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.
Christopher Zambakari (MIS, MBA, LP.D.), Founder & CEO, The Zambakari Advisory, Phoenix, AZ
With its 181 million inhabitants, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, composed of more than 250 ethnic groups. After achieving independence from Great Britain in the 1960s, Nigeria’s politics was characterized by coups and mostly military rule, until 1998, when its last military ruler died and a political transition soon ensued. The general elections of 2007 witnessed the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country’s history. Since then, the Nigerian government has struggled to institutionalize democracy, reform its petroleum-based economy, and tackle the various security, societal and economic challenges faced by the country. Along with the myriad of economic woes, Nigeria has been dealing with violent incidents, terrorist attacks, secessionist movement, and rebellion in peripheral states.
Patience Kabamba (PhD), Utah Valley University, Orem, UT
This article is motivated by the desire to respond to two questions: Is there a Congolese nation? What role should the Congolese play in the building of this nation? My thesis is that there is not yet a Congolese nation. Therefore, it is up to the Congolese to build it. To further demonstrate this thesis, I propose to show the limits of some works that are interested in this issue, both those who support the existence of a Congolese nation and those who deny it. Secondly, I shall deal with Leopold’s project –subtly continued today by other actors- whose purpose was not to build a Congolese nation, but to establish and maintain an extractive space, benefiting the metropole (now synonymous capitals of economic globalization). Third, I will show why the construction of a Congolese nation worthy of the name is an important task devoted to Congolese themselves.
Samson S. Wassara (PhD), University of Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan
Rose Jaji (PhD), University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
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