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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 36, Issue 2, 2011

Volume 36 Issue 2 2011


Can Western Democracy Models be institutionalized in Africa? Reviewing Contemporary Problems and Prospects

Abstract This article is focused on major issues surrounding the dynamic development of contemporary democracy in Africa. In particular, it reviews the post Cold-War era that has been characterized by a worldwide spread of liberal democracy models, and also scrutinizes the peculiarities of African nations as they adjust to the demanding tenets of democracy. Given the colonial legacy bedeviling Africa, the paper evaluates the impact of change resulting from the ‘wind’ of democracy that has swept the continent since 1989. It concludes that democracy has its merits but that it should be adopted and adapted to Africans’ value systems to serve as a galvanizing instrument of development. It acknowledges that the process of democratization will evolve gradually overtime and its institutionalization will require a strong political will from all stakeholders within and outside the continent.

The Rationalization of Space and Time: Dodoma and Socialist Modernity

The categories of space and time are crucial variables in the constitution of what many scholars deem as modernity. However, due to the almost exclusive interpretation of space and time as components of a modernity coupled with global capitalism (Harvey, Jameson), discussions of a socialist space and time as a construction of an alternate modernity during the 60s and 70s—in particular across the Third World—have been neglected. Julius Nyerere’s project of collectivation, or ujamaa, in Tanzania during this period is a prime example of an attempt to develop the nation state outside of the capitalist format. While it would be interesting to explore the connections Nyerere had with other socialist Third World countries like China within the international context and their attempts at nation building, this paper will focus on an analysis of the Tanzanian government’s decision in 1973 to move the capital of the country from the Eastern port city of Dar es Salaam, to the more centrally located Dodoma. The questions of primary importance are: How did moving the Tanzanian capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma in 1973 embody Nyerere’s vision of socialist African development? Or more specifically, how did the socialist urban planning of Dodoma fit into the greater project of ujamaa and rural development? And finally, how was the planned construction of a new urban capital an attempt at a definition of socialist space and time?

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Creating New Leaders: Youth Involvement in Community Activism in South Africa

Less than two decades into a new democracy, South African black youth are facing social, political, and economic problems handed down to them by the oppressive Apartheid government. While many youth participate in extracurricular activities through non-governmental organizations, this thesis looks specifically at those youth that engage in projects that train them as community activists and leaders. Using two activist organizations as windows into this topic, I ask if involving youth in community activism can decrease their involvement in crime as well as increase their self-identification as community leaders. Rather than focusing on solutions that simply keep young people off the streets by providing childcare and vocational training, or reiterate HIV/AIDS prevention techniques, I examine how some youth are actively becoming leaders themselves - in the hopes that they will not just better their own lives but confront social problems at both the local and national levels.