Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change (African Arguments)

Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change (African Arguments)

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 1780329970

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For a long time now, Africa’s political landscape has been wracked by violence. In recent years, however, a more positive force has risen in response to that violence: popular protest. Countries throughout the continent, from Tunisia and Egypt to Uganda and Senegal, have witnessed uprisings by a wide variety of people—the young, the unemployed, organized laborers, civil society activists, writers, artists, and religious groups. What is driving this massive wave of popular protest in Africa?

Drawing on interviews with activists across a number of countries, Adam Branch and Zachariah Mampilly offer a penetrating assessment of contemporary African protests, situating current popular activism within a broader historical and continental context. The first book to put contemporary popular protest in a pan-African context, Africa Uprising critically examines Africa’s incorporation into the global economy, the failure of African governments to democratize, the behavior of opposition forces, and the role of African popular culture in the movements. In doing so, the authors provide essential research and insight for understanding African politics at this key juncture in history.

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authority of chiefs. The urban underclass, without formal legal or political relations with the state, often had to depend upon ad hoc, informal, and personalized negotiations with those in power in order to secure the conditions for survival. The combination of state neglect and violence, informality and illegality, defined all arenas of urban life – work, livelihood, residence, social relations, culture and, of course, politics. We use the term political society to refer to this urban

103, 107, 108, 110 Nigerian Trade Union Congress (NTUC), 103 Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), 107 Nigerian Union of Teachers, 96 Nimeiri, Jaafar, 180, 181, 182, 184 Niringiye, Zac, 142 Nkrumah, Kwame, 23–7 passim, 29, 30, 37, 38; ‘What I Mean by Positive Action’, 25 No Unga Tax campaign (Kenya), 77 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 50, 76, 77 non-violence, 9, 24, 25, 38 Norway, 170 Nuba Mountain Student Union (Sudan), 194 Nunzio, Marco di, 158

‘missing key to sustained political reform, legitimate states and governments’ (1994: 1). Others have questioned this enthronement of civil society, however. They point out that liberal paeans to African civil society obscure the diversity of forces and interests that were involved in the protest wave and mistakenly take one elite, urban faction as representative of all African society (Mamdani 1996; Nugent 2004: 369; Shivji 2007). Celebrations of civil society hide the possibility that civil

projects or land grabs by foreign investors. Today’s rural ‘development’ thus often takes place at the expense of the rural poor and adds to the urban plight. As has been the case since colonial-era urbanization, newcomers to the city are rarely able to establish secure livelihoods. Urbanization without industrialization means that formal employment is not an option for most, and so urban Africans turn to the long-standing informal or illicit sectors for survival. Housing evinces a similar

however, by its self-proclaimed ‘non-political’ character.17 Civil society activists were always anxious to establish their distance from the realm of politics as a whole. A good example was a march by women banging empty saucepans in protest over food security, unemployment, health, and education. Some prominent women opposition political leaders were involved, but the organizers were careful to declare that it was ‘not a politically motivated march’ (Daily Monitor 2011v).18 The Kampala City

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