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An analysis of the development process in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa Vezina, Daniel


This study is an examination of the "inside" and "outside" transitional conditions which determine agricultural development in subsistence African societies. More importantly however/ it is an attempt to elaborate upon a theoretical model of the external and internal barriers which inhibit the developmental process, paradoxically maintaining and undermining rural community villages at various stages of their integration within the national capitalist sector. This sector is deeply integrated into the world-capitalist system of today. The focus of the study was first, to review a proper cognitive approach for "primitive'1 societies and to redefine the correct nature of the heterogeneous African subsistence societies and their agricultural activities within the analytical perspective of the pre-capitalist modes of production using as a case in point pre-capitalist agricultural self-sustaining formations or PASF . Second, the study was to determine the interrelationship between the predominantly pre-capitalist rural sector and the urban-based capitalist sector and to identify the implications of each ethers different forms of dominance and control over Traditional Domestic Agriculture and its potential for development. In essence, the major aim of the study was to define the issues of food shortages and rural poverty in developing countries in light of the dynamics of the current African socio-economic formations. The case study of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa (ex-Portuguese Guinea) and the marginal region of the Bijagos archipelago, where the Bijagos tribe represent a prototype of pre-capitalist agricultural self-sustaining formations, served to illustrate the present patterns of the development process as well as the internal conflicts which are polarized by the divergent interests of the urban classes and the rural class groups; best expressed here, within the agricultural priority split between the options to develop either commercial export crops within a capital-intensive scheme and state agrarian system production or foodcrop production through traditional channels to seek self-sufficiency at the national level. In order to bridge the gap which separates the two distinct and legitimate logics of the pre-capitalist and capitalist systems, the study argues in favour of alternative development approaches of bottom-up to contrast with the prevailing center-down, capital-intensive industrialization path which has seemingly perpetuated uneven development between the urban-core and the rural-periphery.. It is the conclusion of this thesis that the pressures and afflictions which food shortages and rural poverty exert in developing countries must be dealt with from within the national perspective, by searching for the proper means of transcending the internal rift between the pre-capitalist and capitalist sector made evident by the blockage of opportunities for the development by the latter onto the former for the satisfaction of short term gains directed towards a priviliged urban-minority that maintain a monopoly of power. Indeed, as it is revealed in the study, the problem of West Africa's underdevelopment, whether it be in a capitalist or socialist oriented state, is much more a result of the discretionary consumption patterns perpetuated by the urban classes and promoted by a ruling elite's wish to pursue development policies which embody neo-colonialist, capital-intensive and export oriented production for its own profit while showing arrogance and disdain for the basic needs of the rural population. It is not because of failure of the pre-capitalist societies to participate in the monetary economy and to be capable of providing for any increased internal demand of their surplus goods.

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