Research on a changing continent | 1
Throwing the dice for Africa’s future
uring the recent festive season, my extended family gathered as usual around the popular board game Monopoly–not just any of the 103 licensed versions, but the 2002 South Africa edition. This is a game that brings back memories from the beginning of the millennium when we were
2 | Shades of Africa
living in Namibia, where our now worn and patched game was once purchased. Over the 14 years that have since elapsed, the African continent has adopted a more positive game plan and image. According to the latest report on the UN Millennium Goals, Africa as a whole has seen an acceleration in economic growth, established ambitious social safety nets and designed policies for boosting education and tackling HIV and other diseases. Several African countries have also introduced women’s quotas in parliament, leading the way internationally on gender equality, and increased gender parity in primary schools. Although overall poverty rates are still hovering around 48 per cent, according to the most recent estimates, most countries have made progress towards at least one Goal. The continent
has become attractive to those who play Monopoly for real – foreign investors, global traders and infrastructure developers. But developing the future Africa requires investments other than just money. Most of all, knowledge is needed, and this is where the Nordic Africa Institute becomes part of the game. This publication showcases our trade: high-quality research on modern Africa based on long-term collaboration between the Nordic and the African academic communities, and with strong links to policy and practice. Knowledge is a key to understanding what challenges and opportunities Africa will encounter in the future. So throw your dice, place your bet and join the game with us – Africa is here to stay as a world player! Iina Soiri, Director of the Nordic Africa Institute
Illustration by Eric Parker (original in color)
Contents 6 Nigeria The Middleman
Burkina Faso & Burundi Life-term presidency
North & West Africa False springs
Kenya Ethno-regional favouritism
Nigeria Elites playing ethnic card
Eritrea The politics of labels
African Politics In search of ideology
DR Congo The lives of military wives
Mozambique Female war veterans
East Africa Building from the roots
Liberia Cocoa advice to the top
Ethiopia ”Not a clutch of eggs”
West Africa Small-scale gold diggers
NAI Researcher Media for good or worse
NAI Library No book too dusty
Uganda Negotiating with spirits
Shades of Africa: Research on a changing continent ISBN 978-91-7106-781-4 © 2016 The Nordic Africa Institute Writing and editing: Henrik Alfredsson, Mattias Sköld and Johan Sävström. Language editor: Peter Colenbrander Layout: Henrik Alfredsson
Mauritania Slavery and ethnicity
Print: Åtta45 Tryckeri AB, Järfälla Cover photo: Entrepreneur Therese Kirongozi driver in her car through the city of Kinshasa, DR Congo. Photo by Brian Sokol, Panos Pictures.
Last Words ”Middle class my ass”
The Nordic Africa Institute is a centre for research on contemporary Africa with a special focus on the social sciences. It is jointly financed by the governments of Finland, Iceland and Sweden.
Copyright Notice: All texts are copyright protected by the Nordic AfricaResearch on a changing continent Institute. All images are under Creative Commons License, Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0, unless otherwise stated.
NEW RESEARCH DOWNPLAYS THE ROLE OF RETURNING MIGRANTS AS SAVIOURS
to leave this to the returning migrants,” she remarks. Åkesson also argues that promoting returnee migrants as drivers of development has to be seen in the context of the growing anti-migrant tendencies in many European countries. “Blessing their departure is a way of alleviating the political problem of xenophobia in Europe. If policymakers really wanted them to become new development agents, they would focus on facilitating their access to education, professional skills and qualified jobs. It’s unfortunate, but integration policy is one thing and development policy quite another,” she concludes.
Edited by Lisa Åkesson and Maria Eriksson Baaz Nordic Africa Institute and Zed Books
AFRICA’S RETURN MIGRANTS – THE NEW DEVELOPERS?
4 | Shades of Africa
A street vendor in Mataró, Spain. In many European countries, racism and segregation make it hard for African migrants to enter the formal labour market and acquire useful skills.
frican migrants returning from Europe carry back with them skills and ideas useful for developing their home countries. Or at least that’s what many European policymakers seem to assume. In a new book, NAI researchers Lisa Åkesson and Maria Eriksson Baaz dismiss this assumption. “Because of segregation and racism, few African migrants become integrated in Europe, making it difficult for them to pick up useful skills,” says Åkesson. Her research further shows that even if they do, it’s not certain that they’ll be able to apply them in an African context. “Just because people have lived outside Africa for some time doesn’t mean they will be able to deal with structural development problems such as corruption and lack of infrastructure. If this were the case, how come European development workers did not achieve success a long time ago?” she argues. According to Åkesson, labelling returnees as developers reflects a lack of urgency and ideas about how to achieve development in Africa. “It comes in handy for policymakers
Photo Anna Kaiser
There is little evidence for the claim that returning migrants will bless Africa with skills acquired in Europe.
Photo Isabel Coello, EU/ECHO
Photo Jonathan Alpeyrie
Becoming a rebel soldier, a survival strategy for many young West African refugees.
Harsh living conditions for refugees from areas hit by Boko Haram attacks.
Refugees becoming rebels – a survival strategy
Amnesty policy in Nigeria – a weapon against Boko Haram
Liberia “When my informant understood that he would eat every day, he decided to join the rebels. Becoming a fighter is a survival strategy for many young men and women,” guest researcher Hideyki Okano says. His research examines Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia’s capital Monrovia. According to Okano, few of them are interested in returning to Sierra Leone. His work also shows that those in the diaspora often help refugees, contrary to the common view of them as warmongers. However, sometimes these roles are combined, and some refugees were recruited by the diaspora to become rebels when the conflict in Sierra Leone escalated.
Nigeria Since President Buhari came to power in May 2015, the Boko Haram insurgency, which has been spreading terror in Nigeria in recent years, has been pushed back. There are two main explanations for this, according to NAI guest researcher Adebusuyi Adeniran. Sufficient resources have been provided to the military and Boko Haram insurgents are being offered an amnesty if they lay down their arms. “As important as the military efforts are, it is the amnesty that has had the greatest effect. Hundreds of insurgents have already surrendered to government forces and are now an important source of information for the military,” Adeniran says.
Foto: MONUSCO Myriam Asmani
Civilian leadership needed in peace operations To avoid overlaps and rivalry in its peace operations, the African Union and its sub-regional communities need to collaborate more closely with the EU and the UN. There’s also a need for much greater inclusion of regional human rights systems and civilian organisations in planning and implementing peace operations. These recommendations have been made by Linnéa Gelot, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, and other researchers in a report on strategic options for long-term peaceand state-building in Africa. “These changes are crucial, because the underlying purpose of peace operations is always political. They should aim at establishing a political and social order that can handle possible outbreaks of conflict and Research on a changing continent | 5 violence,” says Gelot.
Photo by Stuart Price, AU/UN IST
MIGRANTS & REMITTANCES
“The middleman must be paid first” Many households in Nigeria have at least one family member living abroad. When they come home for holidays and spend money, it is easy to believe that all of them are successful. This is not always the case, according to economist David Agu.
ost migrants from Nigeria live in the US or UK, but more recently they have also been going to other European countries, as well as to South Africa. David Agu, guest researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, was part of the World Bank team that conducted a survey of migration in 2009. It concluded that 25 per cent of 2,251 Nigerian households have 6 | Shades of Africa
at least one member who has migrated. On aggregate, this means that 7.5 million households in Nigeria have at least one family member living abroad. Now Agu uses the data for his research. “It contains a lot of information on the households, but also about the migrants. For instance, what they are doing in their new country and what they left behind.” David Agu is especially interested in the economic situation before a household member decides to leave. Is the
MIGRANT REMITTANCE FLOWS to and from Africa (US$ million)
SubSaharan 59 %
SubSaharan 53 %
SubSaharan 78 %
SubSaharan 54 %
Source: World Bank
REVERSE LABOUR MIGRATION After Portugal’s economy began to falter after the financial crisis in 2008, there has been an increased flow of labour from the country to its ex-colony Angola. One measure of this reverse migration is, according to Observatório da Emigração, that remittances from Angola to Portugal in 2013 were 16 times larger than remittances in the opposite direction. This reversal of roles is now causing concern in Angola. “Some Angolans I talked to regard the situation as re-colonisation, and complain about discrimination in terms of salaries and working conditions,” says Pétur Waldorff, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute.
Rethinking the Mediterranean Crisis Jesper Bjarnesen, migration researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, offers advice to EU policymakers in a Policy Note that looks beyond the dehumanising view of migrants too often encountered in media coverage and in political debate. His key recommendations are that legal entry points into the EU should be created and that EU embassies in Africa should be enabled to recruit labour migrants. He also advises against overlooking the complexity of the different aspirations and capabilities of individual migrants. “Migrants have become an anonymous mass, perceived as a threat to European security and prosperity,” Bjarnesen writes in the report.
Policy Note by Jesper Bjarnesen Photo by Stuart Price, AU/UN IST
RETHINKING THE MEDITERRANEAN CRISIS
migration caused by extreme poverty, or the reverse, that the household is wealthy enough to send a family member abroad? “I have no answer yet, but my guess is that wealthy families are more likely to produce migrants. To move abroad and establish oneself in another country is costly. Really poor households just can’t afford this,” says Agu. Poorer families have no option but to let middlemen help with the migrant’s initial costs. Often, this person is a Nigerian migrant who has lived abroad for many years and who has the necessary knowledge and contacts to facilitate the movement and settlement of the newcomer. “However, the middleman doesn’t help out of charity. He or she wants something back and this means that the family has to wait many years until the migrant can send money back home.The debt to the middleman must be paid first,” Agu notes.
North Africa Sub-Saharan Africa
A money exchanger counting shilling notes in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Millions of people in Somalia, and all over Africa, rely on money sent from their relatives and friends abroad in the form of remittances.
Nordic Africa Institute 2015
Research on a changing continent | 7
Life-term presidency in the firing line Presidents who refuse to step down and elections that are anything but fair and free â€“ democracy in many African countries has its shortcomings. However, changes seem to be on their way. Popular protests against self-proclaimed presidents-for-life are becoming more and more common. TEXT JOHAN SĂ„VSTRĂ–M
Previous page Bujumbura, Burundi. People in the street demonstrating against the proposed third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza. Protesters plucked the feathers from a dead magpie, a pejorative reinterpretation of the eagle emblem of Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party. Photo: Sven Torfinn, Panos Pictures.
opular uprisings in Burkina Faso brought down President Blaise Compaoré after 27 years of autocratic rule. And when Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundi’s president since 2005, decided to run for a third term, people gathered in the streets to protest. Researcher Jesper Bjarnesen has studied these revolts and notes that there are similarities in how the presidents tried to change the constitutions in their favour and how people showed their discontent. However, there are also important differences. “The governments and security forces reacted differently. In Burkina Faso, the military and police decided not to intervene and the protests remained quite peaceful. In Burundi, the police aggressively confronted people in demonstrations, right from the beginning,” says Bjarnesen.
– including presidents,” Bjarnesen points out. It is not inaccurate to talk about African presidents-for-life. In more than 10 African countries presidents have been in power for over 20 years. Nevertheless, many viewers in and outside Africa often stress that democracy takes time and that stability is a necessary ingredient in making developmental progress. Bjarnesen is sceptical: “Democracy does not happen by itself, it requires political priorities. And it shouldn’t have to take 20 years for every president to get there,” he says.
The answer is space Of course people have known for a long time what kind of leaders they have. So why start to complain now? Bjarnesen argues that, contrary to what many
Sceptical about stability argument Bjarnesen was in Burundi when the popular revolts broke out in April 2015. “People were defending the constitution in both countries. They were not for or against a specific candidate or party. Nor was it about ideology. People simply want laws and rules to apply to everyone 10 | Shades of Africa
Jesper Bjarnesen believes in creating spaces.
CHAD ALGERIA WESTERN SAHARA THE GAMBIA
REP. OF THE CONGO
< 40 years
21 national leaders have ruled for 468 years If we include the disputed Sahrawi republic, 21 of Africa’s 55 countries have national leaders who have been ruling for 10 years or longer. All of them are men, and together they’ve been ruling for 468 years. Sources: Bistandsaktuelt, Svenska Dagbladet and Wikipedia. 1. Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of Western Sahara (SADR) since 1976 2. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 3. José Eduardo dos Santos, President of Angola since 1979 4. Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe 1980 - 87, then President since 1987 5. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon since 1982 (before that, Prime Minister since 1975) 6. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda since 1986 7. Mswati III, absolute monarch of Swaziland since 1986
8. Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan since 1989 9. Idriss Déby, President of Chad since 1990 10. Isaias Afwerki, President of Eritrea since 1991 11. Yahya Jammeh, President of the Gambia since 1994 12. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo since 1997 (and before that 1979-1992) 13. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria since 1999 14. Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, President of Djibouti since 1999 15. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda since 2000
16. Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2001 17. José Maria Neves, prime minister of Cape Verde since 2001 18. James Michel, President of the Seychelles since 2004 19. Faure Gnassingbé, President of Togo since 2005 20. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of South Sudan since 2005 21. Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi since 2005
State-Building | 11
Photo: Issouf Sanogo, AFP
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 29 November 2015. A woman at a polling station prepares to cast her vote in the presidential election. Security was tight as some five million voters in a country of 20 million went to the polls to choose a new leader for the first time in almost three decades.
analysts think, levels of education or political awareness are not decisive factors in making protests happen. To be able to contest leadership, space is required ‒ space for dissidents to express their anger and frustration. Here, Bjarnesen sees an important role for development cooperation in creating and strengthening these democratic spaces. However, the international community seems to have accepted a version of democracy for Africa that is different from what is accepted elsewhere. “For many years the international community has not only tolerated but also collaborated with several African presidents-for-life. Now, all of a sudden, true democracy is on top of the agenda. This could be viewed as hypocritical, and without long-term engagement countries may go in the same chaotic direction as Libya,” Bjarnesen points out. In 2011, the Arab Spring swept across 12 | Shades of Africa
North Africa like a bushfire when populations rose up against oppression and injustice. In the end, however, not much has changed for the better, despite all the confidence and optimism during the revolts. Is this what now awaits subSaharan Africa? “Perhaps some stones have started to roll, but it is not possible to talk about an ‘African Spring.’ It’s easy to be impressed by and swept away by popular protests, but genuine democratisation requires structural changes. Otherwise, the old political class remains in charge despite the fall of its figure head, as we have seen recently in Burkina Faso,” Bjarnesen remarks.
Rewinding the tape A few months after the Burkinabe people chased President Blaise Compaoré
» Brick by brick, democratic spaces were slowly built in Burkina Faso « Cristiano Lanzano holds that the role of social media should not be exaggerated.
out of the country, Cristiano Lanzano, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, went to Burkina Faso. What was it that made people suddenly, after 27 years, say enough is enough and take to the streets? According to Lanzano we have to rewind the tape to the early 2000’s when a process of decentralisation was launched. “It created room for a pluralistic society to develop. Political opposition parties emerged, there was more room for the expression of dissent, and also within the ruling party discussions were allowed. Brick by brick, democratic spaces were slowly built,” Lanzano explains.
Far from the capital Another popular explanation is the growing use of internet and social media. Faster and more accurate flows of information among people enhance their ability to question and resist authoritarian leaders. This theory was, although disputed, common during the so called “twitter revolution” in Egypt. Lanzano disagrees. “This is simplifying too much. The role of social media should not be overemphasized,” he says.
For his research project, Lanzano spent much time in the countryside, far from the capital Ouagadougou. For people there, radio is still the main source of information. “Researchers and journalists must be aware of this. Especially in urban settings, the people we most easily make contact with are educated, connected online or politically active: they might not always be representative of citizens and voters as a whole,” Lanzano adds.
Tampering begins earlier Mimmi Söderberg-Kovacs, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, is an expert on elections in Africa. She is specifically looking at election-related violence, which worryingly seems to be on the increase. On the other hand, she argues, recent popular protests could mean that democracy is gaining steam in Africa. “Leaders cannot behave as they wish any longer. If they tamper with the constitution, people get upset and react accordingly,” she says. In many African countries, winning is all, because economic and political power are intertwined, and the runner-up is State-Building | 13
» They believed their politics was beyond this « left with nothing. Election rigging and ballot-stuffing have therefore been commonplace in African elections. However, technical machinery and control systems have improved, and fixing results on election day is no longer a safe bet. Manipulation has become more subtle and begins much earlier than previously. “It begins way before the observers arrive. For instance, you make sure you get the right people on the electoral commission, set the rules about who is an eligible candidate and prevent people in opposition areas from registering to vote,” Söderberg-Kovacs explains.
Roadblocks in Bujumbura
Demonstrators in Bujumbura intended to do what people in Ouagadougou had done six months earlier: gather in the largest square and protest peacefully. The police had other plans. Roadblocks were put up to prevent people from getting into the city centre. “It was as if the regime had learnt from the events in Burkina Faso and understood how symbolically important a demonstration in the city square would be for the protesters. Later, the internet was shut down, hampering people’s ability to coordinate. And lastly, when radio stations were also shut down, people outside the capital were left in the dark,” Söderberg-Kovacs says.
Research clearly shows that in most cases Impunity the main cause election violence is carried out by the incumbents. They have the resources, Angela Muvumba-Sellström, researand they have much more to lose. cher at the Nordic Africa InstiSöderberg-Kovacs was in Buruntute, was also in Bujumbura di’s capital Bujumbura when when the revolt broke out President Nkunrunziza declared in April 2015. She stresses his candidacy for the elections. that although Burundi has “People were genuinely upset an ethnically troubled past, and surprised. They believed which may return if matters their politics was beyond this, are not carefully dealt with, that Burundi was a post-conthe protests were not about flict state that had successethnicity. Access to land, fully transformed into a widespread corruption democracy,” she remarks. and a culture of impuMimmi Söderberg-Kovacs 14 | Shades of Africa
Photo: Sven Torfinn, Panos Images
Bujumbura, Burundi, May 2015. Police and soldiers clearing the Cibitoke district of people protesting against the proposed third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza.
nity among elites are more important term were not just against the president, causes. but were tired of what they perceived as “Impunity is a real issue in an arrogant approach to the rule of law Burundi. Based on my preand democratic principles. She read vious research, l am aware the protest as a refusal to accept a that many Burundians do culture of impunity. not expect accountability “Burundians had hoped for from the ruling party. their government to be different But many seem no longfrom other post-conflict states. er willing to tolerate the They were proven wrong and lack of a level playing field” became utterly disappoinMumvumba-Sellstrom says. ted”, Muvumba-SellShe noted that the ström says. protesters of the third Angela Muvumba-Sellström State-Building | 15
FALSE SPRIN Asian Spring, Arab Spring and now African Spring. Many observers love to cry “spring” every time people gather to protest in countries lacking in democracy. Researcher Jesper Bjarnesen warns that this willingness to discern positive patterns can be misleading. a broad range of political parties, trade unions, and civil society movements rose up in unison to force his resignation. In the wake of Burkina Faso’s popular uprising,
people have gathered to protest in other autocratic countries such as Togo, DR Congo and Burundi. It’s easy to interpret this as an “African Spring,” wafting fresh democratic
Photo: Chris Belsten
When Blaise Compaoré, Burkina Faso’s president for 27 years, tried in October 2014 to amend the country’s constitution so that he could remain in office for one more term,
Tunis, January 2011. Artists putting the final touches on a portrait of Mohammed Bouazizi, the street 16 | Shades of Africa merchant whose suicide triggered the Arab Spring. In many senses, this is the image of the original Spring, with which many later uprisings in Africa have been compared.
breezes into old autocracies, but appearances can be deceptive. “There are popular uprisings and there are ‘popular’ uprisings,” Bjarnesen says. “When we see pictures of angry masses bearing posters and banners on the streets, we have to ask what the driving forces are and not simply assume that they are grassroots movements. In many cases, covert and violently anti-democratic interests lurk behind these protests. For a few dollars, desperate people will act as ‘the will of the people’ and gain valuable advantages for their rich and powerful ‘patrons’ in the battle for public opinion,” he observes.
DEMOCRACY OR ONE-PARTY SYSTEM: POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE SUDAN
The Nordic Africa Institute 2015
EE FR D
Policy Note by Redie Bereketeab
” » For a few dollars, desperate people will act as the ‘will of the people’ «
The economy and security are the most challenging hurdles facing the Sudan. Redie Bereketeab analyses the situation after the re-election of President al-Bashir.
”Lift the sanctions against the Sudan”
In a policy note, Redie Bereketeab, researcher at NAI, recommends that the decades-old sanctions imposed on the Sudan should be lifted. “Not only do they deprive Sudan of external investment, they also complicate the country’s relations with the West,” he says. Bereketeab also explores the development of democracy in Sudan, a one-party state led since 1989 by President Omar al-Bashir, who was recently re-elected for five more years. “The weakness of the opposition parties makes them increasingly reliant on external intermediaries such as the AU and EU to put pressure on the Bashir government. Since the government is allergic to external involvement, it refuses to participate in any of the dialogues to be held outside the country suggested by the international community,” he says. As for the national dialogue between the government and the opposition, Bereketeab emphasises that both sides must have a realistic understanding of what such a dialogue can achieve. “Recognising the domestic nature of conflict resolution and peacebuilding is of paramount importance,” he says. State-Building | 17
INFLUENCES DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES
In a policy note, Ann-Sofie Isaksson, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, recommends policy-makers to consult research findings on ethno-regional favouritism. This information should be used to help donors assess where there is a particular risk of local capture of aid. “Through quantitative analysis of detailed survey data involving some 20,000 citizens in 15 African countries, we have explored the scope of the problem. The results show considerable country variation. For instance, in Senegal and Botswana, just over 20 per cent of respondents report that their ethnic group is treated unfairly by government. By contrast, in Uganda and Nigeria the equivalent shares are 82 and 88 per cent respectively”, she informs in her policy note. Policy Note 6, 2015
Donors should consider the effects of political favouritism in Africa
Personal favours In the early 1980s, Ivorian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny made his birthplace Yamoussoukro the national capital. At the time little more than an agricultural village, it soon boasted an artificial lake with crocodiles, a six-lane highway, an airport that could land a Concorde, and perhaps most notably, the world’s largest church – the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. While this is an extreme case, ISSN 1654-6695 ISBN 978-91-7106-772-2
The world’s largest church, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast. It was just a small village when President Houphouët-Boigny in the 1980s decided his birthplace to be capital and had the church built.
it corresponds with the widespread belief that African policy-makers favour their own homelands and ethnic groups in allocating public funds. African politics is often described as clientelist: rulers tend to distribute personal favours in exchange for political support, and voting is often based on kinship loyalties and ethnic ties rather than broadly based policy accountability.
Donors contribute to favouritism Moreover, recent evidence indicates that ethno-regional favouritism in African politics can notably influence development outcomes. For instance, studies from Kenya suggest that children with the same ethnicity as the national president or minister of education during their primary school years generally achieve significantly better educational outcomes. And road investments are disproportionately made in the president’s district of birth and regions where his ethnicity is dominant. Donors sometimes contribute to ethno-regional favouritism in countries with
weak institutions, where a disproportionate share of foreign aid has been found to end up in the birth region of the political leader.
Voting for personal gain Politics based on favouritism is problematic for several reasons. First, if the government focuses on private transfers rather than providing public goods or projects of national interest, there will be significant distributional consequences. In short, political connections rather than need or development objectives will guide resource distribution. Favouritism is also likely to affect a country’s democratic development by encouraging a democratic system in which citizens vote for narrow personal gain rather than broadly based policy accountability, and where policy-makers place short-sighted narrow and local interests ahead of long-term development. Also, favouritism is at odds with the ideal of inclusive institutions and impartial government emphasised in recent academic debate on development. However, we still know relatively little
Policy Note by Ann-Sofie Isaksson
The Nordic Africa Institute 2015
frican policy-makers are often assumed to favour their own homelands and ethnic groups in allocating public funds. Recent research confirms that ethno-regional favouritism needs to be taken seriously in formulating development policy. It also shows that the severity and nature of the problem differs across countries. To counter favouritism and address structural inequalities, policy-makers should use the research findings on ethno-regional favouritism in specific African countries to guide their actions.
NEIGHBOURS AND FAMILY FIRST
By Ann-Sofie Isaksson
Neighbours and Family First In many African countries it is a known fact that a person belonging to the same ethnic group as the president is less likely to be treated unfairly by the government. The same is valid for people living in the president’s home region, regardless of their ethnic affiliation. Ethnic and regional favouritism are two distinct but parallel problems. This Policy Note, drawn from data involving 20 000 citizens in 15 African countries, explore the scope of favouritism and its implications for citizens and democratic attitudes.
Photo: Nic Bothma/ReuteRs/tt NyhetsByRåN
18 | Shades of Africa
In Kenyan primary schools, pupils with the same ethnic belonging as the president, generally have better chances of getting good grades.
n the 1980’s, Ivorian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny made his birthplace Yamoussoukro the national capital. At the time little more than an agricultural village, it soon boasted a six-lane highway, an airport that could land a Concorde, and perhaps most notably, the world’s largest church – the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. While this is an extreme case, it corresponds with recent evidence of ethnoregional favouritism in African politics. For instance, studies from Kenya suggest that children with the same ethnicity as the president or minister of education generally achieve significantly better educational outcomes in primary school. And road investments are disproportionately made in the president’s district of birth and regions where his ethnicity is dominant. Donors also sometimes contribute to ethno-regional favouritism. In countries with weak institutions, a disproportionate share of foreign aid has been found to end up in the birth region of the political leader.
Photo: Digni Norge
In many African countries, members of the same ethnic group as the president are less likely to be treated unfairly. Ann-Sofie Isaksson advices policymakers to assess the risks of ethno-regional favouritism.
Photo: David Holt
Some 200,000 Nigerian-born people live in the UK, more than half of them in London, where Radio Biafra was until recently a main source of agitation against the Buhari government. The station is now operating inside Nigeria instead, but the political organisation IPOB, Indigenous People of Biafra, is still very active in the UK. Here a protest outside Whitehall in November 2015.
Elites playing the ethnic card Growing ethnic agitation is a worrying trend in Africa’s largest country by population. Many groups in the country have never felt represented by the central power. Local elites play on these emotions for their own personal gain.
This is particularly dangerous in a country with a large number of idle youths who can be recruited for violent purposes. “Boko Haram leaders and elites in both the Niger Delta and in eastern Nigeria have been playing this game. Ultimately,
the government has to address issues of identity, citizenship and youth employment. People must be able to feel they can influence their own future,” says Victor Adetula, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute.
Watchdogs needed in Africa’s oldest republic Photo by Emmanuel Tobey UNMIL
Liberia What Liberia needs most is reform to its legal system. One way to achieve this is by appointing international lawyers as watchdogs, says Mats Utas, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. “Sexual violence is very common in Liberia. Today, because of corruption, suspects who are members of the national elite easily get away with crimes. Donors such as Sweden’s Sida could promote the rule of law by funding lawyers to undertake parallel investigations,” he proposes. “The Liberian government led by President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson has neither the capacity nor the will to combat corruption in the legal system. An improved rule of law is crucial for the development of the country,” Utas adds.
After the successful eradication of Ebola in 2015, new challenges await Liberians. Next in line on the must-go list is corruption. State-Building | 19
TS OR SEPARATIS
HTER G I F M O FREED
THE POLITICS OF LABELS
For many years, the Eritrean liberation struggle was ignored and neglected. It was largely defined by African countries, as well as the international community, as separatist and narrowly ethnocentric. In a new book, researcher Redie Bereketeab concludes that this use of pejorative labels owed more to politics than to ignorance.
n 1991, the Eritrean Peopleâ€™s Liberation Front defeated the Ethiopian forces in Eritrea and proclaimed an independent state after 30 years of struggle against successive Ethiopian governments. In a new book, Revisiting the Eritrean National Liberation Movement 1961-1991, Redie Bereketeab, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, explains how the driving forces behind the struggle were not only misunderstood, but also deliberately redefined by outside
20 | Shades of Africa
stakeholders to meet their own objectives. He draws his conclusions against the backdrop of the global Cold War. â€œAccording to international law in the post-colonial era, all people who were colonised have the right to self-determination, but in relation to the Eritrean people, despite having been colonised by Italy until the Second World War, this right was not acknowledged, not even by the United Nations. When Ethiopia, with the assistance of the US, pushed in
UN Headquarters, New York, 28 May 1993. Eritrean ambassador Ahmed Haji Ali being directed to his seat in the General Assembly after Eritrea’s admittance as a UN member. This image symbolises the international community’s recognition of Eritrea after 30 years of liberation struggle. UN Photo / Michos Tzovaras.
the early 1950s for the federal inclusion of Eritrea, most countries were more interested in maintaining good relations with the much larger Ethiopia than in standing up for little Eritrea. And since Eritrea’s liberation struggle did not involve a colonial power and a suppressed colony, it did not benefit from the anti-colonial sentiment evident in the West,” Bereketeab notes.
Parallell cases There are interesting parallels. Namibia and Western Sahara are two other states that were occupied by more powerful African countries when the European colonial powers withdrew or were expelled. “In the case of Namibia, the world community supported the Swapo liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
This was largely due to the anti-apartheid sentiment of the time. In Western Sahara, the Polisario/SADR liberation movement was and still is branded as separatist by the Moroccan government, and the international community is still largely hesitant about acknowledging its rights. Even so, Western Sahara enjoys more external support than Eritrea did. Most African states maintain diplomatic relations with or recognise the Sahrawi Republic,” Bereketeab observes. HENRIK ALFREDSSON
REVISITING THE ERITREAN NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT
By Redie Bereketeab Red Sea Press 2015
State-Building | 21
China’s leader Xi Jinping with South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and First Lady Tobeka Madiba Zuma at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg, December 2015.
In search of political ideology There are game-changing influences from the world’s new economic powers on one hand, and growing fundamentalism and terrorism on the other. Researcher Sirkku Hellsten is seeking to identify the ideologies in play in a changing Africa.
he immense economic power of China and other rising economic powers has changed Africa in more than one way. While it has certainly resulted in new roads and factories, it has also shaped political life in many states. “Western powers are losing influence as African leaders lean more and more on the new BRICS-countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and other Southern partners, whose political principles differ markedly from those of traditional Western donors. Many Afri-
22 | Shades of Africa
can governments find it easier to work with these new economic powers who do not call for respect for human rights, democratic development and inclusive participation. Instead, they allow African leaders to pursue whatever governance path they want, whether democratic or authoritarian”, says Sirkku Hellsten, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. Her research project is analysing the African transitional situation on poverty, conflict and governance. According to Hellsten, it is difficult to gauge where Africa is heading in terms of political
ideology, as different value systems are being integrated in sometimes incoherent ways. “Is democratic development going forward? Or are African leaders setting these values aside in favour of other models of governance? Will the focus be on business only? At the moment, liberal democracy does not appear to feature on the agendas of many African leaders. At the same time, despite political rhetoric that calls for a return to traditional African values such as solidarity and egalitarianism, liberationera ideology which originally combined African humanism with socialism has faded away and is rapidly being replaced by the materialistic values of capitalism.” The ideological vacuum in contemporary Africa has direct links to issues of security, according to Hellsten. “If you look at political parties in Africa today, you find that virtually none has a clear political ideology.” In many African countries there is much discontent with governance practices and corruption, but the people find it difficult to find well-defined political directions through elections. “If voters feel that politicians are uncommitted to democratic values, that they misuse national resources and are corrupt, the people will look for alternatives outside the official political system. Such alternatives are often provided by religious or political extremists, who exploit the general discontent with the exclusion from decision-making. This situation feeds terrorism and conflict”, Hellsten says. MATTIAS SKÖLD
Settler colonialism shaping identities In South Africa, two unmistakable features describe post-apartheid politics. The first is the formal framework of liberal democracy, including regular elections, multiple political parties and a range of progressive social rights. The second is the politics of the “extraordinary,” which includes a political discourse that relies on threats and the use of violence, the crude re-racialisation of numerous conflicts and protests over various popular grievances. In a new book, political science researcher Thiven Reddy shows how conventional approaches to understanding democratisation have failed to capture the complexities of South Africa’s post-apartheid transition. As a product of imperial expansion, the South African state and citizen identities have been uniquely shaped by a particular mode of domination, namely settler colonialism. SOUTH AFRICA: SETTLER COLONIALISM AND THE FAILURES OF LIBERAL DEMOCRACY
By Thiven Reddy Nordic Africa Institute & Zed Books 2015
When elections become winner-take-all-affairs Elections in many African countries tend to be winner-take-all affairs, because many economic resources are associated with political power. Furthermore, the institutional frameworks for regulating elections are often weak, so the temptation to do anything to gain power is strong, including vote rigging and resorting to violence. “If you consider a country with a long history of impunity, where politicians have got away with practically everything, the risk of criminal punishment is seen as very small. And if you believe that your opponents will engage in similar practices, then why wouldn’t you?” says Anders Sjögren, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. According to him, there are measures that would help prevent electoral violence and rigging. “The main thing is to reduce the stakes in the elections, by, for example, limiting the concentration of power and enforcing strong checks and balances, including term limits for presidents. Also, avoiding deep and growing socioeconomic inequalities would help to reduce the importance of elections,” Sjögren concludes. State-Building | 23
THE IN-BETWEEN LIVES
WIVES TEXT MATTIAS SKÖLD
24 | Shades of Africa
Gender Equality | 25
Goma, Congo. Congolese Government soldiers of the FARDC, resting with their families. Photo by Kuni Takahashi, Getty Images.
Democratic Republic of Congo. Women queue up to buy water from a community standpipe. Photo by Tim Dirven, Panos Images.
Wives of army personnel in DR Congo are not officially allowed to accompany their men on deployments to operational zones, yet they do so in large numbers. Neither military nor fully civilian, army spouses hover between two sections of Congolese society.
hantal is married to a Congolese army lieutenant and has followed her husband on his various postings around the country for over 40 years. “We have travelled a lot on the frontlines. A lot. Many soldiers have died. Some in combat, but many simply from hardship and hunger. Many women and children have died too,” she says. Chantal’s husband is stationed in Uvira territory in South Kivu in eastern DR Congo, a region that has been mired in violent conflict for over two decades. 26 | Shades of Africa
He is part of the national army, FARDC (Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo), which is fighting some of the dozens of rebel groups in the area. After four decades on the move, Chantal has lost contact with her relatives in Equateur province in western DR Congo, where she and her husband originate. Chantal is in her sixties. Her husband should be retired by now, if only the couple could afford it. Instead, they are forced to continue to live in “foreign lands,” as Chantal puts it.
» How can we survive here? Should we start going naked or start stealing? «
“We are really suffering. How can we survive here? Should we start to go naked or start stealing?,” she asks.
No social benefits In the report Fighting behind the frontlines: Army wives in the eastern DR Congo, published by the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, NAI researchers Maria Eriksson Baaz and Judith Verweijen shed light on the plight of Congo’s overlooked military wives. Many of the interviewed wives shared
stories of severe hardship. Some have been abandoned and left with their children in desperate poverty. Others have lost their husbands, and been forced to have sex with their deceased husband’s superiors in order to access the wages to which they are formally entitled. An important source of this misery is the poor social and service conditions provided by the FARDC. Army wages are minimal, commonly $85-100 a month, far from sufficient for even a small family to live on. Also, it is not unGender Equality | 27
Based on 75 interviews The report is based on interviews with military wives in towns and villages in the conflictridden Uvira region of South Kivu. In total, 75 wives were interviewed during the fieldwork, both individually and in groups, in Lingala or Swahili without interpreters. Interviews were also conducted with a cross-section of civilian groups, including small-scale economic actors, local government/state representatives and nearby NGOs. These civilian informants were crucial for gaining an insight into the embedding of army wives, but also into practices that military wives do not readily discuss, such as illicit revenue-generation and refusing to pay tax. 2016 ISSUE 5 | JANUARY
t Central Africa Repor the Fighting behind eastern DRC Army wives in the Maria Eriksson Baaz
Republic of the Congo
and Judith Verweijen
Démocratique de la République of the Forces Armées of the Congo) the wives of soldiers the Democratic Republic live Armed Forces of the military. they du Congo (FARDC, an integral part of visible, but they are camps and may not be very in and around military often their children, the military, with soldiers, and most insecure zones. – including in the them with any deployment sites and does not provide them as civilians like health care however, defines much in facilities nor does it invest wives this causes army benefits packages, and irregular pay, with soldiers’ low centres. together a living. to struggle to make
died. the soldiers A lot. Many have a lot on these frontlines. hunger out of hardship and We hAve tRAvelleD but many simply are Some in combat, our children … We have finished here. have died too, and we many of us women ya batu]. how can [pasi na nzala]. And a foreign land [mboka the – far from home in We are here, but really suffering here or start stealing? we start to go naked biso te], the survive here? Should not know us [bayebi us. It says it does it does not know government says 1 wives of soldiers. army lieutenant wife of a Congolese 2 from equateur, of Chantal, the 60-year-old husband originate these are the words Both she and her on the move territory, South Kivu. Chantal has been stationed in Uvira the past 40 years she has not of the country. For During this period in the western part his various deployments. following him on with them. with her husband, and has no contact her family back home been able to visit began, there were husband’s service her when since the in the time of Mobutu, to visit is impossible She explains that contact. Going back retired as a result she lost should have been no cell phones and no money. her husband live and the family has funds and they cannot journey is very long guaranteed retirement since there are no a long time ago but,
common for military staff to go unpaid for two or three months. Moreover, there are no social benefits or family allowances in the army, and soldiers have to pay in part for healthcare, transport, housing and other basic necessities themselves.
Hovering between two worlds Despite the hardships of travelling and the poor living conditions, many army wives follow their husbands when they are deployed. One reason is that soldiers are rarely granted sufficient leave to be able to go back home and visit their families. The Congo is a vast country and the infrastructure is poor, so travelling takes a very long time. Furthermore, many couples are also determined to raise their children together. Of course, there is also an element of jealousy in this arrange28 | Shades of Africa
Democratic Republic of Congo
Uganda Rwanda Burundi
Uvira is located at the north end of Lake Tanganyika, only 20 km from Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, but more than 1,000 km from DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa.
ment, since sticking together is the best way to ensure your partner doesn’t cheat on you or leave you for another. Because of the regular rotation on different deployments, army families constantly need to rebuild their lives in new locations. They are forced to find a new place, make new acquaintances and find new ways of making a living. These frequent changes of civilian environment make social ties with the surrounding world even weaker and, correspondingly, increase dependency on the military context. “The women are part of but yet not serving in the army; they are civilian but not entirely seen as such in the civilian communities in which they reside and make a living. Army spouses hover between military and civilian worlds,” Eriksson Baaz explains.
FARDC, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, came into being in 2003 following a difficult merger of former warring factions. Constant influxes of rebel soldiers, factional strife, poor management and strong ties to extra-military political and commercial networks constantly undermine the force. FARDC, like Congo’s numerous rebel groups, is frequently accused of various abuses against civilians. There have been some achievements in recent years, but the operational effectiveness and track record of safeguarding civilians is still poor.
Photo MONUSCOAbel Kavanagh
This is reflected in the ways army wives see themselves. Ignored by the military establishment, in their own eyes they are a crucial part of the military: “The army would not function if we were not here. We provide what the government fails to provide. The government does nothing! We provide food and we cook, we wash the uniforms,” one army spouse exclaims.
“They are very arrogant” However, in some situations army wives stress their civilian status. Those who reside in civilian areas generally play down their links to the army in their
interactions with neighbours, in order to gain their trust based on their individual characters. In other situations, they will highlight their special status based on their association with the military. This is often the case when they seek certain advantages and privileges, or exemptions from the rules. Army wives engage in a range of income-generating activities, many of which are similar to those pursued by the wives of civilians, such as trading or day labour. Some sell homemade foodstuffs and drinks; some do hairdressing or farm work. However, unlike civilians’ wives they can often call upon their military status and, like their husbands, Gender Equality | 29
Maria Eriksson Baaz is a researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute and the Department of Global Studies at Gothenburg University.
enjoy certain kinds of privileges such as avoiding marketplace taxes. Also, their military connections make it easier for them to engage in illicit activities such as selling prohibited alcohol or the illegal production of charcoal. Such activities are at the root of and confirm the longstanding stereotypes civilians harbour of both army wives and FARDC personnel more generally. Soldiering is considered the occupation of those without other opportunities. Similarly, military wives are often described as uneducated, illbehaved and immoral. “Wives of the military often have a big mouth at the mill and at the water tap. They like to quarrel with civilian women, they are very arrogant,” one civilian woman comments in the study.
No silver bullets The situation of military wives illustrates the complex interplay between civilian and military sectors in Congolese society. There is both conflict and collaboration. Many civilians resent the extortion and other abuses the army engages in, yet they also feel that the army protects them from rebels. Furthermore, they often live among the army personnel and collaborate in revenue-generating activities. Army wives are at the centre of 30 | Shades of Africa
Judith Verweijen is a researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute and the Conflict Research Group at Ghent University, Belgium.
this interaction, being deeply embedded in the civilian world, but without losing their connections to the military. While the need for army reform remains high, neither the DRC government nor international donors have thus far pursued a coherent reform agenda. Eriksson Baaz explains: “Military policies have been ad hoc, inconsistent and poorly coordinated, in part because they have often been induced by military crises. Crucially, reform efforts have rarely been backed up by sustained political and financial commitments.” Furthermore, donors have paid little attention to structural reform, such as logistics and administration. Rather, they have prioritised classic train-and-equip approaches. Finally, army reform has paid relatively little attention to improving the conditions of military personnel and their families. “Many projects do little to change the structural conditions that are at the root of the plight of military families, such as women’s dependence on their husbands’ irregular salaries. There are no silver bullets in the complex task of FARDC reform, but the everyday realities of the rank and file and their families have to be taken into account,” Eriksson Baaz notes.
Women of the Niassa Province in Mozambique. Photo by Jonna Katto.
The untold history of Mozambique’s
FEMALE GUERILLA SOLDIERS In her research, ethnographer Jonna Katto’s explores the role of the female guerrilla soldiers who fought in the Mozambican war of independence from 1964 to 1974. A year of field studies among female war veterans in Niassa Province gave her a deeper understanding of how “national” history-telling differs from the self-perceived experiences of these women. “The history of the liberation struggle becomes quite different when told by them, instead of by the predominantly male political elite in the capital, Maputo,” she says.
The Niassa women’s multilayered versions of national history have later been retold and rewritten by men in power, who transformed them into a homogenised national memory that serves their own political purposes. “Their history-telling is a narrative dominated by gender stereotypes and urban perspectives. My research looks at how national history is told from the perspective of ex-combatant women in the politically marginalised rural north, far from the state apparatus and the official nationalist discourse,” Katto explains.
Prestigious book award highlights sexual violence D
Maria Eriksson Baaz and Maria Stern
Nordic Africa Institute and Zed Books
SEXUAL VIOLENCE AS A WEAPON OF WAR?
n their book Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War, based on field studies in Democratic Republic of Congo, researchers Maria Eriksson Baaz and Maria Stern challenged the dominant understanding of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings. The book, and its still very urgent analyses, were again highlighted in November 2015, when it was awarded the ISA Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Book Prize.
In the book, Eriksson Baaz and Stern describe new phenomena such as rape tourism and the commercialisation of rape. “By ‘rape tourism’, we refer to the endless stream of people and delegations that have travelled to the DRC to meet rape-victims firsthand. It has become a ‘must do’ for visitors,” says Eriksson-Baaz. “By ‘commercialisation of rape’, we refer to the ways in which engaging with the rape issue has drawn lucrative attention and resources to international NGOs, politicians, journalists and other external actors, including researchers like ourselves. We also see a situation in which allegations of rape and claiming rape-victim status have become increasingly entangled with livelihood strategies,” she says. Gender Equality | 31
BUILDING FROM THE ROOTS
32 | Shades of Africa
GROWTH & RESOURCES
Growth & Resources | 33
Photo: Johan Sävström.
Researchers Atakilte Beyene and Tewachew Abebe studying irrigation systems in the Amhara region in northern Ethiopia.
Local farmers, not corporations, hold the key to solving Africa’s poverty problem. GDP growth originating in agriculture is two-to-four times more effective in erasing poverty than growth in other sectors. TEXT MATTIAS SKÖLD
ith an average annual growth of over 5 per cent in Africa over the past decade, many of the continent’s countries are now among the world’s fastest growing economies. However, the underperforming agricultural sector is not consistent with this image of Africa’s growth miracle. Productivity in the agricultural sector has 34 | Shades of Africa
generally remained low, and this is one of the continent’s greatest challenges. In Africa, smallholder agriculture dominates. “Even in relation to broad economic development, the importance of Africa’s 175 million smallholder farmers cannot be overestimated,” Atakilte Beyene, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, says.
» Since the mid-2000’s there has been a growing interest in African land and water «
This implies that for the continent at large growth originating in agriculture, in addition to achieving food security, is considerably more effective in raising the incomes of poor people and in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector.
Vulnerable to shocks However, there are structural problems. Smallholder farms are largely subsistenceoriented and vulnerable to environmental, economic and social shocks.
“Addressing these challenges is key to the survival of many farm families,” Beyene says. So far, most development efforts have focused on mitigation. However, there is increasing recognition that more resilient and sustainable production systems are necessary in order to address the continent’s root problems. “In this regard, the emphasis should be on nurturing rural employment opportunities, locally sustainable nutrition and food systems and a decent rural life.
Debre Berhan, Ethiopia. Photo by Georgina Smith CIAT.
Growth & Resources | 35
Edited by Michael Ståhl Nordic Africa Institute 2015
36 | Shades of Africa
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD: LAND, AGRICULTURE AND SOCIETY IN EAST AFRICA
As Africa rapidly urbanises, new and expanded demands for agricultural products are creating greater opportunities for agricultural producers and traders. However, the prospect of smallholders participating in and benefiting from emerging market opportunities needs political attention. Smallholder farmers face difficult challenges from global corporate expansion into the African food production sector. “Since the mid-2000s there has been a growing interest in African land and water. These large-scale agricultural investments pose a potential risk for local livelihoods – in terms of land competition and marginalising future food production by local people. This can damage not only the farmers but also Africa’s prospect of reducing poverty and securing its own food production,” Beyene says. “What is needed is an approach that goes beyond a focus on agriculture. Broader goals that consider rural and regional development objectives need to be considered in political, social and economic arenas,” he remarks.
Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have recently experienced remarkable growth. Afro-optimists claim that economic transformation is imminent, while critics point out that growth is mainly in the extractive sectors, with little improvement being noted among the rural and urban poor. In the book Looking Back, Looking Ahead, 14 researchers review the varied challenges agricultural producers in East Africa, mainly Tanzania, have faced in the past and may well face tomorrow. Several contributions focus on the drive for large-scale land acquisitions, their potential and shortcomings, as well as on the policy alternative – investment in small-scale farming.
Large-scale vs smale-scale in Tanzania
All these factors are strongly related to the performance of smallholder farming.”
Research on GM crops too slow Genetically modified crops may be a solution to Africa’s food security problems. They lead to increased food production, while reducing the environmental footprint. Tommy Arvidsson, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, is studying the pros and cons. “Globally, about 90 per cent of the farmers who grow biotechnology crops are smallholder farmers in developing countries. Overall, the adoption of GM crops increases farmers’ income and quality of life,” he notes in a policy note on GM Crop Research in Africa. But there is a flip side. GM crops are best suited to large farms, leading to the exclusion of subsistence agriculture. This could bring about structural rationalisation, with smallholder farmers leaving their land and the loss of traditional agricultural knowledge. There are also concerns about the side-effects for the environment and human health. “The crucial question is whether Africa can wait 30 years for research to give a definitive answer about the risks while demand for food continues to increase on the continent,” Arvidsson concludes.
Photo by David Osorio, ACDI/VOCA
ADVICE ON COCOA REACHED THE TOP Economist Gun Eriksson Skoog visited Liberia to share her research findings on the cocoa market. To her surprise, she was invited by the president’s chief economist to give her ideas on how to improve market conditions.
he Liberian cocoa market has improved in recent years. The old monopoly has been replaced by a system of competition, whereby cocoa farmers can choose the buyer to whom they will sell their harvests. However, conditions are still far from perfect. Cocoa producers, often smallholder farmers, are still largely dependent on buyers. “This dependency carries with it the immi-
nent risk that the longterm development of the Liberian cocoa production will be held back by short-term business interests,” says Skoog. “Many cocoa buyers in Liberia profit from farmers who need immediate cash by buying low-quality cocoa at low prices. There’s a lack of committed long-term buyers who are prepared to invest in their businesses and offer credit to farmers for
fertilisers, high-yielding seeds and the processing of cocoa beans,” she notes. Licensing the buyers would promote those among them who invest to stimulate production and processing. This procedure would also prevent the export of ungraded, low-quality cocoa, a form of raw material extraction with no development potential. The quality of the product is crucial to the prices. Today, it’s the buyers who grade the cocoa. “My proposal is to set up an independent institution for grading quality. Farmers often complain about buyers downgrading and paying less for the cocoa,” Skoog observes.
Photo by Georgina Smith, CIAT
”Africa is not a clutch of eggs” Foreign investors are buying land for large-scale commercial farming in many African countries. There’s a concern that this will amount to a scramble for African resources. However, researcher Michago Seide has shown that in Ethiopia most land investments are domestic. “The debate on land investments, or land grabs, in Africa is patronising. The narrative that anything can be grabbed from Africa debases the whole continent. Africa is not a clutch of eggs to scramble,” says Wondwosen Michago Seide, guest 38 | Shades of Africa
researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. Seide is looking at land investments in Ethiopia, and particularly in the Gambela area close to the border with South Sudan. Interestingly, the vast majority of the nearly 240 investors are Ethiopi-
an, living in the country or in the diaspora. Only 12 are foreign investors. However, their investments cover larger land areas. “Ethiopians willing to invest at home often choose to do so in hotels or other tourist com-
TUBS Vector Graphic Image
Kasese, Uganda. Photo by IICD.
Only 12 of 240 land investors in the Gambela region, Western Ethiopia, are foreign.
plexes. Investing in agriculture is a new phenomenon that perhaps reflects a growing interest in the nation’s food security among domestic businessmen,” he concludes. Ethiopia is dependent on food imports to feed its population. The last 30 or 40 years have shown that smallholder farmers cannot produce enough food, and with the current rapid population growth the situation will only get worse. “It is important to see the whole picture. We can’t just say that land grabs are colonising us. Instead, we must think of how the population will be fed in the future and ensure that local communities benefit from the investments,” Seide remarks. JOHAN SÄVSTRÖM
Food banks require local management Prolonged drought and lack of good seeds are the main causes of food insecurity in many African countries. To mitigate these and other effects of climate change, food banks can be crucial for smallholder farmers. In sub-Saharan Africa, food banks are typically non-profit organisations that operate on a semi-commercial basis. They buy large amounts of food shortly after the harvest, when prices are normally quite low, and then throughout the year, as prices start to rise, they sell the food back to local people at well below market prices. Often they also serve as support and training centres for smallholder and subsistence farmers. According to researcher and scholarship holder at the Nordic Africa Institute Joseph Watuleke, who has studied the challenges facing agriculture in Uganda, food banks operate at their best when owned by communities and managed by local farmers. “It is difficult to measure the socioeconomic impact of the food bank on smallholder farmers due to the difficulty of isolating its contribution from that of interrelated programmes and farmer activities. It is, however, evident that the food bank plays a significant role in improving the smallholder farmers’ food production and incomes,” Watuleke points out.
Reforms to ease dependency on rainfall Climate change is making rainfall more uncertain in Africa. Since most of the continent’s food-production systems are rain-fed, this uncertainty increases food insecurity. Reforming agricultural water institutions has therefore become a priority. A new report, edited by AGRICULTURAL WATER INSTITUTIONS IN EAST NAI researcher AFRICA Atakilte Beyene, examines such Editor Atakilte Beyene reforms in East Nordic Africa Institute 2015 Africa. Growth & Resources | 39
Zambian mining companies lack social commitment
area, which translates into challenges such as increased pressure on resources. Water in particular has become scarce and more services such as health assistance are needed. At the same time, opportunities have increased,” says Lanzano. Because of new mining techniques, the balance of power has shifted. Local institutions previously followed and closely regulated the extraction of gold. “Their control is now challenged because of the mobility of the
native livelihoods, like growing crops or raising chickens in their backyards,” Mususa remarks.
diggers and the unpredictability of extraction,” Lanzano notes.
Ruoko 40 | Village, Shades Burkina of Africa Faso. Wend-Kouni, 26, is a farmer. Once her work is complete, she comes to search for gold. She digs and collects ore, which she then takes back to the village to wash.
The copper mine in Zambia’s oldest mining town, Luanshya, was closed due to a decline in copper prices.
Photo: Ollivier Girard, CIFOR.
Gold mining has become a key sector in many West African economies in the wake of the increase in global gold prices over the last two decades. This is accelerating internationalisation and transforming the livelihoods of millions of people. Cristiano Lanzano, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, draws on his ongoing research into a village in Upper Guinea. “Small-scale gold digging has turned from a mostly ‘local’ activity into a much more transnational one. This means a larger number of temporary migrant miners reside in the
at the Nordic Africa Institute, examines who is planning for public facilities and social services in mining communities. “The mining companies are reluctant to make the necessary investments and the local authorities lack the capacity to do so. People have to fend for themselves. Unlike previous periods of hardship, when miners often returned to their villages, people now stay in or near the towns. They have to find alter-
Photo by BBC World Service
The rush to privatize copper mining in Zambia in the 1990s meant the end of mining companies with long-term economic and social commitments. Nowadays, as soon as a mine is no longer sufficiently profitable, it is sold to another private investor or placed under care and maintenance. This creates uncertainty for local municipalities, making it difficult for them to undertake urban planning. Patience Mususa, researcher
Costs and benefits of mining Mining in Africa is seen as creating jobs and increasing incomes for local people. However, there are also problems. Researcher George Adu explores how it affects the environment, the economy and the health of those living nearby. He is particularly looking at gold and diamond mining in Ghana, using different methods to identify how the costs and benefits are distributed across social classes. “I also study what happens when farmers lose their land to mining companies, and how this affects food production in a country where farming is the backbone of the economy,” Adu adds.
Worker at the Anglo Ashanti gold mine in Obuasi, Ghana. Photo: Jonathan Ernst, World Bank.
MICRO-POLITICS OF LARGE-SCALE MINING
of them were ‘strangers’ drawn from the capital, Freetown, or other areas in Sierra Leone. This has created tension in Lunsar,” says social anthropologist Robert Pijpers, who has a PhD scholarship at the Nordic Africa Institute. The London-based mining company needed workers who could read and write or had a more advanced education. According to the company’s as-
Photo by Alexandra Pugachevsky
he reopening of the iron ore mines in Lunsar, Sierra Leone in 2006 rekindled hope among the people living there. After years of civil war and harsh living conditions, job opportunities and better times were set to return. However, the reality proved to be less straightforward. “The mining company employed people, but many
sessment, few villagers nearby have these skills. Pijper’s research focuses on local power relations in Lunsar: “I look at the micro-politics of large-scale mining, an aspect often overlooked. Foreign investments in Africa require more attention, but not only in terms of big money or national policies.” One example of Lunsar micro-politics is the land survey in which Pijpers participated. A range of stakeholders – landowners, politicians, village elders, company consultants and representatives of youth organisations – had to agree on the boundaries between plots of land around and within a village. “Some landowners feel they have lost authority over the land because of the mining concession,” says Pijpers.
Large-scale phospate mining in Togo. Growth & Resources | 41
Photos: Georgina Smith, CIAT (Ethiopian Woman pouring water) and Javier Ignacio Acu単a Ditzel (broken TV)
42 | Shades of Africa
IMAGES OF AFRICA
Images of Africa | 43
and for worse Through the mass-media, researchers can share their knowledge with large audiences. The media format, however, offers limited opportunities for deeper analysis. Are media appearances worth the effort?
esper Bjarnesen, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, answers with a resounding “yes.” However, it is important to understand the character of the particular media and to reflect upon what you would like to say to a mainstream audience, he emphasises. 44 | Shades of Africa
“As a researcher, it is easy to be overcome by a fear of being misunderstood. You are afraid of appearing in a bad light in front of other researchers. Then it is easy to become defensive and overly cautious,” he observes. The solution, according to Bjarnesen,
» Most often, you are asked to describe what has happened, rather than analyse it « is to prepare messages that fit the specific media format. “You have to step out of the specialist role and try to figure out what information might interest the general public. This is different from speaking in front of academic specialists.” The better researchers understand the circumstances of the interview, the more influence they will have over the result, says Bjarnesen. In a live radio or TV interview, for example, the words go straight out over the air, whereas a taped interview will be conducted differently.
Giving word to emotions Although he is interviewed in his capacity as researcher, the media ask him to comment on current events that are not within his field of research. Also, the scope for analysis is typically limited. “Most often, actually, you are asked to describe what has happened, rather than analyse it. Or you are asked to predict the future. This is hard, partly because there is limited time and partly because you are expected to speculate, something that you as a social science researcher have been trained not to do.” When media channels report on tragic events, the researcher may be the one to give word to the emotions felt by the public. Bjarnesen, in his capacity as migration expert, found himself in this
position in 2014 and 2015 when he was interviewed after boats bearing migrants had capsized in the Mediterranean and hundreds had died. “As a researcher who is expected to be objective about his research field, it can be he difficult to speak emotionally about issues related to it,” he says.
Shaping the image of Africa Despite the difficulties experienced by the expert and the limitations of the format, Bjarnesen’s experiences of dealing with the media have been mostly positive. He believes that journalism is unmatched in disseminating knowledge to the public. As examples, he mentions the media reports about the political revolts in Burkina Faso and Burundi, current events he has frequently been interviewed about. “The reportage opened people’s eyes to what was going on. As a researcher, I tried to contribute by deepening and nuancing the information.” He says it is a privilege to be part of shaping the image of Africa conveyed by the media. “It is important to use your expertise for more than academic research, which, after all, has a limited audience.” MATTIAS SKÖLD
Images of Africa | 45
NO SUBJECT TOO OBSCURE,
NO BOOK TOO DUSTY For the NAI library, it’s not enough to offer what researchers, students and others want today, it also aims to provide the books they will demand tomorrow. Closely following and anticipating new trends in literature on Africa is a strategic part of the library’s acquisitions policy. The latest trends in publications largely deal with Africa’s economic boom and China’s involvement in Africa. The NAI library is well provided on these subjects, even though right now few researchers at the institute focus on them. The library covers much smaller niche topics as well. “No subject is too obscure for us. Our mission is to supply researchers and students with documents that they can’t 46 | Shades of Africa
find elsewhere,” says Birgitte Jansen. She has worked as a librarian at the institute since 1997. Back then, literature on post-apartheid South Africa and the Rwandan genocide dominated. In fact, Jansen remembers, it was difficult to find literature on Rwanda that wasn’t about the genocide. Then, as now, it was important to have a well-functioning network of
bookkeepers, distributors, agents and publishing houses, especially in Africa, that can provide literature and documents. Another source of intelligence is the field work undertaken by NAI researchers in Africa. They bring back books and establish valuable contacts for the library. “Thanks to one very engaged researcher, we have a lot of material about the islands of the Indian Ocean. In a similar way, we also got hold of a significant amount of literature published in Africa on climate change,” Jansen remarks. The library started to acquire books on the latter subject some time ago, long before it became topical. In the 1990s, an NAI researcher was investigating the pastoralists of the Sahel and found substantial effects of climate change. Lake Chad had dried up, leading to violent conflicts over pasture lands. “We then bought detailed maps that showed how conditions had changed in the area. Maps and similar material may become outdated, but they remain invaluable for future comparative research,” Jansen adds. “That’s why we hardly ever do any culling of the library’s resources – one never knows what will be in demand in the future.” It is also important to keep track of a subject even if interest cools, because it may become topical again and there should be no literature gaps. “Sometimes users look for books that have not been on loan for 20 years and are very impressed when we find them in the basement. Then we know our library plays an important role,” she concludes.
FACTS The NAI Library has the largest collection of literature on Africa in the Nordic countries. Half of its 70,000 titles are unique in Europe. One third of the collection is published in Africa. Through digital resources, as AfricaLit and other online databases, many more titles can be found, in particular official documents from African governments.
Digging for justice in the library Connor Cavanagh is studying the politics of land and environmental protection in Kenya. In the NAI Library in Uppsala, he found protocols and reports by the Kenyan government, some of the most crucial sources for his research. Cavanagh is researching, among other things, how one of Kenya’s traditional hunting and gathering communities, the Sengwer, are being pushed from their ancestral lands in the Embobut forest in western Kenya. His research also challenges the dominant narrative about deforestation in the region. “Land grabbing and illegal logging by corrupt elites is usually overlooked,” Cavanagh says. The documents he found reveal illegal and irregular acquisition of public forests, links and connections he has been unable to investigate before. “I’ve been trying for ages to get hold of them in Nairobi, but such sensitive information is not easy to come by,” he remarks.
Images of Africa | 47
Photo by Eric and Ulrika Trovalla
Modern Cape Town sweeps the poor aside
Street scene from Jos, popularly called ”J-town”, a city of about 900,000 inhabitants in Central Nigeria.
Finding clues for everyday life in a Nigerian small town
n the Nigerian city of Jos, as well as in many other Nigerian towns, everyday life is shaped by the interlacing rhythms of disconnection and reconnection. Petrol, electricity and water come and go. These imperfections mean that the infrastructure is very present in people’s everyday lives. Life is largely dictated by the ability to devise ways and means of overcoming the challenges posed by this erratic infrastructure and the unpredictable lack of basic necessities. In a study published in the scientific journal City, Eric and Ulrika Trovalla, researchers at
the Nordic Africa Institute, show how the inhabitants of Jos constantly try to discover new ways around the infrastructure’s shortcomings. “The unpredictability has forced people to learn how to navigate the chaos and find their own solutions, and thus the failing systems are also opportunities. Informal jobs and business are created as a survival strategy and form the backbone of many African cities. And, actually, if things were working as intended, the spine would crumble and many people would lose their livelihoods,” Ulrika Trovalla points out.
INFRASTRUCTURE AS A DIVINATION TOOL: WHISPERS FROM THE GRIDS IN A NIGERIAN CITY
By Eric and Ulrika Trovalla City, volume 19, Issue 2-3, Routledge, 2015
48 | Shades of Africa
It’s a worldwide phenomenon in big cities – the makeover of rundown working-class neighbourhoods and their transformation into hip communities. Woodstock in Cape Town has recently been undergoing that process. For some residents, this gentrification has become synonymous with displacement, says Marianne Millstein, a researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute who has been examining the situation in Woodstock and who has recently published her findings in the book Global Gentrifications. “Poor people had to leave their homes when they could not afford the increased rents. They were given new housing by the government on the outskirts of the city. There they immediately face other problems. Transport to work in town is costly, and schools and services are poor,” says Millstein. The gentrification of Woodstock did not occur without protest. Residents protested against the sale of tenement houses. The conflict ended with the forced removal of some residents to a “temporary relocation area” in Delft, a township 30 kilometres east of the city centre. “Delft and Woodstock are two facets of the same urban trend,” she remarks. GLOBAL GENTRIFICATIONS An anthology with contributions by Marianne Millstein and others Policy Press, 2015
The Bujagali Falls are situated at the historic source of the White Nile, the outlet of Lake Victoria. The construction of the dam began in 2007 and was concluded in 2012.
Uganda DR Congo
Lake Victoria Tanzania
WITH A SPIRIT
Photo by Bianca Polak
at an early stage in the planning for the dam that there was no way the spirit could be appeased and persuaded to move from the waterfalls. But Jaja Bujagali was bypassed by another healer who was favoured by President Museveni’s government and the construction syndicate, because he would perform the appeasement and relocation ceremonies for the Budhagaali spirit, clearing the way for the dam,” says Oestigaard. Not only did the dam represent a clash between a local and a global perspective, between economic and cultural interests, and between people with power and people without, but the timing was also controversial. “This dam was under construction when the World Commission on Dams launched its report. One of its 26 guidelines was that everyone impacted by a dam should give their full consent. The Bujagali Dam was the first test DAMMED DIVINITIES: of whether these new THE WATER POWERS AT guidelines could block BUJAGALI FALLS, UGANDA a World Bank project, By Terje Oestigaard or not,” Oestigaard Nordic Africa Institute 2015 remarks.
he construction of the Bujagali Falls Dam, located just north of the historic source of the White Nile in Uganda, has been seen as one of the most controversial such undertakings in modern times. In 2012, the dam was eventually inaugurated after years of antidam opposition and delays. A unique aspect of the controversy was the river spirit Budhagaali, which, according to local belief and tradition, lives in the falls that would be affected by the dam. In his book Dammed Divinities, anthropologist Terje Oestigaard describes and analyses the ritual drama behind the repeated efforts to relocate the spirit so that construction of this billion dollar dam could proceed. “The river spirit Budhagaali is embodied in the healer Jaja Bujagali, who had already stated
Research informs policy on slums In a case study of the Senti informal settlement outside Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, NAI scholarship holder Hilde Refstie found that residents organised themselves to gather local funds for hiring unemployed persons to maintain roads and collect garbage. Similar civil society undertakings, studied as part of the same project, also show how communities in other slum areas organise small projects using their own resources. “This project will hopefully contribute to a discussion between grassroots and policymakers on how to manage inclusive urban planning. Malawi is still only urbanised to a relatively low degree, but the country has some of the fastest growing cities in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Refstie. She presented her research to a workshop in Lilongwe involving a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including slum area inhabitants, civil society representatives, university staff, members of parliament and local governments. Images of Africa | 49
Rethinking the Western
IMAGE of Africa Where do you draw the line between poor and not poor? Words are not merely symbolic abstractions, they are also social constructions with real, sometimes huge, social consequences. The book Framing African Development deals with many of the concepts commonly used in research and policy related to development issues in Africa. In so doing, it offers a new and critical analysis of the Western vision of that continent. “The generally accepted definition of a ‘poor’ person is someone who lives on less than $1.25 dollars a day,” says Terje Oestigaard, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute and one of the editors of the book.
“Does this mean that someone who lives on $1.30 a day isn’t poor? And, more importantly, how do you measure and compare poverty?” As Professor Kjell Havnevik points out in the book, the concepts that relate to African development were created by Western institutions and agencies. While these actors were driven by a determination to describe and understand Africa, concepts were also shaped by
religious, military, political, economic, exploitative and altruistic motives. Oestigaard points out that concepts that are positively framed from a Western perspective may have negative consequences in an African context: “A ‘climate friendly’ or ‘green’ forest plantation project may result in villages being burned or people having to abandon their homes.”
FRAMING AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT: CHALLENGING CONCEPTS Edited by Terje Oestigaard, Kjell Havnevik, Eva Tobisson and Tea Virtanen Brill Academic Publishers
Challenged Concepts | Examples Photo: Jessica Lea, UK DFID
Empowerment. It has been dubbed “the most used and abused” development buzzword. Does it mean that, based on their own premises, those at the top distribute power to those below? Or does it mean that those at the bottom free themselves by breaking existing power structures?
Forest Protection. A climate-friendly forest renewal project, like this one in Kerio Valley, Kenya, has a positive ring to it – at least in a Western vision of Africa. But how does it sound to people like the Sengwer, who have been violently forced by the Kenyan authorities to abandon their homes under the guise of forest protection?
Photo: A Rodriguez, UNHCR
Legal Asylum National asylum systems decide which asylum-seekers qualify for protection. Those judged not to be refugees or to be in need of any other form of international protection, can be sent back to their home countries.
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Photo: Book Aid International
Photo: Joseph King
The film is set in the majestic Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979.
Oscar-nominated film oversimplifies The British documentary film “Virunga” draws attention to threats posed to the majestic Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The film received widespread acclaim and was nominated for an Oscar. However, according to NAI researchers Maria Eriksson Baaz and Judith Verweijen it bolsters racial stereotypes and oversimplifies the politics of the Congo. “Appreciation for the film has become confounded with support for the noble cause of saving Virunga. But the sense of moral righteousness obscures several serious problems with the documentary,” they argue in a debate article, written together with researchers Didier Gondola and Esther Marijnen in the American Journal Foreign Affairs. They criticise the film for omitting crucial aspects of the violent colonial origins of Virunga, but most of all for marginalising the voices of the people who live in and around the park. “Although the film focuses in part on the work of the park rangers, their points of view are subordinate to those of Western figures such as Belgian Chief Warden Emmanuel de Merode. Like a missionary, de Merode emerges as a leader, teacher and father figure who guides the Congolese park guards,” they argue. “Furthermore, the movie features endless footage of a park guard hugging and playing with the gorillas, evoking the notion of the ‘noble savage’ who is close to nature, honest and naïve, and dependent on the white man for his salvation. Rarely do we see the Congolese exercising independent political agency, even though there are numerous civil society activists in the region, often working at great personal risk.”
Most students only read when it is necessary for their education.
Poor appetite for reading in South Africa Many South African novels deal with coping with everyday struggles – survival and in some cases even a decent life. However, for the authors themselves, it is difficult to live as writers. Only a few gain international recognition, and being famous in South Africa is not enough. Even talented and relatively prominent writers such as Nic Mhlongo still have to hold on to their daytime jobs. “There are just too few consumers. People don’t have a culture of reading. They read only if they must in their profession or for their education. Over the years, several attempts to encourage youth to read have failed, and with the recent competition from iPads and Playstation, the task is not easy” says Kudzayi Ngara, guest researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. Instead of increasing the appetite for reading, universities have lowered their admissions criteria. Some students have managed to get through English programmes by just googling authors and text summaries, without actually reading a book. Ngara finds this sad and worrying. “All societies need people that imagine and have dreams. Many of the new technologies and gadgets we see and use today were first imagined in literary texts and films. Reading and writing literature opens up many new worlds of possibility,” Ngara says.
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Photo by Front Line Defenders
Mauritanian anti slavery campaigner Biram Dah Abeid was awarded the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2013. Less than two years later he was sentenced, along with two other activists, to two years in jail for protesting against the repeal of charges against a slave master who had raped a 15-year-old girl working as his slave.
SLAVERY & ETHNICITY IN MODERN MAURITANIA
Abolished in 1981 and criminalised in 2007, slavery is still a reality in present-day Mauritania. According to a report by the Walk Free Foundation, 4 per cent of all Mauritanians are slaves. And the slavery has ethnic dimensions. However, change may be coming.
achid Benlabbah is a guest researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. Part of his research is based on interviews with the Haratin, an ethnic group which, despite being one of the largest in Mauritania, has been the victim of widespread discrimination and enslavement throughout history, and still is today. “My interviews show a common element – the urge for a peaceful society. Mauritanians have endured conflicts for 52 | Shades of Africa
so long that there is now a strong desire to resolve them without violence. The political representatives of the Haratin have become important actors and President Abdel Aziz has opened the way for a more inclusive democracy,” says Benlabbah. The Haratin are supported by the Islamist Tawassoul movement. “The political branch of Tawassoul, which has the support of the urban middle class, promotes democracy and advocates parliamentarianism in
place of the current presidential regime,” Benlabbah explains. A third player is the political party that has emerged from Flam, the resistance movement formed when people in southern Mauritania were driven from their land into exile as a result of ethnic conflict. Nowadays, this group favours peaceful reform of the centralised French-model state, and the adoption of autonomous regions. “Ethnic identity is the main issue in Mauritania and it has caused many conflicts. However, Flam doesn’t aim for independence, and is wary about repeating what has happened in Mali and Libya,” says Benlabbah. According to the latest Global Slavery Index (2014), Mauritania has the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world.
NAI Activities 2015 Main Events 2015
sikkerhet Open discussion with Henrik Angerbrandt and others. March 3 Helsinki Future Development Challenges, Iina Soiri in a panel at the Finnish Development Days.
January 16 Stockholm FOI Research Institute Seminar on Mali Ole Martin Gaasholt participates. January 21 Stockholm Trends in Africa 2015, Iina Soiri presented, at the Sida planning days. January 21 Uppsala Contextualising African Identities and the Politics of Space and Othering Public lecture co-organized with the Center for Gender Research.
March 8 Uppsala Mother Tongues, workshop by Forum for Africa, with Iina Soiri, Anitta Kynsiletho and Kudzayi Ngara. March 10-12 Dakar, Senegal High Education Summit, Iina Soiri particpated at event organised by Codesria and Trust Africa. March 19 Uppsala Fighting electoral violence: tools and strategies Debate co-organized with Uppsala University, Folkuniversitet and IDEA. March 24 Stockholm Namibia: 25 years of independence: How far has gender equality come? Co-organised with the Embassy of Namibia in Sweden and Namibia Society in Sweden.
January 26 Gothenburg Violent resistance – where does it start? Open Discussion with Mats Utas at Gothenburg Film Festival. February 5 Uppsala Boko Haram and the upcoming election in Nigeria Henrik Angerbrandt participates in seminar organized by Utrikespolitiska Föreningen. February 10 Stockholm Is the violence taking over the Nigerian elections? Henrik Angerbrandt and Mats Utas discussing Boko Haram, army assaults on civilians, and accusations about malfeasance.
February 12 Oslo Nigeria: Korrupsjon, fattigdom og manglende retts-
March 25 - 28 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Poverty and Urban Renewal Workshop co-organized with EiaBC and Univeristy of Jyväskylä. March 27 Espoo, Finland Namibia: 25 years of independence: How far has gender equality come? Co-organised with the Embassy of Namibia in Finland and Finland-Namibia Society. April 9 Copenhagen Boko Haram – a Caliphate in West Africa Henrik Angerbrandt participates in seminar organized by Copenhagen University. April 12 Gothenburg Nigeria’s elections and the challenge of Boko Haram Henrik Angerbrandt participates in seminar organized by the Gothenburg School of Economics.
April 20 Uppsala Phototalk with focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo Co-organized with the Life & Peace programme in DRC and Uppsala University. April 27-29 Arusha, Tanzania Learning Together For Change Workshop co-organized with SUHF, The Association of Swedish Higher Education. May 5 Stockholm Internationell migration och remitteringar i Etiopien NAI researcher Lisa Åkesson speaks at Rosenbad Seminar arranged by the Delegation for Migration Studies. May 5 Stockholm What can Africa learn from Brazil?, a lecture with Kjell Havnevik co-organised by NAI and Uppsala University.
May 5 Uppsala Peaceland: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention Public lecture with Severine Autesserre, Columbia University, USA. Co-organised with the Uppsala University Life and Peace Institute. May 6 Stockholm Fresh perspectives on building peace in Eastern DRC Seminar on Swedish development cooperation at The Swedish Parliament. Co-organized with Life and Peace Institute, Kristdemokraterna, Socialdemokraterna, Diakonia, Kvinna till Kvinna and PMU. May 7-8 Oslo Extractive economies in West Africa: recent trends and socio-political issues Open seminar, co-organized with Norad. May 10-11 Uppsala Beyers Naudé Colloquium on occasion of his hundredth birthday Co-organized with Svenska Kyrkan, Life and Peace, House of Peace.
NAI Activities 2015 | 53
May 13 Uppsala Launch of the Nordic Africa Research Network Iina Soiri and Proscovia Svärd.
Institute Against Torture and Roskilde University.
September 17 Helsinki Africa Network seminar for African Ambassadors, by the MFA Finland and the Finnish Embassy, Iina Soiri participated. September 17-19 Helsinki Mapping the Future of Development Economics UNU Wider 30th Anniversary Conference.
May 21 Uppsala African Crime: Fiction and Facts Open discussion with authors and researchers on the trend of African crime fiction and crime in an African setting. May 23-24 Helsinki World Village Festival NAI participating in programme. May 28 Uppsala Images of Ebola in Liberia Exhibition by photographer Johan Lundahl at NAI Library. June 2-3 Khartoum, Sudan The ongoing Civil War in South Sudan and Its Regional Consequences Conference was convened by Redie Bereketeab.
June 28 - July 5 Visby The Almedalen Week NAI arranges two panel discussions and participates in three. July 8-10 Paris European Conference on African Studies, ECAS NAI participates with 8 papers. August 12 Uppsala Swedish Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi and other representatives from the Nordic countries visit NAI. August 17 Uppsala Finnish Ambassador to Kenya visits NAI. August 28 Stockholm Swedish MFA’s Africa Unit Day Iina Soiri representing NAI.
June 23-26 Copenhagen Urban property, governance and citizenship in the global South Co-organized with Centre of African Studies, Copenhagen University, Danish
54 | Shades of Africa
September 23 Uppsala The world the missionaries made? Space, place and identity at the Botshabelo Mission Station, Mpumalanga, South Africa Public lecture with NAI guest researcher Natalie Swanepoel.
September 29 Uppsala African challenges in the Indian Ocean Public lecture by NAI researcher Tor Sellström.
June 8-10 Dakar, Senegal Codesria General Assembly
June 17 Uppsala Monuments in Nairobi Exhibition opening presentation at Uppsala Art Museum by guest researcher Lydia Muthuma.
September 23 Stockholm Att förebygga konflikter och bygga fred Linnéa Gelot and Mats Utas in seminar arranged by FUF and Folk och Försvar.
September 23-24 Uppsala Agricultural Research for Development Atakilte Beyene presents his research at the conference.
June 4 Bruxelles Global Financial Flows, Iina Soiri in a panel at the European Development Days.
June 9 Uppsala Africa in the Indian Ocean - Islands in Ebb and Flow Book launch with researcher Tor Sellström.
September 21 Uppsala Lunch seminar with AUC chairperson Dlamini Zuma, presentation by Redie Bereketeab.
August 28-30 Bahir Dar, Ethiopia How are smallholder farmers in Ethiopia doing? NAI workshop in collaboration with Bahir Dar University September 8-9 Nairobi, Kenya UN Economic Commission for Africa Expert Group Meeting on the Horn of Africa Conflicts NAI researcher Redie Bereketeab participated. September 9 Copenhagen What did we learn from the Ebola epidemic in Liberia & Sierra Leone? Seminar with Mats Utas. September 15 Uppsala Looking back, looking ahead: land, agriculture and society in East Africa Seminar and launch of festschrift for Kjell Havnevik.
September 29 Stockholm Namibia and Democracy in Africa, Iina Soiri participates in a panel at ABF. September 29 - October 1 Khartoum, Sudan Possible solutions to the ongoing conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan Conference by University of Bahri, University of Juba and George Mason University. NAI researcher Redie Bereketeab invited as specialist. September 30 Uppsala An Ethics of Care in the time of Nelson Mandela Lecture with Claude Ake Visiting Chair Professor Pumla GobodoMadikizela. October 1-2 Uppsala Africa at the crossroads of traditional and clinical medicine Workshop co-orga-
nised with University of Western Cape and University of Jyväskylä. October 5 Uppsala Africa’s return migrants - the new developers? Public lecture with Lisa Åkesson and Maria Eriksson Baaz. October 6 Uppsala Lunch with Presedential delegation of Tunisa and the Swedish Royal House, Iina Soiri participated at Castle of Uppsala. October 13 Uppsala State, society and economy: Perspectives on Constitutions in Africa Public lecture with Professor Yash Ghai, co-founder and head of Katiiba Institute, Nairobi.
October 14 Stockholm Voices of African Academics on Development Debate co-hosted with Sida and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs during Civil Society Week. October 14-15 Maputo Second Nordic-Mozambique Conference on Inclusive Growth Co-organized by the Nordic Embassies in Mozambique and the Mozambican Government. October 19 Uppsala Transmissions from the Liberated Zones Public lecture with film maker Filipa César on the Swedish prescence in Guinea-Bissau. October 20 Stockholm Peace conference Arranged by the European Parliament and others. Maria Malmström and Angela Muvumba Sellström invited as speakers. October 20 Helsinki The Postapartheid Generation and the Meaning of Woundedness Seminar by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Claude Ake Visiting Chair Professor.
October 23-24 Zürich Snapshots of Change Panel discussion with Maria Malmström. October 23-24 Stockholm Peace and Democracy in Africa Seminar by the Institute for Security Studies, ISS Africa. NAI participating. October 23-24 Uppsala Between Democracy and Big Man Politics: The Micro-Level Dynamics of Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa Author’s Workshop.
Claude Ake Visiting Chair Professor. November 26 Uppsala Health, Politics and Culture in Africa Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues participates in kick-off for research project. November 26 Stockholm Analyses of Climate Change Iina Soiri moderator and Terje Oestigaard speaker at seminar co-arranged with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sida.
October 27 Oslo Boko Haram – funds and logistics Seminar at NUPI by Adebusuyi Isaac Adeniran. November 4-6 Gothenburg Nordic Conference on Development Research NAI participates with roundtables and working groups. November 11 Uppsala Framing African Development – Challenging Concepts Public event and book launch with NAI researcher Terje Oestigaard. November 16 Uppsala Seminar for the Program and Research Council of NAI. November 16-18 Gothenburg Global Week NAI participates with two seminars. November 19 Uppsala Historical Trauma and Memory: Interrupting Cycles of Repetition Seminar with Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Claude Ake Visiting Chair Professor.
December 2 Uppsala Mozambique 40 years – literature and photography in a changing country Open event. December 3 Leiden Digging deeper than before: Social and technical change in artisanal gold mining in Siguiri, Guinea Conakry Seminar by Cristiano Lanzano. December 7-8 Luanda Conferência Internacional Estudos sobre Angola Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues presents paper. December 9 Uppsala What Does it Mean to be Human After Historical Trauma? The Claude Ake Memorial Lecture with Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela. December 9 Stockholm Vad händer i Burundi? Jesper Bjarnesen in seminar arranged by Blank Spot Project.
November 24 Uppsala Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, and her crew visits the Nordic Africa Institute. November 26 Uppsala Witnessing Trauma and Testimony: Making Public Spaces Intimate Seminar with Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela,
December 10 Uppsala Remorse: The “Royal Road” to Forgiveness and Reconciliation Seminar with Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Claude Ake Visiting Chair Professor. December 11-12 Rabat, Morocco The Means of Love in the Arab World Workshop co-organized with Centre Jacques Berque, University Mohammed VI Polytechnique, University of Zürich and Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin.
NAI Activities 2015 | 55
December 15-16 Cape Town Urban Kinship: The Micro-Politics of Proximity and Relatedness in the African City Jesper Bjarnesen and Mats Utas representing and participating. December 17 Uppsala Vibrant Soundscapes: Political Bodies in Egypt Today Lecture by Maria Malmström.
Our Publications 2015 Adetula, victor African conflicts, development and regional organisations in the post-Cold War international system Current African Issues 61, 2015 Angerbrandt, Henrik A fair electoral process can ease divisions in Nigeria: decentralised politics brought on a new set of challenges in the north Policy Note 2015. Arvidsson, Tommy Food security now or wait for research to assess risks?: genetically modified crops and smallholder farmers in Africa Policy Note, 2015. Beyene, Atakilte (editor) Agricultural water institutions in East Africa, Current African Issues 63, NAI 2015. Bjarnesen, Jesper Rethinking the Mediterranean Crisis NAI Policy Note No 9:2015. Bjarnesen, Jesper The ambivalence of neighbourhood in urban Burkina Faso Anthropology Southern Africa, Volume 38, Issue 3-4, 2015. Bjarnesen, Jesper & Lanzano, Cristiano Burkina Faso’s oneweek coup and its implications for free and fair elections Policy Note 2015. Bereketeab, Redie Why South Su-
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dan conflict is proving intractable: Ugandan forces and lack of international commitment two reasons Policy Note 2015. Bereketeab, Redie Democracy or one-party system: political development in the Sudan after the 2015 election Policy Note 2015. Bereketeab, Redie Revisiting the Eritrean National Liberation Movement 1961-1991, Red Sea Press, 2015. Bereketeab, Redie State Building-Peace Building Nexus: The Horn of Africa, Algers, Vol. Issue, nr 4, 2015. Cissé, Daouda Globalisation and sustainable Africa-China trade: what role play the African regional organisations? Occasional paper, 2015. Crentsil, Perpetual Ebola: accurate information prevents rumours and panic: educating leaders is one measure - along with distributing soap Policy Note, 2015. Eriksson Baaz, Maria, Verweijen, Judith and Vikanza, Paul Katembo Virunga’s White Savior Complex: How the Film Distorts the Politics and People of Congo Foreign Affairs, Vol. March 5, nr 5 2015. Eriksson Baaz, Maria Vem får tala om Afrika? Forskning och Framsteg, nr 9, 44-47, 2015. Eriksson Baaz, Maria Migration: Zurückkehren ist riskant : Kongolesen, die aus Europa heimkehren, stoßen auf viele Hürden, Welt-Sichten, nr 12, 56-59, 2015. Eriksson Baaz, Maria and Stern, Maria Telling Perpetrator’s stories: a reflection on effects and ethics , Chapter in Teaching About Rape in War and Genocide, Palgrave, 2015. Eriksson Baaz, Maria and Stern, Maria Research in the Rape Capital of the World: Fame and Shame, Chapter in Masquerades of war
Routledge, 197-206, 2015. Eriksson Skoog, Gun Reformed cocoa market benefits Liberian farmers: but watch out for new forms of market power and elite capture Policy Note, 2015. Evers Rosander, Eva In Pursuit of Paradise, Nordic Africa Institute, 2015. Gaasholt, Ole Martin Who needs to reconcile with whom? the conflict’s complexity in northern Mali calls for tailored solutions, Policy Note, 2015. Gelot, Linnéa Strategic Options for the Future of African Peace Operations 20152025: Seminar Report in co-laboration with Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, 2015. Gelot, Linnéa African Regional Organizations, Peace Operations and the UN: Legitimacy and Disengagement Chapter in Regional Organizations and Peacemaking: Challengers to the United Nations Routledge, 2015 Isaksson, Ann-Sofie Neighbours and family first: donors should consider the effects of political favouritism in Africa Policy Note, 2015. Lanzano, Cristiano Bois sacrés ou aires protégées?: Sacralisation des espaces forestiers et savoirs locaux dans un village komono (Burkina Faso) Chapter in Savoirs et reconnaissance dans les sociétés africaines Karthala, 181-206, 2015. Malmström, M. F. 2015. The Continuous Making of Pure Womanhood among Muslim Women in Cairo: Cooking, Depilating, and Circumcising. In Gender and Sexuality in Muslim Cultures, Ed. Gul Ozyegin, Ashgate Press. Malmström. M. F.,Goran A. Sabir Zangana and Faith Barton. 2015.
In conversation on female genital cutting. In Gender and Sexuality in Muslim Cultures, Ed. Gul Ozyegin, Ashgate Press. Malmström, M. F. and An Van Raemdonck. 2015. The Clitoris is in the Head!’ Female Circumcision and the Making of a Harmful Cultural Practice in Egypt. Interrogating Harmful Cultural Practices Gender, Culture and Coercion Eds. Chia Longman Tamsin Bradley Ashgate Press. Malmström. M. F. (2015). Porous Masculinities: Agential Political Bodies among Male Hamas Youth. Etnográfica 19 (2): 301-322. Malmström, M. F. and Kapchan, Deborah. (2015). The Materiality of Affect in North Africa: Politics in Flux Occasional Paper, 2015. Melber, Henning Africa Yearbook Volume 11: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara, Brill, 2015. Melber, Henning Faith as Politics: Reflections in Commemoration of Beyers Naudé, 2015. Millstein, Marianne Regionalising African civil societies: lessons, opportunities and constraints NAI Occasional Paper 2015 Oestigaard, Terje Framing African Development Edited by Kjell Havnevik, Terje Oestigaard and Eva Tobisson, Brill, 2015. Oestigaard, Terje Dammed divinities: the water powers at Bujagali Falls, Uganda Current African Issues 62 by Terje Oestigaard, March 2015. Oestigaard, Terje Changing rituals and reinventing tradition: The burnt Viking ship at Myklebostad, Western Norway, Chapter in Changing rituals and ritual changes: Function and
Meaning in Ancient Funerary Practices ,Oxbow Books, 359-377, 2015. Oestigaard, Terje Cremating Corpses: Destroying, defying or Deifying Death? Chapter in Ancient Death Ways: Proceedings of the workshop on archaeology and mortuary practices, Uppsala universitet, 65-83, 2015. Oestigaard, Terje and Terje Tvedt A History of Water. Series 2, Vol. 1. Ideas of Water from Antiquity to Modern Times, New Delhi: Viva Books Private Limited, 2015. Reddy,Thiven South Africa: Settler Colonialism and the Failures of Liberal Democracy, Africa Now, Zed Books, 2015. Rodrigues, Cristina Udelsmann Between the City Lights and the Shade of Exclusion: Post-War Accelerated Urban Transformation of Luanda, Angola Urban Forum, Springer, 2015. Sellström, Tor Africa in the Indian Ocean: Islands in Ebb and Flow Brill 2015. Sjögren, Anders Scrambling for the promised land: land acquisitions and the politics of representation in post-war Acholi, northern Uganda, Chapter in Land Grabbing in Africa: the Race for Africa’s Rich Farmland, Routledge, 2015. Sjögren, Anders, Verweijen, Judith and Angerbrandt, Henrik Territorialising identity, authority and conflict in Africa: an introduction, The journal of contemporary African studies, Vol. 33, nr 2, 163-170, 2015. Sjögren, Anders Battles over boundaries: the politics of territory, identity and authority in three Ugandan regions, Chapter in The Journal of Contemporary African Studies,Vol. 33, nr 2, 268-284, 2015. Ståhl, Michael Looking back, looking ahead: land, agriculture and society in East Africa: a festschrift for Kjell Havnevik, Nordic Africa Institute, 2015. Teppo, Annika Church rules? The lines of ordentlikheid among Stel-
lenbosch Afrikaners Anthropolgy Southern Africa, Volume 38, Issue 3-4, 2015. Teppo, Annika Moral communities in African cities Anthropology Southern Africa, Volume 38, Issue 3-4, 2015. Teppo, Annika and Millstein, Marianne The Place of Gentrification in Cape Town Global gentrifications: uneven development and displacement Bristol: Policy Press, 2015. Themnér, Anders Former Military Networks and the Micro-Politics of Violence and Statebuilding in Liberia Journal of Comparative Politics Vol. 47, No. 3, 2015. Trovalla, Eric and Ulrika Infrastructure as a divination tool: Whispers from the grids in a Nigerian city Journal City, volume 19, Issue 2-3, 2015. Trovalla, Eric and Ulrika Infrastructure turned suprastructure: Unpredictable materialities and visions of a Nigerian nation Journal of material culture, vol. 20, no 1, 2015. Trovalla, Ulrika Competing prayers: the making of a Nigerian urban landscape Anthropology Southern Africa, Volume 38, Issue 3-4, 2015. Trovalla, Ulrika Haunted by Absent Others: Movements of Evil in a Nigerian City Encountering Evil: Anthropology In: Everyday Africa, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015. Udelsmann Rodrigues, Cristina and Frias, Sónia Between the City Lights and the Shade of Exclusion: Post-war accelerated urban transformation of Luanda, Angola, Urban Forum, 2015. Watuleke, Joseph The Role of Food Banks in Food Security in Uganda: the Case of the Hunger Project Food Bank, Mbale Epi-
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centre Current African Issues 60, 2015. Woldegiorgis, Birhanu Land Laws and Proclamations in Tanzania and Ethiopia NAI Occasional paper 2015. Åkesson, Lisa & Eriksson Baaz, Maria Africa’s Return Migrants – The New Developers? Africa Now, Zed Books, 2015. Åkesson, Lisa Multi-sited accumulation of capital: Cape Verdean returnees and small-scale business, Chapter in Global Networks, DOI: 10.1111/glob.12100, 2015.
Research Projects 2015 The African Union (AU) and Civilian Protection (started 2011) Linnea Gelot (formerly Bergholm). Large scale agro investments in Tanzania – impacts on smallholder land access and food security (2012-2015) Kjell Havnevik and Linda Engström. Urban governance and politics in South African cities (2012-2015) Marianne Millstein. Between Big Man Politics and Democratisation: Local Perceptions and Individual Agency in Processes of Electoral Violence (started 2012) Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs, Jesper Bjarnesen, Mats Utas, Jonathan Hall and Angela Muvumba Sellström. Bokra a7la (Tomorrow is Better): Embodying Political Agency after the Egyptian Revolution (Started 2012) Maria Frederika Malmström. The Role of Institutions for Inclusive Development of Agricultural Markets: The Case of Post-Conflict Liberia (2014-2015) Gun Eriksson Skoog. Politics of paper(lessnes)s: relational knowledge, solidarity action and bodies on the move (started and finished in 2015) Anitta Kynsilehto.
58 | Shades of Africa
Circular Nomadism: youth and work in post‐war Liberia and Sierra Leone (started in 2015). Mats Utas, Emy Lindberg, Luisa Enria Conflict and State building in the Horn of Africa (started in 2010). Redie Bereketeab Daily Bread, Daily Dread - everyday interactions between security staff and small-scale economic operators in the DR Congo (started in 2013). Maria Eriksson Baaz, Judith Verweijen and Ola Olsson Demagogues of Hate or Shepherds of Peace: Why ‘Warlord Democrats’ (Re)securitize Wartime Identities (started in 2014). Anders Themnér, Roxanna Sjöstedt and Mimmi Söderberg-Kovacs. Dynamics of Violent Conflicts since the Wave of Democratization in West Africa: Riots, Insurgencies and Counter-Insurgencies (started in 2015). Victor Adetula. The Politics of Belonging and Exclusion: Land Rights, Citizenship and Civil Society in Kenya and Uganda (started in 2010). Anders Sjögren.
(started in 2011). Måns Fellesson and Paula Mählck. Research policy and research practise in the global knowledge economy – a comparative study between different geopolitical settings – the case of East Africa (started in 2011) Måns Fellesson. Rural/Agrarian Cluster Governance of large-scale irrigation system in the Tana area, Northern Ethiopia (started in 2013) Atakilte Beyene. Mining and dynamic responses of the host community: survey evidence from selected mining communities in Ghana (started in 2015) George Adu. Small-scale mining, natural resources and development in Burkina Faso (started in 2014). Cristiano Lanzano. Water politics in the Nile basin – emerging land acquisitions and the hydropolitical landscape (started in 2013) Terje Oestigaard and Mats Hårsmar. Water and food – Africa in a global context (started in 2014). Terje Oestigaard
Private security providers on the African continent (started in 2013). Mats Utas together with Paul Higate, University of Bristol.
Changing Urban to Rural movements in Angola and Mozambique (started in 2015). Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues.
Wartime Mobilities in the Burkina Faso-Côte d’Ivoire Transnational Space (started in 2014). Jesper Bjarnesen.
Infrastructure as Divination: Urban life in the Postcolony (started in 2011). Erik Trovalla and Ulrika Trovalla.
Exploring Urban Dynamics of Displacement and Emplacement in the Burkina Faso-Côte d’Ivoire Transnational Space (started in 2013). Jesper Bjarnesen.
Making new mine towns and reviving old ones in Africa’s Copperbelt (started in 2015). Patience Mususa.
The (im)possibility of the Swedish Policy for Global Development? (started in 2014).Måns Fellesson and Lisa Román. Masters or Migrants? The New Portuguese Migration to Angola and Cape Verde (started in 2014). Lisa Åkesson and Pétur Waldorff. Modes and Narratives of Mobility and Career Paths among academics (Ph.D. holders) in Africa
Medicine for Uncertain Futures: A Nigerian City in the Wake of a Crisis (started in 2011). Ulrika Trovalla. The Transforming Post-apartheid City (started in 2012). Annika Björnsdotter Teppo. Urban imaginaries and socio-economic exclusion (started in 2012). Onyanta Adama, Andrew Byerley (Affiliated Researcher), Ilda Lindell (Affiliated Researcher) and Mats Utas.
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T LA S W O
Just another dead-end street M O US FA
”Middle class, my ass!” Henning Melber dismisses the hype that puts a supposed middle class in the driving seat of socioeconomic change in Africa.
he United Nations Human Development Report for 2013 emphasised the growth of the middle class as an important indicator of socioeconomic change in the Global South. Similarly, the African Development Bank celebrated the growth of an African middle class, estimated at between 300 and 500 million people. This has contributed to a shift from a pro-poor to a middle class approach as the new avenue for development. In the meantime, agreement seems to have been reached that with as little as US$10 Purchasing Power Parity a day a person can be considered as belonging to something called the middle class, while the debate continues about the extent to which such middle classes are a factor in socioeconomic transition and progress towards democracy and good governance. Often the beneficiaries of authoritarian regimes, middle classes are by no means axiomatically progressive.
Street scene from Makeni, the fourth largest city in Sierra Leone. Photo by Direct Relief.
An Afrobarometer survey of 2013 found that, according to African middle classes, not everybody should be entitled to vote. Rather, such people consider themselves educated enough to decide what is best in terms of governance, but the same is not true of less educated ordinary people. While the middle class hype seems to suggest that there is a significant new factor in social transformation, such change may well prove to be just another dead-end street. Maybe one should instead continue to focus on the role of the state, policymakers and bureaucracy alike, and keep an eye on the richest segments of society. After all, the rich get richer while social discrepancies in most countries continue to widen. As the economist Gabriel Palma reminds us, notwithstanding the debate about the middle class, “it is the share of the rich, stupid!” that might still be the most important single factor.
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Research on a changing continent, a report on current research at the Nordic Africa Institute