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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 36, Issue 1, 2009

Volume 36 Issue 1 2009


Global South Elites, Civil Society and the Democratization of International Development Institutions: A Gramscian Analysis of Leslye Obiora and the World Bank

Discussions of the interactions between African governments and global IGOs (inter-governmental organizations) are often based on the premise that despite their historical marginalization, states on the continent inherently posses some degree of agency in determining their development trajectory. While politically correct, is such an assertion true? Are players within African governments able to formulate development policy independently of global development IGOS (like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) or are decisions made by African governments still largely underpinned by the wishes of hegemonic development institutions? This essay argues for the latter interpretation.

Using a Gramscian framework, I offer a case study of the World Bank's reaction to Leslye Obiora, the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when she rejected a $120 million World Bank loan that she deemed to be usurious. My thesis is that because of her rejection of the World Bank loans on behalf of Nigerian civil society, Obiora was thus viewed as a threat to the propagation of the World Bank’s hegemonic development ideology. A Gramscian organic crisis ensued, and, unable to ideologically co-opt her through the process of “transformismo,” the World Bank “rejected” Obiora in favor of a Minister more sympathetic to its pre-established development ideology. Due to their tendency to “reject” African elites who espouse alternative modalities of development for their nascent communities, I argue that the undemocratic nature of the International Financial Institutions leads African civil society to suffer an exclusion from the global development processes that are ostensibly intended for their benefit.

This essay begins by introducing Leslye Obiora and offers a brief explanation of the conditions surrounding her resignation from her post as Nigeria’s Minister of Mining and Steel Development. It next proceeds by introducing various Gramscian concepts and relating them to the sundry players in the contemporary political-economy relevant to an investigation of Dr. Obiora’s interactions with the World Bank. In conclusion, it explicitly explains how a Gramscian, neo-Marxist vision of African governments’ relationships with the World Bank and IMF may be said to have ultimately led to Dr. Obiora’s resignation from her Ministerial post. Throughout, it emphasizes that although this is one interpretation of her experience, it should not be viewed as exclusively explanatory.

Is The Financial Crisis Playing Against China In Africa?

China’s increasing role in Africa has for almost five years now become a recurrent theme of conversation within academic and geostrategic circles. China definitely represents an important game changer in the region as its growing interests in terms of oil and mineral resources and the strategy aiming at ensuring a long-term access to them affect Western countries fundamental relations with the continent. And in their efforts to contain China’s momentum in Africa, Western countries can find in international financial institutions like the IMF an efficient pressure tool, which in the midst of a global financial crisis, can be used to counter China’s political and economic offensives into African oil and mineral resources rich countries such as DR Congo.

African Renaissance and Globalization: A Conceptual Analysis

This article explores the interaction between Globalization and the African Renaissance. Its main concern is twofold: to engage the intellectual and policy communities in further reflection about the intricacy and complexity of this interaction; and, consequently, to challenge these communities to exercise more caution when creating and adopting policies and action plans for Africa under the pressure of globalization. The paper (a) employs a conceptual analysis to tackle questions of adequacy, or inadequacy, of the term African Renaissance, (b) discusses connections between language, education, and freedom in post-colonial Africa; and, (c) suggests a response that Africans can adopt in their effort to position Africa as an equitable player amidst the influence of globalization. The author also challenges conceptions of knowledge and cognition, research practices and what constitutes valid research, publication culture and what constitutes publishable material, and the overrated celebration of cosmopolitanism by intellectuals.

Perspectives on Higher Education in Africa: Fieldnotes on Trends, Themes, Challenges and Opportunities

These reflections are the result of interviews with several individuals who have taught and studied at the university level in Africa. These observations are concerned with the profession of both student and professor in higher education in Africa. An analysis of higher education from both the student and professor perspective follows. It goes on to examine the historical origins of African universities, from colonial-era to present. The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the issues NEPAD seeks to redress to understand historical trends as well as contemporary challenges and opportunities for the university professor and student in Africa are explored.

Review: Afro-Brazilians: Cultural Production in a Racial Democracy

Review of Afro-Brazilians: Cultural Production in a Racial Democracy

Review: Voice of the Leopard: African Secret Societies and Cuba

Review of Voice of the Leopard: African Secret Societies and Cuba