(855) 4-ESSAYS

Type a new keyword(s) and press Enter to search

Pre-Colonial Africa

             It seems necessary at the outset to point out the specific features of the caste system, in order more clearly to bring out the difference in social structure which has always existed between Europe and Africa. The originality of the system resides in the fact that the dynamic elements of society, whose discontent might have engendered revolution, are really satisfied with their social condition and do not seek to change it: a man of so- called "inferior caste" would categorically refuse to enter a so- called "superior" one. 1 In Africa, it is not rare for members of the lower caste to refuse to enter into conjugal relations with those of the higher caste, even though the reverse would seem more normal. .
             Let us proceed to a description of the internal structure of the caste system, before attempting an explanation of its origin. The present territory of Senegal will be used here as a model for study: nevertheless, the conclusions which are drawn from it hold true for the whole of detribalized Sudanese Africa. In Senegal, society is divided into slaves and freemen, the latter being gor , including both gér and ñéño. The gér comprise the nobles and all freemen with no manual profession other than agriculture, considered a sacred activity. The ñéño comprise all artisans: shoemakers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, etc. These are hereditary professions. The djam , or slaves, include the djam- bur , who are slaves of the king; the djam neg nday , slaves of one's mother; and the djam neg bây , slaves of one's father. The gér formed the superior caste. But- and herein lay the real originality of the system- unlike the attitude of the nobles toward the bourgeoisie, the lords toward the serfs, or the Brahmans toward the other Indian castes, the gér could not materially exploit the lower castes without losing face in the eyes of others, as well as their own.

Essays Related to Pre-Colonial Africa

Got a writing question? Ask our professional writer!
Submit My Question