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Annual Report 2019/20


2019/20 Year in review


Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic


Tributes to Thandika Mkandawire


Communications and media


Africa Engagement Programme


Programme for African Leadership

20 Research 42 Events 50

Donors and Acknowledgements


Contact the FLCA

COVER: Willy Karekezi Image of Memory (2018) Acrylic of Canvas / 50x70cm

2019/20 Year in review  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 01


Over the last four years the Centre has seen remarkable growth into a worldpioneering hub for research and African leadership. The expanding global PfAL network will soon be strengthened by another cohort of exceptional students, and new research projects continue to build connections across the African continent, addressing urgent challenges with real-world impact. In these times it is encouraging to see how an academic institution can be more connected than ever. Firoz Lalji (BSc Economics, 1969)

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa was founded in 2016, the same year I was appointed as the next Director of LSE. Since then, the Centre has been a source of pride for me as an Egyptian-born alumnus of LSE, putting African issues at the heart of global debates and continuously producing rigorous research while engaging international audiences. The School now has a strong focal point for those interested in Africa and a place that brings the African community at LSE together. It is crucial that insights from Africa grow throughout our teaching and research, and I am excited to see the Centre expand its activities over the coming year. Dame Minouche Shafik Director, London School of Economics and Political Science

02 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

2019/20 Year in review  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 03

LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR In only four years, the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (FLCA) has grown rapidly to expand its outreach, impact and activities across LSE and on the continent. Back in 2016, the FLCA was initiated as a regionally focused unit within the Institute of Global Affairs, with only four members of staff and two programmes. Fast forward to 2019 and the FLCA has become a fully independent Centre with over twenty London-based staff and many others based in Africa. Looking back on 2019/2020, the FLCA’s accomplishments have been tremendous. We have expanded from three programmes to four by introducing the Africa Engagement Programme (AEP), which seeks to widen our outreach on the continent, beyond academia, and directly engage public and private sector institutions with our research and LSE’s alumni expertise. AEP is instrumental to the FLCA’s strategic vision of building a stronger Africa-focused community at the School, working across LSE departments and divisions to widen participation from African students and scholars. Developing our public outreach, the events and communications programme continues to expand. While COVID-19 sadly meant that the planned 2020 Africa Summit was cancelled, and other meetings, several in Africa, had to be postponed, new ways of connecting with our global audience are now a blueprint for activity in the years to come. The Africa at LSE blog has published scores of remarkable works, and a webinar series on COVID-19 in Africa has attracted thousands of viewers and prominent speakers. The research programme at the FLCA is now one of the most substantial hubs of focussed research activity at LSE. It runs more than a dozen research grants, from funding bodies such as the AHRC, British Academy, HEFCE, DFID and the European Council.

Amongst these grants is the ESRC Centre for Public Authority and International Development, which has become a major centre in its own right. Grant expenditure has risen each year and is presently around £2.5 million per annum. While research activities in the field continue, there is now a quickly growing number of publications in leading journals, as well as several books. In addition, artists in residence have produced some tremendously powerful responses to our findings, which have been shown in exhibitions and reproduced in widely circulated catalogues. Despite the challenges COVID-19 has presented, the FLCA’s research, the Programme for African Leadership (PfAL), and the events and communications programmes have continued to deliver their goals. From virtual workshops, meetings, webinars, publications, and research proposals, the Centre has found new and innovative ways to drive forward our work. However, as we look forward to a productive year ahead with further expansion and visibility across LSE and globally, we are also acutely aware of how much needs to be done. The last few months have been a time of reflection for us all. To some extent COVID-19 has forced that upon us, but so have the Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall campaigns. We are thinking deeply about what role a centre for Africa should play in a London-based university. This is a time of change, and there is a great deal of learning and listening to do if we are going to play our part. Professor Tim Allen Director, Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa

04 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20


PROGRAMME FOR AFRICAN LEADERSHIP To build on its growth over the last four years, the FLCA aims to develop its internal programmes, strengthen its external network, and create an innovative template for how an academic institution can collaborate across continents. The Centre’s objectives align with LSE’s wider strategic vision of creating realworld impact, which the team will continue to work towards both in Africa and globally.

The FLCA will continue current efforts to create and build a network through the Programme for African Leadership that connects alumni across the continent, and globally, to support younger generations to apply to LSE and be successful in their career and as postgraduate scholars.

Our objectives

Knowledge exchange and career support

• to continue increasing the visibility of Africa in LSE’s teaching, research, and policy engagement

Over the coming year, the FLCA aims to further expand its work and engagement on the continent through new meaningful partnerships with African institutions, academics, and alumni to help facilitate knowledge exchange.

• to provide a platform for producing robust independent scholarship that raises the profile of African issues and perspectives in global debates • to ensure the Centre’s space is inclusive for everyone interested in Africa, from students to academics, to become involved with our work and programming • to increase the number of African academics and mentors at the School, in harmony with LSE’s wider strategic vision ‘to strengthen commitments to equity, diversity and inclusion’

The Centre will host an increase of visiting scholars and global thought leaders from the African continent to enhance LSE’s teaching, research, public debates, and policyengagement through visiting fellowships and centennial professorships. These visiting scholars and thought leaders will enhance academic mobility across geographies and provide fresh perspectives that challenge dominant narratives.

2019/20 Year in review  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 05

THE FIGHT AGAINST SYSTEMIC RACISM Uprisings following the death of George Floyd in the United States are bringing new perspectives to bear on the on-going problem on systemic racism worldwide. Highlighting how deeply embedded racism is within our society and institutions, the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others remind us that for its eradication we must adopt a holistic approach, beyond individual claims for justice, and take collective social action. As an academic centre we are called to question institutionalised forms of discrimination. We must continue to be reflective about the courses we teach, the research we undertake, the books and papers we write, and the conference presentations we make. How do we interact with our students, our research collaborators, our field informants, and our colleagues? As many have said, the fight against racial discrimination should be part and parcel of our efforts to decolonise the academy. In the last decade, academic institutions like ours have been aware of the need to create space for new epistemologies.

We look to new ways to build on crucial debates on the links between necessary institutional change and discrimination across society.

In recent years the FLCA has launched the Citing Africa podcast, exploring the decolonisation of knowledge systems, and held public events challenging the Euro-centrism underpinning how knowledge is produced. Yet action has been far too slow. As the FLCA reflects on the year gone by, we are also looking ahead. We have set objectives to further our commitment to decolonising how the FLCA operates, and within LSE more broadly, and we look to new ways to build on crucial debates on the links between necessary institutional change and discrimination across society. A year from now we will look back and critically assess what we have achieved.

06 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20


During these unprecedented times, the FLCA has established innovative methods to continue fulfilling its mission of bringing African perspectives to LSE and global debates. The Centre worked rapidly in mid-March to move all events, communications, activities, and operations online, minimising disruption in the face of the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 has nonetheless been felt across the FLCA’s programmes. Researchers have halted or delayed fieldwork, the Programme for African Leadership graduation was moved online, and the Centre’s flagship student-led event, the Africa Summit, was unfortunately cancelled. Despite these disappointments, the Centre has addressed the pandemic as a global thought leader, utilising its extensive global network and in-house expertise on epidemic preparedness, public health, foreign aid, and humanitarianism to illuminate impacts across the continent. The Africa at LSE blog established a COVID-19 portal, publishing new insights throughout the week, and events were transformed into publicly available webinars where experts addressed the evolving crisis.

These circumstances have only strengthened the commitment to our mission of ensuring the African continent is centred in global conversations, debates, and knowledge sharing. This period has also deepened relationships with our partners on the continent as we navigate the situation together.

The Centre’s events really got to the heart of how the pandemic is shaping Africa’s future place in the world. Event attendee

Who knows quite what will happen in the post-COVID world? There are certainly going to be challenges in terms of travelling to and from African countries. Nevertheless, with our experienced staff and partners, our strong connections, and with ongoing support from Firoz Lalji, and our other donors, the FLCA is well placed to move forward into a new phase.

2019/20 Year in review  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 07

TRIBUTES TO PROFESSOR THANDIKA MKANDAWIRE A great thinker in African development at LSE

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa pays tribute to Thandika Mkandawire, Professor of African Development at LSE, who sadly passed away in 2020. Thandika was not only a prominent figure in the field of development economics, but he was instrumental in extending the African perspective at LSE.


After distinguished posts as Executive Secretary of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Thandika joined LSE in 2009 as its first Chair in African Development. Bringing a depth of knowledge to the School, Thandika was a wonderful colleague and teacher who never refrained from challenging conventional wisdom. His support to African students and scholars across the African continent was grounded in a desire to embed African scholarship within the global intellectual community.

Breaking new ground on the relationship between development goals and their means of implementation, Thandika argued for the importance of centring social policy in development studies and on showing the commonalities between countries in the global North and South.

He liked to share and transmit his valuable knowledge to students with a great touch of humour … his intelligence and astonishing contribution to development studies shall never be forgotten.

Much of his work also focused on the longterm consequences of structural adjustment both on social policy and democracy, and on education and knowledge production. As one of the most important institution-builders of his generation, he fought tirelessly to strengthen and revitalise higher education and intellectual debates within African countries.

Raïssa Niamien, PfAL alumni

Thank you for the personal contribution you made in my life, you definitely left a mark. Mwende Mutulu, PfAL alumni

Released in April 2020, listen to an interview with Professor Thandika Mkandawire on African knowledge systems, as a part of the FLCA’s Citing Africa podcast series.

Thandika’s understanding of development as a process that must be based on research and driven by the global South will have an enduring impact, and his ideas will continue to inform debates on emancipation, self-reliance and independence. Along with the many people who taught and learnt alongside him, our deepest sympathies are with Thandika’s family.

08 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS Promoting new ideas and debates to a global network Our digital platforms showcase the work of the FLCA community by connecting with organisations and individuals that share our goals and help us reach students, policymakers, and researchers globally. Producing videos, blogs, exhibitions, podcasts, news, and student stories, we reach hundreds of thousands of people every year, encouraging collaborations across continents.


Life in Kampala under Lockdown exhibition Photography of market traders affected by Uganda’s COVID-19 public health response

Voices from Africa video Alumni from the Programme for African Leadership share experiences of lockdown from their home countries and what they think will be the biggest challenges in the months ahead

Citing Africa podcast A new episode with the late Professor Thandika Mkandawire in conversation with LSE’s Dr Laura Mann about African knowledge and the autonomy of Africa-based research

Media and communications  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 09





page views

Social media





followers across platforms


engagements on Facebook

followers on Facebook

(+3k from previous year)

17k followers on Twitter

465 followers on LinkedIn

1.2k clicks within our newsletter

10 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

AFRICA AT LSE BLOG A platform for rich analysis, debate and critical voices In its ninth year, the Africa at LSE blog continues to grow as a world-leading platform for critical analysis on issues affecting the continent. Publishing throughout the week, every week, its international and LSE contributors bring peer-reviewed social, political, and economic research to a wide, global readership, and apply their work to current events. In 2019/20, the blog launched six tailored series in collaboration with researchers across the continent to bring local perspectives to emerging debates. These series include Rethinking Fieldwork, exploring the inequalities and ethics embedded in research fieldwork; African Masculinities, documenting the evolution of masculinity in African societies; and the Idjwi Series, reflecting on the social and political terrain of contemporary Burundi.

Photo from a photo exhibition in the Africa at LSE blog, ‘Lockdown in Kampala’. Credit: De Lovie.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the blog further published Shifting Spaces, a series applying a comparative lens to everyday experiences of public health responses across Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, and Kenya. Moreover, to address the urgent need for informed debate on the emerging crisis, we have also launched a COVID-19 portal to host regularly published work assessing the pandemic’s wider impact across Africa. A three-wheeled motorised ’Tuk-Tuk’ carries a passenger through the streets of the Somali capital Mogadishu. Credit: AMISOM Public Information CC.

Media and communications  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 11

An exciting milestone

1 million visitors reached since 2011

Blog stats 2019/20





Annual users

Monthly views

Blog posts published

countries where our readers are based

New series

African Masculinities A blog series exploring the effects, presentation, and evolution of masculinity in contemporary African society

Rethinking ethics and identity in fieldwork Addresses the limitations and morality of conducting research in Africa

COVID-19 in Africa An ongoing portal investigating the wideranging ways the pandemic is impacting the continent

Shifting Spaces Exploring the ways different geographies affect public health responses across Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, and Kenya

Take a look: blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/

Idwji Series Presenting works resulting from a knowledge exchange writing retreat on Idwji Island, Lake Kivu

12 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20


Since its inception in 2016, the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa has increased its media engagement across print, radio, and digital channels as an authority on critical analysis on African political and social developments. In the last year, FLCA researchers have written for internationally renowned newspapers, including the Guardian, appeared on television networks, such as Al Jazeera, Channel 4 News, and the BBC, and promoted their research beyond academic publications in magazines and website features.

FLCA researcher Jonah Lipton discusses ‘social distancing’ on Channel 4 news in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, based on his experiences in Sierra Leone during the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak.

FLCA Senior Fellow Michael Amoah speaks on Al Jazeera news to discuss French troops being deployed to West Africa.

FLCA Fellow Keren Weitzberg was interviewed on BBC World Service, highlighting the anxiety faced by minority groups in Kenya around the government’s new biometric ID project.

Media and communications  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 13


FLCA Director Professor Tim Allen publishes Lawino’s People, a republication of important neglected texts authored by Okot p’Bitek and Frank Knowles Girling, complete with a new introduction.

Centennial Professor Leonard Wantchekon

FLCA Strategic Director Professor Alcinda Honwana

is the focus of a feature in the Economist, covering his remarkable and inspiring journey from being the son of two illiterate farmers to becoming a worldrenowned academic in economic thought.

features in a fulllength interview for the African Arguments podcast, discussing the new ways young people globally understand political engagement and collective action.

FLCA Researcher Costanza Torre publishes in the Lancet on the limitations of current strategies around mental health treatment in conflict settings, including the consequences of adopting universal preconceptions.



WAR TRAUMA IN CONTEXT Detail from Three women on the lake (2018), 245x170 cm, collage on canvas by Kusa Kusa Maski Gael. The figure is located in a dreamlike vision of the lake and mountain range between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a complex image, full of nuances and ambiguities, linked to the artist’s own memories of flight from the Congo, as well as those of the conflict-affected people he worked with in Uganda. In this issue, Torre et al. warn that conceptualizing war trauma in terms of psychiatric pathologies promotes the symptoms that therapists and aid projects purport to address. Without due consideration for the specificities of lived experiences and cultural contexts, what is actually happening may be largely overlooked, with potentially harmful consequences.

anthropology today epidemics

Melissa Leach

war trauma

Costanza Torre, Sophie Mylan,

Melissa Parker & Tim Allen

squatting in Yangon

Stephen Campbell

urban terrorism Atreyee Sen

trafficking discourses

Special issue of Anthropology Today FLCA researchers from the project The Politics of Return, Tim Allen, Melissa Parker, and Costanza Torre, publish an article on the impact of mental health interventions on treating posttraumatic stress disorder. The issue’s front and back covers also include work created by the project’s artistic collaborators in Uganda.

Neil Howard

urban and rural

Domenico Branca



anthropology today



PRINT ISSN 0268-540X ONLINE ISSN 1467-8322 December 2019 – vol 35 – no 6

Granta magazine features FLCA Director Professor Tim Allen Granta published ‘The Long Odyssey of a Child Soldier’, a long-form essay about growing up as a child soldier in the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Congo in the 1990s, featuring insights from Professor Allen.

14 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

AFRICA ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMME A new programme at the FLCA This year, the FLCA is excited to announce the creation of the Africa Engagement Programme (AEP). With the help of a generous donation made by Jules Green (BSc Management Sciences 1985) and Susan Green, the AEP was launched to expand LSE’s commitment to Africa. The programme focuses on developing partnerships with African public and private institutions, promoting African scholarship, and increasing career opportunities for LSE students and alumni across the continent. By cultivating relationships with African academic institutions and researchers, potential African employers, donors, and alumni, the programme aims to contribute to an ecosystem of change-makers that will positively contribute to the evolution of LSE, and to the advancement of the African continent.

African Research Fellowship The FLCA is launching the African Research Fellowship, which will be supported by AEP. This role is designed to strengthen a junior researcher’s career and provide a platform from which they can build their research agenda and create lasting collaborations. The research officer will contribute to the development of the Centre’s research programme through participation in grant applications, research seminars, and meetings. The candidate will be mentored and supported by the Strategic Director of the Centre, Professor Alcinda Honwana, and by the Centre Director, Professor Tim Allen.

Africa Engagement Programme  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 15

Programme Objectives The initial programme objectives are: To build partnerships • To build and maintain relationships with institutions that are centres of academic excellence focused on Africa, enhancing our research outputs, events, and publications • To partner with organisations that can bolster LSE’s presence on the African continent and encourage more African students to attend LSE’s academic programmes To support alumni • To support the career journey of LSE African alumni, providing avenues especially for MSc graduates to develop their knowledge, refine their skills, and build the networks necessary to access the African job market • To foster, support, and strengthen a powerful and diverse LSE alumni network on the African continent through regional gatherings and alumni events • To collaborate with other LSE alumni groups to encourage networking internationally while helping to foster global knowledge exchange

The programme will contribute to an ecosystem of change-makers that will positively contribute to the evolution of LSE.

To engage with employers • To engage with employers, promoting internship and employment opportunities for LSE African students and alumni • To gather up-to-date information on the African job market and develop resources for African students at LSE To advance philanthropic support • To garner support from philanthropic, alumni, and corporate sponsors • To promote fundraising efforts that highlight the achievements of LSE and the FLCA on the African continent

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PROGRAMME FOR AFRICAN LEADERSHIP ABOUT THE PROGRAMME The Programme for African Leadership (PfAL) is the Firoz Lalji Centre’s extra-curricular leadership, networking, and skills building initiative for African and African diaspora students studying a Master’s degree at LSE. Since its launch in 2012, more than 440 students from over 40 countries have taken part and joined the international PfAL alumni network. In the 2019/20 academic year, 76 students from 18 African countries join the ninth cohort and engaged in a range of networking, skillsbuilding and career-oriented activities. The PfAL9 curriculum was based around themes of leadership at every level, project management, entrepreneurship, employment, and intraAfrican network building.

Throughout the year, PfAL partnered with organisations across LSE and London such as the LSE Business Improvement Unit, LSE Generate, LSE Careers, and Nigerians in the Square Mile (NISM) to deliver skills-building and leadership development to the students.

PfAL is the prime of an African student’s experience at LSE … awesome social events, workshops and the team who lead it make studying at LSE worthwhile ... It has aided me to fully understand what I want to achieve for myself, my country and the continent. Fumani Mabogoane, PfAL alumni

The PfAL students graduating in 2019 with Firoz Lalji, whose generous funding as the programme founder has been invaluable.

Programme for African Leadership  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 17

Expansion The PfAL alumni network continues to grow across the continent and beyond, creating a unique global community. Following on from the success of the 2018 second biennial PfAL Forum in Mombasa, Kenya, the programme has focussed on encouraging and facilitating networking opportunities within the alumni network. On Africa Day in May 2020, the PfAL Network gathered digitally for celebrations and to discuss issues affecting the continent, including the impact of Africa’s debt, the COVID-19 response, and how African countries are represented in global media. Throughout the day, PfAL alumni delivered engaging presentations and used discussion spaces to share their knowledge collaboratively across countries and time zones.

Being part of PfAL has not only been an amazing experience … It was an opportunity to network and share knowledge of what it means to be African. Thubelihle Mafu, PfAL alumni

The PfAL network Where our alumni network work







Private Sector

Public Sector

18 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

PfAL Projects

Switching to online

We continued the annual student PfAL Projects in 2019’s Michaelmas term. The projects encouraged student collaboration on the design and planning of an initiative to improve Africa in one of the following categories: health, education, arts and culture or trade and travel. The winning team, as selected by the PfAL9 cohort, was Politic’Art, an initiative to provide African political artists in repressive countries an anonymous online platform from which to share their work without fear of reprisals. The second-place team was SHARP, a Sexual Health and Reproduction Programme initiative to educate and empower high school students on sexual health issues in the Dodomo and Morogoro regions of Tanzania.

Networking and socialising By creating engaging social initiatives, PfAL strengthens the network and the potential for long-term collaboration beyond LSE. The 2019/20 academic year started with PfAL welcome events, as well as the first socials where students were first able to meet each other and form friendships. These socials were followed by monthly events and, at the end of term, the PfAL End of Year dinner. The regular social events carried on beyond March 2020, despite disruption to LSE teaching and restrictions to students’ movement caused by COVID-19 outbreaks.

Moving to online spaces, PfAL created sessions where students could mingle digitally and share tips and tricks for surviving lockdown, including advice on working from home, digital resources such as the PfAL Quarantine Survival Guide, and the PfAL2020 Lockdown List, a compilation of more than 100 books, films, and TV shows to keep students entertained. Students were also provided with food and book vouchers throughout the lockdown for keeping up their spirits.

Sometimes in your professional life you find yourself stuck. You can quickly write an email to the PfAL network, then people are very willing to help you with ideas. Abdul-Wadudu Adam Mohammed PfAL cohort 5

Programme for African Leadership  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 19

Skills-building workshops

The PfAL9 virtual graduation

PfAL has continued to deliver high-quality workshops on a variety of topics with our partners. Organised for each academic term, workshops for the students have included: Pitching and Presenting to Funders and Investors with LSE Generate, Project Planning with LSE Business Improvement Unit, Africans and Mental Health with LSE Student Counselling, and a session on leadership in the African context, delivered by Dr Vanessa Iwowo.

Although the year was different to students’ expectations, completing the programme was nonetheless a milestone for celebration.

Many opportunities are constantly being posted on the PfAL network. Husseina Ahmed PfAL cohort 5

An online graduation was held over Zoom in July 2020, where the 76 students engaged with alumni and a panel of inspirational leaders. Strategic Director of the FLCA, Professor Alcinda Honwana, spoke to the students about shaping their futures and using their voices to speak against racial injustice and discrimination. Maudo Jallow from the PfAL6 cohort gave the alumni address, shedding light on difficulties often faced post-graduation and moving back home, as well as the successes that come from perseverance in the workplace. PfAL alumni Amina Alaoui Soulimani addressed her peers in a speech that touched strongly on the values seen in the PfAL code: integrity, respect, and humility.

For change to be effective and meaningful it requires the transformation of mentalities, the transformation of our ways of thinking. Professor Alcinda Honwana


20 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

Water collection in the DRC. Credit: Pat Stys

Research  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 21

AN EXPANDING PROGRAMME AT THE FLCA Research at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa is dynamic and generates novel insights into governance and public authority, humanitarian action, health-seeking strategies, and decisionmaking, as well as community resilience. Our research offers new knowledge about the dynamics within the NGO sector, digital innovation in agriculture, trajectories of displaced populations, and the dynamics of return and reintegration of refugees and displaced people across Africa. Our programme is expanding every year and new research projects are always underway. We are building a network on datafication and digital rights, as well as a series of multidisciplinary research initiatives on the

impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the African continent. Developing partnerships in countries such as Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sierra Leone, our sustained engagement with local researchers and institutions continues to generate insightful perspectives for our work. In the years to come we expect to continue broadening the focus and the scope of our research initiatives beyond East and Central Africa to cover a variety of issues including the study of children, women, youth politics, the environment, and social movements.

Zanzibar street hawker. Credit: Kara Blackmore

Burundian refugee camp in Lusenda: MONUSCO / Abel Kavanagh

22 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

CENTRE FOR PUBLIC AUTHORITY AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Exploring public authority and governance in fragile and conflict-affected areas In its fourth year, the Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID), funded by the ESRC/GCRF, has made significant contributions to understanding how public authority relates to governance in fragile and conflict-affected regions. Continuing research in Uganda, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya, the Centre has also launched new studies focussed on everyday experiences of public governance, public health, security, and development in Tanzania, Malawi, and Burundi. Drawing on expertise from universities, charities, and the private sector across Africa, the CPAID network is expanding with new partnerships

ANISOM provides free medical services in Somalia: Stuart Price

and research collaborations. These partnerships are crucial to CPAID’s goal of creating realworld impact through its research, engaging government and civil society actors with findings, publications, and policy proposals.

What are CPAID’s goals? • To promote new ways of thinking about public authority • To investigate how governance and public service provision in fragile contexts function on the ground • To help translate findings into more effective policy responses

Research  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 23


7 Active research projects

Uganda Red Cross worker at the Uganda border. Credit: Anna Dubuis and DFID.




Institutional partners

WHAT IS PUBLIC AUTHORITY? Public authority is any kind of authority beyond the immediate family which commands a degree of consent – from clans, religious institutions, aid agencies, civil society organisations, rebel militia, and vigilante groups, to formal and semi-formal mechanisms of government.



Countries researched

Languages spoken

Key research questions Sustainable economies and societies • How do forms of public authority serve populations in places impacted by weak, ineffective or exploitative state institutions? Equitable access to sustainable development • How are populations affected by the dynamics of social and economic exclusion inherent in certain forms of public authority? Human rights, good governance and social justice • How do forms of public authority affect governance institutions, inequality, gender relations, migration, displacement, and economic growth?

24 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

CPAID POLICY The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa conducts research with direct policy implications for governments, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs. Based on empirical evidence and thorough analysis, its targeted policy campaigns strive to make real impact through clear recommendations.

CPAID and the OECD Core members of CPAID participated in their first meeting with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to shape the organisation’s understanding of effective peacebuilding. As part of a two-day workshop in March 2020, CPAID researchers questioned the ways aid donors often enter conflict and fragile state contexts, uncritically assuming that certain actors – governments, civil society organisations and the private sector – should remain at the heart of their work.

Advising on responses to Ebola outbreaks CPAID researchers have published on Uganda’s response to the 2018 Ebola outbreak at its border with the DRC. Supported by the Wellcome Trust project ‘Pandemic Preparedness: Local and Global Concepts and Practices in Tackling Disease Threats in Africa’, the brief provides clear recommendations for future epidemic outbreaks. Based on ethnographic studies over 12 months, the policy brief reports that the response to Ebola was uncoordinated, chaotic and over-bureaucratic, supported by international donors who influenced the neglect of vital areas in the Ugandan government’s response. In July 2020, CPAID researchers met with UK parliamentarians to advise on epidemic containment strategies for the region.

Research  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 25

PUBLIC AUTHORITY AND EPIDEMICS Ebola and public authority

COVID-19 and public authority

CPAID conducts research into the political, social, and economic circumstances under which outbreaks of Ebola spread and can be contained. By investigating how public authority shapes governance in regions affected by the virus, the research better equips policymakers to manage health responses based on knowledge of local power relations and popular social attitudes.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 across the continent in 2020, CPAID researchers have used an extensive network on the ground to monitor the impact of public health responses on citizens’ everyday lives.

In the last year our researchers have produced extensive evidence-based research on Ebola outbreaks, ranging from academic papers to action-oriented research briefs and blog posts. In Uganda, our researchers have met with regional public health authorities to discuss critical recommendations based on previous government interventions.

How do forms of public authority shape the ability to manage effective public health responses?

Credit: UN Photo/Albert González Farran

Through a public authority lens, researchers have investigated the role of religions, charities, local community organisations, and militias in their pandemic response. Having published numerous blogs on Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, and Malawi, the CPAID research team continue to track fast-moving developments for peer-reviewed research. In June 2020, CPAID Investigator Professor Melissa Parker presented at the online event ‘Preparedness’ and ‘Response’ to COVID-19 with the Royal Anthropological Institute, during which she provided anthropological insights on events in Africa drawn from local networks.

26 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

FINDINGS FROM CPAID How does a public authority lens increase our understanding of development and humanitarian processes?

The aid sector CPAID researchers found that the aid sector has only a partial understanding of public authorities in fragile and conflict-affected states. At both a local and regional level, the aid sector’s programming frequently neglects to consider the role played by authorities other than state and civil society organisations, such as traditional authorities, faith-based organisations or armed organisations. • National staff are much more aware than expat staff of the role played by different public authorities, who often unofficially incorporate them into their work.

• Aid organisations such as official donors and INGOs often themselves behave as public authorities, which they fail to acknowledge.

Commodity chains on conflict areas Analysing commodity chains is a good way to study the different armed public authorities in conflict-affected areas. By looking at how state and non-state actors are involved in various stages of the chain we learn about how these groups both compete and depend on each other, and how everyday livelihoods have become militarised. • Research into small-scale fishing in the DRC reveals an entire economy based around the practice with transport and commodification of fish militarised in competition for power. • It is important to take into account social and environmental landscapes to grasp how different actors exercise and enforce their authority.

• This understanding is more clearly demonstrated in practice than in documentation, which often focusses exclusively on the state and formal civil society organisations, while downplaying other forms of public authority.

Credit: UN Photo/Albert González Farran

Research  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 27

Violent political markets The logistics economy in Somalia has increased instability and the propensity for violence. In particular, contractors in transport, logistics, and construction in Somalia have retained political and economic power throughout the civil war and during post-war state-building, and by enforcing their authority they have decreased the authority of the state itself. • Infrastructure contractors in Somalia have contributed to insecurity, competition between clans, elusive wealth, and financial uncertainty. • Financial uncertainty is also generated by disorderly foreign aid contracting in an international system which views infrastructure contracting as vital to peace, stability, and economic development.

International policymaking and the third United Nations Recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in the number of private and public sector organisations willing to participate in global governance. Working alongside the United Nations, these non-state actors have on many occasions solved problems and improved lives, acting as sources of public authority in their influence on international policymaking. • The interaction of non-state actors (the Third UN) with governments (the First UN) and inter-governmental bureaucracies (the Second UN) help explain shifts in policies, priorities, and practices. • Knowledge institutions around the UN are essential yet underappreciated sources of public authority, knowledge, and international norms. • These Third UN organisations themselves reflect global disparities in the production of and access to knowledge.

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THE POLITICS OF RETURN Exploring the dynamics of return and reintegration of refugees in Central and Eastern Africa Finished in September 2019, the Politics of Return project investigated over three years the conditions for social repair following mass displacement in Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the project addressed the huge practical and policy challenges for governments dealing with processes of return and reintegration, exploring how refugees, internally-displaced persons, and former combatants negotiate this under-researched phase in the lifecycle of conflict. Drawing on anthropology, comic journalism, history, heritage studies, and political science, the project focussed on the everyday experiences of those attempting to build or re-build communities, contributing to a better understanding of conflict-affected societies in the aftermath of violence.

Imvepi refugee camp, northern Uganda. Credit: UNMISS.

The project produced numerous publications, workshops, exhibitions, policy reports, and artistic residencies to further conversations in both academic scholarship and affected communities.

PoR in numbers




artwork exhibitions



organisational partnerships


Research  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 29

Research Questions

Key findings

• Following and during armed conflict, how does social repair become possible for people who return and what are the common patterns?

• The ‘return’ of displaced populations and former combatants can lead to renewed tensions and potentially further cycles of violence.

• How do international and national projects and programmes aimed at facilitating return, repair and peacebuilding relate to the realities of lived experiences on the ground? • What insights emerge from a comparison between sites in Central Africa and literature on return and repair in other parts of the world?

• The political and social dimensions of return are as vital as those humanitarian and logistical. • Return is an inherently political process, affecting the legitimacy of public authorities and power relations, which calls for more conflict-sensitive approaches.

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‘State of Agony’ by Willy Karekezi. Acrylic on Canvas & Refugee Testimonial Sound. 150x115.

Artwork and exhibitions

When We Return catalogue

The project’s engagement strategy involved artists working alongside researchers to explore the lived realities of displacement. Rather than a passive commentary on research findings, exhibitions were curated to put artists in dialogue with researchers and their subjects, using contemporary forms to make statements about the complicated issues presented.

Based on a residency at 32° East/Uganda Arts Trust, the Politics of Return artists launched the exhibition When We Return at TAKS Centre in Gulu, Uganda from 25 July to 14 August 2019.

Artworks are more than representations of key findings and actual processes of uncovering knowledge Kara Blackmore, project curator

Reflecting on the themes of return, reintegration and displacement, the exhibition featured multimedia artwork and installations focussed on people rebuilding their communities. A catalogue of the works has also been made available and disseminated at the project’s events and workshops.

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Contemporary and historical trauma in post-conflict places In September 2019, the Politics of Return project held a final workshop to discuss narratives of contemporary and historical trauma in the aftermath of conflict. In post-conflict northern Uganda, researchers described trauma narratives as prevalent for individuals formerly abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army, recounting their attempts to reintegrate into society. The discussion highlighted project findings that Euro-American ideas of trauma, popularised by the emerging field of global mental health, could have significant unintended social and economic impacts. The language around ‘trauma’ was shown to have a currency for people who know how it can be used to access NGOs’ resources, and any mental health interventions should consequently be scaled with caution.

‘Three Women on the Lake’ by Kusa Kusa Maski Gael. 245x170cm. Collage on Canvas. Created for the project The Politics of Return.

The workshop also addressed the broader history of ‘trauma’, and how the twentieth century idea of universal psychiatric disorders remains an influence on characterising nonWestern cultures as exotic. These problematic histories mean we should remain vigilant about how we use categories to understand mental health in different contexts.

A page spread from the When We Return catalogue

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SAFETY OF STRANGERS Understanding the realities of humanitarian protection Humanitarian protection is a contested, contingent and muddled concept. In the daily realities of keeping strangers safe in violent conflict, the confusion surrounding humanitarian protection has prompted reinterpretations of safety that not only challenge humanitarian practice but also remake its assumptions about morality and authority.

A research project of outstanding quality from its overall conceptual framing down to the detail of its methods. Arts and Humanities Research Council

UNAMID peacekeepers Darfur: UN Photo/Olivier Chassot

That is acutely so in parts of Africa, where the underlying motivations for humanitarian action have both been challenged by political leaders and often seem compromised or confusing to those most affected by humanitarian crises. Launched in June 2020, the Safety of Strangers project, funded by AHRC/DFID, investigates these realities by exploring the impact of local protection mechanisms in South Sudan and its borderlands. Using a broad range of disciplinary approaches including anthropology, history, theology, ethnomusicology, and curatorial studies, the project will explore how people deal with complex moral, logistical, spiritual, and intellectual problems in their daily experiences of protection during conflict, and practices of keeping strangers safe.

Research  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 33

A view of the Bentiu POC site, South Sudan. Credit: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Key research questions • How should we understand the complex struggles of South Sudanese to protect and stay safe both in South Sudan and neighbouring countries of displacement? • What are the hidden moral anxieties of national and international humanitarian protection actors? • How are different actors able to contest or co-opt humanitarian ideas to provide different forms of safety? • How do people cope in their everyday lives with complicated and morally ambiguous humanitarian laws and concepts?

Building local capacity The project will bring new ideas to these debates by prioritising research and publications by African early career scholars. The research team will work to increase the capacity of its partner, the University of Juba, to offer teaching on research in humanitarian protection.

Supporting policymakers and practitioners The project will ensure the research has a positive impact on humanitarian policy and practice. This will be achieved by working closely with three humanitarian organisations: the Norwegian Refugee Council and two South Sudanese organisations, Nile Hope and CARD. The project also includes an advisory board of high-profile international practitioners, and findings will be shared through meetings, policy briefs, and events with key decision-makers.

PROJECT OUTPUTS The project will produce a range of outputs to engage scholars, policymakers, humanitarian practitioners and affected communities in South Sudan and its borderlands, including journal articles, blog posts, exhibitions, musical pieces and graphic animations.

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IDPs in South Sudan: UN Photo/Isaac Billy

HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF THE NGO SECTOR IN SOUTH SUDAN Informing the localisation agenda Running between March 2019 and April 2020, this project investigated the historical and political dynamics of local and national NGOs in South Sudan. Understanding these organisations’ origins, institutional development, and contemporary functions, the project informed the UK Department for International Development’s engagement with the localisation agenda both in South Sudan and globally.

NGOs and faith-based groups have played a significant role in the historical development of Southern/South Sudan … shaped by the changing political situation in the region, the capability of leaders and the actions of donors. Leben Moro, project researcher, Juba University

POLICY This project has published a short policy paper for humanitarian donors and funders seeking to provide a more enabling environment for South Sudanese NGOs.

More than focussing on material dynamics, an objective of the study was to understand how NGOs at local and national levels have been shaped by major events such as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and South Sudan’s independence as well as, more recently, the conflict in December 2013 and July 2016. The project further sought to grasp the leadership styles and composition of local and national NGOs and the realities for managing funding shortfalls or gaps, and how they cope in difficult circumstances. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Juba and The Research People consultancy, the project collected qualitative interviews, life histories, and organisational histories from across South Sudan, including in Akobo, Wau, and Yambio.

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Report on localising humanitarian aid during armed conflict The project has published two reports on the struggles and strategies of local and national South Sudanese organisations during complex emergencies. Moving beyond global-level debates, the reports focus on the histories, politico-economic dynamics and everyday realities of NGOs during South Sudan’s armed conflicts and intermittent periods of peace. Drawing on ethnographic and historical research, the team conducted consultations with over 200 people in urban and rural areas working for local and national NGOs, as well as local communities, authorities, and former staff. Bringing local perspectives to global debates on localisation, the report makes a rare contribution to knowledge on the everyday efforts and motivations of South Sudanese NGOs, and structural issues within the aid sector.

Key findings • South Sudanese NGOs have expanded in waves during humanitarian crises. These waves of expansion have entrenched assumptions that South Sudanese NGOs should tolerate higher risks than their international counterparts. • The founders and leaders of many of South Sudan’s largest NGOs are often highly motivated, dynamic and charismatic individuals who often have significant experience of working for international organisations. • Short-term projects and underfunding have consistently undermined the capacity of many South Sudanese NGOs. The organisation founders have often made significant financial sacrifices to establish and sustain their organisations. • The national or international resources managed by NGOs make them significant players in local political economies across South Sudan, using their position to uphold humanitarian principles.

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Datafication and digital rights. Credit: Bobby Neptune for DAI

More and more aspects of people’s daily lives in East Africa are mediated through digital platforms, and ever larger numbers of people are using networked devices, thereby producing increasing amounts of data. This ‘datafication’ can be a source of value for many different actors – states, businesses, civil society organisations, and individuals. It is harvested in multiple ways by the devices and platforms people use and fed back into technologies for everyday activities, informing how digital platforms operate and how people interact with them. Launched in July 2020, this research project seeks to understand how digitisation and datafication are reshaping public communications and the informal economy in East Africa. By focussing on Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, the project seeks to understand the relationship between data, everyday experiences, and economic activity.

Datafication and Digital Rights Network A key objective of the project is to establish a sustainable network of interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners, from East Africa and internationally. The network will strengthen links to policymaking, regulatory, and technology actors in East Africa, inform technological and social development around data, and share information across languages and different contexts. The network will focus on the following key questions: • How is the power of digital platforms negotiated within Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia’s socio-economic settings? • To what extent are users aware of the algorithmic strategies used by digital platforms? • Which tactics are enacted at grassroots levels to counter or mitigate these strategies?

Little is known in global South contexts about the processes that harvest and commercialise data, and how they relate to citizens’ rights and agency.

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LOCALISED EVIDENCE AND DECISION-MAKING (LEAD) Addressing the need for locally-relevant evidence in public health decision-making In areas of sub-Saharan Africa, public health practitioners are part of a larger global health system, wherein they implement diseasespecific, global health interventions. While these are largely devised and financed by external agents, the information needed for effective decision-making at national and sub-national levels have not been extensively studied. Through new research and practical workshops, the LEAD project creates explicit links between local practitioners and the development evidence, identifying local evidence needs and elucidating the complexity of implementation from the local perspective. Based on fieldwork in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda, the project focuses on the transmission and control of schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths.

The workshop sessions were very practical and participants said the knowledge obtained will help them to strengthen Bilharzia programmes.

BLOG In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the LEAD project has launched the Shifting Spaces series, exploring diverse healthseeking behaviours by local communities across the African Great Lakes region.

Workshops Over the last year researchers have held three workshops gathering data related to evidence for decision-making, held with village health workers, Ministry of Health representatives, and government partner organisations in both Uganda and Malawi. The project has also carried out a survey of researchers working on soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis, which will serve as a point of comparison for analysing data collected in future workshops.

Solomon Kamurari, Uganda-UK Health Alliance

Credit: Nachingwea District, Lindi Province. RTI Fights NTDs.

38 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

GOING WITH OR AGAINST THE FLOW A study of water governance in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo Launched with partner organisation Mercy Corps, this innovative project examines households’ daily management, financial governance, and access to water and basic social services in the city of Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In March 2020, the project concluded its longitudinal study into how 24 poor households in Goma leverage their financial and social resources to manage life’s unexpected surprises – good and bad. Carried out bi-weekly over

A water programme similar to Mercy Corps’ may not work in an area Butembo that is mono-ethic, where they are not used to dealing with outsiders. Bauma Balume Johnson, DRC project researcher

Credit: Pat Stys

nine months, data collection by five Congolese researchers has revealed interesting findings related to the importance of social networks and how they are understood. Additionally, interviews with stakeholders involved in Mercy Corps’ water provision programme have unpicked how it sought to establish a public-private partnership with the state’s primary water provider.

Key findings • The social importance of the male head of the household being the sole breadwinner means discussions on financial support are highly sensitive, and often secretive. • Respondents’ anticipation of benefitting from future development projects, resulting from participating in previous studies, leads to an increased presentation of poverty and a lack of income generation.

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Community outreach on Uganda border: Anna Dubuis/DFID

DECONSTRUCTING NOTIONS OF RESILIENCE Exploring coping strategies and resilience in post-conflict Uganda The idea that there are socio-cultural systems that make people more or less able to recover from crises has intuitive appeal and is of great importance for policy design. But despite its potential as an explanatory concept, ‘resilience’ is a fuzzy notion that can complicate aid delivery and shift responsibility onto the victims of war and crisis for their situation.

Key findings

Deconstructing Notions of Resilience, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, focusses on the West Nile, Karamoja, and the Acholi sub-region in Uganda, exploring how people negotiate, experience, and understand resilience and their coping strategies.

• A more ethical and engaged form of resilience plans its programmes in response to known and stated community-derived needs.

Contrasted with resilience as understood in humanitarian-development programming, over the last year researchers have explored these conceptions across contexts and applications, including in global mental health strategies, support by religious institutions, refugee camp ‘trauma’ counselling, and sports interventions in post-conflict settings.

• There is a disconnect between resilience as understood by local communities and development programmers. • Resilience-based programming often works with imposed definitions by outsiders without local context.

• Programmes based on local-level, ground-up understandings are more likely to maintain community buy-in and deliver longer-lasting results.

Recent resilience based interventions appear to neutralise and dismantle those aspects of communities that made them resilient in the first place. Ponsiano Bimeny, project researcher

40 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

LIVING THE EVERYDAY Health-seeking in times of sickness and epidemics at Uganda’s borders Living the Everyday, funded by the British Academy, addresses how social relations and everyday life affect the knowledge and management of sickness, informing academic and policy debates about epidemic responses. Based in the West Nile sub-region of Uganda, its research sites are situated directly on the borders of Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda-South Sudan.

COVID-19 highlights the importance of understanding the spread of disease at national borders, yet little is known about how people seek healthcare in these spaces.

Recently, these borders have come to the attention of international experts, first under the guise of Ebola-preparedness efforts following the spread from the DRC, and more recently as high-profile positive infections of COVID-19 in Uganda have been imported. Yet little is known about everyday social relations, movement, and health-seeking across these spaces. In partnership with Gulu University and Muni University in Uganda, over the last year the project has examined the ways historic experiences inform local responses to emerging health threats. Adopting medical, anthropological, and geographical methods, these studies address how local understandings of Hepatitis B and government vaccination programmes have been conceptualised compared to earlier responses to HIV/AIDS, and how historic state interventions into populations’ everyday lives have shaped people’s responses to diseases, most recently to plague, Ebola, and COVID-19.

AFRICA AT LSE BLOG The project has produced a ten-part series on the effects and experiences of COVID-19 prevention in Uganda, drawing on its local network and interdisciplinary expertise in the region.

A Red Cross volunteer wearing protective clothing as part of an Ebola response. Credit: IFRC

Research  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 41

A TALE OF TWO GREEN VALLEYS Data-driven agro-innovation in California’s Central Valley and Kenya’s Rift Valley A Tale of Two Green Valleys, funded by the ESRC, has continued its research into the digital transformations taking place across two rich agricultural valleys: Kenya’s Rift Valley and Central Valley in California. The project uses a political economy approach to examine who is benefiting and losing out from the commercialisation of digital data in agriculture, and how these benefits and losses are understood across different political players.

Over the last year the researchers, Dr Laura Mann and Dr Gianluca Iazzolino, have created a podcast based on extensive interviews with respondents in the two regions. Organised around discussions at a workshop in Nairobi in 2019, three episodes are available in both English and Swahili to engage communities with project findings in Kenya and California, and beyond. The team also organised a farm tech exhibition in California addressing digitisation in agriculture. Listen to the podcast.

Credit: CIAT-Neil Palmer

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Events  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 43

PROMOTING NEW DEBATES TO A GLOBAL AUDIENCE The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa hosts a wide and varied range of events, such as public lectures, seminars, workshops, book launches, and conferences, which draw upon the outstanding multidisciplinary expertise of LSE’s diverse knowledge community. In collaboration with its African partner institutions, it engages thousands of scholars, students, policy makers, aid experts, development professionals, and media and business representatives every year.

Event topics

Emerging challenges and impacts of COVID-19

Decolonisation of African knowledge systems

The global legacy of African women writers

Being young, black and gifted in academia

China’s infrastructure investments in East Africa

Events at a glance




public events


+ attendees

Speaker highlights

Professor Akosua Ampofo Adomako, President of the African Studies Association, Africa

Vanessa Moungar, Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, African Development Bank

Margaret Busby OBE, publisher, editor, and writer and co-founder of Allison & Busby

Dr David Luke, Director, UN Economic Commission for Africa

Dr Wangui wa Goro, academic, social critic, translator, and writer

44 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20


Africa’s Decade: Now or Never? The LSE Africa Summit is an annual studentled conference which showcases Africa’s contribution to the world, promoting debate around contemporary challenges and opportunities facing the continent. By gathering renowned scholars, leading politicians, change makers, and forwardthinking entrepreneurs, the Summit provides a unique platform for sharing ideas and nurturing relationships, translating thought into meaningful action. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we were unable to host this year’s Summit. However, our passionate student-led team did a fantastic job of organising numerous panels and cultural events over two days, inviting a wide range of speakers from across the continent.

Events  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 45

Summit themes

Proposed panels included a focus on:

The 2020 Summit, Africa’s Decade: Now or Never?, asked the audience to picture the continent at a historic crossroads, posing how it might leverage its strengths to capitalise on the new decade ahead.

• The role of Africans in addressing the global climate crisis

Through its unique and open platform, African thinkers, innovators, activists, and thought leaders were invited to celebrate, critique, and re-imagine the continent’s future, addressing the urgency of a critical exploration of African solutions to Africa’s challenges.

• Ongoing battles for gender equality and rights for individuals with marginalised identities • Africa’s population boom and the opportunities for young people • Digital space as a democratic tool to magnify the continent’s progressive voices We are immensely proud of the team’s work organising this Summit, and we have no doubt it would have been an awe-inspiring event for students, staff, and the London public.

46 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20


Credit: Testing in Madagascar. World Bank/Henitsoa Rafalia.

Event series addressing the pandemic As part of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the FLCA has hosted a series of webinars addressing the pandemic’s repercussions on Africa. The series has attracted high profile speakers from the United Nations, the African Development Bank, Chatham House, Médecins Sans Frontières, and leading international universities.

There are lots of innovative and local projects in response to the pandemic, but we do not have the continent-wide mechanisms to support these projects and meet people’s needs.

Investigating the social, economic, and geopolitical effects of the pandemic, as well as the health impacts, topics have ranged from discussions on humanitarian challenges to food security, shifting public health priorities to international finance and leadership. By working collaboratively with departments across the School, and foregrounding on-theground perspectives from Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Uganda, Liberia, Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Mozambique, we have successfully reached a worldwide audience in the thousands.

Events  Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa | 47

COVID-19 in Africa series in numbers








countries represented

Issues explored • Debt Relief and Africa During COVID-19: the global response Examining the case for debt relief in facilitating African governments to better address the impact of the pandemic • COVID-19 in Africa: Leadership, Inequality and Resilience Discussing actions African states have taken in response to the global pandemic and what is needed from leaders to ensure the resilience of countries and the continent • The Impact of COVID-19 on Global Health Presenting a comparative multi-country perspective on shifting health priorities across Africa • Food Security and Africa after COVID-19 Addressing food insecurity in the face of supply chain disruptions and rising unemployment • Looking back at COVID-19: how will Africa have changed one year from now? Looking ahead to emerging development and humanitarian challenges

48 | Firoz Lalji  Centre for Africa  Annual Report 2019/20

AFRICA TALKS Open and issue-oriented debates on Africa Africa Talks is a series of high-profile events that create a podium for African voices to inform and transform global debates, inspiring new perceptions of the continent. The FLCA’s flagship event series, Africa Talks predates the Centre itself – symbolising the long tradition of engagement between LSE and the African continent.

Decolonising knowledge In January 2020, we hosted the event Decolonising African Knowledge Systems, where prestigious speakers examined attempts to unpick Eurocentric epistemologies and colonial influence in the academy, and presented ideas on how these systems could be rethought, re-framed, and reconstructed. A podcast of the event is available on the LSE player.

African women writers In March 2020, we hosted The Global Legacy of African Women Writers at the LSE Festival: Shape the World. Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the speakers discussed the unique ways African women have taken ownership of global literary spaces through memory, sisterhood, and storytelling. The event included captivating readings from the literary speakers and, afterwards, a sold-out book signing. A podcast of the event is available on the LSE player.

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Workshops, seminars and events

Public events

Over the last year the FLCA has hosted numerous workshops and seminars throughout the Michaelmas and Lent term, geared towards students, research partners, policymakers, scholars, LSE staff, and the general public.

• The Iron Snake Railway A discussion on the controversial Iron Snake Railway in East Africa, exploring its complex and fascinating story in an era of Chinese state investment.

CPAID seminars: • A series of 9 seminars hosted by the FLCA’s Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) invited academics from across LSE, the UK, and Europe to discuss how public authority relates to development in Africa.

• A Fly Girl’s Guide to University An insightful conversation on navigating UK academic spaces as women of colour, with the writers from A FLY Girl’s Guide to University from Cambridge University.

Workshops • Young, Gifted and Black in Academia A practical workshop where Black academics offered advice to young Black students wishing to apply for a PhD programme.

• Localising humanitarian aid during armed conflict A report launch discussing the localisation of humanitarian aid in South Sudan, highlighting the histories and creativity of South Sudanese NGOs.

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Gulu University

Social Sciences Research Council

The African Youth Initiative Network

Muni University

The Research People

The Centre for Political Studies

University of Juba

Mercy Corps


Ghent University

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Save the Children

Conflict Research Group

32 Degrees East


Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Bukavu

Action Pour la Promotion Rurale

Njala University


Donor Acknowledgements We would like to express our warm appreciation to LSE alumnus Firoz Lalji for his generous support in funding the Centre. The Centre has also benefitted from further funding from Jules Green (BSc Management Sciences 1985) and Susan Green, Pii Ketvel (LLM 1995) and Gisella Ketvel (MSc European Studies 1995), and Dr Burkhard P Varnholt (General Course 1991). Their support for our public events programme, the Programme for African Leadership, and our research programmes has been invaluable.

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The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (FLCA) focuses on engagement with Africa through cuttingedge research, teaching, and public events, strengthening LSE’s long-term commitment to placing Africa at the heart of understandings and debates on global issues. Contact us for more information or to support the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa: Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa London School of Economics and Political Science Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE United Kingdom


africacentre@lse.ac.uk @AfricaAtLSE

@LSEAfricaCentre @LSEFirozLaljiCentreforAfrca


Profile for Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa

Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa 2019-20 Annual Report  

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa 2019-20 annual report presents the year's output and achievements. This includes work from its research pr...

Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa 2019-20 Annual Report  

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa 2019-20 annual report presents the year's output and achievements. This includes work from its research pr...

Profile for lseflca