Social Theory and the Challenges of Africa’s Future

Prescriptions about the African crisis require an explanation of African society today. This is possible only by bringing precolonial societies back to the centre of the debate. This essay attempts such an explanation in order to choose between the analyses proposed by Basil Davidson (1992) and Goran Hyden (1980, 1983, 1992), both of whom take African precolonial societies seriously. The present author introduces the concept of ‘pseudocapitalism’ to explain Africa’s contemporary crisis. His theory centres on Africa’s precolonial lineage-based (and attendant highly ideologized or ritualized) core relations and their encounter with capitalism’s class-based core relations. The cases of Kenya and Zaire serve as illustration. He argues that it is not the stagnation but rather the structural dynamism of African precolonial societies that hindered the full implantation of capitalism, leading to ‘pseudocapitalism’. Therefore, the solution to Africa’s current crisis cannot be a recourse to precolonial institutions, which would continue to ‘wage a heroic struggle against capitalism’. The author instead prescribes regional unification as a ‘maximum force’ strategy to weaken both the capitalist core relations and precolonial ideology-dependent core relations whose union has perpetuated crisis-ridden ‘pseudocapitalism’. Notes, ref.

Title: Social Theory and the Challenges of Africa’s Future
Author: Sangmpam, S.N.
Year: 1995
Periodical: Africa Today
Volume: 42
Issue: 3
Pages: 39-66
Language: English
Geographic terms: Africa
Congo (Democratic Republic of)
Kenya
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4187049
Abstract: Prescriptions about the African crisis require an explanation of African society today. This is possible only by bringing precolonial societies back to the centre of the debate. This essay attempts such an explanation in order to choose between the analyses proposed by Basil Davidson (1992) and Goran Hyden (1980, 1983, 1992), both of whom take African precolonial societies seriously. The present author introduces the concept of ‘pseudocapitalism’ to explain Africa’s contemporary crisis. His theory centres on Africa’s precolonial lineage-based (and attendant highly ideologized or ritualized) core relations and their encounter with capitalism’s class-based core relations. The cases of Kenya and Zaire serve as illustration. He argues that it is not the stagnation but rather the structural dynamism of African precolonial societies that hindered the full implantation of capitalism, leading to ‘pseudocapitalism’. Therefore, the solution to Africa’s current crisis cannot be a recourse to precolonial institutions, which would continue to ‘wage a heroic struggle against capitalism’. The author instead prescribes regional unification as a ‘maximum force’ strategy to weaken both the capitalist core relations and precolonial ideology-dependent core relations whose union has perpetuated crisis-ridden ‘pseudocapitalism’. Notes, ref.