Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Michel Djotodia: Where He Comes From, Where He -- and CAR -- Might be Going

I have a piece up at African Arguments reflecting on Michel Djotodia's biography and what it might mean for politics in the CAR in the years to come.

It's tempting to see Djotodia's coup as history repeating itself. And many of the coup dynamics this time around are indeed similar to those in 2003. But one of the responsibilities of anthropology is to remind and educate people about the fact that social life is always full of endless possibilities, that deterministic accounts miss more contingent reasons for why things are the way they are. CAR's recent history is dispiriting, and the damages of the coup (looting not just for goods but also for looting's sake, violence, not to mention the psychic toll of the upheaval) are profound. However, events of recent months also bring with them some new opportunities, such as the (imminent) return to Bangui of some of the technocrats who fled while Patassé and Bozizé were in power. 

4 comments:

  1. Thank you Louisa for your very interesting posts and articles! I have a question: You say in several pieces that Djotodia comes from a part of the country which mainly has Muslim inhabitants. To this, I can only agree, even though I also know many Christians from the north. However, I'm wondering if you know wheter Djotodia himself is a Muslim or a Christian. The days after Seleka seized power, there was much fear among expats in Bangui about CAR getting its first Muslim leader. Then I saw on Facebook that Djotodia had wished everyone a "bon fin de la semaine sainte et un joyeux fête de paques". This looked to me like a "proof" that he's a Christian. Obviously, a Christian is neither necessarily better or worse than a Muslim, but I still think the leader's religion has an impact on his future government. Do you have any ideas about this?

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  2. I'm afraid I don't know for sure whether he is a Christian or a Muslim. I know that he was acquainted with the Sheikh Tidjani but that he was seen as having crossed the Sheikh, so I'm not sure where that leaves us. Hopefully things will become clearer as things settle down...

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    1. Ok, thank you! Yes, I guess we will have to wait and see how things develop.

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    2. Louisa,

      The journalist at Facebook Diaspora has djojotia attending Friday prayers at a Mosque, including the performing of prayers. Patrick Fort has him quoted to say that he's Muslim. I know that doesn't prove much, but considering that he came from the Varkaga and was able to make connections in Nyala, I would say he's certainly emphasizing publicly that he's Muslim.

      Brian

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