African Political Thought, Part 4: The Degeneration into ‘Big Men’
In part 4 of our lecture series, we look at Mobutu, Banda and the degeneration into ‘Big Men’.
Welcome to Part 4 of our ten-part ten-minute lecture series on African Political Thought, brought to you by Stephen Chan, Professor of World Politics at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS). Each week, a short reading list will be published alongside the lecture. Viewers are also encouraged to pose questions they have for Chan in the comments section below.
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In this episode, we look at:
The degeneration into “˜Big Men’: case studies of Mobutu and Banda; the critique of Mbembe.
For an audio-only version:
Reading list for Part 4
Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
Michela Wrong, In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Zaire, New York: Haper Collins, 2001.
Robert I. Rotberg, The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa, Camb. Mass: Harvard University Press, 1965.
- Part 1: Antecedents: race and romanticism in Africa – from WEB du Bois to the Manchester Conference to Senghor’s “˜negritude’.
- Part 2: The thought of liberation: Cabral and the Lusophonic thinkers; the “˜pacific’ counterpoint of Kaunda.
- Part 3: The New African Man: the political thought of transformation – Kaunda, Nyerere, Obote, Nkrumah.
- Part 5: The coup “˜artists’ and the new nationalisms-on-command: from Gowon to Rawlings; the contrasts between Sankara and Amin; the contrasts and similarities between Obasanjo and Abacha.
- Part 6: The old liberationists and their reassertion in new nationalisms: Mugabe’s political thought.
- Part 7: Africa in the world: Mbeki’s African Renaissance – nostalgia and the toleration of the carnivalesque; Ngugi’s linguistic chauvinism; Mandaza’s neo-Marxist retrospection.
- Part 8: The call for democracy: the critique of Soyinka; new constitutionalisms and the looking eastwards to China, Singapore and Malaysia; the model of Russian democracy.
- Part 9: Pan-Africanism today: thought on the African Union.
- Part 10: African intellectual currents and philosophy today: going it alone vs integration with a hegemonic world; Africa and the ICC, Africa and electronic globalisation; the thought of the outlawed commons.
I am writing these words from Kinshasa, DRC which alas has fallen prey to the ‘big man’ with original assitance I may add from the West. This compelling talk does inspire with compelling celerity the antecedents to the African ‘big man’ who have governed both with impunity and in pillage in that the citizen is utterly ignored in this equation of governance in goods and services distribution.