African Political Thought
- Course Code:
- Unit value:
- Taught in:
- Term 1
It will be the key Africanist contribution to the new and wide-ranging MSc in Comparative Political Thought, mounted by the Department of Politics and International Studies.
Flash player 8 or above needed
African Political Thought
Objectives and learning outcomes of the course
- Understanding of African political thought and debate throughout the period leading to decolonisation, the years of independence, and reflective thought some 50 years after independence.
- Application of learning to the understanding of contemporary African politics.
- Appreciation of different strands of political thought in different parts of Africa, their relationship to distinct histories and cultures, and their efforts towards a unified body of thought in the face of analyses and diagnoses of contemporary globalisation.
- The ability to problematise African political thought by means of both critique and contextualisation.
Two lectures and one tutorial per week for 10 weeks.
Scope and syllabus
- Antecedents: race and romanticism in Africa – from WEB du Bois to the Manchester Conference to Senghor’s ‘negritude’.
- The thought of liberation: Cabral and the Lusophonic thinkers; the ‘pacific’ counterpoint of Kaunda
- The New African Man: the political thought of transformation – Kaunda, Nyerere, Obote, Nkrumah.
- The degeneration into ‘Big Men’: case studies of Mobutu and Banda; the critique of Mbembe.
- The coup ‘artists’ and the new nationalisms-on-command: from Gowon to Rawlings; the contrasts between Sankara and Amin; the contrasts and similarities between Obasanjo and Abacha.
- The old liberationists and their reassertion in new nationalisms: Mugabe’s political thought.
- Africa in the world: Mbeki’s African Renaissance – nostalgia and the toleration of the carnivalesque; Ngugi’s linguistic chauvinism; Mandaza’s neo-Marxist retrospection.
- The call for democracy: the critique of Soyinka; new constitutionalisms and the looking eastwards to China, Singapore and Malaysia; the model of Russian democracy.
- Pan-Africanism today: thought on the African Union.
- African intellectual currents and philosophy today: going it alone vs integration with a hegemonic world; Africa and the ICC, Africa and electronic globalisation; the thought of the outlawed commons.
Method of assessment
Unseen written examination contributing 70% to the total mark.
3000 word essay contributing 30% to the total mark.
- Edmond Wilmot Blyden, Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race, Baltimore: Black Classic, 1994
- WEB du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks, New York: Penguin, 1996.
- CLR James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, New York: Random House, 1963.
- John Henrik Clarke with Amy Jacques Garvey (ed.), Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa, New York: Random House, 1974.
- Patrick Chabal, Amilcar Cabral: Revolutionary Leadership and People’s War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
- Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia Shall be Free, London: Heinemann, 1962.
- Stephen Chan, Kaunda and Southern Africa, London: IB Tauris, 1992.
Kwame Nkrumah, Africa Must Unite, New York: International Publishers, 1970.
David Birmingham, Kwame Nkrumah: The Father of African Nationalism, Athens: Ohio University Press, 1998.
- Julius Nyerere, Freedom and Socialism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968.
- Henry Bienen, Tanazania: Party Transformation and Economic Development, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.
- Milton Obote, ‘The Common Man’s Charter’, radiorhino.org
- Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
- Michela Wrong, In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Zaire, New York: Haper Collins, 2001.
- Robert I. Rotberg, The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa, Camb. Mass: Harvard University Press, 1965.
- Stephen Chan, Grasping Africa, London: IB Tauris, 2007, Chapter 4.
- Paul Collier, War, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places, New York: Harper Collins, 2009.
- Christopher Cramer, Civil War is not a Stupid Thing, London: Hurst, 2006.
- Stephen Chan, Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003.
- Stephen Chan, Citizen of Zimbabwe: Conversations with Morgan Tsvangirai, Harare: Weaver, 2010.
- William Mervin Gumede, Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC, London: Zed, 2007.
- Stephen Chan, Southern Africa: Old Treacheries and New Deceits, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
- Reinhard Sanders and Bernth Lindfors (eds.), Ngugi wa Thiongo Speaks, Oxford: James Currey, 2006.
- Ibbo Mandaza (ed.), Zimbabwe: The Political Economy of Transition 1980-1986, Dakar and Harare: CODESRIA, 1987.
- Wole Soyinka, The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
- Samir Amin, Global History: A View from the South, Cape Town: Pambazuka, 2011.
- Samir Amin, Eurocentrism, Cape Town: Pambazuka, 2011.
- Samir Amin, Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism, Cape Town: Pambazuka, 2011.