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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Burden of Young Men: Property and Generational Conflict in Namibia, 1880-1945
Author:McKittrick, MeredithISNI
Year:1996
Periodical:African Economic History
Issue:24
Pages:115-129
Language:English
Geographic term:Namibia
Subjects:generation conflicts
Ovambo
real property
Economics and Trade
History and Exploration
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3601848
Abstract:Central to the colonial experience for most Africans were the new forms of property introduced by Europeans. Local power relationships provided the context within which European products were assigned both value and ownership. This article examines these new forms of property within the framework of cross-generational interactions and conflicts within the Ovambo societies of Ombalantu and Ongandjera in northern Namibia. In particular, the era of long-distance trade, intensive raiding, and impoverishment which occurred from about 1880 to 1917 resulted in widespread generational conflict. The sense of instability and deprivation left young people open to outside influences. It was these disaffected young people, largely excluded from traditional forms of wealth, who created the system of meanings and value associated with European goods. After South Africa effectively colonized northern Namibia and ended raiding in 1917, these generational divisions continued to have relevance. The contract labour economy provided a new source of European goods. Older men, most of whom were unwilling to leave their homes to engage in contract labour, manipulated a precolonial system of intergenerational gift-giving known as 'omutenge' (literally 'burden') as a means of appropriating the products of young men's labour. The struggle over control of property thus became one primarily between old and young men. Notes, ref.
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