Capitalists, peasants and land in Africa: A comparative perspective

Williams, Gavin
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The paper compares the development of various forms of capitalist and peasant agriculture and state policies towards them in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania during the coloniao and post-colonial periods. At first sight, our four African examples appear to exemplify distinct patterns of historical transformation: one capitalist (South Africa) and two peasant, one (Nigeria) in a 'capitalist' and one (Tanzania) in a 'socialist' context, and an anmalous fourth version, combining capitalist and peasant forms. However, wage labour and family labour are found in agricultural production in all the countries studied, and labour-, share- and rent tenancies are important in several. These different forms of labour are combined in single enterprises, both on capitalist and peasant farms, and in the strategies adopted by individuals and households to provide for their needs. Similarly, governments of very different political persuasions have often adopted similar policies to control, regulate and 'develop' rural people. Our four examples do not display clearly divergent directions, but they are also not obviously converging on some common destination. In particular, they are not all undergoing the passage from peasant to capitalist, or even to socialist, agriculture. In some cases, the direction of change may be quite the reverse.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented August 1991
South Africa. Rural conditions, Kenya. Rural conditions, Nigeria. Rural conditions, Tanzania. Rural conditions