The Role Of Tribalism In Africa

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It is common to interpret African politics in tribal terms. Tribalism is perceived to be the central unifying concept for the analysis of African life. In Africa, the concept has a colonial origin and its function was tied to nineteenth century, imperialism meant the rule of the powerful monopolies, trusts, combines and cartels controlled by the financial oligarchies of the various European countries along with the consequent reduction of the market competition which characterized the earlier period of capitalism. In Africa, imperialism combined these features with foreign European control of the local apparatus of state. The financial oligarchies organized production to satisfy their needs for profit and capital accumulation as well as to remedy the deficiencies in their production processes at home. Apart from the use of military conquest, African resistance to this material reorganization and political domination of their societies was attacked from two angles: one was material and the other, ideological (Nnoli, 1978:1). The colonial government changed the material circumstances of the Africans by compelling them to participate in colonial economic activities dominated by the profit motive, through forced labor, taxation, the introduction of new currencies, and the creation of artificial scarcity (via the accumulation of huge surpluses even during times of severe economic depression), low wages, low prices for cash crops, and costly social services. At the ideological
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