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Syracuse University (1987)

Continuity and change in patterns of trade in Southern Mali (Sikasso)

Warms, Richard Lee.

Titre : Continuity and change in patterns of trade in Southern Mali (Sikasso)

Auteur : Warms, Richard Lee.

Université de soutenance  : Syracuse University.

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1987

Résumé
This dissertation traces the economic history of the town of Sikasso in Southern Mali, and shows the nature of the current day trading community in that town. Before the 19th century, long distance trade in West Africa was monpolized by ethnic groups. In the region of Sikasso, Dioula traders controlled commerce in salt, gold, cloth, and other valuables. The emergence of the Kingdom of Kenedougou in the mid 19th century made Sikasso more central to regional trade than it had previously been. The French conquest brought increasing integration into the European centered international economy.

One result of Sikasso’s increasing centrality to trade and connection with Europe was the breaking up of ethnic trading monoplies. However, while the ethnic makeup of Sikasso’s merchants reflects the town’s ethnic makeup, information collected through interviews and participant observation in 1985 shows that they still form a tight community. This community is held together both by marriage ties and bonds that cut across family lines, including membership in the Wahhabiyya sect of Islam, participation in voluntary social associations (called grins) and attendance at rites de passage.

While sons of merchants are more likely to become merchants than are those of non-merchants, being born into a commercial family does not assure business success. Rather, all individuals pass through roughly the same path to become merchants. Steps along this path are delineated by data from life histories. Virtually anyone can become a small scale merchant, but gaining wealth and prestige in the commercial community is crucially dependent on finding a patron within the community.

Data from this study are compared with data from other studies of African merchants and the problems and prospects of public and private enterprise in Mali discussed. Career paths and educational levels are noticeably different for Sikasso’s merchants than for merchants in other studies. While private enterprise does not provide a panacea for development proble

Présentation (ProQuest)

Page publiée le 10 juin 2021