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ROAPE Blog

Our Blog

ROAPE’s blog hosts short articles to highlight developments on the continent and comment on the dynamics of protest, shifting patterns of political economy and issues of historical concern for the journal. We welcome submissions for short articles between 800 and 1,800 words.

Jörg Wiegratz asks why there is such silence in much of African Studies on capitalism. He wonders why capitalism does not feature more prominently in titles of major Western conferences on Africa, and articles of main African Studies journals. In this blogpost he asks why does this analytical lacuna exist? Wiegratz calls for a discussion and explanation of this state of affairs. On the central question of capitalism, the African...

In South Africa ten members of a militant shack dwellers organisation have been assassinated in the past six years. Yet many progressive organisations have distanced themselves from these militants. Jared Sacks exposes the complicity of a mainstream NGO that could have played an important role defending the movement against these political assassinations. Sacks argues that when movements refuse co-optation, repression, including assassination, become necessary to maintain power. By Jared Sacks On...

David Seddon examines a largely unknown chapter in Che Guevara’s involvement in the revolutionary anti-imperialist movements in Africa. He focuses on the question of how far Guevara was involved in promoting and encouraging the liberation struggle in what was to become Western Sahara. Did he contribute to the development of the POLISARIO Front which even today continues its struggle for Western Saharan independence? By David Seddon In my piece on Che Guevara...

In a major contribution to roape.net, Zsuzsánna Biedermann analyses the complex reasons behind the largely fruitless diversification efforts in Botswana. Many African countries abundant in non-renewable natural resources experience the harmful effects associated with the extensive role oil, mining or gas extraction plays in their economies. Even if Botswana’s initial development based on diamond mining was spectacular, there is mounting proof that the Botswana Democratic Party - the country’s governing...

Ugandan pop star singer and politician, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, has generated an unprecedented political buzz around the world. Exploring the background to the country’s crisis, Moses Khisa writes how Uganda is a country with endemic socioeconomic problems and exists in a distorted and parasitic capitalist economy. Khisa writes how the government is presided over by the visibly tired president, Yoweri Museveni, who claims weird and even messianic powers....

Looking at the cocoa industry in Ghana, Erik Jorgensen and Yukari Kanamori demonstrate how power asymmetry in the private cocoa industry and reduced institutional capacity have added to dependency. The Ghanaian Cocoa industry is an example of the disproportionate appropriation of rents by foreign firms in the downstream segments of the value chain which has not only halted agricultural development, but actually eroded the position of cocoa farmers in the...

Continuing our look at the life of Steve Biko, Heike Becker writes about two extraordinary events. The first was the formation of a Black organisation of student protest in 1968. The South African Student Organisation (SASO) was founded during a meeting exclusively attended by black students. Biko became the new organisation’s first President. The second was the astonishing friendship that developed between Steve Biko and Rick Turner. Together their political...

Introducing her new book released this week, Gabrielle Lynch provides a radical analysis of the mechanisms of transitional justice. Looking at the case of Kenya, Lynch argues that truth commissions which hope to achieve truth, justice and reconciliation also require ongoing political struggles, and substantive socio-economic and political change. While reconciliation and justice may be goals which truth commission can recommend, and sometimes contribute to, they cannot be expected to achieve...

David Seddon celebrates Transition a publication that was established in Uganda in the early 1960s and became a forum for debate and controversy, precisely because it was run by and written by ‘amateurs’ – people who loved and were passionate about what they thought, what they said and what they read, and linked this passion not only to a concern to understand the world but also to change it. Seddon...

Historical explanations advanced by Walter Rodney on early patterns of dependency resonate with contemporary social and economic realities of globalisation. Colonial legacies are very much alive and well across the African continent. In this blogpost Katie Barker argues that many of the old patterns of dependency prevail and illustrates the urgency to transform Africa’s structural position in the global economy, de-industrialisation and agricultural stagnation. ...