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Poverty and Peace in the Portuguese Speaking African Countries

Cristina Rodrigues Udelsmann
Ana Bénard da Costa


Ana Bénard da Costa et Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues

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  • 1 PTDC/AFR/64207/2006, funded by the Fundação para a Cncia e a Tecnologia (Science and Technology F (...)

1As the end result of a multidisciplinary investigation project conducted in Africa, this publication about Poverty and Peace in the Portuguese-speaking African Countries1 has the purpose, on one hand, of presenting the main conclusions of the studies conducted in these countries and, on the other, to provide a collection of guidelines for future research relevant to the comprehension of the combination of both phenomena.

2In spite of most part of the existent analysis about poverty in the Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP) being related to the war’s significance and role, in particular the post-independence conflicts, there is not a significant amount of studies focusing specifically on the direct connection between war/peace and the increase/decrease of poverty in these countries. Although there are several analytic approaches implicated in this correlation – for instance, with reference to development, to conflicts and peacekeeping, to cooperation – it is still difficult to interconnecting these areas, in term of research and in terms of performance. Among the possible explanations for this difficulty is emphasized the handling of poverty and war issues by differentiated actors, both at an academic level and in matters of political (and economic) management.

3On the other hand, the perspectives about the correlations between poverty and peace are, generally, bidirectional. In the African context, peace is seen as a condition for the elimination of poverty or the eliminations of poverty is seen as a path for reaching peace (Smith, 2005; Bush, 2004; Green & Hulme, 2005; Narayan, 2000; Bernard, 2002; Solomon & Cilliers, 1996; Bryant & Kappaz, 2005; Murshed, 2002; Collier & Hoeffler, 1998). In the case of Angola, the issues of war and peace remained longer at the center of the research on poverty and development, appearing systematically in studies of social, political and economic nature, referring to the reciprocal implications (Anstee, 1997; Grobbelaar, Mills & Sidiropoulos, 2003; Abreu, 1989; Ferreira, 2006; Ferreira & Barros, 1995; UNDP, 2000; Grobbelaar, Mills & Sidiropoulos, 2003). In Mozambique, the studies conducted about poverty are decreasing its focus on the relevance of war and conflicts, due to the long period of stability experienced since the end of the war, although are occasionally mentioned its long-term effects on the country’s socioeconomic condition (Adam e Coimbra, 1996; Green, 1991; Oppenheimer e Raposo, 2002; AMECOM, 2004; G20, 2004; Oppenheimer, 1992-1994; Simler, 2004). In countries where the evolution of war and peace is defined by stages of instability or crisis – such as Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe – the studies rarely refer the influences of the political situation over poverty’s reduction or growth (Kovsted & Finn, 1999; UNDP, 2003; Inec, 2002; Republic of Guinea-Bissau, 2004; Sao Tome and Principe Ministry of Planning and Finance, 2002, 2003; Rodrigues et al., 2006). In Cape Verde, the only country among this group where there has always been an absence of conflicts and war, poverty studies do not demonstrate, as would be expected, a substantially more positive evolution and poverty still constitutes one of the country’s main concerns (Costa, 1999; Ministry of Finance, Planning and Regional Development, 2004).

4This research intended to reflect on this relation, analyzing situations of poverty and conflict in the lusophone African countries throughout these last decades, based on a multidisciplinary team research and on a data research methodology fundamentally centered, but not exclusively, in meaningful interviews and personal narratives. The team is composed by two anthropologists (Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues and Ana Bénard da Costa), one economist (Carlos Manuel Lopes), one historian (Augusto Nascimento), and has counted with the participation of researchers in the stage of preparing their masters dissertations in Interdisciplinary African Studies Interdisciplinary (Sílvia Pereira, Susana Mendes, Emanuel Lopes) and doctorate dissertations in African Studies (Ricardo de Sousa and Aline Pereira). All these investigators have conducted a documental and bibliographic research, most of the time supplemented by field research for the collection of information and life narratives (mostly during 2008). In the cases of Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, the team also counted on the support of local investigators – Luís Filipe Pereira, from the Cruzeiro do Sul – Instituto de Investigação para o Desenvolvimento José Negrão and João Paulo Borges Coelho from the Mondlane University, both located in Mozambique; and Alfredo Handem, from the Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas (INEP), in Guinea-Bissau – that have equally contributed to the preparation of this volume.

5The project at the origin of this manuscript is, therefore, focused on the connection between poverty and peace, analyzed according to the perceptions of several social actors. Regardless of a growing multiplication of studies about either one or the other phenomena in several African countries – and, namely, in lusophone African countries – the instances where the causal relation or mutual implications between these occurrences is explored and established are rare. Even less common is the systematical collection of empirical data about the correlations between poverty/wealth and peace/war from the standpoint of the social actors who have experienced those circumstances throughout their lives. The study integrates examples of African counties that, in spite of sharing some common elements of their recent history – colonial regime, period when the independences occurred, post-independence political and economic regimes – also are quite distinctive from each others: regarding the background of regional geopolitical insertion and the models of productive specialization related to dissimilar allocation of natural resources; in terms of processes and levels of development during the colonial and post-colonial periods; in accordance to the evolution of peace/conflict situations in the post-independence; relating to the perspectives of development and poverty eradication. The focus on the correlation peace/poverty, in the realm of a more comprehensive research about the causes for the high poverty rates observed in each on of these nations, inscribes this project in the framework of studies that aspire to contribute for the clarification of the processes conditioning development.

6Therefore, the purpose was to understand which influence a war, of over thirty years, may have on the poverty situation of Angola; which is the influence of war, also long- lasting, in Mozambique, and of peace that has been lasting for over fifteen years in this country, over the current poverty situation; which influence the war and more recent conflicts have over poverty in Guinea-Bissau; which influence have decades of peace – somehow unstable in these last few years, on account of coups – over the situation in Sao tome and Principe; in which measure has the peaceful condition that Cape Verde has uninterruptedly experienced for centuries contributed to the explanation of its poverty rates. The purpose is to confirm if it can be established a direct relation between these two types of condition – poverty and war – or, if on the contrary, there are other factor to account for in the processes for development and poverty control that play a larger part and have more direct influence over the living condition in these countries.

7The research entailed the study of the available information about the previously mentioned correlation, focusing mostly on live narratives and in some particular cases related to diverse types of social actors and circumstances in several countries. It was also included records produced by institutions and experts directly associated to these topics, being integrated in the existing theoretical framework alongside new data collected during the field researches. The influence of peace on the living conditions is analyzed at the level of its repercussions on the personal social and spatial mobility; the economic choices and opportunities; the restraints to education; the access to infrastructures and essential goods; the present welfare level and the way it is perceived. The qualitative approach, centered on the practices and representation used by the social actors – as a result, positioned in a emic domain, in other words, the social actors provide their own perceptions and explanations – provides added value to the studies about poverty, particularly in the African context (White, 2002; Bevan, 2004), and has a particular significance in the case of lusophone countries.

8The interviews were conducted in the capital cities of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea- Bissau, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe, in urban and suburban areas – and, in some occasions, in rural locations or in secondary towns (Huambo, Bafatá, Gabu, Mindelo; Fogo, Boavista) – distributed according to previously defined typologies, consistent with poverty/wealth situation, rural/urban origin, age and experienced time for distinctive peace situations, as a manner to overcome the limited time and resources available for this investigation. The life narratives collected were mostly centered on individual trajectories, but have also incorporated a more far-reaching feature, relating to the individual’s family histories.

9The present manuscript is the end result of this research project, congregating a compilation of nine articles. Eight of these articles were written by participant researchers in this project, and one of them results from the collaboration with the researcher Alfredo Handem. The article The ‘Quantitative Literature’ and the interpretation of the armed conflict in Mozambique (1976-1992) was written by the Mozambican historian João Paulo Borges Coelho, who has been pursuing a research about the conflict between Renamo and Frelimo and has accepted to collaborate in this volume.

10These nine articles, although having as background the project’s subject matter, present very distinctive characteristics. On one hand, the relevance afforded to the relations poverty-war-peace, or separately to each one of the occurrences, is not consistent among the collected articles. This is explained by the different situations experienced in each of the five African countries, either in matters of poverty as in matters of existence, or inexistence, of wars, conflicts and governmental and political instabilities. The lack of uniformity among the articles is equally explained by the theoretical and thematic options that the authors were compelled to do, by reason of the vast subject at hand. It is also explained by the diversity of the diversity of disciplinary areas of its authors and by their respective research trajectories, necessarily implying the conception of reflections in accordance to diverse theoretical, thematic, methodological and analytical perspectives. At last, this diversity is yet explained by the fact that this volume compiles a collection of contributions from authors who have important distinctions in terms of research experience: some are still in graduation stages, while others are researchers with a vast curriculum.

11The multiplicity of perspectives and approaches about the same issues contained in this manuscript would certainly pose a problem of insoluble result if the main purpose was to compare the occurrences of poverty, war and peace and their connections in these five countries. However, the purpose of this project is to understand how this correlation, poverty-war-peace, is perceived by the social actors and, simultaneously, how the knowledge of these perceptions may influence the investigation regarding these issues and its complex implications. Despite the fundamental significance of more abstract approaches, whose interest is centered on the critical interpretation of perspectives anchored in quantitative methodologies with incidence over comparative analysis, (see article by João Paulo Borges Coelho) or in discussions about the operationality of certain concepts in the analysis of conflict situations (see article by Ricardo de Sousa), most articles in this volume have focused, as mentioned above, on the social actors’ perceptions and make use of an empirical research that employs qualitative methodologies of investigation. From this last alternative resulted a compilation of articles (seven) embracing a large diversity of social actors. Some of these articles are primarily centered on determinate social groups (Emanuel Lopes’ article about the Hanha) or economic groups (the articles written by Aline Pereira and Carlos Manuel about the economic agents in the informal economy); other search randomly to understand the social actors’ perceptions and the manner in which these are molded by their life experiences (the articles by Ana Bénard da Costa, Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues and Alfredo Handem, and by Augusto Nascimento). In some of these contributions the presented analysis and macro contextualization of the phenomena of poverty and war have a significant relevance, while in others there is a larger focus on regional or thematic framings.

12The plurality of situations under scrutiny in these different articles and the diversity of focuses and approaches illustrate the multiple dimensions included in the occurrences of war/peace and poverty and the extreme complexity of finding extensive theoretical approaches which can convincingly explain the causes, effects and connections that are applicable in these diverse spatial and temporal contexts. In particular when, as in the present situation and in many of the articles, the research option that support them come from the development of qualitative approaches based on life narratives. The analysis of the different actors’ perceptions on the subject of these events, their connections and the manner which they have affected and still affect their lives, reflects a set of unique experiences that, even when sharing some common elements – for example, similarities of situations experienced during the war, ages, economic status, socio-cultural or geographical origins – can hardly be incorporated within generalist justification or theories. If it can be reached some kind of general conclusion about this set of articles compiled in this volume, is that there is no direct causal connection between poverty and war that might explain every individual and/or family conditions, as it can be acknowledged while reading this volume.

13Another factor that must be emphasized and clarified and which reflects as well the analytical options of the project aggregating the contributions compiled in this volume is related to the differentiated importance that the five countries have in the complete collection of articles. There are four articles concerning Angola, two concerning Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe are revised in three articles, on for each country. This situation does not reflect any kind of priority afforded to Angola among the group of research countries, but it is mostly due to the fact that among the members participating in this project there is larger number of those who have an academic trajectory anchored in this country, furthermore the most affected by war in recent times. Concurrently, since poverty, war and peace and their complex connections are multidimensional phenomena, whose comprehension is positively supplemented by the possibility to observe the analysis which allows to wholly embrace an effective diversity (more theoretical studies, analysis centered on the macro level and qualitative analysis or case studies), has caused to choose a plurality of thematic approaches as the main criteria, instead of choosing national representativity.

14In the Angola case, the issues of poverty, peace and war are approached in four articles. The first one, by Ricardo de Sousa, focus exclusively on a biographical analysis about the war between Unita and Mpla, and the literature concerning the ‘power sharing accords’. The author presents the mains limitations and challenges that this type of accords pose.

15Afterwards, he describes, in general, the different stages in the evolution of the Angolan conflict and the several moments when solutions were tried to achieve for power sharing. He concludes this section mentioning that these solutions only achieved the sought result – peace – after the death of Jonas Savimbi, which confirms that the accords imposed by the victorious party are more enduring than the accords negotiated among parties, meanwhile stressing that during this stage “the negotiating process, as well as the settled dimensions of power sharing were also important to establish peace”. Then the author describes the nature of the confrontational political forces, summing up its evolution.

16In the fourth section of his article, Ricardo de Susa presents what he considers to be the limitations in the application of power sharing models to the Angola case, separating the factors which have contributed to the failure of these solutions in the following manner: inadequate external pressures; lack of a solution for structural power sharing; leaderships’ characteristics and ambitions; lack of trust following a prolonged war; and the resources’ role in the determination of the parties’ incentives. After explaining the influence these factors had over the impediments to a long-lasting and settled peace, the author adds another factor that, in his opinion, was decisive to clarify the conflict’s continuity. Ricardo de Sousa defends that the monolithic nature of both parties in this conflict has caused the “insufficient organic flexibility to fuse or share structures with another similar party”, and implies that “it was the neo-patrimonial nature of these parties that allowed the Mpla to accommodate Unita’s factions into his neo-patrimonial net and finally to settle peace in 2002 through a victory over the remaining, only and isolated militarist faction headed by Jonas Savimbi”.

17This article, by providing a global vision on a conflict that for 27 years has deeply affected the daily lives of several generations of Angolans and by presenting the main factors which have impeded throughout the years and, despite several attempts, to settle enduring peace accords, is a frame for the following three articles about this country.

18The first of these articles, written by Carlos Manuel Lopes, based on Angolan’s accounts collected in the cities of Huambo and Luanda, refer to the manner how the war’s effects during peacetime are conditioning and, in some cases, preventing an effective poverty reduction. In the second article, Aline Pereira emphasizes, in her analysis, the behaviors and survival strategies developed by the female vendors in the informal market at Luanda in the post-war period, stressing the way how the previous experiences occurred during the conflict are still conditioning, nowadays, these same behaviors, particularly in matters of gender relations. At last, the article by Emanuel Lopes, focusing on the perception that the Muhanha have about their own poverty and welfare, throughout several periods since the independence until the peace in 2002 and from then until the present time. In each one of these articles, the reflections are preceded by a contextualization falling upon the main subject of research. Carlos Manuel Lopes reflects on the evolution of the Angolan economy and informal economy, Aline Pereira frames her analysis with a brief reference to the gender problematic and the connection between gender and conflict, and Emanuel Lopes precedes his reflection on the Hanha with an historical synopsis which approach the socioeconomic issues of this social grouping.

19Resuming the core of these three articles, it is considered relevant to draw attention to the following features in each one of them:

20The article by Carlos Manuel Lopes, besides the necessary introduction where, among other subjects, the author describes the methodologies used during the research, is divided into three distinctive sections: (i) the “Context”, (ii) “Some notes about the general impact of the military conflict in the cities of Huambo and Luanda” and (iii) “The actors’ perceptions on the effects of the military conflict and peace”. In this last section, more extensive than the previous ones, is analysed the empirical information that was specifically collected for the research project anchoring this volume. In the first part, the author gives a proposal for the periodization of the political and institutional background involving the evolution of the Angolan economy since the independence in 1975, followed by an recognition of what he considers to be the five major stages of the evolutionary process of the informal economy in Angola and by the presentation of data concerning the evolution of poverty in this country. During this part, the author connects these different features (evolution of the Angolan economy, informal economy and poverty), allowing a macro contextualization which frames the generic description about the evolution and present situation of the cities of Luanda and Huambo, where his research took place, and which is presented in the final part of the first section of his article.

21In the second section, the author recalls the fact that Huambo was, after 1992, one of the cities most ravaged by war, stressing some of the effects that have lasted until these days. He namely refers to the “retraction of the production capacity in the formal sector (public and private) and reduction of its relative importance on consumer satisfaction; increase in the socio-economic significance of informal activities as the population’s labour source, in generating income and producing products and services; general increase in poverty rates”. As well in this part and in regards to Angola, Carlos Manuel Lopes selects one of most significant war impacts, the massive flux of dislocated people that caused the urban expansion and its population growth, besides “substantial rise in the population within active age excluded from any possible formal occupation”.

22In the third section, where are analysed the actors’ perceptions about the effects of the military conflict and peace, the author emphasizes that among the group of interviewed participants exist differentiated perceptions regarding the impact of war, being “the memories of the conflict’s destructive effects” more vivid in the Huambo’s participants or in those interviewed in Luanda who had been active agents in the conflict. He declares that peace’s benefits are patent in the majority of discourses and in these are mentioned, in particular the rehabilitation of material assets, the recuperation of a safe territorial mobility; the reunion of family members, the multiplication of business opportunities and access to products and services. Meanwhile, Carlos Manuel Lopes stresses “the lack of unanimity in the outlook of the interviewed individuals regarding which effects the end of the war has had over the Angolan’s lives” and that “some suggest that nothing has changed”.

23With reference to the interviewed participants’ perceptions about their own situation in terms of poverty/prosperity, Carlos Manuel Lopes assumed from his research that ‘despite peace, many individuals are living with difficulties. Part of them considers their personal situation as being similar to what it was in the war” and even these with “considerable income, never assume to be rich. (...) they only rarely assume to be poor either”. Another conclusion that the author offers and it seems important to mention is that “having the ability to earn larger incomes does not necessarily constitute a protection against the risk of impoverishment”.

24Finally, in the conclusion of this article, the author point to the “prolonged military conflict that arises from the narratives of the interviewed social actors from Huambo and Luanda as one of the main determinant factors of poverty in the country” and that they have selected as on of the most damaging effects “the prolonged process of compulsory dislocations experienced by various Angolan families in the course of 27 years”.

25Having started her article with brief references to the gender notion and the manner it has been regarded in relation to Africa, Aline Pereira subsequently provides a reflection where she questions the potential interactions between women and armed conflicts, followed by a selection of testimonies from Angolan women who have been afflicted by the war, namely, by being forced to flee and migrate to Luanda. The fourth part of her article begins with a description of some of the most important features that the adaptation to city life has entailed for these women, giving particular attention to everything related to their insertion in the “informal” market’s circuits. The author groups women according to their sale spots, ordering them hierarchically in terms of the greater or lesser advantages they offer to the vendors (the market being the most advantageous, followed by the doorway sellers and for last the street vendorszungueiras). The author declares: “The street is a last resource, the outcome of their lack of sufficient money to have a spot in the marketplace or of not having enough customers at their doorway. These women do not have suitable working conditions; they endure under the weight of the merchandise they carry around the streets – under the sun, in the dust, in the polluted atmosphere. They prepare the food to be sold and eat their own meals sitting in the streets, without any sanitary conditions”.

26In the next section, the author approaches the mutual aid strategies, mentioning that the family becomes on of the most significant social support networks for these women, followed by the religious institutions. The occurrence that Aline Pereira calls an informal “joint-venture” is discussed in the sixth section of the article. Telling how these “joint-ventures” create “shopping groups” composed by more experienced sellers who buy their merchandise in foreign countries. She assumes that these groups are an important mechanism for business development and allow for savings. In the final part of her article, the author analyses some of the credit systems available, namely the rotating credit system called kixikila, which is funded and managed by the women themselves.

27From the presented conclusions, it must be given emphasis to the fact that she mentions that among the interviewed women few are those who have adopted some sort of expansion or market positioning strategy, and “although within a limited reach, several microcredit programs have resulted to be, particularly in the case of women from the informal sector, an important course for the development of small businesses and, consequentially, to the improvement of living conditions” but, she adds, “these programs cannot be interpreted as the ultimate solution to the promotion of women in the Angolan society. In general, the scarcity of training, low employment, limited access to social assistance as well as to many others services and resources, have been blocking the inversion of structural inequalities to which women have been submitted until now”.

28In the last article pertaining to Angola, written by Emanuel Lopes and titled “Reflection on poverty afflicting migrant populations: the Hanha case study”, the author searches to find out how the Muhanha people regard poverty, how they indentify it and perceive it when afflicted by it, and clarifies that this has required the execution of an historical research through which he attempted to find out about the Muhanha’s past since the time previous to the colonial war until now. In consequence, after presenting the methodology and elucidating about the central concepts in use (absolute poverty, rural poverty, property and exchange rights, and social exclusion), the author describes the Muhanha’s history. He explains the multiple transformations that have occurred for this people since a period of time preceding the arrival of the Portuguese, passing through the several phases of the colonial period when the Muhanha have converted from caravan traders into commercial farmers equally undergoing a certain “proletarization” that comes along with the occupation of their better farming lands by Portuguese colonists and corporations. According to this author, in the end of the 1960s decade, the Muhanha produced for self-consumption, having some surplus and some income earned in job posts in several services of the Portuguese administration.

29The author proceeds with his historical analysis about the Muhanha during the post- independence period, focusing on features that might enlighten the evolution of the poverty rates among this social group. He mentions that in the year following the independence “the immediate impoverishment is not perceived and none of the interviewees has mentioned it”; however, the situation inverts in the subsequent years (until 1991/92), and the perception of those (..) who experienced those times is that it was when they have “become poor, for being expelled from their homeland without any means of subsistence”. Emanuel Lopes highlights the importance that the familial and religious networks still had during this period, establishing links among those who migrate to the city (Benguela) and those who remain in the region.

30About the following period – peacetime between 1991 and 1992 – the author considers that this had a ‘propagating effect on the informal economy, improving the living conditions of both Vahanha groups, particularly those located in Benguela’ and permitting somehow the return to the fields that was rapidly interrupted by the war’s reoccurrence. Emanuel refers that the Muhnaha region became again the stage for conflicts, impelling the population to take refuge in the urban locations and refugee centers created in the meantime. The author stresses that, in these centers, the familial and religious networks tend to disintegrate, being then ‘replaced’ by the International Aid and everything it will indirectly permit and instruct: obstacles to circulation, corruption and trafficking of products offered by the international community. From all this has resulted the creation of new social nets, juxtaposing the traditional nets, but they all become target of a powerful political manipulation that would entail, according to the author, the ‘posterior political indifference of the Vahanha population’. The author claims that ‘the period between 1994 and 2002 is when the population is afflicted by the most serious poverty conditions. This is not restricted to life below the poverty line, but concerns physical survival, recalling absolute poverty’. This situation, and the fact that the new social networks are, perhaps, much more volatile and precarious than the traditional solidarity nets, elucidate the reason why the author, contradicting what had mentioned before, talks about this period when the Muhanha reinforce their solidarity nets and ‘those living in Benguela find ways to help out those living in refugee camps or isolated in some designated locations. The religious relations are undoubtedly noticeable’.

31In the final section of his article, Emanuel Lopes describes the post-period period and, after mentioning several restraints to which the Muhanha have been submitted, he implies that generally those restraints have not prevented the return to their original homelands and going back to a traditional agricultural living, or to migrate to Benguela. He adds that the solidarity networks do not seem to have been very affected and, in some instances, (the religious ones) seem to have been reinforced, having recuperated the links among those living in urban centers and those residing in the rural region. On the subject of the perceptions that the interviewed participants have about their current situation as regards of lesser or greater poverty, the author assumes that they ‘believe this peace period to be better than the last stages of conflict’ and ‘the Vahanha became poor when they lost the possibility to hold cattle and farmland’.

32In the last part of the article, the author approaches the issue of social exclusion, finishing off with ‘the Vahanha, owing to an integrative sense conceded by their religious solidarity network, do not feel excluded, but they tend to self-exclude from public political and social structures’.

33In the second part of this volume are published two articles about Mozambique, the previously mentioned article by the historian João Paulo Borges Coelho, and an article written by Ana Bénard da Costa titled ‘Mozambique: poverty in war poverty in peace’. These two articles, although essentially distinctive in nature – one centered on dissecting the application of quantitative models to the analysis of the armed conflict in Mozambique, and another focused on the connections between this conflict and poverty, significantly anchored in the analysis of qualitative research results – do intersect and complement each other.

34Borges Coelho’s article explicitly explores some features related to war that Ana Bénard da Costa’s article refers to without going further, and the qualitative analysis she performed founded on the participants’ narratives elucidates some of the features that the previous article points as being important criticisms to the quantitative model, namely some features related to ‘the dismemberment of real social processes and their reduction to a sequence of data’.

35João Paulo Borges Coelho’s article is divided into four sections, the required introduction and conclusion, and two analytic chapters titled respectively ‘Origin and nature’ (2nd) and ‘Duration and Transformation’ (3rd). In the introduction is demonstrated the Quantitative Literature (QL) in the study of civil wars, declaring he intends to discuss the effectiveness of utilizing these quantitative models to the

36Mozambican case. The author mentions that these models search for ‘new methodologies based on a “data” compilation plentiful enough to allow, by its statistical treatment, establishing general probabilistic relations which will configure theoretical principles’, and create large databases on conflict, ‘presuming the general theory developed from its interpretation permits to analyze concrete cases and predict future cases, as well as to inform political decisions’. Recognizing the existence of several factions, the author affirms that most of them, under the influence of Paul Collier, see ‘economics, and concurrently econometrics, as the answer to the most important matters’. In the first chapter, the author discusses the origins of the conflict that, in the initial stage, opposed MNR and Frelimo, in accordance to a compromise among the QL concerning the significance of the internal causes in the instigation of civil wars. Borges Coelho starts by mentioning that most authors working on the subject of the Mozambican conflict believe it was started by a foreign aggression headed by Rhodesia which had created the MNR (Mozambique National Resistance) with the purpose of ‘combating the Zimbabwean forces located in Mozambique and destabilizing the central land strip adjacent to the Beira Corridor’. For this author, this theory, though true, is contrary to the QL’s theory that, while admitting the influence of external factors in civil wars, does not consider them to be structuring, since that would be ‘overcomplicating the distinction between conflict among states and civil wars’. Nevertheless, Borges Coelho defends that ‘as intense and militarily efficient the Rhodesian offensive had been, by itself it could never explicate the prompt support given by a considerable number of Mozambicans to the rebel contingent’ and then searches to verify if any other of the independent variables which the QL associates to a risk of occurrence of civil wars (poverty, temporal distance from the previous conflict, ethnical dominance and political instability) have taken place in the Mozambican conflict.

37Studying these variables in an attentive and profound manner, and refuting the motives offered by the other authors as explanations for the beginning of the conflict, Borges Coelho concludes as followed: ‘it is therefore very difficult to believe the QL, specifically the CH model, has produced stimulating perspectives. The relevant independent variables either ignore any context, or are chronologically dyslexic (for instance, the social impact of the economic decline during this stage), are reductive and rather inconsistent (for instance, all analysis made on the performance of the new regime), or practically incomprehensible (the case of ethnic dominance); and when the inference seems to be correct, such as in the case of the proximity to the previous conflict, such happens for the wrong reasons’.

38In the third chapter (“Duration and Transformation”), Borges Coelho approaches the independent variables presented by the QL for explaining the duration of the conflicts (the territorial geographical features, the social fractionalization – ethnic and religious – and the economic opportunities subsequent to the hostilities), referring, on the other hand, that this last explanation is the most recurrent in relation to the causes for the Mozambican conflict’s continuity, and submits a collection of motives, highlighting the relevance of the external factors for this conflict’s development, putting further emphasis on the complex connection between conflict and the profound transformations occurred in South Africa.

39However, Borges Coelho does not forgo the importance of the all set of internal factors that, particularly since the beginning of the 1980s decade become clearly manifest and coincidental, thus elucidating the conflict’s development. In his article, Borges Coelho demonstrates the extreme complexity regarding the military conflicts. To the multiplicity of causes and actors in attendance is added its essentially processual and dynamic nature, which causes internal transformations alongside the necessary transformation of the (frequently ambiguous or even incompatible) connections among them. Borges Coelho advises of the danger of explanations, like those defended by the QL, which search to ‘to reduce the number of actors and also to immobilize them, so it can be obtained absolute values to provide input for statistical operations’. He proceeds by pointing out, amid other factors, the lack of rigor in the display of data – specifically those related to Mozambique – and questioning ‘the general meaning of the dismemberment of real social processes and their reduction to data sequences’. In the end, to finalize this brief synopsis of the article, one of the author’s sentences that accurately summarizes his critical perspective on the conflict analysis performed by the Quantitative Literature: ‘By looking for the numbers’ objectivity as an evasion from the beliefs that swarm the research labor, the QL becomes ironically attached to them, transmitting a strange and contradictory sensation of “high-tech” technology prompted by a neoclassic conception inspired in the 19th century colonial flavor. Such an example is the perception of ethnic or religious groups, evaluated by head tallies and placed into clearly demarked territories, collective movements acting under a single infuriated and ambitious individual, backed by a state always repressing everything – all this transmitted by a terminology worthy of semiotic research’.

40In the second and last article about Mozambique, Ana Bénard da Costa offers a summary of ‘the political and economical evolution of Mozambique since the end of colonialism until the present time and cross-referencing it with narrations of Mozambicans who experienced these distinctive stages of their country’s recent history’. In the prologue, the contributing informants are generically identified and it is stressed the relevance of using an historical perspective in the study of the social actors’ perceptions regarding poverty and war occurrences. She also mentions that this analysis is ‘preceded by a reflection on the features explaining the absence of historical framing and anthropological approaches in studies about poverty’. This reflection comes up in the first part of her article and, in some pages, the author assumes there is an ‘absence of studies providing appropriate answers related to the real capacities of the societies in Mozambique (or in the whole Africa) in fulfilling the basic needs of the population’, and that the ‘studies on poverty as a specific topic of research have been arousing an interest quite restricted to the Anthropology’s realm’.

41In the second section of her article, the different meanings of poverty are approached and, after synthesizing the ideas supported by the Universalist and Relativist perspectives about this concept, the author discusses the possibility of reconciling these perspectives, as long as poverty is perceived as a multidimensional phenomenon, product of social and historical relations among the distinctive cultural contexts that never were homogeneous and secluded entities, and a category through which the social agents classify and perform in the world, influencing the universal definitions of poverty, the lives of those who are defined as such, and the dimensions and values supporting these definitions then become universal references.

42In the following article’s section part, Ana Bénard da Costa starts by referring to the inexistence of studies about poverty in Mozambique previous to 1989, while the numerous wars occurred in this country are target of interest for several authors, and it is possible to find analysis on the relations between the conflicts and the socioeconomic conditions in Mozambique, particularly since the beginning of the colonial war. The author finishes this part by stating that ‘although war by itself does not explain the occurrence of poverty, it certainly contributes to exacerbate it, while poverty by itself does not explain the occurrence of war’ and delineates the (recent and former) causes for poverty and war, a whole set of political factors of internal and external nature, proposing next to analyze the most important ones throughout the article’s following pages. Thus, through the analysis of some bibliography and the informants’ perceptions regarding the impact of the last military conflict occurred in Mozambican territory, the author considers that although the living conditions during this period were quite unbearable for most of the population, the war had varied effects through the time and these have afflicted the Mozambican population in distinctive manners, in some cases occurring an appropriation of the conflict and/or it has had positive aftermaths. Meanwhile, she defends that the ‘converging war effects and socialist economic policies shunned, in many cases, a distinction between causes at the root of these conditions’.

43In the forth section of the article, the author begins by presenting the participant’s perceptions in regards to their current living conditions in terms of poverty/wealth, comparing to the living conditions they had during wartimes, stating that their perceptions diverge according to the socioeconomic and educational levels. Aftermost, she enlarges the analysis about the connection war/poverty to include matters of (in)security and poverty/wealth that, as mentioned, ‘are interlinked, connecting to a recent past of wartime and to the policies implemented in the country since the independence until the present time’. She finishes with an argument in favor of the tight connections between the country’s socioeconomic situation and the insecurity and violence in peacetime, mentioning the fact that the informants (residing in Maputo during the war) say that there is more insecurity and violence now than it was during wartime.

44In the final section of her article, Ana Bénard da Costa examines the links among poverty rates and development policies existing during the peacetime. She starts by declaring that the poverty rates are a result of political options constrained by guidelines from international development organizations and donor countries, which have never been opposed by the ruling elites benefiting from them, and are ‘the direct causes of the poverty levels registered, since the first instance they were measured until the present day’. She finishes this part mentioning that the factors chosen as the causes for the impasse in the ‘fight against poverty’ (diseases, natural calamities, and others) are still unrelated to the economic policy followed by the Mozambican government.

45From the offered conclusions, it must be stressed the mention made to the necessity of studying complex phenomena such as war and poverty, by means of the multiple approaches of the several social and human sciences’ disciplines and its compulsory insertion into the cluster of economic and social relations from which they are both local and globally an integral element, and considering as a indispensable fact to reflect upon the economic policies on which are supported the international aids.

46The third section of this book contains a collection of three articles focusing on countries with extremely distinctive features from Angola and Mozambique (particularly in terms of geographical dimension and duration – or nonexistence – of post-independence conflicts), but where the poverty occurrences are felt with more or less severity. We may find formal and methodological similarities in the articles concerning Sao Tome and Principe and Cape Verde, since they result from researches conducted by the same author, the historian Augusto Nascimento, that are not shared by the article about Guinea-Bissau, which was produced by the collaboration between the anthropologist Cristina Rodrigues and the sociologist Alfredo Handem. While the ‘flavors’ of these articles are unalike, the topics on which they are centered are unavoidably the same. However, an attentive reading of these articles will demonstrate the multiple approaches (and subsequent interpretations) that can be promoted by the same problematic, and that these are, at least, as reliant on the focus of analysis and the application and interpretation of methodologies as they are on the manifest levels of disparity among the subject’s backgrounds.

47Cristina Rodrigues and Alfredo Handem’s article begins by presenting, in some detail, the project of which it is an integrant element, later referring to the advantage brought by the collaboration with a Guinean researcher on the connections between poverty/wealth and war/peace in Guinea-Bissau. It is mentioned that the article concerns mostly the analysis and description of the evolution of war and poverty, taking into account the (available) informants’ narratives, ‘gathered together with current theoretical and methodological information on this matter, in addition to records concerning national backgrounds, all of these produced for various purposes’.

48The first section of the article starts with a reference to the colonial and civil wars, occurred in the Guinean territory during the 21st century, and to the fact that these country has been enduring, since the beginning of the initial conflicts, an instable political situation with ‘intermittent periods of effectiveness’ (attempted governmental overthrows, coups, assassinations and several disturbances) that have intensified following the armed conflict of 1998/1999. The authors describe this conflict and the preceding and subsequent ‘incidents’, and declare that ‘therefore, the precariousness of peace has been constant since 1998, a latent menace that the Guinea-Bissauans’ are very much aware of’.

49The multiple consequences of Guinea-Bissau’s conflicts and instability are examined in the following pages, principally the weakening of the state, the opposition and departure between the state and the remaining elements of society, the illegal emigration and the rural exodus and, lastly, the ethnicization of public institutions.

50The evolution of poverty in Guinea-Bissau is examined in the second section of the article, restricted by references to the significant changes occurred during the 1980s due to the economy’s liberalization. Then are offered some information concerning the types of poverty existing in this country and are mentioned the features characterizing its extension, turning Guinea-Bissau into one of the most impoverished countries in the world. The article mentions also the programs adopted in Guinea-Bissau to fight poverty, but concludes that these programs and their respective implemented actions are compromised by ‘changes at a political level, the occurrence of conflicts, and by instability rooted in violence’. In the third section, the authors start by analyzing the theoretical perspectives that support the existence of causal direct relations between poverty and war (and vice versa), then examine the difficulties inherent to the definitions of a concept of poverty related to the phenomenon’s multidimensionality, and explain that the perspective employed in their article privileges ‘the self-definition and self-perception of poverty in itself’. Furthermore, the authors reveal they have counted on (unlike other studies conducted in the realm of this project) quantitative data concerning the correlation war/poverty and resulting from other investigations, which assert the fact that the conflicts and political instability have been the main constraints for the economical development and the fight against poverty. The authors propose to confront these results with the ones collected during their research, and in the next section of their article they analyse the participating social actors’ perceptions. They consider that ‘the connection between their parents’ situation and childhood and the perception these individuals have of their living condition’s evolution rarely coincides with any expectations regarding the correlation between educational and professional skills and wealth’ and that the individual evolution – before and after the war of 1998 – relating to occupation and income is generally, perceived in a negative manner. Meanwhile, the authors declare that there are more labor and income opportunities and more liberty to perform economic activities, and on the other hand, they refer constantly to the degradation of living conditions. In addition, the authors notice the existence of a clear, though not exclusively unidirectional association between the perceptions of the evolution of the economic conditions and the evolution of the sociopolitical conditions. From the conclusion of the article, the emphasis goes to main ideas, the fact that the participants are aware of the impact, mostly negative, that war and instability had been having on their life trajectory and on their economic conditions, and the fact they associate this to other personal negative events (diseases, in most cases). The authors refer yet to the perceptions about the future, claiming that it is put a large emphasis on the country’s stability in political, social and economic matters, being also referred as important the investments made on education, as a way to ensure more advantageous political positions and to facilitate the emigration. It is equally significant to stress the author’s conclusions concerning the ‘chronic attribution to the government of responsibility over this instability and its resolution’ and the fact that it has ‘implications in matters of development and consolidation of a civil society and of decentralized structures of organization and representation’.

51Finally, the authors recommend that ‘the effects of disinvestment of families in issues of economic dynamic and channeling of investments into education and its repercussions on the customary high rates of emigration and departure of human resources from the country should be turned into prospective research subjects’.

52In the article about the potential connections among poverty and micro-violence in Sao Tome and Principe, Augusto Nascimento states that the poverty increased in the 1970s and 1980s, principally on account of the implemented development policies that, namely, did not set apart from the proprietary structure dating from the colonial period, ‘with the European being substituted by Sao Tomeans in the farm’s hierarchy, after their respective nationalization’ and prolonged the ‘colonialist practices, aggravated by a loss of the former efficiency’. Then proceeding to the issue of the existence or inexistence of violence in this country, the author claims that this had been eliminated by the colonial state and that following the independence, there was the ‘imposition of an environment of concord and social peace’ that is currently disappearing.

53In the next section of his article, Augusto Nascimento asks ‘how is it possible, despite the image the Santomean promote about themselves, that Sao Tome and Principe has turned into a country where the prevention of violence became compulsory in everyday politics’. After mentioning the absence of an armed rebellion during the colonial period and of serious conflicts in the post-independence period, the author declares that ‘the implementation of policies in the post-independence period was in itself violent, seeing as it forced swift changes to the daily routines’ and despite the political changes occurred – from a single-party to a multi-party system – these haven’t generated economic growth, although the external resources were used ‘for private consumption and distribution among clienteles’. In he final part, he declares that this country faces economic hardships and a social and political crisis that ‘viciously (endorses and) results from the dissolution of the mechanisms for social control’. In the next instance, the author states that ‘the present economic stage is rather contradictory’, as though there is some wealth reallocation, it is not reaching the unprivileged that search in the informal economy for a ‘social buffer (…) helps to accommodate each person with their respective destiny’. Having examined the matter of the land reallocation, taking place at the time, he mentions that this process has ‘clearly deepened the social inequalities, once again not in favor of the workers’ and that, in spite of contributing to the contention of an increase in poverty, it will not reduce it and will not contribute for a human and sustainable development.

54In the next part, analyzing the Santomeans’ perceptions in regards to poverty, Augusto Nascimento affirms that these do not consider themselves to be poor, but instead ‘average’, and poverty ‘is associated to the incapacity to provide for survival and to physical debility, from which results the inability to defend against potential aggressions’. Widening the meaning of poverty to include the ‘inability to influence the structuring of social living conditions’, the author decides that this is reflected on ‘a tributary notion relating both to the perception of impracticality for interfering in political and social arrangements, as to an attribution of liability to the leadership’. The author reiterates the occurrence in the Santomean society of a ‘corrosion in the standard of social bonds (which) is impeding the empowerment of individuals (…) and the subsequent fight against poverty’. He finishes examining the prevalence of paternalistic perspectives and the absence of changes of perception, in the sense of allowing the implementation of collective actions in this country.

55In the next to the last section of his article, titled ‘The disruption of social bonds’, the author declares that ‘violence has started, at several levels, to infiltrate into the social relationships, and refers in particular to the phenomena like elder abandonment, the existence of ‘street children’ and domestic violence (inflicted upon children as well). After exemplifying these different situations and some of the efforts to combat and prevent them, he concludes that the ‘present political environment is not favorable to the civic commitment to fight poverty and oppose what is not necessarily called violence, may be characterized as an extensive erosion and rupture of social ties’.

56In the final section of the article, the author mentions that for years the Santomeans have been engaged in a struggle for survival, and the observable changes may contribute ‘to decrease the most immediate and serious poverty occurrences, while at the same time doubting an effective eradication of poverty’. He adds that during these last few years, there have been some positive features, such as an increase of individual income- generating enterprises, however the ‘reduced economic and social diversity is limiting the possibilities to advance by way of instruments such as the microcredit’. In regards to prospective expectations, the author says that these are shaped by the unemployment and that ‘the occurrences of deprivation and micro-violence have not yet unraveled the idealization of social peace in these islands’.

57From the conclusion, it should be taken into consideration as the most significant point the fact that ‘poverty did not generate violence, since the one it promotes has no origin in social deprivation. Nevertheless, under the most diversified formats, violence risks perpetuating poverty’ and, in the end, that ‘along with the concentration of wealth, poverty seems firmly anchored in these islands. There is a high number of unemployed, the population earns low wages and, in general, the economic performance is just bearable. (…) such situation (…) demonstrates a voluntarist, erratic and in some way ruinous political conduction, less due to economic records than to an erosion of the ethics and social liability, crucial elements for a renewed political and social mobilization and for the future of the country’.

58In the final article contained in this volume, Augusto Nascimento proposes an analysis of the issues of poverty and micro-violence in Cape Verde, mentioning from the start that the vast economic and social diversity in the archipelago requires an analysis with the purpose of achieving a global consideration about this country. He mentions next the social peace this country has been experiencing since the independence and its ‘growing institutional capacity building, with the purpose of attaining good governance’. Afterwards, he identifies as factors inducing to micro-violence ‘the asymmetry of gender relations or the heterogeneity of family relations, with significant social consequences from the stance of both poverty and social exclusion’. In the final part of the introduction, he declares that ‘the purpose of this exploratory text is to set down some questions for future researches in relation to the micro-violence manifestations and the collective and individual impoverishment paths’.

59In the following section, he summarizes what the so-called ‘assistentialist approach’ of poverty that started in the final stage of colonialism, has prolonged during the first years of independence, adding that this ‘perspective is being replaced with an institutional conscience (...) a fresh perspective’ that entails ‘to attack the multiplicity of social issues without expecting them to dissipate because of the decrease in poverty. As a result, issues such as gender inequalities have turned into factors of poverty and social exclusion’. The author refers to ‘the media’s socialization of issues that once would remain in the shadows’ that come up related to this new perspective, and the poverty in Cape Verde is currently perceived as resulting from ‘a compilation of un-protective behaviors harbored by the families and their near social surrounding’, forming an area of intervention for public institutions and NGOs. Augusto Nascimento remembers too that during several decades, poverty was considers as something ’immanent to the archipelago, a product of adverse ecologic conditions and apparently scarce natural resources (…) droughts were an excuse that allowed, during the colonial age, the manipulation of economic conditions and social strains to perpetuate the Cape Verdean population’s impoverishment. Only during the very last years of colonialism, when were implemented social policies, then having the hungers ceased to cause victims’.

60The author then demonstrates some data concerning poverty in this country, mentioning the positive strides toward its reduction, although with differentiated results among the islands. He implies that fighting poverty successfully entails the achievement of welfare for the whole population and this entails ‘an efficient and ethically consentaneous regulation, in accordance with the contemporary social bonds’. The author also emphasizes the breach between the economical growth and the endurance of phenomena such as domestic violence and child abandonment. Connecting this feature with changes occurring in family and gender relations and with matters concerning domestic violence and its social awareness, Augusto Nascimento declares that ‘the capacitation of women will not change the dependency relation, nor it will eliminate any subservience toward men’ and the social changes ‘might all originate violence over women’. For this author, it is therefore difficult to assess the rates or this sort of violence, since only recently it has become ‘a visible occurrence and (...) socially disapproved’. He adds that, meanwhile, it is happening in Cape Verde a paradigmatic change in gender relationships. Pertaining to this matter, the author refers the issue of polygamy, stating that ‘although polygamy may be listed as poverty-inducing – mainly due to the common unreliability toward children, causing a decline of living standards and school abandonment –, such connection is neither immediate nor necessary’. More specifically on the subject of fighting poverty, Augusto Nascimento says that it seems ‘an attainable goal’ and combating poverty translates into diversified actions, which in some islands entails an investment in rural development. He concludes this section by stating that poverty has been gradually considered less of a fatality, existing even ‘some sectors for which poverty is not part of future equations, though the survival conditions are still tight and might sway according to the economic conjunctures’. In matters of prospective expectations, he refers to the large efforts from institutions and NGOs in behalf of human training, as a method to prevent poverty, and the perception that fighting poverty will not be consequential without combating all manifestations of social exclusion.

61Augusto Nascimento finishes his article by stating: ‘It is hard to produce categorical considerations, either on account of the exploratory nature of the investigation or because this subject demands a multidisciplinary research, pertaining to the multiple Cape Verdean contexts. In Cape Verde, it might be possible to associate singular trajectories of extreme poverty to child abandonment (having repercussions, for instance, in school dropout) or to the asymmetry in gender relationships. But there are no discernible univocal correlations between these occurrences’.


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1 PTDC/AFR/64207/2006, funded by the Fundação para a Cncia e a Tecnologia (Science and Technology Foundation) and by the FEDER through the programme PTDC and hosted by the Centre of African Studies (CEA) of the ISCTE-IUL.


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