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Reviewed by:
  • East Africa: In Search of National and Regional Renewal
  • Julius E. Nyang'oro
Yieke, Felicia Arudo , ed. 2005. East Africa: In Search of National and Regional Renewal. Dakar: CODESRIA. 150 pp. $22.95 (paper).

This book is part of a series on regional studies sponsored by CODESRIA, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, the preeminent social-science organization in Africa, whose objectives are to facilitate research and promote networking among African social scientists. The book under review grew out of an East African subregional conference that met in late October 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The book's principal theme is governance. All its chapters deal with that theme in one way or another. The book addresses ideology and economic development (chapters 1 and 2); language and its role in development (chapters 3 and 4); ethnicity and its role in politics (chapters 5 and 6); nation-state, citizenship, and security (chapter 8); and multipartysm and elections (chapter 9). Unfortunately, even though chapter seven is listed in the table of contents, it does not appear in the copy of the book I received for purposes of this review.

The first two chapters, by Issa Shivji and Seithy Chachage respectively, are by far the most engaging chapters in the book. Both authors are professors [End Page 125] at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Shivji interrogates the concept and practice of nationalism in contemporary Africa. He argues that reactionary and politically retrogressive leaders have taken over the governance of African countries: these leaders' principal ideological stance is the full-scale embrace of "globalism," which, he cynically observes, is the most recent and vicious form of imperialism. Accepting globalism as the development ideology and practice by African leaders essentially takes out of Africans' hands the decisionmaking process regarding Africa. Shivji notes that this has been the case with structural-adjustment programs (SAPs) on the continent since the mid 1980s. The result of SAPs is the further oppression of the people and the increased impoverishment of the continent. Chachage's chapter makes the same point, but zeros in on African intellectuals, many of whom, he argues, have uncritically accepted and embraced the ideology of globalism and neoliberalism, with tragic consequences for African workers. His critique of Africa's intellectuals is through the interrogation of NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the current blueprint for economic development in Africa. He argues that NEPAD has yet to demonstrate that it can carry out its claimed mandate of Africa's economic development, given its ideological and conceptual limitations within the globalization framework.

Chapters 3 and 4 address the linguistic diversity of East Africa, and of Africa in general. Both chapters argue that language is an important element in the development of any society, and therefore, language policy is a critical consideration in the creation of regional development strategies. Sangai Mohonchi in chapter 3 recommends the adoption of Kiswahili as a regional language in East Africa, and recommends that Hausa and Arabic could be adopted as regional languages in West and North Africa respectively. He argues strongly for limiting the influence of European languages on the continent. Yieke, the editor, argues for the adoption of Kiswahili as the official language of the emerging East African Community (EAC), but notes the historical and practical difficulties of doing so, given the colonial experience, which introduced English as the official language of the region, and the reluctance that some governments in the region have shown when confronted with the need to invest in promoting Kiswahili.

Both Emmanuel Okoth Manyasa and Mohammed Kulumba discuss the question of ethnicity in East Africa. Manyasa's chapter, a more general treatment of ethnicity, notes that African governments have to a large extent been responsible for stoking ethnic conflict in their countries because of political expediency. Kulumba, in contrast, highlights the failure of governance by the Ugandan state in dealing with a local election where the state tried to influence local voters' preferences. Kulumba notes that in present-day Uganda, local autonomy has been undermined by the government's tendency to run all political affairs from the center. Both these chapters demonstrate why the question...


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