Vol. III, Issue 1 (Winter, 1995-96): Nigeria Revisited

Table of contents

Editorial: Nigeria Revisited

by Prof. Gloria T. Emeagwali

Chief Editor of AfricaUpdate

In this issue of Africa Update we include a few abstracts from the Second Annual Conference of African Studies, CCSU, on November 18th 1995.

We are grateful to all those who made the conference possible, including Prof. Ade Obayemi , former Director General of the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the Chief Editor of African Technology Forum, MIT, Mawuli Tse, who gave the Plenary Address. Dr. Tunde Zack-Williams of Central Lancashire University, Dr. Stacey Close of ECSU, Dr. Eudora Chikwendu of SUNY, and Dr. Harvey Feinberg of SCSU served as chairpersons and discussants along with Dr. Walton Brown-Foster, Dr. Peter Os ei, Dr.Timothy Rickard, Dr. Haines Brown, Prof. Sheri Fafunwa-Ndibe and Dr. Gabriel Alungbe. We extend special thanks to Ms Lisa-Marie Fellage for her valuable assistance. Without the support of Dean Clarke of Arts and Sciences and CCSU's financial help, this conference would not have been possible.

We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to our Visiting Fulbright Scholar from the University of Botswana, Dr. Mpho Molomo, who participated in the conference as well, giving us insights into the economic dimensions of Southern African p olitics. Dr. Molomo, who holds a doctorate from Boston University and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Botswana, will be with us at CCSU this semester in the Department of Political Science.

In the next few issues Africa Update will include poems of Dr. Funso Aiyejina, a Visiting Fulbright Scholar at Lincoln University and previously of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria. His "Elegy For My Land" focuses on Nigeria, as do the other two contributions in this issue from Dr. John Philips, Akita University, Japan and Dr. Adeline Apena of Russell Sage College, New York.

Also in this issue is a comparative view of the recent Hollywood production, "Congo" and Ngangura Mweze's "La Vie est belle." In the previous issue of Africa Update Keim and Stimson criticised Hollywood for failing to go beyond the "jungle melodrama" that depicts Africa as exotic, dangerous and even bizarre. In most of these movies apes and monkeys are the mediators between Nature and "civilization." This jaundiced, simplistic and silly view of the African continent which sees Africans as "tribesmen" and reduces Africa into a strip of "jungle" is of course not confined to Hollywood, but emerged from the racist view of colonial anthropologists. By comparing the cinematography of "La vie est belle" with that of "Congo," William Thompson give s us some insight into two contrasting perspectives and depictions of "reel" Africa.

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Abstracts of papers presented at a conference on African Economic Development held at Central Connecticut State University on 18 November, 1995

Development Theories and the Question of African Economic Recovery

by Pade Badru, Pan African Studies and Sociology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.

There is a definite pattern in the theories of development with regards to their interpretation of the African economic crisis and recovery. This pattern suggests some covert racism, and Eurocentric orientation.

Indeed, what is often proposed as a development science is nothing more than a post-colonial dependency ideology. Africa thus becomes a window for development experts, like the anthropologists, to analyze the minds of the 'primitives' and the dark spot in human civilization. This notion of African economic crisis is historical at best. The tradition/modernity thesis, and the 'internal obstacles' perspective that characterize the bulk of development theories, are themselves a reflection of ideologi cal particularism in western social science. This arrogance and particularism in social science has, to some extent, led many African scholars to characterize western social sciences as a form of intellectual imperialism. This apparent dogma in the libera l sciences, and the platitudinousness of some of the concepts deployed in interpreting African economic crisis, have also led African scholars to take a critical look at western-inspired development ideology, that is often paraded as science.

This paper therefore evaluates the different development theories in economics and sociology; theories that have guided African development. This evaluation is necessary, given the continuing destruction of economic possibilities for the African p oor by international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. For instance, the implementation of structural adjustment programs (SAPs) everywhere in the continent, the refusal of the industrialized West to grant a remis sion of African debts, and the proliferation of imperialist inspired warfare in the horn of Africa and elsewhere, are indications that African economic crisis has more to do with the global politics and the historical consequence of Africa's incorporation into the world system.

Somali women and alternative coping strategies

By Asha Samad Matias, Director, Women's Studies Program, Professor of Africana Studies, City College, CUNY, NY.

The political, economic and environmental factors that have radically changed the socio-cultural reality of Somali women in the last ten years are discussed and analysed. Their current situation in Somalia, in surrounding refugee areas and in distant host nations are also reviewed. Their traditional and current political roles as strong, dynamic women facing difficult situations and as possible peacemakers and key team players in the development process constitute an important aspect of the issues du scussed in the paper.

Indigenous Credit System, the Past and Present, with Implication for Rural Economic Regeneration in West Africa; The Case of Cameroon

By Kudsia Peter Gwangwa, Department of Economics, Kingston University, UK.

This paper focuses on the indigenous financial system, which was in practice in much of Africa, particularly West Africa, long before colonization and persists to date. These credit systems are referred to as the Rotating Savings and Credit Associat ions and the Rotating Service Associations, known by the acronymns, ROSCAs and ROSAs respectively. They have many local names in many parts of Africa; "tontins" "njange," "esusu," "asusu," etc. The objective is to improve the knowledge of the combined r oles played by the indigenous credit systems in association with the conventional credit system in the process of economic recovery in the region. The aims of the paper are:
(i) To examine the part which the indigenous credit system has played in the social, economic and political life of the peoples of West Africa;
(ii) Investigate how the introduction of conventional financial systems and the sponsored credit programme in the colonial era led to institutional dualism in the rural financial markets; and
(iii) Evaluate the different strands of academic debate on he subject, in the context of economic empowerment and rural regeneration.

It has been argued that the conventional financial system is superior to the indigenous system and that the indigenous system should be replaced by the conventional system. By contrast, this paper will argue that both systems have their merits an d demerits and that it is only the combined function of both systems which will set Africa well on the road to a sustainable and lasting economic recovery.

Radicalism and Alternative Economic Strategies in Post-Independent Africa,

By Tayo Oke, University of Keele, Deptford, London, U.K.

The term "radical" is applied to people in different political contexts in Africa: "Marxist," "Socialist," "Nationalist," "Pan-Africanist", "Trouble-Maker," "Anti-West," etc. On the terrain of public debate over alternative economic strategies, the te rm has, to a large extent, become a posturing label for some government ministers and an unwelcome distraction for others.

The propensity to conduct policy on the basis of an assumed meaning of the term has tended to blur the important distinction between radicalism of an intellectual and non-intellectual kind. Consequently, we need to posit the question: Who is a ra dical, and what in fact is this thing called "radicalism?"

The anti-colonial struggle of the African nationalist leaders harboured small but significant radical fringes dedicated to overhauling the post colonial African economies in their entirety, but surrendering of the radical vision became a price wor th paying for the attainment of independence in many parts of Africa, hence Africa's continued economic subjugation to the metropolitan countries of the West.

This paper retraces the radical vision of economic liberation in Africa, and explains how it forms the nucleus of any future attempts at economic recovery on the continent.

The Growth of Nigerian Entrepreneurship

By Don C. Ohadike, Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, NY.

Despite the nagging African economic decline, there is a mounting evidence of a maturing entrepreneurial sophistication in Nigeria. To appreciate this, one must acquaint oneself with the history of Nigerian entrepreneurship in the pre-colonial, coloni al, and post-colonial periods.

One of the prime objectives of this paper is to demonstrate that Nigerian entrepreneurs have made a remarkable progress during the last thirty years despite the problems of an unstable political climate, harsh IMF conditionalities, an ever-declini ng purchasing power of Nigerian exports, and downward sliding income levels. These problems notwithstanding, Nigerian entrepreneurs have advanced from trading and transporting into such specialized enterprises as distillery, banking, air transportation, pharmaceutical, chemical engineering, computer servicing and building auto-parts manufacturing. Along with these advances is the adoption of highly sophisticated systems of labor mobilization and training, and advanced local and overseas investment strat egies. One important feature of Nigerian entrepreneurship is its resilience and ability to advance during periods of crisis. The current adjustment crisis, notwithstanding, the more sophisticated entrepreneurs have graduated from modest beginnings and ha ve become multi-billion naira businesspersons. Some are directors of multinational corporations, some have overseas investments and others have forged partnerships with foreign investors.

The paper therefore argues that the more progressive Nigerian entrepreneurs are as sophisticated as their European and Southeast Asian counterparts, and that it is they (not the government) who will pull the country out of economic uncertainty int o an era of economic growth and development. The paper concedes, however, that this would happen only after the two nagging problems of an unstable political climate and an unfavorable adjustment exercise have been surmounted.

Africa in Crisis: Beyond Structural Adjustment

By Tunde Zack-Williams, Dept. of Sociology, University of Central Lancashire, UK.

The paper calls into question post-colonial development strategy in Africa, in particular the failure to rupture colonial production relations. A "false start," as Rene Dumont warned, led to greater dependence on the world capitalist system over whic h Africa had no control. In most cases the monocultural economies were retained as the basis of a rentier state. By the late 1960's and early 1970's structural crises had emerged. This led to greater dependence on the world capitalist system over which Africa had no control. The crisis reached a climax when external and domestic forces resulted in dwindling foreign exchange earnings which forced the political leaders to seek help from the Bretton Woods institutions. Soon the policy recommendations of the international financial institutions (IFI) became defined as a sine qua non for all the economic problems of Africa. Far from being a panacea, however, IFI conditionalities worsened the plight of African economies, destroying social groups and commun ities and leading to the growing illegitimacy of the African state. The paper argues that it is now time to go beyond these conditionalities, and seek genuine African alternatives

Women, Cooperatives and Economic Recovery in Nigeria

By Eudora Chikwendu, Department of Black Studies, SUNY, New Paltz, NY.

Nigerian women's participation in cooperatives is analyzed within the framework of the global and African regional platforms of action for the advancement of women, and within the framework of the cooperative principles of equality of members. Nigeri a, along with other African nationals endorse the platform for the economic and political empowerment of all women at all levels and stages of their lives under the principles of equal partnership between men and women, so that women could become active c ontributors and beneficiaries of all aspects of national development.

Women's participation in cooperatives is considered by governments and international development agencies as an avenue for the advancement of women. Nigerian women have responded positively to cooperative membership and production. Nigerian women in cooperatives function within the existing cultural milieu of male dominance and exploitation of women's labor. These experiences are illustrated in the paper.

The paper recommends the particpatory approach to cooperative formation, either in mixed gender settings or in women-only cooperatives. Women's tremendous skills at agricultural production, craft production, and food/fish processing can best be m odernized through cooperatives. Addressing the impediments that women face in cooperatives is a necessary step to the full realization of the great potential benefits of cooperatives for women's economic empowerment.

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Africa and the Net

By Haines Brown, C.C.S.U. History Department

Although Web pages are fashionable, FTP sites useful for storing and moving documents, gopher servers for ordering documents for retrieval, the principal value of Internet remains e-mail and e-mail based discussion forums ("lists"). Therefore I would l ike to use my column in this issue to make better known some recent lists related to Africa.

Africa-N (listserv@vm.utcc.utoronto.ca). Africa News and Information Service.
Afrik-IT (listserv@irlearn.ucd.ie). Professional interest in African IT/Telematics.
AfriLabor (AFRLABOR-Request@acuvax.acu.edu). Chris Lowe's active, scholarly list.
afrique (listserv@univ-lyon1.fr). Active; in French.
baro (baro@uiuc.edu). In subject line: New Member. Africa and diaspora for Africans and Africanists.
Ethiolist (ethiolist-request@netcom.com). Concerning Ethiopia.
H-Africa (listserv@msu.edu). H-Net list to support students and teachers of African history.
history-Vasco (mailbase@mailbase.ac.uk). Vasco da Gama. Use JOIN command. List very inactive.
Kamusi-L (listserv@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu). Living Swahili Dictionary (Kamusi) List
LeoneNet (listserv@mitvma.mit.edu). Sierra Leonean issues discussion.
lis-middle-east (mailbase@mailbase.ac.uk). Join command. Middle East and Islamic collections and bib.
MENA-H (listserv@ULKYVM.louisville.edu). History of the Mideast and North Africa
Mozambique news bulletin. For information, contact Wenke Adam at: wenke@adam.uem.mz
Naija-News (naija-news-request@welby.med.harvard.edu) Obi Taiwan's Nigerian News Update. Quiet.
nuafrica (listproc@piranha.acns.nwu.edu). Northwestern Univ. studies program. Africa in general; active.
Nubia (listserv%saksu00.bitnet@cunyvm.cuny.edu). Discussion of various topics on Sudanese Nubia.
Oromo-Net (listserv@netcom.com) Or makobili@netcom.com. The Oromo people of esp. Ethiopia.
slavery (listserv@uhupvm1.uh.edu). History of slavery, slave trade, abolition, and emancipation.
Swazi-Net (Majordomo@list.pitt.edu). Swazi culture, history, politics, etc. at home and in the diaspora.
Zimnet (zimnet@mit.edu [not sub address?]). Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe.

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Elegy for my land

By F. Aiyejina

Visiting Fulbright Scholar, Lincoln University, Oxford, PA


And when it came time to surrender the throne
In accordance with a long standing covenant,
He proclaimed himself a full-bodied elephant
Too heavy to be moved by the old or their clone.

Incensed, we made for the abode of the Oracle
To request a consultation with History.
When the priest emerged, he was drunk with the story
Of the Princess who designed the ultimate obstacle:

"Let he who would be my husband be informed:
My bride price shall be the elephant - alive!
Proof that he's man enough for the honey in my hive."
"No creepers can tether the elephant," her suitors wailed.

When none dared, the tortoise ventured
Into the forest, on the trail of the mighty elephant
Armed with a range of delicacies - honey coated -
And a song promising him a throne from the Orient.

Dizzy with expectation, the elephant danced to his banquet
Until, too late, he was a captive king in a trap pit.
Today, he is a pet to the Princess of the impossible.
And she? Wife to the midget who achieved the unachievable.

But if he's learnt to defuse the traps under thrones
Let us remind him of the fate of the headstrong calabash:
When, in spite of their patience, it yielded only trash
The villagers trashed it with Sango's thunderstones.

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Myths of twentieth century Hausa 1

By Dr. John Edward Phillips

Assoc. Prof. Akita University of Economics and Law, Japan

Hausa is one of the largest and most important of all Afr ican languages. It is spoken as a first language by tens of millions of people from Ghana to the Sudan, and is the dominant language in northern Nigeria and southern Niger. It is used as a sec ond language by others. Several Hausa newspapers are published in Nigeria and Niger. Hausa is also used by broadcast media, not only in West African countries, but by international shortwave broadcast organizations from outside the area, including the B BC, VOA, Radio Moscow, Radio Deutsche Welle, Radio Beijing, and Radio Cairo.

Hausa also has a long literary tradition, dating back to the 17th century, when such Hausa poets as Dan Marina and Dan Masani (both from Katsina) began to write Hausa in the Arabic script, known as Hausa Ajami. 2 Ha usa Ajami was developed further in succeeding centuries. Many books and pamphlets (and occasionally newspapers) have been published in this script so it is still extant. Nonetheless, when Hausa was chosen as a language of administration by the colonial administration of Northern Nigeria (one of the few local languages in all Africa to be used for colonial administrative purposes), the decision to adopt a modified roman alphabet was made.

Much has been assumed about the reasons behind the switch to Romanized Hausa, and even the decision to use Hausa as a language of administration, but little research has been done on these topics. Recent research by this author has shown that man y of these assumptions about colonial language policy made both by Nigerians and expatriate researchers are false. In particular, it is often assumed that the use of Hausa as an administrative language and the related Hausa language examinations for civi l servants were part of a Hausacization policy pursued by the Sardauna of Sokoto after independence. It is also often assumed that the adoption of Romanized Hausa was favored by "as one might expect, missionaries such as Charles Henry Robins on and administrative officers such as Alder Burdon." 3

Brigadier (later Lord) Frederick John Daltry Lugard was the conquerer and first High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria. Even before the conquest of the territory was complete he had found that lack of knowledge of local languages, especially Hausa , was detrimental to his administration. Without an understanding of African languages administrative officers were "wholly in the hands of their interpreters, who are, as a class, scoundrels." 4

When language examinations were first suggested there was little interest in them. Most of the replies to the first circular asking about interest in taking language examinations were "No." Among the few officers willing to consider taking such examinations were Alder Burdon, who asked if there were any personal advantages to be gained from taking them, and Captain C.W. Moloney, who expressed interest, but refused to be examined in Ajami, which he said had been invented by missionaries.

Captain Moloney was soon murdered in Zaria on October 3, 1902 as a direct result of his failure to acquire fluency in Hausa. 5 From this time on colonial officers would be required to pass a succession of examinatio ns in Hausa language. These tests have been a requirement for serving in the Northern Nigerian civil service even in independent Nigeria.

Many Nigerians have assumed that such tests were imposed as part of a Hausacization and Islamization policy by the first Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, and thus represent ethnic domination by the Hausa. In fact such tests were carried over from the colonial administration. Lugard had been reluctant to teach Africans English, since this would [permit] them to know what the British were up to. He insisted that British officers must know Hausa (and anothe r language if they could learn it). Thus there is a wealth of linguistic data (not only on Hausa but also on minority languages) which was collected and stored in the Nigerian Archives during the colonial period for purposes of military intelligence.

Lugard's decision to use Hausa was actually a result of the fact that the language was widely spoken in the minority, "Middle Belt" areas of Nigeria, especially the Jos Plateau and adjacent areas. It was in these areas that Lugard hoped to recrui t his soldiers, using Hausa as a means of communication with them.

I do not consider it politic to enlist too great a number of Mohammadens [sic] as soldiers... It is a religion which renders Africans liable to wild bursts of religious frenzy... Our recent experience has taught us that the pagan [sic] G waris, Kedara, and other tribes yield to none in bravery. They all speak Hausa, and I hope to enlist many as soon as we get in touch with them at the new headquarters It is in fact, my intention to make the West African Frontier Force, as f ar as possible, a Hausa-speaking pagan force... 6

Was the decision to use Romanized Hausa as the official administrative language another example of "divide and rule" policies? Did missionaries want to hinder communication between these minority groups, with whom Lugard was filling the army, and Hausa Muslims? Did they therefore convince Lugard to use Roman script in place of the then dominant Ajami?

In fact missionaries and administrators were divided about the issue of Romanization. As noted above, Captain Moloney actually thought Ajami was a Church Missionary Society invention. J.A. Burdon, Resident in Sokoto, was a partisan of Ajami and submitted memoranda arguing in great detail for the continued use of the traditional script. 7 It was also strongly advocated by Canon Charles Henry Robinson, who claimed that "the Hausas have every right to be considered a civilized nation...they have reduced their language to writing and have started schools throughout their country for the teaching of their children." 8 Missionary presses were publishing in Hausa Ajami as late as the 1930s. 9

But other missionaries were opposed to continued use of Arabic script. Mr. J.D. Macintyre of the C.M.S. mission in Lokoja argued that "Algemie" (as he called it) was not true Arabic script. To demonstrate this he forwarded to Luga rd a sample of Qur'anic Arabic written in a west African style (not Hausa Ajami) but Lugard could not tell the difference. 10

In fact none of these administrators and missionaries had any effect on a decision that had already been made. Lugard had already privately notified an apprehensive colonial officer that roman script would be used to w rite Hausa in the colonial administration. 11 Lugard knew so little of the issues involved that he actually wrote a letter to the Sudan, asking if they had had any success in publishing Arabic books in Roman script. 12 There is no record of any reply in the files. On another occasion he said that if Roman script were used instead of Arabic then colonial officers need learn only one "language" instead of two.

No one would mistake Lugard for a linguist or an educator. He was a professional soldier. He will not go down in history as one of the great generals of all time, but he did (after all) win. He also had a military understanding of the importanc e of languages in intelligence work. His misunderstanding of the issues involved in choosing a script for the administrative language of his newly conquered territory is an example of the truth of the American saying: "There are three ways to do anything : the right way, the wrong way, and the army way."

Instead of the usual colonial policy of "divide and rule," the long and complicated story of the creation of Romanized Hausa as the official language of administration was a very British tale. Space does not permit printing the full details of thi s fiasco in this issue (which continued until the adoption of a reform Hausa roman orthography in the 1930s), but it is an interesting episode in the history of colonialism. It should serve as a caution to those who, ignorant of the real le gacy of colonialism, advocate a return to that system of one people administering the affairs of another. 13


  1. This brief report is based on "The History of Hausa Orthography" and "Northern Nigerian Language Examinations: the Case of Hausa" (both forthcoming in Senri Ethnological Report from the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan) . It is a result of archival and other research carried out on a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education, "Ethnological Study of language policy and culture change in West Africa" (principal investigator Paul Eguchi). A less abridged version of th e final paper has also been published in Nigeria as "The History of Hausa Orthography" Abuja Journal of Humanities vol. 1 no. 2 (1994). Other research papers which have resulted from this research include "The Origins of Northern Nigerian Langua ge Policy: Lugard and Hausa (1900-1906)" in The Sokoto Caliphate and the European Powers: 1890-1906 edited by Paul Lovejoy, Abdullahi Mahadi and Ahanmu Adebayo (Ahmadu Bello University Press). Return to text.
  2. Yahaya, I.Y. Hausa a Rubuce: Tarihin Rubuce-Rubuce cikin Hausa (Zaria, 1988). Return to text.
  3. Gregersen, Edgar A. "Successes and Failures in the Modernization of Hausa Spelling," chapter 15 in Frishman, J.A. Advances in the Creation and Revision of Writing Systems (1977). Return to text.
  4. Lugard, letter to Alfred Lyttleton, Secretary of State for Colonies, September 20, 1904 (Nigerian Archives Kaduna, SNP 7-4284). Return to text.
  5. The exact circumstances surrounding Moloney's death and even the identity of the person who killed him are still in dispute. However, all sources agree that what got him in trouble was the lies which his interpreter was telling, lies whi ch he himself was not even aware of. For detailed accounts see Adeleye, R.A. Power and Diplomacy in Northern Nigeria 1804-1906 (London, 1971) pages 264-267 and Muffet, D.J.M. Concerning Brave Captains (London, 1964) chapter 5, pages 62-6 8. Return to text.
  6. Lugard Northern Nigeria Annual Reports number 346 (1900-1901) page 23. Return to text.
  7. August 26, 1907 from Major Alder Burdon in Nigerian Archives (Kaduna) SNP-2594/1907. Return to text.
  8. Robinson, C.H. Nigeria, Our Latest Protectorate (London, 1900) p. 7. Return to text.
  9. St. John's Gospel in Hausa (Aljemi [sic] character: Bishara daga hannun Yuhanna (London, 1937). Return to text.
  10. Letter of March 9, 1904 to Lugard in Nigerian Archives (Kaduna) SNP7-2594/1907. Return to text.
  11. Letter of October 29, 1902 from the Secretary, Northern Provinces to Resident, Muri, in Nigerian Archives (Kaduna) SNP7-43.42/1902. Return to text.
  12. August 6, 1905 from Lugard in England to Principal, Khartoum college in Nigerian Archives (Kaduna) SNP7-2594/1907. Return to text.
  13. Pfaff, William "A New Colonialism," Foreign Affairs January/February 1995. Return to text.

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Women's cooperatives in Nigeria's food economy

By Adeline Apena

Russell Sage College, Troy, New York

A sense of community is basic to the belief system, social organization and systems of the Nigerian peoples. These dynamics also govern all forms of social and inter-personal relations. This study claims that the concept and practice of cooperation is native to the women in Nigeria.

Women have been cooperating from childhood to old age in different associations: age-grades, occupational/work-groups, credit associations, market and dance groups. Each of these have social, economic and political significance and implication.

Though the modern cooperatives are based on the traditional concept of cooperation, they differ to a large extent. They cater to an increasing population that exhibits greater diversity and specialization. The cooperatives are empowered by na tional policies and movements. They are supported by some basic facilities and infrastructures to enhance production and promote their productive energies and visions.

The objectives of modern cooperatives go beyond producing food for the people. It includes education and public enlightenment campaigns to inform members,organization of female youth clubs into farm clubs, mobilizing women to embrace cooperatives as strategies for self-improvement,display of farm produce and improved methods of processing, storage and preparation of food. In addition, members organize credit system through regular contributions out of which they took loans for expansion of busines s and to cater for emergent situations. It is clear that members shared more comprehensive goals than traditional cooperators. As government and the people battle with regularity of essential food supplies; inflation, rising costs and unemployment reduced affordability. Women as the majority farmers were saddled with the responsibility of ensuring food supplies.

These dynamics partly explain why women cooperatives became crucial factors in the economy, especially food agriculture.

Women cooperatives organize farms at two levels: individual and cooperative. Most cooperative farms measure five acres while individual farms are smaller. Yields are about one ton per hectare. The pressure of increased demand food stimulate intensive activities on the farmers. Poultry and livestock are significant engagements among women in the northern parts of the country where conditions are more favorable to animal husbandry. On the other hand, fishing is more important among women coop eratives in riverain and coastal areas.

Though the implements used in farming are the traditional cutlasses and hoes, regular supplies are obtained at lower rates through the local and state governments. Fertilizers and insecticides are increasingly being applied in cooperative and indi vidual farms.Supplies are obtained from the state and local governments. Before this period, ashes were used to control insects and pests. But, this was inadequate. Consequently most crops were devastated by pests resulting in waste in labor and scarce fi nancial resources. Also ashes were used as a fertilizer. Inaddition, the method of shifting cultivation enabled farms to regain fertility. But this was a slow process which did not necessarily expedite harvest of good yields at frequent intervals. On the other hand, use of fertilizers and insecticides enhanced production and supplies of food at regular intervals. These innovations are important landmarks in the history of agriculture in Nigeria. The use of tractors for bulldozing of land is increasingly b ecoming a common feature in rural areas.

Tractors are owned by the local and state government departments of agriculture and are leased to cooperatives for clearing of farmlands.

Processing of food is an important dimension in food production. Most of the food items found in markets are processed items. There are innovations in methods of processing. Locally manufactured and imported mills are steadily and increasingl y used for processing even in the remotest villages. They are economical in terms of cost of processing. They save time, energy and increase output. Increase in output results in increase in sales and earnings. What is important for this study is that the y are able to provide regular food supplies in both local and urban markets.

Food preservation is still done by the traditional methods of drying, smoking, frying, and use of additives such as salt and pepper. Nothing seems to have been done to improve and modernize this stage of the industry. The same story goes for storage. Storage is still largely done in huts, barns, pyramids, and through suspension of crops. Are these traditional methods able to cope with the level of demands. It may be contended that the gap between the different stages of production and overal l demand reflect disarticulation in the general economy. Also, it points to the fact that Nigeria is still largely not an industrial society and is lagging behind in modern technology. Further it demonstrates some of the contradictions between the rural a nd urban areas.

Unlike the traditional ones, modern cooperatives have a financial advantage. Women are able to access loans from banks, using the cooperatives as guarantors. For the first time, women in the private rural sector are affected by developments i n the modern sector. Quoting a rural woman from the Delta Region of Nigeria, "no one ever remembered us before now, we were never part of the system, never would any government think of giving us loans, we just depended on our selves and whatever we are a ble to eke out."

This is a positive and important step in liberalization of society and general uplifting of women. Apart from empowering women, such financial advantages invigorate food production.

Women cooperatives in Niger state exemplify how access to the modern banking sector is benefitting rural agriculture. Between 1987-1989, the number of women agricultural cooperatives increased to 26. In 1989, members of these cooperatives were ab le to obtain the sum of ten thousand Naira (about one thousand dollars) from two banks: Agricultural and Cooperative Bank and United Bank for Africa. These funds were used to purchase such machinery as grinding mills. In addition, these loans complement t raditional credit obtained from regular contributions by members of the cooperatives. As already mentioned, the women are able to produce a ton of grain per hectare. This is a considerably high level of production, especially as the women farmer continue s to rely on the use of hoes and cutlasses, implements that are not capable of ensuring large scale production. It is interesting to note that the liquidity of women cooperatives is sufficiently high for them to undertake small scale lending to men in ne ed of investment funds.

Formation of women cooperatives for farming are increasing.In 1991, the number was 3000. The Centre for Rural Development and Co-operatves,University of Nigeria Nsukka, supports women cooperatives by undertaking national cooperative education pro gram which trickle down to the rural women through public lectures and workshops organised at the local government levels.

The administration of the cooperatives is democratic based on the ideas of sharing and cooperation in traditional associations. But there is a major change in nature of leadership. Leadership is now controlled by educated members in the assoc iation. This emphasises the value of education for social mobility and enhancement of status. Cooperatives encourage literacy and public enlightenment among its members to eradicate ignorance.

The female farmers continue to depend on traditional implements: hoes and cutlasses. These implements are inadequate for large scale production. They limit the energies and efforts of farmers and prevent them from optimal exploitation of resourc es and production.

Reference is made to a huge lag in the use of machinery, especially for storage and processing. It may be asserted that these stages are still in the "gap." There is evidence of waste during harvest seasons as a result of inadequate storage facili ties and preservation. The relatively high humidity in most parts of Nigeria is not conducive to preservation of food. Therefore there are shortages of some vital food items during the post-harvest seasons. There is no doubt that women cooperatives have b ecome effective actors in food production and supplies. They constitute a milestone in rural agriculture. They are slowly but steadily opening a new era in food industry. But more attention needs to be directed to these levels in the production process th at are still in the gap, to uplift them from stone-age to modern standards. Women in the rural areas need the benefit of modern technology to produce effectively for an expanding market. The education program of the cooperatives should be more vigorously pursued so that the women are able to appreciate modern developments, and they need to be more involved in the growth process of their communities.

The prospects for women's cooperatives in Nigeria are strong and positive. The women represent the ideals in their communities. They combine the strength traditions of their people and through education harness the advantages of the modern sector of the society.

Reliance on rural agriculture for food supplies make these cooperatives indispensable institutions. As grass-root rural farmers, they have a primary role in promoting the sustenance and welfare of people. The involvement of women in production mak es it imperative for government and society in Nigeria to address some of the constraints that face women in both the traditional and modern sectors of society. There is an urgent need to reconcile some of the contradictions in rural agriculture. For exam ple more facilities should be provided to women for purchase land for agriculture. It is through such responses and support that drive for self-sufficiency in healthy and balanced food supplies can be promoted and sustained in Nigeria.

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Screening Sheet for "La vie est belle" and "Congo"*

by William Thompson

CCSU student (History 497, African History Through Film)

I. Cinematic qualities

A. "La vie est belle" was produced in Kinshasha, Zaire's capital of four million. In contrast, the Hollywood motion picture, "Congo," was supposed to be filmed in a remote section of Zaire, but was not.

B. The jovial mood is conveyed throughout most of "La vie est belle"" through filming on location in night clubs and the lively streets of Kinshasha. We are presented with a modernized view of Africa, rather than "Congo's" "jungle" melodrama. Furt hermore, African sounds are not those of wild exotic animals as heard in "Congo," but contemporary musical tunes produced by black Africans.

II. References to other works

A. Intertextuality

1. The actors in "Congo" have played roles in various other American films, and to the best of my knowledge, those in "La vie est belle," have not been featured elsewhere.

2. "La vie est belle" tells a "rags to riches" story by means of a unique story-line. In comparison, "Congo" unveils the classic "Americans into and out of African jungle" adventure with a sensationalistic twist. Nonetheless, both of the movies ' general concepts have been used many times previously.

III. Themes of "encounter"

A. Defining "Africa"

1. In "La vie est belle," Africa is pictured as a thriving "modernized" region. Real people exist in this place with "real" problems and dreams. "Congo" is based in the rain forest, and for the most part, does not expose black Africans as real people, but merely as part of the background.

2. Africans are respected and are displayed with extreme cultural accuracy in "La vie est belle." In "Congo," the viewer learns more about Zaire's "jungle" than its people.

B. Characters

1. "La vie est belle" represents its African characters in a variety of different areas comparable to those in Zaire. In contrast, the African characters in "Congo" are limited to such roles as "tribal people," trackers, corrupt governmen t officials, and gun runners.

IV. Historical frame of film's release

A. Events in America or Africa that this film comments on.

1. A very minute part of "Congo" does touch on Africa's political environment, but the main focus is geared towards a "jungle" adventure in Africa. In comparison, parts of "La vie est belle" address Zaire's political environ ment, but focus primarily on its post-colonial urban culture rooted in survival.

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* This screening sheet is derived from Keim and Stimson's screening sheet of "King Solomon's Mines." For a related discussion, see Keim and Stimson, "Africa at the Movies," Africa Update, Vol. 11, no. 4 (1995).

Please send comments to Tennyson Darko at darko@ccsua.ctstateu.edu