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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:From the national question to the social question
Author:Mkandawire, ThandikaISNI
Periodical:Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa
Geographic term:Africa
national liberation movements
nation building
speeches (form)
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/transformation/v069/69.1mkandawire.pdf
Abstract:The national question has always been closely associated with the history of oppressed or colonized peoples. In Africa, for much of the twentieth century, it has involved asserting one's humanity, acquiring independence, and maintaining the unity and territorial integrity of the new State. The social question, in its full sense, addresses problems engendered by social differentiation along class, ethnicity, gender and other social cleavages that arise or are unresolved within a nation. Nationalism generally sought to separate the national from the social question, which was seen as secondary. The tensions between the 'national' and 'social' questions in Africa, between race and class, between vertical and horizontal inequalities, are the underlying theme of this paper, which is a slightly revised version of a lecture delivered in honour of the late Harold Wolpe in October 2007. The author reviews the agenda of the African nationalist movements and identifies items that are still relevant or have a progressive thrust; examines how various issues on the nationalist agenda, in particular de-racialization, the quest for national unity and economic development, were addressed; and discusses potential or incipient factors, such as poverty and the social crisis, the rise of ethnonationalism, the new waves of democratization and social demand, pushing a new agenda in which the social question is prominent. Given the task that the nationalists had set for themselves, it was unrealistic under the circumstances to have expected a revolutionary outcome. For many countries in Africa it is now imperative to move on to addressing the emerging social question, partly because in some countries considerable achievements have been made in addressing the national question while, in others where the national question remains unresolved, many of the problems complicating matters require active socioeconomic policies to address them. In both cases, the new agenda will require new actors, new coalitions and new thinking. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]