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Mediating Legitimacy

2009, author(s)-editor(s) Jude Fokwang

Chieftaincy and Democratisation in Two African Chiefdoms

This study analyses the effects of democratic transition in two African countries - Cameroon and South Africa – on chiefs and the institution of chieftainship. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, the monograph explores the cultural and socio-political conditions that enabled chiefs to reinvent themselves in the new era of democratic politics despite their status as ‘old political actors’. It explores the kinds of legitimacies claimed by chiefs in the new era and the responses of their subjects to such claims, particularly with respect to chiefs’ involvement in national politics.

The monograph makes a case for the importance of comparative research on chiefs in the era of democracy and the predicaments they face therein. It contends that contrary to exhortations about the incompatibility of chiefs and democracy, the reality is that political transition in both South Africa and Cameroon produced contradictions, creating space and a role for chiefs in a fascinating and negotiated interplay of legitimacies and history.

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ISBN 9789956558643 | 140 pages | 229 x 152 mm | 2009 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback

Reviews

“The subject of chieftaincy has gained new currency because of all the wave of democratisation and the need for more appropriate local governance models. It was previously thought that the institution would not survive the advance of modernity and would become irrelevant. The opposite is what has happened. This refreshing comparative study of Cameroon and South Africa shows both the resurgence of interest in chieftaincy and the complexity of each situation.”
Professor Arthur Abraham, Department of History and Philosophy, Virginia State University, USA

“The study is a strong contribution to our knowledge of how recent political transitions in Cameroon and South Africa have affected chieftainship and how the population and the incumbents of these hereditary positions reacted to partial or more incisive processes of democratisation. The topic and issues addressed are of great importance for understanding political realities in Africa. The integration of theoretical discussion and ethnographic analysis is of a high scholarly standard.”
Professor C. S. (Kees) van der Waal, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

2 Book Reviews

  • Mediating Legitimacy 27 June 2010 21:19, author(s)-editor(s) Professor C. S. (Kees) van der Waal, Department of Sociology and (...)

    The study is a strong contribution to our knowledge of how recent political transitions in Cameroon and South Africa have affected chieftainship and how the population and the incumbents of these hereditary positions reacted to partial or more incisive processes of democratisation. The topic and issues addressed are of great importance for understanding political realities in Africa. The integration of theoretical discussion and ethnographic analysis is of a high scholarly standard.

    Professor C. S. (Kees) van der Waal, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

  • Mediating Legitimacy 27 June 2010 21:19, author(s)-editor(s) Professor Arthur Abraham, Department of History and Philosophy, Virginia (...)

    The subject of chieftaincy has gained new currency because of all the wave of democratisation and the need for more appropriate local governance models. It was previously thought that the institution would not survive the advance of modernity and would become irrelevant. The opposite is what has happened. This refreshing comparative study of Cameroon and South Africa shows both the resurgence of interest in chieftaincy and the complexity of each situation.

    Professor Arthur Abraham, Department of History and Philosophy, Virginia State University, USA