The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring

The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring: A Season of Rebirth?

Charles Villa-Vicencio
Erik Doxtader
Ebrahim Moosa
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring
    Book Description:

    The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Springaddresses the often unspoken connection between the powerful call for a political-cultural renaissance that emerged with the end of South African apartheid and the popular revolts of 2011 that dramatically remade the landscape in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Looking between southern and northern Africa, the transcontinental line from Cape to Cairo that for so long supported colonialism, its chapters explore the deep roots of these two decisive events and demonstrate how they are linked by shared opposition to legacies of political, economic, and cultural subjugation. As they work from African, Islamic, and Western perspectives, the book's contributors shed important light on a continent's difficult history and undertake a critical conversation about whether and how the desire for radical change holds the possibility of a new beginning for Africa, a beginning that may well reshape the contours of global affairs.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-198-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. [Map]
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword The Arab Reawakening: An African Renaissance Perspective
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    The year 2011 began with popular uprisings in the Arab world that started in the African Maghreb and Egypt. Described by some as an Arab Reawakening, we must answer the question whether, in reality, these uprisings do not also represent an African Reawakening.

    Those of us committed to the renaissance—the rebirth of Africa—have an obligation to understand what the popular uprisings in the African Maghreb and Egypt mean in the context of that renaissance.

    Simply put, do the uprisings advance or retard this African rebirth?

    One of the central objectives of the African Renaissance is the creation of...

  5. Introduction Beginning Again? The Question of a Continent
    (pp. xvii-xxxiv)

    The question of Africa is open—again. The promise of an African Renaissance remains unfilled. The hope of the Afro-Arab Spring waxes and wanes.¹ There is too much change and there is too little—the winds of change blow with ferocity and then not at all. While professing a commitment to transformation, governments remain loath to risk change that might undermine their own power. Dissatisfaction grows but remains unheard. Dissent coalesces into movements that seem to lack direction let alone a sense of a clear endgame. Over and over, the first act of the play promises a revolution that comes...

  6. 1 From Cairo to the Cape: The Dilemmas of Revolution
    (pp. 1-16)

    The historic events in North Africa since December 2010 have affected in multiple ways the countries sharing common borders across the immense Sahara Desert and even countries further to the south. Mali in the west and the Republic of Sudan in the east are among the countries of the Saraha and Sahel that have not been directly affected by sustained uprisings or revolutionary stirrings but were and are influenced by the Arab Spring. The coup d’état in Mali in late March 2012 was led by middle-ranking officers furious with the government’s inability to deal with an armed insurgency by the...

  7. 2 Gathering the Pieces: The Structural, Social, and Psychological Elements of African Renewal
    (pp. 17-30)

    Evaluations of Africa are dominated by doomsayers. Optimists are in a minority and the majority of global analysts give little serious attention to Africa. Even those with compassion and concern for the roughly nine hundred million people and fifty-four nation-states composing Africa have negative expectations for the future of the continent. These include renowned scholars such as Martin Meredith, who concludes his excellent history of the fifty years of African independence by arguing thus: “In reality, fifty years after the beginning of the independence era, Africa’s prospects are bleaker than ever before.”¹ Pierre Englebert, an equally well-published analyst of the...

  8. 3 Understanding a Flawed Miracle: The History, Dynamics, and Continental Implications of South Africa’s Transition
    (pp. 31-48)

    Asked what enabled South Africans to reach a relatively peaceful settlement that led to the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, Archbishop Tutu famously said: “It’s a miracle.” The settlement also gave rise to the (re) birth of the African Renaissance that took root in African politics and to the birth of the African Union in 2002.

    Democratic elections were held in South Africa in 1994 based on the Interim Constitution and a set of constitutional principles; a final constitution was drafted by a postelection constituent assembly, approved by the Constitutional Court, and signed into effect by President Mandela in...

  9. 4 Irreconcilable Truths?: Gender-Based Violence and the Struggle to Build an Inclusive History
    (pp. 49-62)

    The death of South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela in December 2013 renewed global reflections on his role in the “miraculous” transformation of South Africa from violent white rule to a democratic and—at least superficially—peaceful society. International and local actors alike spoke of South Africa’s transformation into the rainbow nation, one that, like Mandela, refused to be imprisoned by its history. However, in the two decades since South Africa’s first free and fair elections, a widening chasm has emerged between the promises of transformation and the realities of ongoing widespread poverty and inequalities.

    Indeed, South Africa’s beleaguered transformation...

  10. 5 Managing Transition: Lessons from Tunisia
    (pp. 63-70)

    The sudden collapse in 2011 of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia, one of the most robust security states in the Arab world, inspired protests from Egypt to Yemen. Some of these movements managed to topple entrenched autocratic rulers; others did not. Although Tunisia has its problems, the country is faring better today than most of its fellow Arab Spring nations. As interviews with senior government officials, heads of political parties, representatives of civil society organizations, academics and opinion leaders, and former political prisoners make clear, the Tunisian approach has distinguished itself in two areas: the sound management...

  11. 6 Is There a Center to Hold? The Problem of Transition in Post-Qaddafi Libya
    (pp. 71-84)

    After accepting responsibility—but not culpability—for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, Muammar Qaddafi was received back into the international community in 2003. Libya paid compensation to the families of the 270 victims of the bombing, and sanctions were lifted against Libya as diplomatic relations were restored. Libya “bought peace,” and the West was assured of open access to oil.¹ Fewer than ten years later, Qaddafi was overthrown in an uprising that received vast military support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Found hiding in a drain, Qaddafi was assaulted and then killed. His body...

  12. 7 The Pharaoh Returns: The “Politics of Order” and the Muslim Yearning for Freedom
    (pp. 85-100)

    History records a tragedy that played out in a newly free and independent country on the African continent, where after decades of authoritarian rule its first democratically elected head of government was overthrown in a coup d’état shortly after his election. He was incarcerated at the hands of the man he appointed as the head of the military. Prior to the coup, Western countries actively cultivated a variety of oppositional forces because of the presumed ideological disposition of the ruling party and its leader, and the country involved became the base from which the quest for freedom, independence, and democracy...

  13. 8 Political Theology in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring: Returning to the Ethical
    (pp. 101-120)

    Optics in politics is like a picture. It is worth more than a thousand words. On June 30, 2013, Egypt’s new military strongman, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, installed himself as president after deposing the democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi. This signaled a major turning point in that country’s political theology. At his inauguration Sisi was flanked by three important religious figures: Ahmed el-Tayeb, the president orshaykhof al-Azhar, the most reputable Islamic university; Pope Theodorus II, the Coptic archbishop; and Younis Makhyoun, the leader of the Salafi al-Nur party. Blessed by three distinct theologies, the general then acted with...

  14. 9 The One and the Many: Religious Coexistence and Belonging in Postapartheid Society
    (pp. 121-138)

    South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, one that includes a rigorous protection of the freedom and equality of all religions. It would seem unthinkable to compare South Africa’s liberal and progressive approach with those of North African countries, where religion has played and continues to play a dominant and divisive role in state, nation, public life, and constitution. If anything, religion in general and Islam in particular are major obstacles in the democratization and liberalization of North Africa. In South Africa, it would seem, such issues have been clarified in the South African Constitution...

  15. 10 A Popular Revolution? Gender Inequality and Political Change in North Africa
    (pp. 139-156)

    A World Bank report on gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region focused on what it termed the “MENA puzzle.”¹ Since 1970 the MENA countries, on average, have made remarkable progress in narrowing gaps in education and health between women and men, although they continue to lag far behind with regard to income levels, political life, and women’s economic engagement. Girls and boys are almost equally enrolled in primary and secondary school, fertility rates have declined rapidly, and health indicators such as maternal and child mortality show great improvement. At the tertiary education level women outnumber...

  16. 11 A “New” Pan-Africanism: Future Challenges
    (pp. 157-170)

    Fifty years after the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 and just more than a decade after the founding of its successor, the African Union (AU), in 2003, the achievements and setbacks of Africa need to be assessed and responded to, both on the continent and in Africa’s donor countries. Has the AU delivered on the promises made at the time of its inception, to “enable Africa to meet challenges of the 21st century and strengthening the position of Africa vis-à-vis the global economy and international community”?¹ Specifically, is it enhancing peace and security, stability and...

  17. 12 The Potential of an African Assertion—Once More, in the Name of a Renaissance
    (pp. 171-192)

    It is difficult to hear. The sounding call of a renaissance echoes, again and again, but does not fully resonate. It remains in the air in a way that never quite reaches the ear, or never quite provokes a desire to lend an ear. The call slips away, all too quickly, into an imperative to act—every other gesture is idle if not a distraction or a luxury—whose cost is nothing less than aural blindness, an inability and unwillingness to see what appears in the midst of the word’s expression. Without time to listen, the call’s question, a calling...

  18. Appendix A Colonization and Independence of African Countries
    (pp. 193-196)
  19. Appendix B Select Chronology of Afro-Arab Spring
    (pp. 197-206)
  20. Appendix C Pan-Africanism: Select Initiatives, Organizations, and Conventions
    (pp. 207-210)
  21. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 211-212)
  22. Abbreviations
    (pp. 213-214)
  23. Contributors
    (pp. 215-216)
  24. Index
    (pp. 217-225)