Tactical Communication: Mutiny as a Dialogue in West and Central Africa

Maggie Dwyer


This article expands our understanding of the objectives of mutinies through an analysis of trends in tactics. It explores actions within mutinies through a review of 66 cases of mutiny from 1960 to 2012 in West and Central Africa. Despite wide variations in context among these mutinies, there are remarkable similarities in the tactics used by mutineers in the region and across time. These commonalities challenge the popular image of African mutinies as chaotic or devoid of strategy. The article demonstrates that the most common tactics used by mutineers in West and Central Africa all serve to open a dialogue with leadership and provide a platform for soldiers to vocalize their expectations in an environment that intentionally stifles the voices of the junior members. It suggests mutiny be viewed as an act of communication rather than merely a form of insubordination.

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