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1st Edition

Politics in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau Precolonial Influence on the Postcolonial State

By Mariama Khan Copyright 2022
    ISBN 9780367690052
    136 Pages
    Published July 1, 2021 by Routledge

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    This book explores how precolonial political traditions and practices shape modern-day politics in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.

    The precolonial Kaabu empire dominated the region for over 300 years, leaving a rich oral and ritual culture that emphasized the importance of a ruler’s legitimacy among the general population. This book traces how postcolonial political administrations and Justice, Integrity and Truth (JIT) movements have mobilized to reclaim, reinvent and subvert traditional Kabunka norms of statecraft to prove their political legitimacy. It shows how cultural memory, oral arts and musical forms can be used to express ideals of leadership and followership and, in the process, create various conversations and debates about politics and society, social attitudes and morality. In doing so, the book captures how the latent but influential social and political practices from Kaabu are reclaimed, reproduced or subverted to contribute to the evolving nature of political rhetoric in these two countries.

    Whereas many studies of the state in Africa take Western democratic principles as a starting point, this book provides important evidence on the continuity of precolonial political culture along African’s west coast. It will be of interest to researchers studying politics, history and anthropology both within the region and elsewhere in Africa.

    Introduction: The Search for Good Leadership  Chapter 1: Politics, Religion and Society in Kaabu   Chapter 2: Encountering the Colonial State  Chapter 3: Tumbling Political Visions


    Mariama Khan is a Gambian scholar, poet and cultural advocate. She teaches at Lehman College, New York. She is the author of The Gambia–Senegal Border: Issues in Regional Integration.

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