Comrades, Clients and Cousins

Colonialism, Socialism and Democratization in São Tomé and Príncipe


Colonized in the late 15th century, São Tomé and Príncipe were ruled by Portugal for 500 years, one of the longest periods of European domination in colonial history. In fact, during this period the Portuguese colonized the islands twice. Both colonizations were driven by the production of tropical cash crops; however, they occurred under rather different circumstances. Its long history as a plantation colony has made this African archipelago in many aspects more akin to the small Caribbean states. Since its decolonization in 1975 the small and impoverished country has experienced two fundamental changes to its political and economic system in a short period of 15 years. After embracing socialism and a centralized economy at independence, in 1990 the country introduced liberal democracy and a free-market economy. This case study analyses the course of political and economic changes in postcolonial São Tomé and Príncipe. The central issue of the book is to which extent institutional changes based on external models altered local patterns of political culture and of doing politics. In addition, it examines the outcome of the consecutive economic policies and development approaches patterned on theses models. This second edition has been completely revised and updated for the period of 1998-2005, including the recent developments in the country’s emerging oil sector.

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Gerhard Seibert earned his Ph.D. in social sciences from Leiden University in the Netherlands (1999). He is a researcher at the Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (IICT) in Lisbon, Portugal. He has published extensively on various topics related to São Tomé and Príncipe. In addition, he has done research on African Initiated Churches (AIC) in Mozambique. Currently, he is working on a comparative analysis of the postcolonial development of Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe.
<>'(This book) succeeds admirably in processing a mass of sensitive observation and hard data into a convincing and lucidly presented thesis. It must now stand as the definitive work on contemporary São Tomé and Principe'. NOrrie Macqueen in African Affairs 2008.
'Comrades, Clients and Cousins…is a work which represents, in my humble opinion, one of the most important, revealing and inspiring research efforts on lusophone Africa to be published in many years.'
Douglas L. Wheeler, Professor of History Emeritus, University of New Hampshire
'Let us put aside the shyness and dare the prophecy: Comrades, Clients and Cousins will remain the major volume about this archipelago during at least ten years, and for still more time, to get to know the period from 1974 to 1998.'
René Pelissier in Análise Social
'Seibert is meticulous in his pursuit of coherence and explanation. His book is a worthy successor to Francisco Tenreiro’s masterly account of the islands written in the 1950s and absolutely indispensable for anyone studying the problems of contemporary Africa.'
Malyn Newitt, Journal of African History
'Comrades, Clients and Cousins is a welcome addition to the literature on Portuguese-speaking Africa. It is also a volume which Africanists should find useful because of its careful comparative analytical construction. Seibert has written a solid, well researched and analytically astute book on one of Africa’s least known countries.'
Patrick Chabal, Africa
'Here is finally a complete and recent study of the political, economic and social history of São Tomé and Príncipe…A member of the Creole elite recently qualified the book as impious: the light that it sheds on these ‘painful truths’ makes it from now on an unavoidable reference for all those who are interested in this small country, but equally for those who study the clientelistic phenomena in Africa or elsewhere.'
Jacky Picard in Lusotopie.
Both academics and the general public interested in lusophone Africa, recent African history, contemporaneous African politics, Afro-Creole societies, political clientelism, and small island states.
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