Containing the donzow: The politics of scale in Côte d'Ivoire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Initiated hunters (donzow) rose to national prominence in Côte d'Ivoire during the 1990s as crimefighters and succeeded in restoring public order throughout the country. Politicians sought to ride the wave of donzo popularity to boost their electoral campaigns, but the Ivorian government of Henri Konan Bedié was more ambivalent toward the hunters and their association (donzo ton). The Ministry of the Interior feared that the donzow might form a paramilitary force that would some day threaten national security. President Bedié's main concern was that the Mandé and Mandé-influenced hunters' association (Binkadi) would support Mandé presidential hopeful Alassane Dramane Ouattara in the 2000 election. This paper examines the Bedié regime's containment policy that in the second half of the 1990s aimed to restrict donzo ton activities to the northern half the country and to prevent them from becoming an influential sociopolitical force. Various tactics were deployed to turn public opinion against the donzow and to divide and rule their organization. The attempts to reconfigure the scale of donzow's activities from the national to the regional levels were part of a larger ethnoterritorial politics, called ivoirité. Narrow definitions of citizenship, the (re) construction of culture areas, and the exclusion of immigrants from political and economic arenas demonstrate that the "authoritarian possibilities in culture" are realized with devastating consequences in Côte d'Ivoire. These policies and politics contributed to the volatile social and political atmosphere leading up to the 2002 armed rebellion, in which some donzow took up arms against the state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-49
Number of pages19
JournalAfrica Today
Issue number4 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Containing the donzow: The politics of scale in Côte d'Ivoire'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this