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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Rivalries of proximity beyond the household in Niger: political elites and the 'baab-izey' pattern
Author:Olivier de Sardan, Jean-PierreISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Geographic term:Niger
Subjects:political conditions
social relations
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972016000723
Abstract:In Niger, there is an increasing rejection of 'politik' (a term with highly pejorative connotations): that is, party politics and the politics of democracy, characterized by personal rivalries and power struggles between clans and factions. But there is a direct link (albeit not a causal one) between the social perceptions of intra-familial rivalries and the social perceptions of political rivalries. The archetypical relationship among the 'baab-izey' (children of one father but different mothers) is characterized by competition and jealousy. This is a product of the latent rivalry that pits co-wives against each other. Polygamy is clearly at odds with a number of received ideas and clichés about 'the African family' as primarily a locus of support and solidarity. Such formal social norms may reign in public situations, but in private de facto practical norms give rise to subtle discriminations and the omnipresence of more or less hidden conflicts within the family. The same is true for the political microcosm of Niger. While the public norm of the concern for the public good is supposed to regulate political behaviours, rivalry and jealousy are structural components of the political world. The 'baab-izey' pattern is frequently used in reference to politicians. Political conflicts are above all personal/factional conflicts in which friends and supporters are implicated, and are rivalries of proximity. In the familial space as in the political space, 'magico-religious entrepreneurs' (i.e. experts in the occult) are merely an 'accelerator' of these conflicts: they reinforce suspicions about the familial or political entourage, which, in turn, intensify rivalries. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]