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Firoze Manji & Sokari Ekine (Eds.): African Awakenings


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The tumultuous uprisings of citizens in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have seized the attention of media analysts who have characterised these as 'Arab revolutions', a perspective given weight by popular demonstrations in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and elsewhere. However, what have been given less attention are the concurrent uprisings in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Western Sahara and Zimbabwe. The uprisings across Africa and in the Middle East, the book argues, are the result of common experiences of decades of declining living standards, mass unemployment, land dispossessions and impoverishment of the majority, while a few have engorged themselves with riches.

Through incisive contributions from analysts and activists across the continent, the essays in African Awakening provide an overview of the struggle for democratisation which goes beyond calls merely for transparent electoral processes and constitutes a reawakening of the spirit of freedom and justice for the majority.

Contributors: Charles Abugre, Essam Al-Amin, Massan d'Almeida, Samir Amin, Patrick Bond, Horace Campbell, Lila Chouli, Sokari Ekine, Hassan El Ghayesh, Lakhdar Ghettas, Nigel C. Gibson, Adam Hanieh, Konstantina Isidoros, Peter Kenworthy, Sadri Khiari, Mahmood Mamdani, Firoze Manji, Imad Mesdoua, Fatma Naib, Explo Nani-Kofi, J. Oloka-Onyango, Richard Pithouse, Jean-Paul Pougala, Khadija Sharife, Yash Tandon, Melakou Tegegn, Kah Walla

Press Reviews

Interface, May 16, 2012
The editors assembled 32 essays, some of which were previously published as summaries of events in Pambazuka News in 2011, around uprisings and revolutions that took place in Africa since 2011. Although popularly referred to as the "Arab spring," the 2011 uprisings were not confined to the Arab-speaking world. There have also been protests, strikes and other actions -- many of which were brutally suppressed -- in Western Sahara, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Gabon, Sudan, Mauritania, Morocco, Madagascar, Mozambique, Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, Swaziland, South Africa, Malawi, and Uganda. Whether large or small scale, all these are manifestations of an underlying mood of discontent and disenchantment with the social and political order. According to Manji, “we are witnessing not so much an Arab spring as an African awakening” (p. 3). - Karen Ferreira-Meyers

Jun 7, 2012
2011 saw the emergence of powerful new movements stretching from Wisconsin to Egypt, from Chile to Greece. It was the year of Occupations as public spaces were taken over by activists beginning with Tahrir Square in Egypt and eventually moving on to Wall Street, Oakland and hundreds of other locales worldwide, including several unsuccessful attempts in South Africa. Conspicuously absent from the renewed and resurgent discourse amongst anti-capitalist forces and the popular imagination was sub-Saharan Africa, and by this I mean "black Africa," the Africa of the eternal cycle of dictators, corruption, famine, “bad governance” and debt. African Awakenings: The Emerging Revolutions ambitiously sets out to remedy this and place the host of new movements arising across the continent in a singular socio-political context. This ambition importantly matches one of the more impressive features of the movements of 2011, in the form of the growth of a new internationalism as statements of solidarity and support were transmitted from the occupations of Wall Street to Tahrir Square and activists have begun to share tactics and experiences in what is increasingly being perceived as a global struggle, emerging from specifically local contexts.


These impressive essays, highlighting unreported struggles for empowerment and democracy across Africa, challenge you to look beyond the headlines – a political primer on 21st century Africa. -Walter Turner, author, professor and presenter of the Pacifica radio programme 'Africa Today'

A fine collection of insurgent voices and analyses from a continental rebellion.
-Raj Patel, award-winning writer, activist and academic

Digging in and gathering momentum – from Algiers to Durban to Wall Street. From African activist-scholars, an indispensable guide to the dynamics and internal workings of this tidal-wave moment in Africa's history.
-Shailja Patel, poet, playwright and activist

What is striking is the analysis of the emerging revolutions and how they display the reformulating of imperialist plans towards the African and Arab peoples. -Helmi Sharawy, former director, African Arab Research Centre, Cairo

African Awakening is a book anyone concerned with Africa's future and contribution to world revolution must read. Rarely has a book brought together so many outstanding scholars and provided such an in-depth analysis of Africa’s political reality. -Sylvia Federici, Silvia Federici, Professor Emerita, Hofstra University.

African Awakening transforms the reality of the 'Arab Spring' into a North African-initiated rising of the dispossessed. The excitement contained in these writings reflects the excitement and challenge of the massive movements for democracy, sovereignty, and social transformation that the world became aware of with the Tunisian Revolution, but only associated with North Africa and the Middle East. African Awakening expands the scope and is a collection that will leave you both energized and pensive. -Bill Fletcher, Jr., co-author of Solidarity Divided, co-founder of the Black Radical Congress.

A timely and readable book about current movements for change in Africa and what to expect in the coming decade. African Awakening takes a refreshingly original look at the continent that has experienced radical changes in the past few years. This book is especially recommended reading to US activists looking to engage with Africa, to connect the dots of the past with positive outlooks for the future. -Nunu Kidane, Priority Africa Network


1 African awakenings: the courage to invent the future
Firoze Manji

2 The never-ending revolution: perspectives from the African blogosphere
Sokari Ekine

3 Crisis in Côte d'Ivoire: history, interests and parallels
Explo Nani-Kofi

4 Tunisia: the fall of the West's little dictator
Esam al-Amin

5 Gabon's lords of poverty
Khadija Sharife

6 Tunisia's revolution: self-organisation for self-emancipation
Horace Campbell

7 Aslema ya Tunis, au revoir Ben Ali
Melakou Tegegn

8 Tunisia and Egypt: revolutions without self-proclaimed revolutionaries
Horace Campbell

9 Egypt: free at last, an inside look
Hassan Elghayesh

10 Chronicles of an Egyptian revolution: a protestor’s first-hand account
Hassan Elghayesh

11 Egypt and the revolution in our minds
Nigel C. Gibson

12 Egypt: women of the revolution
Fatma Naib

13 'The power is within us’: a protest diary from Cameroon
Kah Walla

14 Uganda elections: 'an exercise in shame-faced endorsement’
J. Oloka-Onyango

15 Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire: the impact on women
Massan d’Almeida

16 Awakening protests in Morocco and Western Sahara
Konstantina Isidoros

17 Peoples’ revolts in Burkina Faso
Lila Chouli

18 North African dispatches: why Algeria is different
Imad Mesdoua

19 Libya: behind the politics of humanitarian intervention
Mahmood Mamdani

20 Swaziland: uprising in the slipstream of North Africa
Peter Kenworthy

21 The lies behind the West's war on Libya
Jean-Paul Pougala

22 South Africa: on the murder of Andries Tatane
Richard Pithouse

23 Unrest in Algeria: the window is closing fast
Lakhdar Ghettas

24 Whose dictator is Gaddafi?
Yash Tandon

25 An African reflection on Tahrir Square
Mahmood Mamdani

26 How might things move forward in Libya?
Yash Tandon

27 The Tunisian revolution did not come out of nowhere
Sadri Khiari

28 Imperial neurosis and the dangers of 'humanitarian’ interventionism
Yash Tandon

29 International financial institutions and Egypt
Adam Hanieh

30 Neoliberal threats to North Africa
Patrick Bond

31 2011: An Arab springtime?
Samir Amin

32 Libya: the true costs of war
Charles Abugre

Appendix: Further readings from Pambazuka News


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