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Preview: African Affairs - current issue

African Affairs Current Issue

Published: Tue, 16 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2018 08:51:54 GMT


Structural inequality, natural resources and mobilization in southern Tanzania

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Following large offshore discoveries, Tanzania is set to become a major natural gas producer. Widespread political pledges first fueled popular expectations of local development in the southern regions close to the discoveries. Still, in 2012 and 2013, before any gas was produced, riots erupted amid claims of broken promises. Conflict theories to a large extent fail to explain these riots. Spatial inequality is a recognized conflict driver, yet southern Tanzania remained peaceful for five decades despite grave regional marginalization. Furthermore, standard explanations of natural resource conflicts are all linked to large revenues flows, and no such flows were present at the time of the conflict. This article investigates when and how spatial inequalities and natural resources spark conflict. Based on semi-structured interviews and new survey data, it finds that natural resource mismanagement and subsequent leadership framing increased the salience of a regional identity and exacerbated felt group grievances in southern Tanzania. A feeling of injustice was particularly salient in motivating riot participants.

Mau Mau crucible of war: Statehood, national identity, and politics of postcolonial Kenya

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Mau Mau crucible of war: Statehood, national identity, and politics of postcolonial Kenya, by Nicholas K.Githuku. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2016. xvii + 555 pp. $146.00 (hardback). $138.00 (eBook). ISBN 978-1-4985-0698-4. ISBN 978-1-4985-0699-1.

Terrorism and counter terrorism in Africa: Fighting insurgency from Al Shabaab, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Terrorism and counter terrorism in Africa: Fighting insurgency from Al Shabaab, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram, by Hussein  Solomon. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. X + 192 pp. £58.00 (hardback). ISBN 978 1 137 48988 3.

Remaking Mutirikwi: Landscape, water and belonging in southern Zimbabwe

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Remaking Mutirikwi: Landscape, water and belonging in Southern Zimbabwe, by JoostFontein. Woodbridge, James Currey, 2015, xxiv + 341 pp. £45 (hardback). ISBN 978 1 84701 112 1.

What Fanon said: A philosophical introduction to his life and thought

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

What Fanon said: A philosophical introduction to his life and thought, by Lewis R.Gordon. London: Hurst, 2015. xix + 191 pp. £14.99 (paperback). ISBN: 978 1 84904 550 6.

Informal urban governance and predatory politics in Africa: The role of motor-park touts in Lagos

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

This article draws on in-depth fieldwork in Lagos, Nigeria, to explain the changing role of motor-park touts (agberos) in urban transport. Situating the emergence of agberos within the insecurity and radical uncertainty caused by the structural adjustment programme of the 1980s, this article explains the transformation of agberos in the light of their tacit incorporation into the National Union of Road Transport Workers, which politicized and altered their role in urban transport. It further argues that current efforts to rid motor-parks of agberos is inspired by the post-1999 urban renewal project of the Lagos State Government to transform Lagos into a ‘world class’ megacity. Yet, the embedded role of ‘big politics’ (i.e. the strategic alliance between the union and the state) helps to explain the difficulty of doing away with agberos in Lagos. By focusing on their changing role in Lagos, this article foregrounds the critical and mediating role of agberos in the day-to-day management of urban public transport, while illuminating the politics of violent patronage and extortion rackets in which they are popularly implicated.

African numbers games and gambler motivation: ‘Fahfee’ in contemporary South Africa

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Since independence, at least 28 African countries have legalized some form of gambling. Yet a range of informal gambling activities have also flourished, often provoking widespread public concern about the negative social and economic impact of unregulated gambling on poor communities. This article addresses an illegal South African numbers game called fahfee. Drawing on interviews with players, operators, and regulatory officials, this article explores two aspects of this game. First, it explores the lives of both players and runners, as well as the clandestine world of the Chinese operators who control the game. Second, the article examines the subjective motivations and aspirations of players, and asks why they continue to play, despite the fact that their aggregate losses easily outstrip their aggregate gains. In contrast with those who reduce its appeal simply to the pursuit of wealth, I conclude that, for the (mostly) black, elderly, working class women who play fahfee several times a week, the associated trade-off—regular, small losses, versus the social enjoyment of playing and the prospect of occasional but realistic windfalls—takes on a whole new meaning, and preferences for relatively lumpy rather than steady consumption streams help explain the continued attraction of fahfee. This reinforces the need to understand players’ own accounts of gambling utility rather than simply to moralistically condemn gambling or to dismiss gamblers behaviour as irrational.

Pathways from rebellion: Rebel-party configurations in Côte d’Ivoire and Burundi

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Across diverse liberal war-to-peace transitions, the integration of former armed movements into the post-accord political system has been identified as a significant factor in determining the success of peace processes. There is now a growing literature focusing on rebel-to-party transformations in the aftermath of armed conflict. Despite on-going debates over the long-term implications of rebel-to-party conversions for existing party systems, actual studies focusing on diverse patterns of rebel-party configurations in post-accord transitions remain rare. This article takes a first step to fill this gap by comparing pathways in rebel-party relations in Côte d’Ivoire and Burundi. While the FN in Côte d’Ivoire joined the RDR, an established political party, with FN members running as candidates for the RDR in post-accord elections, the CNDD-FDD in Burundi formed its own party becoming the country’s current ruling party. We develop a theoretical framework analyzing these divergent pathways by exploring how ties between armed movements and pre-conflict political parties shape trajectories of rebel groups during and beyond civil war.

The potential and pitfalls of collaborating with development organizations and policy makers in Africa

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

A growing number of academics are engaging in collaborative research projects with development organizations and policy makers. Increasingly, this includes efforts to co-produce research, rather than simply share information. These new ways of doing research raise important ethical and practical issues that are rarely discussed but deserve attention. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region of the world in which these new approaches are particularly prevalent, and one where the challenges created by those approaches tend to manifest in distinct or acute ways. In this Research Note, we draw on a collaborative research project with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to illuminate these difficulties. We also offer suggestions for how to manage the challenges that arise when academics conduct research with policy makers and development organizations. Ensuring that such collaborations are both effective and ethical is not easy, but it must be done if we are to develop better informed policy and scholarship.

Reciprocal retaliation and local linkage: Federalism as an instrument of opposition organizing in Nigeria

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

How do local politics shape national political competition in Africa? This article explores opposition party formation in Nigeria, where citizens voted out the People’s Democratic Party in 2015 after 16 years in power. Existing analyses attribute the victory of the All Progressives Congress to issues such as corruption, terrorism, and declining economic performance. Drawing upon field research in Abuja and Rivers, a key opposition state, this article argues that the institutional environment also played a role. Federalism provided the nascent All Progressives Congress with a partisan basis for subnational interest coordination. Rivers’ governor leveraged his authority over local governments to challenge the federal government, linking local struggles to broader states’ rights. The People’s Democratic Party unsuccessfully attempted to deter defections and subvert subnational challenges through court cases and other means. More than just a mechanism for resource distribution, representation, or conflict mediation, Nigeria’s federalism has emerged as an instrument of party organizing.

Representations of Africa in African media: The case of the Darfur violence

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This article examines representation of the conflict in Darfur by the media in Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Rwanda. It analyses 850 newspaper articles published from 2003 to 2008 and journalist interviews from Kenya and South Africa. Using Mbembe’s articulation of ‘meaningful acts’ and Bourdieu’s field theory, the article highlights how the intersection of geopolitics, symbolic affirmation of unity and ‘Africanness’ and a ritualistic use of official sources led African media fields to mimic the global north in how they have framed the Darfur conflict. The most striking finding from the analysis of how these four countries reported the violence in Darfur is the salience of the ethnic conflict frame. However, the ethnic conflict frame was used in African media differently than in Western media, which often assumed a path-determined relationship between conflict and tribal identities. In contrast, African journalists used the ethnic frame to domesticate the news and as a part of specific political project to demarcate which actors should be understood as Other and with which actors audiences share an affinity.