What are the "politics of the belly" in regards to African society?

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
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    Nigeria’s postcolonial experience is perhaps the most apt example of the politics of the belly. Coup has followed coup and countless regimes have been in power. Ethnic tension is always present and periodically clashes of intensity ranging from localised rioting as witnessed recently in the central city of Jos between the countries Muslim and Christian populations, to violent clashes between government soldiers and the Ogoni in the state’s oil rich delta region, to the full scale civil war against the Biafran separatists. Throughout much of the strife there has been, behind the scenes, a cabal of high ranking military personnel that demonstrate the networked nepotism characteristic of Bayart’s metaphor.

    Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha in particular have gained notoriety. The latter in his four short years managed to embezzle over $4 billion before suffering a heart attack during a session with four prostitutes, in what was dubbed by Nigerians at the time “a coup from heaven” . Babangida in his eight year rule institutionalised corruption and amassed a fortune sufficient to make him one of Nigeria’s richest men, creating a system in which many petrol stations in the World’s sixth greatest oil producing nation were dry and petrol had to be imported. Babangida reserved many government jobs for his ethnic kinsmen, the Hausa-Fulani.

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