In the context of liberalization of West African political regimes, the upsurge of audacious political entrepreneurs who want to end chattel slavery in their nation-state, resulted in the legal criminalisation of slavery in both Mauritania (2007) and Niger (2003) and in a proposal to revise the penal code of Mali. Anti-slavery activists not only address their claims to their national governments but also intend to initiate change at local level. In that respect the democratic decentralization reforms were significant because they allowed educated anti-slavery activists to appeal their brethren to unite, mobilize and struggle. Members of anti-slavery movements with slave origins accessed power positions through peaceful electoral processes in Benin, mali, Niger and Mauritania. People of slave origins gained ground in local politics of a number of municipalities. In localities where anti-slavery movements had raised awareness, this political emergence was even easier. Indeed the fight against ‘slave mentalities’ was everywhere a major challenge and a crucial step to mobilize groups of slave status under a united force. As this article argues changes in political structures and changes in political cultures (or ‘mentalities’) go hand in hand.
Stichproben - Wiener Zeitschrift Für Kritische Afrikastudien, 2011, Vol 20, p. 141-162