ASAUK Biennial Conference
ASAUK Biennial Conference
Date & Time: Monday 19 February 2018, 17:15 - 19:00
Venue: DLT, SOAS, University of London Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square London WC1H 0XG
Africa in 2018: Prospects & Forecasts
Edinburgh: Tuesday 23 January 2018, University of Edinburgh. Catch up: video
2017 saw some moments of huge significance in Africa. In The Gambia, Zimbabwe and Angola, leaders whose combined years in office amounted to nearly a century finally left power. In Kenya and Liberia, the courts demonstrated remarkable judicial independence around elections. And in countries from Togo to Cameroon to Eritrea – to name a few – citizens demanded change as governments discovered new ways to refuse it and maintain control.
2018 is likely to contain similar pivotal moments. Elections – which have become all the more unpredictable in Africa recently – are due to be held in Sierra Leone, Mali, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and DR Congo. Economically, growth on the continent is expected to reach 3.5% and plans to boost intra-African trade should continue, but progress could be undermined by instability, environmental shocks and fluctuating commodity prices. Conflicts in the CAR, South Sudan and the Sahel stretch on.
Meanwhile, Africa’s young population continues to assert itself not just politically and economically, but culturally. The unpacking and redressing of historical and contemporary violence continues, across film, art, literature and music, where there is an increasing drive amongst the continent’s youth to see their own lives and experiences reflected. This creative energy is, in turn, impacting global culture, where Africans and diasporans are mapping out the kind of continent they envisage for the future.
Join us for the Royal African Society’s flagship events in London and Edinburgh, delivered in partnership with the British Council, to discuss and debate what 2018 holds in store for the continent.
London: Monday 22 January, 18:30 – 20:00, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS.
Followed by a networking reception.
Presented in partnership with the Centre of African Studies, University of London
Register - £6 / £10 / Free for RAS members
Edinburgh: Tuesday 23 January, 18:30 – 20:00, The Meadows Lecture Theatre (G.07), University of Edinburgh.
Followed by a networking reception.
Presented in partnership with Edinburgh Global and the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh
Sethembile Msezane (artist, South Africa)
Nanjala Nyabola (writer and independent political analyst, Kenya)
Hazel Gray (Centre of African Studies)
Ritah Namwiza (International Development, Mastercard Foundation Scholar)
Chair: Zoe Marks (Centre of African Studies)
Image: Sethembile Msezane, Chapungu, The Day Rhodes Fell (2015)
Celebrating Buchi Emecheta
An all-day celebration of the life and work of the acclaimed Nigerian novelist Buchi Emecheta, who passed away in January 2017.
As a novelist and story teller Buchi Emecheta touched the lives of many people, and continues to inspire a new generation through the example she set as an immigrant, single mother of five children who rose to became an international literary figure.
I arrived at the Royal African Society on 1 November from seven years working on Africa and the Middle East in Brussels. It is invigorating to make a fresh start working with the continent I know better than any except my own, and the RAS is the place to do it.
My first few weeks in the job have already illustrated the strength and breadth of the RAS’s work. Film Africa was in full swing during my first week, with some remarkable productions from the continent that really deserve the wider audience they get here in the UK. The Society was also in the thick of preparing the visit of the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo to London on 21 November to present his vision for an “Africa beyond Aid” to the world. At the same time, with the latest developments in the long-running saga of Zimbabwe and the future of its President, the African Arguments website has provided a platform for lively debate on what the recent moves mean and what is likely to happen next. In addition, in Parliament, the African All-Party Parliamentary Group conducted hearings in the prospects for trade with Africa after Brexit, with the usual support from the RAS.
It was a particular honour to host President Akufo-Addo, an old friend from my years in Ghana when he was successively Foreign Minister, Presidential candidate and leader of the opposition NPP. He brought a stirring message that Africa needed to seek its own economic and political salvation, and that Ghana was ready to lead the way in that respect – a message strongly supported by the panel of private sector representatives, including Fuse ODG, the award-winning Anglo-Ghanaian Afro-beats artist. Nana Akufo-Addo’s own story is an object lesson in the benefits of perseverance and genuine democracy in an African context, not just for him, but for the whole of Ghana. Live-streamed through Facebook from the V&A Lecture Theatre, it also illustrated the valuable platform the RAS can provide and wide audience that it can reach.
It was altogether a typical month for the Society. The agenda is forward-looking, economic, political and cultural, and informed by the depth of knowledge and expertise that the RAS can bring to bear on all these subjects. It is in joining up the dots and demonstrating the inter-connectedness, that we can help people understand British-African links better.
There is still much more to do. An immediate challenge that the RAS is facing is to find more reliable ways to finance this activity. I have been very impressed by how much is done by so few in the Society’s offices here in Gordon Square. While extremely efficient, if we are to reach out to a wider audience in business, in the diaspora and in the regions beyond London, to do the many things that we and our members would like to do, we need to adequately resource the effort. We will be working hard on that in the months ahead.
Encouraging people to join the RAS is a good start. We are a membership organisation and the more members we have, the more we can do for them.
I therefore intend to make a priority in the next few months of meeting as many of the Society’s members as possible, individual and corporate, to hear what more you would like us to do. I also want to contact our many sister organisations and collaborative partners to see what more we can do in common with them to achieve our goals. And I will work with the team here to encapsulate those goals as clearly as possible to ensure we have a strong and purposeful sense of direction.
So all contributions will be welcome to this process of reflection. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us through this google form: https://goo.gl/forms/jxhm6RlOQuEmLRGF2
All in all, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…” as someone once said.
'Africa Beyond Aid' - President Nana Akufo-Addo's vision for the continent
Date & Time: 13:00-14:30, Tuesday 21 November 2017
Venue: Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
As part of international events marking Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary, President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo will address an audience at a public event on Tuesday 21 November hosted by the Royal African Society at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
After 60 years of political independence, Ghana is positioning itself as a beacon of stability and economic success in the region. President Akufo-Addo has announced a bold mission to build ‘a Ghana beyond aid’, with the aim to inspire ‘an Africa beyond aid’. The President will give a keynote speech on his country’s move to industrialisation and investment. He will also shed light on the prospects and challenges of this transition for the African continent as a whole.
This message of this mission comes at a key point as the UK redesigns its post-Brexit trade and investment policies. The President and guest speakers will highlight some new areas of opportunity and specific policy initiatives to facilitate investment and trade flows.
A panel of guest speakers will then respond to the President’s remarks and highlight the importance of mobilising the skills of Africans in the diaspora. For many years, remittances, skills and technology transfers have had an impact on African countries that far exceeds foreign aid. The event will be a platform for dialogue on business opportunities, partnerships, and mobilising the diaspora across several sectors.
Presented by the Royal African Society and supported by WorldRemit and DeCharles.
Tickets: £15 Royal African Society Members / £30 Non-members / £15 Non-members (concession). Book on Eventbrite.
Please note that due to the nature of this event, late-comers will not be admitted.
Mobilising Through Messaging: Democracy and the Digital Space in Kenya
ASAUK 2017 Mary Kingsley Zochonis Lecture delivered by Dr Duncan Mainye Omanga, Moi University, Kenya
Date & Time: 19:00, Monday 23 October 2017
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London
Listen to podcast
The growth and penetration of the internet in Africa, coupled with the popularity and ubiquity of the mobile phone have positioned social media platforms as the new spaces through which Africans organize and imagine both political discourse and action.
This lecture highlights the role of WhatsApp groups in Kenya’s Nakuru County in convening citizens for political deliberation and civic action in County government affairs. In the context of political and economic devolution in Kenya following the promulgation of a new constitution in 2010, this lecture shows how social media plays a critical role in localizing both formal and informal political discourse and action.
The presentation narrows focus to (possibly) one of the most organized WhatsApp groups in Kenya, ‘the Nakuru Analysts’. The analysts, as they are popularly known, have used the affordances of WhatsApp such as the ability to carry text, picture and video at very low costs, and the possibility of the platform to convene groups for ‘talk’, to emerge as one of the most notable spaces for deliberation, agitation and for mobilizing for social, legislative and political action in the city of Nakuru.
Specifically, I historicize how The Nakuru analysts came into being, highlighting the specific contingencies that made it possible for ‘The analysts’ to become what they are today. Furthermore, the lecture offers an empirical insight into how WhatsApp groups are organized and the many ways through which they articulate their agenda.
In doing so, I will show why the Nakuru Analysts have emerged as the most effective ‘check’ of the County government and why they have succeeded in ‘modulating’ Nakuru County politics. The lecture will also reveal the various digital roles taken by the ‘administrators’ and selected participants of these platforms, and how these positions shape grassroots politics in Nakuru. More important, I will highlight the real and perceived achievements of the analysts, thereby giving insights into how members draw from this critical digital space to set the local political agendas.
Duncan Omanga is currently the Head, Department of Publishing and Media Studies, Moi University (Kenya). He is an alumnus of the Bayreuth International Graduate School of Graduate Studies (BIGSAS) at the University of Bayreuth, in Germany. Dr. Omanga is also a 2014 APN (Africa Peace Network-SSRC) alumni and was the 2015/6 African Visiting Fellow (Centre for African Studies) at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Omanga is the nominee for the 2017 Mary Kingsley Zochonis Lecture (ASAUK).The lecture is based on his current research on ‘Social Media and public Participation in Kenya.’ He is a columnist with The Standard, a Kenyan daily.
This event is free and open to all. Please register on Eventbrite.
Date & Time: Tuesday 10 October 2017, 19:00 – 20:30
Venue: Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London, W2 1QJ
Godfrey Mwampembwa, a.k.a Gado is a renowned political cartoonist. He joins us to politics and the role of satire in Africa, with a particular focus on speaking truth to power and the build up to, rejection of, and subsequent re-running of the Kenyan presidential elections of 2017.
Godfrey Mwampembwa, a.k.a Gado is a renowned political cartoonist. Originally from Tanzania, Gado has lived and worked as an editorial cartoonist in Kenya for many years, and currently works for The East African Standard in Nairobi. His cartoons have also been published in Daily Nation (Kenya), Le Monde and Courrier International (France), Deutsche Welle (Germany), and The Guardian (UK) among others. He is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Buni Media, an independent multi-media company based in Nairobi, where he produces the weekly satirical puppet show, The XYZ SHOW. Gado is a recipient of many awards including the Kenya National Human Rights Commission Award in Journalism in 2005 and 2007 and the prestigious Cartoon for Peace 2016 International Editorial Cartoon award. In 2011 Gado was among 12 extraordinary leaders to receive a Visionaries Award from Ford Foundation for their innovative efforts on the frontlines of key social issues. In 2014, Gado was named as one of the 100 most influential people in Africa by the New African.
Nic Cheeseman is Professor of Democracy and International Development at the University of Birmingham. In addition to numerous book chapters, he is the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, failures and the struggle for political reform (CUP, 2015) and over twenty journal articles including "Rethinking the 'presidentialism debate': Conceptualizing coalitional politics in cross-regional perspective" (Democratization, 2014), which won the inaugural GIGA prize for the best article published in Comparative Area Studies. Professor Cheeseman is also the editor of the collections Our Turn to Eat: Politics in Kenya Since 1950 (2010), The Handbook of African Politics (2013), and African Politics: Major Works (2016), and two special issues of the Journal of Eastern African Studies on the Kenyan elections of 2007 and 2013. As well as being the former editor of the journal African Affairs, the #1 ranked journal in Area Studies, Professor Cheeseman is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, the Oxford Dictionary of African Politics, and the co-editor of the Handbook of Kenyan Politics (forthcoming). These days, he spends much of his time writing about contemporary events in Africa in a bi-weekly column for Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper.
Tickets are £12.50 / £10 for RAS members. Please book on the Frontline Club website.
A selection of Gado cartoons reproduced with kind permission of the artist...