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Ethnicity: myth and reality

The ethnic group, no more then 'race' or any other 'non-reality' invented for the purposes is not the basis of social organization of the pre-capitalist worlds.

As variety was the rule here, it is essential to find some criteria of classification to assist an understanding of history. In this area the criteria of development of the forces of production and the character of the corresponding relations of production provide, in the last analysis, the only sensible solution. We suggest a distinction between two basic modes of production: the primitive-communal and tribute-paying modes. The former correspond to the long transition from virtually unknown primitive existence to the great states of the pre-capitalist classes. The tribute-paying mode defines the societies of pre-capitalist societies. On this view the slave-owning particularity is eliminated, for reasons we shall not go into here; even if we replace the 'two paths' ("Western and Asiatic) - or the three, four or five inspired by more or less dogmatic interpretations of Marx's Grundrisse - by a distinction between a complete tribute-paying mode and its incomplete peripheral forms.

This fundamental analysis is not, however, enough, and to take account of actual history it is necessary to define the series of complex social formations that make up the pre-capitalist political societies. In this analysis the role of 'long-distance trade' is essential since, before capitalism it was practically the only way of integrating into a whole, however loosely, the disparate elementary societies. In the complete tribute-paying societies, with statist centralization of surplus is initiated political and exchange activity sufficiently intense to influence the conditions of production and eventually stimulate progress.

The rediscovery of this articulation between production and centralization (or absence thereof) of surplus - long-distance trade - is recent, at least in Marxist circles. But as happens all too often we have gone from one extreme to the other. In the past the thesis of 'primacy of production' was supported, and was a pretext for ignoring long-distance trade and its role in politics. Now, suddenly, as Marxist modes take hold, interest in analysing the productive base is lost and reserved for exchange and political and warfare organization. From Marx we move on to Pirenne, who wrote of nothing else.4

In the reconstruction of pre-capitalist societies, analysis of their character, their dynamic (on the basis of their contradictions), their interaction, or their complications, it is rediscovered now that the ethnic group had no essential place.

There are in fact 'peoples', the most general of terms that does not imply any a priori precise qualification. These peoples are organized in spaces that do not always coincide, for example: space for matrimonial exchanges, for long-distance trade, for eventual centralization of surplus, for political organization, for the eventually centralized states, for mythologies of kinship and origin, for religious beliefs, and space for linguistic communications (it would be possible to make an almost infinite catalogue of the areas defined).

Where is the ethnic group in this multiple reality? Everywhere and nowhere. If by ethnic group is meant a people who 'speak the same language' (even allowing for dialect variations so long as they do not prevent communication), and who obey the same political authority, there are only rarely ethnic groups in the advanced tribute-paying systems (in China and in Egypt). But why then speak of ethnic group? How does it differ from the modern nation? Furthermore - in the mediaeval West or black Africa for example - the surplus is scarcely centralized beyond the elementary constituents of the system (the feudal manor, the village). Part of the surplus is distributed through the long-distance trade. The state scarcely exists, and where it does seem to have formal existence it is without power: neither a state integrating the basic units of production of tribute-paying surplus, nor a state organized by 'warrior-merchants' as masters of long-distance trade. In these systems communal consciousness has several stages, without necessarily going through the stage of 'ethnic' identification: there is the village community and that of the villages included in the same elementary tribute-paying unit and/or close matrimonial ties, there are the broad spaces with vague religious connotation in some cases: Christianity for medieval Europe, for example. But there is no such thing as a Frenchman, or even perhaps a Breton... Is 'provincial' (pseudo-ethnic) consciousness not a later product, of centralized monarchies (who 'crease' the provinces as organizational units in order to control them), whereas the provinces are very like the advanced tribute-paying mode. Language in itself does not necessarily motivate a sense of community. In our age, when the state education system has largely brought together and imposed a 'single language', it is easy to forget that the ancient peoples were often polyglot (see Africa), that according to need they used this or that language, variant or idiom, without being perturbed by 'multiple identity' in the jargon of the modern phenomenon of linguistic chauvinism.

Pre-capitalist organization is not 'homogeneous', even in fractions of the world, a fortiori over great areas. There are nearly always areas of greater population density, development of forces of production, political, cultural and religious organization, and the 'intermediate' areas, with more or less defined dependence on the former. There are also nearly always enclaves that escape the (linguistic, religious, economic or political) homogenization imposed by the rise of great states. Where the area of long-distance trade does not correlate exactly with that of minimum common disposition of power there often emerge people-classes who bridge the gaps the Jews in mediaeval Christianity, the Dioula in West Africa, among others.

We have elsewhere suggested an interpretation of Arab and pre-colonial African history based on the method described above.

In the Arab case, we speak of the quasi-nation superimposing itself on the regional community, founded on centralization and distribution of the surplus provided by the dominant class of warrior-merchants. It was a class at its height (moving from Tangiers to Baghdad without difficulty) strongly unified through, amongst other things, a written language and a religion. It was a quasi-nation and not a nation pure and simple since the means corresponding to the development of the forces of production scarcely touched the peasant masses, especially those cut off by natural barriers (hence the survival of linguistic and religious enclaves) and since the correlation with power, often localized (especially at times of decline in the great trade), was only relative. Unification in the ruling class was, however, strong, hence our description. But this was not an 'Arab ethnic group'; any more than the enclave peoples had an 'ethnic' by the Western mass media, was of no interest to the broad masses; the 'one' people).

The case of the old Sudanic Africa is very similar to that of North Africa. It is known (i) that the great states of Sudanic Africa (Ghana, Mali. Songhai, and so on) were founded on control of the southern edge of trans-Saharan trade, just as those of the north were founded on control of its northern edge; (ii) the ruling class of these states far from being identifiable as a 'dominant ethnic group' was formed on the basis of certain warrior clans, wide open to assimilation (there were professed Malinke or Songhai here just as there were professed Turks in the Ottoman Empire): (iii) that the scope of these dominances, with fluctuating frontiers, was highly heterogeneous, or variable, especially as regards what is now called the 'ethnic' factor. These theses with their critique of 'ethnicity' are gaining ground nowadays. The Atlantic trade ruined the states and classes to the north and south of the Sahara for similar reasons that led to the decline of the Afro-Arab long-distance trade. The Atlantic slave trade completed the destruction and wrought one of the worst abuses recorded in the history of humankind. The formation of black coastal states founded on this trade was not matched by any development of the forces of production, but rather their regression.

Our political thesis on contemporary Arab unity and African unity comes within the pursuit and revival of this history. Arab unity has firm objective roots, reinforced even today despite the impact of a decline dating back several centuries and aggravated by colonization and the emergence of the present-day post-colonial states. It is in our view impossible to defend the long-term interests of the Arab peoples, their liberation from world capitalist domination and the related internal patterns of exploitation, without defending the triple objective of delinking, socialism and the building of a unified Arab nation. African unity, or African regional unities, has perhaps more tender roots, since, among other factors, it does not enjoy the unparalleled instrument represented for the Arab nation by a shared language. It is, however, the only possible response to the challenges of our age. Neither consolidation of the states emerging from colonization, often too tiny to face the problems of our time, nor the break-up desired by the proponents of ethnicity (to be seen in Nigeria of the past and Ethiopia of the present) provide a response to these issues.

The practices of colonial domination have played a decisive part in the 'creation' of 'ethnic realities' in Africa in particular. For the colonizers to dominate vast regions, often disrupted by decline associated with slave trading, they need to 'reorganize' and above all find local intermediaries for the purpose. In the absence of state, a tribute-paying or 'feudal' class, the colonizers invented 'chiefs' and invested them with an authority that was often spurious. But of what could they be chiefs anyway? It was then that poor, amateur anthropologists, who were good military and civilian servitors of colonialism, invented the 'ethnic groups' (wish the frankness of the times the expressions were 'races' or 'tribes'). Professional anthropology made a halfhearted attack on these inventions. The story of these inventions has been told very wittily about the Bambara and the Bété - and of the Ibo and many others. In the most tragic instances - for the peoples victimized - colonialism linked the invention of ethnicity to the establishment of savage systems of exploitation, nowadays adorned with the description 'traditional'. J. P. Chrétien has shown how Belgian colonialism and the Catholic church jointly invented the 'Tutsi' and the 'Hutu': curious ethnic groups indistinguishable by language, culture or history, he says. Tutsi feudal domination was thus an entirely Belgian invention, then justified by a baseless theory (the vaunted distinction between Hamites and Bantu).5

Ideologization of ethnicity is a clear example of racism. The ethnic group - or 'race' as it was called - was supposed to exist on its own, prior to the ethnic consciousness of those affected. It defined significant qualities that have sometimes been comically described: for example, the X or the Y are 'bright' or 'stupid', dedicated to agriculture or to abstract thought, according to the needs of the colonial power. But when all is said and done the mass circulation description of 'An Englishman's view of the French' or vice versa is not much better.

The extreme form of the ideology of ethnic racism comes in apartheid South Africa and the bantustanization of the country. The black people of South Africa have, as is well known, riposted with demonstrations of unity and struggle and it might be hoped that their courage and example would give the theoreticians of ethnicity and its unconditional acceptance more pause for thought. Zionist literature showing its 'view' of the Arabs and plans based on this view are no different.

History cannot go backwards. As a consequence, if the ethnic group exists, whether or not as a product of colonialism, it must be acknowledged and taken into account. But does it really exist and if so where? Here variety is the rule and there is no substitute as is said for 'concrete analysis of concrete situations'.

In some instances it would seem clear that ethnic reality - albeit a false reality - is a given of current politics. But on closer examination it can be seen that in most situations this reality is manipulated by clans competing for power within the ruling class. The best examples of this are Zaire. Rwanda and Burundi. In the latter two countries, the quasi-racist contrast of Tutsi and Hutu has been internalized by the ruling classes. Belgian colonialism and the Catholic church favoured in the extreme a 'feudal' domination they themselves created and christened 'Tutsi'. Later the new educated petit-bourgeoisie, hoping to take over from the 'feudals' in the new neo-colonial framework, claimed 'Hutu' ethnicity and, with colonialism and the church showing a change of heart, were supported by imperialism when the post-independence regime was established in Rwanda. As C. Vidal has shown, the 'tine ethnic excuse' was manipulated by the petit-bourgeois clans competing for power. But has 'ethnicity' really been internalized by the great manipulated masses? This remains to be proven. In Katanga (now renamed Shaba) it can hardly be called ethnicity but provincialism, and pluri-ethnic at that. Here it can be seen that provincialism was only the reflection of the backwardness of the petit-bourgeoisie of this province under the extreme domination of large-scale mining capital, in the face of the Kinshasa petit-bourgeoisie, who were radical nationalist in the early 1960s. Here, too, imperialism used the contradiction to try to prolong its domination of Katanga, threatened by the rise of support for Lumumba. Once again with colonial power situated in Kinshasa, imperialism had a change of heart. It should also be observed that this provincialism, speedily dubbed as 'ethic' by the Western mass media, was of no interest to the broad masses; the first workers' organizations in the province laid no claim to ethnicity.

The hydra of ethnicity and ethnic affiliation is always ready to spring up again. In fact it reappears whenever the local ruling class is slipping and when its failure is becoming unbearable. This is clearly the case in Zaire, and perhaps not the only one in Africa. But it is not the case generally. Stable neo-colonial power is founded on a ruling class more or less united at state level: this class largely transcends ethnic grouping. A comprador class as a whole it binds its destiny to the state's and the state is its means of exerting local power. Doubtless the individual components of this class may seek to 'build a following' in their region of origin. For want of power or the desire to use the 'normal' political means (as defence of social interests and conflict over programmes are barred by the widespread system of single pseudo-parties serving comprador development), they may appeal to ethnic or pseudo-ethnic solidarities. This kind of manoeuvre is limited in effect and is only serious in case of global failure and acute conflicts for 'succession' to a broken power, when imperialism has itself decided to switch horses.

The political conclusion to be drawn from this critique of ethnicity is self-evident. It can be summarized in two phrases: respect diversity, and be united despite it.

Respecting diversity means giving up empty talk of a power pretending to be what it is not, asserting 'national interest' (frequently betrayed) by appearing to internalize the ideology of the nation-state. It means accepting that there are social realities, primarily classes (although the authorities often deny their existence in order to deprive them of autonomous expression), but also gender, religious communities, regions and sometimes even ethnic groups. A social reality exists when individuals are conscious of it and desire to express it; no right has higher value than such expression. Scientific analysis may provide an understanding of the objective conditions that create this reality, but it does not justify giving 'prior warrant' to its expression. It is not the duty of thinkers and researchers (any more than of the authorities) to decree whether a reality (ethnic or otherwise) exists or not. That right belongs only to the people and to them alone, those really concerned with the issue.

A recognition of diversity does not mean allowing fragmentation through endless secession. On the contrary it must be the jumping-off point for an appeal to unity. This is the only prospect that is bound to be favourable to the development of the popular forces. But an appeal to unity remains hollow unless it is associated with a denunciation of the global and local system that, while not always and inevitably responsible for all the 'differentiations', is ready to exploit them to break the unity of the popular forces.

The cultural dimension of development in Africa and the third world

For the following we draw on the analysis made by our colleague Faysal Yachir. His text was published with two others. Samir Amin on Islamic ideology and Mario de Andrade and Maria do Ceu Carmoreis on black African ideologies.6 We shall not reiterate the two texts here but return to the issues they raise.

The now widely acknowledged failure of development policies followed in Africa has provoked a renewed interest in culture. Cultural issues, until recently regarded as secondary, are seen by an increasing number of researchers as an essential aspect of social change, or as the fundamental issue in development.

This irruption of culture on to the field of economic and social reflection is primarily a reflection of the recent evolution of African societies, who in some way have spontaneously included cultural issues in the forefront of their concerns. The new acuteness of linguistic questions, the religious revival in its various forms, the demand by minorities for the right to be different, or from another angle the tensions undermining traditional values, status and roles, bear witness to the relevance of questions of individual and collective identity. But this irruption of culture on to the field of economic and social reflection also arises from increasing dissatisfaction with the limitations of analytical force in the conventional approaches, in particular of sociology and development economics.

The reason why researchers studied economics and sociology rather than culture was not that economic and social issues seemed more serious. The explanation is rather the compartmentalization of the social sciences and their largely apologetic nature have led to a separation of culture from economics, with the notion that the former should adapt almost automatically to the latter. Furthermore when culture was explicitly taken into account, it was to stress its negative character as an obstacle to development. If this dichotomous approach is nowadays challenged with renewed vigour and in more and more circles, it is because its methodological premisses prevent account being taken of the increasingly obvious embroilment of culture with economics.

An awareness of the crucial importance of this embroilment of culture with economics is based on two observable intuitions warranting scientific elaboration. The first is that culture in the broad sense deeply affects if not the character of economic systems at least the logic of their operation, and this impact goes further than the influence of 'traditional values' on the diffusion of attitudes of the capitalist kind - the principal theme of functionalist sociology of modernization. The second intuition is that economics, or more precisely economic (and social) changes induce phenomena of acculturation and deculturation, namely change the culture. The relationship between culture and economics is dialectic rather than functionalist or structural.

An interest in the cultural aspect of development is not merely identifying an omission and studying cultural issues after a study of the cultural aspect of economic changes.

An attempt should be made to clear up the interaction or rather embroilment of culture with economics at three distinct levels ideology, society and state. The social changes experienced by the African countries in the past two or three decades in part reflect the impact of policies implemented by the governments or parties, which were - and are - strongly influenced by the great ideological constructs of anti-colonial Africa. Pan-Africanism throughout the continent, sub-Saharan ideologies of negritude and 'consciencism, pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism in Egypt and the Maghreb' fill the ideological horizon for Africa in the 1950-70 period. Whatever the means of justifying government policies, under the label of 'African' and 'Arab' socialisms or whatever the aspirations to dignity and freedom of the broad strata of population, these ideologies have for an era provided the fundamental bench-mark for action by individuals and groups. Research into the cultural aspect of African development must begin with an analysis of these ideologies and their complex relation to social and economic practice. Among the matters we regard as important here is the relationship these ideologies and the perception of development issues have with the corresponding formulation of economic and social strategies.

By contrast nationalism and Marxism can be seen as minority ideologies in Africa, if not as the explicit ideologies of state authorities, at least as mobilizing myths commanding the broad adherence of peoples. In some countries, particularly those that have experienced an armed struggle for national liberation, nationalism and to a lesser extent Marxism have had a strong impact, sometimes outreaching the ideologies of pan-Africanism, negritude or pan-Arabism. Moreover, nationalism and Marxism have often been in competition, before and since political independence, a competition for power and influence, but also in recruitment and programmes. It is possible to discern within this broad framework the history of troubled relations between national movements and communist parties in Africa, but only passing interest has been shown in a comparative analysis of the themes and structure of the nationalist and communist ideologies in the context of African countries, any more than interest has been shown in the way either revealed a continuity and/or break with the more widespread African ideologies. In particular, few researchers have tried to consider the two ideologies from the point of view of their comparative bearing on dependence and under-development in Africa. Finally, for more than a decade. Marxism has become the state ideology in a fair number of African countries and this factor makes it necessary to reconsider the relation between nationalism and communism in modern African history.

The recent evolution of African societies has enriched the gamut of ideologies in three main directions. The religious revival, in its various forms, from new syncretisms to Islamic fundamentalism, is to be seen nearly everywhere in Africa, to the degree that a certain acculturation to the capitalist West proceeds and there are more obvious failures and impasses in the development strategies pursued. In the Arab countries more particularly, fundamentalism appears as a 'cultural' come-back on economics and is the reaction of an indigenous culture threatened by the accelerated Westernization of the society and its elites. This truncated but real Westernization is not supported by an explicit cultural ideology, but increasingly by the vehicle of the language of neo-liberal ideology on a world scale. The contrast between fundamentalism end 'westernization' is not as clear-cut as might be thought from the strict letter of fundamentalist discourse. If fundamentalism emerged as a cultural protest against economics, it has its economic foundation, whereby the circumstances of its growth are largely conditioned by the forms of social and economic change. In the same way, if 'westernization' comes with the drift of development strategies and is conveyed by neo-liberal economic discourse, it has its cultural foundation too, since it has arisen on the basis of the dissolution, albeit incomplete, of established social relations, through the diffusion of commodity and capitalist categories in the society. Finally, possibly in con junction with the ideological duo of fundamentalism and Westernization, new ideologies emerge on particularist bases as part of the process of constituting or consolidating nations. The national formations must be distinguished between those where nationalism has been or is an active ideology, and more recent or weaker formations where the frontiers inherited from colonialism delineate a highly heterogeneous social space in ethnic, linguistic or religious terms. In either case, specific characteristics and particularities are asserted to a varying degree. An analysis of these new ideological phenomena, of very varying degrees of completeness and spread, should be carried out, with the corresponding bid to relate them to the economic and social changes occurring in Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

A study of the cultural aspect of development should begin from a second point of view, that of relations between culture and society. Three key issues can be identified here, the search for identity, the relation between labour and technology, and the role of intellectuals, which all come back to the interaction between cultural change and economic transformation.

The question of identity, of individuals and groups and broader collectives, is at the very heart of the cultural aspect of development. The economic changes, while bearing the stamp of the pre-eapitalist cultures, alter beliefs, attitudes and behaviour that define the culture as the world of being of the peoples. In the circumstances of dependent capitalism, economic development brings a 'crisis of values' of unprecedented extent and ferocity. In the West and Japan, material development has the support of internal transformation of social and human relations, a transformation achieved over a long period so that there was no break but a complex process of selective repossession of former cultural components within the context of technological and economic development. Modern capitalism is deeply rooted in a truly Western (or Japanese) tradition that it has in turn invigorated, namely in a direction favourable to technological creativity and economic initiative. In Africa, the historical circumstances of capitalist penetration, then expansion, have from the outset had a contrary effect, as economic development confronts local cultures and the transformation of social and human relations is essentially effected from outside, often with the help of ferocious violence. Identity, in this case, rather than being gradually broken down and rebuilt to productive effect, is more or less ferociously destroyed, without putting in place compensatory processes of production of new cultural components, capable in turn of supporting accumulation and innovation. Nowadays the crisis of values in African societies has reached a staggering pitch, because of the development of capitalism and because of the inadequacy, of this development. We find accelerated urbanization, the bringing of a significant proportion of the population into the wage sector, the spread of modern forms of production to the countryside, external competition, along with the break-up of population balance, unemployment and social differentiation tending to disrupt the traditional settings of popular culture, with the latter process assisted by the various Western cultural influences. As in the West, the individual climbs out of the disaggregation of traditional collectives, but here climbs into an atmosphere of confusion. The decomposition of social values has more the effect of changing them than of purely and simply destroying them, for the reason that mentalities are slow to change, but also that the evolution of social and economic structures fails to give rise to a coherent entity. The diffusion of new reference systems, new social criteria and new aspirations occurs at the same time as a revaluation of traditional values of new import. This spontaneous repossession of values in a rapidly changing economic context is purely a holding operation, despite its many facets ranging from the simple dullardness of the collective psychology to metaphysical reactivation before the disenchantment of seeing the real world 'in the icy waters of selfish calculation'.

The crisis of values for the majority is matched by a profound cultural alienation of the social elite, which comes back to the issue of the formation of an intelligentsia. It is of the essence of the cultural problem, since only the intelligentsia is capable of helping a society to become conscious of itself and take on board its own modernization. The direct political role of the intelligentsia in the successful modernizations of the 19th and 20th centuries is open to discussion but its role as social critic has always been crucial. In most African societies the intelligentsia has not yet been able to form itself. The growing number of graduates and intellectual workers on mainly technical duties does not suffice to form an autonomous and critical corps of intellectuals. The circumstances of training the elites in Africa do not relate only to such economic factors as the relative breadth of the production and administration systems to absorb them. They also relate to the cultural remoteness induced by alienation of the elites from their peoples. It is an alienation that comes first from privileged access to the goods and services of the modern economy, but is more affected by the extraverted character of the educational systems. Just as it has not formed an intelligentsia, the intellectual elite has been unable to construct an alternative cultural model to the more or less enticing Western model whose baton it carries. A good indicator of this incapacity is shown by the relative scantiness of autonomous social study by Africans about their condition and future, as a result of cultural, scientific and technical dependence on Western metropolises and their sloth. In one way the cultural alienation of the elites is an aspect of the crisis of values in society, just as the problems of collective identity are aggravated by the alienation of elites and lack of an intelligentsia. Analysis of 'mass culture' should be closely tied to that of 'elite culture'.

The question of technology is at the heart of the problematic of identity, since creativity in all forms and technological creativity in particular, is one of the main manifestations of the identity of peoples. Throughout history communities have stamped their own genius on their physical environment even when the level of development of the forces of production was very low. In this sense, technology is culture, even when the technological underdevelopment of ancient societies frequently corresponds to and nurtures a mythological overdevelopment. In the Western and Japanese societies of today, technological innovation carries the clear imprint of attitudes, tastes, and more broadly, values appropriate to these societies. In the kind of products, the conception of forms, the working methods, the universality of capitalist norms of consumption and production adapts to a certain diversity reflecting national cultures. In Africa, the development of colonial and post-colonial capitalism has broken the unity between culture and technology, thus inhibiting national creativity at the same time as it imposed an alienating technology. If the impact of Western technology on economic structures is often taken into consideration, its impact in the field of culture is much more rarely so. Furthermore if technology is culture, modern Western culture has become technical, in that it tends to reshape itself in the light of the appropriate conditions for technical innovation. But in Africa, the culture has largely lost its former power of control over nature without managing to achieve a new technological creativity. These complex issues, of vital importance for the future, deserve a more detailed treatment, but a beginning can be made with an analysis of particular aspects, for example the problem of language in the policy of technical apprenticeship, the representations, attitudes and behaviour of workers in industry, or the patterns of creativity in the informal sector.

A third axis of possible research is the relation between culture and the state. Two main themes are relevant at this level, the cultural policies implemented by the African states and the political conditions for cultural development.

By cultural policy here is meant properly speaking "cultural policies" that could usefully be subjected to a critical survey, but particularly education, training and scientific research policies, plus policies to encourage national languages. It is obvious that the policies of education and training determine the level and character of educational service and its social catchment. Concern should be shown for the curriculum, language of instruction, literacy campaigns, and to the role of the educational systems, as an instrument of cultural, economic and technical development rather than as a means of social promotion and reproduction.

The issue of national languages deserves particular attention, as the experience of encouraging the use of national languages to the north and south of the Sahara is sufficiently long-established as to lend itself to survey.

The second theme, the political conditions for cultural development, in fact a bearing on democracy. Political democracy is evidently a precondition for the free expression of cultural pluralism, the most commonly found situation in Africa. In general, cultural pluralism, whether on an ethnic, linguistic or religious basis, is repressed by state authorities out of fear of imperilling the attempt to build or consolidate the nation. But such repression often leads to an exacerbation of cultural pluralism as the latter is expressed in clandestine forms even more perilous for national unity.

In a more general way, democratization of political and social life bolsters a dynamic cultural development, since it promotes discussion and encourages scientific, technical, literary and artistic innovation. In many African countries control over the press and media and censorship of literature, theatre, cinema or popular music works to sustain a cultural waste and reproduce dependence on the West. A question mark over the frustration of modern cultural expression in Africa by political authoritarianism is therefore increasingly pertinent.

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