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Serenity and Strife in Swahili East Africa: Contrasting Urban Creole Histories of Mogadishu and Dar es Salaam Deborah Fahy Bryceson 7 November, 2008 Development Studies Association Conference London Contrasting Urban Histories Methodology: spatial comparison of social change

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Serenity and Strife in Swahili East Africa:Contrasting Urban Creole Histories of Mogadishu and Dar es Salaam

Deborah Fahy Bryceson

7 November, 2008

Development Studies Association Conference


contrasting urban histories
Contrasting Urban Histories
  • Methodology: spatial comparison of social change
  • Objective: study of East African urban ethnicity in relation to patterns of political harmony vs. conflict
  • Basic question: Why is Mogadishu so violent and Dar es Salaam relatively tranquil given common Swahili creole legacy?
swahili society
Swahili Society
  • Origins of Swahili society
  • Characterization of Swahili society
    • ‘Civilization’ (Horton & Middleton)
    • Process of creole fusion
  • Creolization
    • W. Indies identification
    • Definition: historical melding of two or more cultures giving rise to a hybrid society of common cultural identity amidst marked class stratification ranging from slaves to a ruling gentry
  • Rural-Urban differentiation
mogadishu template for swahili coastal towns
Mogadishu: Template for Swahili Coastal Towns
  • Long urban tradition considered to be the northern boundary & gateway to the Swahili littoral, 800-1100
  • 9th century male Arab migrants to the Benadir coast
  • Blurring rural-urban boundaries as Islam spread in the countryside
golden age of mogadishu s swahili urban order 1300 1600
Golden Age of Mogadishu’s Swahili Urban Order, 1300-1600
  • Coastal trade thrived & Mogadishu was largest city on coast under the Muzzafar dynasty
  • Site of religious scholarship and training for rest of coast
  • Export of cotton cloth
  • Afro-Arab ethnic history of Sab Rahanweyn who married into the dynasty in Mogadishu
demise of muzzafar ajuraan dynasty 1500 1700
Demise of Muzzafar/Ajuraan Dynasty, 1500-1700
  • External threat – Portuguese sea power
    • Christian-Muslim tensions emanating from Ethiopia
  • Internal threat
    • Descent of Cushitic Oromo (Galla) & Somali pastoralists
    • Hawiye Abgal settlement in Mogadishu & inter-married with Ajuraan
    • End of Swahili mercantile state
      • Legend of Hawiye assassination of Ajuraan imam
mogadishu s clan politics
Mogadishu’s Clan Politics
  • Domination of Hawiye clan & inward looking pastoralist economy with decline of Mogadishu foreign trade
  • Siad Barre’s regime, 1969-1991
    • championed expansion of the Somali tribal nation
    • fueled internal clan enmity
    • Collapse of regime brought about Hawiye internal conflict within the city
current state of conflict
Current State of Conflict
  • Islamic Court Union (ICU) against clan warlordism
  • Triggers US fear of Islamic terrorism
    • Ethiopian troop intervention with US backing from Northern Kenya allied with national government
    • ICU and clan warlords join forces and escalation of violence
  • Mass exodus of city population
dar es salaam creole m lange
Dar es Salaam: Creole Mélange
  • Dar’s establishment as a cosmopolitan city
  • Centuries of coastal trade
  • Swahili Afro-Arab creole population
  • Kiswahili language
  • Zaramo/Shomvi/Arab continuum
ethnicity urbanization nationalism dar es salaam creolism
Ethnicity, Urbanization & Nationalism: Dar es Salaam Creolism
  • Cultural mixing through inter-marriage, market relations & common hybrid language
  • Tranquil city unique to East Africa
  • Relatively easy transition to nation-state

- Kiswahili as a national language

- non-tribal, non-racial policy of post-independent nation-state with unproblematic leadership succession

urbanization ethnic nationalism mogadishu
Urbanization & Ethnic Nationalism: Mogadishu
  • Mogadishu - clan not creole politics
    • Breakdown of rural-urban divide in 16th century
    • Segmentary clan structure and territoriality dominate
    • Political instability of city & nation-state
    • Fractious history of pastoral people facing natural resource constraints
    • City’s strategic location at the fracture line between Islam and Christianity
    • Contentious nationalism & clan segmentation

Mogadishu street on the Green Line, January 1993

Source: Wikipedia, ‘Anarchy in Somalia’, 14/7/08


Hidaya Mosque attack in Mogadishu, 21 April, 2008

Source: BBC new ‘Clerics killed in Somali mosque attack’, http;//


Sources: Mombasa: Potts 2005, 99

All other cities: UN Population Division 2005


Dr. Polly WildingCentre for Development Studies,University of Conference 2008

Cities in an Insecure World:

“Overshadowing Gender in the Debate on Urban Violence: Comparative Notes on Brazil and the UK”

  • Analytical and practical divide:
    • private and gender-based violence
    • violence and public security
  • Gender analysis vs. social justice
  • Police, media, institutional attention

 implications?

case study rio de janeiro
Case study: Rio de Janeiro
  • High death rates: young, poor, black & male
  • Women’s roles?
  • Overshadowing: impact on women’s agency and choices
  • Apply analysis to new contexts?
    • neglect of gender-based violence (within the wider debate on violence)
    • the need for public violence to be seen through a gender lens (and how this impacts upon women).
public private distinction
Public / private distinction
  • Artificial construct
  • Gender gap:
    • Gender analysis: domestic violence
    • Social justice: urban & institutional violence
  • Prioritisation of visible, yet
    • Forms, actors, incidents overlap
    • Link with poverty, exclusion and inequality
  • Bridging the gap
initial comparative notes brazil and uk
Initial comparative notes: Brazil and UK
  • Attention to race
    • Complexity
    • Overt reference
    • E.g. role models
  • Attention to girls and young women
    • Female criminality
    • Range of roles
    • Overt reference
visualising target groups
Visualising target groups

comments and questions arising
Comments and questions arising

Need to address:

  • construction of race
    • explicit focus / reinforcement?
  • masculinities and femininities
  • range of roles
    • interplay with sexuality
  • range of stances
    • condoning, supporting, rejecting, subverting
  • interlinkages between forms of violence:
    • need for context specific analysis
  • how young people perceive acts of violence
    • as starting point
the thorny road to sustainable peace the mutation of violence in post conflict cities

The Thorny Road to Sustainable Peace:the mutation of violence in post-conflict cities

Nasser Yassin

American University of Beirut


May 2008




The three incidents share a commonality of being in a similar context of post-conflict or post-political transition or relative peace.
  • They highlight the problematic of sustaining peace in cities that emerge from conflict and/or major political transition and illuminate the vulnerability of cities to acts of violence.
aim argument
Aim & Argument
  • The paper examines the transformation of violence in post-conflict cities from violence associated with protracted warfare and prolonged civil strife into new forms.
  • The paper argues that post-conflict societies in general and post-conflict cities in particular do not move from conflict into peace and normality in a linear path but rather in a traversal/zigzag manner. Political and communal conflict and violence mutate into new forms.
Violence, seemingly, does not end as ‘peace’ – or better call it relative peace – is reached.
  • It continues albeit with noticeable distinction between war times and peace times; what Schepher-Huges and Borgois (2004:19) call it the ‘blurring of categories and distinctions between wartime and peacetime violence’
  • It is a ‘violence continuum’.
characteristics of post conflict violence
Characteristics of Post-Conflict Violence
  • violence in post-conflict societies and cities in particular mutates into different and new forms. It changes in nature, numberof fatalities, duration, contexts, victims, and actors or perpetrators.

It changes:

  • from protracted & intensive into sporadic & low-intensity;
  • It happens sporadically and in between or during periods of relative normalcy;
  • from large number of fatalities from direct fighting and battle-deaths into less numbers from single incidents although the number might add-up;
  • from fighting between mostly well-identified groups and camps into other forms such as gang;
  • It takes place in societies with minimum ‘state’ authority albeit weak and fragile.
typology of post conflict urban violence
Typology of post-conflict urban violence

Three types:

  • Terrorizing violence that targets the city
  • Social and economic
  • Communal
violence is a result of
Violence is a result of:
  • Legacy of war
  • Dynamics of Peace
as a legacy of war
As a legacy of war
  • violence can be seen as a consequence of the fractured institutions that continue to be weak and ineffective in the post-conflict phase (‘criminal inertia’)
  • Culture of violence
as dynamics or nature of peace
As Dynamics or Nature of Peace
  • Linked to the practiced liberal approach to post-conflict nation-building.
  • Alienation of segments of society
  • Social Exclusion
city not only a backdrop
City not only a backdrop
  • What happens in and at the scale of cities is vital to any understanding of the dynamics of conflicts and peace at the larger context. Violence in post-conflict cities is indicative of the overall peace process and transition from conflict into peace.
confronting urban displacement

Confronting Urban Displacement:

Lessons in Mobilization and Participation from Kurasini, Dar Es Salaam

Michael Hooper

Stanford University / University of Oxford


What motivates slum dweller participation in urban social movements?

  • In other words, who participates and why?


Why Important?

  • Growing focus on participatory and bottom-up approaches to development
  • With low government capacity and insecurity - considerable hope placed in grassroots social movements
  • Tacit assumption the poor will participate in bottom-up action. Some people participate, but who?
project setting

Project Setting

Examined participation in the Tanzanian Federation of the Urban Poor (TFUP)

A savings group-based movement associated with Slum Dwellers International

Specifically looking at participation in costly movement activities

In particular, enumerations (geographic and population census) of at-risk communities



Goal of enumerations - use data to lobby government for grant of land for resettlement

Kurasini - unplanned, informal settlement of ~ 35,000 people built amongst infrastructure of Dar Es Salaam’s port

Evictions to expand fuel storage facilities in the port, beginning in late 2007 and 2008

Organizers believe payoffs important to participation as an enumerator. Since renters not compensated, intended as primary beneficiaries of any land grant and this motivates participation



Analytic narrative - combining formal hypothesis testing with textual analysis of qualitative interviews with 102 enumerator and non-enumerator slum dwellers

Six formal hypotheses - based on literature and field work

1) Payoffs

2) Movement identification

3) Social Networks

4) Connection to Place

5) Sense of Political Significance of Community Challenges

6) Belief in Efficacy of Action



Do not coincide with a priori expectations

Most frequent participants in costly social movement activities…


*90% of all enumerators were owners

* Not renters, as expected by TFUP organizers

explaining results

Explaining Results

Qualitative analysis of interview transcripts shows owners favoured by…


- Different payoffs operate than those expected by organizers

- Owners and renters have different payoffs

- Renters participate to gain grant of land through successful enumeration

- But, owners participate to improve accuracy of enumeration, to influence compensation process

“Owners participate most because they are the people who benefit most. Owners are responsible for the value of their house and the enumeration secures value.” - interviewee

explaining results49

Explaining Results

Why are owners more likely to pursue their payoffs?

Ownership significantly related to…

*Connection to place:

-Owners have lived for significantly longer in their settlement,

-Are significantly more likely to consider their settlement home,

-Are Significantly more likely to conceive of challenges facing community over the long term

“Renters are seen, and see themselves, as temporary residents with less responsibility.” - interviewee

explaining results50

Explaining Results

Qualitative analysis of interview transcripts shows owners also favoured by…

*Belief in efficacy of action:

- More likely to feel that their opinions and concerns matter

- Inspired by compensation to believe that their claims can yield results

“Most owners participate because they have confidence. And their confidence comes from their property. Renters lack this confidence - confidence that their actions will bring returns and benefits – because they lack property.” - interviewee

theory exit voice loyalty

Theory: Exit-Voice-Loyalty

Results coincide with Hirschman’s Exit-Voice-Loyalty model…

Two Options in dealing with declining performance of a state, firm, or organization: Voice or Exit

Two factors lower cost of pursuing voice…

Belief in efficacy of action, gained through positive past experience

Loyalty (spatially akin to connection to place)

policy implications

Policy Implications

Kurasini shows risks in mobilization…

Mobilization of unintended groups

Inequitable or unrepresentative mobilization

To ensure effective mobilization grassroots organizers and policy makers should…

Recognize that not everyone participates

Ensure assumed payoffs are those actually motivating participation

Understand which cleavages in community are relevant for participatory decision making (do all face same payoffs?)

Understand which factors influence decisions to pursue payoffs

policy implications53

Policy Implications

In an age of increasingly participatory development policy…

Payoffs are important

But most importantly, ownership is likely to be a vital cleavage around which decisions to participate are made

Findings likely to hold more broadly since, theory suggests, ownership lowers the cost of pursuing “voice”…

Owners have greater connection/responsibility to place

Owners have greater belief in efficacy of action