ABSTRACT

In Diori's postcolony, political malpractices precipitated the kind of zombification of which Mbembe and others have written. In his time Diori lived comfortably, lavishing upon himself and his family the spoils of power: increasing amounts of money stolen from public funds. They invested this hot money in Niamey real estate, spent it on the purchase and upkeep of mansions in Normandy, and deposited it in Swiss bank accounts. Selfaggrandizement and enrichment can create, following Mbembe's argument, a very peaceful kind of insouciance. Why worry about drought, hunger, death and disease in the countryside? Why, indeed, when one enjoys a sweet life? It is such insouciant zombification that may well have prevented Diori from grasping the peasant's point of view or from comprehending the "colonial" ironies of the postcolony's political and administrative practices. These practices included, lest we forget, (1) a steep tax burden; (2) forced requisitions of grain, seed, and tools; (3) the use of chiefs and the military to collect taxes; and ( 4) stiff prison penalties for insubordination or open political dissent. As one weary peasant told me in Tera, Niger in 1969, "Nothing has changed." Indeed, in Diori's postcolony, considering the legacy of French colonialism in Niger, the players had changed, but the script remained very much the same.