Obi Nwakanma [Rex Marinus" <email@example.com>] responds to No. 575
This round-table in Johannesburg is another example of what could be done right in the continent. Part of the crisis of the African continent is also the manner of its knowledge production; or perhaps the ways in which purely strategic knowledge in Africa is generallycompromised because of the gap between the systems of knowledge production and the states in Africa. There have been many lost opportunities for putting past officials of state to strategic work, and squeezing out of the stone of their memory and experience useful insight that might aid the work in Africa. Just imagine that as soon as Kaunda left government, that he is placed under an endowed fellowship at the Institute of African Studies at Nsukka or Ibadan or Legon or Makarere or even Capetown or any other self-respecting University in the continent. That Arap Moi, Jerry Rawling's, Joaquim Chisano etc are given opportunities within African universities to unwind, give strategic lectures, write their memoirs with full infrastructural support, and made to realize that there is pleasurable and useful life outside power, perhaps the incident of sit-tight and messianic regimes would be very minimal. Besides, we might get the chance to hear some of their own intimate stories; the intricate battles they may have waged against the international system which by all indications were, and remain deleterious to Africa's economic and political aspirations. They would help the slow documenation of the biography of a continent in the modern era and also provide grounds for the scholars of Africa to see the more complicated picture of Africa's struggle as a continent. Much of the discussions about Africa and African leadership and its political economy have remained essentialist because we derive our sources mostly from a narrow, highly compromised, highly inadequate western media interests, foundation reports, intellectual tourists, and the entire hegemony of narrative which defines Africa in the image it wants. I think more of such round-tables and retreats should be encouraged to bring past African state officials and intellectuals together - something of the African equivalent of the Council on Foreign Relations could work.