Except in the larger West African states which engaged in trans-Saharan trade, distribution was not by market transaction, but was rather a system of conveyancing and conversion of surpluses into prestige and dependency, exchange being interpersonal and within formal defined social networks; the significant relations were general social relations. This traditional economic situation has been described by many writers, and most monographs on particular peoples have a section on economy. Recent economic changes in Africa cannot be understood in isolation.
Economic development has taken place, since the early trading relations on the West Coast within the political framework of colonial rule. An important consequence has been that all ultimate power, including control of tribute, land, taxes, production, external trade, labor and military force, was vested in colonial powers. Colonial and post-colonial policies have varied, as has the degree of efficiency w which they have been carried out. Trade, industrialization, alien settlement, and policies on land and on labor, are of particular significance. In territories with mineral wealth questions of labor supply have tended to become paramount, an elsewhere the economic development of a territory has had to depend to a greater tent upon agriculture?
Various alternatives have been put forward as policies to crease production, in particular that of growing export crops. In many countries production of export crops has been given precedence over that of subsistence crops and the two types of production have been in conflict. The economic enterprises introduced into the continent by both external and internal capital have led to a marked changed in the demography of Africa. In post-colonial Africa the main centers of population were in the more fertile areas of 1 West African coast and in parts of East Africa.
In recent years there has been an a1ter distribution of 'magnet' areas and centers of population, with the development of urban industrial and administrative centers and of highly productive agricultural are that because of the nature of the particular production may have little relationship to the siting of traditional centers. A general consequence has been the growth new centers of population fed from the neighboring country sides, the latter being always rural and often impoverished. Although this movement includes a drift the towns of people who become permanent and 'detribalized' urban dwellers, most marked feature is that the migration is temporary.
Most migrants do not become permanent urban dwellers but merely work in towns temporarily with the aim of returning permanently to their tribal homes.The four essays in this section deal with these modern developments in the fields of the change from a subsistence to a cash economy, of land shortage, and of lab migration. The first, by Paul Bohannan, discusses the change to a money economy among a large but relatively remote people of central Nigeria, the Tiv; he demonstrates the development of a market-based exchange system from one of conversion and conveyancing. The following two essays, by Clyde Mitchell and William Watson deal with aspects of labor migration in Central Africa, a region where this phenomenon has had serious effects.
The discovery of copper, gold, and other minerals in central and southern Africa led to a persistent demand for migrant labor which in some areas has resulted in the absence of up to two-thirds and more of the adult able-bodied men.But, as Watson shows so clearly, for the Mambwe people, caught up in a wider system of change and development, the absence of younger men (who can earn money) from crowded homelands has in fact enabled the society to maintain much of its traditional form and way of life. These two papers provide examples of the widening of social scale in modern Africa, so that neither urban nor rural areas can be regarded as distinct; they are parts of a single social system. The fourth paper deals with a problem that is more widespread that is sometimes thought, that of a people who see no good reason to give up their traditional way of life and who resist social change and efforts for their 'development'.
As Neville Dyson-Hudson shows, this view is especially prevalent among pastoral societies, most of which have willingly turned their backs on economic and social changes.
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