Social Banditry Literature Review

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1. Introduction and literature review Since the idea was first coined in 1959 , the debate over social banditry has raged in historic circles. Hobsbawm 's argument that a few individuals in the history of crime and politics surpass the status of the criminal to become representative of an oppressed group 's struggle has been either reinforced or attacked by historians. Even though it is still a relatively new area of study, remarkably little research has been done on social banditry in Southern Africa, and in particular South-western Africa. It is for this reason that the alleged murder of five Basters (as they were commonly known at the time) on the farm Klein Nauas in the Rehoboth Gebiet during May 1915 (during the German-Rehoboth war)…show more content…
First he discusses the sources and language used to describe bandits and their activities. Secondly he looks at the political and economic changes around the Gold Coast and its influence on banditry and thirdly he discussed specific examples of banditry from the late fifteenth to the early nineteenth century. Kea argued that Austen’s notion (that will be discussed later) that many African societies were ‘too segmentary for one to identify states which exercise hegemony over rich and poor’, actually characterised certain societies on West Africa’s Gold Coast from the fifteenth century. However, he found very few examples of Hobsbawm’s model. Kea uses various examples to illustrate how banditry was used. Kea states that banditry was not the preserve of the lower classes only and that the ‘upper classes freely engaged in banditry when the circumstances demanded it’ (the upper classes are also referred to as obirempon). Upper class ‘political and economic motivations’ differed from those of the anihumanifo bebree, the ‘desperate villains and strolling robbers’. According to Kea, the anihumanifo bebree banditry was connected to the relationship between the peasants and the land and also concerned ‘the systems of land tenure, revenue collection, money-lending and marketing’. He then describes the obirempon
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