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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Democracy and the Emergent Present in Africa: Interrogating the Historical Assumptions
Author:Odhiambo, Atieno
Periodical:Afrika Zamani: revue annuelle d'histoire africaine = Annual Journal of African History (ISSN 0850-3079)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:cultural history
political systems
History and Exploration
Politics and Government
political science
Abstract:The African historian is unlikely to contribute fresh insights to discussions about democracy because his primary concerns have largely been with the reassertion of Africans' global humanity and with the articulation of the usefulness of the historical past for the State hegemonic project. African history is still an annex of Western historiography, and the 'cultural framework of the present' has not been explicated in African terms. A series of questions relating to the discipline of history are in order. What was the common African experience of history? What common ideas of African history did the Ekiti of the 19th century (before the Christian missionaries made Yoruba of them), for example, share with their presumed Somali cousins of that era? What notions of power, authority, domination - and also of democracy, participation, accountability and civil society - did they share? From what common cultural universe were they tapped? What are our ways of knowing all this, as historians? And which historians? Continental inferences do not automatically derive from regional visibilities and there is need for surveillance to avoid perpetuating the hegemonic myth of African sameness. The past can be used and abused in egregious ways. Bibliogr., ref.