected to return a gaze, but was supposed to look down, to yield in submission. She was supposed to be vulnerable but instead showed courage and strength. She was supposed to be gazed at and not look back. She defied this order. Many men could not hide their anger and disgust over Brooke’s carefree attitude, and her courage in taking on men. “That program should be banned from our society, especially from children, because it is clearly perverting their morals,” a politician was quoted as saying. Whereas male viewers in my sample seemed to hate Brooke, she was actually the darling of my female respondents in Kenya. The main reason is perhaps that Brooke had power and agency. Brooke’s cultural voyage and those of other characters is the concern of this chapter, together with how this has shaped local culture and social behavior in Kenya.

The Power of Soap Operas: Retrospection Feminist film theory has helped scholars understand the reach and scope of mass media as a social force, while at the same time demonstrating the importance of social engineering in shaping individual and collective consciousness. Issues of identity, agency, power, and social change have been of paramount importance in this research. Initially, feminist television and cinema studies emphasized how film viewing created largely unconscious complicity with structures of dominance by teaching women to take pleasure in their own subordination. Women were supposed to mimic and accept the roles of the characters and accept them as real and ideal. More recently, feminists have investigated the ways in which women challenge, reverse, subvert or invert, and ironicize the sexism inscribed in mass-mediated stories and visual images. As critical attention shifts from the psychoanalytic and ideological implications of film form toward a more historical inquiry into the use and effects of cultural products in specific social situations, television and cinema studies scholars shed new light on old questions about soaps and how they shape societal dynamics.

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A study carried out by Barbara Stern on the influence of soap operas revealed interesting results.2 The study looked at the impact of textual images of vulnerable women characters in soap operas on women consumers, an audience vulnerable to the negative images of women that soaps project. The study analyzed soap operas in terms of the genre attributes of plot, character, and consumption that coalesce in images of damaged women, images that, nonetheless, have appealed to women audiences for half a century. Qualitative data collected from long-time viewers of four soap operas showed that exposure to negative role models is detrimental to viewers’ personal life satisfaction, realistic assessment of life situations, and achievement of reasonable goals. Viewers’ responses reveal vulnerability expressed as a need for emotional satisfaction that is satisfied by para-social attachments to subordinated and abused characters, whose influence may be emotionally harmful. Barbara Stern looked at product–character associations and viewer–character relationships in TV sitcoms. She explored the ways in which ordinary people make meaning in seemingly insignificant sites and places, and more important, she looked at the distinctly gendered aspects of social practices and institutions. In her research, she used hypotheses that predict the influence of product–character associations (PCAs) and viewer–character relationships, drawing from two disciplines: stimulus-side attributes are derived from literary theory, and response-side variables are derived from social-psychological research.3 Two studies were conducted to test the model: Study 1 was controlled, using a made-for-research stimulus in which a variety of character types and product advertisements were manipulated; and Study 2 was naturalistic, using real-world sitcom stimuli in which characters and placements were measured.4 Findings across both studies support the PCA model of attitude toward placed products in which character-based evaluations drive product placement effects in situations where viewers perceive the product–character association, and in which viewers experience parasocial relationships with the character. Barbara Stern argued that daytime television soap operas primarily appeal to women, providing emotional release, personal gratification, companionship, and an escape from reality. This chapter reviews the extant literature on soap opera consumption to reveal a vulnerability system in which industry profits flow from a genre that specializes in conveying images of vulnerable women living in luxury to downscale viewers living in constrained circumstances and repeatedly exposed to unrealistic and inappropriate role models. The soap industry has recently acknowledged its audience’s vulnerability and has attempted to bring together producers, writers, and network executives to encourage awareness of the industry’s role in shaping consumers’ attitudes and behavior. Soap operas love suspense. They rarely wrap things up, story wise, and generally avoid bringing all the current story lines to a conclusion at the same time. When one story line ends, there are always

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 189 several other story threads at differing stages of development. Soap opera episodes invariably end with some sort of cliffhanger. Soap operas are powerful agents of social change. Christine Geraghty is one of the writers who have validated soap operas, seeing their importance in societal transformation. She has dismissed scholars who have looked at soaps as innocent and harmless, seeing such an interpretation as narrow, shallow, and misguided.5 Geraghty contends that soaps have changed societies. Using a gender dimension, she contends that soaps have promoted the role of women, both on television and in social and cultural realms, empowering them and giving them agency and voice through female characters on the screen. She sees the importance of soap operas as neutralizing the dominance of men in public life. She believes that without soap operas, television would be the kingdom of the male-centered story, fostering male hegemony. She says, “With soap opera, television has become a source of empowerment for women.”6 In this incisive defense of a much-maligned genre, Geraghty demonstrates how soap operas validate an essentially feminine perspective and respond to complex issues of women’s desires and power by creating strong, active female characters such as Brooke in The Bold and the Beautiful. In the past, soap viewers were often assumed to be women, mainly working-class housewives who were often characterized unfairly as naive escapists who took refuge in soaps. The findings from the present study reveal that this is not the case in Kenya. Drawing on psychoanalytic and feminist theory and film criticism, Geraghty explores the ways in which soap operas have inverted the typical malecentered narrative characterized by a domineering, oedipal, father-son relationship that serves to control female energy. Instead, women in soap operas resist their stabilizing role in male hierarchies. They have agency, are powerful, and define their own agenda. In breaking with the traditional narratives of action movies based on male characters such as Clint Eastwood, John Travolta, Sydney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Sean Connery, Samuel Jackson, or Jack Nicholson, soaps create a distinctly feminine, open-ended format capable of tolerating ambiguity and lack of resolution. Soap operas emerge as vessels of a subterranean female power and defy women’s assigned place in male-designed social structures.7 It is interesting that in The Bold and the Beautiful it was Brooke, Stephanie, Sally, Macy, and other female characters who dominated scenes and events. It appeared that it was these women who were bold and beautiful, not men. Many writers on the influence of television have tended to focus on more direct genres such as TV commercials.8 Ellen Seiter, Hans Borchers, Gabriela Kreutzner, and Eva-Maria Warth in their book Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power have demonstrated that television is an important instrument of change.9 Other scholars have looked at how television, through popular programs such as MTV, has changed the cultural behavior

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of people, especially youth, while others have documented the general role of television and sports, with regard, for example, to the American NBA, and how they have shaped viewers across the world.10 The television genre of soap operas has also attracted scholarly interest in the recent past, but due to space limitations, I cannot list and discuss all of the studies in this chapter.11 These works share common sensibilities characteristic of the currents of scholarship on the impact of soap operas on culture and other societal superstructures. Using methods of inquiry from diverse fields, ranging from psychoanalysis to semiotics, from the new social history to historicist literary criticism, from postmodern to postcolonial theories, these scholars find complex social meaning in the impact of the media. Through these works (dating between 1981 and 2006) we realize that for more than twenty-five years, television and cinema scholars have produced interesting paradigms, problems, and procedures for cinema studies. The scholars mentioned above have established the crucial role played by television and film (and other forms of mass-mediated discourse and imagery) in understanding their interaction and transformation of society. That is why that there is now a recognition of the fact that soap operas cannot be ignored as agents of social change. They can no longer be seen as mundane, insignificant, useless, and ineffective. The scholars mentioned are only some examples of the expanding literature on soaps and their role in influencing society. These scholars are simply building upon the rich history of feminist film criticism to illuminate important aspects of media production, distribution, reception, and influence that have remained relatively unexplored by previous scholars. Thus, the impact of soaps in influencing social change needs to be taken seriously, especially in the way they shape the everyday lives of people in terms of identity and class. The ways in which we find gender identity and class inscribed upon society through these soaps can only be understood by examining the consumers. The recurrent role played by heterosexual romance in soaps, as a means of constructing dramatic tension and narrative closure, and the use of gendered binary oppositions to divide audience members, makes soaps viable vehicles of transformation. As the case of The Bold and the Beautiful will demonstrate in this chapter, soap operas change lives. They have a great transformative power over the social and cultural lives of people of various societies in Kenya.12 Nevertheless, even though soap operas command vast and loyal audiences, they have been trivialized by the mainstream media and even labeled as a form of pornography designed to keep curious youth, housewives, and the elderly in their place. Previous studies have shown that American television melodramas and soap operas screened in other countries have tended to open discussion of cultural imperialism.13 In The Bold and the Beautiful, life seems to revolve around marrying and divorcing, and finding a partner, which perpetuates a

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 191 new form of courtship in societies such as in Kenya. The ideological terrain of public service, especially the goal of creating good citizenship by offering balanced information, has been an essential framework for defining television’s aesthetic norms in many African countries and Kenya in particular, and soap operas complicate this moralizing mission. Commercial television (such as MTV), carrying the same technological capacity as public service television (such as the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, or KBC), has accordingly been seen as an entertaining mirror of fantasy due to its advertising, goals, and erotic scenes. The commercial principles, popular appeal, and audience satisfaction that guide soap opera production have appeared to be the opposite of the principle of objective and well-balanced information, and have been seen to represent “immoral,” “nonrealistic,” and therefore “escapist” and liberal television. The division of the role of television into two paradigms has been present in discussions of TV’s influence on Kenyan households and public space such those elicited by The Bold and the Beautiful. Tania Modleski argues that the structural openness of soaps, which she categorizes as an essentially “feminine” narrative form, is what makes them popular.14 She argues that pleasure in narrative focuses on closure, while soaps delay resolution and make anticipation and suspense an end in itself. She also argues that masculine narratives, unlike soaps, seek quick and immediate resolutions, hence men’s preference for action movies, usually condensed into less than two hours of violence in which there is often a villain and a hero; these movies include Westerns and Rambo-like movies, where musclemen such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Chuck Norris dominate, exterminating lesser men at will. Scholars who have made such comparisons argue that more men than women watch action movies. They point out that action adventures define men in relation to power, authority, aggression, and sometimes technology. While this might be the general trend, it is perhaps not entirely true, as I have met many women who love action movies and have no liking at all for soap operas. This misrepresentation of the maleness and femaleness of certain genres seems to be in consonance with a recent example from Kenya, where on February 20, 2007, Simon Matheri Ikere, who was the most wanted criminal in Kenya, was gunned down by police in Athi River, a suburb of Nairobi. Reporting on his killing, the Daily Nation story noted that the fallen gangster must have loved action movies and therefore violence. The article noted that “Two portraits that hang on the wall betrayed his obsession with violence similar to those seen in action-packed movies. A portrait of martial arts legend and actor Bruce Lee as well as another of former Hollywood awardwinning actor for his role in action thrillers Arnold Schwarzenegger were displayed on the wall.”15 Despite the fact that this is a misrepresentation, some scholars insist on the separation, arguing that women prefer soaps to action movies, while men love action movies.

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Scholars have pointed out that male narratives “inscribe” in the text an implied male narrator who becomes increasingly unstoppable.16 This male character, they argue, always has a way out of every situation, even when the situation is quite complicated. However, while characters in soaps might be threatening, by and large they are subtle and soft. In most cases they have a major character, such as Brooke, Stephanie, or Sally, who is supposed to be “the ideal woman,” as inscribed narrator, at times beautiful, sometimes young and sometimes old, but almost always helpless or a victim waiting to be rescued. Geraghty has noted that “More frequently than other TV genres, soaps feature women characters normally excluded by their age, appearance or status.”17 Although the structure of soaps is complex and there is no final word on many issues, they tend to convey messages very clearly. A soap opera involves multiple perspectives and there is often no consensus, only ambivalence and contradiction. There is no single hero, and the wide range of characters in soaps offers viewers a great deal of choice regarding those with whom they might identify. By their complex plots, visual images, representations of beauty and sensuality, and dramatic tensions, soap operas rebuke the binary oppositions of the typical cinema and conventional gender roles. By running several stories at once and denying final closure for many of them, the soap opera offers an alternative to the type of storytelling that inscribes domination as necessary and inevitable through narrative and ideological closure, heroic male action, and heterosexual pairing and marriage. All this leaves soaps particularly open to individual interpretations. However, despite their artificiality and posturing, people tend to believe them. My method of analyzing the public discussion of the impact of The Bold and the Beautiful in Kenya is conjectural interpretation, using feminist, postmodern, and postcolonial perspectives in which multiple interpretations and meanings are permissible. This is supplemented by interviews and conversations with viewers. I enter upon the representations, interpretations, and appropriations of American soap opera characters such as Brooke as subtexts in the discussion of their influence in Kenya. In my discussions of the characters and what they represent in the minds of my Kenyan respondents and informants, I realized that there was a need to determine what each character represents in order to render an accurate interpretation of what Kenyans really think about The Bold and the Beautiful and whether it has affected them. There is a need to break soap images and words into their constituent elements, text, meta-text, subtext, and hierarchy, in order to understand the ways in which they are understood by people across gender, age, and ethnic divides in Kenya. I also analyze the categorical and metaphoric elements of the actors as understood by Kenyan viewers, so that if Ridge represents the macho type, Eric the rich type, and Brooke the carefree type, what do Kenyan audiences take from them? After searching

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 193 the functions of the character and the relations of the respondents and writers to these character trajectories, I am able to construct a sort of discursive unity of the features under scrutiny. In other words, through a close interpretation of the interviews and reactions to soap operas, I look for themes of criticism as well as the presuppositions and anxieties behind the various representations and criticisms.

The Bold and the Beautiful: Interrogating the Characters vis-à-vis Kenya The Bold and the Beautiful focuses on the “successful” Forrester family, which has “made it” in its Los Angeles fashion empire. The family runs a business venture known as Forrester Creations. The company survives as a result of shrewdness and scheming, which enable it to stay ahead of the competition. The show pays great attention to the glamorous world of the beautiful and almost perfect Forrester family, where romance and love are permanently in the air, with constant kissing between supposedly happy parents Eric and Stephanie. The Forresters are contrasted with an equally successful family, the upper-middle-class Logan family. The Logans operate Spectra Fashions (later Spectra Couture). Spectra Fashions is presented as the main rival of Forrester Creations. The Logan family is headed by Sally Spectra, a single mother. Thus, the celebration and valorization of single motherhood is clear in the plot, from the very beginning. Although the Logans are eventually pushed out of the story line, perhaps due to the monotony of upper-middle-class-ness and the overdramatization of single-mother-ness, Brooke, who is the Logans’ oldest daughter, remains an integral part of the story line throughout the show. Eric Forrester is at the helm of Forrester Creations. He is presented as the hard-working male breadwinner, not unusual for a man anywhere. In many scenes, Eric Forrester appears with his strongly opinionated wife Stephanie. Eric and Stephanie have three extremely handsome sons: Ridge, Thorne, and Rick. They also have three beautiful daughters: Kristen, Bridget, and Felicia. At Spectra Fashions, Sally Spectra has two daughters, Macy and Brooke, and one son, Clarke Jr. (simply referred to as CJ). In many scenes, Sally Spectra is assisted in her business by her beautiful daughter Macy and her receptionist Darla Einstein, who is equally beautiful and glamorous. Over the years, Sally has done everything necessary to destroy Forrester Creations and the Forrester family. Sally Spectra is a gorgeous and vivacious entrepreneur, who has as a larger-than-life character. She is presented in extravagant outfits, often outrageously exaggerated. She likes bright, trendy, sporty clothes and boasts a sizable red coiffure. In spite of her obsession with fashion, Sally is well liked

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by Kenyan viewers due to the comedic and dramatic story lines in which she has been involved in the soap. Her role is similar to those in a local soap opera known as Tausi, which paraded female characters such as Kibibi and Muhonja in equally glamorous outfits. Sally’s character is made more dramatic and bizarre with the assistance of her gossipy or nosy and equally glamorous receptionist, Darla Einstein. Sally is useful mainly for comic relief. The most popular (for women) and controversial (for men) character The Bold and the Beautiful in Kenya is Brooke Logan Forrester.18 Brooke, who has been the main heroine of the show during the entire history of the series, seems to court controversy at her every appearance, hence her “bitchy” protagonist role. Brooke is originally from a middle-class background, and her love affair with Ridge Forrester set up much of the story line beginning in the 1980s (episodes shown in Kenya in the 1990s and the early years of the twenty-first century). She broke up with Ridge Forrester and married other characters. Besides once being married to Ridge, Brooke had a long-running romance with Ridge’s half brother, Nick. She was also previously married to Ridge’s half brother Thorne and Thorne’s father Eric, with whom she had two children. Finally, Brooke had an affair with her daughter Bridget’s husband Deacon, which resulted in a child. Ridge is the Casanova of the show. He seems to have such appeal that all women want to be with him. He hates rivalry but is also portrayed as a happy camper, an oppositional binary of sorts. Ridge is strong because he fights off rivals, but is weak because he is easy to please. He snatched a lover from his own father. However, when Brooke walked away from Ridge, he easily found comfort with Dr. Taylor Hayes, who was another love of his life, and very popular with men in Kenya due to her demeanor, humility, and respect for Ridge and “family values.” She was less threatening than Brooke. She was also normal and vulnerable. Just like men in Kenya, Ridge’s mother, Stephanie, preferred Dr. Taylor Hayes to Brooke. The other character that has elicited some attention in Kenya is Macy. Macy is Sally Spectra’s daughter. Macy is a singer. Her life, supposedly like the lives of others in the music field, is troubled. She has experienced many traumas in her life, most notably alcoholism. Macy’s on-again, off-again marriage to Thorne Forrester, who was the true love of her life, also closely resembled that of Brooke and Ridge. Macy lost Thorne to Brooke Logan, which made her go back to her alcoholism. Macy hated Brooke for this spousal theft and never forgave her. The tide turned in favor of Brooke when Macy nearly killed her in a road accident, when she lost control of her car with Brooke inside. This happened one day when Brooke tried to stop the erratic Macy from driving in anger while under the influence of alcohol. Unable to stop her, Brooke ended up as an unwilling passenger in Macy’s car. Macy speeded up, and tried to kill both herself and Brooke, in order to end Brooke’s romance with Thorne. Brooke was rescued but Macy was unable to escape and was presumed dead.

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 195 The death of Macy and her reappearance later on the show was shocking to many Kenyan viewers, when they learned that Macy had not in fact died in the road accident but had actually been saved by her father, Adam Alexander, and had gone into hiding with him overseas. Adam Alexander, it turned out, was wanted by the Mafia, or “the mob,” and had to leave the country for a time until his pursuers forgot him. And where are mobs most famous in the world? Italy, of course! Macy was therefore later discovered in Italy during a fashion showdown between Forrester Creations and Spectra Fashions. Following this discovery, Macy went back to Los Angeles, where she was reunited with Thorne Forrester. The soap has shown constant feuding between Stephanie and Brooke, and the feud has resulted in divorce. Following one of Stephanie’s breakups with Ridge, Eric married Brooke, after first divorcing Stephanie. In a relational structure that was very complicated for Eric’s elder children, Brooke gave birth to two of Eric’s children. This was not just laughable to many Kenyans but insane. Eric and Brooke divorced, and Eric eventually reconciled with Stephanie in another bizarre reunion. Interestingly, the two have since divorced, remarried, divorced again, and remarried again in recent episodes. Likewise, Brooke and Ridge have resumed their pattern of an on-again, off-again relationship in between Brooke’s relationships with several other men and Forrester family members. Also, we cannot forget Ridge’s multiple reunions with Dr. Taylor Hayes, and his flirtations with other women. Another example of divorce on the show occurred when Macy returned to California, after she was discovered in Italy, and followed up by reuniting with Thorne Forrester. But after a chain of nasty events, the two divorced. It was surprising to many that no sooner had Macy separated from Thorne than she started a romantic relationship with a fellow recovering alcoholic and the ex-husband of Bridget Forrester, Deacon Sharpe. Soon afterward, the two married. Many Kenyan societies regard marriage as a sacred, permanent, and highly respected institution. Therefore, many were put off by the regularity with which characters married and divorced. Other Kenyan viewers were exposed for the first time to legalistic jargon regarding marriage, separation, estrangement, and divorce. One of my respondents in Nairobi told me that “Concepts like ‘affair,’ ‘cheating,’ and ‘separation’ and ‘divorce’ have started to have a greater appeal to many men and women in Kenya from watching The Bold and the Beautiful. I personally did not know the meanings of these words.”19 Yet another dramatic divorce episode in the earlier episodes of the show surprised viewers in Kenya. The episode involved a conflict between Ridge, Dr. Taylor Hayes, and Brooke. En route to a psychiatrists’ conference in Egypt, Dr. Taylor Hayes’s plane crashed in Morocco and she was presumed dead. Taylor was in fact whisked away to Prince Omar’s palace and, since she had amnesia, she was led to believe that she was named Laila and was to

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marry the virgin crown prince so he could claim his right to the Moroccan throne. At home, Ridge grieved for Dr. Taylor Hayes, but realizing Brooke was about to marry James Warwick, he pursued Brooke and stopped her marriage to James. Brooke and Ridge held a surprise wedding on the beach attended by both of their families. Taylor regained her memory and escaped from the royal compound in Morocco, but she was too late to stop the wedding between Ridge and Brooke. The introduction of the Marone family into the show further compromised the characters in The Bold and the Beautiful and introduced new moral questions among Kenyan viewers. In the show, Massimo Marone is portrayed as a billionaire-shipping magnate who was a childhood friend of Stephanie Forrester, the matriarch. Stephanie and Massimo had a one-night stand in college shortly before Stephanie first slept with Eric Forester. This shocked many conservative viewers. It exposed Stephanie, and some viewers in Kenya questioned her moralizing about Brooke’s loose morals. Many viewers took it that making love was as easy as drinking water in America. One businesswoman remarked, “It seems like everyone in America sleeps around a lot, including old women. I am surprised that even Stephanie has slept around a lot. All this time I thought she was the decent type, the voice of reason and morality in that show. They all stink.” Viewers were in for more surprises, because the show indicated that, after more than forty years, a medical situation had revealed that Eric could not be Ridge’s biological father. Some people pitied Ridge while others found reason to justify Eric’s indulging himself with Brooke. The Bold and the Beautiful also shows business competition that is absurd in the minds of many Kenyans. Many thought that Spectra Fashions’ cutthroat competition with Forrester Creations was both formidable and disturbing, especially the extremes each went to in order to outdo the other. The competition was formidable because Sally successfully stole many of Forrester’s family members to work for her at Spectra Fashions. Many of their actions raised moral questions, painting capitalism in a very negative way, in which the end justified the means. In the name of competition, Ridge and the Forresters voted Brooke out of Forrester Creations for very unclear reasons. They argued that Brooke had given Deacon’s son 2 percent of the company to help Rick and his wife Amber keep the little boy. The Forresters took advantage of this and bought out Deacon’s 2 percent, which gave them the controlling interest in the business. Ridge then proceeded to take over Spectra Fashions, renaming it Logan Designs. In more recent episodes, Nick has taken control of Forrester Creations twice. After firing the Forresters from their own company, he lost any chance of Brooke possibly reuniting with him, and she decided to go back to Ridge for the umpteenth time. In more recent episodes, the Forresters have started a new company called Forrester Originals, and a fresh, new fashion war has begun between the Forresters

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 197 and their old company Forrester Creations, now being run by Nick, Jackie, Clarke Garrison,20 and two of the Logan siblings (Donna and Storm). Kidnapping, violence, and even murder were some of the dangerous themes that The Bold and the Beautiful teased out in its daily story lines. For instance, when Ridge took Brooke to Puerta Vista where they got married, many eyebrows were raised when Sheila Carter kidnapped Ridge. It was Nick (now Ridge’s half brother) and Massimo (now Ridge’s biological father) who arrived to save Ridge. Violence was part of the show, as in most American dramas. Even after Nick and Massimo arrived on the scene, there was fighting in the foundry where Sheila was holding Ridge captive. Because of the altercation, Ridge fell into a burning furnace, and everyone thought he was dead. In Kenya, many viewers pitied Nick and Brooke when they went into great grieving. But one moment made Brooke become a heroine for both male and female viewers: this was the moment when she went to the foundry and, thinking she saw Ridge in the flames, proceeded to follow him into the flames. It was Nick who saved her life and in their terrible grief they sought comfort with each other. This opened up a new set of problems as everyone saw Brooke as a plotting and conniving “bitch,” even in periods of adversity. Many viewers in Kenya were overjoyed to learn that Ridge hadn’t died in the furnace, although Nick and Brooke’s affair was the result of their shock and grief at Ridge’s apparent death. This was one of the many moments at which “quickies,” affairs, and cheating dominated the show in almost predictable proportions, making the show very unattractive. Affairs tainted the show, painting it as cheap and dirty, which made public commentary on it unfavorable.

Kenyans Speak about the Soap: Representation of Various Voices In Kenya, many male television viewers identified with Eric Forrester, especially the frustrations in his marriages to Stephanie and, later, Brooke. Such intrigues, which have soured romantic relations, leading to divorce or separation, have played a key role in the drama since its inception. To many men in Kenya, Brooke was seen as a “wicked” and “evil” woman, perhaps because she was so daring, so carefree, and so macho like a man. One informant, Ombeba, remarked, “Societies should not allow women like Brooke to exist because men will kill each other off the face of this earth. She is evil and should be put in prison where she cannot have the chance to continue her immoral lifestyle of taking advantage of men. I hate her with a passion”21 Brooke seemed to use men at will, and many of my respondents in Kenya hated to see that part of her. She was the very epitome and embodiment of rebellion and resistance. “How can you marry that type of woman [Brooke] who looks at you straight in the eyes like a wild animal about to pounce on

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you? She does not even wait for her husband to complete his part of the conversation, pretending to know it all.”22 Brooke was seen as stubborn, and was hated for constantly defying confinement in her female space and for refusing to accept her “femaleness.” I suspect that many men would have liked to see her behaving vulnerably and not gazing or looking back at Thorne. What frustrated men was that, so often, Ridge and Brooke would reunite only to break up again, and often they broke up due to unimportant reasons. But I suppose that was the very reason why women liked Brooke. She was independent and put men where they belonged. In my research sample, older women did not like Brooke, especially matriarchs who saw her as treading on the power of Stephanie, Ridge’s mother. To them, Stephanie was a fellow matriarch, and they felt that she deserved some respect from a younger woman like Brooke. Rachael Andeyo said, “Brooke is a good woman but she is very extreme in her behavior. I think that type of behavior should not be encouraged in women.”23 Educated, middle-class women celebrated Brooke’s role. Seeing her as more than a mere actor, many saw Brooke as a heroine, a role model for all women, across the world, in dealing with men. Julia Mandeko remarked, “Our [Kenyan] men think that only they can love other people. When a woman does the same she is given all kinds of labels. I love Brooke because she is doing what some of us have long desired to do but are restrained by societal rules. I love that woman and if she ever sets foot in Kenya, I will look for her and give her a big hug due to what she is doing for us women.”24 Through Brooke, the cultural and social definitions of womanhood in Kenya were shaken to the core. Although it is not easy to discern the aim of the show as far as the role of women is concerned, it is certainly aimed at entertaining, and its role in social change might be inadvertent. Perhaps the scriptwriter wanted to portray the image that society is always uncomfortable with independent-minded women, to show that men always find such women revolting. It is also possible that the show wanted to demonstrate that in-laws are not always right, because Stephanie saw her own rebellion in Brooke and that is why she hated her. We know from the show that Stephanie felt that Brooke was too loose, that is, without values. Despite the fact that Brooke was hated by men, many Kenyan female viewers were taken in by her controversies, intrigues, affairs, endemic cheating, and boldness, among other matters. This is perhaps what makes Brooke remain a key factor in the story line of the soap to this day. Agnes Atieno and Nancy Mugesia’s responses to Brooke’s behavior were particularly fascinating to me. Atieno, a university professor, remarked, “I used to like Brooke until she started to sleep with every man she met. I hate her for projecting women negatively. We love good-looking guys but we do not want to sleep with all men that come our way, for God’s sakes.”25 A few women went further and started to accuse Brooke of being a lunatic.

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 199 Mugesia remarked, “I think she has lost her mind, because you cannot just keep on changing men like underwear. I now think it is time for the show to end. Brooke has lost it. She is crazy and I hate the way the show is portraying women.”26 It was clear that these women were seeing Brooke in broader terms, according to some sort of gender solidarity, in their rejection of her behavior. They seemed to be in opposition to Brooke’s actions. They were saying that Brooke was misusing her femaleness in ways that were morally wrong and therefore unacceptable. As a result, they were rejecting her representation and distancing themselves from her actions. This means that not everyone believed or aped the characters on TV. Some of my interviewees were ambivalent about the whole drama, but these were in the minority. There were some supporters of Brooke’s actions. Some women believed that if it a man had done what Brooke did, he could have gotten away with it without anyone raising any hullabaloo. “I still believe that Brooke has a right to love whom she wants. I think all the men she has met have not given her what she wants and instead of picking on her, society should give this woman the time, choice, and freedom to find what she is looking for.”27 What was clear was the viewers did not just absorb the influence of soaps uncritically. They subjected the soap to their own standards and assessments. Sally Spectra was admired by some middle-class women in Kenya, for being able to raise a family without a man in her life. She represented autonomy and shrewdness. To some, she was a good entrepreneur in running Spectra Fashions and competing against the male-dominated Forrester Creations company. Some women thought that Sally also succeeded in her social role as a mother. However, some women thought that Sally had failed as a mother because her daughter Brooke was wild and out of control. Men were afraid of Sally because of her expensive-looking costumes and elegant dresses. One Kenyan man remarked about Sally, “She will make you sell all your livestock [cattle] in order to buy those shiny clothes.”28 Overall, the show would appear to show that one cannot always succeed on all fronts— that Sally succeeds as a businesswoman but fails as a mother. Nevertheless, the soap has provided some social lessons. It opened a new way of understanding marital relationships in other cultures and of understanding how it was easy to fall in love and quickly drift out of it. The soap devalued the institution of marriage. A schoolteacher pointed out, “I am a bit uncomfortable with the rate at which people divorce in America as shown on this show. That is the most dangerous thing that should not be copied by Kenyans.”29 The divorce rate on The Bold and the Beautiful was very high and a cause of discomfort for both male and female viewers in Kenya. Since over 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce, the soap provided an almost accurate rendering of American social life, at least in that regard. Many Kenyan men were frustrated with this social scene, in which women

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and men were as active as each other in creating and ending relationships. The episode showing the remarriage between Brooke and Ridge was frustrating to many men that I talked to. It was clear in that episode that Ridge was once again conflicted, because although he loved Brooke, their marriage was now invalid due to Taylor’s presence. Ridge told Taylor he would divorce her and that he preferred Brooke to Taylor. During this episode, Omambia said, she lost interest in the soap: “At that point I stopped watching the show. I had lost count of how many times this guy [Ridge] kept remarrying the same stupid, loose, and not even beautiful woman. I wondered if this was really realistic. I pitied Dr. Taylor Hayes and was crushed when she could not stop the wedding.”30 To so many Kenyans, the show seemed to play out the theme of marriage and divorce to disturbing levels. It also appeared to indicate that Ridge and Brooke were soul mates, a concept to which many in American society are wedded. That is perhaps why, even with Brooke and Nick married, Ridge was still portrayed as trying his numerous schemes and tricks to win back the heart of his dear Brooke. This was not helped when Donna Logan, Brooke’s younger sister, returned to Los Angeles and had a brief romance with Ridge. Ridge named her as a partner and new head model of the “Brooke’s Bedroom” line, and Donna became an instant and controversial hit in town. Brooke’s jealousy grew out of control, which eventually put Nick back in the arms of Bridget for a one-night stand. Brooke decided to divorce Nick, which blew Nick’s feud with the Forresters into full-blown chaos. In earlier episodes, Ridge earned sympathy from some Kenyan men, but many abandoned his side when he allowed Brooke back into his life. Polyandry on the show struck a special chord with some men in Kenya. Many Kenyan societies are polygamous, and there is a lot of valorization of virility and the macho image by men. In the past, this was appreciated in rural areas, where the more children one fathered, the more prestige one seemed to earn. In some communities, the polygamous man was revered. Massimo Marone, the playboy former lover of Stephanie, started to be admired as a “real man,” by lower-class members who find a lot of gratification in sex, especially after Jacqueline Payne, a former lover of Massimo, arrived on the scene and announced that her adult son, Dominick “Nick” Payne, was also fathered by Massimo. Unlike Ridge, who used the Forrester surname, Nick had changed his surname to Marone. Massimo Marone and Jackie had an on-again, off-again marriage, which added fuel to the impermanence of marriage on the show. Some women in Kenya identified very easily with Macy due to her singing career. Singing is one of the careers that were until recently not much associated with women in Kenya. In later episodes, a number of Kenyan women transferred their sympathies to Macy as a result of Brooke’s snatching Thorne from her, even though it was only for s short time. Some could not

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 201 contain their anger at this man snatcher. However, after surviving the accident in Macy’s car, Brooke gained some supporters who believed that she was not the meanest person on earth. This is one area that attracted some press attention, due to the attempted voluntary homicide. Killing by women and, particularly, female alcoholism were sneered at. Alcoholism appeared to be what Macy was representing in many episodes, and this did not go down very well. Some leaders pointed this out as one of the bad influences that The Bold and the Beautiful was projecting at Kenyan youth. The clergy and the general public, including many women, condemned Macy. Her death was therefore very welcome to some. After this episode, it seems that some people who had taken the soap opera at face value started to reflect on the implications of watching it, as Ongama’s reflection illustrates: “In 1997, one of my close friends separated from her husband of fifteen years. They later divorced. A few months later, she confided to me how Brooke had opened her eyes and that she was blind not to see that men love you more when you are free willed and independent, and that is why Ridge had remarried Brooke. I can relate to my friend’s observation because I can see that Ridge respects Brooke more because he fears that she can leave him anytime.”31 This is one of the many open admissions of the impact of the show on the lives of Kenyans. Some men confessed to me that the women in their lives were demanding roses, just like women in the soap. This was clear evidence of the direct impact of the soap on Kenya’s social space: “My girlfriend started making demands on me, similar to those she was seeing on the show. She was not even ashamed of the fact that I knew where she was getting her moves from. She demanded roses, kisses, and even sex. Sometimes I was very embarrassed to see her initiating romantic moves when I know that in Africa I should be the one taking the initiative and taking the lead.”32 Following Brooke’s debunking of societal taboos that have been guarded by men as sacred for a long time in Kenya, her actions were viewed as threatening to their dominance. Due to Brooke’s actions, it is clear that the interest that The Bold and the Beautiful has ignited in Kenya’s sociocultural and political scene will remain long after the show goes off the air. Many have condemned Brooke’s actions. A church minister bellowed on national TV, “If you sit around the TV with your family and allow them to watch such an evil program as The Bold and the Beautiful then you need repentance.” According to the minister, such programs are agents of the devil, aimed at perverting human beings’ morals in their last days on earth. There was an outpouring of letters to the editors of various newspapers, mainly from men, calling for the banning of the soap opera in Kenya. One stated, “If a man can marry his own son’s wife, and a son sleep with his mother, what type of message are we sending to our kids? What type of moral values are we preaching to the future generation of this country? We are passing a wrong message, for we are telling our sons and daughters that it is fine to sleep with

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their relatives; that they can sleep with their mothers and daughters, fathers and sons.”33 The condemnation from men was widespread, in both rural and urban areas, from members of both lower and upper classes, from both the secular and the clergy. One member of Parliament (MP) went further and threatened to initiate a motion in Parliament that would ban the screening of the show in Kenya. When the MP was questioned by a journalist whether such an action would be seen as democratic, and whether in fact his views were shared by his constituents, the majority of whom were women, he retorted, “Very soon, our women will begin to behave the way the slut [Brooke] is behaving, sleeping with whoever they think loves them. They will say that there is doing it for love, and yet you and I know that there is nothing like love in America but money.” The MP added, “Our women will begin demanding for flowers, love letters, eating out, vacations, jewelry, expensive clothes and more. We are a poor country and this will lead to break up of many marriages.”34 In early 1998, I was traveling on a Moi University staff bus when suddenly a heated exchange broke out between professors concerning that same character, Brooke. The exchange quickly degenerated into an open altercation and name-calling. In the process, a few obscenities were exchanged and some punches thrown. The exchange was apparently prompted by a comment by one woman, who remarked that “anyone who is condemning Brooke for following her heart and therefore marrying Eric is weak and perhaps a eunuch.” The person to whom the remark was directed was incensed, and retaliated by yelling many obscene names at the woman, to the surprise of everyone on the bus. I was flabbergasted by what I heard and saw. I was astonished to realize that a mere television program had provoked such rage and passion between colleagues. Why did Brooke’s conduct elicit such an emotional response from both Kenyan men and women? Were men really scared of Brooke’s persona, as my colleague suggested? The character of Brooke allowed men and women to openly discuss their own aspirations, desires, and fears. There would probably have been no open conversation on that day about power in romantic relations without the character of Brooke. I recollect that one colleague with whom I taught in the same department at Moi University vowed to kill Brooke if he ever came into contact with her in a dark alley. Some colleagues of mine at Moi University and some women that I have encountered have gauged men using the characters in The Bold and the Beautiful. “What man would you like to have in your life, Ridge, Thorne, or Eric?” Those were the type of questions that one heard on Kenyan streets, and in schools, offices, and homes. What bothered me was that many viewers made up their minds without understanding the fact that the characters in The Bold and Beautiful existed simply in their imagination. Brooke was not real. Men hated Brooke because she had been famously married to several members of the same family, contrary to the cultural norms of

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 203 many ethnic groups in Kenya. I could understand the rage in the minds of these men. Perhaps they feared that the same would happen to them. Although most of the characters of The Bold and the Beautiful are white, many people in Kenya can relate to them despite many shocking episodes. This ended, however, as Kenyan viewers were shocked when Brooke started an affair with Deacon, her daughter Bridget’s husband, her own son-in-law. If there had been any gender division vis-à-vis the dangerous moral impact of The Bold and the Beautiful, it ended at this point. Brooke’s affair with her son-in-law broke the proverbial camel’s back. In many Kenyan societies, the space between mother and son-in-law and between father and daughterin-law is regarded as sacred and revered, but it has twice been broken by Brooke. It is a space that is not negotiable in many African cultures. That is perhaps why this time the condemnation of the soap opera was total, by both men and women. A district chairperson of the Maandeleo ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO)—a women’s organization—condemned the show, calling for its immediate withdrawal from Kenya. She said, “It is a shame that this program [The Bold and the Beautiful] can allow such a thing to happen. I was initially a fan but this is too much. I agree with our men that this is a wrong program for our country.”35 In our frequent conversations, Ongama made constant references to Brooke, the major character in this American soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, as if she were real. I was surprised and moved to see how a soap opera actress had become somebody’s role model. It did not take long for me to encounter a male at my workplace who saw Eric Forrester, the husband of Stephanie and one of the key characters in The Bold and the Beautiful, as his model for an ideal man. He confided to me that he followed closely Eric’s actions in dealing with his wife and often found himself emulating Eric. My colleague had just separated from his wife due to his drinking problems and extramarital activities. He justified his separation by citing the divorce between Eric and Stephanie. He argued that Stephanie had returned to Eric when she realized that no other man could accommodate or tolerate her, because Eric had accepted her despite all her weaknesses. I was amazed to learn that actors on television had replaced the grandparents, parents, and peers who had played the role of communal counselors in many Kenyan ethnic groups. “I believe that if Eric and Stephanie had not separated for a while, Stephanie would not have known how privileged she was to be married to him. My wife will soon also realize her folly and come back to me.”36 Just as he had predicted, his wife returned to him. I often wondered if she also watched The Bold and the Beautiful and if her return to her marital home had anything to do with the show. Unfortunately, I was never able to find the answer to that question. Was someone making such a critical decision based simply on a soap opera, on fiction? At their best, these discussions of Brooke and her representation of the American woman,

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held on college campuses and in schools, farms, marketplaces, buses, and homes, were probing, serious, and genuine. I accept that one cannot generalize about the impact of a soap opera from a few interviews and observations. Even so, the fact that people are pointing to Brooke, Eric, and Ridge, and not Macy or Thorne, is an indication of a deliberate and selective decision-making process. It means that soaps provide an interesting opportunity to examine the roles that people identity with or the ones they want to emulate. The more conversations I heard about the impact of the American soaps on men and women in Kenya, the more I curious and interested I became. Many women in my sample tended to emulate Brooke, while men emulated Eric. The fact that these individuals seemed perfectly willing to let people know that they relied on a TV character to make important decisions is telling. It is largely due to these conversations, observations, and interviews that my interest in the influence of soap operas grew. Some Kenyan men and women hated the nature of the affairs on the show, which were sometimes cruel and wicked, without guilt. For example, following the affair between Nick and Brooke, Nick wanted Brooke to keep silent about it. However, Brooke chose to tell Ridge the whole truth. Unfortunately, more serious developments followed the sexual encounter between Brooke and Nick, which none of them could conceal. Brooke learned she was pregnant and did not know which man had impregnated her. The first test apparently revealed that it was Nick, but then another test was done when Brooke had the baby, and this test showed that Ridge was the father. This injection of high tech methods such as DNA testing was very welcome to Kenyan audiences, providing a way of negotiating their own many dilemmas about confirmation of paternity. One interviewee told me that the show had led him to demand a paternity test for a child whom, a woman alleged, he had fathered. The DNA results showed that he was not the father. But such benefits were few. Brooke’s conduct continued to attract criticism. Okang’a was among many Kenyans who were shocked by Brooke’s loose behavior, to the point of overgeneralizing about American society. He said, “At this point, I was saying, God save us [Kenyans] from this evil and corruption. I wondered whether it was real. But I hear this is what happens in America. A woman can sleep with ten men in one day. We have all seen it on the Jerry Springer and Maury shows. That is what they tell us on large scale, what we have seen in small doses on the show.”37 In subsequent episodes, the love triangle between Taylor, Brooke, and Ridge was revived after Ridge found himself alone after divorcing Taylor, but at a time when Brooke had fallen in love with Ridge’s half brother, Nick, who was married to Bridget. Nick and Bridget divorced, and Brooke and Nick finally married. Incest was perhaps what annoyed more Kenyan viewers than anything else that ever occurred on The Bold and the Beautiful. Some episodes involved romantic pairings between half brothers Ridge and Nick and sisters Brooke

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 205 and Donna, while another concerned the love triangle of Dante and half sisters Bridget and Felicia. From early 2000 onward, there were more shocking scenes of affairs and quickies on The Bold and the Beautiful, occurring in disturbing succession. Bridget returned from Copenhagen still harboring strong feelings for Ridge (with whom she had grown up in a brother–sister relationship). In an earlier episode, when Dr. Taylor Hayes supposedly died after having been shot by Sheila Carter, Ridge and Brooke married again, but not before Ridge and Brooke’s daughter by Eric, Bridget, became sexually attracted to each other after it was discovered that Ridge’s biological father was not Eric but Massimo Marone. This meant that Ridge and Bridget were not half siblings after all, although they had related to each other all along as such. Many Kenyan viewers found this very hard to believe. One viewer remarked, “For Ridge and Bridget to make love was madness to me, the highest level of insanity. Someone who has grown in your stepfather’s house is your sister. Someone who is fathered by your mother’s husband is your sister. It doesn’t matter whether biology or science states otherwise.”38 On the same topic, Okang’a noted, “I was surprised that the idiot laid his hands on her and even went ahead to do it. I choked with tears and anger. It was the most revolting feeling that I had ever had in a long time. I felt like puking.”39 Later, Bridget had an affair with Nick, who was technically her half brother. Nick had a love affair with Brooke, a former lover of his half brother Ridge. Murders have also been committed on the show, particularly the one committed by Dr. Taylor Hayes through drunken driving. She had become an alcoholic after she was abandoned by Ridge. She had gone to rescue her daughter, Phoebe, who had gotten a flat tire and pulled off to the side of the road to wait for Taylor to pick her up. Phoebe had called her aunt, Darla, to rescue her, but while Darla was changing Phoebe’s tire, Taylor arrived on the scene, driving under the influence, and crushed her. Darla was rushed to hospital with many broken bones and a critical head injury, and died some hours later. Taylor, her daughter Phoebe, and her husband Hector Ramirez were pressured to keep the accident a secret due to fears that Taylor would face a long prison sentence. Thus they concealed the matter. Thorne and Taylor began to develop an attraction toward each other, which ultimately led to Taylor confessing to Thorne that she had killed Darla. The Forrester family, along with Storm Logan, helped “prove” Taylor’s innocence by stating that Darla had fallen into the path of the car. Thorne and Taylor became officially engaged, but called off plans for the wedding due to Alexandria’s (who was conceived by Thorne with Darla during a break from his wife Macy) discovery that Taylor had killed Darla. In recent episodes, Taylor and Nick have begun to develop feelings for each other, in yet another careless handling and caricaturing of love, in which it is represented as mundane. This does not sit very well with many Kenyans.

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Glamour is one of the key features of The Bold and the Beautiful show, a feature that my interviewees revealed has influenced the local populace, especially women. The costumes of the main actresses such as Sally and Brooke are extravagant. Viewers are often invited into a world of fashion and breathtaking speed. Some designers in Nairobi imitated the styles of costumes they saw on the show. One interviewee told me, “You simply explain the episode where you saw Brooke, Macy, Donna or any character whose dress you liked and the dressmaker will pull out a video and design something along those lines.”40

Soap Operas in Kenya: Unraveling the Reasons for Their Popularity Soap operas are watched by both men and women in Kenya, although many more women than men are willing to discuss them in public. Many Kenyan men that I interviewed did not like the male characters in The Bold and the Beautiful. They saw them as weak and powerless. From a review of the characters in the soap, it is clear that in soap operas, narrative interests are diffused among many characters of different strengths. The viewer has the power of identifying with the actions and resolving the problems of the characters of choice and not necessarily identifying with the central character. I would like to suggest that that in this case, the person who attracts the most sympathy is the one that is the victim, often defined according to the viewer’s own judgment. This, I propose, allows for multiple interpretations. In action movies, the bad guys are almost always hated, just as the producers intend. The hero is always liked. Whenever he is cornered, viewers go wild and even desire to rescue him. In soaps, the characters are often on their own, since viewers believe they control their own destinies, and there is always suspense over how they will resolve a dilemma. The resolution of situations in soaps is often more complicated than just pulling a trigger. Soaps, as demonstrated by characters in The Bold and the Beautiful such as Brooke and Ridge, make consequences more important than actions, involve many complications, and avoid finality. Brooke leaves Ridge, marries Eric, and has two sons with him. Stephanie, Eric’s former wife, hates Brooke. Stephanie finds her way back to Eric, as Brooke finds her way back to Ridge. In many action movies, dilemmas are often resolved by death. Once characters are killed, they are completely out of the picture. Therefore, in contrast to soaps, the dialogue in masculine narratives is driven by the plot, which the dialogue explains, clarifies, and simplifies. In soaps, the dialogue blurs and delays, hence the popularity of soaps with people who have plenty of time, such as retirees, housewives, and house helpers. There is no single hero in soaps and no privileged moral perspective; there are multiple narrative lines (a nonlinear plot), and few certainties. Viewers tend to feel involved in interpreting

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 207 events from the perspective of characters similar to themselves or characters they identify with. I would like to suggest that the masculine ego favors forms that are self-contained and that provide a sense of closure. Masculine narrative forms favor action over dialogue and avoid indeterminacy, arriving at closure/resolution. They are linear and goal oriented in contrast to the multidimensional nature of soaps, in which, as in The Bold and the Beautiful, there may be three strings or story lines running concurrently. The popularity of soap operas is also increased by the fact that they offer an escape from reality, at least temporarily. I therefore agree with Ien Ang,41 who has argued that watching soap operas involves a kind of psychological realism for the viewer: an emotional realism, which exists at the connotative rather than the denotative (content) level.42 This offers less concrete, more “symbolic representations of more general living experiences,” which viewers find recognizably “true to life.” In such a case, “what is recognized as real is not knowledge of the world, but a subjective experience of the world: a ‘structure of feeling.’”43 For instance, if a character’s current behavior (as in Brooke’s marriage to son and father at different times) is inconsistent with what we have learned over time about normal, good, and bad behavior in our own societies, we reject the character’s behavior as wrong. The soap may be accepted to some extent as a world in its own right, in which slightly different rules may sometimes apply, in which “truths,” even in the cultures in which they are acted, are stretched. This is, of course, the basis for the willing suspension of disbelief on which soap operas and all forms of drama depend. We can aver that rational performance offers a slice of life with the duller bits cut out, like a thriller or tragedy. However hard they try, actors cannot produce shortened versions of life in its entirety. Besides providing entertainment, soap operas accomplish for their fans what beer accomplishes for drunkards. Soaps soothe their fans and give them comfort, lifting them up to comfort zones, even if only temporarily. For example, The Bold and the Beautiful satisfies a longing for flashy life in the fast lane, which is craved by all types of men and women, not just in Kenya but in other parts of the world as well. For men, the failures of male characters probably assure them that they are not the worst of men in this world. For women, the rebellion of characters like Brooke energizes them. It probably legitimizes their own rebellion against control, especially the rebellion against matriarchal control that is not far below the surface among young working-class women. When their heroine succeeds, they identify with her victory. This gives the heroine power on the screen. Therefore, soaps make young women reject group-centered, matriarchally and patriarchally controlled structures. Soaps may also be popular because they discuss the familiar, that is, they tend to emphasize contemporary social problems and themes. They talk about love, sex, and money. Cheating, adultery, and fornication occur at a

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very alarming rate. Gossip is a key feature in soaps, as it acts as a commentary on the action of the main plot. This makes soaps attractive. As is shown by the size of the television audiences that follow episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful as they unfold on TV, the advantage of television soap operas is that they are usually concerned with everyday life, which makes it easy to understand their themes and follow them. Some soap operas also display human fallibility, weaknesses, and vulnerability. One example of vulnerability in The Bold and the Beautiful is the death of Angela. Angela, the daughter of Eric and Stephanie, was born microcephalic44 and died because of her condition. The show has also featured single-parent families such as Sally’s, families that are becoming common all over the world. It has also featured murder, attempted suicide, drug problems, alcoholism, generational conflicts, a protection racket, extramarital affairs, marital breakups, sexism, urban deprivation, mental breakdown, kidnapping, corruption, illegitimacy, secret pasts, chance meetings, disappearances, muggings, and road accidents, which are nowadays commonplace in Kenya. Thus, much of the action remains deliberately everyday. In Kenya, it is obvious that people have understood and seen meaning in and personal connection with some of the characters in The Bold and the Beautiful, largely because of the simplicity of the narratives and plot. The show has used everyday types, for instance, “bitches” such as Brooke, gossipers such as Darla, grandmother figures such as Stephanie, and even greatgrandmother figures such as Anna, to great effect. This has made it popular across generations, among the old and the young. The show has also tackled marriageable and unmarriageable characters such as Macy and Brooke. It features examples of mature, sexy, women such as Bridget, Taylor, Phoebe, and Donna; spinster types such as Amber and Jackie; young women such as Phoebe; fearful, withdrawn men such as Thorne and Rick; conventional young men such as Nick and Deacon; and married couples such as Ridge and Brooke and Stephanie and Eric. In The Bold and the Beautiful, we see the use of the stereotypes of “the bitch,” “the coward,” “the gossiper,” and “the bastard,” which form part of everyday themes that many Kenyans can easily identify with. What has made The Bold and the Beautiful popular is the fact that like all soaps, it has sought to be normal and natural. For instance, we see episodes in which the show has displayed enmity between mother and daughter-inlaw. The fighting between Stephanie and Brooke (while she was married to Ridge) was seen as normal and allowed many people to identify with the show. Everyone can identity with such plots and intrigues, as everyone has come across the in-laws, especially the dreaded mothers-in-law. This is perhaps why a new character known as Anna appeared recently on The Bold and the Beautiful as Stephanie’s mother. It was heartrending for many viewers to see Stephanie reunited with her mother, whom she had supposedly

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 209 disowned thirty years earlier. Many men and women were pleased when Eric Forrester made the two set aside their differences. Afterward, Eric arranged for Anna to move to Los Angeles to be near the Forresters. This resonated well with many viewers, perhaps as one of the few features that seemed truly African. Soap operas have exciting features such as simplified characters and a female orientation based on beauty, physical attraction, intrigue, scheming and plotting, and episodic narrative. The Bold and the Beautiful has enjoyed success by focusing on telling stories involving the core Forrester family, in particular sticking to a core group of characters: Eric, Stephanie, Ridge, Taylor, Brooke, Thorne, and Macy. Also, soap operas may be popular because of their open-ended form. They do not have happy endings or the idealized characters that one sees in ordinary dramas and sitcoms, which may account for the element of suspense that many of their viewers seem to cherish.

Conclusion In this chapter, I have demonstrated that the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful has impacted popular culture in Kenya. It has shifted the understanding of male and female roles in society while inscribing new meanings to marriage, love, and sex. The soap has questioned the inviolability of marriage while opening a new understanding of love and sexuality. Through its discursive form, or its subtext, it supports ideals of equality between the sexes while critiquing male dominance in society. But the show has also pointed out weak points for women. These include the high tech method of proving infidelity, as in the use of DNA to test the paternity of children. Overall, the show has done a great deal to generate public debate on gender roles in public and private spaces in Kenya. Many of my highly educated interviewees seemed to respond openly and easily to the themes and ideas of the soap. Clearly the show celebrates glamour and beauty, which perhaps increases its appeal to women. Some Kenyan women admitted that they were wearing clothes resembling those of their favorite characters, while others emulated their actions, such as Brooke’s standing up to the men in her life. The Bold and the Beautiful is elitist in many ways, and this might be why its impact seems limited in large part but not entirely to the upper and middle classes in Kenya. It is clear that a knowledge of English is an advantage to viewers. Although the existence of some videos with Swahili subtitles has enabled a minority of Swahili speakers to follow the narrative, its greatest appeal is to educated people who speak and understand the English language in which it is transmitted. Although the soap has created tensions, it has provided space in which cultural experiences in the United States and Kenya can be compared. The soap has created space for women and men to

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discuss social and cultural spaces and issues affecting relations. I have shown that, in Kenya, this has partly been responsible for the fact that many male church leaders and some politicians have condemned the soap as being responsible for the level of moral decadence that afflicts society today. As Tania Modleski has noted about soap operas in general, The Bold and the Beautiful has provided secure training in the “feminine” skills of “reading people”—that is, deciphering nonverbal forms of communication such as body language, leading to an understanding of the difference between what is said and what is meant.45 Many of my respondents strongly believed that The Bold and the Beautiful has had a great impact on their personal lives and on the lives of many Kenyans. My discussion of the impact of this soap opera has also demonstrated that it has increased generational gaps and allowed for a general social transformation that renders questionable the authority of older generations and also of the church and state. Women are increasingly questioning the status quo, and many are even unmaking and deconstructing rational arrangements as a result of the direct influence of the soap. Some men are also being changed by watching the soap. The soap is therefore changing society in Kenya, both negatively and positively. Despite the cultural transformation it has stimulated in Kenya, The Bold and the Beautiful has not been a positive influence overall. During my investigation, the show was accused by some Kenyans, both men and women, of spreading vices such as dishonesty, cheating, affairs, prostitution, and lack of generosity. It was seen as responsible for introducing American clichés and street jargon to Kenyan spaces. There is now widespread use of such phrases and words as “lots of catching up to do,” “guys,” “you loser,” “hi, baby,” “jackass,” “hubby,” “back off,” “amah whoop your ass,” “hook up,” “touch base,” “she is hot,” “she is on fire,” “bitch,” “slut,” “I quit,” “you are fired,” “kidding,” and so forth, which viewers have picked up from the show. Some observers thought that there was too much sex and vulgarity on the show. Viewers believed that the youth and some adults imitated these vices, believing that everything they see on TV is authentic and real. Some viewers were put off by the way women were conveyed, especially the images of vulnerability and looseness projected by female characters such as Sally and Brooke. Some Kenyans were also put off by the artificiality of the characters, especially those shown as living in luxury and opulence. This was a major point of frustration to some, as it contrasted with the experience of many viewers who were living in constrained circumstances but were repeatedly exposed to unrealistic and inappropriate role models on the show. For many, this show is a representation of capitalism with its exploitative tendencies and pomposity, the scheming, the plotting, the conniving, the artificiality, the fakeness, and more, in a typical American world of cut-throat competition, in a dog-eat-dog society.

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 211 Notes 1. The first penetrating and significant impact of soap operas in Kenya came in the 1980s, when television became widespread. In the 1980s, television became available in many homes and its influence was felt when local television series such as Vioja Mahakamani and Vitimbi turned their actors, such as Peter Lukoye (Mzee Tamaa bin Tamaa) and Evans Wanjau (Mzee Ojwang Hatari), into household names or celebrities. In the 1990s, there was a proliferation of Western soap operas on local television stations. Western soap operas such as The Bold and the Beautiful, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, All My Children, As the World Turns, General Hospital, One Life to Live, and Passions have become increasingly popular in Kenya. 2. B. Stern, “Vulnerable Women on Screen and at Home: Soap Opera Consumption,” Journal of Macromarketing 25, no. 2 (2005): 222–25. 3. Literary theory grounds the framework of the soap opera attributes likely to facilitate para-social interaction between viewers and characters, the attributes they like and those they reject. Literary theory is reinforced by social psychological theories, which describe the path of influence whereby para-social relationships with soap characters affect the viewer’s own opinion and behaviors both directly and indirectly by means of effects on attitudes toward the characters’ style of dressing, makeup, body language, walking, and behavior. 4. Her studies propose and test a model of the influence of television soap opera characters on viewers’ consumption attitudes and behaviors. Literary theory grounds the framework of soap opera attributes likely to facilitate para-social interaction between viewers and characters who are modern exemplars of romance antecedents. The model, derived from social psychological theories, describes the path of influence whereby para-social relationships with soap characters affect consumers’ own consumption behaviors both directly and indirectly by means of effects on attitudes toward the characters’ consumption. A real-time survey of 251 soap opera viewers was used to test this model, and the data from the test support the proposed processes of influence via para-social interaction. 5. See Christine Geraghty, Women and Soap Opera: A Study of Prime-Time Soaps (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1991), 221. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid. 8. See G. A.Churchill and G. Moschis, “Television and Interpersonal Influences on Adolescent Consumer Learning,” Journal of Consumer Research 6 (June 1979): 23–35. 9. Ellen Seiter, Hans Borchers, Gabriela Kreutzner, and Eva-Maria Warth, eds., Remote Control: Television, Audiences, and Cultural Power (London: Routledge, 1989). 10. C. A. Russell, A. T. Norman, and S. E. Heckler, “The Consumption of Television Programming: Development and Validation of the Connectedness Scale,” Journal of Consumer Research 31 (June 2004): 150–61. 11. See, for example, Ien Ang, Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination (London: Methuen, 1985); N. Buerkel-Rothfuss and S. Meyes, “Soap Opera Viewing: The Cultivation Effect,” Journal of Communication 31 (September 1981): 108–15; C. Barker, “Television and the Reflexive Project of the Self: Soaps, Teenage Talk and Hybrid Identities,” British Journal of Sociology 48, no. 4 (1997): 611–27; B. J. Diener, “The Frequency and Context of Alcohol and Tobacco Cues in

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Daytime Soap Opera Programs: Fall 1993,” Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 12, no. 2 (1993): 252–58; J. Fiske, Television Culture (London: Methuen, 1987); Bodil Folke Frederiksen, “Popular Culture, Gender Relations and the Democratization of Everyday Life in Kenya,” Journal of Southern African Studies 26, no. 2 (June 1, 2000); Geraghty, Women and Soap Opera; B. S. Greenberg and M. G. Woods, “The Soaps: Their Sex, Gratifications, and Outcomes and Statistical Data Included,” Journal of Sex Research 36 (August, 1999): 1–4; E. C. Hirschman, “The Ideology of Consumption: A Structural-syntactical Analysis of “Dallas” and “Dynasty,” Journal of Consumer Research 15 (December 1988): 344–59; Dorothy Hobson, Crossroads—The Drama of Soap (London: Methuen, 1982); R. La Guardia, Soap World (New York: Arbor House, 1983); M. S. Larson, “Sex Roles and Soap Operas: What Adolescents Learn about Single Motherhood,” Sex Roles 35 (July, 1996): 97–109; M. J. Matelski, Soap Operas Worldwide: Cultural and Serial Realities (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1990); Tania Modleski, Loving with a Vengeance: Mass-produced Fantasies for Women (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1982); David Morley, Television Audiences and Cultural Studies (London: Routledge, 1992); A. M. Rubin and E. M. Perse, “Audience Activity and Soap Opera Involvement,” Human Communication Research 14 (1987): 246–68; N. Signorielli, “Television and Conceptions about Sex Roles: Maintaining Conventionality and the Status Quo,” Sex Roles 21 (September, 1989): 341–60; and B. Stern, C. A. Russell, and D. Russell, “Soap Opera Heroines and Women Consumers: Images of Vulnerability,” in Latin American Advances in Consumer Research, ed. S. Gonzalez and D. Luna, 1 (2006): 112–25. 12. Bodil Folke Frederiksen, “Popular Culture, Gender Relations and the Democratization of Everyday Life in Kenya,” Journal of Southern African Studies 26, no. 2 (June 1, 2000). 13. See, for example, Maurice Amutabi, The NGO Factor in Africa: The Case of Arrested Development in Kenya (New York: Routledge, 2006), 72–73; also Frederiksen, “Popular Culture, Gender Relations and the Democratization of Everyday Life in Kenya.” 14. Modleski, Loving with a Vengeance. 15. Daily Nation, Nairobi, May 15, 2006, http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgnews.asp?categoryid=1 (accessed February 21, 2007). 16. See Geraghty, Women and Soap Opera; and Modleski, Loving with a Vengeance. 17. Geraghty, Women and Soap Opera, 17. 18. Brooke is the daughter of Beth Logan, Eric’s former college girlfriend, with whom Eric later had an affair while married to Stephanie. 19. Dennis Mwamburi, interview, Nairobi, November 16, 2003. The tapes of the interview are with Maurice Amutabi, Central Washington University. 20. Clarke Garrison appears in the show as a fashion designer and is the one who fathered CJ, Sally’s son. 21. Japheth Ombeba, interview, Vihiga, December 22, 2005. 22. Seth Opisa, interview, Nairobi, December 17, 2005. 23. Rachael Andeyo, interview, December 19, 2005. 24. Julia Mandeko, interview, December 20, 2005. 25. Agnes Atieno, interview, December 21, 2005. 26. Nancy Mugesia, interview, Eldoret, December 14, 2005. 27. Janet Njeri, interview, Nairobi, December 18, 2005. 28. Caleb Omolo, interview, Nairobi, November 16, 2003.

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Neither Bold nor Beautiful 213 29. Masitsa Omolo, interview, Nairobi, November 16, 2003. 30. Alice Omambia, interview, Eldoret, December 14, 2005. 31. Jane Ongama, interview, Nairobi, January 24, 1998. 32. Job Ongaro, interview, Nairobi, December 14, 2005. 33. See, for example, Patrick Kweyu, “The Bold and the Beautiful Causing Controversy,” Daily Nation, May 15, 1997, 12. 34. Life magazine, September 23, 1997, 11. 35. Daily Nation, Nairobi, Kenya. May 15, 2006, 3. 36. Frank Ondimu, interview, Eldoret, October 20, 1999. 37. Zack Okang’a, interview, December 17, 2005. 38. Gilbert Kenga, interview, Eldoret, December 15, 2005. 39. Ibid. 40. Masitsa Omolo, interview, Nairobi, November 16, 2003. 41. Ien Ang, Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination, 47. 42. Ibid., 45. 43. Ibid. 44. Microcephaly is a neurological disorder in which the circumference of the head is significantly smaller than the average for the person’s age and sex. The disorder may stem from syndromes associated with chromosomal abnormalities. Infants with microcephaly are born with either a normal or reduced head size. Afterwards the head fails to grow, while the face continues to develop at a normal rate, producing a child with a small head and a receding forehead, and a loose, often wrinkled scalp. As the child grows older, the smallness of the skull becomes more apparent, although the entire body also is often underweight and dwarfed. 45. Modleski, Loving with a Vengeance, 99–100.

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9 The Lions in the Jungle: Representations of Africa and Africans in American Cinema Sarah Steinbock-Pratt During the twentieth century, more than two hundred films about, set in, or dealing with Africa were made in the United States. Yet most Americans have never experienced Africa firsthand, and it could be argued that America has had stronger financial and ideological ties to the Middle East or Latin America. Despite this, Africa exists as a fascinating and well-defined place in the American imagination. Even those without personal experience of Africa can describe what it ought to be like: dark, lush jungles, broad grasslands, sweltering deserts, and, in the distance, drums and animal noises; a place of breathtaking beauty with shades of adventure and danger. Americans can confidently describe an Imagined Africa because they are steeped in the American discourse about Africa. “Africa,” for Americans, is a construct, an idea that encompasses the British imperial experience, ideas of race, America’s position in the world, and concepts about the Other (conceived as the developing world in general, and also specifically Africa). American ideas about Africa, through the medium of film, have included racialized and gendered tropes that defined Africans as either faithful servants or dangerous savages, and presented Africa as a place of beauty and danger, and most importantly, as a place for white people to act in, fall in love in, change, and dominate. These notions, reflected and reinforced by popular culture, the media, the government, and, for a long time, experts on Africa, created a discourse, a pervasive language through which Africa was and is encountered. This led to the creation of a “master narrative,” the story that begets all other stories about Africa. The master narrative can be most clearly seen in adventure films (including jungle and safari films), which comprise the vast majority of American films about Africa, and within which the discourse on Africa continues in its least altered form. The narrative presented in adven-

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The Lions in the Jungle 215 ture movies is a story in which white characters travel into the heart of the “Dark Continent” in search of something (a relative, treasure, a lost civilization, knowledge), encounter savagery and face gruesome deaths, and finally emerge, having found their sought-after item. The creation of this master narrative about Africa was possible because of the perception of Africa as a continent without history or culture; Africa was viewed as a place empty of fixed reality, a place where anything was possible. At the same time, the legacy of imperial narratives about Africa described it as a place of danger and darkness in which white explorers could thrive. The Africa that was created through literature, cinema, and the media became more fixed in the minds of most Americans than any real Africa. It is necessary to study this master narrative and the ways in which Americans have understood (and misunderstood) Africa and Africans, moreover, as this Imagined Africa continues to impact the way that Americans think about and act toward Africa. An examination of the tropes surrounding the white explorers and Africans, as well as the themes of African nature, reveals how Africa has been interpreted by Hollywood, and the ways in which this discourse continues in contemporary films, surviving in coded images, in dialogue, and in the silences present in modern films about Africa. Examining American films about Africa is a particularly effective way to analyze the discourse about Africa because, as Ruth Mayer points out, literature has passed on to film its status as the medium for “the changing manifestations of a cultural imagery.”1 Films also provide a useful way to understand the American discourse on Africa, because even fictional films carry a certain authority about their subject matter. Peter Davis argues that Films gave the illusion of reality. Just like freebooting imperialists in their quest for plunder, motion picture photographers scurried all over the globe, frenetically gathering images—exotic, arcane, sensational, revelatory—which became “the reality” about the world for millions of people.2

The medium of photography belied the creative process. Photographs and film present themselves—rather than drawings or verbal descriptions—as objective truth. Furthermore, the images to which people were exposed tended to fit within the preexisting discourse. Davis points out that the image control “exercised by the cameraperson, usually unconsciously . . . was dictated by his or her culture.”3 The images being portrayed were subject to a subtle and often unconscious editing process during the shooting of the film itself. The roots of this discourse stretch back into the nineteenth century. America first encountered Africa through British imperialism and the stories that emerged from that experience.4 Some of the most famous examples of this literature are the writings of H. Rider Haggard, the creator of

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Allan Quatermain and Ayesha, or She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. In the early twentieth century, these novels were turned into silent films that were close reflections of Haggard’s creations. Haggard’s stories were made into films again and again throughout the twentieth century, almost always featuring exotic settings, erupting volcanoes, lost treasure and civilizations, warrior tribes, White Goddesses, and, the staple of African adventure films, the White Hunter (or explorer, scientist, or treasure hunter). Some American writers also picked up on these tropes. Edgar Rice Burroughs had no direct experience with Africa but was strongly influenced by the writings of British imperialists like Haggard and Rudyard Kipling. As a result, Burroughs’s Africa was a reflection more of fantasy than of any real Africa. While the American discourse on Africa originated in the discourse of the British imperial experience, there also arose uniquely American tropes in Hollywood films about Africa, particularly as the century progressed. The differences between the British and American representations of Africa were partly due to distinctions between the British and American contexts. Great Britain first had a colonial and then a strong economic interest in much of Africa. America, however, was never as involved in Africa as it was in other parts of the developing world. While the discourses about Africa in England and the United States were similar in many ways, the contextual differences led to differences of representation in film. American audiences could not relate to imperial nostalgia films (such as The Four Feathers) as well as Britons raised on the idea of empire. The genre of film and type of hero that Americans preferred reflected their unique experience and understanding of imperial expansion. An adventure film with a lone hero suited the American ethos better than a film about the struggles of a colonial army and its officers (this also explains Allan Quatermain’s transformation from an aging hunter to a robust adventurer in the American version of King Solomon’s Mines). This type of film fit into the story of the frontier that Americans had been telling themselves for decades. The myth of the frontier, in which a sole hero, alienated from society, acts as the vanguard of white civilization in exploring virgin territory and defeating savage tribes, translated easily to an African context. Other historical, political, social, and economic differences shaped the American discourse in distinctive ways. While the first American adaptation of Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes was made in 1918, Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) presented a thoroughly Americanized Tarzan. American audiences during the Depression were unlikely to feel much sympathy for the original Tarzan—the son of a British lord who maintained his natural aristocracy despite his experience in the wild. In contrast to the character of Lord Greystoke, this new American Tarzan was totally classless—the movie does not discuss Tarzan’s background at all. This Tarzan also represents domesticity in the home he creates with Jane in the subsequent Tarzan movies, a jungle version of the American Dream.5

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The Lions in the Jungle 217 Imagined Africas Within the discourse on Africa in American films there are multiple representations of Africa, some of which seem to be almost contradictory. These tropes all exist within the same master narrative, however, pointing to the idea of Africa as an empty space—lacking real culture, history, or even contemporary reality—onto which can be written multiple white stories. This sense of Africa as an empty space is also reflected in the similarities between representations of the developing world in general. She (1935) could be moved from Africa to Asia without any substantial change in the themes it utilized. In addition, King Kong could take place off the coast of Sumatra in 1933, be moved to the South Pacific in 1976, and then be moved again in 2005 to an island inhabited by African natives. Africa has been (and remains) such a good setting for adventure films because it is not considered to be bound by historic, contemporary, or geographic reality. Paul Bohannan argues that Some of the most pervasive myths are the simplest: the myth of the lions in the jungles. Lions do not live in jungles. In the first place, only about 5 percent of the African continent can be called jungle in any case. What few lions there are live in the grasslands. But darkness goes with jungles and wild beasts, and the lions in the jungles persist as a symbol for the unrecognized fear that Americans have for Africa.6

The Africa of the adventure films, then, is an Africa where anything is possible—lions can live in the jungle (and even have spots, as they did in early Tarzan cartoons), and the wildest fantasies of the discourse can be played out. Trader Horn himself says, “I’m not fool enough to believe that anything’s impossible in Africa.” Africa as a place of fantastic adventure was a constant theme throughout the twentieth century. The trailer for the 1950 version of King Solomon’s Mines (the first American version) describes the film as a tale of “love and intrigue in the perilous jungles of the dark continent,” as the explorers travel “into the strange and wild interior of darkest Africa” looking for excitement and a fabulous fortune. Fifty-five years later, the heroes of Sahara (2005) “tracked America’s greatest treasure to the world’s most dangerous place,” according to the film’s trailer. Hollywood’s Imagined Africa was essentially a blank page, onto which could be written multiple stories of white adventure. While Africa is a place where anything can happen, the discourse still includes fixed ideas about Africa. American films set up different characters and identities that can be found in Africa. The two main white character types are the White Hunter and the White Goddess. The White Hunter is the focus of attention of almost all the films, or, if not, at least directs much of

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the action. The original White Hunter in American films about Africa, who laid the ground for much of what followed, was Trader Horn. Horn brags to his sidekick Peru that “no white man knows more of Africa than I.” Horn knows enough to trade salt and copper wire for the much more valuable ivory and animal skins. He does not, however, know any African languages, relying on Rencharo to translate. Another important White Hunter is Allan Quatermain, whose character goes back to the late-nineteenth-century Haggard novels, and upon whom many subsequent White Hunters are also based. Unlike Horn, Quatermain speaks a Bantu African language (ostensibly Swahili). The character Quatermain is reincarnated several times throughout the twentieth century, changing with each new manifestation. Whereas the British Quatermain in the 1937 King Solomon’s Mines is an old man, the American version of Quatermain (although still a British character) is young and attractive. Quatermain is the robust adventurer, not the aging imperialist—a truly American version. The earlier White Hunters had guns and Western knowledge on their hands. Not only did they realize the value of African things better than the Africans themselves, but they could rule naturally over the Africans by virtue of their knowledge. In the 1937 King Solomon’s Mines, the whites save themselves by passing off a solar eclipse as white magic, “the subtext being,” Davis argues, “that scientific knowledge (a white monopoly) defeats superstition.”7 The 1950 Quatermain evinces white superiority by simply shooting one of the Africans as they close in on the white group. Later incarnations of the White Hunter increased in intelligence and expertise, being employed as scientists, journalists, archeologists, and historians. Jack in the 1976 King Kong is a good example of this new White Hunter. Not only is he a primate paleontologist, but he went to medical school, knows a lot of medieval history, and can understand the gist of what the African chief is saying, despite not speaking the language. This superior knowledge, coupled with superior technology, is used against Africans. In the 1976 King Kong, the white men use flare guns to scare the African tribe out of their way, and the tribe does not reappear until Kong has been caught. In Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987), Quatermain wears chain link armor under his shirt, which leads the African cannibals to believe that he has a strong magic that protects him from arrows. The cannibals then let Quatermain and his party pass unmolested. Western technology allows for mastery over Africa and Africans, but it is most effective in the hands of a White Hunter. In Sahara, the warlord Kazim rules Mali with state-of-theart weaponry. However, he is killed by Dirk using an old Civil War cannon, demonstrating that a white man, even with old technology, is superior to an African with the very best weapons. This expertise also helps the White Hunter gain access to Africa’s artifacts. In Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Nazis (along with a Frenchman) race to find the Ark of the Covenant in

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The Lions in the Jungle 219 Egypt. It is never suggested that the Egyptians could find this treasure themselves. Furthermore, even if they could, its full significance is understood only by the white experts. Ella Shohat argues that this relegates the “Egyptian people to the role of ignorant Arabs who happen to be sitting on a land full of historical treasures—much as they happen to ‘sit’ on oil.”8 In Sahara as well, it takes the white American historian to find the lost treasure that has been buried in the Sahara for over a hundred years. What is different in Sahara, however, is that the previous White Hunters never questioned the morality of taking riches from Africa to Britain or America. Indeed, Indiana Jones tells the men searching for the Ark that it should be in a museum— presumably the American museum for which he hunts treasure. In addition, the word “raiders” in the title of the movie refers exclusively to the Nazis, who want to use the Ark for evil purposes. Indiana Jones, who would take it, like so many of Egypt’s other treasures, out of Egypt to an American museum, is the good guy. No one would question the purity of his motives. In Sahara, however, Dirk leaves the Confederate gold with the Tuaregs, the main victims of the toxin poisoning. A slightly different incarnation of the White Hunter is the jungle White Hunter, embodied originally by Tarzan. In Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), Tarzan exists alongside the native population, though he does not have much contact with them, and what contact he does have is combative. He associates much more with the ape population than with his fellow human beings. Jane insists on Tarzan’s humanity, however, because he is white. Though he grew up away from white civilization, his blood will “out” when he comes into contact with other whites. In addition, meeting a white woman, Jane, awakes Tarzan’s latent sexuality and racial memory. There are white women in films about Africa as well, serving as love interests. The Western white woman tends to be either British and graceful or American and spunky. These are not characters that are exclusive to the African adventure movie genre, however, but characters that are also present in many Hollywood films. A more distinctive white female character type is the White Goddess. The White Goddess, like the White Hunter, is manifested in different ways over the twentieth century. The first White Goddess was Ayesha, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, from Haggard’s novel She. The character of the White Goddess can be either evil or good. Brunette White Goddesses tend to designate evil, while blond White Goddesses are always on the side of the White Hunter. The role of the White Goddess is to rule over the native population, until she falls in love with one of the White Hunters and promptly loses her power, thereby reinforcing “natural” hierarchies of gender and race (the original White Goddess, Ayesha, dies, but the good ones live, becoming simply white women). Another important White Goddess besides Ayesha set up a lasting trope— the Jungle Queen. The White Goddess in Trader Horn (1931) rules over her

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African tribe until Horn and his sidekick, Peru, arrive. As with Tarzan, contact with white men triggers her racial memory, and she promptly falls in love with Peru and becomes a normal white woman in need of white male protection, from both her own tribe and African wildlife. The White Goddess in Trader Horn rules over the African tribe, but it is clear that she should be brought back to her own people (whites). She has been brought up as a savage, but blood will tell. Sheena (1984) also revolves around a jungle White Goddess. Her coming to Africa fulfills a prophecy that a “golden god-child” will be the protector of the Zambuli tribe and all their creatures and “shall be called Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.” Sheena and Vic, the White Hunter, kill Prince Otwani, the Bad African despot, and his evil fiancée, thereby saving the Zambulis. However, Vic does not take Sheena back with him to America, saying that it would spoil her. Sheena would lose her power and purity if removed from the jungle. These different types of White Goddesses appear again and again in films about Africa, ruling over their native tribes but ultimately vulnerable to the power of the White Hunter.

Representations of Africans Unlike the white explorers in African adventure films, Africans in these films are essentialized, fixed in static two-dimensional tropes. The first is as a monolithic racial, linguistic, and ethnic group—the “yes, bwana” Africans. These Africans all speak the same language and share the same character traits. In the 1950 version of King Solomon’s Mines, the white explorers travel for weeks, only to find a tribe deep in the African interior that speaks the same language and dialect as the Africans on the coast. The other method of presentation is the National Geographic approach. In this style, the films display different ethnicities in the same way that they present different species. Trader Horn is the film that set up this style of exhibition. A fictional film with the pretense of educational value, Trader Horn has scenes that amount to a walking tour of Africa, with Horn as guide, explaining the different types of animals and their natures. During this, the camera often cuts back to the Africans walking behind the white men, as though the Africans, too, are something to be observed. The promotional material plugs the movie as an educational film, citing the endorsement of the Los Angeles District of the California Congress of Parents and Teachers that “the dialogue was cleverly used to reveal the names and habits of the animals and people. . . . Every shot gave us an insight into the lives of the native or introduced a different type.”9 Horn also explains to his young sidekick, Peru, the differences between the various African tribes, pointing out cannibals on the one hand, and the Masai, the “fiercest fighters in Africa,” who only eat milk and blood. This type of presentation is also utilized (though for comedic

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The Lions in the Jungle 221 rather than educational purposes) in the film Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. As Quatermain prepares to go in search of a rumored lost white civilization, his African sidekick and bodyguard, Umslopogaas, tells him he can choose bearers from three different tribes that will either try to rob him, desert him, or eat him. Africans within this presentation are exoticized, objects of spectacle for a Western gaze. The Trader Horn press release also played up the presence of “pygmy tribes,” saying, “one of the oldest races in the world, it is said that they represent a stage of evolution between modern man and his Darwinian ancestors.”10 The presence of these exotic people gave films a real drawing power. The New York Times review of Tarzan the Ape Man noted that “besides lions, leopards and what not, there are also dwarfed blacks and real savages, some of them with amazing decorations on their physiognomies.”11 These exotic, different Africans were presented as monsters, meant to be regarded as aberrations. Kong in King Kong was also such a monster. At the opening night of his show on Broadway, King Kong: Eighth Wonder of the World, Carl Denham—who has captured the beast—introduces Kong as a “king and a god in the world he knew, but now he comes to civilization, merely a captive, a show to gratify your curiosity.” One of the strongest features of the National Geographic approach is the presentation of black African women in these films. While African woman tend to be few in these films, those that are portrayed are almost invariably bare breasted, even in the early films. There are bare-breasted women in Trader Horn, the 1937 King Solomon’s Mines, the Tarzan films, Sheena (1984), and many of the other adventure films. This is especially striking in the earlier films, as the Production Code, which forced white women to cover up, did not affect African female nudity; the difference is that while white nudity is portrayed as both taboo and special, black female nudity is asexual, interesting only from an anthropological perspective (belying the interest that white men actually had in black women, both at home and abroad). In Sheena, this nudity might seem less indicative of a difference between white and black women— after all, Sheena herself is totally naked in one scene. However, for most of the film, Sheena is (if somewhat skimpily) dressed. Her body, when revealed, is something special. However, in general, the bare-breasted African women are presented as being that way naturally—there is nothing sexual or special in their nudity. Allen Woll and Randall Miller sum up this viewpoint well: The same attitudes that permitted documentaries or even feature films to show bare-breasted black African women, despite Production Code and societal strictures against nudity, survived in modern representations of the “dark continent.” The black Africans were objects of ethnographic or anthropological interest, much like (sometimes less so than) the great apes, and, so, seemed unlikely candidates for literary or screen character treatment.12

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Both these methods of presentation (the “yes, bwana” and the National Geographic approach) exist within the same discourse. Africans are exhibited as a spectacle, something to be observed and catalogued, while at the same time, they are easily subsumed into an undifferentiated mass, all seeming to speak Swahili or Kikuyu, and about whom gross generalizations can be made. Within the presentation of Africans, there are two main characterizations: good and bad. These classifications are defined by their relations with whites and have multiple incarnations. The main good character is the Good African, who is a loyal servant, one with whom the white master has a firm but warm relationship. This type is present in the earliest films, typified by the African servant in The Kaffir’s Gratitude (1916). The white master saves his servant from a lion, thereby earning the servant’s undying gratitude (which later helps the master save his land and his wife from theft). The loyalty of the Good African is absolute, extending even against his own tribe. In Mogambo (1953), a tribe turns against the local British colonial officers. Two Africans, however, stay loyal and remain to stand guard over a dying officer, thereby winning praise as “good boys.” The most exemplary Good African is Trader Horn’s manservant, Rencharo. Horn says that Rencharo “isn’t much to look at, but you’ll find him half bulldog, half watchful mother.” Later, Rencharo dies, taking in the stomach a spear that was meant for Horn. Horn grieves bitterly, and at the end of the film remembers Rencharo fondly, seeing his face in the sky. Allan Quatermain’s servant, Khiva, in the 1950 King Solomon’s Mines, is another example of this type. When Khiva is shot during a run-in with a cannibalistic tribe and a white man wanted for murder, Quatermain escapes carrying his servant over his shoulder, thus endangering his own life. When Khiva dies, Quatermain lays him down gently and hides his body from the cannibals. Despite this tenderness, however, there is no question that Horn and Quatermain are the masters and Rencharo and Khiva are their servants.13 Characters like Umbopa in King Solomon’s Mines and Umslopogaas in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold embody a slightly nobler version of the Good African. They have their own reasons for serving Quatermain and are a little more dangerous than the average Good African, but they still put themselves at the white hero’s disposal. They may be kings over their own people, but there is no question that they will serve the white hero, rather than the other way around. Their definition as good, moreover, is directly related to the fact that they serve the white hero. In this way, their characters are somewhat ambivalent—they are presented as noble and strong but undeniably under the authority of the white hero. The earliest example of this type of character is in The Zulu’s Heart, a film made in 1908 by D. W. Griffith. Kenneth Cameron argues that the Zulu chief is portrayed sympathetically in this film because he is motivated by noble emotions and depicted as a father who loved his child. Davis, however, sees the Zulu chief as the first embodiment of a “Janus-faced image” that would persist throughout the twentieth

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The Lions in the Jungle 223 century, arguing that the Zulu chief “is a Noble Savage—but his nobility lies in his good deed towards the white woman and child. After this, in film after film, Africans would be defined as either good or bad by their actions towards whites, which determined whether they were the Faithful Servant or the Savage Other.”14 The Bad Africans are presented as savages, usually in large groups—the savage horde—and are defined by the threat they present to the white characters. Even Good Africans have an element of savagery to them when they are in large numbers. The African Christians at the beginning of The African Queen (1951) create an eerie howling sound when they try to sing hymns. Savage Africans are often portrayed as cannibalistic and associated with drums and chanting in a way that creates an atmosphere of danger. Trader Horn tells Peru that drums turn the “black devil” into a homicidal maniac. The Trader Horn press release describes the “barbaric dance of the bloodthirsty tribesmen” as spelling the “doom of the white traders.”15 The sound of drumming also signals the approach of the savage horde in this film, heard before their appearance. Throughout the twentieth century, drums would be used in films about Africa to create an atmosphere of danger and savagery. Another aspect of the Bad African’s savagery is cannibalism. These films give the impression that all Africans, given half a chance, would eat the white heroes. When Peru makes the mistake of calling an African tribe “happy, ignorant children,” Horn points out a nearby skeleton and sarcastically calls it a “little, childish prank.” In the 1950 King Solomon’s Mines, while Quatermain is negotiating with an African chief for the use of boats, Elizabeth (the love interest) remarks, “I have the oddest feeling we’re going to get cooked in that pot.” The tribe’s members had not given any indication that they were cannibals, but Elizabeth’s comment underscores the idea that all Africans, especially in large groups, are potential cannibals because they are savages at heart. This idea of savagery and cannibalism is self-reinforcing. African hordes are potential cannibals because they are savages, and they are savages partially because they are suspected cannibals. This idea is supported when the safari reaches the Kuluana tribe. Quatermain tells Elizabeth and her brother that the Kuluanis are cannibals, and this becomes a believable assertion when they chase after the white heroes, presumably to kill and eat them. Cannibals are prominently portrayed also in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, and as undercurrents in other films, linked to ideas of African savagery and danger to whites. The individual Bad African is manifested in early films as the tribal chief of the savage horde. The best example of this is Twala, the usurper of Umbopa’s throne in King Solomon’s Mines. In the 1937 version, Twala tries to kill the white heroes but is himself killed by Commander Good (whose name clearly sets up Twala as evil). In the 1950 version, Twala tries to shut up the explorers in the diamond mines. When they escape, they find that Umbopa

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has provoked a rebellion, which was brewing anyway because Twala is a tyrant who treats his people badly (emphasizing the evil of those Africans not aligned with the white heroes). Umbopa and Twala fight to determine who will become chief and Umbopa, the Good African, kills Twala, the Bad African. The 1950 King Solomon’s Mines also becomes interesting in this context, as the only film in which the Bad African is killed by the Good African. Later incarnations of the individual Bad African tend to be Westernized despots. However, though they are modernized, they are not “civilized.” These despots are still evil and callous, and care little about the welfare of their own people or anything beyond monetary gain. The first example of this sort of Bad African is found in Sheena. Prince Otwani kills his brother, the king, because his brother protected the traditional Zambuli people, whom Otwani wants to slaughter in order to take control of their sacred mountain and its mysterious healing earth. Otwani is killed at the end of the film by Vic, the white reporter/hero/love interest. This type of evil, Westernized despot resurfaces in the film Sahara. Kazim, a warlord running wartorn Mali, is collaborating with a French businessman, Yves, to dispose of toxic waste in an underground cavern, indifferent to the harm it will cause to his people and the environment. Once Yves realizes that these toxins are seeping into an underground water supply and killing people and will soon spread to Nigeria, he tells Kazim, who does not care about the deaths so long as he continues to profit from Yves.

African Male Sexuality Perhaps the strongest stereotype of black African men is that they represent a sexual threat to white women.16 This trope is intimately connected to an American context, linked to the legacy of slavery and the traditional (and paranoid) belief that black men were sexual predators; that they desired white women and represented a threat to white “purity.” This belief about black American men was transferred to African men (who were already connected with violence and danger).17 In the African adventure films, the sexual threat is represented most often by black African servants leering suggestively at white women. This gives the impression that if the white men were not around to protect them, the white women would be in very real danger. Moreover, all African men are presented in this way. In Mogambo, an African servant grins lasciviously at Kelly, the white female lead. In Sheena, Prince Otwani says that Sheena sounds “interesting,” and the audience is made to understand that he is interested in her sexually. One of the reasons these sexual threats can be subtly portrayed is the successful rendering of black men as sexual predators, regardless of social background or degree of modernity.

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The Lions in the Jungle 225 An aspect of this sexual threat is the linking of black Africans to apes and chimpanzees.18 In the era of the Production Code and strict social codes about overt sexuality, the mere presence of an African man or even an African ape was enough to suggest rampant sexuality and endangered white womanhood. This link is most clearly present in King Kong. Kong’s threat to white women can be more overt than in previous films because Kong is not literally an African man. Still, Kong is an anthropomorphized ape—his portrayal is more that of a monstrous black man than a beast. Thomas Wartenberg goes so far as to suggest that Kong’s humanization is an implicit criticism of Hollywood’s “racist representation of Black males as sexual monsters who crave White women.”19 This interpretation is a little forced, however. While the 1933 Kong does elicit sympathy by the end of the film, there are multiple close-ups of Kong’s leering face, and Anne screaming and fainting. In addition, when Kong gets the unconscious Anne back to his cave, he slowly starts to undress her by touching her with his gigantic finger. The link between Africans and apes is further emphasized in the film during the preparation for Anne’s sacrifice, as natives dressed as monkeys dance around her dais. Finally, while Kong does seem to have a protective instinct toward Anne, he is ruthlessly inhuman in his wanton killing of other humans in his pursuit of her. Wartenberg’s interpretation of Kong as humanized through love fails to take into account Kong’s murderous rampage across two continents. Wartenberg did not extend his argument to the 1976 Kong. However, it is interesting to examine because the discourse of Kong as both a sexual threat and a sympathetic character is exaggerated in this version. During the first sacrificial ritual, a headdress that resembles a yellow wig is placed on the head of the African girl, masking her as white and therefore desirable to Kong. This headdress is not placed on Dwan’s head before she is given to Kong—it is not necessary, as she is a genuine white woman. Furthermore, the African that leads the ritual sacrifice dances in front of Dwan dressed like an ape. This dancing is explicitly sexual and lasts much longer than during the first ritual with the African girl. As Dwan swoons on her litter, the camera cuts to a close-up of a hairy, gyrating pelvis, clearly indicating the sexual nature of apes and black African men. Dwan herself seems aware of the sexual threat posed by Kong—while she is trying to escape from him, she covers her body with the African skirt she is wearing. Later, as Kong slowly starts to undress Dwan (in a way similar to that of the 1933 version, although this time with an unmistakably lustful expression on his face) and pulls down her top, she quickly pulls it back up again. Dwan even tells Kong, “Forget about me. This is just never gonna work.” The 1976 version also contains an unmistakably erotic scene in which Kong showers Dwan off after a foiled escape attempt. Still, while Kong is unmistakably a “gigantic turned-on ape,” his love for Dwan is also emphasized, and Dwan pities him. When she refers to him as

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a “someone” after he is captured by Fred, Fred declares that Kong is not a someone, “it’s an animal, a beast that tried to rape you.” Dwan retorts that Kong risked his life to save her. As Kong is being fired on in New York, he gently pushes Dwan away when she tries to protect him, and Dwan is visibly distraught at his death. While Kong is increasingly humanized in his relationship with Dwan throughout the film, Dwan is always aware of the threat Kong represents, backing away from him whenever he is near, except when he is about to die. In addition, Kong displays the same sort of unfeeling, inhuman attitude toward other humans, throwing a woman he mistook for Dwan to her death (a scene that censors cut from the 1933 version). Through the presentation of Kong in both films, the audience is certainly meant to feel sympathy for Kong, but he still represents a real threat that cannot continue to exist. He has to die at the end of the film. There is no doubt that Kong’s sexual love for Anne/Dwan is wrong, and that Kong cannot continue in a white world. He is not a tragic hero but a monster (if a humanized one) that presents a sexual threat to white women. The most consistent theme surrounding African characters is that they are fundamentally expendable, dying in all the horrific ways that the white heroes narrowly escape. Whether getting mauled by lions, falling off a towering cliff, being eaten by alligators, run over by elephants, stepped on by gigantic apes, or run through with a spear, Africans on safari with white explorers die in large numbers. In Trader Horn, the only survivors of the expedition into the interior are Horn, Peru, and the White Goddess. In the 1950 version of King Solomon’s Mines, Umbopa is the only African to make it to the end of their journey (because he still has a function to fulfill). With a few exceptions, these deaths are not unexpected or tragic to the white men (although the white women are always horrified). In Tarzan the Ape Man, when an African falls of a cliff, Harry’s first response is to ask what was in his pack. Only after that does he mutter, “poor devil.” This expendability is also quite clear in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. Quatermain’s African bearers die off throughout the film, while Quatermain, Jesse, and Umslopogaas (the nonwhite character closely connected to the white hero) narrowly avoid death. The film is meant to be partly comic rather than a straight adventure film; otherwise Umslopogaas might not have pulled through but gone the same way as Rencharo and Khiva. The death of a beloved African helper in these films is a good way to demonstrate the goodness of the hero without losing any characters that really matter (i.e., good white characters). Haile Gerima, an Ethiopian filmmaker, explains this expendability, arguing that Africans “are never human beings. We are undeveloped characters. Our sex life, our feelings of love or hatred are not explored because they don’t see us as part of a society.”20 African characters are expendable precisely because they do not matter, or at least do not matter much; they are not characters driving the plot. The audience focus is meant to be on the white

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The Lions in the Jungle 227 heroes and heroines, and how they manage to bravely pull through while so many other background figures are not clever, strong, or white enough to avoid death.21

Savage Nature Beyond the identities of the characters in Africa, the discourse encompasses themes about Africa itself. The most prominent of these themes is Africa as a place of beauty and danger. This danger comes not only from Africans themselves (as discussed above) but also from nature. Quatermain, in the 1937 King Solomon’s Mines, confesses to his diary that though “the land is paradise—I am uneasy!” Africa is a place of great beauty, but danger lies around every corner. The educational promotion for Trader Horn describes this dual nature of Africa: The quiet beauty of the opening river scene brings forth the thought, “This dark continent must be a fascinating place.” The next moment we were aware of a sinister influence everywhere. Then the thrills began. We were gripped by a story and lost in the heart of Africa.22

This threat from nature continues within the discourse in later films as well. In Outbreak (1995), the lush greenery of Africa gives rise to a deadly virus that spreads to the United States through a cute monkey. At one point, the virus is referred to ironically as “our African friend.” White men and women examining the disease have to wear suits in order to be protected from deadly exposure to Africa. Mayer notes that in Outbreak, “over and over the beautiful turns into the dangerous, the pretty into the horrible.”23 In Sahara as well, a mysterious illness mutates a land of beauty into a land of danger. The disease turns out to be from toxins in the water rather than a virus, but the danger is the same. In both films, as well, while Africans are killed by Africa’s dangerous nature, the real threat that the audience is meant to care about is the danger to whites, especially whites in the United States. Besides its beauty and danger, the land of Africa has a timeless quality to it, a “feeling of forever.” The idea of Africa as unchanging is shown in the use, over and over again, of exactly the same African footage in Hollywood films—shots of crocodiles sliding into the water, hippos opening their mouths, lions and zebras, and the usual parade of African animals. Not only does nothing change in Africa, but the past and the present exist side by side. In the 1950 King Solomon’s Mines, Elizabeth says that Umbopa looks like the “ghost of an ancient Egyptian king”; that he looks “like he belongs in a museum.” In The Mummy (1932), a white archeologist says that the gods of Egypt still live in the hills surrounding the pyramids. When the

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mummy Imhotep comes back to life, moreover, the “Nubians” are still subject to his power. Africa is also home to an even older past. The Trader Horn press release promised a “‘jungle drama’ of a primeval world,” a world lost in time.24 In the 1933 and 2005 versions of King Kong, there are even dinosaurs still roaming the island. This past, ancient Africa is also viewed as more authentic than modern Africa. In The Mummy, Helen asks as she gazes at the pyramids, “Are we really in this dreadful modern Cairo?” Another deadly aspect of African nature is the African fauna. Lions are the best representatives of this danger. In African adventure films, lions seem to be wandering about everywhere, looking for people to maul. Davis argues that “the lion is the perennial metaphor for the ‘savagery’ of Africa.”25 This is argued in connection with The Kaffir’s Gratitude (1916), in which the white master saves his black servant from a lion, thereby earning his servant’s gratitude and loyalty. White people are not immune to such dangers, either. In Mogambo, Mrs. Nordley (the classy love interest) goes wandering off into Africa, runs into a lion, and has to be saved by Vic (the white hero). Other big cats can represent the savagery of Africa as well. Kelly (the spunky love interest) goes up to a caged leopard because it is beautiful, only to have it growl and leap at her. In Trader Horn, Horn remarks on seeing a leopard, “Maybe we’ll see how Africa acts when she’s hungry.” Later Horn says, “Ay, that’s Africa for you. When you’re not eating somebody you’re trying to stop somebody from eating you.” Nonfeline animals also can represent Africa’s beauty and danger. In Sheena, flamingos on a lake are called beautiful during one scene but are later called upon by Sheena to cause the death of her captors and would-be killers. The scene of beauty turns into a scene of death. Mayer argues that Africa as paradise and Africa as corruption exist together in the Western imagination.26 Africa is beautiful and deadly at the same time, both Eden and Hell. In the 1950 King Solomon’s Mines, Elizabeth exclaims that the jungle has majesty and a “feeling of forever.” Right after that, Quatermain shows Elizabeth “Africa at war,” bugs, snakes, and safari ants all engaged in “eating and being eaten.” As much as it is a place of beauty, danger, and sexuality, Africa is a place of vast riches. Africa is presented as female in this context, fertile and obliging. Not only does the land provide nourishment in abundance, but it also holds infinite treasure, such as gold, diamonds, and uranium. This theme of wealth begins strongly in the 1930s and continues right up to the present. It is interesting that this trope begins during the Depression, that an obsession with the material goods of Africa arises during a time of want and fear in American life. The focus on riches also makes sense in the context of America’s postwar boom and the development of America’s consumer culture. This trope experienced another heyday in the 1980s (with the Indiana Jones and Allan Quatermain films), also a time of widespread materialism

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The Lions in the Jungle 229 in American life. In Sahara, it is true, the heroes leave in Africa the riches they find there, which is a shift from the idea of going to Africa to become wealthy. However, this continues another theme in the discourse, which is that the finding of treasure is more important than the having of treasure. The films are always focused on the hunt for, rather than the possession of, African treasure. The emphasis on love and lust between white men and women portrays Africa as a place of sensuality and sexuality. This is underscored by the virginal imagery of the interior of Africa (as a pristine place untouched by white men) and its penetration by white explorers. The White Queens and Tarzan are virginal as well, awaiting the awakening touch of a white man or woman. For those that are not virginal, Africa is a place where love can transgress social codes. In the 1950 King Solomon’s Mines, Mogambo, and Beat the Devil (1954), married women have affairs with the white hero. Also in Mogambo, Kelly and Vic have an affair that, while not adulterous, is certainly outside the moral code. That such affairs could be portrayed in films made in the pseudo-Victorian 1950s emphasizes the idea of Africa as a place of sexuality and a place where white people can violate the mores of civilized society.

Change and Continuity Africa, then, is a place in which white people can change, have adventures, encounter danger, and also fall in love, have affairs, and become rich. This continues to be a necessity in almost all American films about Africa. Jack Parson argues that the producers of commercial films select subjects and the way they portray people according to what they perceive to be the interests and tastes of the consuming public.27 Not without reason, the people who finance and create these films believe that people are more likely to see movies that reinforce their previously held beliefs than those that challenge their fundamental assumptions about the world and America’s place within it. In this way, the discourse on Africa is self-reinforcing. People believe these tropes about the constructed “Africa” because all the sources of information to which they are exposed are engaged with the discourse. Opinion shapers are also participating in this discourse and have little reason to try to challenge it. People receive information and use that information to interpret the world in a way that justifies and strengthens their original information.28 A discourse, however, is not solely a static and unchanging thing. It builds and grows, reflecting changes in the social context and in the film industry itself. A film based around the search for uranium, for example, would not have been possible before World War II and the advent of atomic power. This identification of uranium with wealth is also related to the context of the early Cold War. During the first decade of the Cold War, the administrations

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of both Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower worked hard to reconcile the American public to the idea of atomic energy, presenting it as having the potential to create a better world. The government during this period would also pay citizens that found uranium.29 This idea of uranium creating wealth is a uniquely postwar American trope, and is clearly presented in Beat the Devil. Such changes are also reflected in the differences between the 1933 and 1976 versions of King Kong. In the 1976 film, the initial reason for the trip is to find oil, rather than to shoot a film. This plot change reflects America’s increasing dependence on oil because of the unprecedented affluence of the postwar period as well as America’s increasing role in the world during the Cold War. The increasing value and scarcity of oil, especially during the 1970s and the critical oil shortage instigated by OPEC in 1973 because of the Yom Kippur War, gave oil a place of growing importance within American consciousness. Changes in the discourse also reflected changing social values, such as a stronger anti-imperialist sentiment after World War II and the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1950s. In this context, overt racism in the African adventure films during the second half of the twentieth century is muted. In the 1950 King Solomon’s Mines, Quatermain says of the Africans, “They’re not stupid, you know.” In the 1976 King Kong, Jack represents a new moral element, telling Fred that he cannot just walk in and take over the Africans’ island and calling him an “environmental rapist” for wanting to drill for oil (also sowing the seeds of a nascent environmental movement). Jack calls Fred’s idea for a “beauty and the beast” show a “grotesque farce” and later a “tragedy.” The use of comedy in these films was also a reflection of a new social conscience. Before they reach the island in the 1976 King Kong, multiple puns are made about Fred looking for “the big one” and Dwan meeting “the biggest person” in her life. The Indiana Jones and Allan Quatermain films also seem to be aiming at “send-up” versions of adventure films. In Sahara, when Yves gives Kazim an old American gun (which he obviously collects), Kazim asks him, “Beads for the native, Yves?” This presents a critique of the racist portrayal of the relationship between Africans and Westerners in American film. However, the use of the send-up and the excision of overt racism ironically functioned as a means for the continuation of the discourse in new, more subverted, ways. The 1950 Quatermain, despite his compassion for Africans, still expects them to know their proper place. He denounces Umbopa as “arrogant” because Umbopa does not want to reveal his motives in journeying with the white group. The 1976 King Kong is also less “politically correct” than it tries to appear. Africans in the film are still portrayed as savages, and Kong still represents a black sexual threat to a white woman. Even Sahara, which could be viewed at points as subtly undermining the discourse from within, presents an African despot firmly within the discourse of the Bad Africa that needs to be destroyed by the white hero.

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The Lions in the Jungle 231 This discourse about Africa has been preserved in recent American films, albeit on a more subliminal level. Four main approaches to Africa in American films reflect the way old tropes are present in new films. One approach is to use the themes of the discourse but also include Good African characters with more depth than Africans were previously given. In Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, the character Umslopogaas is meant to be such a character. Played by James Earl Jones, whose voice alone exudes dignity, Umslopogaas does not succeed in changing the highly derogatory portrayal of Africans. Umslopogaas himself is referred to as “bloodthirsty,” and while he does kill a lion that attacks them (rather than Quatermain, which gives the impression that an African can himself conquer the symbol of African savagery), he also asks Quatermain to let him kill Swarma. The rest of the film also comes across as firmly within the discourse about Africa, and as an attempt at a self-conscious and comedic satire of the African adventure genre, it failed miserably. Rather, this pretense allows the film to reach levels of racism unachieved since the 1930s. It is important to note as well that this film was made with the collaboration of the South African government, in which context, Cameron notes, the “film’s racism cannot be considered a benign oversight.”30 Sahara includes a Good African in the form of the Tuareg rebel leader from whom Dirk elicits support in taking on Kazim’s army. In an interesting twist, after Dirk and his sidekicks kill Kazim, the army puts down its weapons, and it appears that three white people have defeated an entire African army. Then, however, the heroes look around and see the entire Tuareg force behind them—it was the Tuareg force that really caused the army to surrender, not the three heroes. Still, the message is that the Tuaregs would not have dared so large a strike without the encouragement of the White Hunter. A second approach has been taken by Disney—the avoidance of racial issues through the total annihilation of black Africans. In The Lion King (1994), Disney told a story about anthropomorphized African animals, trying to avoid issues of race altogether. However, this method allows Disney to bring back notions of eugenics—Scar admits that in brute strength he is at “the shallow end of the gene pool,” and the hyenas are presented as lower down the evolutionary ladder than lions, and voiced by black and Latino Americans. It is also suspect that Africa is a place where lions with white voices fall in love. Disney’s next portrayal of Africa was Tarzan (1999). While there are white people in this film, there are no Africans at all, though there are anthropomorphized gorillas. However, with the presence of white people and no black people at all, Africa is again portrayed as a place for white people to act in, and the movie seems to implicitly accept the imperialist idea of Africa as a legitimate possession for white people to fight over. Africa cannot belong to the Africans—there do not appear to be any. Whether unwilling to devote time to a more nuanced portrayal, or unsure of how that might be done, Disney tried to sidestep

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the question altogether, by portraying an Africa inhabited by animals and white explorers. This approach merely underscores how Africans continue to be viewed as utterly expendable within a Hollywood story line. This is to some extent the approach attempted in the most recent King Kong. Peter Jackson tried to change the portrayal of the natives from being obviously savage Africans to being members of a more ambiguous (and monstrous) racial group. Jackson’s desire for his film to be a tribute to the 1933 version, however, undermines any genuine attempt reject the racist imagery of the earlier film. The Feral Child character, in an odd throwback to early film techniques, is actually in blackface. During Kong’s unveiling in New York City, the scene onstage referenced the sacrificial scene of the 1933 movie, complete with savage Africans in feathers and ape costumes. Moreover, Kong, despite being even more humanized, is still, in the words of the 1976 Kong, a “gigantic, turned-on ape.” A third approach in recent films is to apply the old discourse to a new context. One example of this is The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–3). All the inhabitants of Middle Earth are white, with two notable exceptions. The Haradrim—the Men from the East, as they are described—are unmistakably Middle Eastern looking. The only characters with black skins in these films are the orcs, especially the Uruk-hai. These orcs are tall, muscular, bloodthirsty man-eaters. In addition, in the scene in the first film in the mines of Moria, beating drums signal the approach of the orcs and danger to the white group, in much the same way that beating drums signaled the approach of Africans and danger in films like Trader Horn. This is not to allege that Peter Jackson purposefully included derogatory stereotypes of Africans in his films. Portrayals such as this, however, do demonstrate that the discourse continues in films such as these (even on a subconscious level), after overt signs of these stereotypes are no longer acceptable. It does not seem coincidental, moreover, that the director that created orcs in the (updated) image of the savage African horde is the same director that produced the cinematic tribute to the 1933 King Kong.

Conclusion Despite its pervasiveness, the cinematic discourse on Africa does not encompass all American understanding of Africa. There is much nuanced work on Africa being done by scholars of African culture and history that argues against an essentialized vision of Africa, though this work has not yet penetrated the popular discourse. Jack Parson acknowledges that even students in African history classes tend to filter the information they receive in class through what they already “know” about Africa.31 Furthermore, while the recent focus on Africa by the media can be considered a sign of progress,

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The Lions in the Jungle 233 Americans are still confronted by incredibly shallow portrayals of Africa and Africans. In 2003, the New York Times Magazine ran an article about cannibalism in the Congo. The author, Daniel Bergner, concluded his piece by describing Africa as “a continent suspended, trapped somewhere closer to the ancient than to the modern,” where many places feel “utterly lost” because of the “primitive understanding their people have of all that happens in their world, an understanding that may, along with the wretched and the cataclysmic and the devastating, allow for little in the way of modern development.” Finally, Bergner doubts whether “Africa’s desperate wish for progress” will ever see fruition.32 This article regurgitated all of the favorite tropes surrounding Africa: a continent that time forgot, mired in savagery, whose people cannot break the cycle of victimization that is their legacy. In a recent article in the New York Times, Manohla Dargis argued that despite the presence of black heroes in recent cinematic portrayals of Africa, a “sense of immutability, that the violence and the hunger are persistent, almost eternal and natural, infects too many films about Africa.”33 Even in films and articles purporting to give more nuanced portrayals of Africa and address the economic and political history of inequality, Africa still emerges as a “lost continent,” not in the sense of timelessness and unreality but as a place of immutable tragedy and violence.34 Within this type of representation, Africans have been transformed from savages into victims—victims of the legacy of colonialism, of capitalism, or of the barbarism and brutality that still infect Africa, essentially and eternally. This continuity of the discourse on Africa, and the failure of recent films to really challenge and dislodge this discourse, is a matter of real concern. No matter how ridiculous many of these films are, they are still the primary way in which the majority of Americans come to know Africa; and that simple truth has enormous repercussions. The question of how to more successfully deconstruct and displace this discourse, and to present a more nuanced vision of Africa and Africans, is a difficult one. Africa is too complex a continent ever to be adequately portrayed in a few films, especially by Americans, however path breaking. Perhaps hope lies, then, in combined efforts by American and African filmmakers to produce a plethora of stories about Africa that will both educate and entertain, containing a multitude of African voices that can speak for themselves. Notes 1. Ruth Mayer, Artificial Africas: Colonial Images in the Times of Globalization (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2002), 115. 2. Peter Davis, In Darkest Hollywood: Exploring the Jungles of Cinema’s South Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1996), 2. 3. Ibid.

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4. Kenneth M. Cameron, Africa on Film: Beyond Black and White (New York: Continuum, 1996), 12. 5. Ibid., 44. 6. Paul Bohannan, “The Myth and the Fact,” in Africa on Film: Myth and Reality, ed. Richard A. Maynard (Rochelle Park, NJ: Hayden Book Company, 1974), 3. 7. Davis, In Darkest Hollywood, 146. 8. Ella Shohat, “Gender and Culture of Empire: Toward a Feminist Ethnography of Cinema,” in White Screens/Black Images: Hollywood From the Dark Side, by James Snead, ed. Colin MacCabe and Cornel West (New York: Routledge, 1994), 35. 9. MGM, “Trader Horn, Educational Promotion,” in Maynard, Africa on Film, 52. 10. MGM, “Trader Horn, Press Release,” in Maynard, Africa on Film, 54. 11. Mordaunt Hall, “Tarzan, the Ape Man,” New York Times, March 28, 1932, in Maynard, Africa on Film, 38. 12. Allen L. Woll and Randall M. Miller, Ethnic and Racial Images in American Film and Television: Historical Essays and Bibliography (New York: Garland, 1987), 345. 13. This portrayal of master and servant is similar to the trope of the affectionate master and the faithful slave found in both British and American literature. 14. Davis, In Darkest Hollywood, 9. 15. MGM, “Trader Horn, Press Release,” in Maynard, Africa on Film, 53. 16. Black African women are also portrayed as sexual threats to white men in this discourse, in films such as White Cargo (1942). However, black African women are virtually absent from the African adventure film genre. The notable exception is the evil witch, Gagool, in the 1937 version of King Solomon’s Mines. For the most part, however, black women are either entirely absent or present only in short shots of villages in the National Geographic approach discussed above. 17. Indeed, the portrayal of African American men as sexual predators has its own history in American cinema. The film most often pointed to as the beginning of modern cinema, The Birth of a Nation (1915), was a retelling of Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman (1905), a racist novel that revisioned the period of Reconstruction and depicted African American men as savages lusting after white women. 18. Indeed, as early as the sixteenth and seventh centuries, Africans were being linked with apes and hypersexuality (Winthrop Jordan, “The Myth of the Savage,” in Maynard, Africa on Film, 16). 19. Thomas E. Wartenberg, “Humanizing the Beast: King Kong and the Representation of Black Male Sexuality,” in Classic Hollywood, Classic Whiteness, ed. Daniel Bernardi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 158. 20. Françoise Pfaff, “Hollywood’s Image of Africa,” Commonwealth 5 (1981–82): 116. 21. This is not to say that white characters do not die in these films, although they tend to die in order to free the white woman to stay with the white hero (as in Tarzan, the Ape Man or the 1950 King Solomon’s Mines). 22. MGM, “Trader Horn, Educational Promotion,” in Maynard, Africa on Film, 52. 23. Mayer, Artificial Africas, 262. 24. MGM, “Trader Horn, Press Release,” in Maynard, Africa on Film, 53. 25. Davis, In Darkest Hollywood, 19. 26. Mayer, Artificial Africas, 258.

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The Lions in the Jungle 235 27. Jack Parson, “Tarzan, Tim Russert and Me: Teaching about Africa in the United States,” Southeastern Regional Seminar in African Studies (SERSAS), March 26–27, 2004, http://www.ecu.edu/african/sersas/Papers/ParsonSpring2004.htm (accessed April 25, 2008). 28. Despite what might be expected, African American films about Africa also tend to reinforce the American film discourse on Africa. Son of Ingagi (1940) presents danger as coming from Africa, as well as the sexual threat of black men/apes, and the idea of Africa as a place to gain great wealth. Coming to America (1988) also fits within this discourse, portraying African women as sexual automatons and Africa as a place of fantasy (particularly sexual fantasy) and fabulous wealth. Coming to America is also more of a film about America and the American Dream (and the black attainment thereof) than it is a film about Africa. A deviation from the discourse does occur with Shaft in Africa (1975). In this film, the trope of signifying color is turned around so that blackness is equated with goodness and whiteness with badness. The head villains in this movie are all white, and the only black men Shaft beats up or kills are stooges of these white villains. However, Shaft in Africa still stands within the white American discourse on Africa. The “traditional” Africans portrayed in the movie conform to the stereotypes of the discourse, including the bare-breasted African women. Shaft is also an unequivocally American hero. When Aleme, the love interest, explains the tradition of clitoridectomy to Shaft, he replies, “No wonder the natives get restless,” and eventually gets Aleme to give up on the idea (by making love to her), thus pronouncing a simplistic and modernist judgment on a “backwards” African custom. Shaft is also better than Africans at anything he does (including stick fighting with a trained bodyguard). Shaft does not go to Africa to undermine the discourse on Africa; he goes to Africa because it is a convenient background for adventure, violence, and sex—a concept firmly within the prevalent discourse. This is not surprising, however, as the director of the film, John Guillermin, also directed the 1976 King Kong and Sheena. 29. Raye C. Ringholz, “Uranium Mining in Utah,” Utah History Encyclopedia, ed. Allan Kent Powell, http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/u/URANIUMMINING.html (accessed April 25, 2008). 30. Cameron, Africa on Film, 169. 31. Parson, “Tarzan, Tim Russert and Me.” 32. Daniel Bergner, “The Most Unconventional Weapon,” New York Times Magazine, October 26, 2003. 33. Manohla Dargis, “Africa, at the Cineplex,” New York Times, February 4, 2007. 34. Ibid.

Films (in chronological order) The Zulu’s Heart, dir. D. W. Griffith, American Motoscope & Biograph (1908) Rastas in Zululand, dir. Arthur Hotaling, Lubin Manufacturing Company (1910) The Kaffir’s Gratitude, Centaur Film (1916) Trader Horn, dir. W. S. van Dyke, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) (1931) The Mummy, dir. Karl Freund, Universal Pictures (1932)

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Tarzan the Ape Man, dir. W. S. van Dyke, MGM (1932) King Kong, dir. Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, RKO Radio Pictures 1933) She, dir. Lansing C. Holden and Irving Pichel, RKO Radio Pictures (1935) King Solomon’s Mines, dir. Robert Stevenson, Gaumont British Picture Corporation (1937) Son of Ingagi, dir. Richard C. Kahn, Hollywood Pictures Corporation (1940) White Cargo, dir. Richard Thorpe, Loews (1942) King Solomon’s Mines, dir. Compton Bennett and Andrew Morton, MGM (1950) The African Queen, dir. John Huston, Horizon Pictures (1951) The Snows of Kilimanjaro, dir. Henry King, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (1952) Mogambo, dir. John Ford, MGM (1953) Beat the Devil, dir. John Huston, Rizzoli-Haggiag (1954) Cleopatra, dir. Joseph C. Mankiewicz, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (1963) Shaft in Africa, dir. John Guillermin, MGM (1975) King Kong, dir. John Guillermin, Dino De Laurentiis Company (1976) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, dir. Steven Spielberg, Lucasfilm (1981) Sheena, dir. John Guillermin, Colgems Productions Ltd. (1984) Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, dir. Gary Nelson, Golan-Globus Productions (1987) Coming to America, dir. John Landis, Eddie Murphy Productions (1988) The Lion King, dir. Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, Walt Disney Feature Animation (1994) Outbreak, dir. Wolfgang Petersen, Punch Productions (1995) Tarzan, dir. Chris Buck and Kevin Lima, Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. (1999) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, dir. Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema (2001) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, dir. Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema (2002) Sahara, dir. Breck Eisner, Paramount Pictures (2005) King Kong, dir. Peter Jackson, Big Primate Pictures (2005) Hotel Rwanda, dir. Terry George, United Artists (2006)

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10 Sexuality in Caribbean Performance: Homoeroticism and the African Body in Trinidad Denise Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson Introduction I grew up in Jamaica, where there is pervasive homophobia in the popular expressive dancehall performance and society. I felt pressed to research sexuality in performance after the controversy over Buju Banton’s song “Boom Bye Bye” (1992), advocating violence against gays.1 Other DJs and entertainers produced gay-bashing songs as part of their repertoire against gays and lesbians to the dizzying frenzy of the audiences’ cheers.2 I was also struck by the tragic, untimely death in 2004 of Brian Williamson, a well-known gay rights activist and founder of J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays).3 The numerous unsolved stabbing murders of rumored or even perceived closeted or open gays and lesbians have left the most disturbing impressions on me over the years. Williamson’s murder in 2004 ignited debates about human rights violations in Jamaica by the British gay rights group OutRage, and by the U.S. gay rights groups GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation) and GMAD (Gay Men of African Descent).4 The issue has gained an unmistakable momentum in this decade, and is center stage in all facets of Caribbean life. Homophobia in Jamaican society is shrouded in religious fervor, shamefully supported by churches and religious organizations. People, including nonreligious people, claim that homosexuality is against their religion, thereby justifying collective homophobia and perpetuating emotional and physical violence against sexual minorities. Therefore, such biased discussions in the public sphere support homophobia in popular cultural expressions, by policing cultural mores and views about “nationalist” sexuality.

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Fears of attacks hinder any meaningful, progressive discussions by the intelligentsia on the issue. Inherited British colonial laws in the Offences against the Person Act in Jamaica prohibit “acts of gross indecency” between men in public and private spaces, and “buggery,” referring to anal sex; thus the laws are used to persecute gay men, sanctioned by the nation-state.5 The laws do not persecute lesbians, but they face just as much discrimination as gay men in the society. Numerous gays and lesbians have been granted asylum in Canada, the United States, and England because of the threat of physical and emotional violence against them, which makes it dangerous to live freely and “out” in Jamaica.6 Therefore, homophobia is cause for great concern in popular cultural expression, since its potency is the heartbeat of the society, influencing social consciousness. The controversial debates about homophobia, homosexuality, and sexual politics in Jamaica, particularly in relation to the U.S. and British gay rights movements, also led to several bans in England and the United States on some Jamaican performance artistes and their lyrics. These performance artistes include Beenie Man, T. O. K., and Vybz Kartel.7 The controversy raised much-needed awareness about human rights violations against sexual minorities in Jamaica and subsequently in other African diasporic societies across the Caribbean. The issue of homophobia in popular culture led to my search for answers in other performances across the Caribbean. Sexuality is rife, particularly in former British colonies where sexual illegality was imposed on subjected peoples through the institutions of slavery and colonialism, and is still enforced in several Caribbean countries that retain the legacy of colonial law. I became increasingly interested in studying the cultural attitudes toward sexuality expressed through performances in the Caribbean, in order to understand the historical perspectives and contemporary trends with regard to this issue. This led to research on the impact of the laws and controls that governed the body and sexuality during slavery, colonialism, and in the process of decolonization in African diasporic societies, as vehemently expressed in performance. What are the power dynamics in sexual politics, and how has sexual transgression been used to express them in performance? I discovered specific Caribbean performances that express the constraints of slave societies through heteroeroticism, homophobia, and homoeroticism, particularly in the British West Indies. In this chapter, I present a critical analysis of homoeroticism in Caribbean performance as a critique of homophobia and heteronormativity, in order to trouble the issues of the sexual illegality inherited from British colonialism in Caribbean states and in postcolonial nationalist agendas. The concept of homoeroticism as sexual transgression, demonstrated in performance, is generated from ideas of emancipation and nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago. Sexual transgression in performance was, and still is, a form of political and social resistance against the laws and controls of slavery

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and colonialism, and is reflected in nationalist sentiments against neocolonial imposition in Caribbean affairs. Sexuality in specific Caribbean performance indicates historical and political impacts on the African body under slave conditions, producing certain conflicts and contradictions in the social body and sexuality. In my research on homoeroticism in carnival performance, I suggest that one of the finest examples in Caribbean performance is the Blue Devils’ masquerade in Paramin, Trinidad. Martin Walsh describes the Blue Devils’ homoerotic performance as “elemental rage, insatiable hunger and bestial energy.”8 I argue that homoeroticism in the Blue Devils’ performance, grounded in slavery and emancipation, asserts sexual freedom and transgression against the symbolic emasculation and/or feminization resulting from slave experiences, simultaneously contesting historical and contemporary sexual politics over the body. The enslaved viewed their condition in sexual terms because sexual politics governed their bodies and interactions. Their existence was hypersexualized in colonial imaginations, creating a complex system of metaphors in performance as counter-discourse. Eroticized representations of the sex act in performance, heterosexual and homosexual, are metaphors against cultural domination in slavery, colonialism, and neocolonial imposition in the region. For example, in forced or coerced sex acts, the “aggressor” overpowers the “submissive” in a metaphorical “rape.” This translates to imperialism dominating the Caribbean. The region is therefore rendered “emasculated” and/or “feminized,” in the same way that the slave body was dominated. First, I will give a brief history of Trinidad and its carnival culture to demonstrate how its particular history of slavery is integral to the Blue Devils’ performance. I will focus on the emergence of the Blue Devils and their significance in homoeroticism as critique against homophobia in Caribbean performance. I will show that eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sexual politics in the British West Indian slave society is a lens through which to expound contemporary sexual politics, in order to explain the laws imposed on the slave body and sexuality during slavery, which is countered by homoerotic freedom in the Blue Devils’ performance. Then I will address the multiple layers in the representations of beatings, sexual violence, and homoerotic desires by the Blue Devils as polyvalently commenting on the bodily confinement imposed in the sexual politics of historical and contemporary society and on bodily freedom through homoeroticism. I will demonstrate how, in contemporary Trinidad, homoeroticism in performance critiques contemporary sexual politics against the heteronormative sexuality that is enforced outside of carnival season. I will examine the inherited class structures of Trinidad Carnival and the Blue Devils’ marginality, in the separation of two distinct carnival spaces, one for the upper and middle classes, and one for the outsider, “low” class. I will demonstrate how

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the Blue Devils’ performance troubles inherited colonial hierarchical structures based on race, color-casting, and class differentiations from slavery to the present, employing homoerotic desire in performance. Finally, I will discuss the design aesthetics in the costume for performance that is integral to ideas of marginality on the fringes of Trinidad Carnival and in the wider heterosexist Caribbean society.

Brief History of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Carnival Trinidad Carnival has many received cultural influences from the peoples who settled in Trinidad and Tobago and were forcibly brought there as slaves, indentured laborers, and free people, including Europeans, Africans, Amerindians, East Indians, Chinese, and Lebanese, creating a melting pot society. This hybridization created a new creolized culture, typical of other Caribbean nations as well as Trinidad and Tobago, with the tensions of race, class, gender, and color-casting hierarchies associated with colonized peoples. The traumatic history of conquest, slavery, emancipation, indentureship, and colonialism in Trinidad and Tobago is integral to African elements of the carnival and in the conflicts of slavery and emancipation. Carnival culture in Trinidad provides the space to unravel the effects of slavery, colonization, and national identities as expressed in performance, and to reinvent identities in contemporary society. Enslaved Africans were forcibly taken to Trinidad and Tobago from the mid-sixteenth century until full emancipation in 1838 in the legal and illegal slave trades.9 They brought African dance traditions including ancestral masking, which is still prevalent in Trinidad Carnival. Trinidad was colonized by the Spanish from 1530 and was captured by the British in 1797.10 French Roman Catholic planters also settled in Trinidad in 1783 and initiated the carnival tradition for the European plantocracy, excluding the enslaved Africans until emancipation in 1838, when freed Africans were allowed to masquerade.11 Trinidad and Tobago gained independence from Britain in 1962 and became a republic in 1976, continuing the carnival tradition.12 The annual carnival takes place in both Trinidad and Tobago, but the official name of the carnival is “Trinidad Carnival.” The carnival season lasts from Christmas to Ash Wednesday, coming from the pre-Lenten Catholic tradition. This tradition allows revelry before the forty days of Lent, a period of penance before Easter. Trinidad Carnival officially ends at midnight on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or Carnival Tuesday. Trinidad Carnival activities from Christmas to Mardi Gras include the musical forms of calypsos and socas being recorded and played on the radio, the selection of costume designs for masquerade groups, also known as mas’ bands, carnival fetes, steel pan preparations, and a series of

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competitions.13 The Sunday before Ash Wednesday is known as Dimanche Gras and involves a huge showcase called the Dimanche Gras Show, featuring carnival king and queen competitions and calypso competitions with the winner crowned the Calypso Monarch for the year.14 Trinidad Carnival culminates in big street parades on Carnival Monday and Carnival Tuesday. Groups of people, known as bands, wear similar costumes and dance with their bands to the latest soca music and parade through the streets. Individuals and communities don their own costumes and spontaneously join the carnival. There are numerous masquerades and carnival traditions including Pretty Mas’ or Fancy Mas,’ and Traditional Mas’ or Ole Mas.’15 Pretty Mas’ consists of large groups of people in similar costume types, usually skimpy and with overt sexual expression. It is associated with the upper and middle classes, inherited from the white elite plantocracy of nineteenth-century Trinidad.16 These groups perform the dance called winin,’ which involves the gyrating of the pelvis and hips with slightly bent knees. Winin’ becomes hypersexualized when it is performed in groups of men and women. Traditional Mas’ or Ole Mas’ usually has its roots in slavery and in contemporary politics. It involves small groups or bands, or solo individual performers, as opposed to the large groups in Pretty Mas.’ The Blue Devils of Paramin are one of the Traditional Mas’ groups emerging from the history of slavery and emancipation. Their performance is integral to sexuality and slavery, with its homoerotic antics described as “berserk, sexual, and ravenous.”17 The sexually transgressive performance of freed Africans in the Blue Devils’ performance is politically charged with the tensions of symbolic slave confinement and emancipation.

Emergence of the Blue Devils and Significance of Homoeroticism in Performance The Blue Devils’ performance is a traditional masquerade performed throughout Trinidad during the annual carnival in the towns of Arima and Point Fortin, and especially in the mountain district of Paramin. Paramin, a rural agrarian community, has a population of about four thousand people of Creole origin, with mixed African, European, and Indian ancestry.18 Traditionally, the troupe consists of men, but in recent years teenage girls have joined the group.19 The Blue Devils belong to the historical carnival character classification known as Jab Molassi or Molasses Devil. This is a traditional devil character that originally covered its body from head to toe with molasses, a remnant of slavery symbolizing the sugar plantation. In later periods, performers covered themselves with mud, tar, or grease using a range of colors including blue, red, and white.20 The Blue Devils performers, however, do not consider themselves as part of the Jab Molassi group. They consider

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themselves to be an entirely different group from the Jab Molassi, but they have called themselves Jab Jabs or Jabs for quick reference.21 Blue Devils performers smear themselves from head to toe with petroleum jelly and a bright blue mixture made from laundry blueing tablets ground up and mixed with water.22 Sometimes the ground tablets are mixed with mud, making a blue mud used to cover the body.23 The concoction of water and laundry blueing tablets is mixed by apprentice performers in the troupe. Performers first smear their bodies with petroleum jelly before applying the blue dye, in order to fix the color on the skin, which could be sweated off during the performance. As the performers dance, apprentice members carry buckets of the blueing mixture to retouch the performers’ bodies as required; they are part of the action in the performance. Performers wear briefs that are also blued with the mixture so as to appear naked; alternatively, T-shirts, shorts, and sneakers are worn, also soaked with blue dye.24 The dance is described as winin,’ that is the gyrating of the pelvis described by Martin Walsh as sexually explicit.25 Carol Martin states that winin’ is a dance with “fluid pelvis rotations” performed with pelvic contact in the front or back with another person or persons.26 It is essentially the rubbing of genitals with pelvic contact when performed with another person, and it is homoerotic when performed by men with other men in the Blue Devils’ group. The knees are slightly bent with legs apart, walking to the rhythm in a strut, while the pelvis, and even the upper body, moves in sexually charged contortions. Other actions include high jumps in the air, rolling on the ground, and, as described by a performer, “rollin’ on de groun’ an winin’ wit ya partner,”27 suggesting the homoerotic desire of “winin’ men” in a sexually explicit performance. Walsh describes the performance as “insatiable sexual mania—humping anything at any time,”28 expressed in the bodily contortions of winin’. The principal dancer is called the “King Devil,” “Abyssinian Jab,” or dragon. He is usually restrained with a long rope or chain by other performers known as imps. The restrained devil or dragon pushes and pulls, falling and winin’ on the ground while being taunted by the imps tugging at the ropes or chains.29 According to Walsh, the most disturbing antic was observed in 1997 when a Blue Devil performer bit off the head of a live chicken in performance and played with the blood and body parts.30 “Blood” is typically created by the performers by chewing a red fruit, with ample saliva drooling a red substance over their chins.31 Chewing the inner pulp of aloes with red food coloring produces a thick, slimy drool resembling the “blood” of victims.32 The ravenous performance of sex, death, gross indecency, and perversity reflects multi-layers of metaphors that comment on the complex historical and contemporary Caribbean society. Typically, performers blow whistles and scream with high-pitched and rhythmic sounds as they prance around in sexual excitement. Percussionists accompanying the dancers do not wear the blue dye on their bodies,

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and are referred to as the “engine room,” perhaps because they generate rhythms for the Blue Devils to perform. The percussionists beat biscuit tins with sticks, and the tins are hung from their necks while they follow the Blue Devils through the streets of Paramin. The audience consists of the community and visitors, including all ages, from children to adults. The audience stands away, watching the performance with fascination at the antics. The performers inspire fear in children. The Blue Devils never touch or interact with the audience, so there is a clear code of conduct and a distinct line between audience and performer. However, if an individual spectator initiates a contact, the Blue Devil will perform with the spectator who is willing to be soiled with the blue dye.33 The Blue Devils performers reenact the European mimicry of enslaved Africans in pre-emancipation carnivals before 1834. Europeans participating in pre-emancipation carnivals would blacken their skins to mimic the dark complexions of the enslaved Africans, who were forbidden to participate in the carnival. At full emancipation in 1838,34 freed Africans were first allowed to join the carnival festivities celebrating Cannes Brûlées or Canboulay (burnt cane), a performance reenacting enslaved Africans being driven by European overseers with whips to put out fires set by vandals on sugar plantations.35 J. D. Elder describes Canboulay as a New World African system of symbols “in satire, burlesque, in pornographic expletives and double entendre” that perplexed Europeans.36 In complex parodies, freed Africans would mock the plantocracy by wearing white masks during the carnival at full emancipation. Others also blackened their dark skins with black varnish to make their skins “blacker,” much to the dismay of white elites. Freed Africans contemptuously parodied Europeans who blackened their skins to mock enslaved Africans. Errol Hill states that enslaved Africans blackening their skins with varnish played on European fears and stereotypes of the African as fearful, “pagan,” and devilish.37 Freed Africans embodied and exaggerated these stereotypes in performance to commemorate their freedom and to re-appropriate these images against the plantocracy, but also as a counter-discourse against stereotypical constructions of “blackness.” They created multiple layers of metaphorical representations against the slave system and its sexual control over the body, indicating the tension between sexual violence, pornographic imagery, and homoerotic desire. Freedom of the body is positioned against bodily control and restraint. Therefore, freedom in the performance is expressed in the body with homoeroticism, breaking away from the bodily restrictions imposed by slavery, punishment, and colonial law. The Blue Devils’ performance emerged from Canboulay, initiated at full emancipation in 1838. It was originally performed on Emancipation Day on August 1 but was later moved to Carnival Monday before Ash Wednesday.38 According to Walsh, the Blue Devils’ performance history is passed

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on through oral transmission by generations of performers in families, with particular mention of the Joseph family in Paramin.39 Walsh notes that current and retired performers are aware that the performance “has something to do with the end of ‘slavery days’” but cannot give specific accounts of “slavery days.” The Blue Devils still talk about “the end of slavery days” in contemporary Trinidad, reflecting their consciousness and embodied orality in performance relating slavery and emancipation. Therefore their performance reflects the collective memory and subconscious knowledge of events or political systems echoed in the bones of performers. The first written mention of a masquerade band reenacting scenes from slavery was observed by a visitor to Trinidad, Charles Day, in 1848, though it is fair to assume that slavery reenactments occurred earlier, after full emancipation in 1838. Day described a gang of almost naked freed Africans daubed with black varnish or soot and molasses, pulling at chains attached by a padlock to one of the members of the group.40 The others treated the restrained performer to mock bastinadoing, a slave punishment involving beating the buttocks or the soles of the feet with a baton.41 The Blue Devils perform mock bastinadoing with only male performers,42 even though women are now joining the performance group.43 Max Harris observes that the Blue Devils’ performance consists “of various acts of transgression, ranging from the comparatively innocent, such as climbing telephone poles and trying unsuccessfully to enter the school against the objection of the principal, to the scatological and obscene.”44 He states that scatological mimesis includes the grotesque performances of pretending to wipe the buttocks with leaves.45 The Blue Devils violently remove each other’s pants and roll around on the ground. Harris also observes “pretended acts of homoeroticism and homosexual rape [including] fellatio, anal intercourse, and anal penetration with a baseball bat.”46 Harris further states that the supposed “aggressors” in the performance wear white faces, usually powdered or painted, suggesting a comment on European domination in mock assaults.47 This imagery of the white face dominating the restrained body of the Blue Devil is reminiscent of the sexual politics governing slave bodies in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British West Indies slave systems. The term homosexual rape as used in Harris’s observation of the Blue Devils is troubling, especially given the threats to gays and lesbians and the growing homophobic trends in several Caribbean societies. The term has the potential to support anger and physical and emotional violence against sexual minorities. One can argue that the terms rape and homosexual rape mean the same thing. Unfortunately, they do not in the Caribbean context, and they cannot be equated. The term homosexual rape used to describe aspects of the performance is even more disturbing because homosexuality is perceived as a criminal act being “forced” on heterosexual men by homosexual men. The use of the term does not address the

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underlying heterosexist biases hindering progressive discussions of sexuality in the performance and in the wider society, particularly in relation to slavery and emancipation. The term homosexual rape also carries far-reaching implications, even in the performance, where pretended acts of anal penetration may also be read as homoerotic. To ensure sensitivity to the marginality of sexual minorities in Caribbean society, homosexual rape will here be referred to simply as rape, or sexual violence, since rape is defined as forced or coerced sex carried out on either a man or a woman. It is necessary, therefore, to define rape as about power and control over another, rather than using problematic sexual labels like “heterosexual” or “homosexual,” and definitely not to define rape as about sexual desire. Joseph Dorsey explains that rape was a form of culture in slave societies because these societies’ “legal practices suggest that sexual violence was a normal activity . . . and differentiates the Subject and Object of sexual violence according to race, class, and gender.”48 This is well documented in Caribbean slave societies, where rape was not considered an offense.49 Representations of punishment and sexual violence in the Blue Devils’ performance are comments on domination in the sex act and the effects of sexual politics on slave bodies. Homoeroticism in performance symbolically liberates the slave body from sexual politics and its legal controls. It simultaneously critiques the sexual politics under slavery and that of contemporary Trinidad and Tobago and the region. The etymology of the sexual violence of the word bastinadoing and its association with the buttocks in the Blue Devils’ performance indicates a connection with homophobia and its association with cultural attitudes toward homosexuality. The word batty is used colloquially in the British West Indies for buttocks, as in being hit with a stick on the batty. Batty man is a derogatory term for a gay man. The mock bastinadoing with the baseball bat in the Blue Devils’ performance also extends to pretended anal penetration, and would be associated with the term Batty man. In Trinidad, the derogatory term for gays is bullers, probably from the French word, boules, for balls or testicles, which was then used colloquially in the Trinidadian context. The etymology of the derogatory terms is of interest because it may reveal some possible associations with slave punishments and cultural attitudes toward slavery and sexuality across the Caribbean. Could the Blue Devils be telling us about specific sexual abuses of slaves? Could they be telling us about the cultural attitude toward the batty and sexual abuse during slavery? I suggest that, in the same way that the Blue Devils parody the European mimicry of slaves in the pre-emancipation carnival, the pretended rape in performance could represent specific sexual abuses. It also simultaneously protests the sexual politics of violence and asserts bodily freedom through transgressive homoerotic desires. For example, bastinadoing, the beating of slaves’ buttocks with a stick, is exaggerated and sexualized in pretended anal penetration with

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the stick, and can also be read as homoerotic as well as a sexual assault. References to beatings, sexual violence, and homoerotic desires simultaneously contest the historical and contemporary sexual politics to celebrate emancipation and bodily freedom with homoeroticism.

Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Sexual Politics under Slavery Erotic and grotesque representations of sexual politics in the eighteenth and nineteenth century are also found in popular songs and performances by enslaved or freed Africans across the Caribbean, particularly by the homoeroticized, transgressive Blue Devils. Expressive culture often reflected the sexual abuse, carried out by slave masters on plantations, that was the norm in slave society. William Green argues that the sexual license of plantation owners was the most distinctive feature in slave societies.50 Hilary McD. Beckles notes that the enslaved had no rights to their bodies or sexuality.51 Bodily rights were given solely to the legal owners of slaves. In performance, the slave body rebelled against bodily and sexual controls. The Blue Devils’ performance indicates the control of the slave body, with some performers being restrained with chains or ropes. They perform mock bastinadoing and homoerotic performance to liberate the slave body from confinement. Homoerotic imagery represents emancipation from slavery, including sexual enslavement. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the laws did not allow enslaved Africans to refuse sexual advances by slave owners; if Africans did refuse, they were severely punished.52 Rapes of enslaved women were not offenses. All this was part of a culture of sexual violence. All males, including black, white, free, or enslaved, could rape slave women with no consequences. Negotiations in the sexual politics of domination and submission were observed in the way enslaved African women endured encroachments using coercive mechanisms and sexual manipulation.53 Essentially they became sex slaves, concubines, and prostitutes in order to survive. Caribbean popular culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries contested sexual abuses with erotic, transgressive songs and masquerades, for example, in the sexual lyrics of late-eighteenth-century Jamaican popular songs54 and the lewd songs and dances of the Jammettes masquerade in late-nineteenthcentury Trinidad.55 The Blue Devils’ performance, which emerged from Canboulay from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, also carries the tropes of the sexual politics imprinted on the restrained body of the Blue Devil performer breaking free with homoerotic expressions. Homoerotic desire is the distinctive feature in the Blue Devils’ performance and must be considered in the sexual politics of pre-emancipation. Sexual interactions between slave owners and slave men were less frequently

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reported than heterosexual interactions. This does not dismiss the idea of homoerotic desire existing along with slave women’s concubinage and prostitution in the British West Indies. The same “unrestricted sexual access to slaves”56 was in effect for male slaves, typically valued as laborers whose bodies were hypersexualized in the European imagination. According to Robert Aldrich, with a bias toward homosexuality as outside and deviant from heterosexist society, By the late nineteenth century, a widespread belief circulated in Europe that homosexuality (and other sexual deviance) was endemic in the non-European world. The perception, and (to a limited extent) the reality, of the empire as a homosexual playground must not be underestimated. Homosexual men fleeing legal persecution in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands (and cultural disapprobation, if not criminal prosecution, in France) often found a warm welcome in the colonies.57

The collective memory of slave punishments and sexual domination as juxtaposed with the homoerotic desire of masters and slave men should be considered in the representations of same-sex interplay in the Blue Devils’ performance. Homoeroticism in performance actually functions metaphorically to liberate the slave body from the confinement of colonial domination in the body. Whether the sex act between master and slave in performance is represented as violent or coerced, domination and control in the sex act are associated with the effects of slavery and colonialism. Cultural attitudes about sexuality rooted in bodily and sexual restrictions probably arise as a result of the sexual politics of domination and submission. Beckles states that “the black male and his offspring were fed, clothed and sheltered by white men whose hegemonic ideology determined that being ‘kept’ and kept down were symbolic of submissive inferiority, and gendered as feminization.”58 Beckles argues that black masculinity was constructed as feminization (or emasculation), imposed by white patriarchal ideology.59 Consequently, slave punishments and abuses were linked to the emasculation and/or feminization of the enslaved. Sexual politics in slavery is therefore associated with a loss of manhood, or “emasculation,” especially in the unequal sexual relations of the dominant master with the submissive slave. Homoeroticism in performance is the liberating force that critiques the symbol of emasculation and/or feminization in sexual politics. It functions as an expression of sexual freedom against the enforced heterosexuality of the former British colony and of the contemporary nationalist ideals of heteronormative sexuality. Therefore, the Blue Devils’ performance provides a possibility of redefined sexual identities against colonial legacies in the process of decolonization.

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Sexual Politics in Contemporary Trinidad Homoeroticism in performance critiques contemporary sexual politics against enforced heteronormativity outside of carnival season. It is necessary to unravel the layers of representation including bodily restraint and sexual liberation in homoerotic desires. In contemporary Trinidad, sexual politics is negotiated during carnival season, where sexuality is expressed more freely than in regular society. Consensual sex between adults of the same sex is illegal across the British West Indies as a result of the legacy of British colonial law. In Trinidad and Tobago, all forms of same-sex intimacies are illegal.60 The law is not necessarily enforced, especially given Trinidad’s gay and lesbian tourism during the annual carnival.61 However, there are high incidences of homophobia and homophobic violence across the Caribbean, particularly in Trinidad and Tobago, that further repress and stigmatize sexual autonomy. According to Angela Lee Loy, chairperson of Trinidad and Tobago’s National AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACC), homophobia and the accompanying stigma hinder HIV education.62 The cultural fear of the “other” sexuality, meaning homosexuality, is typically associated with HIV/AIDS, despite public education. Loy states that gays, lesbians, transgenders, and people with HIV/AIDS are still being victimized with violence.63 This is the nature of the contemporary sexual politics of bodily laws and restrictions that stigmatize “other” sexualities of gay, lesbian, and transgender people. Carnival culture, however, provides the space to express sexual freedom. Jasbir Puar notes that “carnival the world over [is] becoming increasingly coded and identified as a gay and lesbian affair, especially by the gay and lesbian tourist industry, and the case [is] no different in Trinidad.”64 She states that the popular showcase “Diva,” an annual drag competition performed since 1992, is a recognized space for gays and lesbians.65 Puar shows how globalization and its networks have impacted gay and lesbian activism in Trinidad, with an increase in activist organizations such as Trinidad’s Caribbean Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (C-FLAG).66 Despite these developments, the sexual freedom of homoeroticism in carnival performance is not allowed outside of carnival season because of its illegality. Mikhail Bakhtin’s carnival theory confirms the “inside out,” grotesque, and “topsy-turvy” sexual expressions allowed within the carnival space, expressions that are inhibited in regular life. Bakhtin states that during the carnival, “life is subject to its laws, that is, the laws of its own freedom,” and that “exaggeration, hyperbolism, excessiveness are generally considered fundamental attributes of the grotesque style.”67 Perhaps sexual repression in bodily laws and controls fuels the sexually ravenous performances of the Blue Devils. In carnival life, the law is free, and controlled sexual inhibitions are released. Sexuality, then, is a site of negotiations of sexual power in the

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Blue Devils’ performance in Trinidad Carnival. Sexual freedom represents the bodily freedom that was restrained by the slave system and is currently restrained by sexual illegality in the contemporary nation-state. The carnival, then, offers an opportunity for homoeroticism that is denied outside of carnival season. Carnival culture in Trinidad and Tobago blurs the boundaries of sexuality, race, and gender, in, for example, cross-dressing or transvestism between men and women, or the performance of other sexual expressions of homoeroticism and heteroeroticism. Masqueraders simply assume a character, preferably one that is not theirs in “normal” life. Anything goes during the carnival; everyone understands its boundlessness. After the carnival, society reverts to “regular” life. This notion of blurred boundaries can be used to discuss issues of historical and contemporary sexual illegality, homophobia, and the threat of violence against gays and lesbians, who are increasingly visible across the Caribbean. I believe that the culture of masquerading, like the Blue Devils’ performance, provides an outlet for personal and collective expressions not allowed outside of carnival season. Absent this outlet, cultural tensions and conflicts reveal undercurrent volatility. Historical tensions of hierarchies including race, color-casting, gender, and sexuality, typical of African diasporic societies in the Caribbean, find their therapeutic space in Trinidad Carnival. Collective tensions can be explosive, however, in Caribbean nations without masquerade outlets. In contemporary Jamaica, for example, even the performance of cross-dressing in a showcase is intolerable, leading to violent consequences. In April 2007, men who cross-dressed for a carnival event in Montego Bay, Jamaica, were physically attacked by an audience assuming the men were gay.68 Jamaica does not have a long carnival tradition like Trinidad. A Trinidad-style carnival was introduced on a national commercial scale only in 1990,69 primarily to boost tourism. Church leaders opposed the carnival in Jamaica as appealing “to the carnal-minded, and the lusts of a depraved people,”70 echoing the sexual illegality even in carnival performance. According to Sandra Richards, Jamaica’s early masquerade traditions, particularly Jonkunno in the nineteenth century, were heavily suppressed, criticized, and eventually restricted by British colonials who feared riots and anarchy.71 Carolyn Cooper states that British authorities were disgusted and offended by Jonkunno’s sexually transgressive performance in the nineteenth century.72 Perhaps the historical suppression of Jamaica’s masquerade traditions, and the policing of sexuality in performance, led to current tensions in body politics that hinder certain sexual expressions. Trinidad and Tobago, under British colonization, endured masquerade censorship just as in nineteenthcentury Jamaica. However, the African presence in the postemancipation Trinidad Carnival fought for its freedom to masquerade, often expressing

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sexual transgression. Contemporary Blue Devils’ masqueraders are examples of such hard-earned freedoms of expression that challenge notions of sexuality and the current nation-state. Therefore Trinidad Carnival, particularly the Blue Devils’ masquerade, offers a lens with which to consider both homoeroticism in performance as critique of contemporary sexual politics, including homophobia, and sexual illegality and censorship in performance.

Pretty Mas,’ Traditional Mas,’ Class, and Homoeroticism The Blue Devils also continue to persist because of the inherited hierarchical structures of racialized class inherited from the white elite of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These structures further marginalized the African body as identity-less through emasculation and/or feminization. Homoerotic expressions reveal the tension between sexual imprisonment during slavery at the hands of slave owners and its subsequent release in sexual expressions as emancipation in performance for a renewed identity through the body and sexuality. Therefore, sexuality intersects with race and class in Trinidad Carnival and in the wider contemporary Caribbean society, indicative of the history and divisions of two types of masquerades or mas’ based on the racialized class system during slavery and the postemancipation period in Trinidad Carnival, as performed island-wide. The two masquerades based on the historical, racial, and class distinctions are Pretty Mas’ or Fancy Mas,’ and Traditional Mas’ or Ole Mas.’ Pretty Mas’ resembles the masquerades that were involved in the carnivals held by the plantocracy or European planters during slavery. The performance consists of large groups of people or bands in matching costumes, usually skimpy and with overt sexual expression. The costumes are highly decorated with glitter, sequins, and ostrich feathers, usually imported for the carnival season and reflecting the finest costumes of people of means. Traditional Mas’ or Ole Mas’ represents memories of slavery and contemporary politics. It consists of small groups or bands or solo individual performers as opposed to the large groups in Pretty Mas.’ The Ole Mas’ costumes are individually generated from the surroundings and the environment; for example, scraps are reused, reflecting the notion of a personal and collective identity formation while excluded from Pretty Mas.’ The racialized class divide exists in Trinidad Carnival with the Pretty Mas’ that is descended from the white elite and the Traditional Mas’ that has emerged from the underclasses of slaves. The inherited class structures in contemporary Trinidadconstitute a reminder of the simultaneous enforced sexual politics and control over the slave body in historical and contemporary Trinidad, which is still laboring under the legacy of colonial laws. Therefore, homoeroticism in the Blue Devils is as relevant today as it was at emancipation. It continues to trouble contemporary

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society in the throes of decolonization with the inherited legacies of slavery and colonialism. Homoeroticism in the body of the Blue Devil performer expresses the release of legal and societal confinement expressed within the carnival space. Sexuality was also performed by the white elite in the carnival, embodying the sexual politics of the period. Pretty Mas’ emerged from the colonial carnivals of the pre-emancipation and especially the postemancipation periods. In pre-emancipation carnivals, the plantocracy held elaborate masked balls and carriage processions for the upper classes.73 According to Bridget Brereton, these constituted “an elegant social affair” for the white Creole upper class, and the masquerades were mainly European.74 However, slave costumes and references were also incorporated and performed by the white elite. Europeans also negotiated their sexual desires for the enslaved in the carnival space in pre-emancipation carnivals. In addition to mocking enslaved Africans by blackening their skins, Europeans in the carnival would “dress up” in decorated and fancy costumes, or “dress down” in skimpy costumes reminiscent of sexual fantasies75 among themselves, but also of their sexual fantasies about the enslaved. The European sexual representations of the enslaved deprived the African of identity by eroticization. The slave body was dominated through emasculation and/or feminization. The Blue Devils’ performance restores identity through re-representation of the tension of sexual confinement juxtaposed with the release of homoerotic desire as bodily emancipation. The enslaved were sexualized in the European masquerades with the negue jardin (garden negro) and the mulatress (a biracial woman of African and European ancestry). Europeans would dress up as garden negroes, eroticizing the male slave working outside in the field or garden. The European women dressed in the mulatress costumes. The mulatress was an object of sexual desire for European men in the colonies.76 Mulatresses were often kept as concubines or domestic slaves working indoors. Green states that the mulatress was most desired openly; however, black-skinned women would be secretly desired. The sexual politics and practices were acceptable among the plantocracy. European women masking as mulatresses fulfilled the myths and sexual fantasies by objectifying the enslaved. Harris notes that it was the European women’s dream to be desired by their husbands like the mulatress.77 The sexual politics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was imposed on the enslaved through popular imagination in European carnival performance in Trinidad, and in the everyday existence of the enslaved. The Blue Devils’ performance counters the effects of sexual subjectivity by reenacting sexual politics in same-sex interplay, and re-tells the other story, to restore identity and bodily freedom through homoerotic desire. When the freed Africans joined the carnival festivities in 1838, the Europeans separated themselves from the freed Africans and created the Pretty

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Mas’ or Fancy Mas.’ Europeans thought that Africans in the carnival ruined the elegance of the carnival as they knew it. They waged hostile campaigns in the press against the African presence in the carnival that found its place as sexually transgressive and of the lowest classes. Brereton notes that by the 1850s, the carnival was considered as immoral and disreputable with the African presence.78 After the confinement of the body in slavery, the slave body would rebel with obscene lyrics and sexually explicit performances during and after slavery, notably against the plantocracy. When freed Africans joined the carnival festivities, the masquerades were made even more obscene by European standards of the day. For example, the Blue Devils perform with sexually explicit same-sex interplay in performance indicating a release from the bodily confinement enforced during slavery. This also documents sexual violence and encroachment as part of everyday life during slavery. The postemancipation Trinidad carnival was sharply divided by class and race, with the freed Africans in the lowest class and the plantocracy in the highest class, as the product of a racialized slave society. This is contrary to Bakhtin’s carnival theory of equality and the blurring of class divisions in the medieval European carnival space. Bakhtin notes: Carnival celebrated temporary liberation from prevailing truth and from the established order; it marked the suspension of all hierarchical rank, privileges, norms, and prohibitions. . . . Rank was especially evident during official feasts; everyone was expected to appear in full regalia of his calling, rank, and merits and to take the place corresponding to his position. It was a consecration of inequality. On the contrary, all were considered equal during carnival. Here, in the town square, a special form of free and familiar contact reigned among the people who were usually divided by the barriers of caste, property, profession, and age.79

Bakhtin argues that all are equal during the carnival, but this is true only in the European context. In contrast, in pre- and postemancipation Trinidad, the carnival space was deeply divided and unequal. Enslaved Africans were forbidden to participate in pre-emancipation carnivals. The postemancipation carnivals of the colonialists were reserved for the privileged upper-class European planters. Europeans could not bear to have enslaved Africans included in the carnival, because this would signal African equality with Europeans in society and in the carnival. Divisions had to be maintained to preserve whiteness at all costs. The ruling white elite held power even during the carnival. Emancipation from slavery signified freed Africans being supposedly “allowed” to participate in the carnival as “equals.” Freedom signified equality. But even though enslaved Africans were freed, European colonials still maintained

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confinement and control of the body in the free society. The Blue Devils persisted in performance against the upper-class white elite, the former slave owners. Homoeroticism in the Blue Devils’ performance functioned as a release from the hierarchical control of the white elite over the physical body. The white-faced Blue Devils dominating the other Blue Devils in the sex act or rape commented on the cultural oppression by the white elite, and reclaimed the body and identity against symbolic emasculation and/or feminization as an identity-less body. Pretty Mas’ then became a symbol of the upper class, and of mobility for the emerging middle class later, toward the pre- and postindependence periods. Today Pretty Mas’ depicts exotic or historical themes rather than memories of slavery.80 It is performed on Carnival Tuesday, the last day before Ash Wednesday, and is performed with large groups of people, known as mas’ bands, sponsored by big businesses and corporations. Pretty Mas’ has moved from being an event for the plantocracy to being an event for the emerging middle and upper classes in Trinidad. The Blue Devils in Paramin continue their performance tradition in contemporary society, interrogating the past and present with sexual politics but also with the emergence of class divisions as a legacy of the former plantocracy. The big business sponsorship and state support for Pretty Mas’ reflects control by the independent nationstate and the suppression of slavery depictions, perhaps the final chapter in the process of emancipation and independence from colonial control.81 Traditional Mas’ or Ole Mas’ tends to preserve memories of slavery. It is local, with small groups or bands or solo individual performers as opposed to the large groups in Pretty Mas.’82 It was increasingly marginalized because of the lack of state support and the power of the upper and middle classes now in big businesses and corporations that seemingly would suppress or even try to erase masquerades83 grounded in slave society and the eroticism of sexual politics on the slave body. However in the past twenty years, Traditional Mas’ has been revived for the preservation of national culture.84 Traditional Mas’ is performed on Carnival Monday before Ash Wednesday and is composed of set characters played usually with historic or political significance. It is satirical, involving skits, wordplay, and puns against the ruling class of the day.85 Examples of the traditional characters include Dame Lorraine, sailors, black Indians, or Amerindian maskers, burokits (donkey characters), dragons, and devils, including Blue Devils with homoeroticism in their performance. Pretty Mas,’ emerging from the plantocracy, and Traditional Mas,’ developing from the underclass of slaves, recreate the tension of the hierarchical, racialized class structure of pre-emancipation carnival society; and the tension of the confinement and release of the slave body in homoerotic desire is recreated in the Blue Devils’ performance. The sexual politics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and contemporary Trinidad intersects with class in

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the Blue Devils’ performance. The upper classes consisted of the white elite, and former planters and slave owners; the lower classes consisted of the freed Africans and “coloreds.” The white elite or Europeans governed the sexual politics both during and after slavery, so class issues must be considered in tandem with sexuality and transgressive performance documenting and commenting on the plantocracy. The Blue Devils, with their depictions of the white-faced performer sexually dominating the others in the masquerade, clearly indicate the forces of sexual politics in performance. Homoeroticism functions as a critique of the hierarchical structures still in force in contemporary society in the process of decolonization. Even though the twin republic, Trinidad and Tobago, gained independence from British rule in 1962 and has moved beyond slavery and colonialism, the effects of the colonial hierarchy persist in class struggles today. The class struggles between the upper, middle, and lower classes are structures inherited from slavery and colonialism and are implied by and implicated in Pretty Mas’ and Traditional Mas’ in Trinidad Carnival. The Blue Devils’ performance is a process of gaining temporary agency in performance that may be missing in real life outside of carnival season. It is a historical “text” that tells the unspoken story of the sexual exploitation of enslaved men during slavery but also reveals homoerotic desire as a break from bodily confinement, a metaphorical emancipation of the body. The Blue Devils stand as a critique of the sexual politics of the past and present, intersecting with the contemporary middle and upper classes that emerged from the ruling plantocracy of pre-emancipation Trinidad. In contemporary Trinidad, the Blue Devils exist in the “hell” on the fringes of an affluent society. In this way, the memory of slavery becomes a sexualized, bodily performance in protest against the persistence of class hierarchies since emancipation. Perhaps it is a reminder that emancipation is still incomplete.

Design Aesthetics and Marked Marginality The marginality of the Blue Devils, outside of the Pretty Mas’ carnival paradigm, is reflected in the Blue Devils’ design choices in costumes and space, pushed to the edge of the society, and expressing sexual transgression through homoeroticism against symbolic emasculation and/or feminization. The fabulous costumes and spectacle of Pretty Mas’ is state sponsored on a large scale and supported by the upper and middle classes. The Pretty Mas’ costumes are ornately decorated with sequins, glitter, shiny surfaces; the color-coordinated costumes with elaborate headdresses reflect class and even inherited color-casting distinctions and status in Trinidad Carnival. The Blue Devils’ costumes are generated from the waste or refuse of the society. The use of materials refashioned for performance speaks to

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the regenerating, reinvigorating force of creativity in identity formation. The smearing of mud or petroleum jelly mixed with laundry blueing on the body, and the “blood” drooling from mouths, reeks of disgust to polite society. The bodily contortions and the winin’ on others with homoerotic desire are also in sexual contempt of the bourgeois society that represents the old plantocracy. The distinctions in the costumes between Pretty Mas’ and the Blue Devils represent wide differences in class. The glitter and glamour of Pretty Mas’ are differentiated from the filthy and earthy Blue Devils with their bodily excretions, their disgusting spitting and grunting, and their wildly homoerotic winin.’ Peter Stallybrass and Allon White explain the binary social order reflected in the costumes of Pretty Mas’ and the Blue Devils: Differentiation . . . is dependent upon disgust. The division of the social into high and low, the polite and the vulgar, simultaneously maps out divisions between the civilized and the grotesque body, between author and hack, between social purity and social hybridization. . . . The bourgeois subject continuously defined and re-defined itself through the exclusion of what it marked as “low”—as dirty, repulsive, noisy, contaminating. The low was internalized under the sign of negation and disgust.86

The Blue Devils performers, in relation to the glitzy Pretty Mas,’ are those who are excluded from polite society. Their noisy yelps and screams, their winin’ on each other and rolling around on the ground, and the messiness of the concoctions smeared on their bodies reflect their marked marginality in Trinidad Carnival culture. Their homoerotic desire is also marked as outside of heterosexist society. It counters the inherited enforced colonial heteronormativity in contemporary Caribbean society by breaking bodily confinement with homoerotic desire imprinted in the wild, sexually liberated slave body.

Conclusion Homoeroticism counters homophobia in Caribbean performance, as can be seen in the potential of the Blue Devils of Paramin, Trinidad. Their performance holds the possibility for progressive discussions on sexuality and cultural attitudes to homosexuality in particular. The performance intersects with the issues of the body and sexual politics in British West Indian slave society during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The slave society is a lens through which to view contemporary issues of sexual politics in Caribbean countries still in the decolonization process, where issues of the past impact contemporary society that is currently unraveling the long-lasting

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effects of slavery and its power over the slave body and sexuality. Homoeroticism critiques misconceptions of African diasporic societies in the Caribbean as inherently heterosexual. It symbolizes bodily freedom by breaking away from bodily confinement with homoeroticism performed through sexually charged men winin’ on each other. Homoeroticism in the Blue Devils emerged from Canboulay in 1838 and continues today, still carrying the tropes of sexual politics imprinted on the restrained bodies of the Blue Devils. Freedom is positioned against legal bodily restraint. Therefore freedom is expressed in the body, with homoeroticism symbolically breaking away from imposed bodily restrictions and punishment. The multiple registers of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sexual politics in the British West Indies, and in contemporary society, implicated in the legacy of racial class divisions, are simultaneously contested in the Blue Devils’ performance. Sexual violence and homoerotic desires in the performance are interchangeably commenting on the past and on contemporary society while celebrating bodily freedom with homoerotic performances. The Blue Devils’ performance continues in the contemporary Trinidad Carnival because of the hierarchical structures of racialized class inherited from the white elite of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The tension in the slave body between sexual imprisonment during slavery at the hands of slave owners and its subsequent release in sexual expressions at emancipation is embodied in the Blue Devils’ performance. Sexuality, therefore, intersects with race and class in Pretty Mas’ and Traditional Mas’ in Trinidad Carnival and in the wider contemporary Caribbean society. The class structures inherited from slavery and colonialism and still existing in contemporary society are reflected in the collective memory in the Blue Devils’ performance of the sexual politics of the past but also of the contemporary society that is still laboring under the legacy of colonial laws. This is particularly noted in the costumes, in the distinction between the sequined Pretty Mas’ of the middle- and upper-class society, inherited by the white elite from the nineteenth-century plantocracy, and the marginality of the Blue Devils with the messiness of mud, saliva, and sweat and the insatiable bestial sexuality, which are disgusting to polite society. Homoeroticism in the Blue Devils remains as relevant today as it was at emancipation. It disrupts contemporary society with homoerotic desires in performance, and expresses the release from legal and societal confinement expressed in the body within the carnival space. Homoeroticism in performance, therefore, breaks the confinement of the body to redefine sexual identities in the process of decolonization. It continues in the contemporary carnival to critique the sexual politics of enforced heteronormative sexuality outside of carnival season, and challenges ideas of emancipation and freedom through the vulgar, grotesque bodies and

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sexual expressions in the Blue Devils’ performance. Perhaps homoeroticism in Caribbean performance holds the potential for progressive discussions on sexuality in Caribbean society, actively challenging homophobic nationalist debates in Caribbean popular culture.

Notes 1. Timothy S. Chin, “‘Bullers’ and ‘Battymen’: Contesting Homophobia in Black Popular Culture and Contemporary Literature,” Callaloo 20, no. 1 (1997): 127–41. 2. Kavelle Anglin-Christie, “Buju—’Too Bad’ to Contain,” Sunday Gleaner, September 3, 2006, http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com (accessed April 18, 2007). 3. Claude Mills, “Gay Rights Activist Killed,” Daily Gleaner, June 10, 2004, http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com (accessed April 18, 2007). 4. Andrew Clunis, “Outraged! British Gays Use Brian Williamson’s Death to Push Agenda,” Sunday Gleaner, June 13, 2004, http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com (accessed April 25, 2007). 5. Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), http://www. jflag.org/ (accessed April 25, 2007). 6. J-FLAG, http://www.jflag.org/ (accessed April 25, 2007). 7. Alicia Roache, “Black Music Council Defends DJs,” Daily Gleaner, December 12, 2004, http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com (accessed April 18, 2007). 8. Martin W. Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin: Tradition and Improvisation in a Village Carnival Band,” in Carnival: Culture in Action—The Trinidad Experience, ed. Milla Cozart Riggio (New York: Routledge, 2004), 150. 9. Dawn Baston and Milla Cozart Riggio, “Trinidad Timeline,” in Riggio, Carnival: Culture in Action, 31. 10. Ibid., 31. 11. Ibid. 12. Sarah Cameron and Ben Box, Caribbean Island Handbook: With Bahamas (Bath, UK: Footprints Handbooks, 1998), 873. 13. Milla Riggio, “‘Play Mas’—Play Me, Play We: Introduction to Part II,” in Riggio, Carnival: Culture in Action, 46. 14. Carol Martin, “Trinidad Carnival Glossary,” in Riggio, Carnival: Culture in Actione, 286. 15. In Trinidad, mas’ or mas is short for masquerade. Playing mas’ also refers to masquerading. See Martin, “Trinidad Carnival Glossary,” 289. 16. Max Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons: Playing Devil in the Trinidad Carnival,” Drama Review 42, no. 3 (1998): 108–23. 17. Martin, “Trinidad Carnival Glossary,” 284. 18. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 108. 19. Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin,” 152. 20. Martin, “Trinidad Carnival Glossary,” 288. 21. Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin,” 146. 22. Ibid., 149.

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23. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 108. 24. The significance of the blue color is not documented. However, tar, black varnish, or molasses were originally smeared on the body to represent the makeup used by Europeans in the preemancipation carnival to mimic the dark complexions of enslaved Africans, for example, in the character of the negue jardin (garden negro). Freed Africans parodied Europeans by exaggerating African “blackness” and daubed themselves with black varnish, tar, and molasses, contemptuously creating for themselves the “blackness” despised by the plantocracy. I suggest that the blueing of the body is a variant of the exaggerated blackening of the body. See Errol Hill, The Trinidad Carnival: Mandate for a National Theatre (London: New Beacon Books, 1997), 24, and Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin,” 149. 25. Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin,” 149. 26. Martin, “Trinidad Carnival Glossary,” 294. 27. Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin,” 149. 28. Ibid. 29. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 108. 30. Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin,” 153. 31. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 108. 32. Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin,” 153. 33. Ibid., 149. 34. The Emancipation Act was passed in Britain in 1834, with a five-year period of apprenticeship until 1840, when full emancipation was expected. Due to unrest in the British colonies, the apprenticeship period was cut to four years, with full emancipation granted on August 1, 1838. See Baston and Riggio, “Trinidad Carnival Timeline,” 31. 35. Martin, “Trinidad Carnival Glossary,” 285. 36. J. D. Elder, “Cannes Brûlées,” in Riggio, Carnival: Culture in Action, 48. 37. Hill, The Trinidad Carnival: Mandate for a National Theatre, 24. 38. Baston and Riggio, “Trinidad Carnival Timeline,” 31. 39. Walsh, “The Blue Devils of Paramin,” 146. 40. Hill, The Trinidad Carnival: Mandate for a National Theatre, 24. 41. Ibid. 42. Ibid. 43. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 108. 44. Ibid., 109. 45. Ibid. 46. Ibid 47. Ibid. 48. Joseph C. Dorsey, “‘It Hurt Very Much at the Time’: Patriarchy, Rape, Culture, and the Slave Body-Semiotic,” in The Culture of Gender and Sexuality in the Caribbean, ed. Linden Lewis (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003), 296. 49. Hilary McD. Beckles, “Property Rights in Pleasure: The Marketing of Slave Women’s Sexuality in the West Indies,” in West Indian Accounts: Essays on the History of the British Caribbean and the Atlantic Economy. ed. Roderick A. McDonald (Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 1996), 170. 50. William A. Green, British Slave Emancipation: The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment 1830–1865 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 21.

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51. Beckles, “Property Rights in Pleasure,” 170. 52. Ibid., 174. 53. Ibid., 171. 54. Carolyn Cooper, Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender, and the “Vulgar” Body of Jamaican Popular Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995), 24. 55. Bridget Brereton, “The Trinidad Carnival in The Late Nineteenth-Century,” in Riggio Carnival: Culture in Action, 55. 56. Beckles, “Property Rights in Pleasure,” 170. 57. Robert Aldrich, Colonialism and Homosexuality (London: Routledge, 2003), 5. 58. Hilary McD. Beckles, “Freeing Slavery: Gender Paradigms in the Social History of Caribbean Slavery,” in Slavery, Freedom and Gender—The Dynamics of Caribbean Society, ed. Brian L. Moore et. al. (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2003), 206. 59. Beckles, “Freeing Slavery: Gender Paradigms,” 207. 60. The Sexual Offenses (Amendment) Act, 2000, http://www.ttparliament. org/bills/acts/2000/a2000–31.pdf (accessed April 25, 2007). 61. Jasbir Kaur Puar, “Global Circuits: Transnational Sexualities and Trinidad,” Signs 26, no. 4 (2001): 1039–65. 62. Angela Lee Loy, “Remarks by Angela Lee Loy at the Closing Reception of ‘Caribbean Radio Programming Workshop on HIV/AIDS,’” January 24, 2007, http://www.cbmphiv.org/pdfs/Angela%20CBMP.pdf (accessed April 25, 2007). 63. Ibid. 64. Puar, “Global Circuits: Transnational Sexualities and Trinidad,” 3. 65. Ibid., 9. 66. Ibid., 6–7. 67. Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 7–8 and 303–4. 68. Angelo Laurence and Edmond Campbell, “Witter Warns Gays—Flaunting Sexual Preference May Incite Violence,” Daily Gleaner, April 25, 2007, http://www. jamaica-gleaner (accessed April 25, 2007). 69. “Adventist Leader Lashes Carnival,” Daily Gleaner, April 23, 1990, http:// www.jamaica-gleaner (accessed April 18, 2007). 70. Ibid. 71. Sandra L. Richards, “Horned Ancestral Masks, Shakespearean Actor Boys, and Scotch-Inspired Set Girls: Social Relations in Nineteenth-Century Jamaican Jonkunno,” in The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities, ed. Isidore Okpewho, Carole Boyce Davies, and Ali A. Mazrui (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), 266. 72. Cooper, Noises in the Blood, 25. 73. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 109. 74. Brereton, “The Trinidad Carnival in the Late Nineteenth-Century,” 53. 75. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 109. 76. Mulatto is derived from the Spanish word mulato, referring to the offspring of a horse and donkey, called a mule. See T. F. Earle and K. J. P. Lowe, ed., Black Africans in Renaissance Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), xv. The term mulato was applied to a male, free or enslaved, who was of mixed African and

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European ancestry. Mulatress was the term applied to women. These terms are pejorative in contemporary usage. 77. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 110. 78. Brereton, “The Trinidad Carnival in the Late Nineteenth-Century,” 54. 79. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, 10. 80. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 114. 81. Ibid. 82. Riggio, “‘Play Mas’—Play Me, Play We: Introduction to Part II,” 101. 83. Harris, “The Impotence of Dragons,” 114. 84. Ibid. 85. Riggio, “‘Play Mas’—Play Me, Play We: Introduction to Part II,” 101. 86. Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (New York: Cornell University Press, 1986), 191.

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11 Family Health Awareness in Popular Yorùbá Arts Arinpe Adejumo Introduction Popular culture finds its expression in the mass circulation of items from seemingly diverse fields such as drama, poetry, music, and fashion. Drama and poetry have played significant roles in the presentation and representation of human experiences among the Yorùbá of southwestern Nigeria.1 In the traditional society, popular arts like drama and poetry are used to reveal contemporary issues. For example, during festivals and ritual performances, the alárìnjó (itinerant) theater satirizes and makes mockery of social and political ills. Through popular poetry, the itinerant theater groups are able to run commentaries against political leaders and expose their wrongs without fear of retribution. Royal poetry like yùngbà provides a way to critique monarchs without incurring their wrath.2 While the popular arts are still in existence, the aurality of the popular Yorùbá arts is now partially supplanted by text and audiovisual technology. These popular media have extended the reach and enhanced the effectiveness of the traditional Yorùbá arts. For instance, the traditional itinerant performers are no longer limited to live performances in village squares as they travel from one city to another. They supplement these live performances by recording their plays in studios and broadcasting them through radio, television, the cinema, home videos, and photo-play. Poetry and praise songs (orìkí) are now also relayed through these outlets as well as by compact discs, records, and printed texts. For the rich, the modern theater allows the screening of traditional plays in a modern setting. Whatever the means of communicating popular Yorùbá arts, their main functions, as tools for maintaining and communicating social values, remain strong. Through their ability to exploit devices such as irony, imagery, and word-plays that tap into Yorùbá aesthetics and the existing Yorùbá worldview, the popular arts, still couched as entertainment, have become

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instruments of education and information especially in cases of epidemics such as that of HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS, Family, Sexual Health, and Nigerian Society Nigeria, a nation of more than 140 million people, like other countries in the world, is contending with HIV/AIDS. According to a United Nations report, HIV/AIDS has become the leading cause of unnatural death in subSaharan Africa; it is the fourth largest killer disease worldwide.3 The first reported AIDS case in Nigeria occurred in 1986. The nation’s HIV/AIDS epidemic rose from zero prevalence in 1986 to about 5 percent prevalence in 2003. Out of the estimated 3 million people living with HIV, women and young adults are the worst affected.4 The deadly nature of this global disease spurred the determination of the Nigerian government and of nongovernmental organizations to combat it. Some of the nongovernmental organizations include the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the State Action Committee on AIDS (SACA), HIV/AIDS Emergency Action Plans (HEAP), Civil Society Consultative Groups on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CISCGHAN), and the Society for Family Health (SFH). According to the 2005 report of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), education is one of the best ways to cut at the roots of HIV. Education is all the more important at this time because it provides a stable element in a child’s life, and it is probably the single most effective way of preventing the further spread of HIV.5 Both formal and informal means of education are employed in the fight against HIV/AIDS because “the fight against AIDS requires strong public, civil society, and private relationships at all levels of government.”6 In this regard, the performing arts, which have traditionally proved effective in the enculturation process and in the informal sanction of deviant behaviors, have become one of the innovative and interactive means by which African people can be mobilized with respect to the effects of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).7 In order to reach the grass roots with its awareness program on HIV/ AIDS/STDs, the SFH invokes radio and television drama. The SFH, in collaboration with literary artists and dramatists, writes and produces educational drama sketches. For instance, the drama entitled Whom do you love? was produced in December 2004 to mark World AIDS Day in Nigeria. Apart from its television show, the SFH also runs four drama shows that are performed by SFH’s itinerant performing groups as they move from one city to another. The performances aim to encourage behavioral change as a means of preventing HIV/AIDS.8 Yorùbá literary artists and critics such as Oluyemisi Adebowálé, Arinpe Adejumo, Olufadekemi Adagbada, and Nureen Adisa write drama sketches, poems.9 and novels to generate awareness on

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HIV/AIDS and STDs and ways of preventing their spread. In addition, the works of these artists focus on family health and include warnings on the consequences of specific lifestyles that put family health in jeopardy.10 In what follows, I first examine some episodes of the Yorùbá drama Abúlé Olókè Mérin to illustrate the educational use of this play in generating awareness and in encouraging a change of attitude to sexual diseases; then I discuss excerpts from the popular music of Àyìnlá Adégétò, Ayìnlá Omowúrà, and Adúkè Abolóde Felojú, to show how these popular arts feature in the body politic of the Yorùbá nation, both on the continent and in the African diaspora, especially with respect to culturally sanctioned forms of behavior. Songs written by women on health-related issues are included in the selection of data for discussion, because African women and children have been found by UNAIDS to be more vulnerable to AIDS, war, and even natural disasters. Thus, the inclusion of poems by women provides a feminine perspective on the discourse.

Representations of HIV/AIDS and STDs in Yorùbá Popular Art Abúlé Olókè Mérin is written by Kólá Ògúnjobí in collaboration with the Society for Family Health under the aegis of the United Nations Agency for International Development.11 It is a serialized radio drama, whose main preoccupation is to combat HIV/AIDS in Nigerian society by exposing the social ills associated with premarital sex, multiple partnering, misconceptions about HIV and modes of transmission, ways of preventing HIV, and cultural hindrances to the prevention of HIV/AIDS.12 The radio drama is broadcast in the three major Nigerian languages, Hausa, Igbo, and Yorùbá.13 The use of indigenous languages for the drama is in response to the call that information on HIV/AIDS should be made available in local languages, because one of the obstacles limiting HIV/AIDS prevention is the limited information in local languages.14

Overview of Abúlé Olókè Mérin In Abúlé Olókè Mérin, Chief Balógun is a polygamist. One of his wives, Bisola, engages in extramarital affairs and eventually contracts HIV. Inevitably, her husband, Balógun, and his other wives became infected. Bisola gets tested and is advised to inform her husband about her condition. Initially, Bisola is afraid to do so because she feels she will be stigmatized. However, when one of the co-wives dies, probably due to AIDS, Bisola finally discusses her status with her husband, Balógun, and urges him and the other wives to get tested. Balógun refuses and blames the infection of the dead wife and

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of Bisola on witches and his enemy. As a result, Balógun opts to consult an Ifá priest. Inevitably, Balógun dies from the disease. Another scene involves two lovers, Òjájiní and Bánké, who have other lovers. Bánké contracts an STD and is treated; learning from this experience, both Bánké and Òjájiní stop seeing other people and become sexually exclusive. At the end of the drama, Bisola and Bánké graduate to become health workers who now advise the people in the community on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and related diseases. The serialized drama covers the period preceding infection; it depicts the lifestyle that leads to the contraction of the disease, the period up to the development of AIDS, and the course of the disease up to the death of the patient. The drama exploits the weaknesses of the characters; these are transmitted within traditional Yorùbá customs and used to speak to those behavioral patterns that contribute to the spread of diseases. The reactions of the characters to the news, to the disease, and even to the prescribed treatment become opportunities to instruct the viewers. Had the playwright failed to dramatize the various stages and attending lifestyles, the drama would not properly convey the intended message. For instance, Òtúnba, the protagonist of the drama, appears in the role of a social health worker in all the episodes. He educates other characters that come his way on the methods of preventing HIV. The role that he plays in the drama is reminiscent of that of a leader in traditional Yorùbá society. Òtúnba is a traditional chief in Olókè Mérin village, and being a chief confers certain privileges such as the ability to speak without being interrupted. Traditional Yorùbá society considers a chief, by his achievement and age, to be a knowledgeable person, who is culturally bound to see to the peace and development of his community. Balógun, the antihero of the drama, appears in all the episodes until his death due to AIDS. This character not only stands against the efforts and the medical profession to prevent HIV, but he is shown to be involved in indiscriminate, high-risk sexual relationships that lead him to contract HIV. He subsequently succeeds in spreading the virus among his wives and concubines. The use of these characters to highlight the process of contraction, spread, and consequences of HIV to expose deep-seated behavioral attitudes strikes a cultural nerve among the viewers.

Women and Sexual Diseases The series also depicts female characters as the most vulnerable to HIV. This attests to the veracity of the UNAIDS/WHO 2006 report on the global AIDS epidemic, which shows that in 2005 about 24.5 million people were living with the virus in Africa, and 13.2 million of these people were women. Cultural15 and physiological16 explanations for the vulnerability of women

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to HIV\AIDS are included in research findings on women and HIV/AIDS. Some of the sociocultural factors that expose women to HIV include the following: the continued practice of facial marking and body tattooing, extramarital affairs, rape, widowhood rites, wife snatching, divorce and polygamy, teenage prostitution induced by poverty, female genital circumcision, and a high rate of ignorance due to illiteracy.17 Nathan Ogechi asserts that women are disallowed in some parts of Africa from practicing safe sex because they are culturally bound to give in to their male partners’ demands for sex, even if it is known that their partners are promiscuous.18 This cultural expectation is compounded by the effect of poverty and leads to the abuse of women. This is portrayed in Abúlé Olókè Mérin by the relationship between Kányinsólá and Lewà, a young, poor schoolgirl. In episodes 3 and 11, Kányinsólá has sexual intercourse with Lewà several times in an abandoned tent. Lewà confirms that she lacks power in the sexual relationship. According to her, whenever she sets her eyes on Kányinsólá’s money she is ready to pull down her drawers for sex even without protection. Apart from Kányinsólá, men like Balógun and Béllò also attempt to lure Lewà into sex with money. Other characters such as Òjajiní and Arígbábuwó are also able to use women for sex because of their money. The culturally established narcissism of men is depicted in the drama by the reaction of Béllò who, after his lover, Bánké, confronts him about his STD status, still makes sexual advances toward her: Bánké: Béllò: Bánké: Béllò: Bánké:

Ògá Béllò, sé e ti kó àrùn ìbálòpò rí ni? Bánké iru ìbéèrè wo nìyen na? Kìí se ohun tí ènìyàn le tijú sí, sé e ti kó rí? Béè ni Bánké, sùgbón ó ti pe. Mo wí náà, eyìn le kó àtòsí ràn mí.

Bánké:

Ògá Béllò, have you contracted a sexually transmitted disease before? Bánké, what kind of question is that? It is not a thing of shame. Have you contracted it before? Bánké, it is true that I have contracted it before, but that’s a long time ago. I said so, you are the one who infected me with gonorrhea.

Béllò: Bánké: Béllò: Bánké:

Béllò begins to advance toward Bánké and tries to touch her: Bánké: Béllò: Bánké:

Ògá Béllò, níbo lè ń mówó lo báyìí? Se bí mo ti so fún o pé owó wà, n ó sì sórá mi gidigidi láti àkókò yìí lo. E wò ó, èmí pèlú yín kò le se irú eré yen mó o. Mo ti pinnu láti fi ara mó olólùfé kan soso báyìí. N ò le wá kú, n ò se mó.

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Bánké: Béllò: Bánké:

Ògá Béllò, where are you taking your hand to? But I have told you that there is money. I will caution myself seriously as from now. Listen, we cannot continue in such games any longer. I have now decided to stick to a lover. I am not ready to die. I am stopping.

Béllò’s answer in the excerpt above expresses the popular Yorùbá male perception that “owó lòbìnrin mò” (women love money). However, Bánké’s response proves wrong the maxim that women love money to their own detriment. Her reaction in the drama is used not only to convey the urgency of treating STDs but also to encourage women to resist risqué sexual advances. Note that Bánké calls her lover Béllò “Ògá Béllò.” Ògá is a Yorùbá word that means boss. This appellation shows the power relationship between them. Significant among the factors that contribute to the lowly status of women in Yorùbá society and in Nigeria in general is lack of education, which probably limits women’s level of awareness and increases their vulnerability to HIV infections.19 Other evidence from the play that highlights the claim that poverty is implicated in risky sexual activities occurs when Lewa has unprotected sex with Kanyinsola. According to her: Lewa: Nigba ti mo beere owo lowo yin ti e ni awon egbe mi ki i yo Iya won lenu bi i temi. Mo bi okan ninu awon ore mi ti o maa n lowo lowo nigba gbogbo pe ibo ni o ti n ri i. O ni orekunrin oun ni o fun oun. Nigba ti Kanyinsola bere si fun mi lowo, ni mo ba n gba fun un, ni n lo, ni n lo, ni n lo. When I requested money from you, you told me that my mates do not trouble their mothers like me. I asked one of my friends that usually has money the source of her income. She told me that her boyfriend gave it to her. When Kanyinsola approached me with such, I gave him a chance to penetrate me. He had sexual intercourse with me several times.

Health Awareness in Popular Yorùbá Music Popular Yorùbá music is another vehicle for communicating thoughts and desires.20 The thematic content of Yorùbá popular songs cuts across social, economic, political, religious, and health-related problems. Significantly, these songs are effective means for mass education on reproductive health matters. For example, Àdùké Abolode Feloju in her album Wón lá séwó ni wá,21 advises her female counterparts against adultery. She satirizes lazy and adulterous women as she sings:

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Omo ń ta bésíké22 Ìyá ń ta lùdò o Ègbón ń gbàárù kiri Nínú kàá kan Ó làlé mérìnlá Njé bíyà ò bá gbón Ó ye kómo rè ó gbón Ìyá onídìí bàlúje The child hawks cheese The mother plays a lùdò game The elderly child is a load carrier Within the same compound She has fourteen concubines If the mother is unwise The child ought to be wise A mother who messes around with her vagina

One persistent theme of this song is that poverty is at the root of Nigeria’s problems. From a feminine perspective, the artist warns women not to see themselves as objects of sexual abuse; rather they should empower themselves economically. According to Modupe Ogundipe-Leslie, female artists should be committed to the correction of the erroneous image of women that exists in African society.23 Feloju, as shown from the above excerpt, appears to be heeding this call. Culturally, Yorùbá people condemn premarital sex; they fear that premarital sex may lead to an unwanted pregnancy and invariably to abortion. This traditional position is reaffirmed in the songs of Late Adégétò in his album titled Bí Mo Bá Pe Móńdírá: Èyin móńdírá N ó kì yín nílò níta Té e bá ti lóyún e má se Àmó omo tó bá boyún osù méta je Àsárélù ló ń pè24 You young ladies I will warn you publicly When you are pregnant In case you are pregnant, do not abort it But any girl who aborts a three-month pregnancy Is calling on the angel of death

From the lyrics, the musician recognizes that abortion is illegal in Nigeria, and assumes the decline of Yorùbá culture due to its contact with other

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cultures, especially Western culture. He also sees culture as a dynamic institution and accepts that girls will definitely get involved in premarital sex; for this reason he uses religious tenets to warn of the consequences of premarital sex. A similar message can be found in Ayinla Omowúrà’s album titled Omi Titun Ti Ru. Although Omowúrà never condemns change, he advises young women to be cautious, and warns them against sexual acts that may enhance the spread of HIV-related diseases as shown in the following verse from the lyrics: Wón pe e ni sisi inú e ń dùn O mará Èkó O mará Ègba Won ó so e da pàn ` sara ni You are being called a lady And you are happy You do not know Lagosians You do not know the Egbas They will soon turn you into a tiny whip

Sociocultural Factors and Health Problems The National Agency for the Control of AIDS in its year 2000 situation analysis report on STD/HIV/AIDS in Nigeria identified culture as one of the obstacles to the control of the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country. Culture encompasses the material heritage of a people, their worldview, belief systems, and habitual dispositions. Language and literature are vital parts of culture and cultural transmission. Nevertheless, as shown by the popular Yorùbá arts, culture can be positively positioned to create change as well as discourage practices that are believed to be injurious to the population. An area in which the cultural heritage plays a significant role in the quest to prevent HIV is education. Ignorance and illiteracy, as shown both in the drama and songs and identified by monitoring bodies, are obstacles in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The traditional Yoruba systems of education, called eko-ile and eko iwa omoluabi, are transmitted through songs, folktales, and performing arts. Embedded in them are the customary beliefs and customs through which the people ordered their lives. In Abule Oloke Merin, the playwright uses both formal and informal methods of education to campaign against sexual practices that may lead to HIV/ AIDS or STDs. For instance, in the drama, the school principal is seen teaching sex education to the students including Lewa. Misinformation is also combated in the drama; for example, Iya Morenike (Morenike’s mother), trying to educate her daughter, says the following:

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Iya Morenike: Lati Isinsinyi lo, o ti di obinrin, o o gbodo ba okunrin kankan soro po rara o. Ma je ki okunrin fowo kan o o. Se o ye o? Bi okunrin ba fowo kan o, o o loyun. Iya Morenike: You are now a mature lady. You must not interact with any man. If you allow men to touch you, you will become pregnant.

The consequence of misinformation given to children by their parents is depicted in the radio drama Abule Oloke Merin. For example, Lewà becomes pregnant because she did not have proper sex education. As a result of this pregnancy, she was expelled from school. The playwright’s message to parents and guardians is encapsulated in the statement made by the principal: Oga Ile-Iwe:

Ara asise ti awon obi maa n se niyen. Obi gbodo ko awon omo won lekoo nipa Ibalopo okunrin ati obinrin.

Principal:

That’s the mistakes normally made by parents. Parents must teach their children sexual education.

Through the characters Iya Lewa and Iya Morenike, the issue of ignorance is raised in the drama. These characters misinterpret the Yoruba cultural view on sexual education. In traditional Yoruba society, sexual education is essentially the teaching of abstinence. Any woman that has sexual relations before marriage brings shame to herself and the whole family.25 It is thus possible to claim that the contemporary popular slogan “zip up” has been the guiding principle in traditional society. The playwright reinforces this traditional understanding when one of the characters, Ibidun, the bride, in episode 5 of Abúlé Olókè Mérin advises her younger sister concerning men: Lara, o gbodo seto aye re daadaa. . . . O tun gbodo sora fun awon okunrin. Nitori bi omobinrin ba rewa bi tìre bayii, suga ni loju eera awon boys. Lara, you must plan your life very well. . . . You handle your relationships with the opposite sex carefully. Because beautiful ladies like you are perceived as sugar to be licked by men.

Informal education in traditional Yorùbá society favors “leading by example.” However, the kinship system that made for a strong bond between the individual and the household has gradually become loosened due to modernization, urbanization, and of course capitalism. The saying “Owu Iya gbon lomo o ran” (Like mother, like child) is used to encourage parents to become positive role models for their children. The life of Lewa and her

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mother in the series reflects this point. Iya Lewa keeps multiple sex partners, and not surprisingly her daughter is sexually abused. Bello, one of Iya Lewa’s sexual partners, makes sexual advances to Lewa when she is sent to go and collect money from him. Lewa learns from her mother how to use sex to obtain money from men. Kanyinsola, another character in the drama, takes his lust for high-risk sexual activities from Balogun, his father. The strong belief of the Yorùbá in the role of parents as educators, role models, and providers is sanctioned by these popular sayings: “Omo ta o ko ni yoo gbe ile ti a ko ta” (An untrained child will squander one’s property) and “To omo re ko le baa fun o ni Isinmi” (Train your child, if you want him/her to give you rest). Absent these, a child will bring shame to the family, a scary thought to the Yorùbá. Adherence to these maxims as advocated by the popular drama Abúlé Olókè Mérin will go a long way to aid the efforts of the government and other agencies in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Effect of Culture on the Transmission of Diseases Whereas tradition and customs still have a significant place in Yorùbá life and values, one reason why a drama that appeals to these features becomes effective in educating viewers, not every aspect of the culture is conducive to education. In fact, there are some cultural practices that rather promote the spread of HIV and STDs rather than deter their spread. For example, the levirate system, whereby a woman is forcibly given in marriage to her husband’s kinsman after the death of her husband, contributes to multiple sex partnerships and to the spread of sexual diseases. Another cultural practice that requires reevaluation is the culture of shaming people or stigmatizing them. A stigma is a negative label; it portrays a person as unfit to be a member of the society. The shame culture is cherished among Yoruba people and across most African cultures. For example, if a particular infectious disease is present in a family, such a family will be labeled and avoided. The culture of stigmatization still operates even in contemporary times, so that members of the family of anybody living with HIV are viewed negatively and avoided. To avoid this social stigma, the infected people end up keeping their illness to themselves, never seek medical help, and continue to spread the disease. The view of the Nigerian government is as cited by Falobi: We are aware that stigma, silence, denial and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS increase the impact of the epidemic and constitute a major barrier to an effective response to it.26

The fact that many people living with HIV/AIDS keep silent because of stigmatization is reflected in drama, as in the case of Bisol a in Abule Oloke Mer in:

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Gbade: Madam Bisola, se e sa ti so fun oko yin pe e ti ni kokoro HIV lara? Bisola: Rara o, n o ti so o nitori iberu ideyesi lawujo. Gbade: Madam Bisola, have you informed your husband that you have contracted the HIV virus? Bisola: No, I have not told him because I am afraid of societal stigmatization.

The communal Yorùbá lifestyle that is embraced in the traditional setting promotes hospitality, caring, and sharing, and is seen as an act of love.27 Bisola, a woman who contracts HIV in Abule Oloke Merin, condemns the stigmatization of people living with AIDS in episode 1 because it is contrary to the hospitality and caring culture of the people. In episode 4, it is stated that the sharing culture should be observed with caution because it could jeopardize the health of the people. This is seen in Bisola’s health talk on HIV awareness as she educates Balogun on the various modes of HIV transmission. This drama and Adebowale in her poem titled “Eemo re” highlight some of the modes of transmission, like unsafe blood, sexual intercourse with an infected person, and the common use of sharp objects like needles, blades, and clippers in ritual activities. The crusade against the sharing of these items is opposed to the traditional culture of sharing. But it could be inferred that the drama and the poem are suggesting a change in the application of this aspect of culture, since culture is dynamic. Essentially, the message is that the tradition of sharing a blade during incision making and the circumcision of children should be discontinued because these processes transfer blood from one person to another. Some Yoruba myths remain strong obstacles to the prevention of HIV/ AIDS and related diseases. The interspatial relationship between humans and nonhumans and spirits is embedded in Yoruba myths, thoughts, and beliefs; also prevalent is the belief in supernatural forces, medicinal charms, magic, and mystical power. According to Ifá, the custodian of Yoruba philosophical thoughts and wisdom, witches and ajogun have been given power by Olodumare to afflict people. Witches can afflict people with the seven ajogun, namely, iku, ar un, ofo, egba, oran, ese, and ewon (death, diseases, loss, infirmity, criminal cases, catastrophes, and imprisonment). However, witches can be appeased whenever they afflict men.28 In Abule Oloke Merin, the belief in the supernatural and mystical power of witches and ajogun is depicted as a hindrance to the war against HIV in many traditional settings. Many HIV/AIDS victims, rather than seek modern medical help, persist in using traditional rituals. For example, in episode 4, when Balogun is told about the prevalence of HIV in the community, he makes a mockery of the existence of HIV. When through his sexual practices, one of his wives Bisola, becomes infected, he lays the blame on witches:

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Bisola: Balogun: Bisola: Balogun:

Bisola: Balogun: Bisola: Balogun:

Mo gbo pe won so fun yin pe Mama Wole ti ko kokoro HIV. Se eyun un wa je nnkan ayo fun Iwo naa? N o yayo kankan nitori pe Mama Wole ko kokoro yii, emi naa ti ko o. A! A! A! . . . A se ona ti awon ota fe gba mu mi re e? Nigba ti won gbiyanju ti won ko ri mi mu, awon Iyawo mi ni won fe maa pa ni okook  an. I learnt that you have been informed that Mama Wole has contracted HIV. Is that why you are happy? I am not rejoicing because Mama Wole has contracted HIV; I am equally infected. Ah! Ah! Ah! . . . So this is the way my enemies have planned to afflict me? When they could not afflict me directly, they have decided to kill my wives one after the other.

Balogun’s belief as expressed in this scene is anchored in the Yoruba belief that malevolent beings can afflict their victims at will, and that an afflicted person can decline until he becomes a walking corpse and finally dies. The belief in traditional medicine is not in itself a bad aspect of the culture, given the contemporary popularity of alternative therapy. Nonetheless, the belief in traditional medicine should not hinder the prompt attention people living with HIV and AIDS ought to give to themselves. This will not only reduce the rate of death, but it will also curb the spread of the virus. In traditional Yorùbá settings, polygamy was more prevalent than monogamy. Women were acquired by men to boost their egos, and the number of wives and children a man had determined his status in the society.29 However, with the advent of Christianity, changing economic circumstances, and modernization, the culture of marrying many wives for selfish reasons began to yield to monogamy. Nonetheless, Islamic and traditional religions do not see anything wrong in marrying two wives. In the drama, two forms of polygamy are reflected. Balogun practices official polygamy, while Bello and Ojajini practice unofficial polygamy, that is, Bello and Ojajini are married, and they keep concubines out of wedlock. Thus, the three characters aid the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Balogun is infected with HIV and he spreads it among his several wives and sexual partners. Ojajini contracts HIV through his concubine Ayoka. In episode 10, Bello contracts gonorrhea and he infects Banke and probably Mama Lewa, his other concubine. Moreover, the result of polygamy in the socioeconomic situation of the larger Nigerian society is overpopulation, a factor implicated in high poverty rates. Poverty and unemployment have been found to be among the contributing factors that underlie the spread of HIV and STDS, because they lead to prostitution.30 This is exemplified by Lewa’s role in Abule Oloke Merin.

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Conclusion The role of traditional culture in the global fight against HIV is revealed in popular drama, as in the radio drama examined above. Yorùbá artists have explored the use of dramatization, versification, and music to entertain, educate, and teach morals in order to build a healthy and safer Nigerian society. Art is also used to expose the effects of sociocultural factors on the spread of infection and diseases in society. Thus, the global effort to combat the HIV/ AIDS/STD epidemics goes beyond orthodox medicine and traditional medical approaches that may not be easily comprehended by laypersons and the average nonliterate individual in most traditional settings: hence, the need to make the issues clear to everyone through dramas, poems, and songs. Notes 1. Durotoye Adeleke, “Social Mobilisation and Education: Theatre as a Tool,” in Education for Socio-Economic and Political Development in Nigeria, ed. Okebita Nwanyawu, Olusola Olayinka, and Bola Opaaje (Abeokuta, Nigeria: Visual Resources Publishers, 1997), 195–201; Foluke Adesina, “Television Plays as Propaganda: A Critical Analysis of Text and Performance” (PhD diss., University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 1998), 1. See also Nureen Adisa, “Drama and Family Health Awareness: A Study of Abule Oloke Merin Radio Drama” (MA project, University of Ibadan, 2005), 1. 2. Akintunde Akinyemi, “Positive Expression of Negative Attributes: An Aspect of Yoruba Court Poetry,” Research in Africa Literature 35, no. 3 (Fall 2004): 93–111. 3. Kofi Annan, The Millennium Development Goals Report (New York: United Nations, 2005), 11. 4. Omobolaji Giwa, “HIV/AIDS Pandemic and the Nigerian Women: A Historical Perspective 1981–2006” (BA project, Department of History, University of Ibadan, 2007), 3. 5. Annan, The Millennium Development Goals Report, 9. 6. Akukwe, “AIDS in Nigeria,” 1. 7. This is a claim made by Journalists against AIDS (JAAIDS). JAAIDS is a media based nongovernmental organization in Nigeria. See http://www.nigeria-aids. org (accessed December 2, 2004). 8. Robert Bature, report, “Who Do You love? New SFH TV Show,” http://www. nigeria-aids.org (accessed December 2, 2004). 9. Oluyemisi Adébowálé, “Èèmó Ré,” in Wá Gbó, ed. Durotoye Adélékè (Abeokuta: Visual Resources, 2001), 102–4; Arinpe Adejumo, “Ìtànje,” in Adélékè, Wá Gbó, 154–55; Olufadekemi Adagbada, “Yoruba Literary Artists on HIV/AIDS,” YORUBA: Journal of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria 3, no. 1 (2005): 39–58; and Adisa, “Drama and Family Health Awareness,” 46–65. 10. Odeyemi Tiamiyu, “A Critical Analysis of Ayinla Adegeto’s Songs” (MA project, University of Ibadan, 2006), 1. 11. Adisa, “Drama and Family Health Awareness,” 21–24. 12. Ibid., 47–57.

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13. Ibid. 14. Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, “Situation Analysis Report on STD/HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, 2000,” http://www.nigeria-aids. org/content.cfm/3a (accessed June 11, 2009). 15. Giwa, “HIV/AIDS Pandemic,” 19. 16. Annan, The Millennium Development Goals Report, 25. 17. Giwa, “HIV/AIDS Pandemic,” 5. 18. Nathan Ogechi, “The Language of Sex and HIV/AIDS among University Students in Kenya,” Stichproben: Wiener Zeitschrift fur Kritische Afrikastudien 9, no. 5 (2005): 123–49. 19. Giwa, “HIV/AIDS Pandemic,” 37. 20. Oluwole Olukoju, “Some Features of Yoruba Songs,” in West African Languages in Education, ed. Kay Williamson (Vienna: Beitrage Zur Afrikanistic, 1985), 251–63. 21. Abólóde Félójú’s album titled Wón lá séwó ni wá, produced by Ola King Super Records Stores, 39 Mosafejo Bus Stop, Apapa Lagos, BSS 15, no date. 22. Bésíké is a form of cheese produced from blood or soya. It is sold and consumed by low-income people. 23. Modupe Ogundipe-Leslie, “The Female Writer and Her Commitment,” in Women in African Literature Today, ed. Durosinmi Jones (Oxford: James Currey, 2002), 5–13. 24. Excerpt from Àyìnlá Adégeto’s album, Bí mo bá pe móńdírá, track 10. 25. Nathaniel Fadipe, Sociology of the Yoruba (Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1970), 66. 26. Omololu Falobi, Beyond the Shadow: Unmasking HIV/AIDS-related Stigma and Discrimination in Nigeria (Lagos: Journalists against Aids, 2004), 8. 27. Fadipe, Sociology, 103–4. 28. Wande Abimbola, IFA: An Exposition of Ifa Literary Corpus (Ibadan: Ibadan University Press, 1976), 151–52. 29. Adebowale Oluyemisi and Adejumo Arinpe, “Women as Victims of Violence: Yoruba Writers Perspective,” Journal of Women in Development 1, no. 1 (1999): 7–13. 30. Giwa, “HIV/AIDS Pandemic,” 49.

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Part Three

Politics of Culture in Popular Texts

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12 Literary Cultural Nationalists as Ambassadors across the Diaspora Nicholas M. Creary Introduction In 1915, African American philosopher Alain Locke argued that race was a cultural (versus a biological) construct. He maintained that for black Americans to liberate themselves and integrate themselves as equals into the dominant white American culture, they needed to produce artists who looked to historical African American experiences not only as the source of their works but also as a source for a positive cultural identity. This ideology provided the theoretical foundation upon which the Harlem Renaissance was established in the years following World War I. During the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, there were seven similar movements among people of color who experienced racialized forms of colonial oppression in the Atlantic basin: (1) Négritude, the French literary movement identified with the Martinican poets Aimé Césaire and Paulette Nardal, the Guyanese poet Léon-Gontran Damas, and the Senegalese poet Léopold Sédar Senghor; (2) Claridade, the literary movement associated with the review of art and letters of the same name published in the Cape Verde Islands; the principal authors, or Claridosos, included Jorge Barbosa, Baltasar Lopes da Silva, and Manuel Lopes; (3) Afro-Cubanismo, a movement including Cuban writers of African descent such as Nicolás Guillén and Lydia Cabrera; (4) the Engagé writers of Haiti, such as Jacques Roumain and Jean Price-Mars, associated with the periodical La Revue Indigène; (5) Modernismo Afro-Brasileiro, including writers such as Lino Guedes, Carolina Maria de Jesus, and Solano Trinidade; (6) the New African Movement among black South African writers including Sol Plaatje, Herbert Dhlomo, B. W. Vilakazi, and A. C. Jordan;1 and (7) the Creole Proto-Nationalist Movement in Belize including poets Samuel A. Haynes and James S. Martinez.

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The authors in each movement turned to the experiences of the povertystricken, predominantly black masses as the sources of their art, eschewing the elite culture—and frequently the language—of the dominant power. Each movement resulted in a heightened consciousness of cultural identity on the part of black intellectuals, often resulting in a movement for political or social liberation. All of these movements developed in areas where slavery was practiced well into the nineteenth century and, when abolished, was replaced by varying forms of peonage for people of African descent.2 Writers in the United States, the French colonies, Cape Verde, and South Africa lived under regimes that practiced legalized segregation (so-called “Jim Crow” legislation, les lois Indigènes, the Indigenato system, and the 1913 Land Act and 1936 “Hertzog Bills,” respectively). Cuban and Haitian authors experienced the invasion and occupation of their homelands by the United States (in 1898–1910 and 1915–34, respectively). Brazilian writers worked against a planter aristocracy that disfranchised all illiterates, including the majority of the descendants of black slaves freed in 1888. Belizean authors lived in a society that practiced de facto segregation, but they also experienced intense racism while serving in the British West Indies Regiment during World War I.3 Most scholars who have studied these movements have done so principally within the context of a given “national” history. Although some authors have compared writers of the Harlem Renaissance and Négritude; Harlem, Haiti, and Afro-Cubanismo; and Claridade and Brazil,4 they have studied these movements as contemporaneous cultural expressions of black authors speaking to one another across the Atlantic or the Caribbean. My study of all of these movements, however, suggests that collectively these movements comprise early black intellectual responses to the effects of racialized forms of twentieth-century industrial capitalism, and efforts to develop and practice freely their own cultural identities. While Kenneth Janken and Martha Cobb have shown direct links between Harlem, Négritude, Haiti, and Cuba, and Norman Araújo has shown the direct influence of Brazil on Cape Verde, my research indicates that the Claridosos knew of and read the Négritude authors, which suggests a possible indirect influence of Harlem on Claridade. Similarly, Tim Couzens has shown the influence of Locke’s seminal essay, “The New Negro,” on Herbert Dhlomo’s thought, Brian Willan has highlighted Sol Plaatje’s address to the 1921 pan-African congress in Paris and his interactions with W. E. B. Dubois and Marcus Garvey, and Bhekizizwe Peterson has demonstrated the influence of Langston Hughes’ poetry on several of B. W. Vilakazi’s works, thus establishing that there were definite links between black South African literary cultural nationalists and the other movements.5 Garvey’s pro-black pan-African ideology influenced the Belizean authors.

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This chapter will establish a framework based on Amílcar Cabral’s theory of the “return to the source,” posit criteria for literary cultural nationalism, and then examine the works of four poets—Langston Hughes (the United States), Jorge Barbosa (Cape Verde), B. W. Vilakazi (South Africa), and James S. Martinez (Belize)—to demonstrate the operation of this intellectual process. The comparison of representative poetical works from four movements will show that despite differences in geography, language, culture, and specific historical circumstances, these authors were “returning to the source” to develop positive collective identities for their respective constituencies in order to counter the racist stereotypes that prevailed in the dominant white societies. My rationale for choosing representatives from these four movements is to place the other three movements on an equal footing with Harlem and to reframe the scholarly discourse in light of the other movements so that other, similar movements that have received little scholarly attention in English may be seated at the table of literary cultural nationalism and no longer be relegated to Hughes’ proverbial kitchen.6

Returning to the Source Amílcar Cabral introduced the concept of the “return to the source” as a phenomenon of the alienated or assimilated “indigenous petite bourgeoisie,” and not a phenomenon of the masses who are the “repository of the culture.”7 Cabral considered the “return to the source” as a problem that arose among the members of the indigenous petite bourgeoisie when their aspirations for integration or assimilation into the dominant culture were frustrated and they “turn[ed] to the people around them, the people at the other extreme of the socio-cultural conflict—the native masses.”8 According to Cabral, the greater the isolation of the petite bourgeoisie or the African diasporas living in the racist colonial metropoles, the more acute the problem of returning to the source.9 This is an appropriate model for the present study, as all the authors whose works are under consideration clearly came from—or by virtue of their education/literacy established themselves in—the indigenous petite bourgeoisie, although it could be argued that the writers under consideration were organic intellectuals in the Gramscian sense of that term.10 This is a study of what Cabral would clearly describe as petit bourgeois literature that would have little direct relevance to the struggle of the masses for liberation from oppression. And yet he also believed that such cultural productions were a valuable preliminary step toward the revolution: Moreover, even when there is a reassertion of an identity distinct from that of the colonial power, therefore the same as that of the masses, it does not

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show itself in the same way everywhere. One part of the middle class minority engaged in the pre-independence movement, uses the foreign cultural norms, calling on literature and art, to express the hopes and sufferings of the masses. And precisely because he uses the language and speech of the minority colonial power, he only occasionally manages to influence the masses, generally illiterate and familiar with other forms of artistic expression. This does not however remove the value of the contribution of the development of the struggle made by this petite bourgeoisie minority, for it can at the same time influence a sector of the uprooted or those who are latecomers to its own class and an important sector of public opinion in the colonial metropolis, notably the class of intellectuals.11

In this chapter, then, “returning to the source” presumes that culture is adaptive in situations of oppression, and—as Cabral contended—a source of resistance and positive change. Accordingly, it provides a useful organizing concept with which to develop a historically based, culturally specific perspective about social transformation and cultural liberation. Returning to the source implies a process, a progression. That is useful insofar as it recalls that Cabral saw liberation as a process, and one that was not complete at political independence. Thus, “returning to the source” hopefully captures the sense of a significant early moment in the long and uncompleted process of Africans and peoples of African descent liberating themselves from racialized colonial and neocolonial oppression.

Literary Cultural Nationalism Mary Douglas argued that a social group “must essentially have some corporate identity, some recognisable signs of inclusion and exclusion,” and that it “must endure through time to be recognisable.”12 As such, it is possible to posit the existence of multiple groups within a given social system, or society, and to define a group as a social unit of people that lives together and shares common institutions, traditions, and collective activities. The group’s culture is the corpus of beliefs, actions, rituals, and symbols that they develop, refine, share, and pass on from one generation to the next. An individual’s identity within the social group, therefore, is the process of interaction between the various members of the group and with the broader society. In other words, a group of people shares common interests that distinguish it from other groups. Culture is the means by which group members determine how to relate to one another and to social externs. Identity is the phenomenon of relating to other members of the social network. Culture is the matrix that determines how individuals, or groups of individuals, within a society see themselves in relation to one another, that is, how they identify themselves and/or are identified. Significantly, these definitions of culture

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and identity presume interactions between the individual and a greater collective, and presume that these interactions and their products change over time, that is, that they are historically based. Thus, it is possible to recast nationalism as a specific form of collective identity associated with a particular geographic area, and to recast the nationalist struggle as one for the social liberation of black people, that is, their achievement of political, economic, and social equality within a given society.13 African nationalism in the twentieth century was a specifically anticolonial phenomenon. Writers were concerned with developing positive collective identities for their people and liberating them from the political and socioeconomic depredations of racism and colonialism. They used local or folk cultures as sources for the content of their work, including vernacular languages. They used contemporary and novel literary forms to depict the cultural groups they represented, and realist portraits of folk culture to build positive group identities that could challenge stereotypical images in the dominant culture as well as critique the domination of the oppressors. Each movement resulted in black intellectuals’ greater awareness of cultural identity and a movement for political or social liberation. Accordingly, for the purposes of this chapter, it is possible to define a literary cultural nationalist as a literary artist who uses art as a vehicle for the social liberation of black people. This is not ars gratiae artis, but poetry and prose with a purpose. Further, in this context, a movement is a group of (literary) artists who share a common vision and compose (literary) art at roughly the same time in communication with or cognizance of each other. Cultural change was the professed and/or implied goal of the literary cultural nationalists, and literature was the means to their chosen end. They sought to change American, Cape Verdean, South African, and Belizean cultures and societies by using local folk cultures as the source of the content of their work, including vernacular languages; by using contemporary literary forms to portray the cultural groups they represented; by using realistic portrayals of folk culture to build positive group identities in the face of countervailing negative stereotypical images within the dominant culture, as well as to critique the oppressive situation and the oppressors. Or in Cabral’s terms, they were “returning to the source.” Literature is a form of cultural expression and a useful source for understanding how a group of people perceives itself and the world around it at a specific period in time. As products of a specific culture, literary works frequently contain the culture’s ideologies and values, and express them either implicitly or explicitly within the themes the authors employ. Historians of American culture have frequently examined the literature produced by various groups in American society to gain greater insight into their cultural development, views, beliefs, and practices, as well as the dynamics of intergroup relations.14

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Similarly, in studying the significance of literary accounts in the development of European self-perceptions during the centuries following the “age of discovery,”—specifically the themes of self-representation and self-alienation in the epic poem Os Lusíadas by Luís Vaz de Camões, with particular attention to the prominence of the nation and its ideological construction—Richard Helgerson argued that Europeans experienced “a constant, if uneven, process of practical and ideological adaptation to the new conditions” resulting from the actual voyages of Columbus and Vasco da Gama, and that “the most important body of [their] self-representations . . . was the printed voyage.”15 For Helgerson, voyage narratives tell not only the events of the voyage but also the “structures of identity, divisions of power, and representational practices” that are involved.16 These were significant to Europe’s transformation from medieval isolation and marginality to world dominance, and required much “prospective and retrospective naming.” Camões and other such authors contributed to this process by promoting the “nationalist bias” of European expansion, and by struggling with the identity of the nation.17 In a similar fashion, therefore, it should also be possible to examine the “ideological strategies” of the literary nationalists: to determine what they were trying to accomplish; to test whether in fact they were trying to establish alternate “black” cultural and/or “national” identities in their art; and, if so, whether or not they were successful. By returning to the source, black Atlantic literary cultural nationalists in the first half of the twentieth century simultaneously consciously and intentionally sought to identify themselves with the interests and cultures of the dominated masses from which they originated and literally to re-present the masses and their cultures to the dominant cultures in the hope that representing and representing the masses would cause enlightened reason to prevail and that the arbiters of the dominant culture would find the will to transform it.

Langston Hughes In the United States, following the end of Reconstruction in 1877, Southern states increasingly passed so-called “Jim Crow” legislation, giving racial segregation legal sanction. At the federal level, the Supreme Court began to institutionalize segregation by overturning the Civil Rights Act of 1875; this process culminated in 1896 with its decision in Plessy v. Fergusson. Additionally, extralegal vigilante violence (i.e., lynching) was extensively employed throughout the Southern states to maintain blacks in an inferior social status. Langston Hughes was born in 1902 in Missouri, entered Columbia University in Harlem, New York City, in 1921, and dropped out and took a series of odd jobs in Manhattan in 1922. Over the next two years, he worked on a steamship and traveled to Europe and Africa, and he worked in a night club

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in Paris. In 1924, he returned to Washington, DC, and in 1925 he won first prize in the Opportunity magazine poetry contest, which led to an offer from Alfred A. Knopf to publish a collection of his works. In 1926, he enrolled at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and graduated in 1929. Also in 1926, Hughes issued his manifesto, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” in which he excoriated the black middle class for essentially wanting to be white, and turning their backs on “the low-down folks, the so-called common element.”18 He argued that middle-class blacks (artists in particular) have imitated whites to such a degree that they have taken on the same prejudices and stereotypes regarding the black majority who live in poverty. The “racial mountain” that black artists face is the struggle to overcome these prejudices and stereotypes and find the wealth of colorful, distinctive material [that they provide] for any artist because they still hold their own individuality in the face of American standardizations. And perhaps these common people will give to the world its truly great Negro artist, the one who is not afraid to be himself. Whereas the better-class Negro would tell the artist what to do, the people at least let him alone when he does appear. And they are not ashamed of him—if they know he exists at all. And they accept what beauty is their own without question.19

A “Negro artist” need not go “outside his race” to find “a lifetime of creative work.” And if he chooses to explore the theme of race relations, “the Negro artist can give his racial individuality, his heritage of rhythm and warmth, and his incongruous humor that so often, as in the Blues, becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears.”20 The obstacle to an authentic black American culture expression was not white racism, in Hughes’ view; it was, rather, the “Nordicized Negro intelligentsia” that eschewed its very own people and heritage. Hughes concluded with this declaration: Let the blare of Negro jazz bands and the bellowing voice of Bessie Smith singing Blues penetrate the closed ears of the colored near-intellectuals until they listen and perhaps understand. Let Paul Robeson singing Water Boy, and Rudolph Fisher writing about the streets of Harlem, and Jean Toomer holding the heart of Georgia in his hands. . . . cause the smug Negro middle class to turn from their white, respectable, ordinary books and papers to catch a glimmer of their own beauty. We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. . . . If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.21

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Hughes’ first collection of poems, The Weary Blues, was published in 1926. In many of his works, he demonstrated several literary cultural nationalist criteria. For example, in “Aunt Sue’s Stories,” Hughes showed a clear awareness of the significance of slavery in the black American past; he used and highlighted the importance of folk culture; and he showed a positive, realistic experience emanating from it.22 The speaker recalls being cradled in his aunt’s lap during the summer, and listening to her many heartfelt stories of days long ago, when his forebears worked as slaves and sang “sorrow songs,” the artistic ancestors of the spirituals and the blues, to comfort themselves. He evokes the sense of his aunt singing these songs to him as a part of the telling of the tales. And the speaker is aware of the reality of the stories: he implies not only a consciousness of the historical black experience in America but also a passing on to the next generation of the consciousness of a strong-willed, intelligent woman who survived slavery. Listening intently, the speaker learns what being black in America meant in the past, and has instilled in him an awareness of which direction to follow. Slavery and slave songs are no longer causes for shame but bonds that unite generations, inspire hope for the present and future, and plant the seeds of a critical consciousness. In a similar fashion, Hughes portrayed the inspiring strength of a woman encouraging her child in “Mother to Son.”23 Here Hughes validated black vernacular English, demonstrating that it is an effective vehicle for the artistic expression of quotidian black experience. The speaker used the metaphor of a staircase to describe the hardships of her life to her son. Her life “ain’t been no crystal stair.” In other words, she has had to struggle to get to this point in her life, enduring discomfort (“places with no carpet”), pain (“tacks,” “splinters,” and torn up boards), and uncertainty (“goin’ in the dark where there ain’t been no light”). And yet, she exhorts her son not to turn back, not to stand still, but to keep moving ahead with hope, if for no other reason than because she hasn’t stopped in spite of all the hardships (“I’se still climbin’”). The travails and successes of an individual woman become an exhortation to a people. Hughes also shows a keen sense of social criticism in his craft. In his “Lament for Dark People,” Native Americans and African Americans speak as the victims of European Americans.24 Whites have expropriated land from Native Americans and taken blacks as captive labor. In losing the land, the trees, and “silver moons,” Hughes implies that the dark peoples have ceased to be people and, having lost their humanity, are “caged” like beasts at a “circus”(an implicit reference to the reservations and ghettoes set aside for Native Americans and blacks, respectively), like a side-show amusement for the “civilized” (white) world. In “The White Ones,”25 the speaker implies that blacks are beautiful “whirling lights of loveliness and splendor,” as are whites, and then gives vent to the question that burns in the heart of every

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oppressed people and individual: why? Why do the oppressors use violent, physical force to cause intense suffering? And yet, as irrational as it may be, the speaker does not give in to hatred, for he sees the “white strong ones” as fellow human beings, at once both beautiful and worthy of love. Taken in the hortatory sense, “The White Ones” is not merely a plaintive cry for mercy from whites; rather, it is a call for peace and unity—to both blacks and whites. This, then, is the call to Alain Locke’s vision of culture—citizenship; a vision to which Hughes gives artistic form.26 Hughes’ work bears a noticeable optimism. And yet that optimistic perspective did not blind him to the reality of American race relations in the early twentieth century. He clearly demonstrates literary cultural nationalistic consciousness and ideology and “returns to the source” by using elements of folk culture as the source of his work, valorizing vernacular black English and the culture associated with it, and criticizing the racism of the dominant culture.

Jorge Barbosa The Cape Verde islands are located approximately 300 miles west of the coast of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. The arid conditions associated with a chronic lack of rainfall, combined with centuries of poor ecological practices, have resulted in an extremely harsh environment in which to live. Consequently, there has been historically significant emigration of Cape Verdeans to other parts of Africa, Europe, and the United States. The archipelago was uninhabited when Portuguese explorers and slave traders navigated down the West African coast in the mid-fifteenth century. They first settled in Cape Verde in 1460 on the island of Santiago. The settlers soon began importing slaves from West Africa, and miscegenation resulted in the creation of the majority crioulo population.27 The Portuguese monarchy was abolished in 1910 and the first republic proclaimed in 1911. This window of liberalism was short-lived, however, due to the rise of the fascist Novo Estado regime of António Salazar in 1926. One of the principal objectives of the Salazar regime was the promotion of Portuguese culture and “Christian civilization” throughout its colonial empire. To that end, the government passed the Colonial Act of 1930, which established the Indigenato system, which essentially established legalized racial segregation. With few exceptions, Africans were classified as indígenas (i.e., natives), and wards of the state. Indígenas could not vote, attended inferior schools, and required official permission for a wide range of economically significant activities such as traveling, buying power tools, and selling crops. They were also subject to a head tax and vagrancy laws that subjected them to conscript labor. For males, subsistence agriculture was a form of vagrancy.

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Effectively, they were relegated to low-paying manual labor, and could be paid less for the same labor as that of “civilized” citizens of the state. They were also subject to corporal punishment or forced labor for minor offenses for which Portuguese citizens would be fined.28 According to the Indigenato system, those Africans who acquired a certain degree of portugalidade (or Portuguese-ness) could become assimilados, or “civilized.” To qualify for assimilado status, Africans had to be at least eighteen years of age, be fluent in written and spoken Portuguese, have no police record, and maintain a standard of living and lifestyle similar to those of Europeans. Ironically, many white Portuguese would not have qualified to become assimilados. For example, in 1950 approximately 45 percent of the population of Portugal were illiterate.29 By 1926, Cape Verde had a higher literacy rate than the metropole.30 Cape Verdeans were classified as assimilados owing to their alleged “cultural similarity to the Portuguese.”31 Although many authors contributed to the pages of Claridade during the course of its publication, the three who are known as Claridosos were Jorge Barbosa, Baltasar Lopes da Silva, and Manuel Lopes. Barbosa was considered the preeminent poet of the movement. Jorge Barbosa was born in Praia in 1902 and received little formal education. He worked as an official in the customs house on the island of Sal, eventually becoming its director in the 1950s. Barbosa published his first collection of poems, Arquipélago, in 1935. It served as a herald for the coming of Claridade the following March. Barbosa continued to work on Sal and publish his poetry until his death in 1971.32 The themes that the Claridosos developed in the pages of Claridade and their other works are significant. It is important to remember that extreme degrees of censorship under the fascist Salazar prevented any outright criticism of Portugal, its culture, or its exploitation of its colonial peoples. Baltasar Lopes noted that it was forbidden to publish the word fome (hunger/famine) because the regime did not want it known that such conditions obtained in the empire. The Claridosos, therefore, had to be very subtle in the themes they developed. Using the quotidian experience of the impoverished masses, it is possible to detect an incipient Cape Verdean nationalism in Barbosa’s texts. In “Presença,” Barbosa implied that Cape Verde is his motherland, and evoked nationalist sentiments. Here Cape Verde takes on the image of a physically old, yet young at heart, loving mother who looks after her children. The warm, radiant smile is on her dark (morena) face. This is a blatant reference to the predominantly crioulo population of the islands, and a slap in the face of the dominant Portuguese racial ideology, which held that that which is African is ugly, and that which is Portuguese is beautiful. Sitting in the comfort of her lap, the speaker feels the lyric voice of his race, which is crucified between the ancient and competing roots of

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Cape Verdean culture: the Portuguese and the African; white and black. The voice resonates from the deep recesses of Barbosa’s “land of tortured hopes” that die and are reborn in his mother’s constant prayers and affection. Using the images of a sailor traversing the seas and of a young knighterrant, he implores his mother to join him on a journey to “unattainable destinies,” implying a desire to bring his motherland out of its suffering: “Come with me: continue with me your way of the ages. . . . We shall go hand in hand toward your destiny, toward my destiny . . . so young and so old.”33 In seeking rebirth in the speaker’s mother’s kiss, Barbosa implied that his motherland (i.e., Cape Verde) has the power to regenerate her withering children; that one need not go elsewhere to find life. In “Poema,” Barbosa used the realism of the common Cape Verdean’s experience to foster a sense of national identity and to celebrate his “brother” Cape Verdean. This was his fanfare for the common Cape Verdean man, who has crossed the seas risking life and limb in hellacious seafaring; or has been trying to eke out a living from the desiccated earth and fickle elements, which often yield only drought and famine. This is the common experience that binds Cape Verdeans together, that distinguishes them from the Portuguese and all the other seafaring peoples: they live on the brink of survival, often without success in a land where failure means certain death. The Cape Verdean is a seafarer out of necessity, because of his niggardly native soil; not by choice, with dreams of commercial wealth, as were the scions of Vasco da Gama. This is why the Cape Verdean bring[s] to the national dances your melancholy at the depths of your joy, when you play the mornas with the heavy bearings of the guitar. . . . (The morna . . . it seems that it is the echo in your soul, of the voice of the Sea, and of the longing for distant lands to which the sea invites you, the echo of the voice of the rain desired, the echo of the voice within us all, of the voice within our tragedy without an echo! The morna . . . possesses from you and the things which surround us the expression of our humility, the passive expression of our drama, of our revolt, of our silent melancholic revolt!).34

If the precarious life of hardship is the soil from which the Cape Verdean was born, then, according to Barbosa, the morna is the spirit that sustains him. This most quintessentially Cape Verdean art form gives voice to the common misery that all Cape Verdean people share, expresses the quiet human dignity that every Cape Verdean struggles to maintain, and contains the seed of Cape Verdeans rebellion. With the morna burning within the heart of the Cape Verdean, he no longer needs to travel to America, and can relegate the perilous journeys on the sea to “stories of the past you tell . . . with joyful laughs that cannot hide your melancholy.”35 It then becomes possible to seek and live out one’s destiny within the homeland:

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To live stooped over the land, our land poor ungrateful beloved! . . . or some other end humble anonymous. . . . Oh Cape Verdean humble anonymous,— my brother!36

Without directly confronting the colonial authority, Barbosa challenged and subverted it. At a time when civil and political society in the islands would have all the islanders think themselves Portuguese, Barbosa called on them to be Cape Verdean. There can be little doubt, then, that the Claridosos had on their agenda the intent to change the existing cultural ideology from one in which Cape Verdeans saw themselves as subservient to the Portuguese to one in which Cape Verdeans saw themselves as a nation inter pares with their colonial overlords. This effort to develop a positive collective Cape Verdean identity clearly marks the Claridosos as literary cultural nationalists who were “returning to the source.”

B. W. Vilakazi The formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 from the British Cape and Natal colonies and the former Boer Transvaal Republic and Orange Free State resulted in the domination of South African society by Afrikaners who had lost the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902. In 1913, the South African legislature arrogated 93 percent of the land for the white minority and passed a series of laws that entrenched racial segregation, culminating in 1936 with the abolition of the African franchise in the Cape Province. B. W. Vilakazi was born in 1906 at Groutville Mission in Natal. His given names were Bambatha Wallet, although he took the name Benedict while a student at the Roman Catholic Mariannhill mission in the 1920s.37 From 1922 to 1925, Vilakazi taught at Mariannhill and from 1925 to 1930 he taught at the Catholic seminary at Ixopo. In 1931 he taught in Pietermaritzburg, and in 1932 he returned to Mariannhill. In the following year he moved to J. L. Dube’s Ohlange Institute, where he remained until he took up an appointment as the first African academic at the University of the Witswatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg in 1935. The Mariannhill press published Vilakazi’s first novel, Nje Nempela, in 1933. In 1934, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Africa (Unisa) with a distinction in Zulu. In 1935, Mariannhill published his second novel, Noma Nini, and the Witswatersrand University Press published his first collection of poetry, Inkondlo kaZulu (Zulu Songs). He received his BA Honours and MA degrees from Wits in 1936 and 1938. In 1939, Mariannhill published his third novel, UDingiswayo kaJobe (Dingiswayo, Son of Jobe), and in 1945, the Wits press published his second collection of

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poems, Amal’eZulu (Zulu Horizons). Vilakazi received his DLitt degree from Wits in 1946, and in October 1947 he died of meningitis. Vilakazi was active in the Natal branch of the ANC during the period in which he wrote most of the poems in Inkondlo kaZulu (prior to 1935), and he was a founding member of the Zulu Society, which was organized by the Natal Bantu Teachers’ Association in 1935.38 He also had contact with the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) yase Natal.39 Vilakazi maintained his affiliations with the ANC and the ICU when he arrived in Johannesburg to take up his post at Wits.40 He also received a warm welcome from Amadodana akwa Zulu (the Sons of Zululand), a Zulu nationalist organization.41 More importantly, however, it appears that Vilakazi began to identify more with the struggles and plight of the oppressed African masses on the Rand during this period. In a review of Amal’eZulu, Herbert Dhlomo noted a significant difference between Vilakazi’s second collection of poetry and his first, Inkondlo kaZulu: His Amal’Ezulu reveals a revolutionary change or development in the poet’s soul, mind or, at least, attitude towards art and life. In the past, Vilakazi’s poetry revealed the mind of a scholar obsessed with the idea of classicism, an artist worshipping devoutly in the shrine of art for art’s sake, a poet so enamoured of the beauty and music and meaning of Nature that he was oblivious of the grim tragedy, the struggle, the pathetic conditions and the call of his people. . . . In “Ngoba . . . Sewuthi” (“Because . . . You now say”) and “Ezinkomponi” (“In the Gold Mines”) we find him speaking on behalf of the masses. . . . This is the new Vilakazi. We think by identifying himself with the struggles of his people, the poet had gained in breadth, strength and stature.42

This could be interpreted as clear evidence of Vilakazi in the process of “returning to the source.” In his poetry, Vilakazi exhorted Zulus to take pride in and preserve their past and culture through the innovative use and adaptation of izibongo (i.e., “traditional” Zulu praise poems)—which are laden with culture-specific content, symbols, and images intended to rouse “national” pride—to novel poetic forms. He did so by employing references to major figures and events in Zulu history such as Shaka, Cetshwayo, Mbuyazi, Solomon Dinizulu, and the Battle of Ndondakusuku, as well as folktales and myths.43 Vilakazi’s poems are replete with criticism of colonial industrialization and urbanization along racist lines and their effects on Zulu culture, most notably in works such as “Woza Nonjinjikazi” (Come Monster of Steel), “Ngoba . . . Sewuthi” (Because . . . You Now Say), “Ezinkomponi” (In the Gold Mines), and “Wo, Ngitshele Mntanomlungu” (Tell Me, White Man’s Son). In a major academic study of Vilakazi’s poetry, D. B. Z. Ntuli noted the traditions upon which Vilakazi based his borrowings from the izibongo, and

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presented an extensive criticism of the poet’s use of a verbatim passage from Shaka’s praises in the poem, “UShaka kaSenzangakhona” (Shaka, Son of Senzangakhona): Once a traditional poem has been composed it becomes a fund from which anyone can draw whatever sounds impressive or is applicable to his personality or deeds or circumstances. It is probably in this spirit that Vilakazi borrowed so freely from the wellknown praises. He sometimes transferred portions into his poems without changing them at all. Some sections are altered in the new poem. In other poems he only employed the style of izibongo. From the izibongo tone found at the beginning, we experience a sudden, rather jerky, transition to the second stanza where Vilakazi addresses somebody else whom he informs that he is about to express his own ideas about Shaka. He addresses this other person for the next thirty lines before going back to Shaka. This makes the quoted praises appear like an appendage which does not fall smoothly into line with the rest of the poem.44

Perhaps another reading within the framework of “returning to the source” would be to read “UShaka kaSenzangakhona” together with “Ngizw’ ingoma” (I Hear a Singing . . . ) and “Ithongo Lokwazi” (The Muse of Learning). At the beginning of “Ngizw’ ingoma,” the narrator (presumably Vilakazi) finds “little worth” in Zulu “tribal [sic] songs,” which eventually “haunt” him, “[echo] in [his] heart,” and ultimately inspire a “longing to preserve” Zulu traditions. The songs that poets of the past “have perfected” now “torment [his] soul with eagerness to match them.” In “Ithongo Lokwazi,” the speaker implores his muse to give him “knowledge of his people’s heritage, / That I, endowed with power to record it, / May pass it on to Zulus yet unborn!” In this context, then, the first four lines of “UShaka kaSenzangakhona,” taken directly from the praises of Shaka, serve as an epigraph. The three stanzas that follow are addressed to the Zulu people/nation and serve as a clarion call to awaken them and to reacquaint them with the glories of their past, so that they will remember and preserve their cultural heritage. In these lines, presuming that Vilakazi is himself the speaker, Vilakazi demonstrated his “return to the source” by declaring that he had discovered and was taking up “his true vocation: / to sing in praise of Shaka.” Calling the Zulu people “ignorant” and “uninstructed,” he grew “weary” of their “folly and indifference,” and vested himself in the garb of an imbongi while announcing to them that he was preparing to sing Shaka’s praises: Give me the skin to wrap around my loins! Give me too my feathered head-dress! Give me as well my assegai!—

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For I am about to sing my song of praise Of spears that stabbed the very flanks Of waves upon the seashore.45

The poet-turned-twentieth-century imbongi then offers eighteen stanzas of praises directly to Shaka before returning to address the Zulu people again, this time calling them to unite and “dance, unfettered, in his honour!” So let us dance or use our eager pens In praise of all the victories Of him they spoke of as “The Hoe”— Of Shaka, the mightiest Hoe of all! Let us tell how tribes once reeled and fell, Their blood congealed with shock and terror!46

Within this context, and in light of Ntuli’s assertion that Vilakazi frequently employed the style of izibongo, therefore, it is possible to consider the last half of Inkondlo kaZulu as stylized twentieth-century izibongo that sing the praises of Shaka, Vilakazi’s natal home at the Groutville Mission near Dukuza (Shaka’s great place), Solomon Dinizulu (the grandson of Cetshwayo), Ghanaian scholar J. E. K. Aggrey, death, and the Roman Catholic mission at Mariannhill. Similarly, taking the first two poems from Amal’eZulu (“Ugqozi” [Inspiration] and “Imbongi” [The Poet]) together shows Vilakazi consciously and intentionally “returning to the source” by taking on the role of Zulu national royal imbongi. In “Ugqozi,” the speaker (again, presumably Vilakazi) is called to Dukuza (Shaka’s great place) and receives his commission as imbongi from Mnkabayi, Shaka’s great-aunt: Thus now I can never be silent Because in the depths of the night Mnkabayi arouses me saying: “Arise, O you son of Mancinza! Your destiny bids you to waken And sing to us legends of battle: This charge, I command you, fulfill!”47

In the second poem, Vilakazi praised the amabongi of the past, acknowledged them as the source of his inspiration, and took his place alongside them: O how can I capture thoughts which haunt me now? Are these my words or yours, O deathless Muse? And do I voice the truth or fatuous nonsense? Before you claimed my soul, the earth was dark, Pathless, mysterious: then I, inspired by you,

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Could open my ears to singers of the past, And grasping the poet’s staff, pursue his path. O let my songs as well, blaze trails on earth!48

In the poem “Imfundo Ephakeme” (Higher Education, Vilakazi illustrated the conflicts inherent in “returning to the source,” and why Cabral referred to the process as a “problem”: Once, when my mind was credulous, I thought I could be satisfied By reading books, by earnest study, By brooding on problems posed by learning And struggling always to understand: Today my head is aching. I have spent so many years Turning over the leaves of books Written by the white man; I have worked through countless nights Till sunrise tinged the darkness: Today my eyes are throbbing. Black poets also stirred my thought: They sang in praise of kings’ ambitions And eulogized our native beer. Their wisdom too I ponder well, Letting it mingle with the white man’s: Today they quarrel in my mind.49

Thus, in showing Vilakazi’s “return to the source,” it is possible to claim him as a literary cultural nationalist.

James S. Martinez Belize is located in the Yucatan peninsula with an extensive coastline on the Caribbean Sea. Originally inhabited by Maya-speaking peoples, the territory ostensibly came under Spanish jurisdiction in the sixteenth century. British settlement began in the latter part of the seventeenth century when former buccaneers began importing African slaves to harvest mahogany and other precious woods that were abundant in the area. Slavery was the economic mode of production in Belize from the founding of the British settlement to abolition in 1834, when it was replaced with debt peonage through cash and commissary advances for former slaves and their descendants and a restrictive land tenure system.

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In 1871, Belize became a crown colony administered by a lieutenant governor who was subject to the governor of Jamaica and a legislative council composed of five official members, that is, crown employees, and four “unofficial” members, all of whom were appointed by the lieutenant governor. The unofficial members frequently represented British interests, such as the Belize Estates and Produce Company (BEC) or the British Honduras Company. Frequently the general manager of the BEC was appointed as an unofficial member of the council. In 1884, Belize received its own governor independent of Jamaica. Eight years later, Belize’s constitution was amended to allow for an unofficial majority on the legislative council. “This meant that the propertied and merchant elite thereafter predominated in the Council; they often were able to block measures proposed by the Colonial Office for the colony’s development, particularly with regard to tax and labour law reforms.”50 This continued until 1932, “when the constitution was amended to allow the Governor to pass laws without the consent of the unofficial majority. Although there was no racially based franchise, voting qualifications required the possession of substantial property which was beyond the means of the vast majority of the population, most of whom were Creole, Mayan, Mestizo, Garifuna, or a mix thereof.”51 James Sullivan Martinez was born in 1880 in Belize Town, the capital of British Honduras (Belize). He served as a member of the British West Indies Regiment, which was stationed in the Middle East and India during World War I. As such, he no doubt experienced the extreme acts of racism that members of the regiment cited as predisposing them to riot upon their return to Belize in July 1919.52 In Belize [Town], British Honduras’s capital, the rebels believed that the colony should be “the black man’s country.” The rage of the crowd on the night of July 22 was not easily forgotten. “We are going to kill the white sons of bitches tonight. . . . This is the black man’s night,” a group of ex-servicemen are reported to have said.53 During the war, a superior officer asked Martinez to write “a recruiting poem,” which “did something at the time to arouse the consciences of quite a few to their responsibility and duty to their King and Country and to stimulate them to take an active part in the fray.”54 In 1928, Martinez published Caribbean Jingles: Dialect and Other Poems of British Honduras, the first collection of poems written by a Creole Belizean. Over a quarter of the texts in the collection were written in the local vernacular dialect. Clearly, Martinez intended to valorize Belizean Creole as a valid means to present the everyday experiences of Belizeans in a positive light and at the same time criticize the dominant white culture. In other words, Martinez was “returning to the source” and showing himself to be a literary cultural nationalist.

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In “De Ole Accardian Music,” the speaker prefers the “sweet melodious music” of “dat ole accardian” that exhorts its hearer to “get yo’self upon the flo’ / An’ dance yo’ cares away!” In the speaker’s estimation, the bas culture instrument produces music that ’Tis sweeter far, dan all de tunes Dat dese arkestra play. It go at once right to yo’ soul An’ mek yo’ spirit gay— Aldough de pieces dat dey play Is music from Mozart, I do not t’ink dey give so much Contentment to yo’ heart!55

Significantly, he continues his critique of “high class music,” observing that one must have a “l’arned ear” to appreciate its complex beauties. Common folk like himself “don’t inten’ to strain, / An’ worry all me intellec’ / An’ w’ary out mi brain—” when they listen to music. They prefer “music dat is clear” with “De bass an’ treble movin’ in / A plain an’ simple way.” In other words, music that is better suited to dance and to forgetting the cares and concerns of everyday life. In “Advice to Mosquitoes,” Martinez used the hated insect as a metaphor with which to criticize British colonists and colonial interests, such as the Belize Estates and Produce Company, as parasites literally sucking the life’s blood of the common people and spreading disease among them. In this reading of the poem, he also expressed some of the anti-British sentiment that the ex-servicemen vented in 1919: Masquita singin’ ‘roun’ me ear, Yo’ don’t know yo’ de’t’ is near! I t’ink dat it will do yo’ well, If you will list’n w’at I tell.— We do not want yo’ ‘bout us here, To give we yo’ malaria, Now, better list’n w’at I say, An’ tek yo’self an’ go away. We have no use at all fo’ you; We know jus’ w’at yo’ want to do— Jus’ come aroun’ an’ get a nip. Den of we blood yo’ tek a sip; An’ lef’ malaria fo’ pay. We know quite well dat’s yo’ trick, So better get from ‘roun’ here quick.56

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Martinez also incorporated in his poems significant symbols and events from Belizean history and culture to create a Belizean identity distinct from a British imperial identity. In two poems he celebrated the 1798 Battle of St. George’s Caye, the seminal moment in Belizean cultural mythology, in which British Baymen and their slaves joined together to defeat a Spanish fleet and establish Belize’s existence as a British territory independent of Spanish power and authority.57 He described the opening of the mahogany logging season and the process of felling a mahogany tree, the foundation of Belize’s economy until the second half of the twentieth century.58 Clearly, then, Martinez used the form of early-twentieth-century poetry to present Creole Belizeans positively and to highlight Belizean Creole as a valid language for literary expression, as well as to critique the British colonizers. In other words, he was a literary cultural nationalist “returning to the source.”

Conclusion This study of poets associated with four movements suggests that taken collectively, the movements comprise early black intellectual responses to the effects of racialized forms of twentieth-century industrial capitalism and efforts to develop and practice freely their own cultural identities. Scholars such as Emmanuel Eze have shown the development and operation of European racial ideologies in the Atlantic world dating to the early sixteenth century.59 With the abolition of slavery as the principal mode of production throughout the nineteenth century, these ideologies significantly informed the subsequent models of “free labor” associated, for example, with the rise of the corporate-sponsored industrial and mineral revolutions in the United States and South Africa, respectively, or the state-sponsored collective agricultural schemes of the Portuguese government, or the domination of British commercial houses in Belize. In the case of the United States, black migration from the rural South to urban areas in the North and South set the stage for the Harlem Renaissance, as did African migration to mines and cities on the Rand in South Africa for the New African movement, whereas emigration from Cape Verde and Belize prepared the ground for Claridade and the Creole Belizean proto-nationalists, respectively. Although each movement developed in response to specific local historical and cultural developments, it is significant to note that authors of each movement knew of the activities of other movements’ authors. The Claridosos knew of and read the Négritude authors, which suggests a possible indirect influence of Harlem on Claridade. Harlem literatus Claude McKay wrote of Cape Verdean sailors in his novel Banjo. The authors associated with these literary movements contributed significantly to the development of several of the liberation ideologies that were being expressed during the

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early decades of the twentieth century. By virtue of their literacy and erudition, they were also members of what Alain Locke called “the representative class.” They were the ones who “returned to the source.” By present standards, many of their expressions and actions seem rather mild. Such retrospection, however, should not lose sight of the profoundly radical power of these expressions in their specific historical and cultural contexts.

Notes 1. Ntongela Masilela, New African Movement, http://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/masilela/nam/index.asp 2004 (accessed February 18, 2007). 2. Slavery was the material base for the ideological superstructure of white racial superiority. There is an extensive literature on the effects and depredations of Western slavery on African societies that were on the victim side of the trade. 3. See Winston James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America (New York: Verso Books, 1998), 50–91. 4. Kenneth Janken, “African American and Francophone Black Intellectuals during the Harlem Renaissance,” Historian 60, no. 3(1998): 487–505; Martha Cobb, Harlem, Haiti, and Havana (Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1979); and Norman Araújo, A Study of Cape Verdean Literature (Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College, 1966). 5. See Tim Couzens, The New African: A Study in the Life and Work of H. I. E. Dhlomo (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1984); Brian Willan, Sol Plaatje: African Nationalist, 1876–1932 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984). According to Bhekizizwe Peterson, Monarchs, Missionaries, and African Intellectuals: African Theatre and the Unmaking of Colonial Marginality (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2000), 102, “‘Ngoba . . . Sewuthi’ and ‘Imifula Yomhlaba’ are clearly inspired by Langston Hughes’s ‘Minstrel Man’ and ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers,’” 248 and endnote 56. Vilakazi’s “Wena-Uyothini” is a translation of African American Joseph Cotter’s “And What Shall You Say. See B. W. Vilakazi, Inkondlo kaZulu (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1935), 93–94. 6. See Langston Hughes, “I, Too, Sing America,” in The Weary Blues (New York: Knopf, 1926). 7. Amílcar Cabral, “Identity and Dignity in the Context of the National Liberation Struggle,” in Return to the Source: Selected Speeches of Amílcar Cabral (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973), 61. 8. Ibid., 62. 9. Ibid., 62–63. 10. See Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991). 11. Cabral, “Identity and Dignity in the Context of the National Liberation Struggle,” 68. 12. Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (London: Cresset Press, 1970), 57.

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13. Basil Davidson, The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State (New York: Times Books, 1992), 164. See 118–96 for a complete explanation. 14. See Alexander Saxton, The Rise and Fall of the White Republic (New York: Verso, 1990); Ronald T. Takaki, Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth Century America (New York: Knopf, 1979); Richard Slotkin, The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800–1890 (New York: Knopf, 1981); Lawrence Levine, Black Culture and Black Consciousness (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977); and Alain LeRoy Locke, Race Contacts and Interracial Relations, ed. Jeffrey Hunter (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1992). 15. Richard Helgerson, “Camões, Hakluyt, and the Voyages of Two Nations,” in Colonialism and Culture, ed Nicholas Dirks (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), 27–28. 16. Ibid., 28. 17. Ibid., 59. 18. Langston Hughes, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” Nation, June 23, 1926. 19. Ibid. 20. Ibid. 21. Ibid. 22. Langston Hughes, The Weary Blues (New York: Knopf, 1926), 57. 23. Ibid., 107. 24. Ibid., 100. 25. Ibid., 106. 26. Ibid., “Poem,” 108. 27. Richard Lobban, Cape Verde: From Crioulo Colony to Independent Nation (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995). 28. Deirdre Meintel, Race, Culture, and Portuguese Colonialism in Cabo Verde (Syracuse, NY: Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 1984), 129. 29. Ibid., 129–30. 30. Norman Araujo, A Study of Cape Verdean Literature (Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College, 1966), 12–13; 25–28; and Lobban, Cape Verde, 38, 78. 31. Meintel, Race, Culture, and Portuguese Colonialism, 130. 32. Araujo, A Study of Cape Verdean Literature, 99–110; Lobban, Cape Verde, 79– 80. 33. Jorge Barbosa, “Presença,” Claridade I (March 1936): 7. 34. Jorge Barbosa, “Poema,” Claridade II (August 1936): 11. 35. Ibid. 36. Ibid. 37. Vilakazi’s biographical data are taken primarily from Peterson, Monarchs, Missionaries, and African Intellectuals, 87–90. 38. Peterson, Monarchs, Missionaries, and African Intellectuals, 89, 95; interview with Emily Vilakazi, Soweto, Gauteng Province, South Africa, May 27, 2005. Interview notes in author’s possession at the Department of History, Ohio University, Athens, OH.

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39. Correspondence between Vilakazi and A. W. G. Champion in the Champion papers, housed in the Wits Historical Papers; interview with Emily Vilakazi, May 27, 2005. 40. Interview with Emily Vilakazi, May 27, 2005. 41. Peterson, Monarchs, Missionaries, and African Intellectuals, 95. 42. H. I. E. Dhlomo, “Dr. B. W. Vilakazi: Poet,” Ilanga Lase Natal, March 30, 1946; reprinted in English in Africa 1, no. 2 (September 1974): 63–65. 43. See D. B. Z. Ntuli, The Poetry of B. W. Vilakazi (Pretoria: J. L. van Schaik, 1984), 29–30. See also Peterson, Monarchs, Missionaries, and African Intellectuals, 99. 44. Ibid., 18–19. 45. All citations are taken from Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, Zulu Horizons (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1973). The poem was rendered into English verse by Florence Louie Friedman from the literal translations of D. McK. Malcolm and J. Mandlenkosi Sikakana (see Vilakazi, Zulu Horizons, 56). 46. Vilakazi, Zulu Horizons, 65. 47. Ibid., 102. 48. Ibid., 103. 49. Ibid., 110. 50. Assad Shoman, 13 Chapters of a History of Belize (Belize City: Angelus Press, 1995), 96. 51. Ibid. 52. James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia, 55–66. 53. Ibid., 65–66. 54. James S. Martinez, Caribbean Jingles: Dialect and Other Poems of British Honduras (Belize [Town]: Waterlow & Sons, 1928), iii. 55. Ibid., 26 56. Ibid., 14. 57. Ibid., 44–45, 92–93. 58. Ibid., 8–10, 68–69. 59. Emmanuel Eze, Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader (Boston: Blackwell, 1997).

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13 Popular Resistance Literature and The Nigerian Railway Corporation, 1955–60 Tokunbo A. Ayoola Introduction The construction and management of railroads in Africa attracted many workers, not only from Africa itself but also from Europe and Asia. In the particular case of Africans, well into the postcolonial period the railroad industry was the largest employer of their labor. For example, by 1952 no fewer than 30,000 Nigerians were employed by the Nigerian Railway (NR).1 As a result of the important role played by rail transport in the political economy of colonial Africa, railroad workers played very prominent roles in the struggles between Africans and the colonial authorities. According to Oberst, this was because They were the most stabilized of African workers and often developed a sense of common identity. This and their location throughout the colony facilitated the spread of strikes along the railway line from one town to the next. . . . the railways employed a significant number of skilled workers and this gave the workforce a degree of bargaining power necessary to strike effectively.2

From this privileged position, workers were able to pressure the colonial authorities through, for instance, the use of strikes from the 1920s onward. These strikes reached a crescendo between 1945 and 1948, when there were general strikes across Africa.3 There is a large body of literature on the origins, organization, leadership, causes, and impact of these strikes, and on transport workers’ militancy in general.4 In these works, the impression is given that the tactics and methods used by African workers in their agitation against the colonial state and

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railroad companies were limited to petition writing, strikes, demonstrations, and lockouts, and that such struggles and confrontations were carried out only by working-class railroad workers. For example, Timothy Oberst’s whole emphasis was on the use of strikes and he has traced the root of the unique organizational ability of transport workers in colonial Africa, and their constant and effective use of strike action to the period immediately after World War II.5 At the vanguard of these workers’ class struggles with the imperial and colonial bourgeoisie was “an increasingly settled proletariat.”6 However, all this fails to do justice to the range of strategies, tactics, methods, and media employed by different categories of workers—junior and senior—to express their grievances. This observation is underscored by the major shift in the literature and historiography of African workers’ agitation and resistance during the colonial period, which since the 1980s has been moving away from strictly revolutionary agitations and revolts to the examination of other strategies that were nonviolent and less directly confrontational.7 For instance, indigenous African workers in senior and clerical positions established and used publications such as in-house newspapers, bulletins, and newsletters. Other workers employed what James Scott termed the weapons of the weak—satire, humor, work-songs, performance, and poetry.8 For example, many Sudanese railroad workers who were poets in their own right used poetry to openly celebrate workers’ struggles and the militancy of Atbara—the headquarters of the Sudan Railway Corporation. Atbara became a thorn in the flesh of both the British colonial authorities and their postindependence Sudanese counterparts.9 Although in most cases such materials and media had a limited reach, they nonetheless had an impact both on the management of the railway companies and on colonial officials. The tradition of using literary and cultural media to attack the ruling and oppressive classes and their perceived exploitation of labor has not been limited to African workers. For instance, in gilded-age America, Rees E. Lewis, a worker in the iron and steel industry in the Pittsburgh area, together with thousands of other members of the U.S. working class, used song-poems, particularly between 1865 and 1895, to attack and condemn the rapaciousness and exploitation of the ruling bourgeoisie.10 The use of song-poems and other cultural forms by workers was far more extensive and crucial in the way African Americans confronted their subjugation and oppression in the United States.11 The aim of this chapter is to discuss how senior Nigerian Railway workers through the Association of Indigenous Senior Officers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (AISONRC) used their newsletter, which employed humor, sarcasm, and poetry, to resist and agitate against British colonialism and domination of the NR during the late colonial period (1955–60). This chapter begins by contextualizing the establishment of AISONRC and its newsletter in the formulation and implementation of the Nigerianization policy from the late 1940s onward. Next, the chapter discusses the raison

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d’être of AISONRC’s newsletter, its content from 1959 to 1960 (when it ceased to be published), and the way it was used by the association to ridicule and pressure the colonial authorities and to assist in accelerating the Nigerianization of the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s personnel.

Formation of AISONRC As part of Nigerians’ agitation against the Richards Constitution, which was imposed on Nigeria in 1946, Nigerian nationalists requested the colonial government to begin the process of replacing all British officials holding positions in the Nigerian government service with Nigerians.12 In response, in 1947 the government appointed a commission under the chairmanship of Mr. Hugh Foot, the chief secretary to the government, to make recommendations on the recruitment and training of Nigerians for senior positions in the service.13 In August 1948, the commission submitted a report in which it recommended accelerated ways of appointing and promoting qualified Nigerians into senior service positions that were at that time held by British officials.14 Soon after the submission and acceptance of the commission’s report, the government institutions concerned began implementing its recommendations. However, the slow pace of implementation in the NR exacerbated the existing mistrust between the Nigerian workers there and the management staff, which in part arose from alleged racial discrimination against Nigerians.15 It was against this background that AISONRC was established; among its objectives were (a) to organize all indigenous officers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) for their mutual benefit; (b) to promote and maintain efficiency on the railway; (c) to represent the interests of indigenous officers in matters affecting the terms and conditions of service in the NRC; and (d) to publish a newsletter for private circulation, and organize lectures and visits with regard to subjects of interest.16 To further underscore its mission, in an editorial in the first issue of AISONRC’s newsletter, the association stated that it was established “to liberate indigenous officers of the railway from playing second fiddle, in representing their interests in matters affecting their conditions of service.”17 Thus, right from the start, the association was very clear about its mission: for its members to take over control of the NRC from British managers. Prior to 1959, when AISONRC was formed, only one union catered to the interests of both expatriate European and African officers: the Association of Railway Corporation Officers of Nigeria (ARCON).18 ARCON was formed in 1945 when British officers in the NR formed a branch of the Association of European Civil Servants (AECS) in the NR.19 However, in the early 1950s, when more Nigerians started assuming senior positions in the

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NR and thereby became members of AECS, the latter changed its name to ARCON. The change of name was made in order to cater to the specific needs and interests of the new Nigerian members, such as the rapid promotion of Africans.20 On the eve of Nigeria’s independence, in February 1959, ARCON’s Nigerian members, who had been complaining about European and British officials’ racism, arrogance, intolerance, and victimization of African workers, formed the Association of Indigenous Officers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (AIONRC).21 In 1962, the name of this association was changed to the Association of Indigenous Senior Officers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (AISONRC). Presenting itself as representing a special class of workers, AISONRC made strenuous efforts to distance itself and its members from the more militant and radical junior workers’ federation—the Nigerian Union of Railwaymen (NUR). The NUR in the period 1939–60 had embarked on numerous strikes, and had succeeded in forcing the Nigerian colonial state into granting many concessions to its members.22 Mr. M. O. D. Oshosanwo, one of the brains behind the formation of AISONRC and the first secretary of the association’s Eastern District branch, sought to justify AISONRC’s elitist stance by arguing that All the other unions with railway were affiliated to the Nigerian Union of Railwaymen [NUR]. The Association of Indigenous Senior Officers were [sic] not so affiliated. Our members were all officers and being part of Management, we could not combine with the other unions. We also felt that the strike action should at no time be resorted to by our Association. The NUR in their own rights had been agitating for improvement in their conditions of service. They had been extremely militant.23

Publication and Content of the Newsletter To publicize its activities, express its views on the management of the NRC, and to mobilize its members, the association started publishing a newsletter in August 1959.24 The first issue included three key features: the AIONRC chairman’s foreword, the editorial, and the secretary’s message. While the chairman’s foreword was platitudinous, the two other sections were very critical. They attacked the fact that the indigenous officers were unfairly treated, and the way the corporation was being managed to the exclusion of indigenous Nigerian officers.25 In the second issue, published on September 1, 1959, a new column called “Gentleman Tortoise” was introduced, and it was arguably one of the most important features of the newsletter. Using wit and anecdotes, the columnist ran critical commentaries on unfolding developments in the corporation. In its first appearance, the column introduced itself thus:

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I am Gentleman Tortoise The Grand old gallant knight of African folklore Full of wisdom, full of wit A prophet, a seer, a soothsayer But not an Angel Neither a Devil I predict, I prophecy, I interpret Dreams.

The idea of naming the column after the tortoise, an important animal in African folktales, mythology, and stories,26 seems rather strange. It was a strange decision to adopt one type of African story that is referred to as the “trickster tale.”27 In these tales, animals are invested with certain human gifts, such as wisdom, intelligence, cunning, and other abilities, which enhance or subvert stringent communal mores and rules. In West Africa, one of the most popular trickster animals is the tortoise.28 Why this particular animal—small, vulnerable, physically weak, sluggish, naughty, intelligent, possessor of long memory and life, and always triumphant over its enemies29—was chosen by AISONRC and its newsletter, rather than any other animal, as the metaphor for what the association represented in the political economy of colonial Africa is difficult to surmise. However, it is safe to assume that it was to convey to the wider world an image of the NR workers as small and very weak animals—not unlike the biblical David— locked in an epic battle against a bigger, ferocious, and intimidating animal, say, a tiger or a leopard—a “Goliath,” the latter being a metaphor for the combination of British imperialism in Africa, the Nigerian colonial state, and the management of the NR rolled into one entity. The character of the tortoise as a metaphor for the railway workers’ battle of wits with British officials in Nigeria in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s is set in sharper relief by Diedre Badejo’s interpretation of the nature of the tortoise as a trickster in African and African American folktales. According to Badejo, the animal perceives, remembers, and is adept at detecting its opponents’ foibles and exploiting them for its maximum advantage.30 Furthermore, like all tricksters, the tortoise is more often than not confined to the periphery of the community, where it lives a self-interest-driven and rebellious life.31 Such a life is a potential threat against contrived communal harmony.32 It is this image of a comparatively small and weak but infinitely intelligent and morally just group of people, who knew what they wanted and how to wrest it from a rapacious and formidable opponent, that the railway workers sought to project to the outside world. After introducing itself “Gentleman Tortoise” then launched into a series of biting satires on topical issues. The first of these attacks was against the part-time British chairman of the NRC’s board, Sir Ralf Emerson. Genty Tortoise satirized:

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Jet plane far in the horizon Welcome! Chairman Fellow gallant knight Welcome! Tired? Only two hours and the meeting will be over. Everything imperfect, perfected Federal Government Nigerianisation Policy? That is their trouble. We Anglo-Indianise Nigerians DOWN BELOW Members of the Board open your eyes Use your paper The mail boat will not take you away in 1960

Emerson had been appointed on June 18, 1953, as the chairman designate of the proposed NRC and the general manager of the existing Nigerian Railway Department. His mandate was to reorganize the NR and transform it into a public corporation by 1955.33 In October 1955, Emerson successfully converted the NR into a public corporation. However, in the process of achieving this and managing the new organization, he alienated many African railway workers through the implementation of many controversial measures.34 Perhaps the most controversial of these was the recommendation he made in 1959 to the Nigerian government to terminate the appointment of almost 2,000 railway workers.35 He was also was accused of filling many top positions with his cronies from England, and from India where he had worked for many years. In retaliation, the workers complained to the government that Emerson was an autocrat and an insensitive manager, and he should be sacked and replaced by a Nigerian.36 However, at this time there were no qualified Nigerians capable of effectively replacing him. Perhaps so as not to offend either side in the argument, the government decided to appoint another Briton, Mr. R. K. Innes, from among the British railway officials in Nigeria as full-time general manager, and Emerson was asked to remain in the corporation as parttime chairman of the board. For Emerson, this meant that he would have to relocate to Britain, his home country, and would be coming to Nigeria only occasionally to attend NRC board meetings. It was against this background that NRC workers rose up against management’s slow and seemingly lackadaisical attitude to the implementation of the Nigerianization policy. From the poem reproduced above, it can be deduced that the workers not only believed that Emerson’s diminished authority and availability in the corporation impeded rapid Nigerianization, but also believed that he seemed not to be interested in the policy, hence the question, “Federal Government Nigerianisation Policy?” Thus, the antidote to the perceived British administrative chicanery was Emerson’s total

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removal from the affairs of the NRC—this being the first important step in the complete Nigerianization of the corporation. This, then, was the basis for the satirical attacks on the chairman in the poem. Apart from addressing Emerson and other Europeans, the poem, as demonstrated by its second half, also addressed the Nigerian members of the corporation’s board. These Nigerians were being told that rather than rapid Nigerianization taking place in the NRC, there seemed to be attempts to “Anglo-Indianise” even the lower ranks of the corporation. The Nigerian board members were therefore being called upon to be alive to their responsibility as Africans, and use their clout to fight for Nigerians. On the other hand, if the Nigerian board members failed to fight for their fellow citizens then they should know that, unlike the British officials who would return to England at Nigeria’s independence, they would have no place to hide from the workers’ vengeance. After attacks on the chairman, Genty Tortoise next touched on the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians appearing before personnel selection boards in the corporation: Trot along to Selection Boards and be damned!!! Experience but no qualification! Qualification but no Experience! Experience and Qualifications but temperamentally unbalanced! Alright, fired, stop your tears; I okay you in the three above But where do you come from? A race of Yes Sa Masa? You have had it! About turn! As you were! Go home!!!

From this verse, it appears that one of the main reasons for the slow pace of Nigerianization was the lack of experienced, academically qualified, and psychologically well-adjusted Nigerians in top positions. However, this was not the result of a lack of available candidates; but there were deliberate attempts by the selection boards, headed by British officials, to exclude Nigerians from the selection processes and to favor mainly British and Indian personnel. These allegations were to be repeated again and again in other poems, some of which are cited below. In addition, attempting to conceptualize what expatriate British officers could have been thinking about the “inordinate ambition and impatience”37 of their Nigerian counterparts, who were desirous of quickly assuming all the positions that European officials were occupying in the corporation, Genty Tortoise mimicked:

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Why the hulla balloo to Nigerianise? Young upstarts Too anxious Too much in a hurry It took older countries 1000 years Why not borrow two leaves from the Operating and Commercial Department They alright, my dearest 300 years for Nigerians to come up is thrice accelerating the pace There is no shame there either Poor simpletons No protests too! JOLLY WELL SIT TIGHT MASTER.

The reference to the Operating and Commercial Department was designed to demonstrate that this department’s staffing profile clearly showcased the perceived thinking of British officials on how the NRC should be staffed. The department, which was not only the biggest revenue-generating unit but also the core of the railway industry in Nigeria, was dominated by British officials. Less than twelve months before independence, out of a total staff strength of 167, 105 officers in the department were expatriates; 62 officers were Nigerians.38 Thus, Nigerians constituted just 37 percent of the department’s staff strength. In Genty Tortoise’s mimicry, therefore, as far as the British-led management was concerned, the staffing profile in this department represented an excellent example of good practice in the implementation of the Nigerianization policy. Apart from poking fun at Europeans, Genty Tortoise did not allow AngloIndians in the corporation to escape its lampooning: Human Robot Machines. They know all the answers. John Bull just come Half way between England and India Promoted and paneled for five jobs in six weeks. Fired out in six months. BOARD’S OWN CHOICE Perfect Selection Boards Decision Final. Not subject to Queries. Not subject to filthy protests 25 years meritorious service. So what! 20 minutes Selection Board. Determines your past And many years future suitability. Tell me another. Oh! Clever people. Nigerians can trust anything. FO! FO! FO!!! Right away!

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I crawl along Till next time One leg up One eye closed Drink to your health Bye! Bye!!

Starting in the late 1940s, some Indians were recruited into the NRC. This was due ostensibly to the shortage of technically competent British and Nigerian supervisory railway staff.39 In this long poem, AISONRC sought through Mr. Tortoise to portray Indians, many of whom were British citizens—hence “Anglo-Indians”—as minions and errand boys of British imperialism in Nigeria. They never experienced discrimination; instead of this they enjoyed very rapid promotion and found things easy with the Britishdominated selection boards. In the second issue of the newsletter, the battle for rapid Nigerianization of NRC was formally launched by the association. In an article titled “Nigerianisation in the NRC,” AISONRC made a comparative analysis of the senior positions held by Nigerians and by expatriates. The result of the analysis seems baffling, in that until 1959, most key positions in the corporation were still being held by Britons. For instance a Briton, Sir Ralf Emerson, held the chairmanship of the board, while another, Mr. R. K. Innes, was the general manager. In addition, all the seven heads of departments were British. Of the eight deputy heads of departments, only one was a Nigerian, and even he was on a fixed contract appointment. Similarly, of the eighteen district heads, only one was an indigene. For other top positions in the organization, the picture was the same. For example, for Scale 6 posts, while 3 of the holders were indigenes, 16 were British; for Scale 7, while 47 were British, only 9 were Nigerians; and for Scale 8 positions, of a total of 92 officers, 27 were Nigerians and 65 were British. All told, while in 1960 there were only 261 top Nigerian officials, the number of top British officials was 46640—double the number of Nigerian officials. It was on the basis of this seemingly depressing picture of lopsided staffing in the top echelons of the corporation that AISONRC started arguing that the best way out of the “mess” was a complete Nigerianization of NRC. One solution offered was the creation of supernumerary positions that would enable Nigerians to quickly assume top positions in the corporation.41 The good thing about analyses of the corporation’s staffing and their dissemination in the newsletter was that they provided the necessary platform for mobilization and agitation against British control of a key Nigerian colonial government institution. The third issue of the newsletter was published in November 1959, just before Mr. P. Carbines, the NRC’s secretary, was appointed the acting general

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manager; this was in place of the incumbent, Mr. R. K. Innes, who was proceeding on annual leave. This appointment of Carbines did not go down well with AISONRC. In an editorial in its newsletter, the association argued that there were two Nigerian engineers senior to Carbines, and one of them should have been appointed to the position. Furthermore, AISONRC questioned the wisdom of appointing Carbines as secretary to the corporation in the first place, because “[t]he fact may not be known by many that before the Nigerian Railway became a Corporation in 1955, Mr. Carbines was only an Administrative Assistant. . . . But soon after the Railway became a Corporation Mr. Carbines was catapulted to the post of Secretary to the Corporation, thus making him to supersede his seniors.”42 This deliberate and vicious attack on British railroad officials in Nigeria and their qualifications was meant to weaken the officials’ authority, power, and influence in the NRC, and equally to dampen their spirits and morale. With this achieved, it would be easier to force them out of the corporation. Thus, the open questioning of key appointments in the corporation pitched AISONRC against the corporation’s management. In another article in the same issue, the association’s “Nigerianisation Committee” was even more audacious. Under the headline “Are These Not True? Ten Expositions—Two Possibilities, Only One Solution,” it wrote, “As children of this land, we have so much at stake in the Destiny of the country that we offer no apologies for the zest in exposing issues and crying aloud like new born babe for immediate action.” The article continued: Hitherto . . . [w]e have been branded as incompetent . . . corrupt, stigmatized with the most hideous adjectives calculated to perpetuate the status quo and present us to the outside world as simply subhuman, incapable even of managing our homes. We have never had the opportunity to [dis]prove these allegations and every chance [has been]cleverly blocked, so that the other side of the story has never been heard.43

Arguing its case further, the committee went on to list what it called “ten expositions” that were simply allegations against the British in the NRC, and the efforts being made by the British to frustrate the implementation of the Nigerianization policy. On the strength of this analysis, the committee argued that the government should Nigerianize all policy and other top positions in the corporation. The third article in the issue was by the “Grievances Committee” of the association. In the article, this committee stated that its mission was to publish many “acts of omission and commission” committed against AISONRC’s members by the management, under which they had “long suffered in silence.” In addition, while the association did not believe in racial antagonism, it was nonetheless prepared to “deal blow for blow with any expatriate

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officer, no matter his status, who regards Africans as belonging to an inferior class of the human family.”44 Furthermore, the committee sought to prove that some of the expatriates were not even qualified for the positions they were holding. In this vein, the committee questioned the qualifications of one unnamed staff member: [An]n expatriate officer with Scottish National Committee Certificate in Book-keeping, Arithmetic and Shorthand was promoted Deputy Head of Department. . . . This qualification has been evaluated by graduate of a Scottish University now serving in the Federal Education Department as being equivalent to Class IV Middle. . . . This glorified typist acted for Head of Department and was paid 50% acting allowance; although in acknowledgement of his incapability Management decided to refer all legal matters to the substantive Head of Department in the UK. . . . Three years ago he was Administrative Assistant.45

Perhaps to further provoke the expatriate staff and the management, Genty Tortoise again went on the offensive. First, it tried to whip up feelings against the expatriate officers by attributing to them a spiteful poem that portrayed the undue ambition of senior Nigerian officers to occupy NRC’s policy positions—as can be seen in the next poem. In the reasoning of the tortoise, the trickster, what the British railroad officials were suggesting was that, rather than creating problems in the Nigerian Railway because they had not been given policy positions, the Nigerians should first realize that they needed to acquire necessary qualifications and skills, and serve apprenticeships under British officials. In any case, the expatriates were in Nigeria as a result of the commercial exchanges between African traditional rulers and British merchants that took place in the nineteenth century. As a result of the “legitimate trade” agreement between the Nigerians and the British, the latter would still remain in the country for the long haul. Second, dissatisfied Nigerians should drown their self-generated frustration in drinking and taking tobacco! However, in the last six lines of the poem, the trickster realized that mere word-play might not intimidate the British. Genty Tortoise—and by inference the Nigerian workers—realizing the giant task involved in dislodging the seemingly well-entrenched British officials, nonetheless assured himself and the workers that they would not be deterred from fighting for their rights. Wither bound Native Mister? Policy Chair How dare you? Take snuff, take tobacco Whiskey and beer I have Quite soothing old chap Exchange is no robbery, Friend

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That was the exchange rate 100 years ago. Do not mind Wilberforce. He is dead. Policy? Go slow. Go easy. Bade [bide] your time By the way be serious Policy chair? You are not an expert Expert. Degree galore—none. What of Professional Qualification? Now I catch you fine. Experience? 30 years is just beginning. Angels tremble there, “Laddie.” Oh! Clever, clever people!! To hell with oratory To hell with folklore; To hell with chameleonic diplomacy, These effusions frighten only Babes Not Tortoise the Genty Genty.

In spite of self-assurance and positive thinking by the tortoise, all he could observe in the corporation was that many Nigerians were full of complaints and grievances. The reason for this state of affairs was the continued servitude of Nigerians under the yoke of foreigners, especially the Asians, the “Mullato” (Anglo-Indians): Too many fat indigenes On the Railway I mean. Fat with loads of grievances. Aspirations thwarted, Ambitions caged. Turned into a band of Grumblers Anglo-Indians take the cake Reward for unfinished exploits, Booted out by Wise country Absorbed by stupid one. No monkey business either Confidently they come. Serve Daddy, serve Mullato [sic]!!! Daddy gone, Mullato takes over. Decades of servitude perpetrated. Shut your mouth—Go away. I will give you a fine Certificate For meritorious SERVITUDE.

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As independence was fast approaching and AISONRC’s members were not assuming policy and management positions as quickly as they would have wanted, their frustrations became more palpable, and their language of attack more caustic as the next poem shows. Moreover, as their “enemies” became more narrowly defined as Anglo-Indians, the tortoise became more reckless in its attacks on the Indians—again, as the next poem clearly shows. Commenting on the continued employment of Anglo-Indians and British officers who had left the Indian Railways after India’s independence in 1947, Genty Tortoise intoned: Open cheques, even closed cheques. Railway now a family property; A private property, if you please. A legacy from Far East. Pleasant reward for expulsion from yonder. All your rights you call inalienable, Fighting like mad to keep intact, Signed away in one stroke Dictators brook no opposition But Tortoise is not frightened; Not frightened by high mountains. Dwell in the planets if you like And trot to earth in blue moon We cry aloud for Nigerianisation They shout back Anglo-Indianisation. Pledge in bold signatures Everlasting John Bullisation. My God, your youthful days are over Go home for peaceful rest.

In essence, the NRC was becoming a colonial dumping ground for the rejects of India! Impact of the Newsletter As would be expected, the NRC’s management and board did not find the attacks emanating from the newsletter and the antics of Genty Tortoise amusing. The railroad authorities were angry and alarmed at the deliberate attempts by the association to incite railway workers against the British and at the impact AISONRC’s activities might be having on both the NRC’s services and the nation’s economy.46 This impact should be understood against the background of Timothy Oberst’s argument about the latent and manifest power of transport workers in Africa to make or mar the colonial political economy.

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The authorities then acted with dispatch. The chairman of the Headquarters District branch of AISONRC, Mr. C. O. Odugbesan, was summoned by the management and given a letter reprimanding the association for its irresponsibility and recklessness.47 Secondly, early in 1960, the management started posting activist AISONRC members, such as Oshosanwo, away from their regional bases; where they had been very active as group members, to different parts of the country. This was meant to destabilize the association.48 Meanwhile, just before the publication of the third issue of the newsletter on October 4, 1959, the Sunday Times (Nigeria) reported, under the headline “No Room on the Rails for Nigerians,” that the NRC’s chairman had given written and personal assurances to all the expatriate staff members that the corporation had decided to retain them for the remainder of their pensionable services. For the majority of those concerned, this would have enabled them to stay on for at least fifteen years after 1960.49 The implication of such a development for AISONRC’s members was that they would no longer be taking over the management of NRC in the foreseeable future. This probably explains why the content of the “Nigerianisation Edition” of the newsletter was particularly critical of the “enemies of progress” within the corporation. In fact, in the “Secretary’s Corner” in the newsletter, the secretary informed readers that the chairman had been requested to clarify the corporation’s position on the Sunday Times’s story.50 In a letter from AISONRC to the chairman, the association argued that the assurances given to the expatriate staff were prejudicial and inimical to the future careers of its members. Also, AISONRC asked the chairman to further clarify the NRC’s intentions with regard to the implementation of the Nigerianization policy.51 On October 12, 1959, the corporation’s secretary, Mr. Carbines, informed the association that its letter on the issue of the assurances to expatriate staff had been referred to the NRC’s next board meeting.52 On November 2, 1959, after the board meeting, Emerson wrote to AIONRC on the corporation’s decision. He stated that “the policy of the Corporation is to Nigerianise the service as quickly as possible consistent with the maintenance of efficiency in the operation and management of the railway. To this end, the Corporation set up a Nigerianisation Committee to examine all officer grade pensionable posts in order to ascertain how this policy can be implemented.”53 The chairman concluded that when the recommendations of the committee had been considered by the corporation, a statement would be issued. However, AISONRC rejected this arrangement. If indeed a Nigerianization committee had been set up, the association was willing to make written and oral presentations to it. The association then wrote to Mr. Emerson, requesting him to furnish it with the committee’s terms of reference, the names of its members, and the date when the committee would start work.54 The chairman turned down the request,55 thereby creating a confrontation between

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the association and the NRC’s management. To get rid of this impasse, the corporation’s board decided to intervene, after unrelenting attacks on the management and board in AISONRC’s newsletter. At its twenty-seventh meeting, the board decided a new Nigerianization committee should be set up to examine ways of implementing the Nigerianization policy.56 Next, the chairman asked AISONRC to send its memorandum on Nigerianization to the committee. The memorandum, according to Oshosanwo, secretary of the Eastern District branch of the association and one of the brains behind the newsletter, was based “on all the points raised in . . . the Newsletters.”57 The memorandum reviewed every department of the corporation and recommended the Nigerianization of some posts and the upgrading of others as “supernumerary appointments.”58 At the end of the committee’s deliberations, it made a number of recommendations. The highlights of these included the following: 1. Expatriate contract officers should no longer be eligible for transfer to pensionable establishment. 2. The appointment of expatriate officers should be on contract terms only provided that in special circumstances an expatriate officer may be appointed on pensionable terms to a specialist post which could not be filled by a Nigerian. 3. Contract officers should not be offered renewal of contract unless it has been ascertained that no suitable Nigerian was available to fill the post. 4. A five-year Nigerianisation plan with a program chart to be introduced. 5. A six-monthly progress report on Nigerianisation to be submitted to the Staff and Establishment Committee. 6. The need for the creation of additional supernumerary posts.59 When the report was made public, the association made its views known through the July 1960 issue of its newsletter, the “Nigerianisation Edition.” While accepting that the report was comprehensive and had been written with the best of intentions, AISONRC was nonetheless disappointed by its recommendations, especially as it did not call for the immediate removal and replacement of all expatriate officers by Nigerians. Rather, the committee believed that through a gradual process of natural wastage—attrition through old age, retirements, resignations, deaths, and so on—of British officials, Nigerians would eventually take over the management of the institution. As far as the association was concerned, “the whole recommendations are narrow, timidly presented and completely ineffective. Expatriate Heads of Departments who objected strongly against [sic] Nigerianization are still to decide when a Nigerian is efficient to take over. . . . We are not idiots. Give

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us the chance in our own country and we shall, by our efficiency, damn the expectations of the worst critic.”60 Since AISONRC did not get what it wanted, it again turned its newsletter’s pages into the main battleground, from which it mounted sustained attacks on the report and other aspects of the corporation. Gentleman Tortoise again set the pace by expressing total disgust at the report. In actual fact, the report had brought all kinds of personal health maladies to Genty Tortoise, the keen observer: meningitis, lumbago, heartaches, even closeness to death. Gentleman Tortoise intoned: Now back to earth Dear Comrades Gentleman Tortoise Was down with Nigerianisation Menin-gitis, Lumbago came in addition, Genty Tortoise full of agony But thanks to your good wishes Thanks for your prayers And off the Danger List Back to life once again, With a lot of story to tell Parables this time my love, Wear your Toga of wisdom to understand And hear a timely advice.61

Despite all this, to Mr. Tortoise, the real source of frustration was the “socalled expatriate ‘experts’” who in most cases had qualifications that were inferior to those of some Nigerians: Have you heard the News? Galore-Experts, Experts, Experts, Experts Galore Flood in confusion O&C62 Stores make no false claim believe you me you Brethren, You bury your nose in books Pythagoras theorem you cram Economics old and new you learn Study by heart Rail Sciences Yet you cannot expert become Listen to me my son Hear how experts emerge Cooked from the kitchen pot Mother awards them Doctorate Railway Degree Special, Tutorship at home of Course

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University too long a journey Secondary education unreasonably expensive, Made for fools they claim, Millions of them in the Colonies Master race does not worry Shorthand Magic quite adequate Too good for an expert’s chair Oh shameless Braggart Your tricks too late in the day, Mother taught me holds no water My children shall run their Railway Minus you With Superb EFFICIENCY.

Meanwhile, the NRC’s junior workers, buoyed by the literary activities of the more senior AISONRC members, began agitating for improvements in their working conditions. On December 10, 1959, under the umbrella of their labor federation, the Nigerian Union of Railwaymen (NUR) went on a protest march to the NRC’s headquarters in Lagos. In response, the management either suspended or dismissed 240 union members. In addition, 182 others were charged with crimes, and out of these, six were eventually convicted in May 1959.63 This development had the effect of uniting AISONRC and the NUR against a common foe: Goliath—the NRC management and the colonial state. Members of both unions then started demanding a commission of inquiry—from government—to probe the corporation in its entirety. Furthermore, they demanded that the corporation’s part-time chairman, Sir Ralf Emerson, should now be sacked. As a result of the unions’ agitation and pressure, the government was forced to set up the Elias Commission of Inquiry in 1960.64 Revealing the strength of the pressure AISONRC brought to bear on both the NRC management and the Nigerian colonial state, at the inauguration of the commission of enquiry, the minister of transport and aviation, Mr. Raymond Njoku, stated that Nigerianization “is a very important policy of the Federal Government. Both the Nigerian Union of Railwaymen (Federated) and the Association of Indigenous Officers have criticized the pace of Nigerianization in the Railway. . . . This policy is one to which the Federal Government attaches great importance because the full effects of our independence, which we shall attain on October 1, this year, cannot be felt until we can run our railways . . . with very little assistance from abroad.”65 AISONRC submitted a memorandum to the commission, and in it the association made many recommendations on how best to manage the NRC. On Nigerianization, it reiterated all the arguments it had expressed on the pages of its newsletter.66 The Elias Commission made many recommendations on

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various aspects of the NRC. Specifically on Nigerianization, it made a number of recommendations, among which were the following: 1. That a suitably qualified Nigerian should succeed Sir Ralf Emerson. 2. That any future chairman of the NRC should similarly be a Nigerian. 3. That as soon as convenient the posts of General Manager and the Secretary to the Corporation should be held by Nigerians subject to a period of 18 months probationary training. 4. That a scheme should be established for the rapid advancement of Nigerians in the Corporation to become substantive Heads of Department. 5. That a Nigerianisation Officer be appointed solely for carrying out the Nigerianisation proposal.67 On September 16, 1960, the government appointed Dr. Okechukwu Ikejiani, a Nigerian medical doctor and politician, as the new chairman of the corporation. The appointment was heartily welcomed by AISONRC, which saw him as “‘our man’ coming to sit over the affairs of the NRC.”68 The great expectation was that Ikejiani, being a nationalist, would accelerate Nigerianization in the NRC. The detail of Ikejiani’s performance as NRC’s chairman is beyond the scope of this chapter. Suffice it to say that under him the corporation was paralyzed by corruption, mismanagement, ethnicity, and favoritism.69 Under Ikejiani’s watch, the implementation of the Nigerianization policy was riddled with nepotism, favoritism, ethnicism, regionalism, and sectionalism. The chairman was simply favoring “his own people,” and so deep and widespread were the shenanigans unleashed under the Nigerian chairman that the government was forced in 1966 to set up another commission of inquiry, this time to probe his tenure.70

Conclusion This chapter has discussed the origin, the objectives, and the reasons behind the establishment of the Association of Indigenous Senior Officers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (AISONRC) and its newsletter in the late 1950s. These developments took place against the background of the Nigerian colonial government’s yielding to pressure exerted on it by Nigerian nationalists to Nigerianize the colony’s civil service, including the NRC. The main motive behind the establishment of AISONRC was to wrest power and control of the NRC from the British officials and managers who had long been in charge. In order to achieve its objectives, AISONRC decided from the beginning not to use strikes, demonstrations, lockouts, or other similar strategies. Rather, it decided to use its newsletter to attack the colonial state and the NRC’s management and force them to speed up the process

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of Nigerianization of all the corporation’s top positions by 1960—Nigeria’s year of independence. Although AISONRC was very narrow in its objectives and elitist in orientation, nevertheless, it was able through the effective use of its newsletter to expose British officials’ racism, hypocrisy, low level of technology transfer in the Nigerian Railway Corporation, and the unnecessary delay in implementing the government’s Nigerianization policy in the corporation. Significantly, the association successfully used its nationally distributed newsletter to force substantial changes and the rapid Nigerianization of the top management positions of the NRC by the mid-1960s.

Notes 1. Nigerian Railway, Annual Report on the Government Railway (Ebute Metta, Lagos, Nigeria: Nigerian Railway Press, 1953), 36. 2. Timothy Oberst, “Transport Workers, Strikes and the ‘Imperial Response’: Africa and the Post World War II Conjuncture,” African Studies Review 31 (1988): 118–19. 3. Oberst, “Transport Workers, Strikes and the ‘Imperial Response,’” 118–19. 4. Richard D. Grillo, African Railwaymen: Solidarity and Opposition in an East African Labour Force (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973); Richard Jeffries, Class, Power and Ideology in Ghana: The Railwaymen of Secondi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978); Frederick Cooper, On the African Waterfront: Urban Disorder and the Transformation of Work in Colonial Mombassa (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987); Oberst, “Transport Workers, Strikes and the ‘Imperial Response,’” 117–34; Wale Oyemakinde, “The Railway Workers and Modernization in Colonial Nigeria,” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 10 (1979): 113–24; Segun O. Osoba, “The Development of Trade Unionism in Colonialism and Post-Colonial Nigeria,” in Topics on Nigerian Economic and Social History, ed. Isaac Adeagbo Akinjogbin and Segun O. Osoba (Ile-Ife, Nigeria: University of Ife Press, 1980); and Charles A. Orr, “Trade Unionism in Colonial Africa,” Journal of Modern African Studies 4 (1966): 65–81. 5. Oberst, “Transport Workers, Strikes and the ‘Imperial Response,’” 118. 6. Ibid. 7. Jeanne Marie Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism: Mozambican Strategies and Struggles in Lourenço Marques, 1877–1962 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995), 10–12. 8. James Campbell Scott, Weapons of the Weak. Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987). 9. Ahmad Alawad Sikainga, City of Steel and Fire: A Social History of Atbara, Sudan’s Railway Town, 1906–1984 (Portsmouth NH: Heinemann, 2002), 8. 10. Halker D. Clark, For Democracy, Workers, and God; Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865–1895 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 1–3. 11. W. Lawrence Levine, Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-America Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 6. 12. Jeremiah I. Dibua, Modernization and the Crisis of Development in Africa: The Nigerian Experience (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006), 66–68.

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13. Federal Government of Nigeria, Report of the Commission Appointed by His Excellency the Governor to Make Recommendations about the Recruitment and Training of Nigerians for Senior Posts in Government Service of Nigeria (Lagos, Nigeria: Government Printer, 1948), 5. 14. Ibid., 5. 15. Lisa A. Lindsay, “A Tragic Romance a Nationalist Symbol: The Case of the Murdered White Lover in Colonial Nigeria,” Journal of Women’s History 17 (2005): 30. 16. M. O. D. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959– 1969” (unpublished memoir, n.d.), 130. 17. Ibid., 2–3. 18. Ibid. 19. Ibid. 20. Ibid. 21. Nigerian officers had been planning to form their own union from as far back as the early 1950s. See, for instance, “Senior Railway Staff Plan to Form Their Own Trade Union,” West African Pilot, January 8, 1953. 22. Tokunbo A. Ayoola, “Political Economy of Rail Transportation in Nigeria, 1945–1985” (PhD diss., University of Manchester, UK, 2004), chapter 4. 23. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 105. 24. Ibid., 4. 25. Ibid., 6–7. 26. Roberta Mazzucco, “African Myths and What They Teach,” Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, Yale University, www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1998 (accessed July 7, 2007). 27. Oyekan Owomoyela, Yoruba Trickster Tales (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), ix. 28. Kenule Saro-Wiwa, Anthill of Ogoni Folktales (London: Saro International, 1991), 10. 29. These attributes are seen in African folktales. 30. Diedre Badejo, “The Yoruba and Afro-American Trickster: A Contextual Comparison,” Presence Africaine 147 (1988): 3–7. 31. This is in the same vein as the confinement of African workers to the margins of African wealth and prosperity during colonial rule. 32. Badejo, “The Yoruba and Afro-American Trickster,” 9. 33. Ayoola, “Political Economy of Rail Transportation in Nigeria, 1945–1985,” 138. 34. Wogu Ananaba, The Trade Union Movement in Nigeria (London: C. Hurst, 1969), chapter 8. 35. Ibid. 36. Federal Government of Nigeria, Report of Elias Commission of Inquiry into the Administration, Economics and Industrial Relations of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (Lagos: Government Printer, 1960). 37. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 7. 38. Ibid., 47–48. 39. Colonial Office, Colonial Report Nigeria (London: HMSO, 1946). 40. Oshosanwo “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 24.

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41. Ibid. 42. Ibid., 28–29. 43. Ibid. 44. Ibid. 45. Ibid., 32. 46. Their anger was increased when excerpts from this issue of the newsletter were published by some Nigerian newspapers. See, for instance, Daily Service, November 11, 1959. 47. Minutes of 8th Eastern District Meeting of November 13, 1959, in Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officer, 1959–1969,” 28. 48. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 105. 49. Ibid., 46–54. 50. Ibid., 35. 51. F. Modupe Alade, Secretary Headquarters District, for Central Executive Committee, to the Chairman NRC, October 6, 1959, in Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 40. 52. Letter Reference NRC 84A, P. A. Carbines, Secretary NRC, to F. Modupe Alade, Secretary Headquarters District, October 12, 1959, in Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969.” 53. Letter Reference NRC 84A/772, Sir Ralf Emerson, Chairman NRC, to the Secretary AIONRC, November 2, 1959 in Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969.” 54. F. Modupe Alade, Secretary AIONRC, to the Chairman NRC, November 3, 1959, in Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969.” 55. Letter Reference NRC 84B/857, Acting Secretary NRC, N. A. Kuforiji, to the Secretary AIONRC, November 23, 1959, in Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969.” 56. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 44. 57. Ibid. 58. These are appointments that are beyond the required number needed in an establishment, but are made nonetheless to achieve a specific purpose, which in the case of the NRC was to accelerate the number of Nigerians that would hold top positions in the organization. 59. Chapter 7, “Summary of Recommendations, Report of Nigerianisation Committee on NRC,” in Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 55–56. 60. “Nigerianisation Edition,” AIONRC Newsletter, July 1960, in Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 72–73. 61. Ibid., 73. 62. That is, NRC’s Operations and Commercial Department. 63. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 105–6. 64. Federal Government of Nigeria, Report of Elias Commission of Inquiry into the Administration, Economics and Industrial Relations of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, 1960 (Ebute Metta, Lagos: Nigerian Railway Corporation Press, 1960). 65. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 106.

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66. Ibid., 106–12. 67. Federal Government of Nigeria, Report of Elias Commission of Inquiry, 70–72. 68. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 113. 69. Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Affairs of the Nigerian Railway Corporation from the 1st October, 1960 to 31st December, 1965 (Lagos: Federal Military Government of Nigeria, 1966). 70. Oshosanwo, “Odyssey: Association of Indigenous Officers, 1959–1969,” 113.

Primary sources Colonial Office. Colonial Report Nigeria. London: HMSO, 1946. Colonial Office. Colonial Report Nigeria. London: HMSO, 1947. Colonial Office. Colonial Report Nigeria. London: HMSO, 1948. Colonial Office. Colonial Report Nigeria. London: HMSO, 1949. Colonial Office. Colonial Report Nigeria. London: HMSO, 1950. Colonial Office. Colonial Report Nigeria. London: HMSO, 1951. Colonial Office. Colonial Report Nigeria. London: HMSO, 1952. Federal Government of Nigeria. Annual Report on the Government Railway for 1943–44. Lagos: Government Printer, 1944. Federal Government of Nigeria. Annual Report on the Government Railway for 1952– 1953. Lagos: Government Printer, 1953. Federal Government of Nigeria. Report of the Commission Appointed by His Excellency the Governor to Make Recommendations about the Recruitment and Training of Nigerians for Senior Posts in Government Service of Nigeria. Lagos: Government Printer, 1948. Federal Government of Nigeria. Report of Elias Commission of Inquiry into the Administration, Economics and Industrial Relations of the Nigerian Railway Corporation. Lagos: Government Printer, 1960.

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Contributors Arinpe Adejumo, a poet, playwright, and literary critic, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She holds a PhD in Yoruba language and literature from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Her academic background and research interests include studies in satirical genre, gender studies, and folklore studies. Her publications articulate the function of literature in the growth and development of Yoruba society. Augustine Agwuele is a linguist. His current research focuses on the variability associated with the production and perception of sequences of speech sounds. He seeks to understand the programming principles that account for speech variability. His latest works examine how coarticulatory processes are influenced by suprasegmental factors. He is also interested in the intersection of language, society, and culture; consequently, he studies West African languages in order to gain insight into the sociocultural existence of the peoples. Augustine Agwuele obtained his MA from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, and his PhD in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. He is an assistant professor of linguistics at the Department of Anthropology, Texas State University–San Marcos. Maurice N. Amutabi is an assistant professor of history at Central Washington University, where he teaches the history of Africa and the Middle East. Amutabi holds a PhD in history (Africa) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his BA (Hons.) and MA degrees from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Amutabi is the author of The NGO Factor in Africa: The Case of Arrested Development in Kenya (Routledge, 2006). Amutabi is coauthor of Nationalism and Democracy for People-centered Development in Africa (Moi University Press, 2000). He has also coauthored Foundations of Adult Education in Africa (Pearson/UNESCO, 2005). He has written two novels, Because of Honor (on Islam in Africa) and These Good People (on corruption in Africa). He is also the author of Nakhamuma Stories (a collection of short stories from the Abaluyia community of western Kenya). Amutabi’s book Islam and Underdevelopment of Africa is forthcoming, 2008). His chapters have appeared in over a dozen books. His articles have appeared in journals such as the African Studies Review, Canadian Journal of African Studies, International Journal of Educational Development; and Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African

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Women Studies. He is the vice president of the Kenya Studies and Scholars’ Association (KESSA), Kenya’s premier research and academic organization. Tokunbo A. Ayoola is an assistant professor of African history in the Department of African American and African Studies at the Ohio State University, Columbus. He received his doctorate from the University of Manchester, UK. He specializes in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century history of Africa, focusing on the economic, political, and social history of Nigeria and West Africa. Prior to teaching at the Ohio State University, he taught at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), Badagry, and Tulane University, New Orleans. His scholarly writings have appeared in international journals such as the Lagos Historical Review, Journal of History and Diplomatic Studies, and Lagos Notes and Records. Nicholas M. Creary is an assistant professor of African history at Ohio University. His principal intellectual interest is in studying the degree to which and the means by which Africans and peoples of African descent forged elements of their precolonial past and/or transformed European or hybrid (“creole”) institutions into cultural tools for their struggles to liberate themselves from colonial domination. His dissertation, “Domesticating a Foreign Import? African Cultures and the Catholic Church at Jesuit Missions in Zimbabwe, 1879–1980,” currently under review for publication with Michigan State University Press, examines African Christians’ efforts to adapt the Catholic Church to their cultures at Jesuit missions in Zimbabwe from the beginnings of the modern Jesuit missions in 1879 until Zimbabwe’s political independence in 1980. His current project compares eight literary movements among people of color who experienced racialized forms of colonial oppression in the Atlantic basin in the 1920s and 1930s, including the Harlem Renaissance in the United States, Négritude in French colonies, Claridade in the Cape Verde Islands, Afro-Cubanismo, the Engagé writers of Haiti, Afro-Brazilian modernist writers, the New African Movement among black South Africans, and the Creole Proto-Nationalist Movement in Belize. This study explores the ways in which the artists who formed these literary movements used their art to create cultural identities, and how those identities were used as tools for liberation. Toyin Falola obtained his BA and PhD from the University of Ife, Nigeria. He worked at the University of Ife till 1989. He was a Smuts Fellow at the University of Cambridge in 1988, a visiting professor at York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1990, and he moved to the University of Texas at Austin in 1991 as a professor. He has held visiting appointments at Smith College in the United States and at the Australian National University. A former editor of Odu: A Journal of West African Studies, and

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Contributors 323 a current coeditor of African Economic History, Falola serves on the board of twelve scholarly journals. In addition, he is the series editor for Greenwood’s Culture and Customs of Africa series; the series editor of Classic Authors and Texts on Africa, Africa World Press; and the series editor for the University of Rochester’s Studies in African History and the Diaspora. He has contributed to professional associations, for example, serving as the general secretary of the Historical Society of Nigeria and as a member of the Board of the Association of African Studies. For his contributions to the study of Nigeria, he has been presented with three Festschriften: Adebayo Oyebade, ed., The Transformation of Nigeria: Essays in Honor of Toyin Falola (Africa World Press, 2002); Adebayo Oyebade, ed., The Foundations of Nigeria: Essays in Honor of Toyin Falola (Africa World Press, 2003), and Akin Ogundiran, ed., Precolonial Nigeria: Essays in Honor of Toyin Falola (Africa World Press, 2005). Celeste A. Fisher is the Diversity Institute visiting scholar at Misericordia University, Dallas, Pennsylvania. Previously, she taught in the Sociology Department at Ithaca College. She sits on the advisory board of Inter-Cultural Studies, a journal of social change and cultural diversity. Her research interests include film audiences, race and representation, identity politics, and urban studies. She has served as a special issue editor of the International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics (2005). Her recent project, entitled “Black Women’s Politics through Cultural Expression,” is an examination of the ways in which black women have creatively articulated their political views within the context of various social and cultural movements. She has recently published a book on film audiences, entitled Black on Black: Urban Youth Films and the Multicultural Audience (Scarecrow Press, 2006). Denise Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson is a PhD student in theatre history (performance as public practice) in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests are in sexuality in Caribbean performance, contemporary and medieval carnivals of the New and Old worlds, and African retentions in African American and Caribbean performance. She holds an MA in theater from the University of Kentucky, and a BA (Hons.) in theater design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, England. She has extensive professional experience in the visual arts, specializing in welded steel sculptures and theater design. She was the set designer for the Little Theatre Movement (LTM) National Pantomime Company of Jamaica in Kingston, Jamaica, and the theater designer for the Theatre Centre Company, London, England. Her work has been exhibited in England, Canada, the United States, Czechoslovakia, and the Caribbean. Her dissertation is on homophobia and black femininity in Jamaican dancehall performance.

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Hetty ter Haar (BA history, London School of Economics) is an independent researcher. Her essay “Out of Africa: Theory and the Displacement of African Literature” was published in Migrations and Creative Expressions in Africa and the African Diaspora, ed. Toyin Falola, Niyi Afolabi, and Adérónké Adésolá Adésànyà (Carolina Academic Press, 2008). Debra L. Klein is a professor of anthropology at Gavilan College in Gilroy, California. She obtained her MA and PhD degrees in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her book, Yorùbá Bàtá Goes Global: Artists, Culture Brokers, and Fans (University of Chicago Press, 2007) is based on three years of field research in Erin-Osun, Nigeria, during 1995, 1996–98, and 2005 as well as on her collaborations with the artists. Debbie lived and performed with drumming and dancing families and also lectured in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Ibadan. Emmanuel M. Mbah is assistant professor of history at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island. His research focus is on conflict in colonial and postcolonial Africa, and he is the author of Land/Boundary Conflict in Africa: The Case of Former British Colonial Bamenda, Present-Day North-West Province of the Republic of Cameroon, 1916–1996 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008). Sarah Steinbock-Pratt is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her BA from McGill University, and her MA from Concordia University, both in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is currently researching gender and empire in Progressive Era American history. Antoinette Tidjani Alou is professor of French and comparative literature at the Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, Niger, and a founding member of the interdisciplinary research group on “Gender, Literature and Development in Niger.” She has published various papers on French, Francophone, and oral literature and is also the author of translations in socioanthropology and literature. Her current research interests include questions of myth and identity/gender in French, Francophone, and African oral Literature seen from a comparative perspective. Recently, she has published a translation of Anthropology and Development by J. P. Olivier de Sardan (Zed Books, 2005). She was the editor of Niger. Emerging Literature and Modern Orature: Voicing Identities, Special Issue of Tydskrif vir Letterkunde (University of Pretoria, 2005); and she served as a contributing editor/contributing translator for Women Writing Africa (Feminist Press, 2005).

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Contributors 325 Asonzeh Ukah, PhD Habil., is a lecturer and research fellow in the Department for the History of Religions at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. He holds higher degrees in both religious studies and sociology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and a PhD in history of religions from the University of Bayreuth, Germany. His research interests are in African Pentecostalism, religion and globalization, religious advertising, religion and the media, and religious popular culture in Africa. He has published numerous academic papers in English, Spanish, and German. He is the author of A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power: A Study of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria (Africa World Press, 2008).

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Index abolition of transatlantic slave trade, 25, 33 abstinence (teaching of), 269 Abúlé Olókè Mérin, 263, 264, 265, 268, 270, 271, 272 Adamawa, 86 Adegboye Adetola, 120 “Advice to Mosquitoes,” 294–95 Africas, imagined, 217–20 afro-jùjú, 148 agbégijó, 136, 164 agboile, 44 agrarian: economy, 10, 42, 54; kinship (Yoruba), 42–44, 49 ; kinship and social organization, 42–44; Yoruba social organization, 42–47 Agu Irukwe, 119, 120, 122, 129 Akindayomi, Josiah Olufemi, 292 àkúbà, 141, 144 Akum, 92, 99 alárìnjó, 136, 138, 149, 152, 261; skits, 141 Alcoff, Linda Martin, 158 Algernon, Austin, 175 Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, 218, 221, 222, 226 Amal’eZulu, 289, 291 ambivalence, 5, 153, 157, 158, 159, 192 Amerindians, 240 ancestors, 46, 78, 95, 141, 163, 172, 221 anène tree, 144, 150 Anglo-French colonial border, 92 Anglo-Indians, 306–307, 310–311 Angwafor III (Fon), 93 animism/animist, 67, 78 Apata Irapada, 113, 119 apidán, 136

Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa, 108 Apter, Andrew, 148 àràbà tree, 144–45 archetypal characters/masks, 151 Arima (town), 241 Arquipélago, 286 àsà ìbílè, 134, 137 Asik, 89 Assemblies of God, 58, 108 assimilado, 286 assimilation, 114, 171, 172, 279 Association of European Civil Servants (AECS), 301 Association of Indigenous Senior Officers of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (AISONRC), 300–303 Association of Railway Corporation Officers of Nigeria (ARCON), 284, 301, 302 Asylum Christianity, 104, 118–25 asymmetrical relationship, 10, 48–61 Atbara, 300 “Aunt Sue’s Stories,” 284 Awing, 94 Àyàn and Òjé, 136–38, 139, 144; Àyànàgalú, 136, 137; Àyánkúnlé family, 134, 135; Àyánkúnlé, Làmídì, 134, 137, 140; Àyánkúnlé, Rafiu, 138, 142 ayé (ile), 163 Àyìnlá Adégétò, 263 Àyìnlá Omowúrà, 263 Azna: culture/religion, 64; worldview, 64–66, 74, 81 Babanki Tungo, 87, 89, 91, 95 Babungo, 94

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Badejo, Diedre, 303 Bafanji, 87, 90, 92, 95 Bafanji-Balikumbat conflict, 92, 102 Baforchu, 87, 92 Bafut, 87 Bagagi, 64, 77 Baghdad (king of), 66 Bali Chamba, 86, 91 Bali Gangsin, 87 Bali Gasho, 87 Bali Gham, 87 Bali Kontan, 87, 91 Bali Muti, 87 Bali Nyonga, 87 Balikumbat, 87, 90, 92, 95, 97 Bamali, 87, 91 Bambili, 87, 95 Bambui, 87, 93–94, 99, 103 Bamenda, 9, 84–90, 102, 324 Bamessing, 94 Bamock, 92, 95 Bamum, 87, 97 Banjo, 295 baobab tree, 66 Barber, Karin, 3, 7, 19–21, 26, 137, 148 Barbosa, Jorge, 277, 285–88 bastinadoing, 244–46 Bàtá, 133–36; drumming, 149; fújì generation, 135, 136–37, 138–40; fusion, 134 Bàtá Fújì, 146, 148, 150, 151, 155 batty, 245 Bawra, 64 Bayagidda (myth), 237 Beat the Devil, 229, 230 Beckles, Hilary McD., 246 Beenie Man, 238 Belize Estates and Produce Company (BEC), 293 Belize, 277 black masculinity, 247 blackness, 172, 175; authentic blackness, 179 blood pacts, 85, 96, 98 Blue Devils, 239–40, 241–46 Bold and Beautiful, The, 193–97, 202 “Boom Bye Bye,” 237

Borchers, Hans, 189 bori cult, 64 Bornu, 67; Bornu princess, 81 Brazil, 278 Brazilian writers, 278 British colonial laws, 238, 248 British Honduras, 293 British West Indies Regiment, 278, 293 Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 174 Bui, 84, 98 Buju Banton, 237 bullers, 245 Burroughs, Edgar Rice, 216 Cabral, Amílcar, 279, 292 Cabrera, Lydia, 277 Camões, Luis Vas de, 282 Canboulay, 243, 246, 256 Cape Verde Islands, 277, 279, 285, 285 Carbines, P., 307, 308, 312 Caribbean Jingles: Dialect and Other Poems of British Honduras, 293 Caribbean performance, 238 Césaire, Aimé, 18, 22, 24, 32, 277 C-FLAG (Caribbean Forum of Lesbians, ALL sexual and Gays), 248 Chamba, 85, 86, 91 Charles, Prince, 116, 117, 130 chieftaincy, 89, 94 Chinese, 240 Chomba, 92 Christian identity, 126; Christianity, 10, 11, 104; Nigerian Christianity, 107 church government, 116; Church Missionary Society, 108; church planting, 117 Civil Rights Act, 282 Civil Society Consultative Groups on HIV/IADS in Nigeria, 262 Claridosos, 277, 278, 286, 288, 295 class, 1, 44, 245, 250–58; class structure of Trinidad, 239; class struggle, 300; high class music, 294; social class, 4; socioeconomic class, 14 classical Pentecostalism, 108 clientelism, 55, 60, 106

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