Re: Cooperative Labor in Africa

Mon, 6 Mar 1995 12:07:03 EDT

In response to queries about cooperative work groups in Africa, I
observed the dokpwe in a village near Abomey in 1972 while doing
fieldwork their and published about it in an obscure Nigerian journal
called Ikenga. Its possible I still have an off-print somewhere. The
elders were more successful in mobilizing them than others, as per
Meillassoux's work in Maidens, Meals, and Money. I also observed
cooperative work parties in Niger in the late seventies among
Hausaphone farmers in the Mirria region, Zinder department. Again
wealthier men mobilized them more easily but were also expected to
pay in cash. I saw them moblized for harvesting and for hoeing
mostly. I wrote about these in my 1982 dissertation. My resuylts
were fairly consistent with remarks by Hill, Smith, and the French
ethnnographers Nicolas and Raynaut. I was surprised by how vibrant
these associations were. It was clear that chiefs, merchants and
other powerful men were able to mobilize work parties via patron
client relaitonships and that "surplus value" was extracted. They
often used them on peanut fields an export crop, but alson millet
fields. They are more complicated than I can do justice to here.
cheers, eja