Tarnjeet Kang, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Zambakari Advisory
The Chasm between Communities and Institutions
During the course of my dissertation fieldwork in South Sudan, from 2014 - 2015, I found many discrepancies between the realities I witnessed and encountered on the ground, and the images that were being promulgated by the international community providing aid as well as the journalists reporting on conflict in the country. For outsiders that depend on these constricted views, it is easy to underestimate the level of labor and productivity that occurs in South Sudan to generate income and assume that the majority of citizens are complacently dependent on foreign aid due to underdevelopment and the conflict. Unfortunately, this view was perpetuated at times by the international aid workers that I interviewed, and then exacerbated by representatives of the national government where it was purported that community members were too reliant on the government for services. However, in approaching my research project with an expanded view of what constitutes self-determination, productivity, and growth on the part of communities, I was able to contribute to the documentation of the vital role that community self-determination has in meeting the needs of citizens in areas where governments and NGOs have failed. This narrative is often missing from existing literature, which inherently limits our knowledge of both the historical and contemporary realities we encounter when designing programs, policies, and research studies.
Rose Jaji (PhD), University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
A non-coup coup; a coup by any other name is still a coup. What is interesting about the recent coup in Zimbabwe, is that while the world found occupation in whether what had happened was a coup or not, Zimbabweans themselves were in utter disbelief that President Robert Mugabe was finally on his way out and sooner than expected. Most of them had become resigned to him leaving the presidency upon his death. Focused on the goal to see President Mugabe out of office, no one seemed to care anymore about how this would happen; the end justified the means. Now that his departure seemed possible and imminent, they wanted him to leave soon, or, in the words of some of the people interviewed by the media during the march, they wanted him to leave “like yesterday”.
Patience Kabamba (PhD), Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah
Each country has its icons and heroes. They are figures of history who are the symbols of the nations. Generally, countries build monuments to celebrate their memories and their accomplishments. Etienne Tshisekedi was a human being who symbolized one of these rare historical trajectories of his country since the first state coup in 1964 by Mobutu Sésé Seko, Congo’s former president who reigned from 1965 to 1997. Soon after his law studies at the University of Lovanium on the outskirt of Kinshasa, Tshisekedi was appointed “commissary” (minister) of Justice by then General Mobutu during his first coup d’Etat in 1964. Tshisekedi was therefore part of the first government of Mobutu who, a few years earlier, had organized the assassination of the former premier minister Patrick Lumumba in 1961. Thsisekedi worked as Mobutu’s Minister of Justice, Minister of Interior, an Ambassador to Morocco, and was part of many governments since the Mobutu’s second coup d’état in 1965. Tshisekedi was part of the political life of Kinshasa until he passed away at the age of 84. First, I will talk about Tshisekedi, the man. Second, I will lay out the ideology Tshisekedi has been fighting for during his entire political life. In the introduction as well as the conclusion I will give a brief understanding of the current situation of the Congo and the direction the country is heading.
Muhammad Dan Suleiman, University of Western Australia, Perth
In recent years, West Africa has come into the global spotlight due to the prevalence of famines, religious terrorism, anti-state rebellions, and arms, drugs and human trafficking. These developments are the product of both local and global dynamics and they remain substantial challenges for the region in 2017 and beyond. There have been positive developments, including an emerging consolidation of support for democratic transitions of power through both popular protests and elite-led regional diplomatic and military interventions against unconstitutional changes of government or attempted unlawful retentions of power. While there are positive developments, concerns have increased of late about insecurity in West Africa in an era of violent criminal and political movements operating across borders. Indeed, West Africa suffers from ethno-religious tensions, political instability, poverty and natural disasters. West Africa is a vast sub-region. Nevertheless, I offer below a highlight of key developments and events to watch in a few countries and locations in the sub-region, and the best way to address pressing issues.
Kyle Anderson (MS), Data Analyst Research Aide, The Zambakari Advisory
Richard Rivera (MA), Statistician & Psychometrician, The Zambakari Advisory
Prior to its birth on July 9th, 2011, the area that is now South Sudan has faced instability, which can be seen as a result of its history of colonization that has, in turn, led to a legacy of instability and violence (Metelits, 2016). The current conflict in South Sudan can be thought of in terms of social, political, and economic factors. The Fragile States Index quantifies these factors, creating a composite score for each country. As of 2016, out of 178 countries that were studied, South Sudan was the second most fragile, only trailing Somalia (Fragile States Index, 2016).
This piece discusses two research questions investigating events within the five years following the birth of South Sudan: 1) What is the frequency and distribution of the interaction of actor type and event types for events in South Sudan from July 9th, 2011 to July 8th, 2016?, 2) What is the frequency and distribution of actor types within the different states in South Sudan from July 9th, 2011, to July 8th, 2016?
Rose Jaji (PhD), University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Many anti-homosexual Africans claim that homosexuality is “unAfrican” and view advocacy by Western governments for homosexuals’ rights in Africa as cultural imperialism. The crisis of attribution regarding homosexuality has created confusion manifest in its westernization. Juxtaposed with traditional accommodation of non-conformity and diversity in African cultures, the prevailing intolerance and homophobia among many Africans was in fact introduced by missionaries who condemned traditional practices on the continent as pagan, primitive, and evil. It is puzzling how African Christians question the “Africanness” of homosexuality without questioning the “Africanness” of Christianity which was brought to Africa by Western missionaries. If homosexuality is “unAfrican” and “Western” for the reason that Western governments advocate homosexuals’ rights, why have the same Africans embraced Christianity which came to Africa through Western missionaries and is thriving in Africa decades after the continent shook off the colonial yoke?
Researcher - Research Officer at Centre d’Etudes et de Formation pour le Developpement (CEFOD) in N’djamena (Chad)
The Central African Economic and Monetary Community known as CEMAC, is made up of six States in Central Africa, namely: Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea.It is no exaggeration to say that CEMAC countries rely heavily on the exploitation of Extractive Industries (EI) for their respective development. Yves Alvarez et al. note that “like many other countries in Africa, the member countries of the CEMAC rely heavily on the exploitation of raw materials to support growth. However, for many reasons, these countries find that industrial exploitation based on foreign direct investment (FDI) does not create sufficient wealth to maintain growth and sustainable development.” Does heavy reliance on the exploitation of raw materials enough to sustain growth?
Tarnjeet Kang, Ph.D Candidate, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Walking around the central city area of Juba, South Sudan’s capital, it is difficult to miss the copious signs directing people to the compounds of CSOs, NGOs, and other international organizations such as the numerous United Nations agencies. Many of the public institutions scattered across the city also bear markers of international sponsorship. This phenomenon is replicated in the hearts of state capitals across the country. While the presence of foreign interventions in South Sudan has been discussed colloquially, the implications and long-term consequences, particularly within the context of a neoliberal era of development, has not been critically investigated thus far.
Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent of London
In the process and under the pressure of outside military intervention, a vast region of the planet seems to be cracking open. Yet there is very little understanding of these processes in Washington. This was recently well illustrated by the protest of 51 State Department diplomats against President Obama’s Syrian policy and their suggestion that air strikes be launched targeting Syrian regime forces in the belief that President Bashar al-Assad would then abide by a ceasefire. The diplomats’ approach remains typically simpleminded in this most complex of conflicts, assuming as it does that the Syrian government’s barrel-bombing of civilians and other grim acts are the “root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region.”It is as if the minds of these diplomats were still in the Cold War era, as if they were still fighting the Soviet Union and its allies.
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