Africa Spectrum was first published in 1966 by the GIGA Institute of African Affairs (IAA) in Hamburg. It is an inter-disciplinary journal dedicated to scientific exchange between the continents.


The Globethics library contains articles of the Africa Spectrum as of vol. 44(2009) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Belonging and Agrarian Labour Exchanges in Zimbabwe: Navigating Between Communal Areas and Fast Track Villagised Settlements

    Malvern Kudakwashe Marewo (SAGE Publishing, 2023-08-01)
    This article examines the nature of labour exchange between A1 farmers with people in communal areas of origin based on kinship and friendship relations. While agrarian labour in Zimbabwe has attracted considerable interest in land reform debates, limited attention has been paid to agrarian labour exchange and livelihoods based on belonging to communal areas of origin under the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). Using a qualitative case study from Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe, I argue that belonging plays an important role in labour exchange and enabling livelihoods. This article illustrates that labour exchange in farm households still matter despite changes in land distribution and the economy. The article concludes that belonging-based labour exchange enhances agricultural production and livelihoods in a new land ownership and economic circumstances.
  • Book Review: by Himpan, Brigitte, and Diane Himpan-Sabatier

    Carmen de Jong (SAGE Publishing, 2023-08-01)
  • Book Review: by Naidoo, Shanthini

    Anirban Banerjee (SAGE Publishing, 2023-08-01)
  • Women's Descriptive Representation in Burundi: The Mixed Effects of Gender Quotas

    Réginas Ndayiragije; Stef Vandeginste; Petra Meier (SAGE Publishing, 2023-08-01)
    Building on original data collected for the period between 2001 and 2020, this article contributes to the research on the effectiveness of gender quotas. It does so, first, by looking into the salience of ministerial portfolios allocated to women, and, secondly, by examining the spillover effect of the gender quotas in positions where they do not apply. We find that the implementation of gender quotas gradually resulted in women being assigned to high-salience ministerial portfolios. Also, gender quotas have produced mixed results in positions where they are not mandated. These findings can be explained mobilising a multi-perspectival argument that takes into account the history of gender quotas adoption in Burundi, the specific political context of their implementation, as well as an interpersonal resources perspective.
  • Community Awareness and Restitution of Isanzu Ancestors’ Human Remains from the University of Göttingen Collections to Mkalama District, Tanzania

    Maximilian Felix Chami; Alma Simba; Holger Stoecker (SAGE Publishing, 2023-08-01)
    This paper investigates the restitution of Tanzanian human remains from colonial contexts in the Anthropological Collection at the University of Göttingen, Germany. This collection contains 66 human remains from Tanzania whereby 22 of them are from the Isanzu ethnic group. This paper focuses on the Isanzu human remains from Mkalama District in Singida Region and examines the circumstances of acquisition and their historical background. This interdisciplinary research combines methodological approaches from critical historical provenance research and cultural anthropology to study the Isanzu remains. We include investigation of the Isanzu ethnic group's awareness, emotions, opinions, and concerns over the restitution of their Ancestors’ remains back to the community. This paper proposes a plan for best practices in restitution and urges that wisdom, agreement, and negotiation results of Isanzu stakeholders should be taken into account to bring the restitution process of Isanzu's Ancestors to fruition.
  • Gatekeeping Through Music: A Case of the Patriotic Front in Zambia

    James Musonda (SAGE Publishing, 2023-04-01)
    What can music used by politicians during campaigns tell us about their behaviour, character and their rule? The article responds to this question by analysing political songs used by Patriotic Front (PF) in Zambia, before winning the 2011 elections and the subsequent elections. This article argues that music can be an important unacknowledged tool for understanding the behaviour of political leaders, and in this case, their gatekeeping behaviour that aims at sustaining the ruling party in power by undermining the opposition.
  • The History of Dictatorship: Custom, Authority, and Power in Precolonial and Colonial Uganda

    Yahya Sseremba (SAGE Publishing, 2023-04-01)
    Intervening in the enduring debate on the origins of the African state, this article examines the processes of producing custom in the Ugandan societies of precolonial Bunyoro and colonial Toro to trace the development of despotism. The participatory nature of generating customary truth in Bunyoro before European domination reflects the diffusion of power in a manner that hindered absolute rule. On the contrary, in colonial Toro, the inclusive mechanisms for making custom gave way to customary law produced by the colonial government and its native chiefs. This monopoly to determine customary law disguised as custom constituted the heart of the despotism of Toro Native Authority. Derivatively, the Rwenzururu resistance against Toro domination equally assumed a despotic character because it organised itself along the logic of the authority it confronted. The study interrogates the resurgent literature that associates the contemporary African state with precolonial history.
  • Book Review: by Korieh, Chima J.

    Suleiman Yakubu (SAGE Publishing, 2023-04-01)
  • Aid and Governance: Impact of Chinese Aid on the Evaluation of Government Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa

    Philip A. Atitianti; Samuel K. Asiamah (SAGE Publishing, 2023-04-01)
    One of a government's primary responsibilities is to provide public goods and services for the benefit of citizens. A government that excels in such provision may therefore win favorable evaluations from its citizens. However, if external state and non-state actors through foreign aid issuance become providers of what citizens expect from their government, citizens may doubt their government's competence. In recent decades, China has become an important donor to Africa, providing the continent with several aid projects. Consequently, this study examines whether aid from China undermines citizens’ evaluations of government performance. Geocoded data on Chinese aid projects are matched to 4 waves of Afrobarometer survey respondents from 31 sub-Saharan African countries. Using an instrumental variable estimation, the findings indicate that Chinese aid undermines the evaluation of government performance. Testing for the mechanism through which this effect manifests, the results suggest Chinese aid engenders corruption perceptions and erodes trust.
  • From “Anglophone Problem” to “Anglophone Conflict” in Cameroon: Assessing Prospects for Peace

    Maurice Beseng; Gordon Crawford; Nancy Annan (SAGE Publishing, 2023-04-01)
    Since 2017, an armed conflict has been raging in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon between separatist forces and the Cameroonian military. This review analyses the historical origins and root causes of the conflict; the trigger mechanism of rising protests and state repression in 2016; the emergence and evolution of the armed conflict over the past 5 years; its impact on civilians; and hopes for peace. However, there is currently little prospect for conflict resolution as the Cameroon government appears intent on ignoring limited international pressure, maintaining the charade that the “security crisis” is over and reconstruction is underway, while continuing its counter-insurgency strategy to militarily defeat the armed separatist groups. We note that, while the desire for peace is profound, the political status quo is no longer tolerable nor acceptable, with conflict resolution dependent on political changes that provide, at a minimum, the Anglophone regions with greater autonomy and protection of their particular identity and institutions.
  • Amidst Clinical Dissonance: Offensive Agency as a Survival Strategy in Plural Southeastern Nigeria

    Chidi Ugwu (SAGE Publishing, 2023-04-01)
    From the colonial days, the dibia (folk practitioner) in the Igbo-speaking southeast of Nigeria, as elsewhere, has been maligned by hegemonic Christianity and biomedicine. The consequent public reluctance to openly pursue indigenous healing remains a core part of the challenges to patronage the dibia has had to navigate. Drawing empirical materials from the Igbo town of Nsukka, this ethnographic account narrates how the dibia not only resists these hegemonic forces but even instrumentalizes their allures to advance folk healing. This I term forward or offensive agency, as against inclined or defensive agency along which lines decolonial and postcolonial discourses have ordinarily framed patterns of local reaction in much of today's South. In offensive agency, a smokescreen of change is projected by the locale, indicating, to an external eye, that change has happened while the core of the epistemic sphere in question remains shielded behind that façade of cosmetic change.
  • Socio-political Turmoil in Mali: The Public Debate Following the Coup d’État on 22 March 2012 Sozio-politische Turbulenzen in Mali: Die öffentliche Debatte nach dem Staatsstreich vom 22. März 2012

    Sten Hagberg; Gabriella Körling (SAGE Publishing, 2012-01-01)
    During the night between 21 and 22 March 2012, a group of young military officers overthrew Mali’s president, Amadou Toumani Touré. The group justified the coup by citing the inability of the regime to both deal with the crisis in the North and provide the army with the appropriate material and manpower to defend the national territory. The coup plunged Mali into violence, and caused a de facto partition of the country. The socio-political turmoil pitting different political and armed factions against each other has continued unabated and has been accompanied by intense mass media debates. In this report we focus on the Malian public debate. By looking at the political class, the international community, and the partition of the country, we analyse representations and stereotypes prevailing in this debate. In der Nacht vom 21. zum 22. März 2012 wurde der Präsident Malis, Amadou Toumani Touré, durch eine Gruppe junger Offiziere gestürzt. Die Gruppe rechtfertigte den Putsch, indem sie auf die Unfähigkeit des Regimes verwies, die Krise im Norden zu bewältigen und die Armee personell und materiell angemessen auszustatten, um die Grenzen das Landes verteidigen zu können. Der Staatsstreich stürzte Mali in eine gewaltsame Auseinandersetzung und führte zu einer faktischen Teilung des Landes. Die sozio-politischen Turbulenzen, in denen verschiedene politische und bewaffnete Gruppierungen gegeneinander antraten, haben seither unvermindert angehalten und wurden von intensiven Debatten in den Massenmedien begleitet. Der vorliegende Bericht konzentriert sich auf die öffentliche Debatte in Mali. Vor dem Hintergrund der politischen Entwicklung des Landes, der Positionen der internationalen Gemeinschaft und der Ursachen für die Teilung des Landes stellen die Autoren die Darstellungsweisen und Stereotypen dar, die in dieser Debatte Verwendung finden.
  • Review: Kjetil Tronvoll, Daniel R. Mekonnen, The African Garrison State: Human Rights and Political Development in Eritrea (2014) / Andebrhan Welde Giorgis, Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative of Triumph, Betrayal and Hope (2014)

    Salih O. Nur (SAGE Publishing, 2015-01-01)
    Review of: Kjetil Tronvoll and Daniel R. Mekonnen, The African Garrison State: Human Rights and Political Development in Eritrea, Rochester, NY: James Currey, 2014, ISBN-10: 1847010695, 223 pp.and Andebrhan Welde Giorgis, Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative of Triumph, Betrayal and Hope, Houston, TX: Strategic Book Publishing, 2014, ISBN-10: 1628573317, 692 pp.
  • Tactical Communication: Mutiny as a Dialogue in West and Central Africa

    Maggie Dwyer (SAGE Publishing, 2015-01-01)
    This article expands our understanding of the objectives of mutinies through an analysis of trends in tactics. It explores actions within mutinies through a review of 66 cases of mutiny from 1960 to 2012 in West and Central Africa. Despite wide variations in context among these mutinies, there are remarkable similarities in the tactics used by mutineers in the region and across time. These commonalities challenge the popular image of African mutinies as chaotic or devoid of strategy. The article demonstrates that the most common tactics used by mutineers in West and Central Africa all serve to open a dialogue with leadership and provide a platform for soldiers to vocalize their expectations in an environment that intentionally stifles the voices of the junior members. It suggests mutiny be viewed as an act of communication rather than merely a form of insubordination.
  • Catholic Missionary Work and “Political” Support: The Tokombéré Youth Centre Since 1974

    Baskouda S.K. Shelley (SAGE Publishing, 2022-12-01)
    This paper studies how the Tokombéré Youth Centre, a secular place attached to the Roman Catholic Church, has led to the political formation of young people in Tokombéré, northern Cameroon. This is a place of socialisation that grew from the missionaries’ work, and which has politically guided youth since 1974 through an awakening based on empowerment and self-reliance. The Centre, with its members structured within a “government,” has helped foster the values of citizenship through activities like Youth Weeks, Kirditude days, amateur journalistic writing in the newspaper Kudumbar , and film screenings. This substitution for the state has sometimes been a source of conflict, sometimes of co-existence.
  • Do Hegemonic-Party Regimes Reward or Punish Voters? A Tale of Distributive Politics in Tanzania

    Francisco M.P. Mugizi; Parestico Pastory (SAGE Publishing, 2022-12-01)
    Does resource allocation by the central government to local governments in Tanzania favour opposition or the ruling party's strongholds? The literature advances two opposing theories – electoral competition and hegemonic party hypotheses. We use unique data on fiscal transfers and human resource allocations to investigate the effect of electoral support on government allocations. Contrary to the two hypotheses, we find no political bias in fiscal resources transferred to local governments. Similarly, we find no strong evidence to suggest any political bias in human resource allocation. On the whole, neither does the evidence confirm nor conclusively disconfirm the two hypotheses. The findings imply that hegemonic-parties do not necessarily opt for a discriminative strategy in intergovernmental resource allocations even after facing a threatening opposition. Flexibility in autocratic menu and the path dependence of government's social policy are likely to explain this kind of hegemonic party's allocative behaviour.
  • Brewing Tensions: The Colonial Gaze of the German–Namibian Publishing Industry

    Tycho Alexander van der Hoog (SAGE Publishing, 2022-12-01)
    The call to decolonize African Studies has a profound influence on the field, with varying degrees of success. This article addresses this topic in relation to the author’s personal experiences in the publishing industry in Namibia. By describing the attempt to publish a historical book about Namibian beer with a well-known German–Namibian publishing house, the lingering power of German–Namibian settler colonialism becomes clear. This article renders visible the power structures within the Namibian book market that perpetuates a whitewashed version of Namibian history and argues that decolonizing knowledge cannot succeed without paying attention to the (private) publishing industry.

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