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Ali Mazrui - The Resurrection of the Warrior Tradition in African Political Culture.docx

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Political Science
POLI 324
Khalid Medani

The Resurrection of the Warrior Tradition in African Political Culture:  Some scholars identify early armed challenges by Africans against colonial rule as the origins of modern nationalism in African countries.  The author agrees with these scholars but believes although some regard the Nkrumahs and Nyereres of modern Africa as the true heirs of those primary resisters, I believe that it is certain military regimes in independent Africa, and the liberation fighters in Southern Africa, who really carry the mantle of the original primary resisters. The warrior in society:  A theme which is common in African cultures is the link between the concept of the warrior and that of adulthood/manhood.  A heavy element of self reliance was built into the concept of warrior. o In many societies young adults were separated from their elders to become self independent adults. o Symbolically expressed in their death as children and their rebirth as adults.  It was always a man who fought for their society on the battlefield.  In some societies warriors were granted sexual privileges. The mystique of violence:  Violence became a masculine attribute.  There could also be a link between violence and sexuality.  The story of Shaka emerges as profoundly symbolic.  Shaka was a brutal ruler who created the Zulu state at its most powerful. o Shaka’s capacity for violence remains one of the wonders of world history. o Shaka’s cruelty comes from the fact that he supposedly had a small genital organ and this made him resentful (because young Zulus had to be naked, so everyone could see) and made him want to dominate his tribe. o He abolished circumcision in the Zulu empire. o In Shaka we see an example of the interaction between issues of manhood and warriorhood. The celibate and the spear:  Shaka forbade men to marry and have sexual relations until they were allowed to retire from military service. o He even tested them by parading naked women around them and punishing any soldier who showed signs of arousal. o The promise of sexual paradise later encouraged discipline.  Sexual celibacy provides an important link between Shaka and the Mau Mau movement in Kenya in the 1950
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