Peri-urban Land Transactions
424 Pages
English
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Peri-urban Land Transactions

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424 Pages
English

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This book explores the changing land relations in the peri-urban villages of Blantyre in Malawi. It questions and debates how and why the peri-urban villages have become the locus of the selling and buying of customary land, the practices and also the relations involved. The book provides rich ethnographic insights on the commodification of land relations, custom, practices, disputes and social relations between land sellers, land buyers, traditional leaders, and intermediaries. The transactions draw strength from the growing peri-urbanization and monetization of social relations, both of which push towards land decisions at family and individual levels. Bigger groups like the village, clan or extended family have minimal, if not symbolic role only. Village headmen benefit materially by taking gifts (signing fee) rationalized by custom on reciprocity, while estate agents claim commission. Numerous constraints are negotiated about the ownership, rights to sale, multiple selling and the use and sharing of land money. Peri-urban land transactions offer scope for examining a wider range of social and economic relations, and the subtle ways in which the state infiltrates the everyday lives of actors. Overtime, the practices reproduce but also transform land relations in significant but less appreciated ways.

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Published 16 August 2012
Reads 1
EAN13 9789956728848
Language English
Document size 17 MB

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PERI-URBAN LAND TRANSACTIONS
PERI-URBAN LAND TRANSACTIONS Everyday Practices and Relations in Peri-urban Blantyre, Malawi
IGNASIOMALIZANIJIMU
Peri-urban Land TransactionsEveryday Practices and Relations in Peri-urban Blantyre, Malawi Ignasio Malizani Jimu
Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.comwww.langaa-rpcig.net Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookcollective.com ISBN: 9956-727-59-8 ©Ignasio Malizani Jimu 2012
DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
Dedication To my parents John Jimu Kumbwani and Maria Luka Maganga
Abstract This book tells a story of changing land relations in the peri-urban villages of Blantyre in Malawi. It questions and debates how and why the peri-urban villages have become the locus of the selling and buying of customary land, the practices and also the relations that are involved. The empirical chapters deal with the commodification of land relations, custom(s) and practices, disputes and dispute resolution, intermediaries, and the socioeconomic relations that are implicated. My approach draws on the actor oriented perspective and the notion of agency. Central to my analysis are the social practices, relations and meanings that the land sellers (ordinary villagers), land buyers (mainly from the city), traditional leaders (mainly village headmen), and intermediaries (estate agents) play. In a general sense, the transactions relate to the growing peri-urbanization and monetization of social relations, both of which push towards land decisions at family and individual levels. Bigger groups like the village, clan or extended family have minimal, if not symbolic role only. Village headmen benefit materially by taking gifts (signing fee) rationalized by custom(s) on reciprocity, while estate agents claim commission. Numerous constraints are negotiated about the ownership, rights to sale, multiple selling and the use and sharing of the land money. Some land sellers pursue different investment opportunities. For these reasons peri-urban land transactions offer scope for examining wider social and economic relations, and subtle ways the state infiltrates into actors’ everyday life. There are multiple realities to it. The possibility of acquiring genuine but otherwise illegitimate motor vehicle driver’s licence and lacklustre provision of services (land, housing and health) by the state explain in part the selling and buying of peri-urban land. Some buyers take advantage of the legal framework. The ease with which leasing of land can be achieved, notwithstanding delays and payment of formal and informal fees that signals informalization of state procedures and practices, is co-present in the practices. Unscrupulous buyers intimidate less informed villagers with legal suits, and money earned in relation to signing fees contribute to the rise in disputes over land and over traditional leadership position, at least at the peri-urban village level. Overtime, the practices reproduce but also transform land relations in significant but less appreciated ways, which this study brings out.
Table of Contents Acknowledgements.................................................................................... viiList of tables............................................................................................. ix List of figures............................................................................................. ix Acronyms and abbreviations..................................................................... x Note on Malawi’s currency (Malawi Kwacha – MwK).............................. xi Glossary of Chichewa terms...................................................................... xiii Chapter 1: Introduction........................................................................... 1 Issues and questions in peri-urban land transactions................................. 1 Land Tenure in Context............................................................................. 7 The making of customary land: Malawi scenario....................................... 9 Land, economy and socio-demographic relations...................................... 18 The Challenge of land governance: accounts from the print media........... 23 The scope of this book............................................................................... 31 Chapter 2:The Researcher as Participant: Method, Theory and Limitations.............................................................................................. 41Introduction................................................................................................ 41 Everydayness of peri-urban land transactions.............................................. 42 Insights from fieldwork............................................................................... 48 Data and Data Collection.......................................................................... 52 Analysis of Data.......................................................................................... 56 Relevance and Limitations.......................................................................... 57 Conclusion................................................................................................. 66 Chapter 3: Locating the peri-urban: the socio-cultural and livelihoods context...................................................................................................... 69 Introducing the peri-urban.......................................................................... 69 Geography and population Dynamics........................................................... 72 Social Organisation and Kinship Relations............................................... 80 iii
Status and Hierarchy in the Peri-urban Villages......................................... 85 Access to and Availability of Land............................................................ 88 Smallholder Farming in Peri-urban Villages............................................... 89 Non-agricultural Economic Activities........................................................ 96 Living on piece work (ganyu) and as Security Guards..................................... 101 Living in the Shadow of TEBA................................................................. 105 Conclusion................................................................................................... 106 Chapter 4: Commodification and objectification of Peri-urban Land............................................................................................................ 107 Introduction................................................................................................. 107 The Prevalence of Selling Land................................................................. 108 The objectification of Customary Land...................................................... 111 Changing attitudes towards the selling of land............................................ 112 Scarcity of land and the urgency to sell it................................................... 116 The Motive to Sell Land.............................................................................. 118 Reselling Customary Land........................................................................... 119 Speculative Reselling.................................................................................. 120 Diminishing Opportunities and Social Pressure........................................ 122 Peri-urban Land Buyers............................................................................... 125 Buyers as Strangers and Normalization of the Transactions...................... 125 Buyers as Bosses (mabwana)....................................................................... 128 Multiple Acquisitions of land..................................................................... 132 Buying big and cheap land and the occult................................................... 134 Setting the Price of Land........................................................................... 138 Determining the Price................................................................................ 138 Rising prices, demand and the value of peri-urban land............................. 140 Negotiating the Price.................................................................................. 142 Crisis Selling and Negotiability of Prices.................................................... 145 The Notion of Acceptable Limit................................................................ 148 Terms of Payment...................................................................................... 149 Paying for Land.......................................................................................... 151 Conclusion................................................................................................. 153 Chapter 5: Practices and legitimation in peri-urban land Transactions............................................................................................155 Introduction.............................................................................................. 155 Group membership and peri-urban land.................................................... 156 iv
Land, Kinship and Quasi-kinship Relations............................................... 157 The Position of Strangers............................................................................. 160 The Position of Husbands (akamwini) and Wives (akamwani).................... 163 Sale Agreement............................................................................................. 168 Preparation and Meaning of Sale Agreements................................................ 169 Witnesses in Sale Agreements....................................................................... 178 The Symbolism of the Date Stamp............................................................... 182 Perceptions on the Validity of Sale Agreements.......................................... 185 The Signing Fee............................................................................................. 188 The Signing Fee in Everyday Life................................................................. 191 Negotiating the Signing Fee........................................................................... 196 Questions about the Signing Fee................................................................. 200 Custom and Formalization of Land Acquisitions..................................... 201 Conclusion................................................................................................ 209 Chapter 6: Peri-urban Land Disputes and Dispute Resolution......... 213 Introduction.............................................................................................. 213 Land Disputes in Perspective..................................................................... 213 Land Disagreements..................................................................................... 216 Land Disputes............................................................................................ 226 Disputes Involving Strangers..................................................................... 226 Lack of Consultation, Consensus and the Social Reproduction of kin-based relations...................................................................................................... 229 Double or Multiple Selling of Land............................................................. 223 Disputes Related to Boundary Positions...................................................... 234 Disputes Resolution.................................................................................. 236 Customary Practices................................................................................... 237 Engaging the Courts of Law...................................................................... 243 Recourse to the Department of Legal Aid................................................... 249 Engaging the State Police.......................................................................... 253 Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)................................................ 257 Conclusion.................................................................................................. 258 Chapter 7: Intermediaries in Peri-urban Land Transactions........... 263 Introduction.............................................................................................. 263 Intermediaries in general perspective......................................................... 264 The estate agent asdobadoba......................................................................266 Becoming Local Estate Agent................................................................... 268 v