Decolonising Makerere: On Mamdani’s failed experiment

At the “Harvard of Africa” in Uganda, power remains in imperial structures and bodies, while excellence is still defined on Western terms.

The Makerere University administration building, Kampala, Uganda. Credit: Ian Beatty.

August 1, 2016

by Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire

Republished from African Arguments

In 1922, within a few decades of British colonial control of the protectorate called Uganda, a technical school was founded. According to folklore, the hill on which the school was built was famed for its many noises. Kelele is the Kiswahili word for noise, the plural: Makelele. The folk tale concludes that the hill and the technical school took on the name, but with the ls replaced with rs. The Makerere Technical College, as it was known at the time, taught carpentry, building and mechanics.

In 1949, the school became affiliated to the University of London. Alongside the likes of Ibadan, Legon and Gordon – as well as Dar es Salaam and Nairobi later on – it became one of the so-called ‘Asquith colleges’ offering courses with degrees awarded by its Britain-based mother. As Carol Sicherman notes in Becoming an African University: Makerere 1922–2000, this arrangement was “presented as a means of guaranteeing world-class quality, [but it] ensured continued British influence once the colonies ceased to exist as such”.

#FeesMustFall Uprising 2015: The Emergence of Youth Agency in South Africa’s Largest Post-Apartheid Protests

July 19, 2016

by Toyin Ajao

Republished from Kujenga Amani

In October 2015, South African students took to the streets for weeks of protests under the slogan #FeesMustFall. The magnitude of the protests compelled all higher education institutions in the country to suspend educational activities, including tests and examinations. These events represented a bid to find a panacea to the looming cataclysm of increasing tuition fees. The overwhelming concern expressed in the students’ chanting and demands was the extent to which many of those from poor households and underpaid middle class families would become educationally disenfranchised by the increases. In a country riddled with corruption, the quality of higher education was already threatened, and should the current fees climb by 10 to 12 per cent, access to it would plummet.[1] To address the crisis, the student movements effectively organized collective and simultaneous demonstrations. They also took advantage of the ubiquitous presence of the Internet, posting their messages incessantly on social media to attract global awareness to their plight.

Civil War in South Sudan: Is it a Reflection of Historical Secessionist and Natural Resource wars in “Greater Sudan”?

01 Jul 2016

by Clement Sefa-Nyarko

Republished from Taylor Francis Online

This paper argues that it is simplistic to attribute the recent civil war in South Sudan to the presence and exploration of crude oil in that country. It links the civil war in South Sudan to the systematic marginalization of the African populations of the Greater Sudan that was initiated by the Southern Policy of the British colonial government in the 1920s; and the inability of the new government of South Sudan to address grievances among its citizens. The uncoordinated abrogation of the Southern Policy, the failure of the colonial and post-colonial governments of Greater Sudan to prioritize development of the South, and the unwillingness of successive governments to unconditionally integrate the South into the Sudan polity led to the initiation of a secession agenda that was eventually realized through a referendum in 2011. This north-south tension overshadowed pertinent grievances among southerners that were never addressed by the new government of South Sudan, feeding on political disagreements two years after independence. Using geographical proximity and resource lootability theories, this paper shows that the resource-curse theories only explain part of the problem.

Policing the private: Social barriers to the effective policing of domestic violence

June, 2016

By Heidi Mogstad, Dominique Dryding, Olivia Fiorotto

Republished from The Institute for Security Studies


Problems in policing are commonly framed as institutional failures. This is frequently the case in the policing of domestic violence, where the limited ability of police to assist abuse victims is often reported to be a consequence of a lack of resources or inadequate training for police. This paper examines the challenges and limitations of policing domestic violence from a different angle. Reflecting on key findings from a qualitative study of local perceptions of and attitudes towards domestic violence in the South African township of Khayelitsha, we highlight the strong disciplinary influence of cultural norms and beliefs in shaping victims’ reluctance to involve police in cases of abuse. While our findings clearly underscore the limits of focusing on improved policing absent cultural change, we nuance and qualify this argument by identifying important exceptions from the norm and mapping gendered and intra-gender differences in participants’ concerns.


Hassan al-Turabi: A Political Autopsy

April 25, 2016

By  Prof. Medhane Tadesse

Republished from The Current Analyst

With all the turmoil, fluidity, and fluctuations of Sudanese politics since independence, one thing remained constant i.e. Hassan al-Turabi. Some assert that Turabi was a master of staying on top of the shifting coalitions of Sudanese politics. He led decades- long Islamist movement, saw and took the chance to seize power and use the state for a comprehensive transformation of Sudanese society. Whether one proceeds with a remorse or a closure it goes without saying that Hassan al-Turabi was a mastermind who left his mark on everything he touched about political Islam in Africa.

The death of Hassan al-Turabi on March 5, 2016, went largely unremarked by all but a few of his immediate contemporaries. The big television stations made a passing remark about it. There was no global tremor when his mortal remains were laid to rest in the presence of close to three thousand people. No notice of his passing was taken in the editorials of newspapers outside Sudan or in the newsletters that circulated on the African Continent. I could be wrong but it is my impression that Turabi’s passing was an entirely local Sudanese event, and regionally it seems scarcely to have been noted. It is  expressive irony that the man who, a quarter of a century ago, came closer to altering ideological and geostrategic courses and sent shock waves globally attracted little attention in death.

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