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New Clothes in the Empire: Terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa: Anthropological Stakes and Political Challenges

New Clothes in the Empire: Terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa: Anthropological Stakes and Political Challenges



Philosophical thought in Africa (south of the Sahara) failed to truly take into account the phenomenon of terrorism until the Organisation of African Unity mobilised against the politics of Apartheid, which had been qualified as terrorist by the neighboring states of Mozambique and Rhodesia. This lack of interest in the phenomenon of terrorism can be partly explained by the newly independent states stance towards the idea of violence. Until the 1970s, the attention of African states was occupied on the one hand by colonial violence - several countries, primarily those Lusophone (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Bissau) were still fighting against the colonial Portuguese “imperialism” - and on the other by the phenomenon of the “coup d’etat” Thus the African political vocabulary recycling at the same time the terminology of the colonial administrations and the early Marxist rhetoric of Third-Worldism - had only the following expressions: (a) Subversive, (b) counter-revolutionary, (c) traitor of the State, (d) member of the Resistance, (e) mercenary . Terrorism as an action perpetrated by a person, a group or even a state, of which “la complexite est source de difficulties s’agissant de l’operation dequalification” truly entered into the African political lexicon during the organized fight of African states against Apartheid. South Africa, the “terrorist state,” therefore should not have diplomatic relations with the members of the OAU (Organization of African Unity). Little by little the term terrorist was used in Africa to refer mainly to islamist groups in Sudan, Somalia, Mauritania, Kenya, Tanzania and the Comoros. It terrorism tends to be used in Africa to refer to any act of violence ol unknown origins, it must be noted that with the attack against an Aii France plane over the Tenere Desert and the attacks on American interests in Tanzania and Kenya, terrorism already coexists with the old preoccupations and prevention measures against coups d’etat . The presence of the terrorist question forces a look not only at the solidarity of the postcolonial states concerning their ability to contain, prevent and isolate the phenomenon, but also raises the question of victims. This axis (State-victims) would itself be quite limited if one did not add the questions of justification/legitimacy, of group cohesion, of survival, of leadership, of territory and of hope.

This chapter is not concerned with evaluating the problem of the juridical classifications that lead to the question of different forms of terrorism , nor does it intend to discuss its different categories (from 3 4 nationalism to pathology), nor the albeit interesting question of moving the trigger issues of terrorism into a foreign political space , nor even the judicial means of combatting terrorism, but because it concerns Africa, we suggest taking into account the anthropological variant in the analysis of the phenomenon of terrorism.

Beginning with a brief state of affairs (I), we will evoke the conditions of comprehension of the terrorist act in Africa (II) and finally we will analyse the importance of the anthropological variant in the fight against terrorisms.

State of Affairs

The state of affairs here refers to a few major terrorist acts. The Horn of Africa, thanks to the dislocation of the Somalian state - Somalia passed nearly 15 years without a state structure - and Eritrea’s fight for independence from Ethiopian colonization, in addition to a relative proximity with Yemen, was the location par excellence for terrorist operations. On September 12, 1969, two members of the Eritrean Liberation Front hijacked an Ethiopian Airlines plane, but they were overpowered and killed. Another Ethiopian Airlines plane was attacked on the 8th December, 1972. Farther south, in Sudan, in the midst of the civil war, a Palestinian operative took two Saudian diplomats hostage and executed them on March 2, 1973. In East Africa, Uganda served as another theatre for terrorist operations. On June 27, 1976, an Air France flight coming from Tel Aviv was hijacked and diverted to Ugandan soil. The non-Jewish hostages were freed on June 30, and on July 3, as part of the famous Thunderball operation, an Israeli operative freed the remaining hostages. In neighboring Tanzania, in February 1982, a member of the Tanzanian revolutionary movement hijacked an Air Tanzania plane, and on August 7, 1998, a truck exploded outside of the American embassy, killing 11 people. In Kenya, another attack on the same day (August 7, 1998) against the American embassy in Nairobi: 213 killed and 500 injured. Other attacks - like the explosion in mid-flight on September 19. 1989 of a DC 10 plane, by the UTA company in the Tenere Desert in Niger - bloodied Africa, but what interests us, is to point out that today, thanks to the “weakness” of young States, Africa remains an environment conducive to the proliferation of terrorist groups that can profit from the atmosphere of ongoing conflicts.

- Ivoro-Ivoirien conflict with Liberia and Sierra Leone newly recovering from civil wars.

- Sudano-Sudanese conflict with neighboring Tchad also struggling against militants leftover from the northern rebellions of the 1970s.

- Congolo-Congolese conflict, with varied interethnic massacres (Ituri) and above all the Rwandan presence.

- Rwando-Rwandan conflict in binding the wounds of genocide with an instable Burundi to the side.

- Burundo-burundian conflict that is not helped by Rwanda’s uncertain national unity and the thorn of Uganda’s fundamentalist rebellion.

- Malian- malian current conflict with French army present on the ground Nigerian Boko-Haram attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Tchad and Niger.

These conflicts which also constitute conflicts of interest are also related to values, collective identities and elements of religion. But in order to properly contain terrorism, it is necessary to com-prehend it without explaining it. The etymological sense of com-prehensio insists on prehension, the act of grasping, so how to grasp the phenomenon of terrorism in Africa?

Conditions of Comprehension Constellation of Resentment

Why does one accept to join forces against something? Numerous objective reasons can justify the fact that an individual or a group might enter into terrorist activities in Africa. Resentment (ressentiment) constitutes one of those reasons. In On The Genealogy of Morals (I, § 10), Nietzsche defines it as the feeling of impotence in face of (which is considered by someone as) evil, the feeling of always being cheated and above all suppressed rage that one day explodes. Nietzsche in fact considers that resentment is a slave moral: “in morals sake, slaves’ insurrection begins when resentment becomes creative and engenders values: they were denied the resentment of beings, like the real reaction, that of the act, who only emerge unscathed through an imaginary vengeance” . For a Subject struggling with resentment, reality is binary (good/bad) and this binarism is fed by a sort of “falsification” (of reality) by the repressed hate, the vengeance of the powerless directed towards his adversary . Nietzsche’s resentment could be interpreted not only from the viewpoint of the weak seeking vengeance but also as a ruse of the will to power. There are three ideas to retain: (a) the feeling of powerlessness; (b) the definition of the target for vengeance; (c) and the energy of vengeance, pushed back by this hate, fruit of the will to power. Freud adds that hate is repressed in “the urges of the self’s conservation” . This conservation becomes doubled, in the frame of resentment, which Scheller calls physical auto-poisoning” . Resentment never exists alone, it has preconditions. The first is moral; one feels a victim of injustice. The question of the definition of justice is certainly that which is most fundamental to the idea of resentment and is related to the question of legality^ the desire for vengeance implies a pre-existing offense or injury” . Next, resentment is an incitement to action - which is not a simple reaction as Nietzsche believed - and is longlasting. The conjuction between action and temporality pushes us to remark that resentment implies at the same time “latency” and “occasion”. “For vengeance to happen there needs to be both a more or less long “time” during which the tendency to retaliate imediately and the anger and hatred movements that are annex are retained and suspended; on the other hand, that the act of retaliation be postponed to later moment, a more propitious occasion (wait a little bit, next time!)” . Finally, resentment is subject to desire; there is no resentment without desire: “the German language subtly renders the differences. From grudge to wickedness (Hamischkeit) through discontentment (Groll), jealousy (Scheelsucht), envy (Neid), there is like a progress of the actual resentment. But it is still in the grudge and envy”.

Numerous types of resentment, the breeding ground of terrorism, meet in Africa.

(1) Resentment towards the State: Since the attainment of independence the latter is not much appreciated by the civil society that finds in it an instrument of injustice covering deeds and misdeeds of minorities in power. Why do unpopular governments stay in power? The people - the young above all - find an answer: these governments are the work of the foreigner and even if one wanted to change them it would come to nothing. Here is found the first moment of resentment that is this impression of powerlessness and the feeling of always being cheated. If the State is not only weak (becoming authoritarian by the same token), but also does not fulfill its divine role in an equitable manner, then informal responses emerge. Corruption, money laundering and resourcefulness thus creating a veritable constellation from which terrorist activities can spring at the local as well as international level: “a criminal who has available funds destined to corruption and high ranking contacts therefore finds a favourable environment” Thus, as Beatrice Hibou considers , money laundering is an everyday operation in Africa thanks to its close ties with the informal economy: revenues gained from money laundering are pumped into the informal economy. This resentment towards the State also comes from rebel movements. Consequently, when Charles Taylor of Liberia was fighting against the Liberian government, as soon as the diamond mines under his control were exhausted “he used the seaport of San Pedro to export cannabis” . It is also noted that the MFDC (Casamancese Conflict in Senegal), cultivated Yamba (a drug) to finance the rebellion . The most important and well-known example is the trafficking of “qaf ’ (herbal drug) in Somalia.

(2) Resentment towards the Colonial West: This type of resentment is most used by the university, political and religious elite, who, in creating an identification between themselves (the elite) and the people, produce a rhetoric of criticism against the postcolonial State (when it no longer directly serves their interests). From the critique of the postcolonial State one slides towards the critique of colonization as it was the midwife of the colonial and postcolonial State. From the critique of colonization one moves to a critique of the West in general and from there to a type of racial criticism: “the Whites did that.... the Whites want us this way...”. From there, Whites without distinction - a Swede, from a nation that did colonize Africa, is seen as an exploiter, a colonizer, a child of colonialism - become the targets. The indistinct target that has simply a certain skin color thus becomes the aim of the attack. African intellectuals feed resentment through an afrocentrist discourse. It is necessary to point out that, after all, Africa was the origin of Greek culture with its Egyptian borrowings; such is at any rate the aim of the historical essays of the Senegalese Cheick Anta Diop . The West, the Whites - it would be useful to count the number of times the term, “the Whites,” appears in the theoretical works of the sub-Saharan African elite - accordingly becomes a target that is designated via myriad metaphors. The different revalorizations - often non-critical - of African culture (it is discussed as though Africa were a monolithic compact block) if one can assess them, often turn into an autocelebration that fabricates an “US” opposed to the other (“WHITES”). Terrorism frequently takes root in the openings, in the little cracks and in the holes left by polarizing totalities. Between an “us”, the unjustly sacrificed victim, and a “them”, the Whites, there is a rift that is being filled by several tales favorable to the rise of terrorism. The first tale is religious, simultaneously articulating images, anguishes, triumphs and representations. Religions—the African messianisms and muslim fundamentalisms—will work to refute this “exploitative west” as well as its local supporter, the State. This religious narrative, in the case of radical Islam, will correct the “obscene abuses” and the “softness” of the postcolonial State, which is the root of the competition between the federal laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Chari'a of the Haoussa States in the north of Nigeria. These religious practices use resentment towards “THE” western civilization as an engine.

(3) Resentment and Helplessness: The Anger of the Poor: Resentment is a repressed hate that awaits “its hour” of expression, but it is also the feelings of helplessness and of always being cheated. This powerlessness. Africa resents it: (a) the prices of raw goods are fixed by the international economy; (b) the debt of countries is only growing; (c) Africa does not have a permanent representation at the Council of the United Nations; (d) diseases are only spreading and above all the population of 60% young people who know they will have to beg in their futures. These “poors” who are Africa’s countries suffer the burden of economic domination and in consequence political domination. The aid that is given to them (and quickly diverted by the elites) is resented as an humiliation and a hindrance to creation. That which the German philosopher Simmel said so well concerning begging in the Middle Ages is applicable here: “The rise of begging in the Middle Ages, the senseless distribution of alms, the demoralization of the proletariat provoked by arbitrary donations... tend

to undermine any creative work” . These “beggar nations” also have peoples who are ashamed. In the context of black Africa, the particular relations intertwining shame, resentment, and the passage to the terrorist act have not been sufficiently studied. Rather, studies often concentrate on hate and not on shame as the engine behind certain terrorist acts. This exclusion of Africa reconstitutes terrorism as a means by which the movements and aspirations of populations will at last be considered. Unable to enter into the arena of major international decisions in matters of economics and politics, terrorism, - so to speak - will force the decision-makers to take an interest in Africa. It is thus that the question of narcotics trafficking in Africa has become important for all western researches into terrorism. Nigeria has consequently gained importance because it is simultaneously the hub for narcotics trafficking and a bedrock of religious fundamentalism: “In fact, since the mid 1980s, the Nigerian cartels are active in narcotrafficking (but also in smuggling...counterfeiting and money laundering... Heroin of the golden crescent transported to Pakistan and Nigeria” .

The logic underlying these resentments combines with numerous other pertinent and current issues such as the humiliation - in any case felt as such - of the expulsions of massive populations of African immigrants from western nations. In resentment, Scheller indicated to us a time of latency and maturation during which the urge for vengenance forms in the psyche. From this, one signals his recognition: one undertakes terrorism out of a desire to be recognized.

Recognition: Which Mirrors?

The terrorist movement is a fight for recognition. Recognition of the power to destroy by the agents of terror, ex-post recognition of the existence and harmfulness of the motivations of terrorists by those who are affected (the question is always asked: what is the fundamental demand of this group? Did they signal, claim the act?). The study of this fight for recognition will not treat the question of desire as essential here in the Hegelian sense that grounds the fight for recognition in the circle of desire. Nor will we privilege the model of friendship as the philosopher Simone Weil would do to consider the question of recognition. Rather, we will take inspiration from the notion of juridical recognition such as Ricoeur develops it, and from the theme of capability and the theme of the new faces of scorn as treated by the German philosopher Axel Honneth.

The recognition required by the other is the object of a fight to the death as affirmed by Hegel, but what Ricoeur adds is that as regards the recognition of rights, we must simultaneously unite the norm (recognition signifies, in the lexical sense of the word, to hold as valid, to vow as to the validity) and the question of the other. The goal here is to probe the universal validity of the norm and the singularity of individuals' and situtions, one might add. Ricoeur affirms that “one cannot neglect the cultural history of conflits which is linked with affective sphere’ .

Ricoeur serves to direct our attention to the fact that the process of recognition implies a constellation composed of normative questions and emotional questions. One cannot think of emotion without normativity and vice versa.

As for Honneth, the problem of recognition leads to what he named the “faces of scorn”. The majority of peoples who have known disregard and oppression place the issue of recognition around these faces of

disdain .How in the game of recognition does one develop the diverse modalities of scorn? This question of contempt concerns certain terrorists whose cultures certainly consider themselves to be ridiculed on the international stage.

How to evaluate the relation between normativity, emotionality and the “many faces” of scorn in a population? This would be a research path. He who shows contempt produces an “us” and a “them,” he separates, and certain terrorist groups use the metaphore of purity to justify that.


Terrorism acts either on the individual or on the group and raises by the same token the idea of the network. In terrorist groups there is the assiduous construction of the sectarian partisanship; on the one hand there is an “us” and a “them” and on the other they mobilize an affective capital to describe the common enemy. “The world vision, norished by the members who share a philosophy of separation, can be described in two words “we” and “them”. The group dynamic is based around this dichotomy and around the constant need for differenciation and neat demarcation between those who are at the interior of the group and those who are at the exterior . This dichotomist philosophy thus guards the members of terrorist groups against all deviations in reviving the faith by exacerbating its contradictions. The exterior of the group is perceived as menacing, unjust, and dangerous. The other is seen either as the enemy or as a potential rival. Rites of passage and tests are practiced to ensure the fidelity of the group members. Suspicion also falls on those members who appear lukewarm, and an internal terror is exerted on them as well. We accordingly arrive at a philosophy of purity and purification. The issue of purity is often inseparable from that of the Terror as Ricoeur maintains: “the impurity itself is barely a representation that is drowned in a specific fear which blocks reflection. Impurity takes us into the realm of terror.” The image of the stain drags with it that of contamination and that of immunization . We can distinguish in Africa, following Mary Douglass, the ritual stain - that where one does not “clearly distinguish the sacred and the unclean” - from the secular stain, that which comes from an object or a subject considered as taboo. This notion of blemish is thus used in the constellation of terrorism. The goal of certain terrorist groups—of religious and fundamentalist proclivities - is to rediscover purity, to cleanse. “The members’ group pression aims to attain purity, which is often the target of fundamental human traits... the path that leads towards surely extremely demanding and requires sacrifices and constant

renouncements” .

Evaluation of the New Approaches Re-examining the Sociopolitical Questions

In confronting terrorism, the first solution is to reinforce the rule of law in Africa. The non-guarantee of fundamental liberties, impunity and illicit enrichment weaken the State. Structurally incapable of fulfilling its true governmental functions in Africa, the State left the door open to varied fundamentalisms. The subject of the relationships between religions and States often occupies those who wish to understand the phenomenon of fundamentalism, but when it comes to sub-Saharan Africa, it is essential to add the ethnic variant that can also play a crucial role in terrorist acts. In the matter of the rule of law, the creation of a true public space of expression and the question of social justice are, in Africa, among the top priorities. Added to this major need is the obstacle of xenophobic nationalisms - here we are thinking of the ethnonationalist doctrines such as the famous Ivority in the Ivoiry Coast, which is a part-culturalist part- biologising figure of exclusion - and the battles between the right to religion and the right to freedom from religion (the example of Nigeria). More specifically we can explore the following points:

Regarding Communication: It is a question of guarding against allowing the internet to become ah instrument for terrorism in Africa. The internet is welcomed as a tool that will give to Africa the necessary information on the state of the world, which was never before possible. However, the communication politicians could imagine a type of control that would not amount to censure. Under what conditions could control be exercised without censuring? This is perhaps the obstruction that the terrorist phenomenon poses to communication in Africa.

Law: Concerning judicial means, the international provisions foi the fight against terrorism should perhaps- without renouncing thi aspiration of the universality of these laws - find for each individual case its moment of universality. Otherwise stated, ensure that these judicial anti-terrorist provisions are not perceived as colonization or repression but as something that contributes to the public good. A pedagological work of interpretation and of law should be undertaken.

Regarding the Economy: One should take into account the matter of the informal economy, because through it all sorts of mafias are transplanted. The informal economy grows in power when a state is weak economically; the permeability of the borders, the gaps in administrative controls open a boulevard to a parallel economy that feeds terrorists sects .

Regarding Socio-psychology: Review the place of violence and its effects on human beings. How do State violence, that of African traditions and that transmitted by an uncontrolled globalization affect populations? And how can this violence lead to terrorism? What are the means of control of violence in African traditions?

Assessing History: The Question of Horizons of “Expectation”

Recalling the division of history into the victors and the losers by the philosopher Benjamin, the historian Koselleck underlines both the shortsightedness of the victors and the sterility of the losers. Both are sent away. “It is an experience principle, which always allows verification than say that the history made by the winners in the short term, that those could eventually maintain in the medium term, but who could not at any rate dominate it in the long term... Their history is based on the short term. It is centerd on a series of events, which gave them victory through their own exploit.” . This blindness to the long term and the intoxication from power as much as victory make it so that, on the side of the winners, one is inclined to “interpret a success achieved in the short term by a long term teleology ex post.” As for the “losers”, their position does not place them closer to the truth, and Koselleck underlines—contrary to Benjamin who he does not cite—that “the hypothesis according to which the judgments of history coming from the losers would be of greater pertinence, does not nonetheless allow us to draw the inverse conclusion that all history as written by the beaten would be more fruitful... The experience that one draws from a defeat contains a potential of knowledge that survives he who creates it, in particular when, because of his own history, the vanquished is charged with rewriting general history...

With terrorism, the spaces between winners, writers of the larger listory (Geschichte), and the losers with their small stories (historie) are blurred. But what emerges from this division (winners/losers) and this blurring (the winners become losers and vice versa), is to see once more at  the heart of each historical formation not only the forces, the groups and the technologies likely to attack, but above all to examine how a “particular field of experience” encounters at a given moment an-“horizon of expectation” and in what manner the disjunction between the two can become a breeding ground for terrorism. By experience it is meant, “the present past of which events have been integrated and can be recollected. The rational elaboration and the unconscious behaviour, which are not or no more obligatory in our knowledge, are joined in experience. More still, each generationally transmitted proper experience has and always keeps an unknown experience.” Conscious and inconscious at the same time, articulating the familiar and the unfamiliar, playing with the close/ available and the far, experience is precisely the space where the gestation of suicidal and murderous tendancies come to light, hence the urgency of scrutinizing in this double dimension. As for “expectation, it is also tied to both the individual and the interindividual. It is also fulfilled in the present and is a realized future. It tends towards what-is-yet-to-be, what- is-not in the field of experience, and what-is-only-convertible. Hope and fear, wish and will, concern but also rational analysis... all that pertains to composition and constitutes expectation.”

To understand terrorism in its African phase, it is vital to first make the effort of taking seriously the “horizons of expectation" that constitute the fabric in which the collective imagination encounters experience. How does the vision try to remodel the history of subjects and communities? What is the place of the dream in African cultures? How are these dreams transformed by integrating the mortuary dimension? What visions can “oral societies” - that do not have the advantages of literary civilizations nor the prestige of monotheism - create in the era of globalization? What are the “waking dreams” (Tagtraiimen), from the expression of the philosopher Ernst Bloch, envisioned by a society that feels powerless? What is the role of sadism in traditional African societies? What violence and secret language did traditional African societies have and how is this violence recycled? What is the place of sacrifice?

The Place of Foundational Taboos

It is perhaps necessary to re-examine two notions at the level of every African society: intersection and foundational taboos. The mechanism of teiTorism and the conditions that govern the adhesion of subjects disrupt the foundational taboos of traditional African societies in which violence was framed by symbolic and ritual processes. How has it come to pass that in Africa we disdain the great taboos that structure living communally? How does the intersection of religious cultures (Islam/African religions, Christianity/African religions, new African Messianisms/traditional religions), economic practices (a new definition of the concepts of interest and profit), actors (terrorist transactions also occur between Africans and non-Africans), structures of power (national power, traditional power, and transnational power), and the elaboration of the question of authority drive an analysis of the conditions of suspending terrorism (eradication being impossible!) towards the fundamental question of the constitution of the Absolute in a society? What are the various metaphors for the Absolute in traditional African societies? What changes of face have taken place in the realm of the Absolute due to contact with other cultures? What is the place and the conception of life in African societies, as the terrorist act at once is exhibition, self exposure, sacrificing one’s life and sacrificing the lives of others? Terrorism defies boundaries, in particular absolutes, and proposes a new view of the absolute—the stakes here are metaphysical and anthropological. Metaphysical—with terrorism we are dealing with the question of “Reference”, the famous “In the name of...In nomine...” (because one kills and kills oneself in the name of...)- Anthropological: terrorism reveals the dual dimension of life as biological (one loses a limb or one’s whole body!) and as genealogical (terrorism breaks the chain of transmission). How has traditional Africa dealt with the two killings that characterise terrorism: homicide and suicide? And how has punishment been envisioned?

In order to address these questions, we must first not fall back on an essentialism in poor taste. Africa is diversified in its customs, if we examine the two cases of suicide and homicide among the Busoga of Uganda, life (.Bulamu) is the first value . Life is associated with zest for life, with courtesy, with sobriety and respectability. Life is not purely biological here, it is prolonged by respectability. Not believing in the afterlife before the arrival of Christianity, the Busoga take murder seriously. Taking a life is only understandable in the case of war, vengence, and betrayal, and taking one’s own life seems incomprehensible . How could it happen that a Musonga (the singular form of Busonga) engages in terrorist activity to take the life (Bulamu) of himself and of others? How is the absolute desecrated? Among the Luo of Kenya, suicide and murder are not only considered on tactical and ethical levels, there was also a religious dimension that would give rise to purification if blood were spilled. The survivors would undergo purification to mitigate the tragic consequences that the act of murder could have. The mystical consequences of spilled blood were called chira . As for the legal treatment of murder, several African societies applied the law of retaliation but would substitute animals in the place of pure vengeance.

In traditional Chad, for example, in the Ouaddai province, Islamic law and local customs are blended such that “5 years imprisonment was the punishment for murder[...] the family of the murderer had to pay for the whole [...] (fine), which was 100 bovines [...] for assassination, the talionic law was applied [...] the payment of the fine was always obligated [.. .Jparicides had to be beaten to death with a stick at the marketplace [...]

infanticides took 3 to 5 years imprisonment.” In the Bongor subdivision, “for the parricide, the murderer was handed to the Chief of the land who would tie him in his hut for a year and then free him with an order to leave the country. As for the matricide, the murderer was sentenced to give to the victims' parents a fine of 10 cows... for infanticide, (a) committed by the father, if the newly born child was a boy, there was no penalty according to custom. On the contrary, if it was a girl, the wife had the right to leave the marital home... (b) comitted by the mother, if the newly born child is a boy, the father would only chase his wife away from the hut for a while, but if it were a girl the wife should have to go back to her parents.”

What is important to retain from these different ways of perceiving suicide, homicide, and manslaughter—three implicit outcomes of a terrorist act—is that spilled blood must be either cleaned (as is the role of purfication of the community of the murderer and of the victim) or serve as an occasion to refigure social bonds by the system of compensation. Among the Mossi of Burkina Faso, dia or compensation is called “the price of blood” (zim yisgu yaodo) and is given to the king (Naba) rather

than to the family of the victim - This serves a dual function of “civil reparation and penal sanction”.

In the case of blood spilled by terrorism, no compensation or reparation has been envisioned in the symbolic schema. How has blood become a banality in Africa? Perhaps the question of terrorism leads to that of the body in Africa.

Bodies in Pieces: Blood and Tears...

Terrorism inscribes itself in a space which in itself exposes ruin. The question of the visible is important here. With terrorism, it is a question of exposition (it is an act of exposing oneself to danger and of exposing one’s message in the double criminal and visual sense of the term). In this exhibition, the body is very important: a blasted concrete building does not carry the same emotional charge as a body torn apart. Thus, the importance of questioning the different conceptions of the body in human cultures. Without going into metaphysical considerations of the body, we will explore two elements: (a) blood and (b) tears.

Blood: Blood is symbolically charged in Africa. From menstrual blood, which indicates the possibility of fertility, to symbolizing the stain of spilled blood in war, to that which one sheds for one’s own brothers and sisters, blood is the subject of a genealogical and mystical issue. It is the reason for which in Africa the “Master of the Earth”, in the case of bloodshed, must take into account the terrorist’s land (murderer, assassin), that of the victims, and that where the blood was shed. This last has been tainted by the spilled blood, but the first two have also been tainted in a transitive way. “Blood crime presents a double character: it is first and foremost profanation, earth stain, realm of the dead... crime is also seen as infringement against the vital force of the group, which has to be compensated.” How does blood present itself m the imagination of African peoples, and how have these conceptions changed through exposure to Christianity, Islam, and new modes of production?

Tears: Terrorism implies outrage and tears. What is the value of tears in African symbolic systems? Tears are assocatied with a man’s weakness. In various initiation rites, the male initiate must show bravery by not crying despite physical trials; the possibility of crying is thus excluded. On the other hand, tears have a social value, a capital that can be employed for certain occasions. Families who have lost one of their own honour them with the quantity of tears at the funeral, including professional mourners charged with shedding tears. Tears thus have a symbolic capital related to prestige; the “gift of tears” gives a person an unwished-for honour. But what will happen when Africans are involved in terrorism? What is the status of tears? What is the connection between tears, suffering, guile, exhibition and compassion?

Conclusion - The Imagination and Seeds of Encouragement

The issue of terrorism generally treats the posture of that which is named “State terrorism” with discretion. If ever the expression is used, it only applies to third-world states. The habits of thought do not suspect that the “State interests”, in “democratic” western nations could also indirectly feed terrorist groups, as considered by certain researchers . For want of clearly establishing this, it is nonetheless important to draw attention to the anti-terrorist rhetoric that, in democratic states, could use - as Michael

Walzer comments-the binary vision of the world that terrorists also enjoy. Habermas warns - criticizing Carl Schmitt - that “the idea that politics would entirely reside in the capacity of a collective identity to affirm itself against other collectives identities that were differently constituted is not only a false idea but also a dangerous one if one takes into consideration its practical consequences. The ontologization of the friend/enemy relationship suggests in fact that all the efforts consented in giving a global pudic form to the existing relationships between international law subjects, which manifest with regard to one another, belligerent intentions, are ultimately just a universal way to veil special interests.” Democratic states, in their commendable fight against terrorism, should, among other precautions, undertake a task on language as two Australian philosophers point out to us... “The language in which the response to terrorism is commonly couched... This language has escalated in extravagance and unreality since September 11th and Bali” . To reconsider the reality of terrorism also signifies, beyond the myriad responses (technical, political, judicial), to linger on the “magma” (■Castoriadis) that nourishes the imagination of a society: space, time, action, desire, hope, deception, indignation and determination. In a word, to revisit:

(a) the “categories of composition”: where? (ubil) when (quando?), how? (quomodo?) ;

(b) the “categories of transmission”: how do the strategies of communication evolve before, during and after the terrorist act? ;

(c) the seeds of incitement to action (hate, resentment, hope and vengeance) .

As for Africa, our presentation hoped to place itself at the level of these seeds of encouragement that are simultaneously visible and invisible, real and imaginary.

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