From “A Farewell to Madiba”, a praise poem by Thabo Mbeki, delivered by him to the National Assembly, Cape Town, on 26 March 1999
You have walked along the road of the heroes and the heroines.
You have borne the pain of those who have known fear and learnt to conquer it.
You have marched [...]Continue Reading →
James Stavridis, Dean of the Fletcher School, interviews WPF executive Director, Alex de Waal. This is Dean Stavridis’ first year with The Fletcher School. He is a retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, who preivously led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander. The interview is [...]Continue Reading →
My main argument is that the Somali state, along with a number of other countries in Africa and the greater Middle East, underwent a profound structural transformation in the 1980s, and that we have been living with the under-recognized consequences ever since. At the time, this change had two particularly striking features. One was economic crisis, which meant that—in the words of Bob Bates—meant that “things fell apart.” The levels of finance available to governments meant that they simply could not sustain the basic functions of government, let alone build institutional states. The second was the beginning of the end of the Cold War, which meant that—as David Laitin observed—that the coup maker could not count on automatic security backing from one or other superpower. Common to both of these changes was a sharp reduction in the discretionary budgets that rulers used to pay their armies and security services and to pay off intermediate elites. I suggest that this (unmeasured) collapse in the “political budget” (the term is Sudanese political vernacular) was the cause of state crisis in many African countries, of which Somalia was an extreme and illuminating case.Continue Reading →
In the ten days following September 23, Sudanese cities witnessed the largest anti-government protests in many years. Many of the protesters aimed to bring down the government; others sought a reversal of its recent decision to reduce fuel subsidies. The police and security services responded with lethal force, and according to Amnesty International, killed more [...]Continue Reading →
In this presentation I trace the genealogy of the practice of activism on civil and political rights, first of all in western nation-states, and then in [...]Continue Reading →
A former prime minister of Somalia, Abdiweli Ali, tells a story that demonstrates the pervasive influence of al-Shabab, even in areas ostensibly controlled by the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Al-Shabab collects taxes – reportedly as much as the government, and certainly more efficiently. This includes a payroll [...]Continue Reading →
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