Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - BREAKING: Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe Resigns

Thanks ola. Sad story!

Kenneth Harrow
Dept of English and Film Studies
Michigan State University
619 Red Cedar Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824
517-803-8839
harrow@msu.edu
http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

On 22/11/2017 02:16, "Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso" <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com on behalf of jumoyin@gmail.com> wrote:

Sir, Sirleaf was one of the Liberians in exile who personally funded Charles Taylor's original rebel movement into Liberia and went around the US raising funds for him and campaigning in support of his group. As the story goes, she even went to visit him in the Nimba bush once during this period. Of course, she had been a victim of Doe's brutality and wanted him out by all means. She has acknowledged this role instarting the civil war and publicly apologized, purportedly for her error in judgement.

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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - BREAKING: Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe Resigns

Thanks for this very thoughtful response, shina. Great questions. The context for Singapore is different from that of Nigeria: that's the place I would begin. Secondly, Singapore isn't the only Asian miracle country to consider: there is Taiwan, s korea, even now Vietnam is striving, rising, coming back from ungodly bombing to growth.

I like your evoking the term demos;

The question of democracy fades as wealth rises. China is an autocracy, but its rising economy has muted the voices of tinnamen's martyrs. But Mugabe proves, to me, that autocracy doesn't guarantee growth. We have a fascinating set of examples in the rude contrast between the failing, flailing state of Burundi, and the more economically successful politce state of Rwanda. The argument for autocracy is Rwanda; the argument against it is Burundi. And the argument, again and again, against is the drc.

The experts on this list might carry the question forward by similar comparisons, say Tanzania vs kenya vs Uganda.. same region, similar structures, quite different conditions of rule.

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Wednesday 22 November 2017 at 05:12
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - BREAKING: Zimbabwe's President Mugabe Resigns

 

There is nothing wrong with postcolonial critique (though i am not sure we will still be left with that conclusion when we wade through postcolonial theory and criticism from Spivak to Hall.). And I have also only signaled globalization, capitalism and Empire as those contemporary ideological dynamics that any robust postcolonial critique must have to contend with. The Mugabe-type nostalgia for anticolonial comradeship is dead born in the face of these significant devilish hordes against the African continent. His anticolonial credential is further degraded in the face of the blatant plundering of the common weal, and a messianic complex too. 

 

Prof Harrow's response hits the appropriate connection i was drawing between Mugabe and Gaddafi. And i think i understand the democratic context where he is coming from. But then, to muddle the waters a little bit more, i am not sure that tyranny occupies the same political continuum with an enlightened dictatorship. I am, for instance, fascinated with Lee Kuan Yew but is he in the same league with Gaddafi (certainly not with Mugabe, a dotard!)

 

I am forced to revisit the Obama statement that Africa does not need strong men but strong institutions. Which statement equally reminds us of the thorny social science dilemma between leadership and institution. in other words, how do we build good structures and institutions that have the capacity to constrain errant behavior? Which is prior in this regard, leadership or structure? It seems to me that Obama was just being intellectually correct when he made that statement. Is it not the case that Africa needs strong men if the hope of strong institutions are to be realized? 

 

If we set this as the "social/political agenda," it becomes a template to knock off Mugabe instantly, disqualify Gaddafi's endgame, and rethink Yew's political strategy. Prof. Harrow's democratic principles will likely knock of Yew, but i don't think we should be so fast to do so. Singapore under Yew makes for an interesting study in social change. And even more so is Yew's adroit combination of constitutionalism and political stability sans effete populism. His political sensibility is democratic but pragmatically dictatorial (if i understand what i am saying!). Then he left office. He is therefore, to all intents and purposes, a strong man that Singapore needed to build strong institutions that transformed it into a first world country. 

 

In an enlightened dictatorship, the demos are led by a sensitive and pragmatic leash. This is why they can technically be called a demos and not subjects. If the use of "leash" is problematic, then we would all be hypocritical if we think Trump and all the other populist demagogues are better in what we call "democracies". Democracy cannot just be taken as a political given in all contexts. In fact, it seems to me that democracy does not guarantee strong institutions. On the contrary, strong institutions are what we need to sustain a vibrant democracy. Where then should a country like Nigeria start from? Lee Kuan Yew got the answer to that question right for a once-a-third-world-country Singapore.

 

For me, one of the fundamental core of a postcolonial critique is the question: What can we do with democracy? The answer to that question will have to run the gauntlet between stability and economic progress; enlightened and pragmatic dictatorship and populism; leadership and institution; strong man and strong institutions.       

 

Adeshina Afolayan, PhD
Department of Philosophy
University of Ibadan


+23480-3928-8429

 

On Wednesday, November 22, 2017 3:22 AM, Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso <jumoyin@gmail.com> wrote:

 

But I agree, Professor Harrow, that we must not excuse tyranny of any sort. And I have not done so. I have only said we can't compare Mugabe and Ghadaffi merely by their age, or their being of the same "era". And my contrast was well defined: based on simply their bequest of social welfare for their citizens. I have not assessed their regional politics or related madnesses. Permit me to also humbly point out, at the risk of being misread too, that as surely as Ghadaffi gave us Charles Taylor, so surely did Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nobel prize for peace winner, — a woman who I admire tremendously— also give us Charles Taylor. And now she is also being considered for the Mo Ibrahim Prize for good governance. Contradictions we must live with.



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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Today's Quote

Legality after a military coup, clothed in legality? Fooling nobody.
The underlying legality is the images of people dancing in the street. I didn't see any reports of counter-demonstrations.

We debated the extent to which his economy was undermined by the brits; so it's not all good and bad on one side, but given the catastrophic fall from zimbabwe's high status to low, it seems Mugabe mismanaged the affair. I don't really pretend to know how much fault could be attributed to his mismanagement.
I wonder if we could have a more expert evaluation on this story, from someone who actually follows the situation.
ken

Kenneth Harrow
Dept of English and Film Studies
Michigan State University
619 Red Cedar Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824
517-803-8839
harrow@msu.edu
http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

On 22/11/2017 05:45, "Chidi Anthony Opara" <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com on behalf of chidi.opara@gmail.com> wrote:

Samuel Doe died in war, Gbagbo was removed in a coup. Mugabe's removal is clothed in legality, hence my question.

CAO.

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