Development Strategies in Africa: Current Economic, Socio-Political, and Institutional Trends and Issues

By Aguibou Y. Yansane | Go to book overview

Comments of Discussants

DAVID MARVIN

I sat here today thinking about the turn of the wheel. The discussions that we've had are about community development.... But I thought of the turn of the wheel. Twenty-five years ago we were talking about community development. Here we're talking about community development. Meanwhile there has been community development, but also there hasn't been community development. It is not a panacea. It doesn't cure all ills. I was reminded of this when Elliot Skinner was talking about Goran Hyden's work in Tanzania. He spoke of the resistance of the people in the villages to development efforts from outside. And following Skinner's theory, we might say that resistance is because we don't touch the right buttons.

But it seems that in Burkina Faso, somebody's found the right buttons to touch. But you can't always do that. I recall when I was doing research in what is now Tanzania, and this was sort of local government, local administration, and I found that in this particular district the British in eight years had inflicted on the local people three different court systems, one after the other. So, I sat down one day with a group of villagers and told them, you know, the British thought one was better than the other, so they introduced them. And I asked, "Which do you think is better?" And a young man stood up and said, "Well, I sure didn't like the chief being the judge, because you always had to bring a calf or a cow or something to present to him to get him to sit and listen to the case." Now, I suggest that this is one problem. Elliot Skinner was talking about a successful project, but how about the projects where inequities get introduced? Somebody takes hold of them.

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