African Civilization and the Premature Termination of Colonialism

Conference Paper (PDF Available) · February 2018with 187 Reads
Conference: What is Western Civilization?, At Phoenix, AZ
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Abstract
This paper contrasts Etounga-Manguelle's description of African civilization with Nemo's concept of Western civilization. It identifies the triple challenge for Africa of modernizing its economies, cultures, and civic spheres. It argues that the first African renaissance under Western colonialism was prematurely terminated, causing the failures of the second and third attempts. There is no evidence of change in a positive direction.
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AfricanCivilizationandThePrematureTerminationofColonialism
BruceGilley,PortlandStateUniversity
DeliveredattheNationalAssociationofScholarsregionalconference“WhatisWestern
Civilization?”,Phoenix,10February2018.
Introduction
ThispaperisaboutthesociologyofAfricaforthesimplereasonthatthesociologyofa
placeisthebasisofitscivilization.Inthatsense,thistalkassumesthatideasandthe
waytheyshapeculturesandsocietiesaretheengineroomofcivilization,althoughthey
arenotthesamething.Civilizationalsoincludesinstitutionalizedformsofart,
government,economicbehavior,religiouspractice,andmemoryallofwhichgo
beyondsociology.
IdefineAfricaassubSaharanAfricabecauseofthecivilizationalfaultlinebetweenthe
IslamicNorthAfricanregionandthesubSaharanregion.Inassumingtheexistenceofa
(subSaharan)Africancivilization,thispapersideswiththeAfrocentristsinthe
academyespeciallytheSenegaleseanthropologistCheikhAntaDiop1‐‐aswellas
withinternationalrelationsrealistsfamouslySamuelHuntington‐‐whoinsistthat
thereissuchageneralcategory.AsmanyscholarsofthepoliticsofAfricahavenoted,
thepatternsofAfricandevelopment,especiallyitspolitics,aretoostrikinglysimilarin
contrasttootherregionstoinsistthereisnotanunderlyingcommoncivilizationofthe
region,whateverdiverseculturesexistwithinin.
Iamgoingtomakefourmainpoints:
AfricancivilizationrepresentsthemoststarkcontrastwithWesterncivilization
comparedtoanyother
Thedifferenceliesnotjustinfundamentalassumptionsbutalsointhe
developmentalgapwhichmeanswedonotreallyknowwhatamodernizedAfrican
civilizationwouldlooklikeandhowitwouldcomparetotheWest
ThecolonialencounterwasmostsignificantandimportanttoAfrica,mostlyina
goodsense,anditsprematureterminationwasatragedyforAfrica
TheworldbadlyneedsAfricatodevelopamodernizedAfricancivilizationbutat
presenttheprospectsforthatremainbleak
WhatisAfricanCivilization?
 
1Diop,CheikhAnta.TheCulturalUnityofBlackAfrica:TheDomainsofPatriarchyandofMatriarchyin
ClassicalAntiquity.Chicago:ThirdWorldPress,1978.
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Inawellknownessayof1991,theCameroonianeconomistDanielEtoungaManguelle
arguedthatthemainfeaturesofthecommonculturethatdefinedAfricancivilization
were2:
(1) ahighdegreeoffatalism,irrationalismandbeliefinmagic
(2) acommunitarianismthatsuffocatesindividualinitiative
(3) afocusonthepastandpresent,notonthefuture
(4) adisregardforeconomicrealitiesandplanning
(5) anexcessiveconcentrationofauthorityandpowerinoneindividualthesocalled
“bigmanruler”‐‐whowilloftenclaimtohavemagicalpowers
Thesefivefeaturesrepresentanalmostperfectcontrasttothefivedimensionsthatthe
FrenchphilosopherPhilippeNemoarguedwerethekeyaspectsofWestern
civilization3:
1. Greekidealsofindividualliberty,reason,andscience
2. Romanidealsoflawandhumanism
3. JudeoChristianbiblicalnotionsofethics,empathy,andprogressagainstevil
(echoedinRachelFultonBrown’sargument4thatthereadingPsalmsiswhatledto
empathyforothers)
4. thePapalcalltoactionandresponsibilityinhumanaffairs,whichcreatedtheideaof
auniversalandsecularcivicspace(echoedinLarrySiedentop’sviewinInventingthe
Individual5ofthecentralroleofmedievalcanonlaw)
5. theEnlightenmentdiscoveryoftheattractionsofpluralism,tolerance,democracy,
andpoliticalequality(andtherediscoveryofGreekreasonandscience)
SowhenwelookatEtoungaManguelle’sdescriptionofAfrica,itpresentsaperfect
contrasttotheWest,asdefinedbyNemo.
irrationalismcontrastswithGreekreason
 
2EtoungaManguellé,Daniel.CentAnsDʹaliénation.Paris:Silex,1985;EtoungaManguellé,Daniel.
LʹafriqueatElleBesoindʹunProgrammeDʹajustementCulturel?4eéd.IvrysurSeine:Nouvellesdu
Sud,1992.
3Nemo,Philippe.QuʹestCeQueLʹoccident?Paris:Puf,2004.Nemo,Philippe.WhatIstheWest?Pittsburgh,
Pa.:DuquesneUniversityPress,2006.
4FultonBrown,Rachel.MaryandtheArtofPrayer:TheHoursoftheVirgininMedievalChristianLifeand
Thought.NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress,2017.
5Siedentop,Larry.InventingtheIndividual:TheOriginsofWesternLiberalism.Cambridge,Massachusetts:
BelknapPressofHarvardUniversityPress,2014.

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communitarianismcontrastswithRomanhumanism
thefocusonthepastandpresentcontrastswiththeBiblicalbeliefinprogress
thedisregardforeconomicrealitiescontrastswiththePapalcalltoactionand
responsibility
theconcentrationofauthoritycontrastswithEnlightenmentliberaldemocracy
Africa’sTripleChallenge
ThefactthatEuropeconqueredAfricaratherthantheotherwayaroundreflected
mainlyEurope’sdevelopmentaladvancesratherthanitscivilizationalsuperiority.
Indeed,nineteenthcentury(mostlymale)romanticsintheWestbelievedthatAfrican
civilization(alongwithnativeAmericanandPolynesianlife)wassuperiortothatofthe
Westpreciselybecauseitremainedgroundedinlong—standing,primitiveidealsof
community,tradition,authority,place,andimagination.
YetthepostcolonialrecordinAfrica,whichrepresentedareversiontosuchprimitive
ideals,hasdiscreditedthenotionthatAfricancivilizationinitspresentstateis
desirable,eitherinherentlyorintermsofitsfunctionalcontributiontohuman
development.ThatiswhyEtoungaManguelletitledhis1991article(thenbook)“Does
AfricaNeedaCulturalAdjustmentProgram?”.Hehadformulatedthisquestionin1985
whileattendingHarvardBusinessSchool,wherehelearnedabouttheimportanceof
corporateculturestofinancialsuccess.Surely,hereasoned,thismustbetrueofsocieties
andnationsaswell.Hencehiscallfor“culturaltransformation”inAfrica.6
ThedilemmawasnothowtoWesternizeAfrica.Forinstance,Asiahasmadestriking
advanceswithoutastrongcommitmenttoindividualliberty,humanism,orpluralism
anddemocracy.RatherthedilemmawashowtomodernizeAfricancivilizationsothata
modernAfricancivilizationcouldemergejustasamodernAsiancivilizationhas
emergedtoday.ThisiswhereAfricapresentsapuzzle.Whathappenedtoits
modernizers:wherewereitsSuharto’s,itsParkChungHee’s,itsDengXiaoping’s,or
LeeKuanYew’s?
Theanswerwasthatevenifmodernizersexistedinprivatelife,whentheycameinto
powertheirbeliefsandactionschanged.Tounderstandthis,weneedtoturntoanother
wellknownessay,thisonepublishedin1975bytheNigeriansociologistPeterEkeh,
entitled“ColonialismandtheTwoPublicsinAfrica.”Init,Ekehnotedthatpost
colonialAfricawascharacterizedbyadisconnectbetweenthenormsinprivatelifeand
thoseinpubliclife.Ofcourse,suchdisconnectswerenotuniquetoAfrica.Thefirst
identificationofsuchadisconnectwasBanfield’sdiscussionofamoralprivatebehavior
 
6EtoungaManguellé,Daniel.VersUneSociétéResponsableLeCasDeLʹafrique.Paris:lʹHarmattan,2009.
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insouthernItalianvillagesinhis1958bookTheMoralBasisofBackwardSociety.7
Communistsystemsweresimilarlynotoriousforthedisconnectbetweentheselfless,
patrioticpublicsphereandthedogeatdog,radicallyuncivilprivateone.
Butintheseotherexamples,amoralpublicspherehadbeenestablished,evenifitfailed
tosuperveneoneveryaspectofprivatesociety.ThedifferenceinAfrica,Ekehargued,
wasthatitwasintheprivaterealmwheremoralityexistedandinthepublicrealm
whereitwasabsent.TheexpectationsofpubliclifeinAfricaweretorob,loot,break
rules,andabandonanyethicalcommitmentsformedinprivatelife.Thestriking
deteriorationofSouthAfricaunderJacobZumawherethecorruptionwasinfullview
andyetheremainedpresidentwithmuchsupportisthemostobviousrecentexample
ofthis.Zumawas“doingtherightthing”bylootingthestateandusingitsresourcesto
rewardhissupporters.Intakingpartinpubliclife,“duties…aredeemphasizedwhile
rightsaresqueezedoutofthecivicpublicwiththeamoralityofanartfuldodger,”Ekeh
wrote.Corruptionflourishedamongcivilservants,whowereseenas“smartfellows”
whentheyhadtheirhandsinthetill.Onlyonceyourecededintoprivatelifedid
Africanculturalnormstakehold,accordingtoEkeh.
SohereisthetriplechallengeAfricahasfacedsincepoliticalindependencewasthrust
uponitspeoplesinthe1950sand1960s:(1)howtomodernizethebasicfeaturesofits
premoderncultures,asoutlinedbyEtoungaManguelle;(2)howtoextendthosenorms
intothepublicsphere,asnotedbyEkeh;and(3)howtosimultaneouslyattainthe
expansionofeconomicwealththathasempiricallyalwaysbeenassociatedwithsuch
culturalandpoliticaltransformations.8
ThepointisthatAfricahasbeenstuckwithoneoftwokindsofregimes:thosethatdid
notreflectAfricanvaluesandthosethatdidandbotharerotten.Theformerwere
oftenentrenchedduringtheColdWar.TheylackedafirmbasisinAfricancultureand
weremoreakintoEkeh’snotionofthelawlessandshorttermcriminalwholoots
quicklybeforehe(anditisalwaysahe)isoustedbythenext“nationalmovement”.
WhereEkehgotthingswrongwasinassumingthatthemoralprivatespherethatlay
waitinginthewingsaftertheColdWardespotswereoustedbydemocratizationwas
somehowsuitedtomodernconditions.YetasEtoungaManguellewroteanditis
significantthathewroteafterEkehatthebeginningofthethirdabortive“African
renaissance”attheendoftheColdwarthemoralAfricancivilizationthatlaywaiting
 
7Banfield,EdwardC.TheMoralBasisofaBackwardSociety.Glencoe,Ill.:FreePress,1958.
8Inglehart,RonaldandChristianWelzel.Modernization,CulturalChange,andDemocracy:TheHuman
DevelopmentSequence.Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,2005.
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inthewingswasnomoresuitedtomodernconditionsthantheamoralpoliticsit
replaced.Democracybroughttopoweramoresophisticatedsetof“bigmanrulers”
whoextendedneopatrimonialnormsintothepublicsphereandlastedfordecadesin
power.
GoranHyden,thegreatAfricanpoliticsscholar,notedthatthenormof“looktothe
presentnotthefuture”founditsexpressioninleaderswhosawtheirmaindutyas
stayinginpower,notdeliveringonpublicpromiseswhathecalledseamanshiprather
thannavigation.9LeaderslikeYoweriMuseveni,whoseizedpowerin1986inUganda
withmuchpromiseofreform,slowlycolonizedthepublicspherewiththeir“bigman
ruler”,communitarian,irrational,andmagicbasedethics,inhiscaseakindofbiblical
literalismthatwouldnotbeoutofplaceamongsomeofAmerica’smoreexotic
Christiangroups(andthustheoutsizedrolethatAmericanevangelicalshaveoften
playedinregressivesocialpolicyinAfrica).
Colonialism
HereiswhereIwanttobringintheroleofcolonialism.Ekeharguedthattheoriginsof
thedisconnectbetweenpublicandprivatespheresinAfricawasthenationalresistance
tocolonialrulethatportrayedthecolonialpublicsphereastheenemyofAfrican
cultureandcivilization.Onceyouencouragedtheideathatthepublicspherewastobe
attackedandlooted,youcouldnotjustturnofftheideaatindependence.“Theironyof
itall,”wroteEkeh,“isthattheordinaryAfricantooktheprinciplesinvolvedinsuch
[antistate]activitiesquiteseriously.”Theycontinuedtoseethepublicrealmasavile
areawheremoralitywasnotrequiredevenafterindependence.
Ifthisweretrue,thenonewouldsupposethatafter50to60yearswhichistwo
generationsthisseparationwouldhavebrokendownsincetoday’sAfricanshaveno
personalmemoriesofcolonialism.Let’snotforgetthatRobertMugabewasseenas
uniquelysuitedtoleadAfricaintothefuturewhenhecametopowerinZimbabwein
1980becausehehadneverbeentaintedbyinvolvementincolonial(oranticolonial)
politics.ButevenifEkehwasrightaboutthe1970s,hisargumentabouttheproblemsof
thepublicspherehasweakened.Theproblemnowisthatthepublicspherereflectsthe
privatespherealltoowell.TherealityisthatitwasnotcolonialismthatheldAfrica
back,buttheunderlying,unreformedAfricanculturethatcolonialismwasunableto
changebecause,relativetothechallenge,itwasfartooshortlivedandunobtrusive.
 
9Hyden,Goran.AfricanPoliticsinComparativePerspective.Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,2006.
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ForHyden,thereasonforAfrica’sculturalchallengewasessentiallydevelopmental,or
material.Premodernculturesarebasedonwhathecalled“embeddedinstitutions”that
iswaysofdoingthingsthatareembeddedinfrequent,facetofacerelationships.Thatis
whatmadeprivatelifeinAfricatheplaceofmoralitybecauseinclusioninagroupis
basedonacceptanceofitsmoralobligations.Thesearefirstandforemostmoral
communities,ledbya“bigman”whoislessinterestedinterritorialcontrolthansocial
control.Inotherwords,Africansocietiesneverwentthroughaperiodinwhichpeople
startedtoconceiveofthemselvesasbelongingtoa“disembedded”public.Therewas
noequivalentofMingDynastycommercialisminChinaorthemunicipallifeof
medievalEurope.ThisissimplyanunavoidabletragedyofAfrica’slatedevelopment.
ForHyden,these“embeddedinstitutions”ofpremodernsocietieswereprevalentin
Africaatthetimeofstateformationundercolonialismandthenindependence.
Colonialismhadofferedasortofintensive,acceleratedcourseinacultural
modernizationandamoralpublicsphere.Whenwelookatcolonialexperiencesinthe
1920s,1930s,and1940s,itisatimeofamazingoptimismandflourishing.Therewas
hopeforAfricathen.AstheNigerianovelistChinuaAchebe,bornin1930,recalledof
thatperiod:
Igrewupatatimewhenthecolonialeducationalinfrastructure
celebratedhardworkandhighachievementandsodidourfamilies
andcommunities…Asayoungman,surroundedbyallthis
excitement,itseemedasiftheBritishwereplanningsurprisesforme
ateveryturn,includingtheconstructionofanewuniversity!”10
Achebenotesthathisgenerationwasa“veryluckyone”and“myluckwasactually
quiteextraordinary”:
ThepaceofchangeinNigeriafromthe1940swasincredible.Iam
notjusttalkingabouttherateofdevelopment,withvillages
transformingintotowns,orthecomingofmoderncomforts,suchas
electricityorrunningwaterormodesoftransportation,butmoreof
asensethatwewerestandingfigurativelyandliterallyatthedawn
ofanewera.11

Inotherwords,theNigeriathatAcheberememberswasnotonewherethingswere
fallingapartthetitleofhisonefamousnovel,indeedtheonlynovelofnotetoever
 
10Achebe,Chinua.ThereWasaCountry:APersonalHistoryofBiafra.NewYork:Penguin,2012.p27.
11ThereWasaCountry,p.39.
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comeoutofAfrica.Rather,asChamberscomments,itwasonewhere“thingswere
comingtogether”.12AstheFrenchscholarCamilleLefebvrehasargued,thesocalled
“artificiality”ofcolonialborderwaspreciselywhatwasneededinordertocreateacivic
public.Theinternationalcommunityspentbillionsofdollarstocreateacarefully
tailoredSouthSudanin2011andwithinmonthsofitscreationitunraveledintoacivil
warbetweentwosubgroupsbecausetherewasnocivicideal.
TheAfrocentricDiopwasinParisfrom1946to1960studyingundervariousFrench
luminariesintheartsandsciences,wherehedevelopedtheideaofanAfrican
civilization.HislaterclaimthatcolonialismhadsubvertedAfricannational
consciousnessisabsurd:ratheritcreatedtheconditionsforAfricanconsciousnessto
emergebylinkingpeoplelikehimselftoacivilizationthatcouldnurtureandfacilitate
suchaformulation.ThepublicationofAchebe’sThingsFallApartin1958wasentirely
duetothegoodwillandassistanceofvariousBritishpeopleandinstitutions,including
thefamouslyreliableBritishpostalservice.Bythetimeofhisdeath,Achebe’sdogged
effortstopublishatranslationinhisnativeIgbohadcometonaughtbecauseAfrican
civilizationdidnotgiveafigaboutAfricancivilization’sonlyachievementintherealm
offiction.(ItistheonlyAfricannovelincludedinTheGuardian’slistoftheworld’s100
greatestnovelsandTheGuardianishardlyabastionofEurocentricchauvinism).
Similarly,China’semergenceisinseparablefromthewaysthatitemulatedthesuccess
ofHongKongandSingapore,whichwereChinesecultureslinkedtoWestern
civilizationthathadthereforefoundapathwaytosuccess.AttheHongKonghandover
ceremonyin1997,Beijingproclaimedithad“liberated”HongKongfromcolonial
oppression.TheironyofacitywhollypopulatedbypeoplefleeingChinawassogreat
thattheroofoftheHongKongconventioncenterseemedreadytocollapse.Thetruthis
thatBritishcolonialismliberatedChinafromcommuniststagnationandoppression.
Indeed,itisusefultorecallthatAchebe’sThingsFallAparttitlecamefromIrishpoet
WilliamYeats1919poem“TheSecondComing”.Inthebookthemodernworldis
presentedasalluringandpuzzling,notevil.Indeed,thenovelwasfirstinterpretedas
procolonial.13AchebewasarguingthathisnativeIgbowereboundtohaveadifficult
encounterwithmodernitywithorwithoutcolonialismandthattheBritishcolonial
mannerinwhichitcameactuallyhelpedthemtoholdtogether.14In1980Achebesaid:
 
12DouglasBChambers,ʺTherewasacountry:Achebe’sfinalwork,ʺJournalofAsianandAfricanStudies48,
6(2013),pp.75259,p.753.
13JagoMorrison,ThefictionofChinuaAchebe(PalgraveMacmillan,NewYork,2007),p.21.
14NeilTenKortenaar,ʺHowthecenterismadetoholdinThingsfallapart,ʺinIsidoreOkpewho(eds),
ChinuaAchebeʹsThingsfallapart:Acasebook(OxfordUniversityPress,Oxford,2003),pp.12346.
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TheIgboculturewasnotdestroyedbyEurope.Itwasdisturbed.It
wasdisturbedveryseriously,butthisisnothingnewintheworld.
Culturesareconstantlyinfluenced,challenged,pushedaboutby
otherculturesthatmayhavesomekindofadvantageataparticular
time…ButasIsaidinitially,aculturewhichishealthywilloften
survive.Itwillnotsurviveexactlyintheforminwhichitwasmet
bytheinvadingculture,butitwillmodifyitselfandmoveon…So
thereisaneedforaculturetobealiveandactiveandreadyto
adjust,readytotakechallenges.Aculturethatfailstotake
challengeswilldie.15
EtoungaManguelleargued,likeHydenandHerbst,thattheproblemwithcolonialism
wasnotthatitdisruptedAfrica’scultures(andthusitscivilization)toomuchbutthatit
disruptedthemtoolittle.Orabetterwaytoputthatisthatcolonialismwasnotgiven
thetimeitneededtobringaboutthetripletransformation:sustainedeconomicgrowth,
culturalmodernization(theprivatesphere),andcivicconstruction(thepublicsphere).
Thecountriesfortunateenoughtohavepostindependenceleaderswhoclung
tenaciouslytothatcolonialvisionafterindependenceBotswana,Kenya,andSenegal
forinstancemanagedtosurvivetheonslaughtofAfrocentrismmuchbetterthanthose
thatvenerated“authentic”anticolonialleadersCongo,Ghana,GuineaBissau,pretty
mucheverywhereelse.
OutsideofAfrica,thismuchneededtripletransformationhasbeenhappeninginthe
“creativeThirdWorld”thatreplacesthe“protestThirdWorld”ofthepast.16ButAfrica
remainstheslowesttocastofftheselfwoundinganticolonial“protest”identity.The
tragedyofAfrica’sencounterwithmodernityviacolonialism,asJefferyHerbst
argued17,wasthatcolonialismwastooshortlivedandtoounobtrusive.WorldWarII
andthenawaveofanticolonialagitationsupportedbyacynicalSovietUnion,anever
puerileIndia,andarelativelynaïveUnitedStatescausedthesesuccessfulcolonial
experimentstobeprematurelyterminated.Colonialismendednotbecauseoflocal
“resistance”butbecauseofWestern“resignation”therapidityandsimultaneityof
decolonizationsgiveslietotheromanticidealthatlocalresistancemovementshad
anythingtodowithit.Westernradicalshavealottoanswerforinimposingwhatis
essentiallyanalienideologyofanticolonialismontoAfrica.
 
15Lindfors,ConversationswithChinuaAchebe,p.6667.
16Gilley,Bruce,“TheChallengeoftheCreativeThirdWorld,ThirdWorldQuarterly(2015).
17Herbst,JeffreyIra.StatesandPowerinAfrica:ComparativeLessonsinAuthorityandControl.Princeton,N.J.:
PrincetonUniversityPress,2000.
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InAfrica,therewasnotevenaremnantofcolonialismlikeHongKongtostimulate
reforms.Well,therewasone:apartheidSouthAfrica.Itservedasonemodelofa
modernizedAfricanstate,andover100,000blackAfricansayearappliedtomigrateto
apartheidSouthAfricaduringthe1980s(tellthattotoday’scollegestudentsandblack
studiesdonsandyougetablankstare).18Butblacknationalistspaidattentiononlyto
thewhiterulers,nottotheblackmiddleclassAfrica’sfirstthatwasemergingthere.
TheslidebackwardsinSouthAfricasincetheendofapartheidisareminderofhow
deeplyentrenchedAfrica’spremodern,embeddedinstitutionsarebecausetheyeven
outlastedthenearlycenturylongexperimentofBoercolonialism.
Thishasseriouscosts.Withinweeksormonthsaftercolonialruleended,African
societiesunraveledintoprimordialstructures,andthestatecollapsedalongwithcivic
life.Theexamplesaretoonumerousandtragictorecount,nowincludingSouthAfrica’s
decline.TheWorldBankconcludedin1996thatmostAfricancountrieshadmorestate
capacityundercolonialism.Thinkabouttheconsequencesofthatforhumansuffering.
InSouthAfrica,forexample,about35%ofhouseholdscontinuetousesolidfuels(coal,
firewood,dung,paraffin)forcookingandheating.Thehealthcostsofusingthese
withoutpropermethodsaresteep2,500liveslostperyear.In1998,thebureaucracy
proposedanewpolicytomakesolidfuelssafe.Butthepolicyhasbeenignoredby
politiciansforadecadebecausesolidfuelsaresymbolicoftheapartheiderawhenonly
whiteshadaccesstoelectricity.Politiciansrefusetofundprogramsforthis“symbolof
oppression”,writeNjiramboMatingaandcolleagues.19Imagineifapartheidpolice
moweddown2,500blackprotestorsperyear.Anticolonialpoliticianshavebeendoing
thisforadecadewithimpunity,andthisisonlyintheveryobscurerealmofsolidfuels
use.
TheFuture
SowheredoesthatleaveusinthinkingaboutAfricancultureandcivilizationandits
relationshiptowhattheTrinidadianBritishwriterofIndianheritageV.S.Naipaul
calledtheonlytruly“universalcivilization”foundintheWest?IftheclassicalWestern
traditionisanything,itisuniversallyaccessibleanddeployable.Indeed,themastery
anddeploymentoftheWesternclassicsbyAfricanandAfricanAmericanwritersand
activistsisdeeplyunderappreciated,astheElonUniversityprofessoroflawandthe
humanitiesEricHairstonshowedinhis2013bookTheEbonyColumn:Classics,
Civilization,andtheAfricanAmerican.WemightalsolooktoacontemporaryAfrican
 
18Segatti,A.(2011).“ReformingSouthAfricanImmigrationPolicyinthePostapartheidPeriod(1990–
2010).”InA.Segatti,&L.Landau(Eds.),ContemporaryMigrationtoSouthAfrica(pp.31–65).
Washington,DC:WorldBank.
19Matinga,M.N.,Clancy,J.S.,&Annegarn,H.J.(2014).“Explainingthenonimplementationofhealth
improvingpoliciesrelatedtosolidfuelsuseinSouthAfrica.”EnergyPolicy,68,5359,
Page10of10
AmericanscholarslikeStanfordeconomistThomasSowellwhoseworksshowthis
mastery.
Buttobehonest,thingsdonotlookgoodforafourthAfricanrenaissanceatpresent
(thepreviousthreeweredeclaredinthelate19thcentury,theearly1960s,andtheearly
1990s).SouthAfricaunderJacobZumamadeacatastrophicgreatleapbackwardand
onetimehopefulslikeMuseveniare“hippos”rollingaboutinthemudofAfrican“big
manruler”tradition.The“cheetahs”whowouldleadAfricancultureandcivilization
intothemodernerathesearethetermsusedbytheGhanaianeconomistGeorge
Ayittey20arenowheretobefound.EvenLiberia,oncehopefulunderEllenSirleaf
Johnson,hasjustelectedaformersoccerstarasitsnewpresidentwithavicepresident
whowasthewifeofCharlesTaylor,thegrosslyincompetenttyrantwholedthecountry
intoacivilwar.ShepromisestobringbackTaylor’spolicies.
WeneedmorecivilizationsbecauseWesterncivilizationasabestpracticealwaysneeds
challengersthatmaybringnewpractices.DoesanyonethinkthattheJapanese
approachtocrimeisnotbetter?That“truthandreconciliation”fromAfricawouldbe
betterthatexpensivelawyersorformalarbitrators?CanwelearnfromIslamicsocieties
aboutthepreservationofthesacredinmodernlives?“Thereisnoreasonwhy,inthe
future,iftheyaregivenafairchanceeconomicallyandsocially,[Africans]shouldnot
advanceincivilizationandculture,andcontributetheirundoubtedqualitiestoaworld
whichhasnotyetreachedperfectionunderwhitedomination.”21ThiswasSirAlan
Burns,alongtimeBritishcolonialofficialwhowasgovernoroftheGoldCoast(Ghana)
inthelate1940s.IhopethatbythetimeIfinishwritinghisbiographyinayearorso,I
willhavesomegoodnewstoshareonthisfront.
ENDS
 
20Ayittey,GeorgeB.N.AfricainChaos.Basingstoke:Macmillan,1998.
21Burns,AlanSir.ColourPrejudice,withParticularReferencetotheRelationshipbetweenWhitesandNegroes.
London:GeorgeAllen&Unwin,1948.P.136
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    In 1998, the South African government developed an energy policy that focused on a pro-poor agenda. Its objectives included addressing the health impacts of solid fuel use in households. Fourteen years later, and with household electrification at over 80%, millions still use solid fuels and yet ambitious policy objectives to address this situation are not being met. Using three theoretical frameworks; institutional capacity, policy inheritance and the symbolic use of policy, this paper analyses the reasons why household energy policy objectives related to solid fuels and health, as stated in the 1998 South African energy policy, have not been implemented. The results of the analysis show that the symbolic use of policy, including meanings of objects used for meeting policy objectives is the most critical explanation. The paper illustrates that political and historical contexts are critical to understanding policy outcomes in developing and transition countries which often experience tensions between implementing what may seem as objective policies, and that matches their political and historical experiences and aspirations. We recommend that policy analysts in the energy sector complement currently common methods to include political contexts of policy development and implementation in order to better understand why policy makers chose to implement certain policies over others.