This report is a pilot study - a fuller picture will emerge after more data shall have been collected, analysed and explained. Borders are artificially constructed, geographic or astronomic lines that form the boundary of a nation. Within this delimited boundary, a nation exercises power and jurisdiction and carries out its activities. In accordance with the sovereignty of the State, the central government can curtail, restrict or totally ban the unauthorized movement of goods and people across such lines. Borderlands are defined as extending beyond the delimited border, covering an area that marks a nation's sphere of influence. Hanse (1981) describes it as 'the sub-national areas whose economic and social life is directly and significantly affected by proximity to an international boundary'. Contiguous countries have closely linked borderlands separated by an international boundary. The three operational terms used in the study are border, movement and trading. The last two are essential to our understanding of the processes that make a border - not an imaginary, artificial line that divides, but a link or a bridge spanning border areas of adjoining countries.
The views and perspectives adopted by A.I. Asiwaju and D. Bach appear sufficiently distinct, yet they converge on several key issues: i.e., the informal achievement of regionalization in Africa through kinship and other non-state networks; the resistance of Africans to boundaries inherited from the colonial period; and the consequences of the arbitrariness of these boundaries. Anyone who has ever crossed the Seme border between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin cannot but subscribe to the perceptions shared by the two authors. Whatever the purpose of the trip, travellers crossing the border share the experience of being in a lawless area: the occasional traveller who behaves suspiciously will immediately attract the attention of the immigration officer who begins to search through his papers scrupulously, looking for any error; on the other hand, the market woman, who knows the system, crosses with ease. The popularization of these border scenes by novels and video productions is significant evidence of the intensity of transborder movements in West Africa, and of the constraints as well as the resources offered by the borders. This dual reality of what appears as an obstacle to the implementation of institutionalized regional integration schemes and as the booster of an informal market-driven trade flow, is widely documented and discussed in the two papers.
The Comfort of Strangers gives detailed information on the background to the Rwandan refugee problem and a vivid portrayal of the effects of the mass exodus of Rwandans into Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Zaire. The global community has, over the past eighty years, put in place an international refugee regime to regularize the status and provide for the control of stateless people ail over the world. Although host communities may initially open their doors to large numbers of people fleeing from their homelands, the long-term impact on the host countries is usually devastating and not often taken into account. This includes environmental dégradation, diminishing food security, dépréciation of the infrastructural base, pressure on the social and health sectors 3nd security risks. These Iead to sympathy fatigue and resentment. This book embodies an in-depth report made for UNCHS (Habitat) on the Rwandan refugee crisis and makes recommendations for its resolution, including compensation for host communites to enable them restore basic infrastructures and increase administrative capacity. Dr. Adisa also calls for a more efficient and humane treatment of the refugees and for their assisted resettlement.