Site Loader
Rock Street, San Francisco

The basis of nationality is the sense of belonging to the same nation and the desire on the part of its members to live with each other at this level of community. When the political scientist wants to de fine or locate this subjective sense of community, he has used such objective criteria as common language, common history, common territory, and so forth. It is clear that ail these criteria are an expression of something more basic—shared experience.

This shared experience, which may lead to the necessary mutual trust among members of a given society and to the feeling that this group as a group is different from others, contributes continuously to national unity. National unity likewise makes shared experience more possible. To determine the human and geographie frontiers of a nation the political scientist must find ways to examine this shared experience.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

The problems in the Tiers Monde are greater with regard to such research than they are in Europe because much of the necessary data are not available. Research at very basic levels with some new methods is necessary. Karl W. Deutsch, professor of political science at Yale University, has proposed a quantitative interdisciplinary way to examine shared experience and, indirectly, the sense of community. 1 He suggests that one measure the quantities of communications among a given people to find out how much contact they have.

For this one must use criteria such as flows of letters, telegrams, movement of vehicles, trains, planes, telephone calls, mass media of communication, location of markets, settlement patterns, and population movements, he says. If it is possible to examine these different forms of communication, or as many as possible of them, it is equally possible, he says, to estimate shared experience and make predictions about increases or decreases in shared experience. The first stage in this process, that of physical contact, is called “mobilization”.

People who have intensive communications with each other are “mobilized”1 for shared experiences and are “mobiliz-ed” into a current of communications which may eventually change a physical relationship into an affective relationship. The second stage is a change in the sentiments and attitudes of the people; it is called “assimilation”. People find that, on the basis of shared experience, they communicate increasingly more effectively with members of a particular society than with others. In other words, when the “communication habits” of a population become ncreasingly standardized within a group composed of smaller groups, assimilation of the smaller groups to the larger one is occurring: “If the statistical weight of standardized experience is large, and the weight of recalled information within the [smaller] group is relatively small, and the statistical weight of feedback information about the [smaller] group’s peculiar responses is likewise small, then the responses of such a group would differ from the responses of other groups in the same situation by a converging series, until the remaining differences might fall below the threshold of political significance.

This is the process of assimilation. “2 People may also find that there are advantages to be gained in belong-ing to this new community, but there may never be a conscious choice which is made. Because a study of assimilation is a study of beliefs, values and conceptions, different kinds of data are necessary. Professor Deutsch says that there are also quantifiable.

According to him, the “rate of assimilation” depends on certain linguistic, economie, and cultural “balances”: similarities in linguistic habits must be balanced, for example, against differences in value, material rewards for assimilation must be balanced against rewards for non-assimilation. To measure values he says it is necessary to give psychological tests to considerable numbers of people3 and to measure rewards it is necessary, in part, to examine economie surveys to determine where people work and how much they get paid. The problems involved in using these criteria are insurmontable at present. The data for these “balances” are lacking, and even if one had the men, the money, the machines, and the time necessary, or as many as possible of them, it is equally possible, he says, to estimate shared experience and make predictions about increases or decreases in shared experience. The first stage in this process, that of physical contact, is called “mobilization”.

People who have intensive communications with each other are “mobilized”1 for shared experiences and are “mobiliz-ed” into a current of communications which may eventually change a physical relationship into an affective relationship. The second stage is a change in the sentiments and attitudes of the people; it is called “assimilation”. People find that, on the basis of shared experience, they communicate increasingly more effectively with members of a particular society than with others.

In other words, when the “communication habits” of a population become increasingly standardized within a group composed of smaller groups, assimilation of the smaller groups to the larger one is occurring: “If the statistical weight of standardized experience is large, and the weight of recalled information within the [smaller] group is relatively small, and the statistical weight of feedback information about the [smaller] group’s peculiar responses is likewise small, then the responses of such a group would differ from the responses of other groups in the same situation by a converging series, until the remaining differences might fall below the threshold of political significance. This is the process of assimilation. “2 People may also find that there are advantages to be gained in belong-ing to this new community, but there may never be a conscious choice which is made. Because a study of assimilation is a study of beliefs, values and conceptions, different kinds of data are necessary. Professor Deutsch says that there are also quantifiable.

According to him, the “rate of assimilation” depends on certain linguistic, economie, and cultural “balances”: similarities in linguistic habits must be balanced, for example, against differences in value, material rewards for assimilation must be balanced against rewards for non-assimilation. To measure values he says it is necessary to give psychological tests to considerable numbers of people3 and to measure rewards it is necessary, in part, to examine economie surveys to determine where people work and how much they get paid. 4 The problems involved in using these criteria are insurmontable at present. The data for these “balances” are lacking, and even if one had the men, the money, the machines, and the time necessary, villages or in the same village. These quantifiable data served as a basis for a study of mobilization.

In order to validate conclusions based on the quantitative census data I took a tour of the country during which I visited every region and lived in a few selected villages for periods of three days to a week. In the course of this tour I found that one way to investigate attitudes and assimilation was by oral histories and conceptions of kinship. My use of these histories was different from that of Professor Hubert Deschamps who had made an extensive tour of the country in 1961 to collect and record oral histories as part of a large project to write the history of Gabon. 1 As an historian he was naturally interest-ed in recording the facts of the past. For me, as a political scientist, the “truth” was irrelevant.

I was interested in history as ideology: how were present relationships between tribes justified in the history, what was the place held by neighboring tribes in a given history, how were history and conceptions of kinship infmenced by present settlement patterns. I thought that these two criteria, settlement patterns and histories, could serve as a basis for estimations of trends in assimilation and mobilization and could show the relationship between non-quantifiable attitudes and quantifiable social communications. The following are some of my findings. Mobilization Gabon may be crudely divided into three generai zones of mobilization: places where people are relatively non-mobilized, where they are partially mobilized, and where they are mobilized for intensive contact with people of different ethnie groups.

I have called these zones Heartland, Contact, and National. The Heartland Zone is a group of contiguous cantons in which one ethnie group or tribe clearly predominates with at least 80% of the total population. Internai communication is fairly good and may be better than means which link the area with other parts of the country. Contact Zones are on the edges of Heartland Zones; from about 50% to 80% of the people belong to one tribe. Such zones are cantons in which people of different tribes live in adjoining villages or in the same village; or they are centers of attraction such as administrative posts and markets to which people from different Heartlands travel regularly.

They are most likely along roads and rivers which provide a link between Heartland Zones. There may be more mechanical means of communication in a Contact Zone than in a Heartland. National Zones are groups of contiguous cantons and large centers of attraction in which no tribe accounts for 50% of the total population. The internai means of communication are best here: they are public, mechanical, and regular. It is usually the one place where most decisions affecting the whole country are made. A. A Heartland. The largest Heartland in Gabon is that of the Fang who account for one-third of the total population of the country. 1 The center of this Heartland orresponds with the administrative region of Woleu-Ntem in the northern half of the country along the Camerounese frontier. The region is relatively isolated from the rest of Gabon but has regular contact with Cameroun and Spanish Guinea by land and water. The only road to Libreville has been in poor condition even during the dry season; the rains often close the road completely. While there is regular air and telegraphie communication between Libreville and administrative centers of Woleu-Ntem, there is no regular land transportation. By contrast, fair roads extend into Cameroun and Spanish Guinea where close relatives of the Fang, the Bulu, live.

Merchandise is imported along these routes while coffee and cocoa exports leave Woleu-Ntem through the Cameroun. 2 Some Fang take advantage of the road to the Cameroun to attend Camerounese technical schools and go to Camerounese hospitals (particularly a missionary-run hospital not far from the frontier). Radio Cameroun is a popular source of information and entertainment. For 14 of the 16 cantons of Woleu Ntem there is a regular service of autocars which link the administrative centers of the region. For example, two little Renault cars leave Oyem, the administrative capital, every day for each canton except that of Medouneu to the far west and Lalara to the south.

There are frequent cars from Oyem or Bitam to Spanish Guinea and Cameroun. Another means of internai communication has been a regional newspaper published by some Fang teachers. In 1962 it contained mainly Fang stories and essays on “the true Fang custom”. In spite 1. For studies of the Fang see Georges Balandier, Sociologie actuelle de l’Afrique Noire, Paris, 1963. P. Alexandre and J. Binet, Le Groupe dit Pahouin, Paris, 1958. James Fernandez, Redistributive Acculturation in Fang Culture, unpublished, Northwestern, 1963. 2. Neither Libreville nor Port-Gentil, which are both on the ocean, have a port which can adequately accomodate large ships. f the great preponderance of Fang in the region, it was printed in French and was issued in only 75 copies. About 55,000 out of a total adult population of 56,500, or 98% are Fang in this region. 1 In the canton of Woleu, for example, there are 5,531 Africans of whom 5,473 are Fang. Non-Fang live in well-defined quarters in the town of Oyem; most of these people are Bulu merchants from southern Cameroun or Bakota who have moved from a neighboring region to work as servants or to attend a Roman Catholic secondary school. While these “foreigners” move into the Woleu-Ntem, the present Fang residents are fairly stationary. The census indicates that 80% of the men between the ages of 15 and 59 were born in the place the census taker found them.

However, only 12% of the women were born in the place they were counted. 2 This does not mean that many Fang have not moved outside the Woleu-Ntem for many have; it means that Fang maies, who still live in the region, have an interest in continuing to live in the village where they were born and that they find wives outside their village. Several women in each of the villages along the Guinea and Cameroun frontiers indicated that they were born in these neighboring states. Contiguous with the Woleu-Ntem are eight cantons which are an extension of the Heartland. The Fang have moved into these particul-ar cantons partly because the ways of communication exist.

For example, the administrative region of Ogooue-Ivindo has three cantons adjacent to the Fang Heartland. In two of these cantons the Fang represent 80% or more of the total population and in the third they represent only 2% of the total population. The difference is that the two cantons with high Fang percentages are linked to the Woleu-Ntem by a river and a road while the other has no such link. In the sixteen cantons of Woleu-Ntem plus the eight cantons in adjacent regions which constitute the Heartland there are 70,000 Fang out of a total Fang population in Gabon of 106,000. On the basis of settlement patterns 66% of the Fang are, therefore, non-mobilized. Their contacts are almost exclusively with other Fang.

Table I indicates that over half the Gabonese have no contact with people of tribes different from their own. Not ail the tribes of Gabon have Heartlands; of those who do have Heartlands 62% live in them. The total population of the country (14 and older) was approximately 285 000. 3 If the total population 1. Unless otherwise noted ail census figures refer to people 14 and older. 2. Recensement et enquete demographiques ic6o-ic6i: Resultats provisoires ensemble du Gabon, Service de Cooperation de l’Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes economiques, Paris, 1963, p. 24. 3. Ail the calculations, unless otherwise noted, are my own; they are based

Post Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

x

Hi!
I'm Jessica!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out