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by
Wim van Binsbergen

Class formation as the penetration of capitalism in the Kaoma rural district

Zambia, 1800-1978

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© 1978-2002 Wim van Binsbergen

1. Introduction[1]

In this paper I shall describe classes and class formation in the Zambian rural district of Kaoma[2], from the point of view of modes of production, their articulation, the various branches out of which some modes of production consist, and the emergence of capitalism as a dominant mode of production.

                        It is useful to offer a few working definitions of the main concepts which I shall employ. I have no intention to dwell here upon the fundamental theoretical questions such as dominate current Marxist debates concerning these concepts. I merely make my concepts explicit for the sake of my own argument, and to allow for comparison between my descriptive data and those presented in the other paper of the present seminar.

            Classes, then, I would define not so much by reference to specific attributes of their members: a particular life style and consumption pattern (Weber 1969); differential evaluation in terms of status or prestige, as consensually ascribed to a particular group within a society (Warner & Lunt 1946; Parsons 1951); nor indeed, primarily, by reference to legal ownership or actual control over the means of production alone — a specific form which class relations have taken in the development of capitalism. Instead, classes define themselves mutually, in relation to one another, through the specific class struggle in which they are involved. Under the application of means of production (tools etc.) and technical knowledge, human labour adds surplus value to natural resources. Every society shows a number of specific ways in which human labour is subjected to control, and in which this surplus value is expropriated from the producers. Basically such expropriation can be effected by one group (class) monopolising one or more of the production forces: means of production, resources, labour or knowledge. The forms of monopolising and expropriation are defined by the social organization of production, in other words the relations of production. Class struggle is essentially this expropriation process, and the producers’ reaction against it. Wherever surplus value is created and expropriated, a class struggle exists in an objective form. Typically, however, the facts of surplus expropriation are concealed by all sorts of arrangements in the superstructure (a kinship system, patronage, cash wages, a legal structure defining ownership and control, a political system, etc.), so that these involved need not be consciously aware of the underlying infrastructural reality. As to the specific combination of production forces and relations of production, it seems useful to distinguish a number of fundamental types: the modes of production, which are each characterised by specific forms of class struggle, and by specific superstructural arrangements both to pattern this class struggle and to conceal it.

            An important inspiration on this point has been Poulantzas (1974), who offers a broad definition of modes of production along Marxian lines. When the present text was conceived, in 1978, the neo-Marxist revival in anthropology had been going on for a decade or more,[3] but the specific recasting of Marx’s ideas on the Asiatic mode of production[4] into a general anthropological theory was only beginning to bear fruit in the form of the first empirically-based publications on modes of production and their articulation.[5] It was only in the 1980s[6] that fully-fledged studies on modes of production analysis set a standard which was not yet available when the present argument was first conceived.

            Most, perhaps all, societies consist of several modes of production, which are linked to each other in such a way that surplus value generated in one is used to reproduce another, more dominant one. If each mode of production is characterised, in addition to the material conditions of production, by a specific class struggle stipulating in which way surplus value is expropriated, then the emergence, in a local society, of a new mode of production implies the emergence of a new type of class struggle, in which new antagonistic classes define themselves. The essence of class formation, then, seems to be the historical development in which new modes of production present themselves, link up with pre-existing ones, gradually gain dominance over the latter or surrender to the dominance of other modes of production. this process is not peculiar to capitalism, and even if most studies (including the present one) emphasise the contribution of the rise of capitalism in discussions of class formation, this in fact presupposes the linkage (‘articulation’) between ascending capitalism and one or more pre-capitalist modes of production.

            My case study initially set out to identify, tentatively and as far as my incomplete contemporary and historical evidence allows, the various modes of production that have existed in Kaoma district over the past few hundred years, and the class relations on which each has revolved.

            However, modes of production may internally be differentiated according to specific production forces (tools, methods, aspects of nature to be appropriated by human production), and this differentiation may be accompanied by specific forms of superstructural underpinning. Strictly speaking such differentiation means that the constituting class relations take a different form and that one might be justified to speak of as many modes of production as there can be more or less distinct complexes of differentiation be discerned. One the other hand, if every new tool, every new mode of livelihood were to represent a different mode of production, capitalism as the major mode of production confronting pre-existing African forms of production would loose much of its uniquely distinctive position, and would be reduced to just one mode of production among many. It is therefore desirable to restrict ourself to distincguishing only a handful of different modes of production, and to employ the term ‘branch of production’ to designate such internal differentiation of a mode of production as gives rise to surface specialisation within essentially the same overall complex.

            Table 1 sets out the specific modes of livelihood to be discerned historically in Kaoma district, central western Zambia. The broad similarities between some of these various units (when they share a basis in rural economic dynamics and all revert back to the same few contradictions between generations, genders and status groups), and their fundamental difference in this respect vis-a-vis capitalism as the one mode of production completely transforming the pre-existing local pattern, makes it preferable to designate each of these modes of livelihood by the term ‘branch of production’ instead of ‘mode of production’.[7] This usage gained currency in the literature on modes of production and related issues from the 1970s onwards, e.g. Beach 1977. In is also in terms of branches of production that I have reworked much of the same historical material in my Tears of Rain (1992).

            Within capitalism, as well as in some pre-capitalist modes of production of considerable geographical span and internal complexity (e.g. the trade-and-tribute mode), issues of class formation are complicated by the existence, at the superstructural level, of the state, which in Poulantzas’ terms (1974) could be viewed as the crystallisation of class relations: not the handmaiden of only one particular class, nor a reified structure of apparatus wielding power in its own right, but a structure of relations in which the fundamental contradictions of the dominant (and presumably also of the other) forms of class struggle within a certain society are expressed, and in which therefore the conditions for this class struggle are reproduced, i.e. perpetuated.

            I wish to conclude this all too brief conceptual exercise with a note on relative autonomy, one of the greatest problems in current Marxist theory. At least two boundary problems, one horizontal and the other vertical, confront anyone who approaches class formation or related issues with a Marxist framework.

            The first problem could be called horizontal, and concerns the distinction between various coexisting modes of production. How to distinguish them on the level of operationalisation? Looking at the various production factors and the forms of surplus expropriation in which people are involved, seems elementary enough. Yet e.g. the very different interpretations which various Marxist researchers have given to the relations between the capitalist and pre-capitalist modes of production in the context of labour migration in modern Africa[8], suggest the remaining difficulties in this field. Similar problems are apparent from the present paper, e.g. the large number of different pre-capitalist modes of production that I initially felt compelled to distinguish, and which I later subsumed under one common heading as distinct from the capitalist mode of production.

            The second, vertical problem concerns the much-debated relation between infrastructure and superstructure. By opting for a somewhat controversial definition of mode of production which explicitly includes superstructural elements (and the same applied when the refinement in terms of branches of production is implemented), I have already implied that the autonomy of the superstructure versus the infrastructure can at best be relative, and their relation is intimate and crucial. But what form does this relation take? Is it possible to pinpoint with some precision, the ways in which infrastructural arrangements are projected in the superstructure or the ways in which[9] the superstructure reproduces the infrastructure? The state exists by virtue of a particular relative autonomy between the political and the economic order (‘level’, ‘instance’); by the same token, religion exists by virtue of a particular relative autonomy between the ideological order and the political and economic orders. But what specific theory, beyond such cryptic assertions of the type Poulantzas has to offer, have we to understand the conditions, and the limits, of this relative autonomy? In the study of class formation this issue is of more than marginal interest. For it is precisely under conditions of relative autonomy that non-Marxian analyses of class, such as referred to in the first paragraph of this paper, remain meaningful, even though ultimately they fail to link up such superstructural elements as status, evaluation, legal ownership, consumption attitudes, to the infrastructural realities of production and expropriation. similarly, Weber’s eminently influential analyses off forms of authority, the state, bureaucracy, legitimation, and the routinisation of charisma, even if entirely conceived in a superstructural idiom, may carry weight even in Marxist contexts provided one attempts to place them in a wider framework where the problem of relative autonomy is neither ignored (as in the Weberian tradition), nor left unsolved (as in current Marxism).

2. Modes of production and branches of in Kaoma district, 1800-1978

2.1. Introduction

Table 1 gives a systematic summary of the main branches of production which have existed in Kaoma district since about 1800. In the light of the above discussion, I have distinguished four main modes of production:

     the village mode of production

     the petty commodity mode of production

     the tributary mode of production, and

     the capitalist mode of production.

In order to accommodate the internal differentiation which may be perceived within some of these modes of production, I have subsequently differentiated the village mode of production into a number of branches:

     the household branch of production

     gathering as a branch of production

     hunting as a branch of production

     fishing as a branch of production

     agriculture as a branch of production

     animal husbandry as a branch of production

Likewise, I have differentiated between capitalist agriculture, which is pursued on the farms of rural Zambia and Southern Africa as a whole but including those relatively near to Kaoma district (e.g. in Namwala district); and labour migration of an industrial nature, which is typically pursued in distant urban areas throughout Zambia and Southern Africa as a whole.

            The various modes of production distinguished here differ substantially from each other in their specific combination of the four production factors. The fundamental contradictions which define the relations of productions in each mode, differ from mode to mode; and even if the same few social categories (classes) crop up repeatedly (younger men versus elders; women versus men), the contents and the direction of the extraction process still differ. The same situation obtains, but to afar lesser extent and with blurred boundaries and generous overlap, between branches of production. Moreover, all modes of production, and some branches of production as distinguished here, turn out to be complex in themselves in that the expropriation of surplus always takes place between more than one pair of antagonistic classes; e.g. in agriculture it is not only women whose surplus is extracted by men, but also slaves whose surplus is extracted by masters, younger men by elders.[10] Given this considerable complexity, combining the various pre-capitalist modes as described here, under the one undifferentiated heading of the ‘domestic mode of production’, such as is sometimes done, may obscure fundamental issues of class formation. Only by acknowledging such differences as can be detected in the empirical material can we meaningfully deal with the historical changes which each of them underwent in the last few centuries in the way of class formation.

            Table 1 however presents modes of production regardless of their distribution on a time axis. It is primarily a classification, which forms only the starting-point for a more dynamic, historical approach.

2.2. The village mode of production

2.2.1.The household branch of production

The patterns of labour and extraction discussed so far do not cover the products that rank highest in terms of the labour input they require: houses, kitchens, granaries and men’s shelters: nor the activity which, through the year, probably constitutes the largest female labour input: the processing of the half-products that derive from gathering, hunting, fishing and agriculture, into digestible food. I would not look at the activities in this truly domestic sphere, where the village communities takes its specific shape, as merely revolving on consumption and distribution, and therefore as epiphenomena of the more directly productive confrontation between nature and human labour as found in the other modes of production. I would rather regard these domestic activities as a distinct mode of production in their own right, characterised by its own production factors and its own relations of production. The resources are the half-products deriving from the other branches of production. Labour is provided by women and children in the case of food processing, and by younger men and paid labourers in the case of building. When slavery was still in existence, slave labour was to a considerable extent employed for domestic activities. Technical knowledge and skills required are considerable. Means of production in house construction are: axe, hoe, knife, water receptacles. The means of production required for food processing include, in addition, pestle and mortar, a basin, and iron pots. these latter implements are usually a woman’s personal possessions, acquired through inheritance or through gifts from her father or husband. Three-legged pots of cast iron, hailing from the Portuguese territories, had supplanted earthenware vessels well before the advent of colonial rule. Local blacksmiths could not produce such pots; they therefore had to be obtained through traders. The value attributed to these pots approached that of guns (for which one slave was the standard price). One pot constituted the main element of a fair bride-price until the time (1920s) when labour migration was well established and bride-prices were increasingly in cash. The elders’ control of cooking pots (like that over hoes) gave them power over the household mode of production, beyond such power as they had over the labour of youth and women on the basis of the kinship and marriage system.

            The fact that until today no man consumes food that he has processed himself, shows that one fundamental extraction relation in this mode of production has persisted. However, the reverse statement is no longer true. Not every adult woman in the village today is involved in food processing for the partial benefit of (adult) males. Divorce has become easy and common, and women are often the initiators of divorce, these days. After a career of domestic (as well as agricultural and gathering) labour for the partial benefit of fathers, brothers, mother’s brothers and husbands, a considerable proportion of women in their mid-thirties or older settle independently in the villages of moderately distant relatives, shunning further marriages, engaging in agriculture on their own account. and waiting for their children to grow up. Married wives of absent migrants who receive remittances can display a similar independence even if living amongst these close relatives.

            Also in other respects the household mode of production has altered. Slave labour is no longer available. The emergence, at several places in the district, of diesel maize mills offers, for those who can afford the cash, a partial release of female labour from the hard and despised job of pounding. The demands made upon the domestic labour of young men now have to compete with their opportunities of earning cash by selling their labour, either in distant towns or, locally, in agriculture. This means that an increasing number of houses is built with the partial assistance of paid labour. All houses depend on male labour for their construction — women fetch the water, prepare the loam and apply it to the latticework constructed by the men. This makes unmarried women without cash dependent on the good will of their male relatives — but other can now have dwellings built on their own account.

            No longer do all men of a village eat together in the men’s shelter, where all women used to bring their prepared meals at the sign of the headman’s wife. All but the smallest villages now have multiple eating places, and the headman’s wife only controls those younger women who reside in the cluster of houses immediately around her; she benefits from their labour and with regard to such tasks as fetching water, pounding, beer brewing etc.

2.2.2.Gathering as a branch of production

This mode of production, whose local origins go back to the first human habitation of the area, has survived until today. On the wooded plateau of which Kaoma district forms part, a very low density of population[11] has largely preserved the necessary ecological conditions, although in the immediate environment of the main inhabited valleys some major bush products (firewood, grass for thatching) are no longer so plentiful. State control and the necessity to stay near roads which make participation in capitalism possible however prohibit moving away to new areas. Gathering is the work of women and children, while men share in their products, extracting, in other words, the surplus. Gathering is the only mode of production which yields, among other products, foods which can be consumed without further processing within the household mode of production. Moreover, it is the mode which requires virtually no means of production. Because of these two aspects, gathering can subsidise other modes of production in which the labour of women, young men and formerly slaves is exploited: these producers can, to a considerable extent, keep themselves alive by gathering. thus old songs mention that fact that slaves, while involved in subsistence agriculture, themselves were not allowed to eat crops but instead had to rely on products from the forest.

2.2.3.Hunting as a branch of production

Going back, like gathering, to times immemorial, hunting has continued to constitute an important mode of production in Kaoma district. Until the late 19th century the means of production were spears, bow and arrows, and traps. Long-distance trade introduced guns only shortly before the imposition of colonial rule. Later, purchase of a gun became a standard investment of money earned through labour migration — and so was a bicycle, today the main means to take meat over scores of miles of forest tracks back to the village. Hunting is still a man’s true calling. The gun is a main symbol of authority among headmen and chiefs, and features centrally in many succession disputes.

             Disputes of game due to the use of guns by both Africans and European ivory hunters (Clay 1945); the creation of a very large national park in the eastern part of Kaoma district; and state control over hunting through licenses and game guards, considerably reduced the yields from hunting. A situation such as reported in the 1930s, of whole villages virtually subsisting on hunting and gathering, nowhere obtains any more.

            Only for the last fifty years has game meat been a marketable commodity, sold both within the villages and to the outside. Before that time, hunting was subject to three forms of surplus extraction. First, boys and young men were trained by accomplished hunters in faraway hunting camps. In situation the elders expropriated their charges’ bag. Secondly, no hunter could return to the village with game, without sharing out most of his bag. This was a particularly strong norm, backed up by elaborate symbolism and hideous supernatural sanctions. Thirdly, certain larger species were sacred to the prince of an area, who had to receive part or all of it as tribute: skins of lion and leopards, tail of hippopotamus and eland, ground tusk of elephant etc. (cf. Gluckman 1943). Until about 1800, when long-distance trade and state formation were of no importance in the area, these prestige objects would be added to the prince’s treasure, to be buried with him at his death. The princes, very often women, would exercise power over only a small area, and in circulation processes their main function appears to have been not recirculation, but withdrawal from circulation. During the 19th century, however, a trade-and-tribute mode of production penetrated into Kaoma district. This altered the circulation of hunters’ tribute: skins and tusks became the major commodities which, extracted from local producers, enabled the princes to become powerful interregional entrepreneurs.

            Even with the virtual destruction of the trade-and-tribute mode of production under capitalism, which put an end to princely tribute rights, chiefs[12] have retained a special relationship with hunters: possessing the very best guns in the district (for both symbolic and financial reasons), and still claiming historical rights (illegal but connived at by the state) on certain species, the chiefs employ elephant hunters; tusks and meat are sold along unofficial channels and the proceeds go almost exclusively to the chiefs.

            Since meat has become a marketable commodity (partly through the contact with hunting groups were steeped in capitalism: foremost the Luvale ethnic group), many gun owners have adopted a similar policy vis-a-vis buffalo, duiker and the many kinds of bucks. In exchange for wages or a share in the meat, a hunter is employed to kill game with the owner’s gun and ammunition. Two factors have led to the concentration of guns in the hands of elderly men who themselves are not (or no longer) good hunters: succession to high office implied inheritance not only of a prestigious title but also of a gun; and many guns are owned by, or inherited from, retired labour migrants (many headman fall under this category). I estimate that about 50% of all hunters are thus separated from their means of production. Outside wage labour, it is common for younger men to use a gun belonging to some senior relative, to whom the lion’s share will go. The norms on sharing the bag within the hunter’s own village still exist, and are still to a limited extent observed by hunters who use their own or a senior relative’s gun. Considered from the viewpoint of the state, all this hunting is poaching, so the circulation of the meat requires some slight caution. Most of the meat is marketed in nearby villages by the hunters and gun owners; some is sold to middlemen, who transport it to parts of the districts were game is less abundant or game supervision more effective — a very small proportion of the meat, finally, reaches the distant urban areas.

            Thus the relations of production surrounding hunting since the penetration of capitalism, have led to a proletarianization of many hunters, defining themselves as a class vis-a-vis gun-owning chiefs and elders. Some hunters till pursue a remnant of the old hunting mode of production; whereas the remaining portion of the hunters, possessing their own means of production, have entered the market as entrepreneurs. In the field of circulation, finally, a further extraction is effected by the middlemen.

2.2.4. Fishing as a branch of production

Kaoma district is an ideal environment for fishing, which however can only be undertaken a few months per year. The places where fish can be found are fairly localised, and this allows for a monopolisation of natural resources such as did not develop in the case of the hunting and gathering modes of production. It is not clear when this monopolisation began. At any rate, until colonial times pools were owned by princes and their spouses, while the rights to streams were in the hands of village headmen. The main fishing technique consisted of the collective emptying of a pool or a dammed section of a stream. Men would enter the water using fishing spears; women and children would keep to the borders and catch the fish with their hands or with baskets. Methods were rather haphazard and only the concerted efforts of scores of people could yield results. The owner of the fishing grounds had a right to a portion of the catch. Particularly princes and their spouses could thus exact considerable tribute. As with game, there were strong pressures to distribute the catch over an extensive kinship network.

            In several ways the penetration of capitalism has altered this mode of production. The colonial state put an end to formal tribute obligations. Collective fishing parties continued to be held, but princes no longer received any tribute from them: whatever fish they eat, they have to catch themselves, or buy. For rather than distributing the fish over an extensive kin network, participants in the fishing party now sell part of their individual catches on the spot, particularly the women who have no husbands, brothers or sons to spear fishes for them. Headmen can still claim a portion of the fish caught at their dams. But collective fishing parties in which members of a great many villages participate, have partly given way to smaller units, headed by a headman-owners and consisting of his close kin. The extensive time-honoured fishing techniques are then augmented by more intensive methods (final traps) derived from the Luvale. Thus smaller groups produce in a short time much more fish than they can consume. Rather than drying it for their own future use, they sell the fish to outside, mainly via middlemen who visit the area on their bicycles.

2.2.5 Agriculture as a branch of production

Oral records referring to the early 19th century, when the present chiefly dynasties were established in the area, already refer to the cultivation of millet and kaffircorn. When Livingstone heard about the area some fifty years later, he marked it on the map as rich in staples and vegetables (Clay 1945). Yet one cannot escape the impression that agriculture has a much shallower local history than gathering, hunting and fishing. The case of whole villages subsisting, in the 1930s, on hunting and gathering alone points to viable alternatives to agriculture, which in the pre-capitalist past are likely to have been even more important. Contemporary methods of cultivation seem little complex, especially when compared with the complex skills involved in hunting.[13] In the case of forest gardens the soil is enriched only by burned vegetable material — the wet riverside gardens use the natural fertility of the river sediment. Yields are very low. Land there is in abundance, and it is easily relinquished or passed on to others who want to use it. Land quarrels are virtually unknown, never lead to court cases, and neighbouring groups (such as the Lozi) who are known to quarrel over land are ridiculed for that reason. Today’s main food crops (cassava, maize) are recent introductions; elderly people have witnessed their arrival in the area. By contrast to the ritual elaboration surrounding gathering and hunting, there is only limited agricultural ritual: rain ritual, significantly focusing on chiefly graves.

            The scanty historical evidence somehow suggests that extensive subsistence agriculture as a mode of production particularly gained ascendancy with the rise of the trade-and-tribute mode of production (see below, 2.9). In this connection it is important that current theories concerning the origin of princely dynasties from the North (the southeast of the present Zaire), associate their emigration from that area with population pressure brought about by the introduction of new food crops from the Americas (Langworthy 1972: 21). The exclusion, at some point in time, of slaves from the consumption of crops points likewise in the direction of an association between princes and crops. On the other hand, agriculture provided the basic elements of such general distribution in Bantu societies that it seems of much older origin than the Luba and Lunda migrations (16th to 19th century). By the same token, the symbolic significance of the hoe, (e.g. as the general word for bride-price (Nk. makahu, = hoes); in girl’s puberty ceremonials; and in cults of affliction) suggests that subsistence agriculture has for many centuries already formed an addition to gathering, hunting and fishing. Princely expansion however seems to have boosted this mode of production, and redefined its relations of production.

            Subsistence agriculture is primarily women’s work. It only requires an input of male labour for the cutting of trees, when the clearing is first made or revived. Young men, and in the old times slaves, often put in labour beyond the initial stage. Agricultural products, however, are stored in the granaries of the elders and nobles to whom these producers are or were attached. The elders control the allocation of land, but formally each resident daughter and wife has a right to a garden she can call her own. agricultural work would normally be shared between all women of one village, going round from one field to another. In precolonial times, when ironware was scarce and expensive, elders largely controlled the means of agricultural production: they received hoes and axes in exchange for women.[14] Youths who were unable thus to pay for their prospective wives, performed bride services, including agricultural labour. These transactions are all the more significant when we realise that marriage is, among other thing, the transfer of male rights over female labour. Today, now that the bride-price is in money and ironware is generally available, the elders’ control over these means of production has waned. Women and youths often own their own hoes and axes, and even if they don’t, agricultural implements freely circulate within the extended kin group, and within and between villages. Whereas quarrels and court cases frequently concern, e.g., ownership and use of guns, this is never the case for axes and hoes.

            With the penetration of capitalism, agriculture as a mode of production underwent considerable changes. Abolition of slavery and tribute obligations by the colonial state greatly affected an important aspect of the relations of production underlying agriculture: extraction of agricultural surplus value from slaves to nobles and from local communities to distant courts became a thing of the past. Cassava, moreover, largely supplanted other food crops, thus releasing (since it is a far easier crop) labour for production in a capitalist context: cash crops for both sexes, and in addition hunting, fishing and perhaps even labour migration in the case of men. Being a poorer crop in terms of nutritional value, the staple food situation declined markedly under the impact of capitalism. Severe famines occurred in the early 1930s and, quite recently, in the early 1970s.[15]

            Male participation in capitalism threatened subsistence agriculture, unless other males could be brought to put in the initial clearing labour. For this purpose, contractual relations entered the subsistence agriculture. A woman, finding herself without a husband, brother or adult son within reach but having some cash at her disposal, would contract male labour. Such contracts were and are notoriously unreliable (cf. Allan 1949), and remained without effective legal backing; if the male partner did not put in his labour during the crucial few weeks immediately preceding the planting season, the female partner did not have to pay up, but more important she would not be able to claim compensation for the loss of cultivation opportunities.

            Not every household participate in capitalism to the same extent. Those deeply immersed in it, can use their cash incomes from that mode of production to purchase food crops from others. Thus a limited but steadily rising proportion of the food crops enter into cash transactions. In many cases the relations between producer and buyer retain non-capitalist features: the price would be agreed before the crops were ripe, one would buy a certain acreage instead of fixed measured quantities, and the price would be well below current market prices. Increasingly, however, cassava, sweet potatoes and ground-nuts are marketed through middlemen, and sold to the outside: mainly to other parts of the district, that are more deeply involved in capitalism.

            With food crops becoming, at least in potential, marketable commodities, and with the various women from the same village having to find, in principle, their own solutions of the problem of initial male labour input, the penetration of capitalism lead to a fragmentation of agricultural production. Nowadays, the women of a village only rarely cultivate collectively. Nowadays, the women of a village only rarely cultivate collectively. Headmen claim, store and control agricultural products of their wives and unmarried resident daughters, but no longer that of the women associated with other mature men in their village, nor that of mature unmarried women who are making use of hired male labour and who cultivate independently. Hired agricultural labour is not restricted to initial male labour inputs: a considerable proportion of the village population, especially younger men, sell their labour power in ‘piece-work’ arrangement with fellow-villagers.

2.2.6. Animal husbandry as a branch of production

The details may be found in Table 1.

2.3. Petty commodity mode of production

At present the district does not have a very rich material culture. As elsewhere in Africa, the impact of capitalism which brought manufactured products within reach, has greatly affected such petty commodity production as existed before 1900. Some historical commodities (such as the tinderbox which for hunters using muzzle-loading guns are indispensable) have been completely wiped out. However, three major types of petty commodity production are still very much alive, albeit in a modified form: blacksmithing, weaving of rush mats, and the construction of musical instruments.[16]

            Rich surface deposits of iron ore created favourable conditions for the development of a local ironware production. The products, mainly hoes, axes and spears, circulated locally, and formed a major element in bride-prices and in compensation payments in case of conflict arbitration. They also circulated in a much wider area. Thus ironware from this district is reported to be sold by African traders in 19th-century Tongaland (Miracle 1959), some 200 km to the east. This trade does not seem to have been directly controlled by princes. It survived until the 1930s, when a colonial officer found that it was almost extinct.[17] However, the tribute which princes extracted locally included ironware: particularly ceremonial ironware such as was associated with high office (gongs, ceremonial axes), and in addition iron implements. Part of this ironware found its way, through the interregional trade-and-tribute networks, to distant communities and princely courts. This form of circulation disappeared when the colonial state abolished tribute and slavery, towards the 1920s. I have no data yet on the organization of labour in precolonial ironware production; there is no reason why it should have differed substantially, however, from that described for a culturally similar group[18]. Ore smelting is no longer done today. Instead, scraps of manufactured iron are used, particularly old Landrover springs. Contemporary iron working is limited to the reshaping of this half-product into finished implements, and their subsequent maintenance. Nowadays the dealings between the blacksmith and his clients are all in the form of cash transactions; the blacksmith, who owns the means of production (thongs, bellows, hammer, anvil, file etc.), is assisted by young relatives who are not paid. Thus the fundamental extraction process is between blacksmith and assistants. Between the petty commodity mode of production, and those modes of production which require the products of the former as implements (hunting, fishing, agriculture and the household mode of production), linkages exist which, because of the medium of money, are difficult to interpret in terms of extraction, but which ultimately rely on some participation in the capitalist mode of production from which this money derives.

            Mat weaving and the construction of musical instruments are much less encroached upon by capitalism. The products are made by individual part-time specialists (who, in the case of musical instruments, command very complex skills which it takes years to develop). Mats and musical instruments are indispensable elements in domestic and ceremonial life. They are often made by a member of the family and then not paid for. Occasionally they are ordered, and paid for, by the first owner, but once obtained they circulate freely within an extended kin group and between neighbouring villages, never becoming commodities that can be circulated in exchange for cash. The drums of headman and princes carry personal names and are, along with guns, central symbols of high office; their ownership is determined by succession to such office. In a less exalted way, succession to a name (ushwana) is the standard way in which individual ownership over material objects passes on to others after a person’s death — so that the commodity character of these objects remain subdued virtually forever.

            When trade-and-tribute networks were still in existence, however, mats and musical instruments were included in the series of local products which local princes extracted from the local community, and that were further distributed to distant courts. In that time they were often the products of slave labour. Chiefly courts, today, the remnants of the trade-and-tribute mode of production as incapsulated in the modern state, have retained patterns of commodity production reminiscent of this situation: junior members of the court, including state-paid musicians, produce such mats and instruments as are needed for court life.

2.4. The tributary mode of production

I have already referred to the emergence, in Kaoma district since the late 18th century, of a trade-and-tribute mode of production. These developments in the district must be seen against the background of similar events all over Central Africa. In the preceding centuries, interregional trade seems hardly to have touched the area. But with such trade bristling all around the periphery of the area, and with processes of state formation being well under way all around the area, the time was ripe for the trade-and-tribute mode of production to develop locally. The royal courtly culture of the distant Lunda, introduced by militant migrants reaching the district around 1800, provided an organisational model, and an ideology of exalted princely states marked off by exclusive paraphernalia (ceremonial ironware and musical instruments), ceremonies (installation, burial, initially also boys initiation ceremonies), and special magical claims.

            On an interregional scale, the kingdoms developing in Kaoma district were of minor scope. They displayed all the Lunda organisational and cultural features. Relatively massive princely capitals were created, where a prince with his court officials (judges, councillors, military leaders, eunuchs, headed by a Prime Minister) would reside with their wives and slaves. Slave labour, and tribute both in labour and in the form of products from the various local modes of production, formed the material basis for these establishments. However, rather than becoming interregional foci in their own right, treaties and military expeditions soon brought these emerging kingdoms of Kaoma district under tributary relations with other, more successful states: foremost the Lozi (Luyana/Kololo) kingdom which benefited from the extremely favourable environment of the Zambezi flood-plain, and the trading contracts with the Angolan coast. From the middle of the 19th century, tribute in the form of skins, ivory, slaves, musical instruments, mats, honey, and occasionally cattle raided from the Ila and Tonga to the east, would irregularly pass between the local kingdoms and the rapidly expanding Lozi state. In a less organized from, raids from the Ndebele in the south, the Yeke and Kaonde in the north, and the Ila would extract surplus value from the area, and threaten, to the point of extinction, the local minor kingdoms.

            The first detailed European reports on the area (Gielgud & Anderson 1901) reveal a condition of flux. Political relations were fragmented. A number of entrepreneurs, many with little more than the mere aspirations to princely status but with considerable economic and political power, competed for local hegemony. Some princely establishments acknowledged Lozi overlordship, many other denied the arbitrary claims of the Lozi ambassadors who roamed the area with their retinue. Large caravans of Angolan and Swahili traders likewise crossed the area, exchanging slaves and ivory for guns, ammunition, pots, calico and beads at the capitals of these princely entrepreneurs, and stimulating raiding between the latter.

            The creation of regular colonial administration in the area in the first decade of the twentieth century (Until 1924 in the hands of the British South Africa Company), almost entirely upset the trade-and-tribute mode of production. Tribute obligations vis-a-vis local princes, and vis-a-vis the Lozi Kingdom, were soon formally abolished. So was slavery. However, it was to take until the late 1930s before these forms of surplus extraction had effectively disappeared. Great pains were taken, meanwhile , to reshape the dismantled Lozi state into a ready instrument for colonial rule. The Lozi king and aristocracy were compensated for the loss of tribute and slave labour. A proportion of the hut tax exacted from every adult male in their area was allotted to them (later they were to receive a fixed stipend independent from tax revenue). This area, the former Lozi state, was so redefined as to include the whole of Kaoma district. Among the competing local princes a small number were selected for official governmental recognition, and these were artificially incorporated in the Lozi neo-traditional bureaucracy. In so far as this meant Lozi interference in court matters, the move was greatly resented. But is also implied at least the recognized princes, henceforth called ‘chiefs’, shared (directly or indirectly) in the revenues on the colonial state’s surplus extraction through hut tax. Due to these state subsidies, the chiefs could continue to surround themselves with court dignitaries and musicians. While on the surface much of the prestigious Lunda court culture was thus perpetuated and even revived, the chiefs’ relations towards their subjects had radically changed. Direct surplus extraction, and trading, had been supplanted by taxation mediated through the state, and by trading through a few private stores including missionary establishments. Former slaves continued to reside at or near the chiefs’ places, often as clients of the chiefs, and subject to humiliation and threats because of their slave origins. However, as there was land in abundance, and as they were usually related to local non-slave families (particularly those of chiefs and headmen) they managed to assimilate in the local society, and today are only revealed as slaves in circumstances of grave conflict. Elders, successors to glorious titles which in the recent past had meant near-princely status, and who had shared in the trade, raiding and tribute proceeds of the princes, now saw themselves forever barred from chiefly office (whose succession rules were, under Lozi and colonial influence, greatly narrowed down so as to exclusively favour close patrilateral kin), with only very limited chances of occupying a remunerative position at the chiefs’ courts, deprived from their slaves, and with no other compensation that administering the village tax register. In the latter capacity they acted, of course, as the unpaid agents of the state-controlled surplus extraction. The administrative requirement to be registered in some village home seems to have given the elders some extra hold over the younger men, particularly if these joined, as labour migrants, capitalist production outside the district.

            Through the vicissitudes of indirect rule; the creation of Native Authorities; repeated conflicts with the Lozi aristocracy; the struggle for Independence; the redefinition of indigenous chiefs in the Zambia state, where their judicial and executive powers were removed and only their advisory and ornamental functions retained official recognition — through all this the situation of senior chiefs in Kaoma district has not move far from the colonial pattern described above. On the basis of the 1900 treaty between the state and the Lozi king they still enjoy a state subsidy which enables them, along with some other chiefs in the Lozi hierarchy, to maintain so-called Royal Establishments at a scale which still had its own measure of splendour around 1970, although much of that has been lost in subsequent decades (cf. van Binsbergen 1987, 1992, 1999; Brown 1984). In addition to a formal staff of about ten people, a considerable number of male clients and female relatives cluster around the chiefs, discharging productive or ritual activities and sharing as kinsmen in the state-provided wealth. Since, Independence, however, the process of surplus extraction from which the chiefs benefit has changed again. Village tax was abolished and instead income tax is raised on all earnings in the formal capitalist sector. Thus the class position of the chiefs and their retinue now has to be defined by direct reference to the capitalist relations of production in the urban areas. An assessment of the state’s role in the articulation between industrial capitalism and the various pre-capitalist modes of production found in the rural areas such as Kaoma district, may indicate why both the colonial and the Zambian state apparently have such high stakes in preserving chiefs and courtiers, these remnants of the trade-and-tribute mode of production.[19]

2.5. The capitalist mode of production

2.5.1. Capitalist agriculture as a branch of production

The recent capitalist development within the (subsistence) agriculture mode of production (marketing of food crops, employment of labour) can be summarised as the modification of relations of production ;within a mode of production whose production factors have largely remained the same. State-promoted capitalist agriculture in the district, however, from the outset constituted a mode of production which also in its production factors differed considerably from historical, subsistence agriculture.

            In its most salient form capitalist agriculture as a mode of production is found today in two huge schemes located at the western and eastern peripheries of the district. Cultivation is carried out on large stretches of land, precisely delineated, and alienated by state agencies from the local population; the latter are relegated to the status of squatters, waiting for eviction. On these schemes, the means of production are those of modern rational farming: tractors, harvesters, large tool sheds, piped water, etc. Their internal, very complex organization of labour follows bureaucratic lines, with formalized relationships between the workers involved, most of whom (save those occupying the lowest positions) are recruited from outside the district. Almost all labour in these schemes requires special technical knowledge and skills such as are not available in the surrounding local society.

            One of the schemes is a state production centre; it main product is high-quality maize such as constitutes the main staple of Zambia’s urban population. In this context it should be noted that, with the one-sided stress on mining development, Zambia has for many years had difficulty to feed its urban population, and has usually imported maize, even from white-ruled Zimbabwe. The other scheme is run by a para-statal organization dealing with a non-food crop, tobacco; its aim is to establish, upon and around the scheme, various type of capitalist producers of tobacco, in conjunction with maize. These producers vary in capital assets, credit facilities, and strictness of supervision. The most successful of them are enabled to build up, within the scheme, impressive farms yielding very high incomes. The last successful are local villagers in the vicinity of the scheme, who have been persuaded to grow tobacco, receive limited assistance and gain only very modest incomes. Common to all these producers is that they are completely dependent upon the scheme for their supplies and marketing; that their participation in the scheme can be one-sidedly terminated if their performance falls below the norm; and that they are dependent upon means of production which are not their own and many of which may never become their own. Most of these producers employ agricultural labour in addition to the unpaid services of wives, children and co-residing relatives.

            The schemes rapidly became veritable focal points of capitalism in the district: on or near them, stores, beer halls, a market, a small diesel maize mill, have cropped up to cater for the needs of increasingly proletarian population.

            Very few local find permanent, formal employment on the staff of these schemes. Equally few qualify to become farmers within the scheme. Many young men from the surrounding area find irregular cash employment with these farmers, while most of the entrepreneurs who flock to the environment of the schemes are also from Kaoma district.

            Outside the schemes, in the villages, capitalist agriculture is less completely different from subsistence agriculture. Here it takes the form of the production of cash crops (primarily maize, with some ground-nuts), whose marketing is monopolised by the state marketing board. These agency also supplies fertiliser and hybrid seeds which are both indispensable for this type of production. Then hoe remains the main agricultural implement, and production per farmer is therefore very low (one or a few bags of 90 kg). Only extremely rarely, and at great expense, do a few villagers manage to have a tractor come up from the district’s schemes to plough their fields. Patterns of land use for cash crop production in the villages is still essentially the same as for subsistence farming. However, the most successful village producers are beginning to expand their fields and to claim exclusive use of them in ways which infringe upon the historical claims of their neighbours. No legal form has yet been found to deal with these mounting frictions. They are therefore still fought in an idiom of gossip sorcery accusations, and sorcery attacks. Cultivation of the new cash crops requires new skills, which are taught by civil servants: agricultural demonstrators resident in the area. On the village level, relations of production in cash crop agriculture are similar to those dominating the present-day cultivation of food crops. Women provide most of the labour, men put in initial labour, production is fragmented, villagers frequently sell their labour to each other, married men claim and market most of the products. Not only unmarried, but also married women, however, may occasionally farm for their own account. The latter, instead of turning they money over to their husbands, wish to spend it themselves on clothes and food — which results in marital quarrels and divorces.

            If one look beyond the village level, considerable differences appear between the marketing of food crops and that of hybrid maize. Given the high initial expenditure on seeds and fertiliser, the producers can never afford to consume the modern crops themselves. They have no choice but to sell them, either to the state marketing agency or, illegally and in small quantities, to middlemen who pay a slightly higher prize. The farmers’ products are necessarily being extracted. Outside the area, these products are used to feed an urban population, thus making possible the latter’s participation, as proletarians, in capitalist relations of production. The main relation of production manifest in village cultivation of cash crops, therefore, appears to be the extraction of surplus value, through the state, for the benefit of urban labour in the capitalist mode of production. The extraction relations within the village: between men and women, younger men and elders, are only subservient to this more fundamental form of surplus extraction. Once involved in capitalist production, the peasant are becoming entirely dependent upon state agencies that deal with supply and marketing. This frequently leads to excesses, such as fertiliser and seeds not being available at the required time, and marketed crops not being paid many months after collection. The producers fret over this, clamour for improvements, for tractors, better roads etc. It is part of their class situation that these demands are ignored. But why, then, should they involve themselves with capitalist production at all? Because, with the general penetration of capitalism (increased use of manufactured products; wage labour in the village; monetarisation of bride-prices and of many other transactions within the village, e.g. healing, love affairs, court fines, food circulation etc.) they need money. Cash crops are not the only way to get money. Hunting and fishing, and selling one’s agricultural labour are alternatives. Moreover, men from their late teens to their forties can go to town to work; women from this area have only a very limited access to urban income. Women and elderly men, therefore, try to get a share of the migrants’ incomes through general remittances, bride prices, and healing ritual. However, this flow of cash into the villages is irregular, not very voluminous, and tends to decrease as circulatory migration gives way to more permanent urbanisation; and the latter shift has been recognized as one the main structural processes in post-Independence Zambia. Given, finally, the fact that earning opportunities in hunting are limited to a few men who are either accomplished hunters or gun owners, and that income from finishing is limited to men and to a few months per years, it becomes clear that capitalist agriculture is the main way through which many villagers (particularly mature men, and women) can get a cash income.[20]

2.5.2. Labour migration as a branch of production

This branch of the capitalist production requires an extensive discussion in relation with its superstructural underpinnings. This discussion will take up the following section.

3. State, church, education and ethnicity: The superstructural requirements for the dominance of capitalism in Kaoma district

The colonial state, with the neo-traditional Lozi state as its picturesque ally, carried on, in a novel way, the interregional extraction processes which had been developing within the trade-and-tribute mode of production. Taxation was an important, but not the only extraction device. Apart from the foodstuffs that were consumed by colonial administrators, the district produced little that could be marketed within a capitalist circuit. The local products that had been sufficiently valuable to be the objects of precolonial interregional trade, were only irregularly drawn within the capitalist circuit. Such petty African trade as there was, was drawn under state control by the introduction of trade and peddler licenses. Promotion of cash crops (maize, and formerly rice) was only seriously undertaken in the 1950s. Before that time, a Lozi representative chief in the district (he afterwards became the Lozi Paramount Chief), ingratiated himself with the colonial government by vigorously promoting the collection of wild latex, a strategic resource during the Second World War (Caplan 1970); these rubber campaigns, however, soon came to an end. No other direct exploitation of natural resources took place. Beyond the southern boundaries very extensive exploitation of timber forests was undertaken, which even warranted the construction of a railway branch; but in the district itself this only meant the creation, relatively nearby, of a limited capitalist labour market.

            The major influence of the colonial state upon the district’s natural resources was not active exploitation, but the closing of huge areas for human habitation, gathering and hunting. Besides a few minor forest reserves, the agricultural schemes already mentioned, and the township where the district’s headquarters came to be located, the country’s main national park was created in the eastern part of the district. This concession to international conservationalism and the sportsmanship among colonial civil servants had a tremendous impact. It cause the forced resettlement of scores of villages, hitherto largely relying on hunting and gathering, to parts of the district that were more densely populated, had a poorer forest ecology and soils. Hunters saw their richest and best-known hunting grounds closed. Also outside the restricted areas, hunting and the felling of trees was subject to licensing — which meant two streams of extraction: one of license fees, and (as these were seldom paid) a probably more voluminous one of fines.

            Moreover, the total absence of human habitation and hunting in the game reserves seems to have led to a rapid proliferation of tsetse fly, which negatively affected the human and cattle population in the eastern part of the district[21]. Also gathering was affected, not only by the creation of restricted forest areas, but also by the state’s restrictions on the movements of villages. This one could no longer move away from the more densely populated valleys, where certain forest products (firewood, grass for thatching) are however increasingly scarce. Village resettlement campaigns, undertaken after Independence, have a similar effect, and thus combine with the ‘free market forces’ that compel a population increasingly participating in capitalism, to stay near the roads that connect the local periphery with distant markets.

            In still another way did the existence of the colonial state have an important effect on the district’s natural resources. the colonial state, of course, monopolised violence. This not only put a halt to the competition between local princes with their following, and made possible their definite subjugation to the much resented Lozi administration, — it also meant that the local population could not effectively ward off the many thousands of Angolan immigrants who crossed the border between 1920 and the early 1970s. This district is separated from the border by the Lozi mainlands. Refusing to accommodate the Angolan immigrants (mainly Luvale( in their own areas, the Lozi, backed by the colonial state, allocated to them parts of Kaoma district. In later years, also increasing numbers of Lozi would themselves move from their mainlands to this district. This encroachment not only infuriated the original inhabitants and drove home their powerlessness — the superior (in local eyes positively rash) Luvale methods of gathering, hunting, fishing and subsistence agriculture (cf. White 1956) resulted in rapid expansion which further reduced the productive viability of the local population.

            The results of this complex of state influences on the district were manifold. Pre-existing modes of production were either completely redefined (the trade-and-tribute mode of production) or very substantially weakened (hunting, gathering, fishing, subsistence agriculture).

            This weakening made them less resistant to the penetration of capitalist elements. As we have seen, all these modes have acquired partial but unmistakable capitalist features: the separation between labour and means of production, and the emergence of labour as a commodity, paid for in cash. But these capitalist features do not just derive from alterations in the rural relations of production, at the mere village level. Where does the cash come from that increasingly dominates the local modes of production? Where do the products go to that are extracted in exchange for cash? Introduction of capitalist features in the rural relations of production is impossible with ?? the total district being drawn within a capitalist mode of production which encompasses the whole of Central Africa, and indeed almost the whole world. The minor introduction of capitalist elements at the village level, can only be understood against the background of the total district being assigned a role in the capitalist world system.

            The main extraction, then, effected by the colonial state in Kaoma district, was in fact the extraction of labour. Initially some of this labour was used locally, for the colonial state itself: porters were indispensable for a district administration in an area where, until the 1930s, most district travelling by administrators was on foot or on bicycle. Far more important, however, was the role of the colonial state in creating the conditions for the local populations’ participation, as migrants, in capitalist relations of production located outside the district.

            While Marxist analyses of labour migration all agree as to the structural, ‘forced’, causes of labour migration (interpreting individual migrants’ conscious strategies as mere surface phenomena), they have stresses a number of different processes as the main underlying explanation: the competition between food crops and cash crops, which (due to price manipulation in the centre) is tipped in favour of the latter — so that the starving farmers have to flock to the towns in order to sell their labour (Amin 1973); the systematic underpaying of migrant labour, so that rural societies increasingly relying on consumption of manufactured commodities become involved in a spiral movement of ever increasing necessity to sell labour (Arrighi 1973); and finally the exploitative device of the subsistence wages, by which the capitalist mode of production makes use of labour, the reproduction of which it has left to the non-capitalist modes of production (Meillassoux 1975; cf Gerold-Scheepers & van Binsbergen 1978). Kaoma district seems to offer, in addition to all these factors, yet a further variant which outside Africa has been recognized as the ‘backwash effect’: capitalism, through the colonial or post-colonial state, effects and erodes pre-existing modes of production of such an extent that the local rural population is no longer capable of effectively reproducing itself through the latter — therefore part of this population is forced to participate, outside the area, in capitalist relations of production, whilst at the same time local relations of production assume capitalist features to a more or less limited extent.[22]

            However, the colonial state’s contribution to labour migration was more specific than just creating the wider conditions implied in an eroded local society. Without the state, migrancy from Kaoma district would have been impossible. The state issued and protected the money in which the capitalist relations of production, such as between migrants and their employers, were to be both expressed and concealed. It imposed taxes which formed an extra impetus for wage labour. It provided identity cards, on which spells of migrant labour and taxes paid were duly marked. It provided the roads, airfields, rest camps along which the migrants could move to and from their places of work. It provided the legal means by which contractual relations between migrants, recruiting agencies and employers were fixed and could be enforced in court and by the police — practically always in the interest of the employers and recruiting agencies. The state even set, and on request might generously increase, an annual quota of the number of recruits that were allowed to leave a particular area. Returns on migrant labour form a recurrent item in the district officers’ annual reports, and betray a keen official interest in the matter.

            Thus the colonial state acted as an instrument to spread and reproduce the relations of production that define capitalism. It is noteworthy that the state expenditure for this was, during much of the colonial period, covered neither by hut tax revenues, nor indeed by taxation of the various capitalist enterprises in the territory. Thus the vicariously exploitative nature of the state remained largely hidden from its own officers, who with a free conscience, could pursue the lofty goals of Native Administration, and who themselves often regretted the draining of ‘able-bodied men’ from the countryside.

            In this respect the administrators’ frame of minds was similar that of European missionaries in the district, who, given the governments’ slowness to provide schools except near the courts of some senior Lozi representative chiefs, were the first to introduce western education in the area.

            Christian missions can be seen as the ideological counterpart of capitalism. They endeavour to disengage people, as individuals, from their non-Christian kin, and offer a morality in which grave and salvation feature as spiritual commodities, monopolised by the church but available to the converts provided the latter show, in their symbolic beliefs and actions, a similar unquestioning submission as capitalist relations of production demand of the worker in the production process. By the same hierarchical role, induced competition between equals, a fixed patterning of the lives of those involved as to time and place, etc., is an excellent introduction (in Africa in much same the way as here) to the modern capitalist production process which is likewise carried out within formal organizations. Moreover, the mission school reproduces not just capitalist attitudes but in a more direct way contributes to the reproduction of labour by the teaching of basic skills (literacy, basic technology) which made for the ready and profitable insertion of migrants in the capitalist mode of production. Finally, this ideological and cognitive preparation for capitalist functioning, in itself weakens the non-capitalist modes of production in which the labour of the pupils would have been involved had they not been at school.[23]. This is all the more relevant in an area like Kaoma district, where most primary school pupils are older than ten, and where primary school leavers are often well advanced towards twenty. Instead of the direct extraction of their surplus by local elders (which extraction they are beginning to perceive beneath the crumbling ideology of historical modes of production encroached upon by capitalism), these youngsters now eagerly submit (under the promise of future gratification in the earthly or heavenly New Society) to an anticipatory extraction process, learning (at their own expense) to the proletarians — and often cultivating the teachers’ and missionaries’ gardens into the bargain!

            Not all graduates from schools and bible courses, however, became directly involved in capitalist relations of production, as migrants and proletarians. Some were absorbed in the mission and school circuits themselves, thus reproducing the ideological institutions whose direct link with capitalism I have made clear. A larger number were absorbed by the state, to serve in the political superstructure through which capitalism maintains and reproduces itself, and penetrates other modes of production, From a Weberian perspective, it might be interesting to trace all the different self-perceptions, evaluations, aspirations, consumption patterns, the internal bureaucratic organization through which their positions are connected, and the various legitimation devices through which their roles in the process of surplus extraction is commonly concealed — in sociology as well as in society itself. It is likely that a more penetrating analysis of the superstructural institutions and their workings would reveal a more subtle relationship between these superstructural specialists, and capitalism. For in so far as the state, the intellectuals and the churches, endeavour to assert a relative autonomy vis-a-vis infrastructural conditions, they cannot just act as handmaidens of the capitalists, but also have to link up, in some way, with workers’ interests, and even with remnants of the pre-capitalist modes of productions and with the various diffuse classes implied therein. However, whatever the possible gains of Weberian refinements to our analysis, from the Marxist perspective tentatively adopted in the present paper the overall class position of these African teachers, church workers, and civil servants is fairly clear: they are the agents through with capitalism reproduces itself on the superstructural level, and for their livelihood they share in the fruits of such extraction processes as capitalist relations of production entail.

            The impact of the colonial state in Kaoma district resulted both in labour migration and in the partial reshaping of rural relations of production in a capitalist direction. The population was launched on the path of proletarianization and peasantisation. On the superstructural level, this process resulted in a large number of ideological and organisational responses that might be interpreted as manifestations of class struggle, and which are just a diffuse and off the mark as one would expect in the situation when class struggle is not (yet) fought at the infrastructural level, does not yet challenge relations of production.

            Of course, the state-backed, dominating and arrogant Lozi formed a ready target. Especially when the formal creation of a Lozi senior representative chief for the whole district, in the 1930s, shattered local hopes among chiefs and courtiers to enter into direct negotiations with the colonial state as fully-fledged Native Authorities rather than as a second-rate ‘Lozi subject tribe’, a bitter anti-Lozi movement was launched in the area. Nineteenth-century political conditions had not been conducive to the emergence, locally, of a strong ethnic identity encompassing larger areas than the individual kingdoms, which originally (before the emergence of the trade-and-tribute mode of production) may have coincided with clan areas, and which alter rose and declined in their struggles for hegemony. However, once the district was defined as a distinct unit within the state administration, local ethnic awareness could develop, in antagonism against the Lozi, in the course of the struggle for such token prices as the administration had to offer: control of the Native Treasure; roads; schools; hospitals, etc. It was only then that the ‘Nkoya’ ethnic label gained practical political significance. When the massive Watchtower movements reached the district in the 1930s, its local protagonists combined an eschatological message of sorcery eradication and the New Society, with explicit challenges of the Lozi Paramount Chief. The Lozi neo-traditional administration was left to severely punish these preachers; the chiefs who had supported the latter, were reprimanded. In various forms, ranging from the shunning of marital ties with Lozi residing in the district, to the emergence of several short-lived Nkoya political societies, the backing of the opposition party after Independence (the Lozi controlled regional nominations for office in the ruling party), remonstrations against local domination of Lozi teachers and the use of the Lozi language in schools, factionalism within the present day district rural council, and finally even massive support for my own research, antagonism against the Lozi has continued to dominate political thinking in the district until today, and has concealed more fundamental causes of the local predicament.

            Ethnicity is thus the major local response[24], on the superstructural level, to the new structures of surplus extraction which capitalism imposed upon the district. Ironically, it has recently turned into a powerful force for the further incorporation of the population into capitalist structures. The awareness of Lozi domination, coupled with general ill feedings vis-a-vis the state that had deprived them of hunting and gathering opportunities without offering compensation in the form of modern amenities, had cause a rather general withdrawal from political activities, and apathy vis-a-vis the cultivation of cash crops, towards the 1970s. When however, about the same time, internal conflict within the ruling party seriously weakened the strength of the Lozi in national politics, opportunities became brighter for local politicians. They managed to secure a seat in parliament and some in the rural council. Relying on close kinship ties with the local chiefs, and strongly identifying as Nkoya, they managed to gain considerable support and trust in the area. Driving home the message that improvement of local conditions would be within reach if only people were prepared to participate, as they (the politicians) themselves were doing, in the structures created by the state and the party, and to join in the cash-crop programmes advocated by them, they contributed to a considerable rise in cash crop production, and to a marked lessening of anti-government feelings in recent years. In the process they were assisted by a small number of local teachers, agricultural demonstrators, staff at the agricultural schemes etc., who likewise identify as Nkoya. Against the background of the local perception of recent history as an unbroken chain of humiliation and expropriation, these leaders have considerable appeal as examples of what the peasants may yet stand to gain from the state and capitalism. These leaders are not just active in politics. They are also deeply involved in cash-crop production themselves: for this purpose they enjoy state credit facilities (as politicians some of them have a hand in the allocation of such credits to promising farmers) and make full use of the opportunities offered by the districts agricultural schemes, employing agricultural labour, operating a store, etc. Having found their own niche in capitalist production and in the state that promotes and maintains such production, they induce their fellow-Nkoya to follow them in that direction. In the long run, the latter do not seem to have much of an option.

4. Conclusion: Classes in Kaoma district

In order to discuss classes and class formation in Kaoma district, I have started out with a conceptual exercise, which links these key concepts to that of the mode of production. Adopting the view that classes define themselves in class struggle, and that this struggle is given in the nature of the relations of production which, in a specific linkage with production factors, define a mode of production, I then set out to describe, one by one, the various modes of production that Kaoma district has known since about 1800. The number of different combinations of production factors, and the different relations of production (revolving around these production factors) took, necessitated to distinguish a rather larger number than is common usage in the literature. For each mode of production I attempted to identify the fundamental extraction processes by which surplus value produced by the labour of one class, is expropriated by the antagonist class.

            Frankly, the picture emerging is kaleidoscopic and dazzling. As far as I can see, a strict application of the definitional framework with which I started, would reveal every mode of production in Kaoma district, now and in the past, to consist of the superimposed class struggle between a number of pairs of classes: elders versus younger men; men versus women; nobles versus slaves; middlemen versus peasants, etc. The same pairs of classes would feature again and again in the various modes of production; e.g. that of younger men versus elders seems to occur almost anywhere. What is more, the direction of the extraction process between these classes is not the same everywhere: e.g. in some women extract, but in most it is on the contrary their surplus which is being extracted.

            It is very possible that my use of the concept of class in this contest is altogether wrong. Yet more seems involved than just conceptual delusion. With my remarks as to the specificity of the combinations of production factors in each so-called mode of production as distinguished here, I hope to have shown that the very real problem at hand is not resolved by simply calling the whole of non-capitalist production in Kaoma district, past and present, by the name of ‘domestic mode of production’. Neither can the specific capitalist features which ‘my’ modes of production have developed, be adequately dealt with if we do not further analyse these modes as specific, distinct elements, that should not be allowed to submerge completely into the composite production system that constitutes the local society.

            Classical anthropology has, in such terms as integration, reciprocity, or homeostasis, a ready answer for the complex enmeshing of gives and takes that emerges from my description of Kaoma district, particularly in its pre-capitalist version. It was an answer that merely rendered theoretical status to the local Participants’ ideology by which the latter themselves hide the underlying contradictions of their society, ultimately based on labour and surplus extraction. So far for classic anthropology? But surely, an answer like the present one, that not only claims to make out classes in pre-capitalist African society, but even lets the number of those classes amount to a multiple of the already very high number of modes of production, is not an acceptable alternative either.

            One way out might be the following. Perhaps it is one of the characteristics of a society like that of 19th-century Kaoma district, that class-like elements in the relations of production tend to be counterbalanced and dissipated, across the various modes of production of which that society exists. Salient, recognizable class relations would then only exist in those cases where the same pair of classes stands in the same extraction relation throughout the majority of the modes of production involved — so that these class relations reinforce each other, and in fact form the major form of linkage between these modes of production. Viewed in this way, pre-capitalist society in Kaoma district may still be said to have had classes, but only a few: elders, younger men, women, nobles and slaves.

            No matter the variety of schools and fashions, social science has somehow become accustomed to conceive of classes as more of less permanent, endogamous, broad subsets of society, membership of which is determined by social action and not by such chance attributes as age and sex. Slaves and nobles would be acceptable classes according to this tradition, women and elders would not. I believe that objections of this kind rely too heavily on the type of class structure that prevails in industrial society. And even so, women are increasingly being recognized as a class, and so might be elderly people, in industrial society — not by virtue of somatic or demographic attributes, but because of their common role in the production process — more precisely, their being relegated to the periphery of that process. This overall picture is not greatly invalidated, I think, by the discovery of a few women or elderly people among the leading capitalists. In pre-capitalist societies, means of production and technical knowledge tend to be of such relatively limited scope that the individual labour power of humans is still a major datum in production; under those conditions, why should sex and age differences not be crucial in the relations of production? The fact that, in the course of years, young men will become elders may seem to indicate that the boundaries between those two classes are blurred, that they are not ‘real’ classes. (‘For do workers ever automatically become capitalists, serfs masters?’) A man’s individual career is however not the best entrance to an understanding of class relations — despite the massive volume of non-Marxist sociology which deals with inter- and intra-generational, individual social mobility. The fact is that, in Kaoma district, wherever elders and younger men are together involved in production, extraction of surplus takes place which renders a class dimension to their interaction. that, as years go by, the complementary class position stipulated by these relations of production find new incumbents, is commonplace and does not alter these relations. Finally, we ought to realise that the transition from young men to elder is really not all that automatic. The alternative is that younger men succumb under the burden of their class position e.g. the very great risks of big game hunting, or lack of adequate food. Survival would then be synonymous to class struggle. This is certainly how, even today, youths in Kaoma district see their situation themselves: as a constant struggle to keep alive under the attacks from the elders, which they conceptualise, however, not in terms of surplus extraction but of sorcery. Every death of an elder is an occasion for rejoice among the young men. Being dependent upon the elders because of the latter’s control of land, female labour, the household mode of production where food is processed, and major means of production such as guns, young men consider their attachment to any particular elder as temporary. No matter how close the kinship tie with him, they are always prepared to leave him and settle with some other elder if that promises to improve their conditions of living both materially and in terms of spiritually security. Much mobility between the villages results from this, and even some urban-rural mobility.

            Slaves and nobles as classes emerged only with the trade-and-tribute mode of production, less than 200 years ago. No longer were class relations contained within the scope of the production process in the village: this newly emerging mode of production marked to the incorporation, still at a very limited scale, of Kaoma district in interregional processes of extraction. It was only then that classes in the conventional social-science sense became manifest under the grip of an extraction process directed to the outside. The young princely states maintained the conditions for this extraction process. They were the expression of the class relations on which this process hinged. The colonial state, with the neo-traditional Lozi state as an important aid, stepped into this extraction structure, reshaped it in capitalist terms, weakened pre-existing modes of production, and thus, through the historical developments I have attempted to trace, made Kaoma district entirely subservient to the reproduction of capitalist relations of production. The extraction of labour through migrancy, of cash crops, game meat and fish in Kaoma district as elsewhere in rural Central Africa, supplied the workers for capitalist production in the towns, mines and modern farms elsewhere, and made it possible (directly; or indirectly, i.e. through releasing food elsewhere in rural areas) to feed this labour force; in the same way, it contributed towards the reproduction of those superstructural requirements (the state, education, Christianity) through which capitalism is maintained.

            Both indirectly through the effects of the colonial state, and directly through their incorporation in capitalist markets, the rural relations of production acquired capitalist elements: wage labour, separation between producers and means of production, and circulation of products as commodities. alongside these elements, non-capitalist aspects manage to survive to some extent. For this reason class relations in Kaoma district continue to display the diffuse nature discussed above. Moreover many of those deeply involved, as employers of labour (gun owners, villagers who have their gardens cultivated of their houses built, farmers at or near the agricultural schemes) and/or as superstructural agents (chiefs and courtiers, politicians, teachers, church leaders, civil servants) in the extraction process, are themselves involved in productive labour and thus exposed to surplus extraction. Given this complexity, easy formulas and sharp distinctions are not going to help as very much. this is also the danger of characterising the class situation that has developed in the district, by such a heavy, emotionally-charged term as exploitation. Such a term would moreover carry the suggestion that the relations e.g. between chief and politician on the one hand, and peasants on the other, is one of direct and purposeful extraction, whereas in fact it is indirect and unconscious, mediated through the state, and couched in terms of ethnic (politicians) or feudal (chiefs) responsibility and calling.

            Yet it is useful to distinguish shades of class position in this context, even though all positions that are not wholly that of peasant, have much in common. If we are to distinguish between them, I suggest that the following are important dimensions:

The directness of the extraction of surplus involved. The gun owners, the farmers, directly extract the surplus value created by those working for them. The teachers and the chiefs, in those capacities (they are likely to be gun owners, and farmers, as well), may ultimately benefit from extraction of, among others, a local surplus, but this escapes perception since this extraction is mediated through the state — they receive an income based as much on surpluses extracted elsewhere within Central Africa.

The dependence upon participation in capitalism. The villager, even if he occasionally employs labour, and sells crops and meat, is still for a considerable part capable of providing his own subsistence: although no longer entirely. This is hardly the case for the politician, the teacher, the civil servant — given the minimal required consumption level at which he is able to carry out his work (shoes, jacket, trousers, etc.).

— The security offered by one’s specific relation towards the overall extraction process. the risks of the poacher, of the villager who invests money (of the order of magnitude of a year’s monetary income) in seeds, fertiliser and labour, in order to produce literally a few bags of maize for the payment of which he may have to wait half a year, are of a different nature from those of civil servants — no matter how much the realities of the latter’s work situation deviates from bureaucratic prescription.

— A breeding effect: the extent to which one’s specific relation towards the overall extraction process, enables one to engage, as capitalist, in direct processes of local extraction. Chiefs[25] and courtiers, with their state incomes, are capable of employing wage labour for hunting or agriculture, display high marital mobility and/or polygamy (through which they can extract surpluses of from female labour). Civil servants build farms, and upon retirement operate stores; politicians secure plots in the agricultural schemes, credit facilities, and likewise engage in trading. Most of this is beyond the means of most villagers, even those who, as elders, are formally engaged in class relations where they get the upper hand of women and young men.[26]

            From the viewpoint of an overall process of surplus extraction, there is something to be said for viewing all these various positions (chiefs and courtiers, politicians, civil servants, church leaders, traders, and in some respects even elders) as pertaining to one class. Their class position does not consist in being the ultimate exploiters of the rural population (these I have not here attempted to identify), but in maintaining the conditions through which capitalist extraction can be realised. As a class, they seem to move towards ever increasing exclusive dependence upon capitalist relations of production. Today there are still great similarities between those participating in direct extraction and those who, through the state, are sheltered from such directness; the breeding effect of their class position causes many of them to end up in pretty much the same kind of extraction structures. It is possible however that in the long run this fundamental contradiction, between direct and indirect extraction, may further develop, leading to a class of petty capitalist entrepreneurs on the one hand, of salaried civil servants on the other.

References

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Gerold-Scheepers, T.J.F.A. & W.M.J. van Binsbergen, 1978, ‘Marxist and non-Marxist approaches to migration in Africa’, in: Van Binsbergen, W.M.J. & H.A. Meilink, eds, 1978, Migration and the Transformation of Modern African Society, African Perspectives 1978/1, Leiden: Afrika-Studiecentrum, pp. 21-35.

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Gluckman, Max, 1943. Essays on Lozi Land and Royal Property. Rhodes-Livingstone Paper No. IO. Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia: Rhodes-Livingstone Institute.

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Godelier, M., 1975, ‘Modes of production, kinship, and demographic structures’, in: Bloch, M., ed., 1975, Marxist Approaches and Social Anthropology, London: Malaby Press, ASA Studies, pp. 3-27.

Godelier, M., 1977a, ‘Infrastructures, societes, histoire’, Dialectiques, 21 : 41-53.

Godelier, M.,  1977b, ‘Politics as ‘‘infrastructure’’: An anthropologist’s thoughts on the example of classical Greece and the notions of relations of producion and economic determination’, in: Friedman, J., & Rowlands, M.J., The evolution of social systems: Proceedings of a meeting of the research seminar in archaeology and related subjects, held at the Institute of Archaeology, London University, London: Duckworth, pp. 13-28

Godelier, M., 1978,  ‘Infrastructures, societies and history’, Current Anthropology, 19, 4: 763-771.

Godelier, M., 1980, The emergence and development of Marxism in anthropology, in: Ernest Gellner, ed., Soviet and Western anthropology, London: Suckworth

Hailu, K., 1994, ‘Rural development and agricultural policy in Central Western Zambia: The case of Kaoma-Nkeyema tobacco scheme’, M.A. thesis Free University, Amsterdam; subsequently published, African Studies Centre, Leiden, 2001.

Hindess, B. & P.Q. Hirst, 1975, Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Housden, J., & M. Armour, 1959, ‘Indigenous iron smelters in Kalabo’, Northern Rhodesia Journal 4, 2: 135-138.

Houtart, F., 1980, Religion et modes de production precapitalistes, Brussels: Editions de l’Universite de Bruxelles.

Jewsiewicki, B., with Letourneau, J., 1985, eds, Modes of Production: The challenge of Africa, Ste-Foy (Can.)

Langworthy, H.W., 1972, Zambia before 1890, London: Longman.

Lichtheim, G., 1963, ‘Marx and the ‘Asiatic’ Mode of Production’, St. Anthony’s Papers, No. 14, 86-112.

Meillassoux, C., 1975, Femmes, greniers et capitaux, Paris: Maspero.

Miracle, M.P., 1959, ‘Plateau Tonga Entrepreneurs in historical interregional trade’, Rhodes-Livingstone Journal, 26: 34-50.

Mudzibganyama, N.S., 1983, ‘Articulation of modes of production and the development of a labour reserve in Southern Africa, 1885-1944: The case of Botswana’, Botswana Notes and Records, 15: 49-5813574

Parsons, T., 1951, The Social System, Glencoe: Free Press.

Pouillon, F., 1976, ed., L’Anthropologie economique, Paris: Maspero

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Rey, P.-P., 1971, Colonialisme, neo-colonialisme et transition au capitalisme, Paris: Maspero.

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Rey, P.-P., E. Le Bris et M. Samuel, 1976, Capitalisme negrier: La marche des paysans vers le proletariat, Paris: Maspero.

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Richards, A.I., 1939, Land, labour and diet in Northern Rhodesia, London: Oxford University Press.

Suret-Canale, J., 1974, Sur le ‘Mode de Production Asiatique’, Paris: Centre des etudes et de recherches marxistes.

Terray, E., 1969, Le Marxisme devant les societes ‘primitives’, Paris: Maspero.

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Tokei, F., 1964, ‘Le Mode de Production Asiatique dans l’Oeuvre de K. Marx et F. Engels’, La Pensee, 114:7-32.

van Binsbergen, W.M.J., 1976, ‘Religious innovation and political conflict in Zambia: A contribution to the interpretation of the Lumpa rising’, in: van Binsbergen & Buijtenhuijs 1976: 101-35. Revised reprint in: van Binsbergen 1981: ch. 8

van Binsbergen, W.M.J., 1981, Religious Change in Zambia: Exploratory studies, London/Boston: Kegan Paul International.

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van Binsbergen, W.M.J., 1992, Tears of Rain: Ethnicity and history in central western Zambia, London/Boston: Kegan Paul International

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Table 1: Summary of modes of production, and their constituting branches of production, in Kaoma district since 1800

mode of production

branch of production

resources

producers

means of production

technical knowledge & skills

central relation of exploitation (producers/ extractors)

products

village mode of production

household branch of production

forest: unfinished products from gathering, hunting etc.

women, young men, slaves

cooking pot, axe, knife, mats, sieves, mortar, pestle, vessels

considerable

women/men; labourers/owners; slaves/nobles; men/ women; young women/elder women

food ready for consumption (meals)

 

gathering

communal forest

women, children, slaves

hoe, axe, receptacles

generally available

women, children/men; slaves/nobles; women/others

firewood, fruits, honey, wax, vegetables, medicine, building materials

 

hunting[27]

communal forest

mature men

spear, bow & arrow, knife; since about 1850: gun, gunpowder; recently:

very specialized and relatively rare

mature men/others;  hunters/ gun owners; hunters/ chief; women/others; hunters, gun owners/middlemen

fresh and dried meat; tusks, skins, medicine

 

fishing

pools and streams owned by either the local group or a royal title

men (women)

fishing spears, traps, dams

generally available

men/women, children; fishermen/chief; women/others; fishermen/middlemen

fresh and dried fish

 

agriculture

forest gardens and riverside gardens; seeds controlled by elders but privately owned (?)

women, men

hoe, axe

generally available

women/men; young men/elders; slaves/nobles

staples (maize, cassava, kaffircorn, millet) and vegetable relishes

 

animal husbandry[28]

cattle, dambos, open forest

children, young men

fenced kraal

considerably specialized

herdsman/owner

skins, meat

PETTY COMMODITY MODE OF PRODUCTION

petty commodity production[29]

forest, distant car breaker’s plants

men, women

blacksmithing tools, woodcarving tools

very specialized

young men/elders; local community/court

hoes, spears, tinder boxes, mats

tributary mode of production

trade and tribute branch of production[30]

any

local community

from the local community: see above; from the entrepreneurs/ princes: arms, charms (?)

from local community: varies with product; from entrepre neurs: knowledge of markets, languages, contacts etc

young women/elder women (beer); local community/court; lesser court/ distant more powerful court (e.g. Lozi, Ndebele)

hoes, mats, honey, wax, mead (honey beer), skins, tusks, fish (beer?)

capitalist mode of production

(a) capitalist agriculture[31]

forest (seeds...?)

women, young men

(hybrid seeds), fertilizer, hoe; very occasionally: scotch cart, plow, plowing oxen, tractor

specialized knowledge required, as taught by government agencies

labourers/ farmers; peasants/middlemen, peasants/ urban consumers (via marketing board, state, farming schemes); women, young men/ senior relatives

maize, ground-nuts, occasionally cassava

 

(b) labour migration

worker’s labour power; raw materials

young men

industrial plants, human bodies

specialized knowledge an advantage as taught by government agencies and on-the-job

labourers/ industrialists

industrial and mining products

 

 


[1]              An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Seminar on Class Formation and Stratification in Africa, African Studies Centre, Leiden, May 18-19, 1978. The descriptive and theoretical material in this paper was later reiterated in my Religious change in Zambia (1981) and Tears of Rain (1992), as well as in a collective book on Marxist anthropology: van Binsbergen & Geschiere, eds., 1985. The original paper appears now for the first time, in a substantially revised and expanded version.

[2]              Mainly the eastern part of the district is referred to in this paper, which is largely under Chief Kahare. Here and in later papers I prefer a geographical identification of the social formation in which, among others, people identifying by the Nkoya ethnonym are involved. Following the anthropological usage of designating a local society by the local actors’ preferred ethnonym, of even by some other ethnonym imposed upn the local actors, obscures the essentially dynamic and strategic nature of ethnic labelling.

[3]              Cf. Godelier 1973, 1977a, 1977b, 1978, 1980; Terray 1969, 1975; Meillassoux 1975; Rey 1971, 1973, Rey et al. 1974. My own study of the Lumpa religious uprising in Zambia (van Binsbergen 1976) was cast in the Marxist terms of infrastructure, superstructure and class struggle, but its main inspiration was South African combatant Marxism (as mediated through my University of Zambia head of department Jack Simons), largely unheedful of the neo-Marxist revival in continental European anthropology.

[4]              Cf. Lichtheim 1963; Tokei 1964; Thorner 1966; Suret-Canale 1974.

[5]              Godelier 1975; Hindess & Hirst 1975. Geschiere 1978, though cited in the bibliography, was not available at the time since it was first presented at the same seminar as the present paper; regrettably my paper did not make it to that seminar’s publication by Buijtenhuijs & Geschiere (1978).

[6]              Caplan 1982; Houtart 1980; Jewsiewicki c.s. 1985; Mudzibganyama 1983; Wolpe 1980; van Binsbergen 1981; van Binsbergen & Geschiere 1985.

[7]              Also cf. the discussion of Pouillon 1976.

[8]              Cf. Amselle 1976, who explicitly contests the dualism underlying the highly influential approach by Meillassoux’s 1975 treatment of labour migration in Africa.

[9]                Typically outside capitalism, which is the mode of production in which, through the separation between capital and labour, the economic level (‘instance’) has become capable of reproducing the total society.

[10]                Although I do refer to the circulation of women, bridewealth, and the role of elders. the emphasis on detailed description in this paper does not leave enough room to tackle a central problematic in modes-of-production studies: the way in which they, sc. their central exploitative relationship, are being reproduced. Lter (van Binsbergen 1981, 1992) I treated this problem at greater length, with special emphasis on the ideological c.q. religious and ethnic factors of this reproduction.

[11]            Of the order of magnitude of 1 inhabitant per km2.

[12]            I use the word princes for the political authorities in the precolonial period; chiefs are princes incorporated into the colonial or post-colonial state.

[13]            Miracle 1959.

[14]            Oddly, I am not sure of the formal ownership rules today, now that the bride-price is in money and ironware is generally available; within the extended kin group, and between neighbouring villages, agricultural tools are freely used. Quarrels and court cases frequently occur with regard to the ownership of guns but never with regard to that of hoes or axes.

[15]                Although in both periods ecological disasters (locusts, droughts) contributed to famine conditions, male capitalist participation seems a decisive factor: in the early 1930s the return of unemployed migrants after the 1929 Great Depression and the drying up of the stream of remittances; in the early 1970s the massive participation of young men in a Chinese road-building project. These famines were decidedly more serious than the annual food shortages which, in Central African production systems, tend to occur annually (Richards 1939) and which locally have caused an entire season to be called mwaka wa ndala: time of hunger. A very popular song in the district at the time ran:

                ‘Hunger is paining us,

                 Hunger is paining us,

With the implication: ‘For our men are working for the Chinese...’.

[16]            At the village level there is a less specialised, continuous and diffuse circulation of comodities such as tobacco, eggs, chickens, and beer, which strictly speaking should be subsumed under the pretty-commodity mode of production. Also we should remember that much circulation of agricultural produce (especially cassave and older food crops), meat and bear takes place not in the context of commodified exchange but of ceremonial, more or less festive (weddings, funerals, name-inheritance rituals) occasions when family clusters and clans define their mutually complementary relations.

[17]                SEC/NAT/66A Annual report native affairs Barotse province 1935 file held in Zambia National Archives.

[18]            Cf. Housden and Armour 1959 on Kalabo, just west of the Zambezi flood plain.

[19]            A related question which I shall not here consider but which has been treated extensively in my extensive later work on the Nkoya traditional authorities (cf. van Binsbergen 1987, 1992, 1999, , is then: why is it that far outside the circle in which the state subsidy to chiefs circulates, the interest in and the competition for prestigious titles continues unabated in Kaoma district? For the overwhelming majority of headmen, the chances of ever joining the royal establishment in a remunerative position are negligible. With the fragmentation of production under the encroachment of capitalism, village headmanship does not automatically enhance an elderly man’s power to extract surplus value from younger men and from women.

[20]            A question I shall not enter into here is why in the eastern part of the district capitalist agriculture took so long to ‘take off’. It did eventually with a vengeance: Hailu 1994, 2001.

[21]            In the 1940s and 1950s, the remainder of considerable cattle herds (which derived from Tonga and Ila raids, of from Lozi royal gifts, shortly before 1900), became greatly depleted by tsetse fly, and they became virtually disappeared as they were bought by cattle traders who are alleged to have paid one bicycle for each head of cattle.

[22]            The extent to which reproduction of the local society is problematic can be seen, e.g., from the fact that the ethnic groups that constitute the 19th-century of the area (foremost the Nkoya people) now the lowest reported fertility in Zambia, according to a fertility survey undertaken by the Central Statistical Office and published in the 1970s (Central Statistical Office n.d.).

[23]            This is an important point in the Kaoma district up to the 1970s, where truancy was very high. Many elders preferred to have their young boys accompany them on hunting and fishing trips or, in cattle areas, to be herd-boys. Girls at the age of 8 or 9 already made a considerable contribution to household production. Many parents did not see the point of a school education and are particularly resentful of any physical work that children were made to do at school.

[24]            There have been others, such as prophetic and sorcery eradication movements in the 1930s and late 1950s, cf. Reynolds 1963.

[25]            In the colonial era, new incumbents of chieftainship tended to have had an earlier career as petty civil servants, e.g. boma messengers.

[26]            I hesitate to include patterns of expenditure and consumption in this comparison. These are manifestations of class relations, and should not, as in the Weberian tradition, be taken as primary. Nor does it seem meaningful to compare the various classes in terms of annual monetary income, converting subsistence production in prices. While such exercises may have a limited meaning in a social context that is completely determined by capitalism, it would be wrong in the present context, where the partial survival of non-capitalist modes of production precisely means that not all labour and not all products are commodities.

[27]            Hunting forms a dominant theme in male culture; people from this area excelled in hunting and were renowned for it over much of presentday Western & Central Zambia.

[28]            This branch of production is peripheral due to tsetse fly (very little accumulation or capital increase possible from one animal generation to the next.).

[29]            In principle includes the circulation of humans as commodities (slaves), and the techniques of capturing and marketing slaves.

[30]            Slavery never formed a distinct branch of production but, as a source of labour and as a relation of production, was a continuous aspect of the gathering, hunting, fishing, subsistence agriculture and trade-and-tribute modes of production. Formal abolition of slavery affected these modes of production, particularly the trade-and-tribute mode. Slavery was generally couched in a kinship idiom, was strongly domestic, and implied extensive legal and marital rights for the slave, including the opportunity to succeed to high office. From about 1850-1920 slavery took on forms of commoditization.

[31]                Commercialization as from early 20th century; strongly encouraged as from 1950s, and particularly as from late 1960s.

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