In the absence of adequate police protection in Côte d'Ivoire during the 1990s, hunters began patrolling communities against crime. Worried government ministers portrayed hunters as traditionalists out of place in the modern world and capable of destabilizing it. Officials appealed to distinctions between civil and customary law to repress the hunters' movement in the country's more prosperous areas, but they approved hunters' patrols in peripheral zones, recreating the indirect, customary rule through which French colonizers once regulated hunters. Hunters recognized the contradictions inherent in this compromise and took advantage of them, creating security procedures and networks grounded in their sacrificial hunting ethos and organizational hierarchy. In this way, they encompassed the domain of state security within their hunting roles to stabilize, rather than subvert, the nation-state.
Initiated hunters (donzow) rose to national prominence in Côte d'Ivoire during the 1990s as crimefighters and succeeded in restoring public order throughout the country. Politicians sought to ride the wave of donzo popularity to boost their electoral campaigns, but the Ivorian government of Henri Konan Bedié was more ambivalent toward the hunters and their association (donzo ton). The Ministry of the Interior feared that the donzow might form a paramilitary force that would some day threaten national security. President Bedié's main concern was that the Mandé and Mandé-influenced hunters' association (Binkadi) would support Mandé presidential hopeful Alassane Dramane Ouattara in the 2000 election. This paper examines the Bedié regime's containment policy that in the second half of the 1990s aimed to restrict donzo ton activities to the northern half the country and to prevent them from becoming an influential sociopolitical force. Various tactics were deployed to turn public opinion against the donzow and to divide and rule their organization. The attempts to reconfigure the scale of donzow's activities from the national to the regional levels were part of a larger ethnoterritorial politics, called ivoirité. Narrow definitions of citizenship, the (re)construction of culture areas, and the exclusion of immigrants from political and economic arenas demonstrate that the "authoritarian possibilities in culture" are realized with devastating consequences in Côte d'Ivoire. These policies and politics contributed to the volatile social and political atmosphere leading up to the 2002 armed rebellion, in which some donzow took up arms against the state.
This paper is about the hunters' association Benkadi, which, since the mid-1990s, has mainly organized traditional hunters and "new" hunters (young male farmers) in western Burkina Faso. I focus on the links between the hunters' association and the politico-administrative reorganization of the Burkinabe state in the context of decentralization. Departing from the fact that the once-uncontested leadership of Benkadi's founder, Tiéfing Coulibaly, underwent important transformations until his death, I argue that, taken together, politico-administrative decentralization and traditional leadership have, in the case of Benkadi, opened up a public space for a politics of belonging based on supraethnic and regionalist collective identification.
Ferme, Mariane C. (Mariane Conchita), 1959-
In this article, we examine how irregular combatants in the "hunter" militias in Sierra Leone defined themselves and their objectives in dialogue with the human-rights discourse of international humanitarian organizations that intervened in the conflict and the peace initiatives that punctuated it, particularly from the mid-1990s onwards. We suggest that the moral subject envisioned by international doctrines of humanitarianism overlapped with codes of conduct prescribed in the course of initiations into hunting militias, especially in areas where these militias remained accountable and loyal to local political hierarchies. This undermines any simple notion of a total moral breakdown and disregard for civilian lives and rights. However, we also suggest that once militias left their local functions of grassroots civil defense units and moved beyond the territories where they were recruited, they made strategic decisions in combat based on a selective interpretation of humanitarian discourse and practices. This transformation shows how changing perceptions of the terms of engagement produced sometimes diverging, other times parallel interpretations of the moral dilemmas at stake, as the conflict (and its containment) shifted in scale to broader national, regional, and international arenas.
Rencontre des Chasseurs de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (2001 : Bamako, Mali)
Africa, West -- Intellectual life.
Africa, West -- Politics and government -- 1960-
This contribution examines an international conference on West African hunters to analyze the role of intellectuals who actively work at scholarly and political functions. In the current sociopolitical context of West African states, there seems to be a great inadequacy or incompatibility between social projects and political ambitions, inasmuch as politicians use their social networks and symbolic capital to foster superficial cultural activities that exclusively benefit them.