This edition of Perspectives contributes to the ongoing debate on infrastructure development in Africa by sharing snapshots of experience from around the continent, exploring questions about democratic participation, the role of human and environmental rights, and economic transformation.
What do Borana women in Mathare think about elections and mainstream political processes? What spaces do they use to intervene in both constituency-based and national politics, if at all? How do their situated and connected experiences of poverty, patriarchy and ethnicity impact their political practices?
Informed by the discussions at an international conference jointly organised by the German Development Institute, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Stanford University on “Emerging Power or Fading Star? South Africa’s Role on the Continent and Beyond”, held 12–14 July 2016 in Cape Town, the articles gathered in this edition of Perspectives shed light on some of the nuances and challenges that define South Africa’s place in the world today.
Activists, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social movements across the world are facing verbal hostility from politicians, new laws and regulations that curtail their ability to operate, and outright violence. Africa is no exception.
Half a million people are expected to visit Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics and Paralympics in August and September. At first glance this will be a huge benefit for the city. But just as for the World Cup in 2014, the city has become a contested space of political and economic interests.
When you write about Africa, make sure to always include sad and starving characters, advises Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainana in his famously ironic essay “How to write about Africa”, which takes aim at Western prejudices. In the same way that everyday laughter has been excluded from all-too-familiar depictions of the continent, African humour and satire as a form of social and political engagement remains underexplored.
As Zanzibar gearsup for a rerun of Presidential, Legislative and Local Councils Elections annulled in October 2015, the Regional Commissioner (RC) of Mwanza, Magessa Mulongo on March 8th while commemorating International Women’s Day made some remarks worthy of a response. Mr. Mulongo used a familiar trope to try to explain women’s low numbers in representative structures-elected or nominated: he chastised women for being each other’s worst enemy.
The peaceful transfer of power in Kenya in 2002 still provides a remarkable example of democratic transition in Africa – especially compared to the outbreak of large-scale violence Kenya experienced after the disputed December 2007 general elections.