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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 38, Issue 2, 2015

General Issue

Issue cover
Cover Caption: Artist: Uche OkekeSketches for Tales of Life and Death IV, 1970, 9.5 × 7 inches Courtesy of the artist and Skoto Gallery

Front Matter


Table of Contents


Public Funding of Political Parties in Ghana: an Outmoded Conception?

Political parties are the vehicles through which the ideals of multiparty democracy could be achieved in any fledgling democracy. But in Ghana, they are the most neglected of all the political institutions. Consequently they exist merely as “election machines” and become moribund during inter-election periods. The proposal for state funding of political parties was seen as a means of reinvigorating them to be able to function effectively and produce quality leaders capable of tackling the developmental challenges of the country. This paper therefore reviews the Draft Public Funding of Political Parties Bill, 2008. Through a survey of some 210 respondents and government officials, it argues that the quest for public funding of political parties was outmoded at conception because governments are not committed to the proposal, nor do Ghanaians seem to support it. The study concludes on the note that until politicians strive to reduce the perception of corruption against them and encourage their members to support them financially through the payment of monthly dues and special levies, political parties will continue to function as weak election machines in Ghana.

Popular Diplomacy in an Autocracy – Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Decision-Making under the Military in Nigeria

Democracy is believed to allow greater and popular participation in governance than authoritarian regimes. It follows that democracy would increase the influence of public opinion on the foreign policy making process of nations. This being so, public opinion as a factor in the government decision-making process has become contemporaneous with democratic regimes such that there is a general notion that autocratic regimes act independent of popular opinion in foreign policy decision-making. Using public opinion as an expression of popular view, this article contradicts such notions by establishing that non-democratic (military) regimes could be malleable to public opinion in foreign policy decision-making. This it does in a content analysis of selected Nigerian newspapers, using the Babangida military regime’s decision on an IMF loan as a case study and submits that non-democratic regimes could lay claims to popular diplomacy. More so, because evidence in this study does not show that democratic regimes in Nigeria have necessarily increased the influence of public opinion on foreign policy decision-making, it submits that the manifest of democratic ethos such as popular diplomacy in governments’ foreign policy decision-making would not necessarily be a product regime-type.

Democratizing in Excess: A Marxist Interpretation of the Jasmine Revolutions in North Africa

Whether the revolutions in North Africa are Marxist or democratic, they sure have Marxist touch in that they grew out of people’s frustration with unemployment, elitist corruption, high cost of food, human right abuses, lack of freedom of speech and general poor living conditions. Although they are inspired by democratic desires and supported by democratic influences, which are curiously excessive, they nonetheless exhibit elements of Marxism. This paper aims at three things: to provide a Marxist interpretation to the revolutions in North Africa, to point out the influence which democracy or the democratic ideals had on them, and to extrapolate on the unintended consequences of excessive democratic influence.

Home to Hargeisa: Migritude, Pan-Africanism, and the Politics of Movement from Banjo to Black Mamba Boy

French literary theorist Jacques Chevrier argues that immigration is at the heart of contemporary African literature. He calls this new corpus of African literature migritude. Migritude literature provides both a new and sophisticated way of understanding immigration in the era of global capitalism and a critical engagement with it; it lends new perspective to the study of African literature itself by bringing to the fore conditions of diaspora, movement, and migration. Further, these younger authors are often in conversation with earlier generations of the black radical tradition. Somali writer Nadifa Mohamed, for example, not only cites Claude McKay’s 1929 Banjo in her acknowledgements but strategically weaves the wandering Banjo and his black orchestra into her own twenty-first century migritude novel. In this article I analyze the relationship between McKay’s “story without a plot”1 as a (proto)migritude narrative embodying a pan-African politics of movement and Nadifa Mohamed’s 2010 novel Black Mamba Boy as a representative migritude narrative and critique.

Edouard Glissant and the African Roots of Creolization

This paper examines Edouard Glissant’s Creolization theory as it pertains to the African roots of Antillean culture. Although the discussion of Glissant’s creolization theory may not be particularly innovative, this paper attempts to employ the notion of the cultural rhizome to place Glissant’s theories within the trajectory of Antillean intellectual history. This paper also makes use of Glissant’s poetry, which is greatly informed by his theoretical oeuvre.

The African Literary Artist and the Question of Function

Critics have argued that the African literary artist [traditional or modern] carries out some kind of function. This includes teaching his audience through his work, having qualified as the keeper of his society’s mores. Yet no critic has closely interrogated this stance and the constitution of the space of representation and teaching; what he really teaches; the shades of opinion that make him seem a recorder of his society’s mores; and other sundry lacunae. This article proceeds by problematising such terms as artist, society, mores and teaching, on one hand, and by invoking such theoretical concepts of literature enunciated by critics, from Aristotle to Akwanya, on the other, in order to dismantle the argument that the artist teaches. It also argues that the notion of function, either teaching or recording of mores, privileges unity of message. The sense of unity is later exploded via exploring the chaotic meaning in Nigerian literature from traditional to modern works. In addition, this work demonstrates that the artist is a victim of the fleeting space of in-betweenness in which his craft is formed and to which he owes allegiance. Rather than record the mores of a society, at most, society merely affords him a place through its language for the purpose of mediating ‘reality’ at a second remove. From the explorations of the above varied concerns, this work concludes that either the artist is a bad teacher, or is someone from whom the ability to teach or record his society’s mores breaks free.