Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"AFRICA RISING", Catchy Cliche or Really Happening? - an Analysis

an AfricaFocus Bulletin 


Almost a decade ago, Republican strategist Karl Rove disparaged what he termed the "reality-based community" of his critics, claiming he and his friends had the power to create their own reality. The slogan has become a catch phrase justifiably used to illustrate the distance of Rove's party from reality. Yet, on African issues, commentators of all political persuasions, Africans as well as non-Africans, not infrequently fall back on dubious generalizations about the entire diverse continent.

Thus, commentaries on "Africa Rising" are now proliferating across the international media, at the same time as images of violence and poverty continue to vie for attention depending on the news cycle. Events displaced from each other by thousands of miles are taken to characterize a continent, or, more modestly, a giant and internally diverse region such as "West Africa." Critics of African states or of U.S. policy on the continent speak sweepingly of "militarization of Africa," without bothering to specify the time period or the representativeness of the national situations they have in mind, apart from the latest to hit the headlines.

For me such a term brings to mind one of my favorite jazz classics "Compared to What?" by Les McCann ( Is today's reality more or less militarized or more or less violent than, for example, the decades of war in Angola, the total wars of apartheid South Africa against its neighbors, the multiple wars in Sudan over decades, the genocide in Rwanda, or the height of the multinational war in the Congo? Is Somalia more or less violent now than five years ago? Or can any quantitative comparisons do justice to the complex realities at different levels even within the same country at all?

The recent articles contained in this AfricaFocus Bulletin take on this issue of "reality-based" judgments directly. They don't have "answers" but they raise serious questions about how solid are the answers many of us may think we have...................

FULL ARTICLE HERE: Africa: Towards Reality-Based Talk

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