One Punk’s Guide to African Politics by Kevin Dunn

One Punk's Guide to African Politics Kevin Dunn

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One Punk’s Guide to African Politics by Kevin Dunn

In my not-so-secret life, I am a scholar of African politics. My interest in Africa came from being an anti-racist activist in the American South. In college, I got involved in the anti-apartheid movement and realized how little I knew about Africa and how simplistic the media coverage was. Fortunately, I had a professor who was an expert on African politics and I took every course he had to offer. I began to realize that even though Africa was treated marginally by the media, it was central to world affairs: the U.S. and U.S.S.R. fought proxy wars there, they and other powers conspired to overthrow African governments, and all worked hard to ensure they had access to vital African resources and raw materials (from copper, gold, and diamonds to cotton, chocolate, and uranium). The more I learned, the more I realized how intertwined Africa was with world affairs and everyone’s daily life. I continued studying Africa in graduate school and have spent time in numerous countries across the continent in the subsequent years.

A few years ago, my friend Pierre Englebert and I wrote the textbook Inside African Politics. If you take a college course on African politics, chances are pretty high that you’ll be assigned that book. When writing it, Pierre and I cringed at how much we had to simplify and generalize in order to make everything fit into one book. If we were generalizing then, I’m simplifying things in this essay to an epic degree. It is a zine-length piece on a multifaceted subject, which I hope will set the foundation for a greater understanding and interest in a complex topic.

Since punk taught me that I didn’t need to write a complicated ten-minute song to get my ideas across, this essay is a distillation of focused ideas, not an omnibus of all that is African politics; The Minutemen wrote more intelligent songs than Bob Dylan ever did. Punk taught me to question what governments and the media told me. We need to push beyond the bullshit and see how all our lives are interconnected across the globe. What happens in Africa impacts us, just as our actions (however small) impact Africa. Punk taught me that our personal choices matter, from the products we buy to the food we eat: when we buy fair trade coffee, it has an impact; when we buy a cell phone with minerals from Africa, it has an impact. Punk taught me that being informed and engaged means not allowing others with less-principled motives to call the shots. Consider this your punk rock primer to African politics.

A Brief Historical Overview

Understanding today’s Africa requires a degree of historical awareness, especially of life before European conquest, the impact of colonization, and some of the major developments after independence. It is impossible to convey the diversity and complexity of African societies before European colonization in the nineteenth century. There was a wide range of types of societies across the continent, from well-organized empires, to complex chieftaincies, to small groups of nomadic hunters-and-gatherers. There was no one way of organizing society nor was there a common religious system (for the record, Christianity and Islam both found a home in Africa before they did in Europe). Africans had a lengthy political history prior to European conquest, enjoying substantial interaction and trade with other parts of the world. Northern Africa and the entire eastern coast were closely connected to the Islamic world and beyond, while interaction with Europe went back as far as ancient Greece and Rome. (The gold in the earliest English coins came from West Africa). The very complexity of African politics today is shaped in part by the plural nature of political authority and experiences that existed before European colonization.

European conquest was driven largely by changing dynamics within Europe (such as the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution) that altered how Europeans thought and acted towards non-Europeans. Europeans developed a sense of superiority and entitlement—fueled by religion, science, and economics—that justified the brutal conquest and extermination of other peoples around the world. By the late nineteenth century, the major European powers of the time—the U.K., France, Germany—and lesser powers such as Spain, Portugal, and Belgium, began to expand their territorial holdings in Africa, moving beyond their coastal trading posts and violently pushing deeper into the interior, occasionally bumping into each other.

Otto von Bismarck recognized that competition for African territory might lead to a European war for which he knew Germany wasn’t quite ready, so he invited representatives from European powers and the U.S. (who had established a pseudo-colony in Liberia for freed slaves)—to Berlin between 1884-85 to work out an agreement on dividing the continent among themselves. The resulting division was largely arbitrary, with boundaries imposed on top of the organic ways in which African political life had developed. The Berlin Conference required colonial powers to establish “effective control” of their territories or lose them to other colonial powers. European powers established control over every part of the continent in the ensuing “Scramble for Africa,” with the exception of America’s Liberia and the independent kingdom of Ethiopia, both of which successfully resisted European invasions. The resulting national boundaries are almost exactly the same on today’s map of Africa.

I’ll focus on three key points in European colonialism. First, even though the colonial era was rather short (roughly 1880s-1960s), it dramatically restructured most African societies. Second, pre-colonial practices and beliefs did not completely disappear, but continued and were adapted to fit the new colonial reality. Third, all of Africa was brought into the global political and economic systems that Europeans were constructing.

Politically, Africa was now divided into states, with clearly defined borders and a central authority controlled by the colonial power. In political science we refer to this as the “international sovereign state system,” though Africans did not have “sovereignty” (they did not rule themselves). We still have this system today and its familiarity makes it seem natural, but it was created relatively recently through conquest and assimilation.

The Europeans brought Africans into the global capitalist system violently. Through the imposition of taxation, forced labor, and land-grabbing, Europeans extracted vast resources from their African colonies. Africans were forced to grow cash crops—coffee, tea, sugar, rubber, cotton, etcetera—or work in mines to fuel the industrial economies back in Europe. It is important to note that at under colonialism, Africa started importing basic foods because its crops went to meet Western desires. It stopped being self-sufficient, a condition that continues today. While there were substantial differences in the ways the Europeans ruled their various colonies, colonialism radically altered African economies in the service of colonial capitalism. Colonialism imposed a European state model with little connection to African traditions and produced African elites who sought to make the best of the situation by mastering the new colonially-created reality.

At the end of World War I, Germany was forced to relinquish its colonies to the victors. Europeans increasingly extracted resources from Africa, especially as the Great Depression worsened. However, the end of World War II brought several changes: European powers were weak and exhausted, the new global powers (U.S. and U.S.S.R.) were interested in seeing European empires dismantled, and Africans were emboldened to push for changes.

In some cases, that push turned violent and liberation wars emerged in colonies that tended to have lots of white settlers who didn’t want to relinquish their positions of privilege, such as Kenya and Algeria. In most colonies, the transition to independence was smooth and orderly, but it was occasionally chaotic. For instance, Belgium’s abrupt departure from the Congo left a huge power vacuum that virtually guaranteed disaster (there were only a dozen or so college-educated Congolese in a country of more than fifteen million). The Portuguese violently clung to their colonies, fighting several liberation wars until their own soldiers mutinied in 1976. In Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), white settlers emulated the U.S. and declared themselves independent, until finally being forced to submit to majority rule in the 1980s. In neighboring South Africa, the white minority had been granted independence by the U.K. earlier in the century and maintained their system of white rule (a.k.a. “apartheid”) until they transitioned to majority rule in 1994.

The post-independence African leaders inherited government institutions that had limited credibility with the citizens. Their economic systems were largely based around exporting cash crops to the West and continued the legacy of violent colonial occupation that included extremely poor health and education services. (Despite their “civilizing” rhetoric, Europeans didn’t do shit regarding the general betterment of African lives). This historical context is the backdrop for contemporary African politics.

Ethnicity, the World of Spirits, Class, Gender, and Politics

People use a number of useful concepts when looking at different types of political systems around the world. This is known as conducting “comparative analysis.” I find it useful to talk about big concepts—such as ethnicity, religion, class, gender, and civil society—to provide a useful framework for understanding African politics.

Ethnicity is probably one of the most useful—and difficult—concepts for studying African politics. Statistically speaking, Africa is far more ethnically diverse than the rest of the world, but there is a great degree of variation among African countries. For example, Swaziland’s population is ninety-seven percent ethnic Swazis, while Uganda has about twenty-five very different groups, including several well-established pre-colonial kingdoms. But how to define “ethnic group” is debatable. Different scholars will claim that a country like Angola has between eight and one hundred ethnic groups, or the Democratic Republic of Congo between four and over three hundred. This should indicate that using the term “ethnicity” can be a problem. (Think about how troublesome ethnic categories like “white” and “Hispanic” are in the U.S. once you start narrowing down the country and region of someone’s heritage).

Many scholars consider one’s ethnic group to be the most important factor shaping political behavior in Africa. But there is a fair amount of disagreement regarding whether ethnicity is a consequence or a cause of other features of African politics, and it is useful to understand that distinction. Historically, some observers understood ethnicity (often just framed as “tribalism”) as a deeply-rooted and fixed aspect of people’s identity that determined how they acted and could thus explain virtually all aspects of African politics. This approach treats identities as preexisting and permanent, leading to a frequent assumption that Africa’s ethnic diversity is the cause of conflict, underdevelopment, and political corruption.

While you still see such ideas in the media, few scholars accept this explanation anymore. Rather, most regard ethnicity as a cultural resource that people—particularly political elites—can appeal to in certain circumstances. Ethnic identities, like all forms of identity, are somewhat malleable and are the consequence of other factors (including colonialism, which actually invented a number of “tribes”). Recognizing that ethnicity is constructed does not mean that these identities or the social divisions they produce are not real. Clearly, ethnicity is important within African politics, but understanding it as constructed allows us to see how it is utilized by elites to advance political agendas.

Take this example: why are two ethnic groups—Chewas and Tumbukas—allies in Zambia but adversaries in neighboring Malawi? The political scientist Daniel Posner recognized that it had to do with the political calculations elites made. In Zambia, both groups were small relative to other ethnic groups, so they banded together in alliance. In Malawi, both were large enough to compete with each other for political gains. In Africa, as elsewhere, ethnicity is important, but it is more often a consequence than a cause of politics.

Regarding religion, there is a great degree of diversity across the continent. Countries in the north and along the coast of East Africa have large Muslim (mostly Sunni) populations, while Christianity is more dominant in southern Africa and along the coast of West Africa. Religion has rarely been a source of conflict in Africa, though that has started to change in recent years.

Again, like ethnicity, religious difference is not the cause of conflict, but is utilized by elites to garner support for specific political agendas. For example, the recent conflict in the Central Africa Republic between Christian and Muslim militias has nothing to do with religious doctrines and everything to do with political elites mobilizing support against each other.

Recently, there has also been the rise of more radical and fundamentalist beliefs among some African Muslims, particularly in countries such as Somalia (with al-Shabaab), Nigeria (with Boko Haram) and Mali (with al-Qaeda of the Maghreb). At the same time, Africa has seen a rapid growth of Christianity, particularly among evangelicals and Pentecostals. Africa will soon be home to the world’s largest population of Christians. This shift is going to impact the articulation of a global Christian identity, particularly since what is being advanced tends to be socially conservative, including vehement pro-life and anti-LGBTQ positions.

Africans have also produced their own indigenous spiritual belief systems. A common characteristic of these diverse belief systems is that our material world and the world of spirits and the dead are intimately intertwined. There is an understanding that spirits are active and powerful in our world, extending their influence into the political realm. Western observers often have a difficult time taking intermingling of the spiritual and material worlds into account, but it is not unusual to encounter active belief in—and employment of—witchcraft in much of Africa. Like elsewhere in the world, politicians must often gain a degree of spiritual legitimacy to be successful, but in Africa that legitimacy may combine Christianity, Islam, and indigenous spiritual beliefs.

Class analysis has long been used to understand life in industrialized societies such as those in the West. The idea is that social classes emerge around the means of production, resulting in clear distinctions between the working classes and the capitalist elite; Africa tends to lack industrial economies and well-defined class categories, so class analysis seems of limited use.

Certainly there are class divisions between the rich and poor, but control of the state—through employment, expenditures, patronage, and corruption—is what is central to class formation in Africa. This helps explain why controlling the state is so important: winners get power and wealth, while losers don’t get anything (in contrast to the U.S., where the loser of a presidential election is still going to be super rich and influential). Many scholars have observed that this system of class formation has helped thwart economic development because it would create competing groups of political and economic elites.

As elsewhere, gender is an important dimension of African politics. Many laws discriminate against women, limiting their access to land and other types of property. Interestingly, many of these laws were introduced under colonialism. While pre-colonial African societies were not ideal for women, colonialism represented a major assault on established African gender relations and women’s power.

Christianity stressed female domesticity and subordination, while Westernized education gave men advantages over women and Western marriage practices undermined women’s access to property, treating women as minors needing male guardians. Today, there is no single “African woman’s experience.” While generally characterized by inequality and marginalization, the degree of those varies according to class, region, and the urban/rural divide.

Rural women face significant physical hardships, as they are often responsible for working the fields, carrying water, gathering wood, maintaining the household, and caring for the children. In parts of East Africa, women have often been restricted to rural economic activities, while in West Africa women tend to be more economically active in urban spaces. Women have often been excluded from formal political power, but it would be a mistake to regard women as powerless. While formal political life tends to be male-dominated, women are significant actors in lots of ways. For example, the market women in places like Lagos, Nigeria can—and have—shut the entire city down if they want.

Finally, it is worth saying a few words about “civil society,” the realm of public life between the household and the state. Many scholars think the characteristics of civil society affect characteristics of the political system. When looking at Western societies, these analysts focus on forms of “associational life” (such as trade unions or church groups) to see how vibrant democracy and political participation might be. But observers of Africa have noted either the lack of such elements or the control of them by the ruling political elites.

Many argue that African countries will not have successful democracy without a strong, independent civil society. But people such as Célestin Monga, a brilliant Cameroonian scholar I knew in grad school, argue that Africa has long enjoyed active civil societies at the informal and grassroots level. They have effectively challenged state power across Africa, but are largely ignored by Western scholars. Monga says we need to pay attention to the alternative and informal social engagement and resistance, such as literature and music, which represent indigenous African civil society. Given my own experiences with global DIY punk, I think he is spot on. Just check out the work of such diverse African musicians as Fela Kuti, Papa Wembe, Thomas Mapfumo, and National Wake.

The Practice of Power

When examining how power is practiced in Africa, the concept of “neopatrimonialism” is very useful. The term is inspired by the German sociologist Max Weber, who argued that modern governments developed “legal-rational” bureaucracies that replaced traditional forms of rule based on charismatic leaders and patronage networks. The concept of neopatrimonialism recognizes that patronage and personal rule haven’t disappeared, but continue alongside the existence of formal bureaucratic institutions. Against the backdrop of formal structures (such as government offices, bureaucracies, and so forth), political power actually functions through a complex web of patron-client relations that extracts resources from the state and redistributes them in a parasitic-like relationship (much like the way colonialism worked). This produces a situation where African politics is characterized by personal rule and the personalization of politics, patronage, the lack of distinction between public and private realms, institutional weakness, coexistence of bureaucratic and informal politics, and corruption. This may seem like lots to take in, but it is fairly straightforward once we recognize it in action.

Generally speaking, government officials are appointed for their loyalty, not their merit, and use their position of power to enrich themselves and their network of supporters. This is what is meant by the patron-client relationship. It isn’t just about personal enrichment, one has to make sure resources are flowing through the networks between patrons and clients, or the system breaks down (e.g. “I pledge my support to you in return for favoritism. If you fail to keep up your end of the bargain, I will find someone else to support”). African leaders sit atop an enormous and complex network of patronage and they spend a great deal of time and energy keeping that system stable, while fighting off competitors.

Some African leaders, such as Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d’Ivoire, were masterful tacticians of neopatrimonialism. In fact, African neopatrimonial systems have tended to be quite stable, but this is usually at the cost of economic development. After all, the whole system is based on extraction and redistribution. Thus, corruption is neither the result of the breakdown of governance nor an unfortunate cultural or character flaw, it is a central part of how political power is practiced in Africa. At the same time, the way power is practiced at the individual level has led to the personalization of politics—it really is about who you know—as well as the development of personal rule: “I’m going to cling to what power I have because everything depends on that, both for me and my network of clients.”

This has resulted in both weak states and the coexistence of formal and informal politics. Suppose I need a permit to do research or open a restaurant in Uganda. I need to go through the bureaucratic bullshit of applying for that permit, but I also need to know who has the “real” power and work with them. Government officials—from clerks to police officers—“abuse” their positions because that is how they get resources. Then they’re expected to redistribute those resources up and down the networks of patronage that characterize neopatrimonial systems.

Let me be clear here. Africans did not invent these practices. They are products of historic developments, some of which existed before colonialism, most of which were exacerbated and entrenched within colonialism, and then more so after independence. One can find similar practices all over the world, including your own hometown. The point is that neopatrimonial systems are at the core of political life across Africa, despite great variation in manifestation, strength, stability, and degree.

For example, the neopatrimonial system in Ghana is quite different than the one in Tanzania. But to understand and navigate both systems requires an awareness and appreciation of how systems of patronage and practices of resource redistribution work. My friend, the late Patrick Chabal, co-wrote a book called Africa Works which argued—correctly, I believe—that even though many Western observers find neopatrimonial systems frustrating and distasteful, they actually provide stability and a degree of accountability. They “work,” but it is important to always ask who they are working for.

Given the ubiquity of neopatrimonialism, you might conclude that political parties and elections don’t really matter much in Africa, and you’d be correct. In most African countries, political parties are merely the institutional creation of specific political elites and their patronage networks, with little to no ideological meaning. As a citizen of, say, Kenya, I’m not going to vote for the socialist party (there’s not one), but for the party that will send resources in my direction (like a new school in my village or fixing the roads in my neighborhood).

Some observers argue that neopatrimonialism is incompatible with democracy, pointing to the numerous examples of where democratically elected officials act as patrons with the voters as clients. In those cases, elected officials are less concerned with developing national policies than distributing patronage handouts. (See Chinua Achebe’s great novel A Man of the People for a nice fictional account of this). Voters use “electoral blackmail” to ensure that they and their communities are rewarded for their electoral loyalty. Rather than challenging neopatrimonial practices, elections have often strengthened them.

Many African leaders have resisted holding elections for fear of destabilizing their rule; however, most have stage-managed elections to ensure their victory. After all, winning an election supposedly bestows legitimacy. In fact, for several decades now, Western powers have demanded that African countries hold elections as a condition for receiving loans and financial aid.

This has helped develop “hybrid regimes” across Africa, where most of today’s African governments contain both democratic and authoritarian elements. These hybrid regimes tend to hold democratic elections, but they are regularly manipulated to insure victory for the incumbents. They provide civil and political liberties in theory, but regularly ignore them in practice. They allow oppositional elements in civil society, but undercut their independence and strive to keep them weak. Democratic institutions exist but are hollowed out by continuing practices of patronage. Most of these African regimes are important allies of Western powers, so powerful countries like the U.S., U.K., and France are happy to support their authoritarian practices as long as they continue to keep their democratic window dressing intact.

Readers may be familiar with how governments often consist of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Structurally, there is wide variation in African political systems, with some countries reflecting their French or British parliamentary tradition—which were usually imposed at the eleventh hour by the departing colonial power—and others emulating the U.S. system or some other innovation.

The actual type of government matters little. They are the formal structures behind which the “real” political power is practiced through elaborate patron-client systems and the personalization of power. In general, the executive branch is extremely powerful, the legislative branch is usually either irrelevant and/or an extension of ruling political elites’ power, and the judicial branch (the court system) is rarely independent or free, though exceptions certainly exist.

Besides the executive, perhaps the branch that matters most is the military. In Africa, as in most of the world, militaries exist to control the domestic population, not fight external enemies. Since they have guns, it is important to keep them—or at least the leadership—content and close to the fruits of power. If the military is excluded from power and privilege—or they think they might get a better deal from a new leader or even by controlling power themselves—they are likely to engage in a military coup.

Coups used to be rampant in Africa during the 1960s and ‘70s, and though the frequency has greatly decreased in recent years, they still occur. We should be careful of over-generalizing too much, as some African countries like Botswana have highly professional militaries. But many African rulers spend a great deal of time and energy ensuring that the military is strong enough to keep control over the populace, but is also weak or content enough not to seize power themselves.

The Economic Dimensions of African Politics

Images of extreme poverty are often the first things that pop into people’s minds when they think about Africa. This is understandable, since poverty is rampant across Africa and I have personally witnessed more cases of dire poverty than I care to remember, but two things need to be stressed at the outset. First, the continent is incredibly resource-rich, from oil, diamonds, and other minerals to the bountiful crops of cotton, tea, and coffee grown in various parts of Africa. You undoubtedly consume numerous African goods in your daily life and don’t even know it. Second, African economies have been some of the best performing in the world for the past decade. One of the reasons Portugal’s economy is afloat today is the massive investment that Angola, its former colony, has been pumping into it.

Colonialism was based on extracting resources and forcing Africans to grow cash crops for Western markets. Thus, African economies were largely agriculturally-based export economies. This didn’t change much when Africans got their independence. In some cases, the new African leaders tried to nationalize parts of their economy and encourage industrialization. These moves failed for a variety of reasons, including Western hostility and the inhospitability of the capitalist world market.

To oversimplify, by the 1970s Africa was dependent on Western markets to buy their goods, and on international suppliers to provide food, finished goods, and vital resources like oil. When the oil crisis hit and the commodity markets plummeted, African economies were in free-fall. When the price of copper or coffee fell, African countries whose economies were entirely dependent on selling those products (like Zambia and Rwanda) were in crisis. So they started borrowing lots of money to stay afloat.

By the 1980s, most African countries were so far in debt they were unable to even pay back the interest. The reasons were a combination of African mismanagement and corruption on the one hand and, on the other, the structural inequalities that were built into the global capitalist system. The global powers-that-be, namely the Western-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund, required African governments to radically change their economies (and societies) by opening up to foreign investors while slashing government spending on social programs (such as health and education) in order to pay back the interest on their loans. This was called “structural adjustment” and was extremely controversial. Like many, I think it was an utter failure, though many others defended it then and today, including my co-author Pierre.

So how did African economies experience their recent growth? First, under public pressure the West wrote off massive amounts of African debt. Many governments were spending half of their budgets on debt repayment, but debt levels were not going down since they were just covering the interest. In the 1990s, Africa was paying the West around eight times the amount they were receiving in aid (chew on that for a few moments). Second, commodities prices started going up again, which was a huge boost to certain African economies. Third, China started investing heavily in Africa. All this has been great news for Africa, but the fundamental structure of their economic situation has not changed. If commodity prices tank (they are starting to) or China’s investment dries up (it is already decreasing) or their debt mushrooms again (it is creeping back up), Africa’s economic renaissance will be short-lived.

Conflict and War

In addition to poverty, many people equate Africa with conflict. Pictures of African young men with guns are common in the Western media. Interestingly, Africa has had very few wars between its countries. Wars of secession are also relatively rare across the continent. This is somewhat surprising given the arbitrariness of the colonially created borders. But the most common form of conflict in Africa stems from competing elements trying to seize state power within a country, rather than groups trying to break away or fighting with other countries.

There are many reasons why conflicts emerge and each case is unique. But these wars were almost always political conflicts, driven by the desire of different groups to control the state, and thus gain access to power and wealth. It is no coincidence that many rebel groups have been led by former elites that have been cut off from the privileges they once enjoyed and are fighting to get them back.

In other cases, armed groups come from a region that has been marginalized politically and economically. More often than not, and like elsewhere in the world, the soldiers are marginalized young men whose options for social and economic advancement are quite limited. That doesn’t mean all young men will necessarily turn to violence, but the convergence of other factors—from social advancement promised by rebel leaders to economic gain to the lucrative global trade in illicit goods—add to the pressures they feel. But these factors are rarely the cause of the conflicts themselves.

In the end, most of Africa’s conflicts are a manifestation of African politics, particularly neopatrimonial practices where control of the state means access to wealth and power. For many with no recourse through the formal political system, the use of violence becomes a viable option for advancing one’s political and personal agenda. One of my frustrations with the Western media is that they tend to portray African wars as defying political logic, but these conflicts are almost always highly political in nature.

Hopefully this simplified discussion helps make events in Africa more understandable. Much of this might even look familiar since differences largely exist in degrees—one can see forms of neopatrimonialism practiced around the world. In both Kenya and Gabon, the current presidents are sons of former presidents, just as the U.S. has a dynasty of Bushes. Cronyism exists everywhere, from state legislatures in the U.S. to the global sports associations such as the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Moreover, conflicts emerge in Africa for the same reasons they do elsewhere. African economies are not that different from other economies; the crushing debt crisis that Africa has endured is the result of the same predatory bank loaning practices you have to deal with, which are an inherent aspect to modern global capitalism.

Global capitalism has a history, and part of that history concerns how the West became wealthy and powerful by exploiting and under-developing Africa and other parts of the world. But you can see those same historical developments right here in the U.S., impacting rural regions and marginalized urban neighborhoods.

By recognizing the similarities and connections between our lives and those in Africa, we can find a better understanding of how political and economic power is played out globally and locally—and impacts all of our lives.


A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe (1966)
Africa Works, Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz (1999)
Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, Jason K. Stearns (2011)
Exterminate All the Brutes
, Sven Lindqvist (1992)
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney (1972)
Inside African Politics, Pierre Englebert and Kevin Dunn (2013)
King Leopold’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild (1998)
Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga (1988)
The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
, Ayi Kwei Armah (1968)
When Victims Become Killers, Mahmood Mamdani (2001)


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