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POLSC325: African Politics

Unit 6: Continent-Wide Challenges for Africa   One essential aspect of living in a globalized or globalizing world is that notions of a border or boundary have new meanings.  Borders become more open—and maybe even malleable.  The same globalizing trends apply to sub-Saharan Africa.  Sometimes these global realities are problematic, leading to negative spin-offs.  Sometimes promising new starts occur, spurring growth and other positive changes.  Sometimes, both reactions occur.   The border-crossing reality of global public health and disease is one such issue.  One can see both the terrible affliction caused by disease as well as the promise of innovative delivery and problem-solving applications.  Three of the most significant challenges that face African politics today are public health and the HIV/AIDS crisis across Africa; intra-state conditions ripe for protracted conflict; and the difficulty of sustaining democracy in governance.  These challenges respect no borders.    

Unit 6 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 17.25 hours to complete.

☐     Subunit 6.1: 5 hours ☐     Readings: 4.5 hours

☐     Lectures: 0.5 hours

☐     Subunit 6.2: 3.5 hours

☐     Subunit 6.3: 2 hours

☐     Subunit 6.4: 1.75 hours

☐     Subunit 6.5: 5 hours

☐     Sub-subunit 6.5.1: 1.5 hours

☐     Sub-subunit 6.5.2: 1 hour

☐     Sub-subunit 6.5.3: 2.5 hours

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Identify and describe the most pressing contemporary issues in Africa. - Discuss the various arguments as to why democracy will or won’t work in Africa. - Describe the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. - Explain the various methods that African states and international organizations are using to reduce conflict in the continent. - Describe the environmental crisis in Africa and its impact  on economic development. - Explore human rights in the African context.

6.1 The Quest for Democracy   - Reading: African Journal of Political Science and International Relations: M. Todd Bradley’s “African Perceptions of Democracy” Link: African Journal of Political Science and International Relations: M. Todd Bradley’s “African Perceptions of Democracy” (PDF)
 
Instructions: The link above takes you to the table of contents of the December 2011 edition of the African Journal of Political Science and International Relations; click on ‘Full article – pdf’ to access the article. Here, the author explores the relationship between western notions of democracy and African traditional political systems. Such political systems exhibited numerous democratic elements but were undermined by the imposition of colonial rule in the late 19th century. Given that democracy is not foreign to Africa, Bradley argues that African societies tend to perceive democracy in different, but not less valid, terms. Progress in democratization, then, should not be evaluated from a western perspective, but from African perspectives.
 
This reading should take you approximately 1.5 hour to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Cato Institute: Tony Leon’s “The State of Liberal Democracy in Africa: Resurgence or Retreat?”  Link: Cato Institute: Tony Leon’s “The State of Liberal Democracy in Africa: Resurgence or Retreat?” (PDF or HTML)
     
    Instructions: Towards the bottom of the page, you will see the link to download the full PDF article or an option to view it in HTML.  Please select whichever viewing option you prefer and read the text in its entirety.
     
    Note that the 1990s saw a wave of   democratization emerge in Eastern Europe and other parts of the  world.  Though many African   states experienced a variety of governmental changes during this time, very few achieved full democracy.  While reading the article, ask yourself whether you agree with the claim that Africa has fallen behind in moving towards democracy and work to identify the reasons why liberal democracy has not taken root in the continent. 
     
    This reading should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.
     
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  • Lecture: Michigan State University’s Africa Past & Present: Kiki Edozie’s “Capitalism, Democracy, and Development” Link: Michigan State University’s Africa Past & Present: Kiki Edozie’s “Capitalism, Democracy, and Development”  (Adobe Flash)
     
    Also available in: Mp3
     
    Instructions: In podcast 15 of the Africa Past & Present podcast series, Dr. Kiki Edozie discusses the nexus between democracy and capitalism with special focus on corruption scandals in Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. Her research suggests that there is an intimate connection between crises in the political and the economic arenas. Such linkages bear significance for the development of African politics.
     
    This resource should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
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6.2 Public Health and Africa’s Experience with HIV/AIDS   - Reading: Worldpress.org: Rhoi Wangila and Chinua Akukwe’s “H.I.V. and AIDS in Africa: Ten Lessons From the Field” and AVERT’s “History of HIV & AIDS in Africa” and “The Impact of HIV & AIDS in Africa” Link: Worldpress.org: Rhoi Wangila and Chinua Akukwe’s “H.I.V. and AIDS in Africa: Ten Lessons From the Field” (HTML) and AVERT’s “History of HIV & AIDS in Africa” and “The Impact of HIV & AIDS in Africa” (HTML)

Instructions: Sub-Saharan Africa is the most HIV/AIDS-affected
region in the world.  It is home to 68% of all people living with
HIV worldwide.  Please click on the first link above, andread the
article written by two individuals who have worked extensively in
the public health sector in Africa.  This article provides an
overview of the impact that HIV/AIDS has on African societies.  This
article is a reflection of their experiences and observations
regarding the HIV/AIDS  crisis in Africa, providing an overview of
the impact that HIV/AIDS has on African societies.  While reading
the article, ask yourself how an HIV/AIDS patient in the Africa
would live compared to one living in the developed world.  Then,
click on the second and third links above to access the material by
AVERT, an internationally recognized NGO focusing on HIV/AIDS, on
the history and impact of this disease in Africa.  These accounts
contain information regarding the origins of the HIV virus, the
spread of the virus, the socio-economic factors facilitating the
spread of the disease, and the consequences of the disease’s
prevalence in a region struggling with poverty. Additionally, the
reading includes information on government responses to the epidemic
and programs to procure drugs for those who need them.  Do you
discern any critical differences in the way these materials convey
such important information?  If so, do these differences matter?  

 These readings should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.


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  • Web Media: Mindset Foundation: Pete McCormack and Tim Hardy’s “UNICEF: Hope in the time of AIDS” Link: Mindset Foundation: Pete McCormack and Tim Hardy’s “UNICEF: Hope in the time of AIDS” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and watch this film from the Mindset Foundation and UNICEF.  It is a 25-minute documentary that focuses on children in five Sub-Saharan African countries and their struggles with the disease.
     
    This video should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
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6.3 Preventing Conflict   - Reading: EastWest Institute: Matthew King’s and Dave Verge’s “Strengthening Regional Capacities for Preventive Action in Africa” Link: EastWest Institute: Matthew King’sand Dave Verge’s “Strengthening Regional Capacities for Preventive Action in Africa” (HTML) (PDF)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above to read the HTML version of this 4-page briefing paper; a PDF version can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page. The authors explore the current state of conflict prevention mechanisms in Africa and the opportunities for new, stronger mechanisms. The article places special emphasis on subregional IGOs.
 
This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Reading: International Crisis Group’s “DR Congo Conflict History” and “Conflict Minerals in DRC” Link: International Crisis Group’s “DR Congo Conflict History” (HTML) and “Conflict Minerals in DRC” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the links above, and read the two reports on the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This conflict, often dubbed the world’s deadliest conflict, began in 1996 and has continued since then with only minor interruptions.  Immense death tolls, the widespread use of rape as a tool of war, and the active involvement of a variety of actors (states, rebel forces, NGOs, etc.) characterize this conflict.  The DRC is also rich in minerals that fund armed groups.  What efforts have been undertaken to bring this conflict to an end?  Why are they not successful?

    These readings should take you approximately 1 hour to complete. 

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  • Web Media: Friends of the Congo’s “Crisis in the Congo – Uncovering the Truth” Link: Friends of the Congo’s “Crisis in the Congo – Uncovering the Truth” (Video)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above to watch a 27-minute documentary about the armed conflict in the DRC. This documentary places the conflict in historical context and aims to explore the role of external actors in causing/perpetuating the conflict. What lessons can be learned from this one particular conflict and its complexities? Should conflict prevention and management rest solely with Africans or should the international community play a role? Why or why not?
     
    This video should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
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6.4 Environmental Change   - Reading: North Carolina State University’s “What are the Major Environmental Problems Affecting the Development of Africa Today?” Link: North Carolina State University’s “What are the Major Environmental Problems Affecting the Development of Africa Today?” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the webpage for a brief overview of the major environmental issues faced by African communities today.
 
This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Web Media: Michigan State University’s Africa Past & Present: Patrick Bond’s “Climate Change and Environmental Justice” Link: Michigan State University’s Africa Past & Present: Patrick Bond’s “Climate Change and Environmental Justice” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Also available in: Mp3

    Instructions:   Please click on the link above, and select the play button to launch the podcast.   In episode 6 of this podcast series, Patrick Bond (Director of the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal) discusses his book, Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society: Negative Returns on South African Investments, which was co-edited with Rehana Dada and Graham Erion, and published in 2007.  Bond discusses the effects that carbon trading has had on global warming, critiques free market approaches to climate change, and charts the rise of African grassroots movements for environmental justice.
     
    This resource should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
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  • Reading: The Green Belt Movement: Professor Wangari Maathai’s “Keynote Address during the 2nd World Congress of Agroforestry”

    Link: The Green Belt Movement: Professor Wangari Maathai’s “Keynote Address during the 2ndWorld Congress of Agroforestry” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read Dr. Maathai’s keynote address. The Green Belt Movement is a non-governmental organization that was founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai from Kenya. Its work focuses on the empowerment of women in particular and local communities in general through the protection of the environment. Best known for its tree planting campaigns, the Green Belt Movement is an example of civil society activism that emerged at the grassroots level and is fully cognizant of the linkages between the environment, poverty, human rights, and democracy. Please feel free to explore the website to gain a deeper understanding of the work of the Green Belt Movement as well as the issues surrounding environmentalism in Africa.

    This reading should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.

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6.5 Human Rights   6.5.1 Legal Framework   - Reading: African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ “African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights” Link: African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ “African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights” (PDF)

<span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); ">Instructions:
Please </span><span style="background: #ff00ff"><span
style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); ">click on the link
above, and</span></span><span
style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); "> read the African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, also referred to as the Banjul
Charter</span><span style="background: #ff00ff"><span
style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); ">, on the webpage or
download the PDF file by clicking on
‘banjul\_charter.pdf.’</span></span><span
style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); "> This international
human rights document is the legal foundation for the protection and
promotion of human rights in Africa. The Banjul Charter was adopted
in 1981 and came into force in 1986. It made a significant
contribution to the international human rights discourse by
including so-called ‘third generation’ rights (rights that accrue to
groups or peoples, not individuals) and by explicitly linking rights
and duties of the individual. However, the African Charter has been
criticized for its inclusion of ‘clawback’ clauses, conditional
language that allows states to limit and/or restrict human rights in
accordance with domestic law. </span><span
style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); "> </span>


 This reading should take you approximately 45 minutes to
complete.  
    
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  • Reading: American University’s Washington College of Law: Human Rights Brief: Vincent O. Nmehielle’s “Development of the African Human Rights System in the Last Decade” Link: American University’s Washington College of Law: Human Rights Brief: Vincent O. Nmehielle’s “Development of the African Human Rights System in the Last Decade” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and select the title or the download button on the right to access the PDF version of this article. Though published in 2004, this article remains relevant to the discussion of human rights in Africa. Please pay attention to the positive and negative points raised by the author with respect to the African instruments for the protection and promotion of human rights. 

    This reading should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
     
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6.5.2 Overview of Africa’s Current Human Rights Situation   - Reading: Amnesty International’s Annual Report 2011 – the State of the World’s Human Rights: “Africa” Link: Amnesty International’s Annual Report 2011 – the State of the World’s Human Rights: “Africa” (HTML)
 
Instructions: The link above takes you to the ‘Africa’ section of Amnesty International’s 2011 report on the status of human rights worldwide. Amnesty International is an international NGO dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights on a global scale. Here, you gain an overview of some of the issues dominating the human rights debate with respect to Africa. In addition to the continent-wide account, Amnesty International offers more detailed information on the human rights situations within specific African countries. Please feel free to click on some or all of the countries listed at the end of the report for a more thorough exploration.
 
This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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6.5.3 The Way Forward   - Reading: African Development Forum: Amina A. Augie’s “Human Rights and Good Governance in Africa: A Critical Nexus Expanding Human Rights” and University of Florida’s African Studies Quarterly: Paul J. Magnarella’s “Achieving Human Rights in Africa: The Challenge for the New Millennium” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)