chapter  3
Patrons, Clients, and Factions: New Dimensions of Conflict Analysis in Africa
ByRichard Sandbrook
Pages 21

Most treatments of African politics have explained political conflict in terms of ethnic antagonisms. In this environment patron-client ties linking the leaders and sub-leaders of various ethnic groups tend to proliferate. Both inter-tribal cooperation and intra-tribal conflict are to some extent explicable in terms of patron-client politics. This chapter discusses the various meanings of the terms such as patron-clientship, patronage, and political machine in the social sciences by reference to a trenchant article by Alex Weingrod entitled "Patrons, Patronage and Political Parties". Patron-client pyramids often cut across organizational as well as regional boundaries, as political rivals compete for access to new political resources. The chapter focuses on to the concepts of faction and factionalism from clientage networks. Factionalism at the centre spilled over to create or worsen factionalism in various local political arenas and within various associations—particularly trade unions—as the main contenders sought to extend their patron-client networks throughout the country.