Publishing when it matters

African Minds is an open access, not-for-profit publisher. African Minds publishes predominantly in the social sciences and its authors are typically African academics or organisations. African Minds offers innovative approaches to those frustrated by a lack of support from traditional publishers or by their anachronistic approach to making research available. At African Minds, the emphasis is less on the commercial viability of publications than on fostering access, openness and debate in the pursuit of growing and deepening the African knowledge base.

  • Wildland Fire Management Handbook for Sub-Sahara Africa

    Wildland Fire Management Handbook for Sub-Sahara Africa

    Overview

    Fire has been used as a land-use tool for controlling the environment since the early evolution of humanity. Fire continues to be used as such by people living in different ecosystems across sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, the rich biodiversity of tropical and subtropical savannas, grasslands and fire ecosystems is attributed to the regular occurrence and influence of fire. However, wildfires have been harmful to ecosystems, economies and human security. This is due to increasing population pressure as well as increased vulnerability of agricultural and residential lands.

    The Wildland Fire Management Handbook provides scientific guidelines for maintaining and stabilising ecosystems and for state-of-the art fire prevention and control. The handbook features contributors from diverse backgrounds in wildland fire science and fire management. It deals with topics ranging from fire behaviour and controlled burning to fire ecology and the effects of burning on Cape fynbos. In addition the Wildland Fire Management Handbook includes fire regimes and fire history in West Africa. Thus, the handbook is groundbreaking in its furthering of sub-Saharan Africa’s capacity for fire management and consequent preservation of the environment. The Wildland Fire Management Handbook is an important resource for strategic sustainable land-use planning, disaster management and land security. The handbook is well suited to the needs of wildland fire management practitioners, scientists, academics, and students of universities and technical schools. Thus, environmental consultants, conservationists, ecologists and those dealing with wildland fire disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation will be interested in the book.

    By JG Goldammer and C De Ronde R93.00
  • Vision or Vacuum? 2010 Transformation Audit

    Vision or Vacuum? 2010 Transformation Audit

    Overview

    Although the global recession has come and gone, the world economy still finds itself in crisis at the end of 2010. As the United States returns to growth in the wake of a sub-prime crisis that contaminated the rest of the global economy, trouble in the Eurozone is likely to prolong the sluggish global recovery.

    As a result of the crisis, the South African economy shed 1.1 million workers between the fourth quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2010, and the trend continues unabated. Compared to the more subdued impact on the labour markets of its peers, which experienced larger declines in GDP growth, the extent of job losses should be of significant concern. The impact of the crisis stretches far beyond the labour market, and affects the most vulnerable disproportionately.

    The recession has reminded South Africans, once again, of the structural weaknesses in their economy, which render it highly vulnerable to temporal shocks. This certainly demands critical reflection on the current composition of the economy, its governance and longer-term capacity to create a more just and equitable society. The 2010 Transformation Audit’s theme – Vision or Vacuum? – sets out to pose critical questions in this regard. While acknowledging the constraints inherent in the prevailing global environment, this edition asks what the country can do to sustain its developmental achievements amidst crises.

    The contributions to this edition look at this challenge from the perspectives of the Audit’s four focal areas and provide insightful analysis, which is sure to enrich public debate on a longer-term vision for the South African economy.

     

    By Jan Hofmeyr R180.00
  • Universities and Economic Development in Africa: Key Findings

    Universities and Economic Development in Africa: Key Findings

    Overview

    Universities and economic development in Africa presents the synthesis and includes the key findings of case studies of eight African countries and universities. The analysis and discussion presented in the book draw three main conclusions.

    First, there was a lack of clarity and agreement (pact) about a development model and the role of higher education in economic development, at both national and university levels, in all eight cases. There was, however, an increasing awareness, particularly at government level, of the importance of universities in the global context of the knowledge economy.

    Second, research production at the eight African universities was not strong enough to enable them to build on their traditional undergraduate teaching roles and make a sustained contribution to development via new knowledge production. A number of the universities had manageable student–staff ratios and adequately qualified staff, but inadequate funds for staff to engage in research. In addition, the incentive regimes did not support knowledge production.

    Third, in none of the countries in the sample was there a coordinated effort between government, external stakeholders and the university to systematically strengthen the contribution that the university can make to development. While at each of the universities there were exemplary development projects that connected strongly to external stakeholders and strengthened the academic core, the challenge remains how to increase the number of these projects.

    The study on which this book is based forms part of a larger study on higher education and economic development in Africa, undertaken by the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (HERANA). HERANA is coordinated by the Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET) in South Africa.

    By Nico Cloete, Tracy Bailey, Pundy Pillay, Ian Bunting & Peter Maassen R150.00
  • Twenty Years of  Education Transformation  in Gauteng 1994 to 2014

    Twenty Years of Education Transformation in Gauteng 1994 to 2014

    Twenty Years of Education Transformation in Gauteng 1994 to 2014: An Independent Review presents a collection of 15 important essays on different aspects of education in Gauteng since the advent of democracy in 1994. These essays talk to what a provincial education department does and how and why it does these things – whether it be about policy, resourcing or implementing projects. Each essay is written by one or more specialist in the relevant focus area.

     

    The book is written to be accessible to the general reader as well as being informative and an essential resource for the specialist reader. It sheds light on aspects of how a provincial department operates and why and with what consequences certain decisions have been made in education over the last 20 turbulent years, both nationally and provincially.

     

    There has been no attempt to fit the book’s chapters into a particular ideological or educational paradigm, and as a result the reader will find differing views on various aspects of the Gauteng Department of Education’s present and past. We leave the reader to decide to what extent the GDE has fulfilled its educational mandate over the last 20 years.

    By Felix Maringe and Martin Prew (eds) R180.00
  • Trading Places: Accessing Land in African Cities

    Trading Places: Accessing Land in African Cities

    Trading Places is about urban land markets in African cities. It explores how local practice, land governance and markets interact to shape the ways that people at society’s margins access land to build their livelihoods.

     

    The authors argue that the problem is not with markets per se, but in the unequal ways in which market access is structured. They make the case for more equal access to urban land markets, not only for ethical reasons, but because it makes economic sense for growing cities and towns.

     

    If we are to have any chance of understanding and intervening in predominantly poor and very unequal African cities, we need to see land and markets differently. New migrants to the city and communities living in slums are as much a part of the real estate market as anyone else; they’re just not registered or officially recognised.

     

    Trading Places highlights the land practices of those living on the city’s margins, and explores the nature and character of their participation in the urban land market.

     

    It details how the urban poor access, hold and trade land in the city, and how local practices shape the city, and reconfigures how we understand land markets in rapidly urbanising contexts. Rather than developing new policies which aim to supply land and housing formally but with little effect on the scale of the need, it advocates an alternative approach which recognises the local practices that already exist in land access and management. In this way, the agency of the poor is strengthened, and households and communities are better able to integrate into urban economies.

    By Mark Napier, Stephen Berrisford, Caroline Wanjiku Kihato, Rod McGaffin, Lauren Royston R150.00
  • Towards a People-Driven African Union: Current Obstacles and New Opportunities

    Towards a People-Driven African Union: Current Obstacles and New Opportunities

    Overview

    This report is the first independent, substantive and public assessment of the progress of the African Union. Towards a People-Driven African Union: Current Obstacles and New Opportunities analyses the preparations of African Union member-states, the AU Commission and civil society organisations for the twice-yearly AU summits. The main finding is that despite some welcome new opportunities for participation, the African Union’s vision of ‘an Africa driven by its own citizens’ remains largely unfulfilled. Detailed recommendations are offered to help deliver on this vision in future. Published by AFRODAD, AfriMAP and Oxfam, this report is endorsed by more than a dozen other organisations in Africa and elsewhere, and is based on interviews with more than 50 representatives of member-states, the AU Commission and civil society organisations in eleven African countries.

    By AfriMAP R150.00
  • The University in Africa and Democratic Citizenship: Hothouse or Training Ground?

    The University in Africa and Democratic Citizenship: Hothouse or Training Ground?

    Overview

    Whether and how higher education in Africa contributes to democratisation beyond producing the professionals that are necessary for developing and sustaining a modern political system, remains an unresolved question. This report, then, represents an attempt to address the question of whether there are university-specific mechanisms or pathways by which higher education contributes to the development of democratic attitudes and behaviours among students, and how these mechanisms operate and relate to politics both on and off campus.

    The research shows that the potential of a university to act as training ground for democratic citizenship is best realised by supporting students’ exercise of democratic leadership on campus. This, in turn, develops and fosters democratic leadership in civil society. Thus, the university’s response to student political activity, student representation in university governance and other aspects of extra-curricular student life needs to be examined for ways in which African universities can instil and support democratic values and practices. Encouraging and facilitating student leadership in various forms of on-campus political activity and in a range of student organisations emerges as one of the most promising ways in which African universities can act as training grounds for democratic citizenship.

    The following implications for African universities can be derived from the research findings and conclusions:

    1. It is necessary to stimulate a series of dialogues between key stakeholders on student development as a pathway to democratic citizenship development in Africa.

    2. In-depth investigations into democratic best practice of student development and student leadership development should be conducted and the findings published in a series of handbooks for use by student development professionals in African universities.

    3. Further surveys should be conducted at other African universities to corroborate the findings and conclusions of this study.

    4. A study of the role of students and faculty in the current political transitions in West and North Africa (e.g. Egypt, Ivory Coast, South Sudan, Tunisia) should be conducted.

    By Thierry M Luescher-Mamashela with Sam Kiiru, Robert Mattes, Angolwisye Mwollo-ntallima, Njuguna Ng'ethe and Michelle Romo R150.00
  • The Transformation of Musical Arts Education Local and global perspectives from South Africa

    The Transformation of Musical Arts Education Local and global perspectives from South Africa

    Overview

    Musical arts education in South Africa has entered an exciting and dynamic new phase. As we move further away from the legacy of apartheid, new dimensions of culture and identity are developing. The quest for, and recognition of, identity have continually evolved over time, and cultural diversity and pluralism are currently buzzwords in the scholarly world. In South Africa we are searching for answers to the following questions:

    1. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going to?

    2. What impact do global and local, regional or national trends have on musical arts practices?

    3. What are the cultural experiences that influence people from various walks of life and ethnic groups?

    4. What is the influence of globalisation on culture and, conversely, the impact of culture on globalisation?

    This multi-authored book scrutinises local musical arts.Voices from young people living in South Africa are placed alongside those of experienced scholars to display the rainbow quality of a pluralist society. Apart from the book’s focus on identity issues, it also offers solutions for addressing complex issues of indigenous arts education within global contexts.

    R150.00
  • The Origins of War in Mozambique: A History of Unity and Division

    The Origins of War in Mozambique: A History of Unity and Division

    Overview

    The independence of Mozambique in 1975 and its decolonisation process attracted worldwide attention as a successful example of “national unity”. Yet, the armed conflict that broke out between the government and the guerrilla force in 1977 lasted for sixteen years and resulted in over a million deaths and several million refugees, placing this concept of “national unity” into doubt.

    For nearly twenty years, Sayaka Funada-Classen interviewed people in rural communities in Mozambique. By examining their testimonies, historical documents, previous studies, international and regional politics, and the changes that various interventions under colonialism brought to the traditional social structure, this book demonstrates that the seeds of “division” had already been planted while the liberation movement was seeking “unity” in the struggle years.

    Presenting a comprehensive history of contemporary Mozambique, this book is indispensable for Mozambican scholars. It promises to serve as a landmark study not only for historians and the scholars of African studies but also for those who give serious consideration to the problems of conflict and peace in the world.

     

    REVIEW

    The Origins of War in Mozambique vividly describes the past one hundred-year history of Mozambique, through the painstaking examination of archives and meticulous field research. It has opened up a new direction in the study of African history, freely adopting methods of different disciplines such as international relations, African history, social anthropology and area studies.” (From a review of the Japanese edition of The Origins of War in Mozambique in African Study 78)

     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sayaka Funada-Classen is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) where she teaches African Affairs, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Portuguese. She was a representative of a Japanese NGO, Mozambique Support Network, established in 2000 after the Mozambique Great Flood, and vice chairperson of the International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Civil Society Forum, a Japanese advocacy NGO, from 2004 to 2009. She is currently the chairperson of the Project in Response to Needs of Infants, Children, and Pregnant Women of Fukushima established by the citizens after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Crisis in March 2011.

    She worked as an electoral officer for the United Nations Mozambique Operations (ONUMOZ) in post-conflict Mozambique in 1994. This experience gave her an opportunity to learn about Africa and about the challenges of peace-building. Since then, she has been engaged in studies about Mozambique. She obtained a Ph.D. degree in International Relations from Tsuda College in June 2006. She received an award from the Japan Association for African Studies in 2008 for her book History of Armed Liberation Struggle in Mozambique (published in Japanese under the title Mozanbiku kaiho toso shi).

    Funada-Classen is a member of the Japan Association for African Studies, Japan Association of International Relations, the Peace Studies Association of Japan and the Japan Society of International Development. Funada-Classen is a lecturer and workshop facilitator for the “Enhancement of Governance for Building Peace in Francophone Africa” training programme organised by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) from 2010. She is also the founder and co-organiser of the project “AfricaxJapanxWorld: Transforming Violence into Peace” which was supported by the Japan Foundation.

    By Sayaka Funada-Classen. Translated by Masako Osada R150.00
  • The Civil Society Guide to Regional Economic Communities in Africa

    The Civil Society Guide to Regional Economic Communities in Africa

    Since 1963, when the African integration project was born, regional Economic Communities (RECs) have been an indispensable part of the continent’s deeper socioeconomic and political integration. More than half a century later, such regional institutions continue to evolve, keeping pace with an Africa that is transforming itself amid challenges and opportunities. RECs represent a huge potential to be the engines that drive the continent’s economic growth and development as well as being vehicles through which a sense of a continental community is fostered. It is critical therefore that citizens understand the multi-faceted and bureaucratic operations of regional institutions in order to use them to advance their collective interests.

    By Morris Odhiambo, Rudy Chitiga, Solomon Ebobrah R150.00
  • Systemic School Improvement Interventions in South Africa: Some Practical Lessons  from Development Practitioners

    Systemic School Improvement Interventions in South Africa: Some Practical Lessons from Development Practitioners

    Looking at two smaller-scale systemic school improvement projects implemented in selected district circuits in the North West and Eastern Cape by partnerships between government, JET Education Services, and private sector organisations, this book captures and reflects on the experiences of the practitioners involved.

     

    The Systemic School Improvement Model developed by JET to address an identified range of interconnected challenges at district, school, classroom and household level, is made up of seven components. In reflecting on what worked and what did not in the implementation of these different components, the different chapters set out some of the practical lessons learnt, which could be used to improve the design and implementation of similar education improvement projects.

     

    Many of the lessons in this field that remain under-recorded to date relate to the step-by-step processes followed, the relationship dynamics encountered at different levels of the education system, and the local realities confronting schools and districts in South Africa’s rural areas. Drawing on field data that is often not available to researchers, the book endeavours to address this gap and record these lessons.

     

    It is not intended to provide an academic review of the systemic school improvement projects. It is presented rather to offer other development practitioners working to improve the quality of education in South African schools, an understanding of the some of the real practical and logistical challenges that arise and how these may be resolved to take further school improvement projects forward at a wider district, provincial and national scale.

    By Godwin Khosa (ed.) R150.00
  • Sounding the Cape: Music, Identity and Politics in South Africa

    Sounding the Cape: Music, Identity and Politics in South Africa

    For several centuries Cape Town has accommodated a great variety of musical genres which have usually been associated with specific population groups living in and around the city. Musical styles and genres produced in Cape Town have therefore been assigned an “identity” which is first and foremost social. This volume tries to question the relationship established between musical styles and genres, and social – in this case pseudo-racial – identities.
    In Sounding the Cape, Denis-Constant Martin recomposes and examines through the theoretical prism of creolisation the history of music in Cape Town, deploying analytical tools borrowed from the most recent studies of identity configurations. He demonstrates that musical creation in the Mother City, and in South Africa, has always been nurtured by contacts, exchanges and innovations made possible by exchanges, whatever the efforts made by racist powers to separate and divide people according to their origin.
    Musicians interviewed at the dawn of the 21st century confirm that mixture and blending characterise all Cape Town’s musics. They also emphasise the importance of a rhythmic pattern particular to Cape Town, the ghoema beat, whose origins are obviously mixed. The study of music demonstrates that the history of Cape Town, and of South Africa as a whole, undeniably fostered creole societies. Yet, twenty years after the collapse of apartheid, these societies are still divided along lines that combine economic factors and “racial” categorisations.

     

    Martin concludes that, were music given a greater importance in educational and cultural policies, it could contribute to fighting these divisions, and promote the notion of a nation that, in spite of the violence of racism and apartheid, has managed to invent a unique common culture.

    By Denis-Constant Martin R150.00
  • Some Developments in Research in Science and Mathematics in Sub-Saharan Africa

    Some Developments in Research in Science and Mathematics in Sub-Saharan Africa

    Overview

    Acces, Relevance, Learning, Curriculum Research

    Much attention in late-developing countries is given to providing access to studies which allow school leavers to enter science and technology-related careers. These programmes are driven by the belief that graduates will then substantially contribute to the developmental needs of their countries.

    But is providing access to institutions enough? Students in developing countries often come from school environments
    lacking in resources – human, physical and financial. This book, in a number of chapters, reviews research related to the crucial dimension of epistemological access to the disciplines of import, which students need as much as institutional access in order to improve their chances of success.

    A significant feature of this collection’s research studies is that their empirical bases are highly localised, covering areas such as: research methods; access; curriculum, instruction and assessment; and the relevance of science and mathematics education in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Ghana and Lesotho.

    This volume provides invaluable insights and will be of relevance to researchers, policy makers and lecturers interested in these research outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the outcome of a doctoral research capacitydevelopment project, the Graduate Studies in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (GRASSMATE).

    By Lorna Holtman, Cyril Julie, Øyvind Mikalsen, David Mtetwa and Meshach Ogunniyi R100.00
  • Shaping the Future of South Africa’s Youth: Rethinking Post-School Education and Skills Training

    Shaping the Future of South Africa’s Youth: Rethinking Post-School Education and Skills Training

    South Africa has made huge gains in ensuring universal enrolment for children at school, and in restructuring and recapitalising the FET college sector. However, some three million young people are not in education, employment or training and the country faces serious challenges in providing its youth with the pathways and support they need to transition successfully into a differentiated system of post-school education and training.

    Across nine evidence-based chapters, 17 authors offer a succinct overview of the different facets of post-school provision in South Africa. These include an analysis of the impact of the national qualifications system on occupational training, the impact of youth unemployment, the capacity of the post-school system to absorb larger numbers of young people, the relationship between universities and FET colleges, the need for more strategic public and private investment in skills development, and a youth perspective on education and training policy. The authors have a number of recommendations for improving the alignment between schooling, further education and training, and university education – interventions that could shape the future of South Africa’s youth.

    By Helene Perold, Nico Cloete and Joy Papier R150.00
  • Seeking Impact and Visibility: Scholarly Communication in Southern Africa

    Seeking Impact and Visibility: Scholarly Communication in Southern Africa

    African scholarly research is relatively invisible globally because even though research production on the continent is growing in absolute terms, it is falling in comparative terms. In addition, traditional metrics of visibility, such as the Impact Factor, fail to make legible all African scholarly production. Many African universities also do not take a strategic approach to scholarly communication to broaden the reach of their scholars’ work.

     

    To address this challenge, the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme (SCAP) was established to help raise the visibility of African scholarship by mapping current research and communication practices in Southern African universities and by recommending and piloting technical and administrative innovations based on open access dissemination principles. To do this, SCAP conducted extensive research in four faculties at the Universities of Botswana, Cape Town, Mauritius and Namibia. SCAP found that scholars:

     

    o    carry heavy teaching and administrative loads which hinder their research productivity• remain unconvinced by open access dissemination

    o    find it easier to collaborate with scholars in the global North than in the rest of Africa

    o    rarely communicate their research with government

    o    engage in small, locally-based research projects that are either unfunded or funded by their universities

    o    produce outputs that are often interpretive, derivative or applied due, in part, to institutional rewards structures and funding challenges

    o    do not utilise social media technologies to disseminate their work or seek new collaborative opportunities.

     

    All of these factors impact Africa’s research in/visibility at a time when scholarly communication is going through dramatic technical,legal, social and ethical changes.

     

    Seeking Impact and Visibility shares the results of SCAP’s research and advocacy efforts. It not only analyses these four universities’ scholarly communication ecosystems, but illuminates the opportunities available for raising the visibility of their scholarship. It concludes with a series of recommendations that would enhance the communicative and developmental potential of African research.

     

    This study will be of interest for scholars of African higher education,academically-linked civil society organisations, educationally affiliated government personnel and university researchers and managers.

    By Henry Trotter, Catherine Kell, Michelle Willmers, Eve Gray, Thomas King R150.00
  • SA Reconciliation Barometer Report 2010

    SA Reconciliation Barometer Report 2010

    Overview

    The SA Reconciliation Barometer survey is a nationally representative public opinion poll conducted annually by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR). The survey focuses on progress in reconciliation in South Africa. Key issues addressed within the survey include: human security, political culture, political relationships, dialogue, historical confrontation and race relations.

    Released in December of 2010, the tenth round of the SA Reconciliation Barometer found notable improvements in evaluations of reconciliation across many of the six key indicators tested by the survey. However, since the first round which was conducted in 2003, perceptions related to human security have declined overall, with potential consequences for social relations.

    R180.00
  • Risk and Opportunity 2008: Transformation Audit

    Risk and Opportunity 2008: Transformation Audit

    Overview

    On the eve of its fourth general elections, South Africa finds itself in the midst of a rearrangement of its political landscape after a decade and a half of governance by a unified African National Congress. This political realignment is occurring at the same time as economic gloom spreads around the globe in the wake of the American subprime crisis. South Africa’s response to this confluence of circumstances may very well become a test of its resilience, as two relatively constant variables in recent years, political and economic stability, come under pressure. Times of uncertainty and volatility pose significant risks, which need to be understood; at the same time, they should not blind us to the opportunities for innovation when tested policy and strategy fail to measure up to the challenges of the day. This is the perspective that the 2008 Transformation Audit wishes to employ in its four traditional focal areas – the economy, the labour market, skills and education, and poverty and inequality.

    R120.00
  • Responding to the Educational Needs of Post-School Youth

    Responding to the Educational Needs of Post-School Youth

    Overview

    The research reflected in this volume indicates that in South Africa there are almost three million youth between the ages of 18 and 24 who are not in education, training or employment – a situation which points not only to a grave wastage of talent, but also to the possibility of serious social disruption. The authors in this work paint a picture of the enormous reservoir of human talent which exists in the country, but is not provided with the means to develop.

    Responding to the Educational Needs of Post-School Youth attempts not only to sketch the scope and extent of the current post-school educational crisis, but also to explore possible solutions through collaboration in the higher education sector. The findings reported here are a result of three distinctive but linked research components conducted by the Further Education and Training Institute (University of Western Cape), the Centre for Higher Education Transformation, and the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (University of Cape Town). The research was funded by the Ford Foundation and the project conducted in consultation with the Department of Education.

    By Nico Cloete (ed.) R100.00
  • Researching the language of instruction in Tanzania and South Africa

    Researching the language of instruction in Tanzania and South Africa

    Overview

    This book is the second in a series of books from the LOITSASA (Language of Instruction in Tanzania and South Africa) project and reflects the work done in the second year of the project. LOITSASA is a NUFU-funded (Norwegian University Fund) project which began in January 2002 and continued till the end of 2006. It is, what in donor circles is known as a ‘South-South-North’ cooperation project which in this case, involves research cooperation between South Africa, Tanzania and Norway. The first book, entitled Language of instruction in Tanzania and South Africa (LOITSASA), focused on the current language in education situation in two countries by providing a description and analysis of existing language policies and practices. This book has as its main focus a discussion of research projects in the two countries focusing on the language of instruction issue. All the chapters in the book were presented at the second LOITSASA Workshop held at the University of the Western Cape in April 2003.

    By Birgit Brock-Utne, Zubeida Desai and Martha Qorro R100.00
  • Reflections on Identity in Four African Cities

    Reflections on Identity in Four African Cities

    Overview

    Identity has become the watchword of our times. In sub-Saharan Africa, this certainly appears to be true and for particular reasons. Africa is urbanising rapidly, cross-border migration streams are swelling and globalising influences sweep across the continent. Africa is also facing up to the challenge of nurturing emergent democracies in which citizens often feel torn between older traditional and newer national loyalties. Accordingly, collective identities are deeply coloured by recent urban as well as international experience and are squarely located within identity politics where reconciliation is required between state nation-building strategies and sub-national affiliations. They are also fundamentally shaped by the growing inequality and the poverty found on this continent. These themes are explored by an international set of scholars in two South African and two Francophone cities. The relative importance to urban residents of race, class and ethnicity but also of work, space and language are compared in these cities.

    A recent report of the Office of the South African President claims that a strong national identity is emerging among its citizens, and that race and ethnicity are waning whilst a class identity is in the ascendance. The evidence and analyses within this volume serve to gauge the extent to which such claims ring true, in what everyone knows is a much more complex and shifting terrain of shared meanings than can ever be captured by such generalisations.

    By Simon Bekker & Ann Leildé R100.00

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