Category Archives: The African Revolution

CLR James and the idea of an African revolution

Events in Tunisia and Egypt have brought back the issue of revolution to international debate. Already I can feel my book, which was once called The African Revolution and has since become Africa’s Urban Revolution, moving with the times. It is too early to say whether North Africa’s “revolutions” will change the world as profoundly… Read More »

Classes for and against a liberal revolution

You may well ask how these separate factors might generate sustainable forms of enterprise capable of raising African economies to new levels in the near future. Economic success is always a contingent synthesis of existing and new conditions. There is no model of successful enterprise, just many stories of economic innovation waiting to be discovered… Read More »

Cultural sources of a liberal revolution in Africa

The classical liberal revolutions were sustained by three ideas: that freedom and economic progress require increased movement of people, goods and money in the market; that the political framework most compatible with this is democracy, putting power in the hands of the people; and that social progress depends on science, the drive to know objectively… Read More »

What might sustain rapid development in Africa soon?

Expectation of rapid economic improvement soon in Africa seems counter-intuitive at this time, especially given Africa’s symbolic role as the negation of ‘white’ superiority. Black people have played this role for centuries as the stigmatized underclass of an unequal world society organized along racial lines; and never more than now, when American and European dominance… Read More »

How far back to go in telling the stories?

Benson Eluma has done me the honour of writing a long post on Olumide Abimbola’s blog with the same title as this one. I am very grateful to Olu (Loomnie) for his intellectual companionship in general and for this collaboration in particular. Benson’s post refers to my previous one here, Africa’s hope, which in turn… Read More »

The economy of Africa’s cities

When I started out in the 1960s, most of what anthropologists’ knew about African cities came from the Manchester school who worked in Central/Southern Africa, mainly in Northern Rhodesia (which became Zambia and was best known for the Copperbelt). Cities in this region had been largely built and were controlled by white settler regimes. The… Read More »

Africa’s urban revolution in the 20th century

This one is longer than usual, but it does contain the foundation of my book’s argument concerning how Africa arrived at the 21st century. In the spirit of blogging, I link it here to a piece in today’s FT by the Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim on the implications of his country’s impending breakup for Africa’s… Read More »

Africa in a convergent multi-polar world

Today’s Financial Times has a global economic analysis of considerable historical vision by Martin Wolf. He takes his key terms from Ken Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2000). Pomeranz argued that a major gap between China and the West opened up in the late 18th century.… Read More »

Full circle: Africa’s moment has come

Not long ago the same Polity Press that asked me to review Négrologie and contracted me to write my own book sent me another French book on Africa for possible translation, Le Temps de l’Afrique by Jean-Michel Severino and Olivier Ray. Severino was until recently Director-General of the French Development Agency. My review was positive… Read More »