Africa in Focus: Governance in the 21st Century, edited by Kwandiwe Kondlo and Chinenyengozi Ejiogu
“African voices are, in many instances, drowned out by the hegemonic forces permeating every aspect of our African existence, from economic markets to knowledge production to cultural consumption.” – Louis Jeevanantham and Gerard Hagg, Africa in Focus: Governance in the 21st century.
One of the major issues raised by emerging African scholars is that their views on Africa’s challenges are often dominated by scholars outside of the continent, who assert their diagnosis of and prescriptions on Africa’s problems. Yet, given African scholars’ strongly anchored understanding of the diversity of society and culture on the continent, they are well placed to reflect on and address Africa’s challenges from first-hand experience.
With the publication of Africa in Focus, the HSRC now gives emerging African scholars a platform to make their voices heard in the academic and wider community. Africa in Focus: Governance in the 21st Century (HSRC Press), edited by Kwandiwe Kondlo and Chinenyengozi Ejiogu, is the premier issue of the series which will contribute to debates about Africa from an African perspective.
The series is the brainchild of the current Chief Executive Officer, Dr Olive Shisana, whose financial support enabled the HSRC to assemble a group of scholars from all over Africa and the Diaspora. Their remit was to examine and scope the normative dimensions of democratic governance in Africa, the role of multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank and to engage, more generally, with a range of issues and challenges experienced by people from various backgrounds across the continent.
In its scope and diversity, Africa in Focus addresses some of the challenges, as identified in the 2010 World Social Science Report, facing the social sciences globally, namely the geographical divide, the divide between mainstream research and alternative approaches, and the divide between disciplines, to name a few only. Scholars were drawn from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Kenya as well as further afield from the United States, Norway and Denmark and from disciplines as diverse as public health and environment, counseling psychology, international relations, economics and politics.
The volume editors, Kwandiwe Kondlo and Chinenyengozi Ejiogu, gathered the contributions into six thematic sections: the African state in the 21st century, knowledge and transformation, environment and natural resources, economy and livelihoods, public health and well-being, and Africa and the world. Collectively, these sections cover a range of fascinating topics from food production to the African ICT agenda, youth and development, violence and masculinity, paternalism and partnership, and climate change and African agriculture.
The 2010 WSSR emphasises that a thorough understanding of the local dynamics and the development of ‘methodologies to make them visible, are vital preconditions for the development of adequate, locally embedded responses to major trends and developments’. The diversity of perspectives that inform these contributions makes this first issue of Africa in Focus rich in both theory and empirical details and a valuable contribution to the store of knowledge about the African continent.
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