The Creation of Tribalism in Southern Africa

Leroy Vail



Despite a quarter century of "nation building," most African states are still driven by ethnic particularism—commonly known as "tribalism." The stubborn persistence of tribal ideologies despite the profound changes associated with modernization has puzzled scholars and African leaders alike. The bloody hostilities between the tribally-oriented Zulu Inkhata movement and supporters of the African National Congress are but the most recent example of tribalism's tenacity. The studies in this volume offer a new historical model for the growth and endurance of such ideologies in southern Africa.


An important contribution to a complex and seminal issue, treated in depth and without jargon. A must for all Africanists, faculty, graduate students, upper-division undergraduates, and those trying to understand tribalism. - P.C.W. Gutkind, Choice


Leroy Vail was a native of the Boston, Massachusetts area. He started his explorations of Africa in Madison, Wisconsin, where he took his MA in the then-fledgling comparative tropical history program at the University of Wisconsin. He died in 1999.