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Accueil du site → Doctorat → États-Unis → 1980 → ON BEING ZARMA : SCARCITY AND STRESS IN THE NIGERIEN SAHEL

Northwestern University (1980)





Etablissement de soutenance : Northwestern University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (1980)

The unifying theme of this dissertation on the pre-colonial history of the Zarma people is their devoted struggle for self-perpetuation in an environment of scarcity. They sought to win survival by a paradoxical process of overcoming natural strictures in adapting to them. The course of Zarma development is traced from the migration of the Mande proto-Zarma in the early sixteenth century out of Dirma, a province of the Songhai empire in the Upper Niger region, to what would become Zaberma, their contemporary home in western Niger. Arriving along the Middle Niger, in what had been the Songhai province of Dendi, the Mande proto-Zarma encountered and mixed with indigenous Songhai groups during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The current Zarma, we suggest, were evolved in the assimilation of the Mande element to Songhai political and cultural norms, which occurred as these groups undertook to occupy Zaberma and colonize its various physiographic regions. The reign of Zarmakoy Taguru (mid-seventeenth century) in northern Boboye is seen to have been pivotal in Zarma history, for it was then that the coalescence of Mande and Songhai fragments into one people was effected by that king. Yet his achievement remained in some respects stillborn, for at his death the kingship was contested by rival political factions, the Kalle and Wazi—the Kalle were comprised essentially of Songhai indigenous groups, and the Wazi represented the Mande contingent. Though both Kalle and Wazi now participated in a single ethnic entity, the old dichotomy of Mande and Songhai persisted in the form of Kalle-Wazi opposition. In the century and a half following Taguru, Kalle colonists took possession of Zaberma’s western portion, Wazi settled in the east, and this enduring pattern of fragmentation was given further impetus by a harsh environment, the attenuated resource base of which allowed for no stimulus to the transcendence of local perspectives. Thus a narrow economic base was instrumental in amplifying the tradition of fragmented political authority, and ensuring that, when Zarma agriculturalists confronted Fulani and Tuareg pastoralists, the former would be ill-situated to deal effectively with the challenge. During the nineteenth century the Fulani, who had then been circulating through and settling in Zaberma for several centuries, waged a jihad to gain control of the country. They triumphed initially and set up Say and Tamkalla emirates, integral units of the Sokoto Caliphate. The western Zarma were Islamized, and allied themselves with the Fulani, while the Wazis resisted the jihadis with the assistance of friends in Kebbi, Dendi, and Dallol Mawri, though becoming Muslims themselves meanwhile. The jihad is viewed as a war between farmers and herdsmen for the possession of scarce resources, and its battles centered around the valley of Boboye, whose richness contrasted so strikingly with Zaberma’s other regions. Eventually the jihad was defeated by around mid-century and Tamkalla was overthrown by the anti-jihad coalition ; the Tuareg, who had, simultaneously as the jihad was being prosecuted, also pressed in against Zarma agriculturalists, were likewise stalled. In the ensuing half-century the state of Dosso was established as a response to the trauma of endemic warfare and the vulnerability of fragmentation and a marginal economy. Dosso was formed, in spite of a meager surplus product to nourish the state, in hopes of overcoming that vulnerability. A critical concern throughout the dissertation has been to approach the subjective reality of Zarma history, and to understand the pervasive effect of marginality on Zarma identity as manifest in all dimensions of their existence.

Présentation (ProQuest)

Page publiée le 28 janvier 2018, mise à jour le 28 mai 2021