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Renegotiating the Senegalese Social Contract

  • Donal B. Cruise O’Brien

Abstract

Elements of what might be designated as a social contract, linking society to the central political authority of the state, are present in the wellestablished relations between Senegal’s Muslim brotherhoods and the Governors or Presidents of Dakar. The problematic nature of relations between the state and Africa’splural societies has of course long been recognised; the difficulty of establishing institutional linkages between state and society; the absence of sociological legitimacy at the base of state authority1 The brotherhoods in Senegal have provided an usually effective linkage between state and society, seen against this African background, giving coherence to the Senegalese state. The terms of this contact began with the trust placed by the Sufi disciple in his (or her)2 spiritual guide. The talibé has trusted the marabout a great deal more than he trusted the government, and was willing to leave relations with government in the hands of the holy men. The marabouts in turn delivered the loyalty of their followers to the government, a minimum of compliance, some taxes and labour, and (increasingly important since independence) votes at national elections. The government then rewarded the marabouts with various forms of official patronage, including material resources—a proportion of which has been redistributed to disciples. If one is to take Marc Bloch’spolar distinction in the relation of unequals (with reference to European feudal society) between oppression and protection, the holy men of Senegal have provided their disciples above all with protection (against the state).3

Keywords

Social Contract Presidential Election National Election Electoral Rule Opposition Party 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    On the place of women in Senegal’s brotherhood Islam see C. Coulon, “Women, Islam, and Baraka” in D. Cruise O’Brien and C. Coulon (eds), Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    David Robinson, Paths of Accommodation: Muslim Societies and French Colonial Authorities in Senegal and Mauritania, 1880–1920, Athens: Ohio University Press/Oxford: James Currey, 2000.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    As for example in J.-F. Bayart, L’Etal en Afrique. La Politique du Ventre, Paris: Fayard, 1989.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    D. Darbon, L’Administration et le Paysan en Casamance, Paris: Pédone, 1988.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    See Janet G. Vaillant, Black, French and African: A Life of Leopold Sedar Senghor, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 14.
    See A. Mbembe, Les jeunes et l’ordre politique en Afrique Noire, Paris: L’Harmattan, 1985Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    Babacar Kanté, “Les Elections Présidentielles et Législatives du 28 Février 1988 au Sénégal”, typescript, p. 35. See also B. Kanté and C. Young, “Governance, Democracy and the 1988 Senegalese Elections”in G. Hyden and M. Bratton (eds), Governance and Politics in Africa, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992.Google Scholar
  8. 22.
    Secularism makes inroads elsewhere in Africa (Kenya, Mali, Sudan) among young Muslims. See Louis Brenner (ed.), Muslim Identity and Social Change in Sub-Saharan Africa, London: Hurst, 1993Google Scholar
  9. 33.
    D. Cruise O’Brien, Ch. 4, “The Followers”in The Mourides of Senegal The Economic and Political Organization of an Islamic Brotherhood. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, pp. 83–100.Google Scholar
  10. D. Cruise O’Brien, M. Coumba Diop and Mamadou Diouf, Construction et Contestation de l’Etal au Senegal, Paris: Karthala, 2001.Google Scholar
  11. 38.
    J. Copans, Les Marabouts de l’Arachide: la confrérie mouride et les paysans du Sénégal. Paris: Le Sycomore, 1980.Google Scholar
  12. 39.
    J.F. Werner, Marges, sexe et drogues à Dakar. Enquête ethnographique. Paris: Karthala/ORSTOM, 1993, pp. 127–31.Google Scholar
  13. 50.
    Stephen Ellis, The Mask of Anarchy, London: Hurst, 1999.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Donal B. Cruise O’Brien 2003

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  • Donal B. Cruise O’Brien

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