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African migration could boost growth and positively transform the structure of the continent’s economy according to UNCTAD’s 2018 Economic Development in Africa Report: Migration for Structural…Continue

An overview of Africa’s free trade area dream

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African leaders, except for Nigeria and few other countries, have signed an agreement to set up a massive free trade area to improve regional integration and boost economic growth across the…Continue

Pan-Africanism: The Real Afro-Futurism

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'Panthers' fiction, and the harsh Black Panther reality -- Amsterdam News

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2018_____________________________________________________________________________________________'Panthers' fiction, and the harsh Black Panther reality…Continue

South Africa: The Land is Ours: 'The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the colour line'

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AWAKENING AFRICAN CONSCIOUSNESS: Recommendation to leaders of Black People’s led countries particularly CARICOM

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AWAKENING AFRICAN CONSCIOUSNESS! Rev. Buddy Aaron Larrier | The derogatory statements made by President Donald Trump with reference to Haiti and African countries, should be offensive to ALL PEOPLE…Continue

Pambazuka News

Potency of Walter Rodney’s ideas 38 years after assassination

In the 2014-2016 Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances that led to his death, evidence was produced that showed that the device that exploded in his lap, and which was constructed by Guyana Defence Force army sergeant Gregory Smith, was remotely controlled from a range of frequencies normally accessed and controlled by state security agencies. [[i]]

However, despite the evidence and clarity brought by the Commission of Inquiry, the political controversies that have haunted Guyana since his assassination have not disappeared. The government of Guyana is yet to accept and use the findings and recommendations of the inquiry as a means of putting the matter of his killing to rest, bringing needed closure to his immediate family, friends and colleagues globally, and beginning the long-awaited path towards National Healing and Reconciliation. Sane observers in Guyana and around the world have looked on in dismay as the governing coalition partners chose to make what could only be construed as strategic and tactical errors as they stumbled in their dismissal of the report of the Commission of Inquiry. This approach is clearly unfathomable. Walter Rodney cannot be wished away. Yes, his physical body was killed, but he lives in his ideas, and his ideas continue to have potency and power.

National Healing and Reconciliation was the platform on which Walter Rodney stood firmly between 1973 and 1980. In that period of intense activism, he helped to forge the establishment of the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA), and a rise in activism by working people and civil society that was phenomenal, beyond anything seen before in Guyana or any other country in the Anglophone Caribbean. Rodney’s organising in Guyana gave an insight into the thesis he adumbrated in his scholarly writings, more especially in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa where he explained that the economic transfer of Africa’s resources which led to its structural underdevelopment was only possible because of the political and cultural underdevelopment of African society – in other words, through active collusion or alliances between the ruling classes in Europe (white) and the ruling classes in Africa who were local lackeys of capitalism (black). Within the construct of this alliance, the Atlantic slave trade became possible. Within the construct of this alliance, racism, the scourge that has divided humanity based on skin colour, and hierarchies in access to resources based on how close humanity is to whiteness or to blackness, became the global standard. This of course has led to the conundrum of economic inequality-based on skin colour.

Being a scholar, Walter Rodney was interested in exploring the reasons for the deepening of structural economic and political inequalities between the rich and poor counties, between the rich and poor in poor countries, and between races and ethnic groups in countries such as Guyana. He felt that independence should have halted the excesses, and hence was alarmed that the inequalities continued to widen after independence. As a gifted historian, he recognised that the problem lay in our understanding of our history, and in the structure of the management of our natural resources. From this standpoint, Walter Rodney became too hot to handle for the ruling elites in Guyana, in Jamaica, and some may argue, in some countries in Africa. He unsettled the structure of local politics. In Jamaica he grounded with the Rastafari and the working people and taught them to see their underdevelopment as a factor of the collusion between their ruling elites and the elites of global capital. This led to his banishment from Jamaica in 1968. In Guyana, he was banished from the University of Guyana, but being a Guyanese, he could not be banished from the country. The only means of banishing him from the country that was available to the ruling elites was silencing him by death. But despite his being banished by death, his views have not died. They are now more potent and relevant than ever. This is because the gap between rich and poor countries, between the ruling elites and the working peoples, and between racial/ethnic groups continues to expand.

So, 38 years after his assassination, students, activists, and lay people ask, what would Rodney be doing if he were here today? Recently, I was asked this question by a couple of people from Guyana, who are uncertain that the new-born possibilities of wealth from oil discoveries in the country would bring much needed relief to the economic plight of the clear majority of Guyanese. My short answer is, the sugar windfall between 1975 and 1990, the gold windfall (Omai, the largest gold mine in South America was situated in Guyana) after 1985, the rice windfall between 1990 and 1996 – none of these brought economic relief to the people. For a country with a population of less than 800,000 with the natural endowments we have, almost everyone should be in a happy state. So, how will oil change the economic situation of ordinary Guyanese when there is nothing much to show from all the wealth produced so far, especially since independence?

The long answer to this question lies in understanding the structure of underdevelopment, which is economic, political, and socio-cultural. In his practice and in his primary work, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney explained that the problem could only be addressed if the people are able to benefit from both the intrinsic and added value of natural resources.  With regards to Africa, he argued that the basic structure of the underdevelopment paradox lies in the production of raw materials locally for export, while processing that adds value is done in the Western developed countries, none of which is ever returned. This helps to produce the power structure that enables further and deeper processes of exploitation of the working peoples by the global and local elites. More importantly, he pointed out that the role of local lackeys is to produce the enabling local political and economic power structure that aid the transfer of wealth through the way natural resources are mined and managed.

Therefore, Walter Rodney called for and threw his life on the line to produce a seamless connectivity between the university, the people and activism.  Such activism he argued must lead the people to seek to set up democratic people’s power institutions to protect the natural resources of their country, from exploitation that leads to wealth transfer, and from theft of national patrimony that is not just about the transfer of wealth beyond national borders, but also about the transfer of wealth in undemocratic forms within the nation state. This is why, while he was a critic of imperialism (the structure of wealth transfer from poor to rich countries), he was even more critical of the local lackeys of imperialism (the structure of wealth transfer from working people to the rich within poor countries). There are those who make the argument that this was a tactical error. I don’t agree, because all politics, all production, and all processes of exploitation are local: the real struggle against imperialism is at the local level. Our experience since independence with how political parties who generally rail and identify imperialism as the main enemy – the way they manage their countries leaves a lot to be desired. Since 1990 almost all these leaders, who were formerly left leaning have functioned as the business managers of foreign capital (imperialism), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. They became local lackeys of foreign control (imperialism).

Recently I was in Accra, Ghana for the Kwame Nkrumah Intellectual and Cultural Festival, where I was shocked to see so many young people who should be in school, hawking foreign consumer goods along the highways and byways. I am told that what I experienced in Accra thrives in most of the major cities in the post-colonies. This confirms the view that political leaders of our age in the post-colonies are more interested in latching on to the banner of consumerism, the bane of Western society. Walter Rodney would have been a thorn in the side of this kind of leadership—Leadership that colludes with foreign and local capital involved in land grabs, and who stands idle as women, youth, and the poor are denied equality of access to land.

In African, Caribbean, Asia, and Latin America, equality of access to land was a necessary condition and banner in the anti-colonial independence struggles. This was one of the recurring themes at the Kwame Nkrumah Festival. For instance, in one of the panels a young woman from Burkina Faso who is denied her right to land ownership and the possibility of equality with males her age to produce her subsistence, asked “what is the answer, what can I do to get equal access to land with my husband, and what can I do to ensure that I am treated equally in the society.” These are not new questions. Such questions remind us of the unfinished struggle for equality. This is the kind of problem that prevents communities from moving forward. In my response I pointed to the example of women in Latin America who organise under the banner of La Via Campesina, as they struggle for communal land rights and food sovereignty. [[i]] Land rights and food sovereignty would have been at the forefront of Walter Rodney’s intellectual and activist agenda if he were with us today.

As an intellectual, Walter Rodney was not afraid of mingling with everyday people; indeed, he believed that producers, the workers and farmers, were really the most important elites in any country. He was a firm believer that the people must be involved in decision-making and in government; and he understood the role of the intellectual in teaching the working people to form social movements as a safeguard against collusion between local and foreign lackeys of imperialism.  Hence in Guyana, where he worked tirelessly to construct the framework for a Government of National Unity and Reconstruction, he knew that for this to become a reality, the people had to be taught the reasons for the structure of exploitation. This led him to ground with workers, farmers, and sympathisers of the working people within civil society and from across the ethnic divide of Guyana.

38 years after Rodney, Guyana faces the challenge of further estrangement of its resources as Exxon Mobil embarks on exploitation of its offshore oil deposits: it is a moment that calls for education and mobilisation of its working people to force their leaders to take decisions in the interest of the populace. Guyana can learn from a place like the Democratic Republic of Congo where today, with 80 percent of the world’s Coltan, which is mined to produce essential elements required for the smart phone, the people who benefit from this resource are the local warlords and foreign capital. At a time when the natural resources of poor countries are being depleted, and the lands of the poor are being grabbed, a new breed of intellectuals must arise and challenge themselves to educate the people, so that they can renew the struggle for equality and decency, which waned after the IMF onslaught which began with the neoliberal agenda that began to be imposed in the mid-1980s.

If Rodney were with us today, he would have urged the African Union and the Caribbean Community to be true to the people of Africa and the Caribbean, and to end the pussy footing as lackeys of foreign capital. He would have urged the people to elect governments capable of striking hard bargains with global corporations such as Exxon Mobil, Apple and others – hard bargains that ensure benefits for the people, including the erection of much needed social and cultural infrastructure. [[ii]] He would have urged the working people to build lasting institutions to act as checks to ensure that no government enjoy unbridled political control and power. In Africa and Latin America, sites of massive land grabs over the last decade, he would have urged governments and the people to safeguard the gains made in Land Reforms in the period of the anti-colonial and post-colonial struggles. [[iii]] He would have been critical of governments and the African Union and would have been on the side of emerging social movements, such as La Via Campesina and other food sovereignty movements. [[iv]]

In the United Sates of America he would have been supportive of the black lives matter and me-too movements and would have urged all working peoples to form a bond to defend the rights of immigrants, people of colour, and women. In China he would have urged for respect for the rights of workers and farmers, whose rights are being trampled as a new breed of capitalist emerges. In India, he would have been supportive of the social movements that have arisen, and which struggles to preserve rights to food sovereignty. [[v]] In Guyana he would have struggled tirelessly for a national dialogue to inform policy on important national issues such as, the future of sugar, the sugar lands, the future of small farmers, the future of small miners, on safeguarding the environment from further decay, sustainable forestry, protection of the equal rights to land and access to natural resources by the indigenous peoples, the country’s relationship with the IMF, and how to relate to large global companies such as Exxon Mobil, as they set about to expropriate the oil deposits in Guyana’s rivers. [[vi]] It is a shame that 38 years after his death, the institutions he helped shape in Guyana have become mere shadows of their former selves. As we mark yet another anniversary of his assassination, I urge that we all reflect seriously and honestly on the tasks ahead.

 

* Doctor Wazir Mohamed is a Guyanese who was a colleague of Walter Rodney in the struggle for a multi-racial Guyana. As a member and leader of the Working Peoples Alliance, Doctor Mohamed spent 25 years of his young life and rose to the rank as Co-leader of that party before leaving to pursue graduate studies in Binghamton, New York in 2000.  He is now an Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University East in Richmond, Indiana.

 

Endnotes


[iii] Saturnino M. Borras Jr., Jennifer C. Franco, Sergio Gómez, Cristóbal Kay & Max Spoor (2012) Land grabbing in Latin America and the Caribbean, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 39:3-4, 845-872, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2012.679931

https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/scramble-african-land

Moyo, Sam. (2008). African Land Questions, Agrarian Transitions and the State: Contradictions of Neo-liberal Land Reforms. Africa Books Collective

[vi] Controversy continue to swirl around the deal struck between the government of Guyana and Exxon Mobil. Many calls for the deal to be renegotiated. Here is one such media report - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-01/exxon-defends-guyana-...

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Caribbean360

The academia is a marketplace

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History, context and decolonisation at Makerere University

From its founding, the MISR MPhil/PhD programme arcades itself as a method to decolonisation in three significant ways: seeing the world from African vantage points; ending the pervasive consultancy culture; And asking context-specific home-grown questions. In a paper delivered as at Makerere University Research and Innovations Dissemination Conference in Kampala on 11 April 2011, Mahmood Mamdani, then the new director of MISR, while pitching for what he called PhD-driven research, wound his argument around the knots above – in the broader language of decolonising the academy. Titled “The importance of research in a university,” the paper was published as a MISR working paper (No. 3; 2011), but also as an article in Pambazuka News. [Link]. One of the combative highlights of the paper was Mamdani’s condescending labelling of the scholars he had met at MISR as “native informers,” mere “supervisors of data collection.”

There was no coherent theoretical response to the new regime of power under Mamdani. Instead, in 2013, a year after the first PhD cohort had enrolled, the last researcher among those the new director had found at MISR left. Labelling colleagues native informers, which actually strips them of all claims of scholarship and by extension, sounding the war drums against these colonial collaborators must have hurt a great deal. Mamdani appeared like a whirlwind marshalling all power he could afford to turn MISR upside down. One of the departing researchers remarked that, simply on sabbatical from Columbia, the impression was that Prof. Mamdani was actually doing Makerere University a favour. Coming along with a fair share of celebrity aura, all his postulations, however illogical, had to be accommodated.

I use the MISR MPhil/PhD as a case study to reflect on the broader conceptual pitfalls the present intelligentsia of decolonising the academy.  Part of my intention is to make visible the hubris of our theorists, and a terrible obliviousness to their historicity and subjectivity. Thus, my argument is twofold: Firstly, Mamdani got the colonial question, not necessarily wrong, but on a populist lane. It is populist, ahistorical and denialist to explain our present crises—in education, leadership, civil war, religious conflicts, underdevelopment, land conflicts—as a failure to completely erase the legacy of colonialism (Mamdani, 1996, 2001, 2007, 2011). A great deal of scholarship has demonstrated that human history is a story of contact between civilisations often of different levels of sophistication (Diamond, 1974; Asad, 1992; Cooper, 2005; Mazrui, 2005). The weaker ones, as a method to survival, concede and graciously refashion themselves under the new terrain. They do so without mourning the constraining limits that were set in motion by the superior (violent or most persuasive) civilisation.  This is the history of empires, religious movements, colonialism, hegemony and capital. There is no triumphalist overcoming of this legacy.  Secondly, going via Marx, I argue that scholarship is conditioned to materiality.  Any debate on context and funding needs to foreground the material conditions in which actors exercise their agency. Thus, scholars of African parentage lucky to operate in western or first world economies ought to beware of their good fortune, but also humbler and more respectful to their colleagues hustling an existence in third world economies and banana republics.

In this critique, my intention, as one of the pioneer students of the programme, is not to portray the programme as bad.  Rather I seek to contextualise its goodness as contained in enabling students based on the African continent to access a (version of) Columbia, Harvard or Oxford graduate education, seasoned with a lavish reading list of Africanist scholars.  But, not its claims of decolonising the academy.  Surely, importing a Columbia-type curricular to Kampala is not to decolonise.

As a naïve East African graduate student inspired by the ambitions spelled out in the PhD founding document, the most sobering moment to reflect on the conceptual founding came in 2015 while I did my year of fieldwork in the Horn of Africa, in Somaliland. I had been encouraged by the mantra that asking home-grown, relevant and context-specific questions as the true meaning of scholarship. Especially after the 2010 Kampala bombings (allegedly committed by Al-Shabaab), the Horn and East Africa shared a closer context, which made studying the Horn, as an East African, more timely.  As I negotiated my space in the Horn, it struck me that the foundations upon which my ambitions built were terribly flawed. They needed revisiting and revising. To quote Bernard Yack (1986), the ambitions spelled out in the founding of the PhD programme were philosophically incoherent and practically impossible. The picture that emerges is conceptual contradictions, outright deception, and egregious selfishness.

The longing for total revolution

I am inspired by David Scott’s (2004) rendering of history (especially our colonial history) in the story-form of tragedy and not romance. If history were read and written in the story-form of tragedy, heroes and heroines would be seen as caught up in a web of tragic circumstances in which they cannot extricate themselves. So Oedipus murders his father and marries his mother.  He can neither walk backwards nor continue with the affair.  Either step – backwards or forwards – is damned. So the Shakespearean slogan, “damned if you do; damned if you don’t.”  The tragic characters choose to bravely face the consequences of their actions. They never imagine a day when they will overcome these tragic circumstances but instead choose to act from within their new terrain at peace with their actions (White 1973; Scott, 2004). Antigone faces death with equanimity. So a character in King Lear proclaims, “Men must endure their going hence even as their coming hither,” (Wilson, 2008: 223). This process gives the actors peace of mind and the opportunity to be creative within the new terrain. The story-form of romance, on the other hand, promises a Disney story of triumphalist overcoming (White, 1973: 8-9).  Scott has summed up this problematic as thus:

“If one of the great lessons of romance is that we are masters and mistresses of our destiny, that our pasts can be left behind and new future leaped into, tragedy has a less sanguine teaching to offer. Tragedy has a more respectful attitude to the past, to the often-cruel permanence of its impress: it honours, however reluctantly, the obligations that the past imposes” (2004: 135).

Scott challenges the anti-colonial intelligentsia to think about decolonisation—in the story-form of tragedy, not romance.  What I want to take from this section is more profound in the sentence that follows. Scott notes that the story-form of tragedy, “raises a profound challenge to the hubris of revolutionary (and modernist) longing for total revolution” (ibid). Tragedy challenges us to appreciate changes of history against the understanding that the history of civilisation or human progress is a narrative of contact of civilisation and a re-ordering of spaces.  White has noted that the sensibility of tragedian emplotment is actually liberating. It appreciates the permanence of events in the past, which in turn limit but also set one free to act within those limits. Writing that all forms of dramatic emplotment involve reconciliations (conclusions, to speak plainly) at the end of the day, White notes that while reconciliations of the story-form of romance promises transcendence of world’s experiences to a happy-ever-after moment the reconciliations in story-form of tragedy are much more sombre but liberating, and certainly more realistic. As earlier noted after Yack (1986), the promise of romanticist overcoming is utopian, unnecessarily painful, and does not stand historical scrutiny.

“The reconciliations that occur at the end of Tragedy are much more sombre; they are more in the nature of the world resignations of men to the conditions under which they must labour in the world. These conditions, in turn, are asserted to be inalterable and eternal, and the implication is that man cannot change them but must work within them. They set the limits on what maybe aspired for to what may be legitimately aimed at in the quest for security and sanity” (White, 1973: 9).

From the above, it becomes clear, that accepting (or resigning, to use White’s word) to the new re-ordered terrain and not setting fallacious and wild ambitions. This is a form of catharsis. It is liberating oneself and being respectful to the history of civilisation. White and Scott poignantly suggest that the longing for total revolution or even mourning the constraints of the legacy of colonialism, and citing colonialism as a totalising hindrance or counterpoint point in academic and political pursuit is nihilistic, and unnecessarily costly. It assumes and longs for a time when the things will finally disappear opening ground for a blank slate (see also, Yack, 1986).  These ambitions and aspirations defy the logic of human history and progress.  [Let me clarify that the continued demand for asset redistribution in the campaigns for land access and use, or fees reduction as happening in South Africa is another terrain in the decolonisation discourse].

My point is this: despite its egalitarian overtures to other intellectual traditions (the Enlightenment, Asian studies, Islamic political and social thought etc.), Mamdani’s MPhil/PhD programme at MISR is actually a project of romanticist ambitions. It is a project of longing for total revolution, which is actually an act of essentialism on the part of its founding thinker. There is an interesting contradiction about Mamdani’s Citizen and Subject from where this line thought springs.  Mamdani bazaars a critique of the progressive wing of African historians that longs for total revolution. But then, he foregrounds failure for complete erasure of the legacy of colonialism as explanation for the present crises. Picking the cue, the PhD at MISR disguises the longing for total revolution through captivating egalitarianism (such as viewing the world from African vantage points) but ironically, at the implementation, at funding and historicist level, it is confused on whether to completely delink or sustain relations with the world outside.  This confusion is born of the refusal to be honest to history and context. To make this point more succinctly, I want to pursue a Marxist train of thought relating to the material conditions in which actors make their decisions.

Bringing Marx to MISR

Marx noted that humans are not spiritual being in the Hegelian sense. They make their decisions in view of the conditions in which they live. The first historical actions of human being is realising their materiality connecting their bodies to the environment. Any conversation on decolonisation has to focus its intelligentsia, their subjectivity and problem space.  The idea of problem space, is particularly interesting and in Scott’s usage, it denotes a discursive context, a context of language (2004: 4). The idea of problem space has Marxist undertones.

“Notice, then, that a problem space is very much as context of dispute, a context of rival views, a context, if you like, of knowledge and power… Notice also that a problem space necessarily has a temporal dimension or, rather, is a fundamentally temporal concept. Problem spaces alter historically because problems are not timeless and do not have everlasting shapes” (ibid).

The temporal dimension he attaches to problem space makes visible the difference of contexts. Thus, under another historical juncture, “old questions may lose their salience, their bite, and so lead to a range of old answers that once attached to them to appear lifeless (ibid).  Focused on discussing language-games of criticism, Scott suggests that critics ought to be mindful of the alterations in historical time. Thus instead critiquing the answers to seemingly good or simple questions, it is important for criticism to understand the questions that the present answers sought to respond to. This is vintage Marx demanding criticism to understand the material conditions in which decisions/answers are taken. The question then: How does Mamdani think about the conditions, context and problem-space under which scholars at MISR before him decided on the line of consultancy? Were they responding the same questions as Mamdani newly arrived on sabbatical from Columbia University?

With a new approach to scholarship, came a complete redesign of the unit’s infrastructure (huge investment in books, offices and library expansions – on donor funds, of course) and academic-year/semester structure. The funds issue is enduringly interesting: Mamdani often gloats that funders joined him without asking for their help; that they actually asked to be involved in the programme and thus funded his idea/questions without imposing their (imperial) agendas on him. (We will examine the problems with such as a claim in a while).  But with new leadership and research agenda, MISR resorted to a uniquely different academic year from the rest of Makerere University. The MISR academic year runs from January to August, while the larger Makerere University academic year runs from August to May. Ironically, the reasoning behind this MISR uniqueness is not scholarly but material. The director has a side-kick job at Columbia University in New York for which he takes off four months every year—specifically September-December—and thus the unit was transformed to meet the director’s schedule. The irony of this is that while theorising the necessity of a PhD-driven research against an irritable consultancy culture, castigating the former regime of scholars for turning MISR into a think-tank, the material conditions in which these fellows operated are strategically silenced.

Research at a university (debating context, funding)

In a broader sense, Mamdani’s paper sought to foreground two items in research: (a) vantage point as a method of decolonisation and (b), the source and position of funding in research in African academies. Mamdani argued that, for Africans, decolonising the academy needed viewing the world from African vantage points. We needed to understand the global from the local (7-8).  For so long, the world has been seen and read from other vantage points of especially Europe and North America. Scholarship tends to privilege the period of the Enlightenment in Europe, and other western intellectual traditions.  Mamdani wrote that these Eurocentric or west-centric worldview assumes “that there is a single model derived from the dominant Western experience reduces research to no more than a demonstration that societies around the world either conform to that model or deviate from it (6).” There should be space for other knowledge experiences to foreground their contexts and knowledge traditions.  The danger of assuming a dominant western model is

“[T] o dehistoricise and decontextualise discordant experiences, whether Western or non-Western. The effect is to devalue original research or intellectual production in Africa. The global market tends to relegate Africa to providing raw material (“data”) to outside academics who process it and then re-export their theories back to Africa” (ibid)

The concern that Mamdani raises here is an old one. It has informed debates in the subaltern studies and Negritude movement. Can the Africans produce knowledge? Do they make history or are they recipients of history? Gayatri Spivak’s thesis, “can the subaltern speak?” is informed by similar shades of emancipatory aspirations. Mamdani’s rightly judged idea is that questions have to be asked from a point of proper historicizing and context. Thus, plainly, African have ask their own questions in their original context and history – not a context imposed from elsewhere.  You can miss how I imbibed this rhetoric hook, line and sinker and crafted a project to study Somalia and Somaliland because as an East African, and Africans more generally, the Horn presents us with some of the most pressing questions in our time.

However, the problem here is that Mamdani silences his sense of context. He does not unpack “African.” Does context consider the material political conditions or this is simply a theoretical utopia?  But this is not a failure to define context, because Mamdani actually has a context in mind—only that it is not African! Mamdani’s non-African context stems from his historicity and subjectivity as an employee in a European/North American economy and politics. In this context, matters of bread and butter, school fees for the children, and a good house are no longer a concern to himself as they are for compatriots operating exclusively in an African-Ugandan economy and politics. In several African economies (Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda), university staff salaries are meagre and scholars have to eke an existence in several side-kick engagements still within the same economy.  Industrial action over salaries is rampant.  Sadly, politicians have also found it easy closing these universities for extended periods. Thus consultancy offers an easy respite to the material challenges of these scholars.

Mamdani’s failure to understand this context is excusable for he is, virtually, a western academic. Besides his birth and early childhood Indian-secluded education in Kampala, Mamdani’s claim to the Uganda and the continent is by affiliation and work.  Mostly educated in the United States, Mamdani’s true scholarship came to life while he operated in a South African economy (1990-96) producing Citizen and Subject (1996), from where he continued to Columbia University.  Before entering the first world economies (South Africa and United States of America), Mamdani was perhaps in a worse off material position than the fellows he found at MISR in 2010—an imprint visible through his scholarly production. By his own admission, most of the scholarship he produced from the time he got his PhD (about 1973) and South Africa (1990-96) are raw materials unquotable and untidy (Kuan-Hsing, et al. 2016). He loves to tell the story of how, during his professorship days at Makerere in the 1980s (in a third world economy), he had to eke an existence by turning his personal car into a taxi business ferrying people from the suburbs of Kampala.  The result was no worthy scholarship to his name.  It is not my intention to have this section read like an assault on the persona of Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, but I want to make visible the point that in ridiculing his colleagues, Mamdani forgets his own history and subjectivity as being lucky to operate in a non-African economy.

The second concern, which is very related to the first, is about funding.  Mamdani discusses funding of graduate education going through his experiences with University of Dar-es-Salaam in the 1970s, and Makerere University in 1980s and early 1990s.  He notes that in Dar, where there was state-led education, they were able to develop a robust “historically-informed, interdisciplinary curriculum.” But the state often sought to compromise academic freedom.  In Makerere, during the introduction of private paying students in the 1980s in the wake of structural adjustment programmes, and the introduction of a market-driven curriculum, with fees paying students (all students at Makerere before this period studied for free on a government scheme), the university somewhat improved its financial base but consequently opened its doors to a galloping consultancy culture (2).  In the end, robust scholarship died at the expense of a market-driven curricula.  Scholars went into a place they were not supposed to go, that is, the marketplace. This concern—which forms a core part of his argument in an earlier book, Scholars in the Marketplace—is rather problematic. It is both inexcusably ahistorical and selfishly bereft of context.

Firstly, this approach embraces a terrible and anachronistic assumption that the academia is a cathedral of sorts and has no relation to the market dynamics of demand and supply. Yet, with the rise of private property and primitive accumulation in the 1600 English countryside, human beings were turned into labourers or owners of capital.  Labourers earned their sustenance from selling their labour and skills.  With colonialism, people thriving on tilling the land were turned also systematically and sometimes violently turned into labourers subsisting on providing labour measured in terms of work hours. The colonial university follows the same paradigm. It is a marketplace where scholars sell their labour—intellect and instruction—for rent. They are thus constantly seeking to make the best returns on their labour. The academia is intimately a labour-market model.

Secondly, it is difficult to understand how Mamdani makes the connection between (a) private sponsored students paying for their education, (b) a university designing courses suited for the demands on the market, and (c) the rise of consultancy where external organisations ask questions, and hire scholars at a university to answer them. Besides not seeing any connection between these three strands, I also fail to understand why those three different strands could not exist alongside each other, in addition to developing a robust historically informed and interdisciplinary curricula.  Sure, Mamdani seeks to make the proliferation of consultancy culture as a condition responsible for the under-development of a robust historically informed curriculum. But this juxtaposition is rather superficial. Why should it be difficult for both to survive – and why would we blame one for the failure of the others yet both were different and had an equal share of the market?

If we could afford to stretch Mamdani on the connections he makes as regards the pervasive consultancy culture and the failure to develop home-grown questions in scholarship, we could accommodate an understanding that once universities started designing tailor-made programmes for fees paying students, courses became responses to questions set by the market—and thus the market started setting the agenda for university research and education.  However, read this way, Mamdani vulgarised a historically locatable demand.  As Prof. Mukwanason Hyuha – former Academic Registrar of Makerere University – responded when Mamdani shared the same ideas in a newspaper article in 2016, there was public demand for Makerere University to allow parents who could afford to pay for their children and enable them pursue education at home rather than seek it abroad as they had been doing. [[i]] Hyuha noted that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the numbers of qualified university entrants had increased, but the Makerere University government sponsorship scheme could not take all of them.  Hyuha also argued that around the same time, the university was facing severe financial challenges and thus had to find ways of making money. [[ii]] One would seek to ask why Mamdani so stubbornly chooses to ignore these valid context-specific and historically verifiable realities.

There are several other questions to ask relating to context.  Take for example, what is the problem of a country needing journalists, engineers, or development experts and its main university designing courses to respond to these demands? Thus, why shouldn’t a university respond to both its internal challenges (resources), and also meet a public demand? Of course, the adoption of this model came with myriad challenges as every department wanted to cash in on the bonanza leading to things such as duplication of courses. But, we would be mistaken to vulgarise context-specific processes simply to argue for a historically-interdisciplinary curriculum.

We are left with one key question: funding model.  Mamdani is critical of a state-led curricular, noting that the state often sought to compromise academic independence and thus determined the direction of research agenda or set the questions to be asked. He is also critical of a market-driven model where universities set courses depending on the market – which he argues, albeit problematically, that it ended in commercialisation and a proliferation of consultancy culture. What are the alternatives? From where will funds come for the home-grown questions where the payer of the piper does not want to call the tune? Of course there are other ways of raising funds for a university—such as doing business, or grants from philanthropists. But these responses need to be suggested in context and history.

The native informer

Speaking in 2011, Mamdani shared several anecdotes from his one-year experience at MISR. He narrates that upon joining MISR, as director of the unit, he started by meeting researchers asking them questions about their time at MISR and the nature of their research output.

“The answers were a revelation: everyone seemed to do everything, or rather anything, at one time, primary education, the next primary health, then roads, then HIV/AIDS, whatever was on demand! This is when I learnt to recognize the first manifestation of consultancy: A consultant has no expertise. His or her claim is only to a way of doing things, of gathering data and writing reports. He or she is a Jack or a Jane of all, a master of none. That was the first manifestation” (4)

It is curious in this conversation that Mamdani does not seek to problematise the motivations for the decision to do everything.  Whilst he “discovers” the manifestation of consultancy culture, he does not seek to understand it or its roots.  But rather he quickly scoffs at it for its obvious weaknesses – no expertise except a way of doing things, of gathering data and writing reports. This was quite arrogant. Firstly, he problematically generalises about their scholarly output judging it as “raw data” for a foreign scholar. Secondly, he does not seek to understand that while these scholars responded to questions set from outside, as they sought to eke a living, they also had the opportunity to reformulate these questions to suit their presents – as happened with colonialism (De Certeau, 1984; Stoler, 2004). The third problem, and perhaps, major problem with Mamdani’s theorisation is the assumption that these decisions – to do everything as a consultant, which is obviously strenuous – is taken in a vacuum.  But as noted earlier, coming from and anchored in a different problem space, Mamdani could not countenance, or selfishly ignored, the material conditions in which these scholars exercised their agency.

It is with this same absurdity that Mamdani chastises the partnerships that MISR often entered with other universities before his arrival. Despite acknowledging that there was research done under these arrangements, he quickly disparages of it noting that it was externally driven, and was built on demands of European donor agencies that European universities doing research in Africa must partner with African universities (4).  Mamdani thus concludes that the result of these partnerships “was not institutional partnerships but the incorporation of individual local researchers into an externally-driven project. It resembled more an outreach from the UK or France rather than a partnership between equals” (ibid).

Again, Mamdani disingenuously generalises to a manner akin to deceit. Surely, not all projects were wound around individuals. Some, as continues to happen, were entered with the institution. Secondly, not all externally funded project/research come in a singular model of partnerships.  In arguing this way, Mamdani thus exhibits, or actually feigns, unawareness of the myriad ways in which donors fund research projects in Africa.  In several cases, scholars write proposals to funders when calls are announced. Calls for proposals often, as possibly could, define their themes more broadly. In other cases, funders discover the problem together with the scholars before negotiating ways of funding the research agenda. For the town he has been around the academic marketplace, it is difficult to understand why he seemed unaware of these non-homogenous ways of foreign-local engagements, individual-institutional arrangements in research and knowledge production.  There is not a single model for donor funding of research in Africa.

Conclusion

The purpose of this essay is not to challenge efforts towards decolonising the academy. I am not suggesting that scholars and activists in formerly colonised places should sit back and idealise the status quo. Instead, my point is that we need a more honest and practicable response to challenge of colonisation. Our theoretical language-games have to be coherent and achievable. In this, I also seek to problematise the salience of the language of decolonisation as it blinds us from a more feasible ambition of refashioning our futures under a new terrain. It exhausts us with the infantilism of searching for a “de-colonised” world.  As regards history and context, western-based African academics name-calling their local colleagues as native informers, disparaging consultancy is nothing but arrogance akin to belching in public after a heavy meal.

 

* Yusuf Serunkuma is a Ugandan scholar

* This paper was presented at a conference organised by the American Anthropological Association and African Studies Association in Johannesburg, South Africa on 27 May 2018. The theme of the conference was: “Africa in the World: Shifting Boundaries in Knowledge Production.” Panel theme: “Revolutionising African Academic Institutions.”

 

Bibliography

Cooper, Frederick. Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2005.

De Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1984.

Diamond, Stanley.  In Search for the Primitive: A Critique of Civilization. London and New Brunswick. Transaction Publishers. 1974.

Mamdani, Mahmood. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Mahmood, Mamdani. Scholars in the Marketplace: The Dilemmas of Neo-Liberal Reform at Makerere University, 1988-2005. Kampala: Fountain Publishers. 2007

Mahmood, Mamdani. When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and the Genocide in Rwanda. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2001.

Mazrui, Ali. “The Re-Invention of Africa: Edward Said, V. Y. Mudimbe and Beyond.” Research in African Literatures, Vol. 36, No. 3 (2005) pp. 68-82

Mazrui, Ali. “The Re-Invention of Africa: Edward Said, V. Y. Mudimbe and Beyond.” Research in African Literatures, Vol. 36, No. 3 (2005) pp. 68-82.

Scott, David. Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment. Durham and London: Duke University Press. 2004.

Stoler, Ann Laura. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power. Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2002.

Talal, Asad.  “Conscripts of Western Civilisation,” in Christine Gailey, ed., Dialectical Anthropology: Essays in Honour of Stanley Diamond, vol. I, Civilization in Crisis. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1992, pp. 333-51.

White, Hayden. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination of Twentieth Century Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1973.

Yack, Bernard.  The Longing for Total Revolution: Philosophic Sources of Social Discontent from Rousseau to Marx and Nietzsche.  Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press. 1986.

Kuan-Hsing Chen, Gao Shiming and Tang Xiaolin. “The formation of an African intellectual: an interview with Mahmood Mamdani,” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, (2016) 17:3, 456-480.

Wilson, Edwin. The Theater Experience. New York:  McGraw Hill Higher Education. 2008. Eleventh edition.

 

Endnotes


[i] Mukwanason Hyuha. “A Reaction to Prof. Mamdani’s Makerere University: Time for a Rethink.” Uganda Radio Network. 23 November 2016. Available at https://ugandaradionetwork.com/story/a-reaction-to-prof-mamdanis-makerere-time-for-a-rethink, accessed on 24 May 2018.

[ii] Mukwanason Hyuha.  “A rejoinder to my reaction to Professor Mamdani’s “Makerere: Time for a Rethink.” The New Vision, 20 December 2016. Available at https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1442446/rejoinder-reaction-prof-mamdani-makerere-rethink, accessed on 24 May 2018.

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2
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Makerere University

Three layers of uncertainty

Sub-Title: 
What is happening in Mozambique and why does it matter?

How to understand a Mozambique facing multiple external structural challenges? What can be expected from the country in terms of its longstanding battle for effective peace and national reconciliation? Can it effectively deal with the serious threat posed by Islamic radicalism? Yes or No, the reality is that present-day Mozambique is characterised by potentials for multi-centred crisis which may also lead to multi-centred violence (social uprisings, guerrilla war and Islamic insurgency).

The saga of the hidden loans: a self-inflicted wound?

Until The Wall Street Journal revealed hidden loans totalling roughly US $2 billion in early 2016, Mozambique’s economy had experienced consistent growth. Since the country’s first multiparty elections in 1994, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had consistently risen at 7.4 percent per year. This growth rate was attributed to post-war neoliberal economic reforms and was considerably above its population growth rate of 2.5 percent, constituting one of the highest economic growth rates in sub-Saharan Africa. However, this growth had marginal impact on the livelihoods of its population, as poverty levels remained high. 2017 estimates, for example, put 46.1 percent of an estimated population of 28.8 million people below the poverty line. [[1]]

Economic growth in Mozambique is highly dependent on the extractivist sector, a sector from which most of its population (rural poor working in small scale farming) is totally disconnected. [[2]] Declining prices for traditional export commodities (e.g. coal), the persistent drought caused by El Niño, domestic political and military instability combined with significant drops in foreign direct invest led to an historic drop in average growth to only 3.8 percent in 2016. That said, a sharp increase is projected for 2018 (5.3 percent). [[3]]

Coming from external debts equalling 60 percent of the national GDP in the mid-1980s, in 2001 Mozambique qualified for US $4.3 billion of debt cancelation under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. In 2005, a further US $2 billion was cancelled under the Multilateral Debt Relief initiative, resulting in government debt payments falling to just one percent of state revenues by 2007. [[4]]

In recognition of this “economic success”, Maputo hosted the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s prestigious “Africa Rising Conference” on 29-30 May 2014. [[5]] Addressing conference participants, the IMF Managing Director commended Mozambique for what she called “impressive economic performance”. [[6]] Yet only four years after the IMF meeting, hidden loans led to the unsustainability of Mozambique’s debt, which now stands at 112 percent of GDP (2018).

The revelation of hidden state-guaranteed loans prompted the IMF to immediately suspend further loan payments to Mozambique. The G14 Group (a group of international contributors to the state budget) also suspended its payments to the country. The United States announced a review of its support to the country. Together, these donors provided about a quarter of the country’s state budget. This suspension was, as pointed by Christine Largarde, justified by signs of corruption.

Facing enormous domestic and international pressure, the government of Mozambique responded, engaging the international audit company Kroll to complete an independent audit of the US $2 billion with financial support from the Swedish Embassy. In August 2016, a parliamentary commission of enquiry was formed to investigate. The commission concluded that the country’s constitution had been violated, yet neglected to charge any specific individuals.

The companies involved in the illegal loans are well known: Proindicus S.A, Empresa Moçambicana de Atum S.A (EMATUM) and Mozambique Asset Management S.A (MAM). These companies are officially said to have been created to provide Mozambique with the means to protect its sovereignty over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as to explore natural resources within this economic zone. The credits for Proindicus were for acquiring monitoring and protection solutions for the country’s EEZ. EMATUM’s were for developing a home-grown and self-sustaining fishing industry, while MAM’s were for offering mobile maintenance and repair services to EMATUM and Proindicus vessels and others exploring oil and gas assets in the country. Those arranging these hidden loan agreements are also well-known: Credit Suisse International for Proindicus and EMATUM, and the Russian Investment Bank VTB Capital PLC for MAM. In conducting this audit, the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Mozambique (PGR) sought to assess the existence of any irregularities or criminal offenses in the procurement contracts and operations of the Mozambican companies involved. 

The process leading to the audit’s completion revealed how weak and vulnerable to political manipulation Mozambique’s legal institutions are. Access to information was cited by the auditing company Kroll as the main obstacle to completing the audit. Although led by instructions from the country’s PGR, some of the people involved refused to provide auditors with the information required, arguing it was “classified”. Nevertheless, among other important findings the audit was able to establish that US $500 million of the EMATUM loan had gone missing. This amount was said to have been used for the purchase of maritime equipment, which was never actually acquired.

Yet long before the audit’s conclusion, the PGR identified violations of budgetary legislation and non-compliance with the country’s legal procedures in the government’s granting of guarantees to the three companies. These actions constitute criminal acts, namely, abuse of office or function. [[7]] Three years after a criminal case was opened in 2015 and with the final audit report already in the hands of Mozambique’s legal authorities, no one has been charged. The complexity involved in investigating these loans and the fact that they require judiciary international cooperation are the reasons put forward by the PGR for its lack of progress. [[8]] This is to some extent a valid argument – not only because these credit institutions are located abroad, but also because they were responsible for verifying compliance of domestic legislation by the Mozambican government before approving such loans.

Meanwhile, it is has been reported that the affair constitutes a high-level corruption case implicating executive personnel in Mozambique’s secret service and the former and the current president, together with other important Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) cadres. [[9]] It is also believed that the real reason the case has been held back is its potential to cause serious internal divisions within the ruling FRELIMO. With local elections due on 10 October 2018 and general elections (legislative, presidential and provincials) due on 15 October 2019, this could have serious consequences on voters’ behaviour, especially in the urban areas.

While the case seems to be stalled at the legal level, ordinary Mozambicans are already suffering from the socioeconomic impacts of the crisis. Inflation indicators have deteriorated rapidly. In November 2016 it reached an all-time high of 26.35 percent – food prices doubled, bank interest rates increased significantly affecting investment and consumption, investment rates in the economy fell about 30 percent, and imports fell 4.7 percent. [[10]] More importantly, the government has stopped subsidising bread and recently announced its intention to do the same with fuels. [[11]] Some hospitals including the country’s largest one in Maputo have since been running with shortage of chemical reagents. It has also been reported that an increasing number of much needed small and medium enterprises have closed and sent their employees home. [[12]] On 18 June 2016, a march against the country’s political and the economic situation organised in Maputo was met by a heavy police presence. A month before the demonstration, the president of the Ecologist Party Movement for Land, João Massango, was brutally attacked by “strangers” when trying to organise a similar march. Like most political cases, nobody has been charged.      

Did hopes for effective peace die with Dhlakama?

Afonso Dhlakama died during a very crucial phase for the peace negotiations, directly led by him and Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi. Mozambique’s on-going peace process is comprised of two packages: decentralisation and de-concentration, and re (integration) of RENAMO’s guerrilla into the Mozambican defence and security forces (military, police and secret services). Prior to Dhlakama’s death on 3 May 2018, an agreement was reached concerning the decentralisation and de-concentration package, while the rest was still being discussed. As a result of the agreement, Mozambique’s parliament unanimously approved a series of constitutional amendments on 23 May 2018 allowing for the indirect election of mayors, provincial governors and district administrators. This was perceived internally as a crucial gain for the country’s democracy. Ironically, Mozambique’s democracy may have indirectly “benefitted” from Dhlakama’s death in the sense that it made the current president into the sole leader of the whole peace process. President Nyusi now must continue peace negotiations by obtaining concessions inside his ruling party (which are usually hard to obtain when pushed for from outside), and with the opposition RENAMO (the proponent) ascribing the process very high chances of success.    

After the 2014 general election, RENAMO’s most ambitious demand was that of territorial autonomy. RENAMO demanded that the provinces in which it received a majority (Sofala, Manica, Tete, Nampula and Zambézia) be turned into autonomous territories under its rule. This demand, promptly rejected by the FRELIMO parliamentary majority on 30 April 2015, was based on RENAMO’s claim that the electoral process, which gave victory to the current president and the ruling party, was all but free, fair and transparent. For RENAMO, autonomous provinces would be the only way to resolve this electoral quarrel.

After having survived two attempts on his life (perceived to have been conducted by government forces), Dhlakama retreated to the mountains of Gorongosa from where he led small-scale guerrilla attacks against government forces. After attempts by domestic and international peace facilitators failed, the two leaders decided to open direct negotiations. These gave birth to the recently approved parliamentary proposal regarding constitutional amendments. The military question remains to be decided.

Under Protocol IV of the 1992 General Peace agreement (on military issues), it was agreed that the country should have a 30 thousand-strong army to which the government and RENAMO would each contribute 50 percent.  The remaining troops not integrated into the country’s new army would be disarmed, demobilised and re-integrated into civilian life. However, it is said that an arrangement was made permitting RENAMO to maintain a small armed reserve force to provide security to its leadership. RENAMO also retained some of its military bases, particularly in the provinces of Nampula and Sofala. RENAMO’s current military power is understood to be made up of Dhlakama’s security personnel and others who, according to RENAMO, were unfairly demobilised by Mozambique’s government. The objective of RENAMO in this regard appears to be two-fold: 1) to fight for re-integration of its troops in all ranks of the country’s military and police force (including the secret service) which will also 2) give Mozambique a republican army not controlled by FRELIMO.

Mozambique has conducted periodic multiparty elections since 1994 (the civil war ended in 1992). FRELIMO won all the general elections held so far (Joaquim Chissano in 1994 and 1999, Armando Guebuza in 2004 and 2009, and now Filipe Jacinto Nyusi in 2014), and most provincial and local elections as well. All these electoral processes have been highly contested by RENAMO. RENAMO’s contestations (against the fairness of the electoral processes) came to a head in 2012. After 20 years of apparent peace and stability, RENAMO returned to armed struggle to demand, among others things, a revision of the country’s electoral legislation, which it claimed (as is generally accepted) favours the ruling FRELIMO. The electoral legislation was duly amended. Although a cease-fire agreement was signed between RENAMO and the Mozambican government on 25 August 2014, political instability continued to prevail and was further aggravated by the results of the 2014 general elections.  

Three days after the death of Dhlakama, RENAMO’s national political commission appointed lieutenant general Ossufo Momade national coordinator of the commission. Very little is known about the acting leader of RENAMO. However, he has extensive military experience. [[13]] By appointing a historical member of its military wing to temporarily lead RENAMO, the party must be trying to exert pressure on the ruling FRELIMO to speed up the outstanding military issues. On the other hand, RENAMO must be trying to send a message that the death of Dhlakama does not spell the end of its military power, which has been the main and most effect tool in wresting political concession from the ruling FRELIMO. In fact, RENAMO’s national political commission deliberated with immediate effect and announced on 4 June 2018 that Ossufo Momade must reside in their military base in Gorongosa. [[14]] The most important political concessions made by FRELIMO have been obtained through the use of violence. This is on face a discouraging factor as far as the full demilitarisation of RENAMO is concerned, and for nonviolent democratic development in Mozambique more generally. 

However, despite having governed RENAMO autocratically and centralising all major political and military decision making in his own hands, Dhlakama was able to build a coherent and concise hybrid force. While on one side, by military means, the guerrillas push for military and political issues from the bush (e.g. their re-integration into the national army and police, amendments to the electoral legislation, de-centralisation and de-concentration), the political wing on the other pushes for the very same agenda by political means in parliamentary sessions in Maputo, constituting a single voice. [[15]]

There is no doubt that the future of Mozambican peace depends on the political will of the country’s principal political forces, but especially on the ruling party. It is generally perceived that more political de-centralisation and de-concentration will expand the possibilities of other political forces (including some currently marginalised local elites) to access political and economic power in the country. In addition to this, it is also generally believed that the ruling party controls the military and the police force and uses them to suppress opposition to both the government and FRELIMO.

The Islamic question: radicalism, banditry or emancipation?

How to understand the Islamic question (or insurgency) in northern Mozambique? Is the country facing a local manifestation of global Islamic radicalism (which opposes Western-style democracy, democratic institutions such as the rule of law, individual liberties and mutual tolerance of different faiths and beliefs) defined by the West as Islamist terrorism? Is Mozambique threatened by a group of mere bandits who use Islam as a pretext to create chaos locally in order to profit from economic opportunities? Can the events on the ground also be seen as a particular form of local political emancipation of the local Muslim population, which has suffered from centuries of marginalisation both by the processes of colonialism, independence and now by the process of development?  

I do not aim to answer any of these questions directly. However, I highlight the need to apply different analytical perspectives to the current Islamic question in Mozambique in order to better understand and properly explain it.

Mozambique in its current form is a product of an Anglo-Portuguese treaty signed in May 1891. [[16]] To understand the Islamic question and the emergence of Islamic radicalism in that particular region, one must also understand Mozambique’s pre-colonial history. Mozambique’s Islamic community is a product of contact between Arab traders and the local population, which dates back to the fourth century, well before the first contact with the Portuguese in 1498. Islam penetrated the coastal northern of Mozambique in the eight century, and since then it is said to have peacefully coexisted with local traditional cultural beliefs like witchcraft.

Arab trading settlements along the coast and some islands already existed for several centuries before the arrival of the Portuguese, and local sultans had political control of the coast.  Vast territories of the extreme north of the country once belonged to the Omani Sultanate and Omani Arabs controlled much of Indian Ocean trade. [[17]] The Swahili language spoken by the local population borrowed a significant amount of words from Arabic. [[18]] Data from the southern coast of Inhambane province even indicates that the southern Mozambican littoral was also part of the Indian Ocean trading networks operating within the sphere of the Swahili and Islamic economic and cultural influence since at least the eighth century. It was only beginning in 1505 with the Portuguese occupation of Kilwa, the Island of Mozambique, Sofala and Cuma (later on Kilimani, Inhambane, Bazaruto Islands and others) that Swahili Muslims lost political control over the territory. [[19]]

According to some sources, initially no concerted effort was made by the Portuguese to interfere with local Muslim religious affairs, at least until after they took full control of the territory through military conquest and imposed an administrative colonial system at the beginning of the 20th century. [[20]] Following Mozambican independence in 1975, FRELIMO’s atheist Marxist-Leninist state ideology marginalised local Muslims, prompting some of them to give their support to RENAMO. In fact, today RENAMO enjoys significant support from the populations of coastal northern Mozambique, likely as a result of these historical dynamics.       

According to 2007 population statistics, 17.9 percent of Mozambique’s total population is Muslim. A plurality, however, is Roman Catholic (28.4 percent). [[21]] The vast majority of Mozambican Muslims are Sunni and consist primarily of indigenous Mozambicans (Indian and Pakistani descent) and a very small number of North African and Middle Eastern immigrants.  This so far peaceful coexistence has led some to believe that due to the particular nature of Islam in Mozambique, the potential for radicalism was insignificant.  At least until now.  

Accurate information concerning events on the ground is hard to obtain due to scarce official data, likely due to the potential these events have to threaten much-needed foreign direct investment in the country. Independent academic studies are also very limited and are not the product of thorough scholarly research with clear conclusions. Although attacks largely targeting local police stations began in October 2017, they reached horrendous proportions on 29 May 2018. Mozambicans and the world were confronted by extremely shocking videos on social media platforms showing beheaded bodies of ten people, including children. This brutal tactic may reveal how fast and deep the insurgents have radicalised. It is reported that the decapitated victims were people from the village of Monjane (Palma district). Monjane is close to the fragile border with Tanzania and not far from Palma, a small town soon to be transformed into the country’s new natural gas hub in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. [[22]]

Discoveries of huge quantities of offshore gas in the Rovuma Basin off Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province promised to transform the country’s fortunes. The project aims to begin producing US $1.5 billion worth of gas per year by 2022. The Italian company Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi S.p.A. has secured a purchasing contract with British Petroleum, which will buy gas for 20 years. It is also predicted that these discoveries will turn Mozambique into the world’s third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. [[23]]

While links between the gas project and the Islamic question are yet to be established, the group in that particular area may also have been attracted by the possibility of profiting from human trafficking when Palma becomes a major industrial complex in the near future. It is also important not to ignore that these investments may have triggered discontent among marginalised local elites since the major economic benefits are already being captured by the minority Makonde elite and others mainly based in the capital city of Maputo. [[24]] On the other hand, it is important to ask whether or not the current violence is associated with forms of local reclamation of political and religious pre-colonial institutions, which once dominated the territory and were suppressed by colonialism and independence. This hypothesis should not be ignored and requires scientific study.

Locals call the group “Al-Shabaab”, although they appear to have no direct links with the Somali group of the same name. The group’s real name is Ansar al-Sunna, which in English means “supporters of tradition”. The little information about the group available suggests that it arose in the northern districts of Cabo Delgado first as a religious group, but by 2015 began to radicalise further and include military cells. [[25]] It calls for the implementation of Sharia law and refuses to recognise Mozambican law. Training camps are said to be located in the Cabo Delgado districts of Mocimboa da Praia, Macomia and Montepuez, where training is provided by former Mozambican police personnel. Nuro Adremane and Jafar Alawi are said to be the leaders of the group. In terms of composition, the group includes Mozambicans, Tanzanians and Somalis. Poaching, trafficking in ruby, timber and wood are said to be the group’s main source of income, which are mainly used to purchase military equipment and communication.

Important warnings

Should Mozambique fail to get its economy back on track, social uprisings similar to or more violent than the riots it experienced in the capital city of Maputo and Matola (with minor incidence in Gaza and Manica Provinces) resulting in 13 deaths on 1 and 2 September 2010 can be expected. These riots followed the earlier 5 February 2008 riots over fuel and transport prices, which took place in a similar context. Adding to this is the fact that 2018 is an election year in the country. FRELIMO’s usual difficulty to concede electoral defeat in some major urban municipalities combined with high levels of popular discontentment may create a perfect storm for post-electoral violence. To get its economy back on tract, apart from other economic measures, Mozambique must resume a normal relationship with its financial partners by legally resolving the hidden debts as soon as possible. Resuming its relationship with financial partners will also allow it to go back to the markets.

The death of Dhlakama appears not to have caused any leadership vacuum within RENAMO thus far. What is not known, however, is whether the current leadership enjoys the same level of loyalty as Dhlakama did both in the military and political wings of the party. In this case, it is essential that the outstanding aspects hampering progress in the re-integration of RENAMO soldiers into the national army and police force be expedited before RENAMO’s soldiers lose hope and trust in their current leadership and revert back to violence.  

The Islamic question in Mozambique requires independent scientific inquiry and analysis. Meanwhile, if the current insurgency is not grasped as a regional threat and dealt with collectively with neighbouring countries, Mozambique may easily become a regional hub for radical Islamic terrorism, attracting insurgents from other places. It is urgent and vital that the Southern Africa Development Community immediately begin to engage with the Mozambican government to help it resolve this dangerous threat to regional stability.

 

* Fredson G. Guilengue is Regional Deputy Director at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – Southern Africa based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has published extensively on Mozambican politics, from working papers to opinion articles in both English and Portuguese.

 

Endnotes


[1] Index Mundi (2018) Mozambique Population below poverty line, 1 June 2018, available at  https://www.indexmundi.com/mozambique/population_below_poverty_line.html. Last accessed: 5 June 2018; Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE). Gabinete do Presidente. IV Recenseamento geral da população e habitação. Resultados Preliminares do Censo 2017. IV RGPH 2017

[2] The World Bank (2018), Accelerating poverty reduction in Mozambique:Challenges and opportinities, 5 June 2018, available at http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/mozambique/publication/accelerating-poverty-reduction-in-mozambique-challenges-and-opportunities. Last accessed 5 June 2018. 

[3] Associação Moçambicana de Bancos (2018), FMI mantém previsão de crescimento do PIB em 5.3%, 5 June 2018, available at http://www.amb.co.mz/index.php/notas-de-imoprensa/notas-de-imprensa/362-fmi-mantem-previsao-de-crescimento-do-pib-em-5-3. Last accessed: 5 June 2018; African Development Bank Group (2018), Mozambique economic outlook, 5 June 2018, available at https://www.afdb.org/en/countries/southern-africa/mozambique/mozambique-economic-outlook/. Last accessed: 5 June 2018

[4] Jubilee Debt Campaign (2018), Mozambique: secret loans and unjust             debts, available at https://jubileedebt.org.uk/countries-in-crisis/mozambique-secret-loans-unjust-debts. Last accessed: 5 June 2018.

[5] Africa Rising (2014), Republic of Mozambique – International Monetary Fund Conference, 29-30 May 2014, available at http://www.africa-rising.org/. Last accessed: 5 June 2018

[6] International Monetary Fund (2014), Africa Rising – Building to the future, keynote address by Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF, 29 May 2014, available at http://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2015/09/28/04/53/sp052914. Last accessed: 5 June 2018. 

[7]DW(2016), aprovada comissão de inquérito à dívida pública moçambicana, 26 July 2016, available at http://www.dw.com/pt-002/aprovada-comiss%C3%A3o-de-inqu%C3%A9rito-%C3%A0-d%C3%ADvida-p%C3%BAblica-mo%C3%A7ambicana/a-19428348. Last accessed: 5 June 2018 

[8] DW (2017), Moçambique: oposição critica relatório “sem soluções” da PGR, 19 April 2017, available at http://www.dw.com/pt-002/mo%C3%A7ambique-oposi%C3%A7%C3%A3o-critica-relat%C3%B3rio-sem-solu%C3%A7%C3%B5es-da-pgr/a-38494137. Last accessed: 5 June 2018 

[9] VOA (2018), descodificação do individuo “Q” no caso das dívidas ocultas “exige” resposta de Nyusi, 30 April 2018, available at https://www.voaportugues.com/a/descodifica%C3%A7%C3%A3o-de-indiv%C3%ADduo-q-no-caso-das-d%C3%ADvidas-ocultas-exige-resposta-de-nyusi/4371058.html. Last accessed: 5 June 2018; Verdade (2016), Manuel Chang assinou (violando a lei) as garantias dos empréstimos da Proíndicus, EMATUM e MAM em nome da República de Moçambique, available at  http://www.verdade.co.mz/tema-de-fundo/35-themadefundo/59752-manuel-chang-assinou-as-garantias-dos-emprestimos-da-proindicus-ematum-e-mam-em-nome-da-republica-de-mocambique. Last accessed: 5 June 2018; Saponotícias (2017), governo “surpreso” com alegada lista de beneficiários das dívidas ocultas, available at https://noticias.sapo.mz/actualidade/artigos/governo-surpreso-com-alegada-lista-de-beneficiarios-das-dividas-ocultas. Last accessed: 5 June 2018.   

[10] DNLUSA (2018), Moçambique quer eliminar subsídios para combustíveis de transportes, 17 April 2018, available at https://www.dn.pt/lusa/interior/mocambique-quer-eliminar-subsidio-para-combustiveis-de-transportes-9267016.html. Last accessed: 5 June 2018. 

[11]RTPNotícias (2017), governo moçambicano retira subsidio ao pão, 31 March 2017, available at  https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/governo-mocambicano-retira-subsidio-ao-pao_n992413. Last accessed: 5 June 2018; Mosca, J and Rabia Aiuba (2017). Conjuntura Económica da Críse das Dívidas Ocultas. Forum de Monitoria do Orçamento.

[12] RFI (2016), Crise moçambicana obriga empresas fechar as portas, 12 July 2016, available at http://pt.rfi.fr/mocambique/20160712-crise-mocambicana-obriga-empresas-fechar-portas. Last accessed: 5 June 2018

[13] Club of Mozambique (2018), Mozambique: who is Ossufo Momade RENAMO’s newly appointed interim leader?, 8 May 2018, available at http://clubofmozambique.com/news/mozambique-who-is-ossufo-momade-RENAMOs-newly-appointed-interim-leader/. Last accessed: 5 June 2018

[14] OPais (2018), Ossufo Momade passa a residir na serra da gorongosa, 4 July 2018, available at http://opais.sapo.mz/ossufo-momade-passa-a-residir-na-serra-da-gorongosa. Last accessed: 5 June 2018.

[15] Guilengue, Fredson (2014). RENAMO: a three-sided coin? Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Southern Africa, International Politics (3) pp:1-9

[16] Newitt, M (1995) A History of Mozambique. London: C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. 

[17] Wikipedia (2018), History of Mozambique, available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Mozambique#Intercultural_Contact. Last Accessed: 5 June 2018

[18] Wikipedia (2018), Islam in Mozambique, available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Mozambique; https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/religious-beliefs-in-mozambique.html. Last accessed: 5 June 2018

[20] Idem

[21] Zionist Christian (15.5%), Protestant 12.2% (includes Pentecostal 10.9% and Anglican 1.3%), other 6.7%, none 18.7%, unspecified 0.7%. 2017 statistics will be published in June 2018; Central Intelligence Agency  (2018), the world fact book, 24 May 2018, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mz.html. Last accessed: 5 June 2018

[22] BusinessDay (2018), Ten beheaded by suspected islamists in mozambique village, 29 May 2018, available at https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/world/africa/2018-05-29-ten-beheaded-by-suspected-islamists-in-mozambique-village/. Last accessed: 5 June 2018

[23] FinancialTimes (2018), Mozambique offshore gas promises great rewards – but not yet, available at https://www.ft.com/content/39f0b2be-a2b0-11e7-8d56-98a09be71849. Last accessed: 5 June 2018. 

[24] The Makonde live throughout Tanzania and Mozambique and have a small presence in Kenya. The Makonde population in Tanzania was estimated in 2001 to be 1,140,000, and the 1997 census in Mozambique put the Makonde population in that country at 233,358, for a total estimate of 1,373,358. Mozambique’s current president belongs to this tribe and most of the country’s current elite are said to have come from or to have strong linkage with the tribe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makonde_people. Wikipedia (2018), the Makonde people, available at http://macua.blogs.com/moambique_para_todos/2013/08/elite-pol%C3%ADtica-.... Last accessed: 5 June 2018 

[25] AllAfrica (2018), Mozambique: Former policemen train Islamic group, 30 April 2018, available at http://allafrica.com/stories/201805010190.html. Last accessed: 5 June 2018

Issue Number: 
IssueOrder: 
3

How privatisation versus nationalisation debate is on a fast track to nowhere

Almost the same debates and scenarios around privatisation versus nationalisation of state-owned entities were playing out 25 years ago as they are today.

South Africa’s “transition” often feels like what a laboratory mice treadmill looks like — a lot of running and what appears to be forward movement but the route travelled turns out to be cyclical, with the worn-out mouse remaining in the same place.

Nowhere can this allegorical journey be more appropriately applied than in respect of the debate and politics around the privatisation versus nationalisation of state entities, whether at national, provincial or local levels. Turn the transitional clock back over the past 25 years and almost exactly the same scenarios and debates were playing out then.

On one hand, an African National Congress (ANC)-run state is pushing a selective privatisation agenda under intense practical and ideological pressure from international and domestic capital (alongside their public/civil society apparatchiks). On the other hand, it is defending selective state-owned entities as part of what is presented as a more interventionist “developmental state” and nationalisation agenda under somewhat less intense pressure from some within the ANC alliance, opposition parties and the public/civil society.

Whether in the past or the present, the claimed reasoning behind the privatisation and developmental state/nationalisation positions is similar: to “rescue” state-owned entities from financial problems, corruption and mismanagement; more efficiently and effectively deliver the relevant service or product and, in the process, help grow the economy for the benefit of all (with “the poor” always mentioned as the prime targets).

As contradictory as it might sound, that similarity of reasoning extends to a similarity of practice. This is because privatisation is not simply about the wholesale selling-off of state assets to the private sector. Rather, it is composed of (at least) three parts, each of which feeds into and shapes the next.

An initial corporatisation involves the state retaining full ownership of the core entity (with “noncore” components often being sold off) while the organisation of the asset becomes like that of a private corporation with legally separate identities (for example Proprietary Limited), governance structure (for example boards) and the commodification of products or services. Good examples are Eskom and Transnet.

Then there is a more formalised and structured commercialisation, where the state retains either controlling or majority ownership but which involves, among other things: joint ownership, through private sector equity partnerships and/or issuing of publicly traded shares on the stock market; the widespread outsourcing of management and/or selected production and servicing components to private sector entities; and the elevation of profit-making to purposive primacy. Good examples here are Telkom, Denel and South African Airways.

A full-scale privatisation involves the complete transfer of ownership and control of the state asset (whatever form it has taken) to private sector players, either through the purchase of all shares or through a direct sale. A good example of this type of arrangement is the former Iscor, now Arcellor-Mittal.

Throughout the transition in South Africa the practice of the developmental state or nationalisation approach has fit comfortably within the parameters of the first two of the three component “stages” of the privatisation agenda. This is because of the inherent but incorrect assumption that informs such an approach — as long as the state has full or majority ownership of the entity, this translates into accompanying products or services being publicly delivered for the benefit of the majority of South Africans who are workers and the poor.

But in South Africa, regardless of full or majority state ownership, the corporatisation and commercialisation of state entities has most often practically meant the exact opposite. This has not only been the case in respect of corruption and mismanagement, but also in the massive increase in the prices of products or services, the retrenchment of workers and the unequal delivery of services between urban and rural as well as rich and poor residential areas.

On the other side of the coin is the equally false argument that the adoption of different forms of privatisation will result in less corruption and greater efficiency alongside enhanced and better-quality delivery of products and services.

Just like most of the developmental state/nationalisation imbongis, the privatisation zealots ignore the realities that provide evidence in contradiction to their fairy-tale worlds.

Here are examples:

A multipronged Project on Government Oversight in the United States published in 2015 found that “in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services”. Also in the United States, research by the National Nurses United in 2014 found that the average hospital cost to charge ratios for private hospitals in the United States rose by 250 percent between 1996 and 2012.

When rail privatisation was first pushed through in Britain in the early 1990s, it was accompanied by promises of a higher-quality, cheaper service that would require much less (than state-owned railways) in the way of public subsidies.

Fast forward 20 years and a recent University of Manchester research study shows that “the privatised rail system requires billions more” in subsidies every year and “has failed to bring in adequate private investment … so that average age of rolling stock has actually increased”.

Staying in Britain, a 2016 University of Greenwich study revealed that “consumers in England are paying £2.3bn more a year for their water and sewerage bills under the current privatised system than if the utility companies had remained in state ownership”.

The research also found that none of the nine regional water and sewerage companies had invested any “significant new shareholder equity but extracted nearly all of their post-tax profit as dividends, while simultaneously building a growing pile of debt to finance investments”.

The growing trend across the globe is returning privatised water entities to full public ownership and management, especially at the local or municipal level. Over the past decade this has included cities such as Accra, Bamako, Buenos Aires, Dar es Salaam, Berlin, Barcelona, Jakarta, Kampala, Kuala Lumpur and Paris.

A 2015 report from the Transnational Institute shows that since 2000 there were “235 cases of water re-municipalisation” in 37 countries.

Increasingly, people want more than what is on offer with the now stale, mostly elitist and self-constructed “choice” between privatisation and nationalisation. No longer will such a “choice” of limited forms of ownership and control, and thus possibilities of truly public, people-serving entities suffice.

As the explosion of newly structured re-publicised entities shows, more people — through public-public partnerships involving social movements, community organisations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations — are demanding real participation in decision-making, the prioritisation of social equity and meaningful transparency and accountability. The alternatives being fought for are not just about the degree of state or private ownership and control, but also about who is being served and how.

The South African debate is largely out of touch with these people-centred imperatives. Indeed, it is little more than a politically opportunistic exercise unless the state, and by extension state-owned entities, becomes defined and structured by inclusive democratic form and de-commodified content.

 

* Doctor Dale T. McKinley is the Research and Education Department of the International Labour Research and Information Group based in Johannesburg, South Africa

* This article was first published in Business Day

 

 

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The Dawn

Movements of Nigeria’s ruling class

To appreciate, more fully, the current wave of political re-alignments in Nigeria and be able to make informed projections, we may need to go back to the Nigerian Civil War of (1967-1970) and the long preparation for the Second Republic (1979-1983).

When the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo finally, in August 1978, lifted the ban on political activities imposed in January 1966, two main political tendencies emerged in Nigeria’s reconstituted national ruling class. The first tendency was thoroughly conservative and aspired, and largely succeeded to be national in composition, character and formal leadership. Call it A. The second tendency was progressive both generally and within the context of Nigeria’s political history. It was more modern. It also aspired to be national in composition, but was more limited in national spread than the first tendency—for historical reasons that may be put aside for now. Call this second tendency B. Tendency A, though national, had its centre of gravity in what is now known as the North-western zone of the country while tendency B, though also national, had its centre of gravity in South-western zone.

I proceed with four propositions. One: Tendencies A and B were in real ideological opposition to each other. Two: All the other political tendencies in the national ruling class which were, at this time, in preparation for the Second Republic—were either factions of, or protest groups from, tendencies A or B or both. Tendency A transformed into the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which produced the only president of the Second Republic, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Tendency B transformed into the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Three: These two main political tendencies in Nigeria’s post-Civil War national ruling class were not subjective or arbitrary creations. Rather, they were objective products of Nigeria’s political history, class formation and social formation. They have survived all the succeeding stages of our political history since the Second Republic. Their organisational forms have however changed several times. So, have the relationships between them.

The fourth proposition—which can be attached to the third proposition as an explanatory note—is that Nigeria’s ruling class is characterised by this duality: On the one hand, as a national ruling class, it is fundamentally united by capitalism (as the dominant mode of production) and capitalist rules and logic (which run the entire economy). On the other hand, the class is divided by many things: history; places and roles in the economy; primitive/primary accumulation of capital; ethnicity; regionalism, religion; culture; etc.

The fifth proposition is that at least twice during this post-Civil War period, circumstances and opportunities have arisen for tendencies A and B, through crises, splits, combinations and separations, to transcend their old political forms and produce two new ideologically distinguishable political formations each of which would be more truly national. The first opportunity, ironically, was General Babangida’s creation of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1989 and the second was the emergence of All Progressives Congress in 2013. The first opportunity was lost and the second is now under severe test. A reader may remind me here that during the Second Republic (1979-1983), parties opposed to the ruling NPN announced attempts to “come together” in an alliance. All I can say, in response, is that until those attempts irredeemably collapsed not even the most elementary physical structure was set up for fighting a common foe as powerful as the NPN!

We may now elaborate. In September 1989 then military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida, dissolved all the political parties whose autonomous formation the regime had earlier permitted. The country was then being taken through a long, convoluted transition-to-civil-rule programme. In a presidential statement the regime announced the establishment, by decree, of two national parties: a “little-to-the-right” National Republican Convention (NRC) and a “little-to-the-left” Social Democratic Party (SDP). Nigerian politicians who were free and able to do so were advised to join either of the two parties. It was an act of monumental humiliation, which politicians largely resented. Eventually, however, the military-decreed two-party system took off and the transition continued.

Two points are important here. The first is that the National Republican Convention (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP)—though state-formed—became national political formations of Nigeria’s ruling class. This had happened by the middle of 1990. The second point is that by some decisions and processes large segments of the Nigerian Left embraced the SDP, but only for the purposes of the return-to-civil-rule transition programme and—in particular—for the presidential election in which Bashorun M. K. O. Abiola was the presidential candidate. However, although these segments of the Nigerian Left constituted a powerful political force in the SDP—in fact, the decisive operational force—it did not constitute a power bloc in the sense of being able to determine policy, leadership and distribution of benefits.

Until November 1993 when they were both dissolved by General Sani Abacha, both NRC and SDP remained, in character and by definition, national parties (or formations) of Nigeria’s ruling class. We do not have the space here to digress to what happened to the transition programme, to the June 1993 presidential election and to SDP’s presidential candidate, Chief Abiola. The closing point is that Nigeria’s ruling class, as a single national ruling class, lost an opportunity to produce two ideologically distinct, but national political formations for their dominance and rule.

The most recent opportunity which history has so far presented to the ruling class of Nigeria to evolve two ideologically distinguishable national political formations came in 2013 during the Jonathan presidency: the following opposition parties and formations of the ruling class came together: the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) plus factions of the governing People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The first three parties (ACN, CPC and ANPP) actually dissolved themselves and were joined by factions of PDP and APGA (which, on breaking off from their parent parties, also dissolved themselves) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), the current central governing party of Nigeria’s ruling class.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) was, right from the start, a nationally-based party which, mainly on account of the antecedents of the ACN and the reputation of CPC’s leadership, was seen as potentially progressive. Later, as the 2015 general elections drew closer, the newly-founded APC was joined by some activist groups and elements from the Nigerian Left—making the new party more potentially progressive in the context of Nigerian history and politics. The result was that Nigerians were presented with two main choices in the 2015 elections: The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the newly-created All Progressives Congress (APC). The former was created in 1998 as a conservative party of Nigeria’s ruling class. It had remained so. The latter emerged, as earlier stated, as a potentially progressive party of the ruling class. Both were large and nationally-based. Thus, with the emergence of APC/PDP in 2013, Nigeria’s ruling class had a “re-birth” of NRC/SDP of 1990.

The questions now are: Will Nigeria’s ruling class—presently in political turmoil—reconstruct their political formations but still maintain two main parties, or will they return to the multiplicity of (1999–2013)? Will the two parties be ideologically distinguishable? Will any of them seriously put the main questions before the nation on its agenda? Will they both be truly national? And, finally, what will the Nigerian Left be doing as the ruling class, again, takes the popular masses of Nigeria through another long round of un-redeeming ride? In particular, how does the Left intervene in this current process of separation and combination?

 

 

*Edwin Madunagu is a mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

 

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Chicago-Midwest
Comment by Brotha Lukata on November 26, 2015 at 8:25pm

New Afrikans, remember We make up the Republic and We make the Republic. All New Afrikans must declare their citizenship in the Republic and make plans to support New Afrikan Nation Day.  NAND 2016 in MedgarEversville (bka Jackson), ms. Thursday, April 31 - Sunday, May 3, 2016. for more details hit me at jackson_ncobra@yahoo.com

Continued after the jump ....


Part of the 2016 New Afrikan Nation Day Celebration - Youthquake - the ability of our children to demonstrate a willing and the desire to accept the responsibility to carry the Torch of Freedom, lighting the way for the generations that will come behind them. The Conscious Elders bear the responsibility to prep the Youth are their leadership roles. We are currently seeking Community Elders to advise the youth during the Youthquake Session during New Afrikan Nation Day, Friday, May 1, 2016 at 6:00pm. Currently, We have a tentative commitment from 12-25 high school students and need five to ten Community Elders willing to engage them in a human rights discussion. We're hoping you will be one of those Community Elders. For more details hit me at jackson_ncobra@yahoo.com.


West
Comment by Mistah Wilson on June 5, 2014 at 11:47am

Manyang Reath Kher is a ‪#‎refugee‬ from ‪#‎Sudan‬. After losing both of his parents and being bit by a King Cobra snake and surviving, he has created a non-profit called Humanity Helping Sudan Project where he is raising funds for the people of Sudan to develop their own societies.

Read all about him! He has a very compelling story. If he gets enough votes for the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition, he will fly to Berlin, Germany to speak to World Leaders regarding his cause. A lot is at stake here.

We need to get as many people to vote for him as possible!


South
Comment by DR. KOFI AGYAPONG on May 29, 2014 at 10:25am

SADA says since the formation of  the blacklist, members of SADA have tried to  reach out to Akwasi Akyeampong to join SADA or help SADA to send its message to the Diaspora Africans. All efforts have fallen of deaf ears of brother Akyeampong. I am not sure whether he is an African or someone using blacks as he wants. There is enough evidence that these Africans in America have been uprooted first and alienated from African culture by the psychological manipulation of the conditions of life in Africa and the minds of the Diaspora Africans to make the African American even Afraid of Africa. But the writers of African history in America, the first Africans to learn how to write have documented that we must sankofa our roots otherwise the problems facing us in America will be intractable and couse a lot of confusion as Africa seeks to  restore her lost children all over the world through the efforts of some of us who are aware of the presence of Africa in America and elsewhere. But when you visit America, these Diaspora Africans seem to have been turned into a different race of blacks. It is only by reading the recorded history that you realize that Africans were brought here to build the Western countries including South America. It is therefore our responsibility to build an institution to recognize the contribution the Diaspora Africans have made for Africa and America.  It is in light of this that SADA was formed so that we begin to study Marcus Garvey and others who have made things easier for us to recognize each other as AFRICANS.


South
Comment by DR. KOFI AGYAPONG on May 29, 2014 at 10:08am

*Read Founder's Letter Below

Kofi Agyapong & Wife Dr. Kofi Agyapong & Wife( Carolyn )
Washington, D.C. First written August 29, 1970 Modified: August 29, 1996.and August 3, 2011

Dear African,

This letter is on behalf of the Sons and Daughters of Africa, (SADA), a  Washington, D.C., Tax-Exempt, 501(C)(3) Corporation. SADA promotes  the concept of dual citizenship: " Africa for Africans those at home  and those abroad" as announced by Obenfo Marcus Garvey, Osagyefo  Kwame Nkrumah, Omowale W.E. B.Duois and Obibini Frederick Douglass  and all the gallant men and women; is real and unless the Diaspora  Africans and the continental Africans build an organization similar  to those of Europeans to promote better communications, the spirit of  good will, better understanding, brotherhood and sisterhood as  descendants of Africa for our posterity, we shall live in vain and  pretend as if all is well with us. 

Mr. Steven S. Rosenfeld writing in the Washington Post on January 28,  1977 on the famous ABC TV program on Mr. Alex Haley's ROOTS said: "....Blacks (African-Americans and Caribbean) have a heritage in Africa  and experience in America....it is impossible to see one wrenching  scene of "ROOTS" after another without coming to understand that the  connection of Blacks and Caribbean to Africa is as direct and  legitimate if not yet as strongly asserted as the connection of  Anglo-Saxons to West Europe, Slavs to East Europe or Jews to Israel.  Blacks (Diaspora Africans) need not make apology for manifesting an  "ethnic" concern for their ancestral peoples (Continental Africans)  in Africa" AFRICANS MUST UNITE!!! 

Yes, we are the Africans, the descendants of the great Pharaohs, we  built the pyramids and introduced the world to sciences, religion and  history, but modern history has been a bitter pill for us to swallow.  Our Africanity has been turned into British Africans, French  Africans, Portuguese Africans, European Africans, Russian-Blacks,  Chinese Blacks, Blacks, South American-Blacks, Caribbean Blacks,  Coloreds, Afros, Negroes and etc. We are all of the above because of  chattel slavery. We are the Africans indeed.I am proposing that every  living African should get to know, Obenfo Marcus Garvey and other  Africans who have worked to bring us thus far on the way. 

It was only in 1957 that Ghana the first Black African nation to attain independence; and  in 1994 South Africa and 2011 S. Sudan that the last African nations  were freed from chattel slavery. Examine your own life and see if you  have done enough to abate our silent tears. If our nations have been  as old as the U.S.A., may be you and I can take for granted our need  to form an Organization such as SADA. For the first time in over 500  years the descendants of Africa are living together from different  parts of the world. I am therefore soliciting for your membership in  SADA. Thank you and God bless you. Visit www.sada53.org FORWARD EVER  BACKWARDS NEVER


Africa
Comment by sajichyang on February 12, 2014 at 7:03am

NYMetro
Comment by Nefertari Ahmose on August 7, 2013 at 2:30am

From incidents happening in government, corporate and religious circle and the media who reports  it is apparent to me that the powers that be do not take nicely to Nefertari and what she stands for and more particularly the masses do not show much interest in what I expound. Hence, I am taking the exist.


Africa
Comment by Wabomba Kisongochi Butemboh on March 15, 2013 at 9:06am

The way out of this trickery is to unite and stand up to correct our mother lands idea. As long as our mother land stinks and is in intensive care unity for a half a century now; as the same imperial master feast on his riches, the white man will never respect us. We have to disengage the Afrikan mind from interpreting Afrikan life from the imperial master's mirror! The Afrikan creative and re-creative intelligence were brain washed and boxed into the colonial masters concept. That is why they have confused the Afrikan consumer intelligence to always interpret Afrikan live as seen through the colonial masters mirror. They have made the Afrikan child to be haters of his own Afrikan principles and for their sins, Afrika is destroying herself from within. Afrikans have to stand up to save Afrika! The imperial slave master isn't interested in Afrikans but Afrika.

Is their a permanent Vaccine to the retarded Afrikan idea? Yes! Find out in the Book;

"The Great Conspiracy, The Black gods of Afrika"

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1468181297, http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1468181297, http://www.amazon.fr/dp/1468181297, http://www.amazon.es/dp/1468181297 or http://www.amazon.es/dp/1468181297

The Great Conspiracy is a short letter to the Afrikan child in a parabolic tone. It is a poetic riddle and in sum proverb. Is there remedy to the Afrikan problem? Can the Afrikan equation be solved? For a half a century since flag independence knocked on the Afrikan hut, the Afrikan political elite and comrade in cola have not been watching the Afrikan grass grow; instead as leaders upon whose shoulders, salvation of the Afrikan child from colonial pharaoh's slavery; read colonial culture, traditions, instrument of thought and in sum colonial gods duly lay as Moses and his blood brother Aaron were to Israelis while leading them from the yoke of bondage down Biblical Egypt to the promised land; have been to busy staying alive. How can we watch the Afrikan grass grow using a foreign eye? "Lest there be any fornicator or profane person amongst us Afrikan brothers who for one morsel of food sold his inheritance. For we all know Afrikan comrades that Esau did and afterwards, when he wanted to inherit the blessings later, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears" It is a social remedy which should be sought and or is found nearer home; from Afrikan own environment, culture and traditions. It cannot be external to us and it cannot be derived from a foreign alien environment because its tone will forever distort the Afrikan deed if it were derived from a foreign alien environment. This is because its spices will be foreign and not tied or derived from an Afrikan environment, traditions, beliefs, history and culture. LANGUAGE IS AN INSTRUMENT OF THE HUMAN THOUGHT. IT IS THE SOLE KNOWN INSTRUMENT OF IDEA FORMATION. PROVERBIAL WISDOM IS WISDOM OF CAUTION.


Asia
Comment by Shyam on August 20, 2012 at 2:01am

In the world,you need do for yourself,people come  only for voice .

http://www.buddhanepaltrek.com/


Europe
Comment by The Truth Hurts on April 13, 2012 at 12:27pm

The mind is a very powerful tool,

And for it to be used as an tool against one's self is nothing short of tragic... If we were to count how many petrified individuals exist in this perception of a reality, I for one am sure that it would be a case of literal shock horror (meaning) Psychic vampires steal energy, not blood they feed on negative thoughts, mainly fear.

If we as an African Race of people, proud race of people became brave and fearless for the right reasons and decided that enough was enough, and then borrowed and invested our time in ourselves without lies in our hearts and... Remembered what our roles are and were, (as our ancestors had intended), there wouldn't be room to doubting ourselves, let alone others. Trust would be at the very core foundation of our souls, and the true meaning of the coined phrase "Brothers Keeper" would taken on a whole new meaning and with it's implementation, I feel and know that it would take us far beyond the boundaries which have been set in place to keep us ignorantly separated from each other...

And then, all we could really do is...

GROW

Inner Peace Love from the Heart of Truth


Chicago-Midwest
Comment by Bomani Sadiki (aka..Ras Jahbo) on April 13, 2012 at 9:31am

As a Afrikan man living in dis time , afrikan consciousness is rare or misleading . Wat I did wuz go to an african country and try to connect . Purchasing land , building a home and finding afrikans dat would accept mi as a afrikan brotha . Its wat I saw as a close society . Language plays an important role in keeping it dat way as well as kulture . Dat in itself wuz a real learning process as well as a de-learning and re-learning . Most I learned wuz not altogether true . Afrikan on de continent  more out of touch as InI all over de planet . One has to really open de mind objectively and see wat gwan on . Live de life , stop talking it . Now someone tell now I can ship things to Africa in a reasonable amount of time and not cost mi a arm and leg . peace

 
 
 

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