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Emerging Perspectives on ‘African Development’

Speaking Differently

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Edited By George J. Sefa Dei and Paul Banahene Adjei

Emerging Perspectives on ‘African Development’: Speaking Differently discusses numerous areas of interest and issues about Africa, including contemporary challenges and possibilities of development. The book critically engages the many ways of presenting ‘development,’ highlighting the interplay of tradition and modernity as well as contestations over knowledge production in ‘post-colonial’ Africa. It offers cautionary words to field practitioners, researchers, and social theorists who work in development using language that is easily accessible to laypersons. This book is also for undergraduate and graduate courses on development, global education, rural development, and Africa studies. For readers looking for something new about Africa beyond the old stories of catastrophes and human misery, this book will be indispensable. It demonstrates that even in the face of many failures, tragedies, and suffering, Africa’s stories can be told with hope and a sense of possibility.
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Chapter 1. Democracy, Good Governance, and Education: Rethinking African Possibilities

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GEORGE J. SEFA DEI

Discussing governance and democracy in Africa today can be considered a very interesting and a timely conversation, not only for Africa but also for the rest of the world. This could be partly attributed to the fact that ‘multi-party democracy,’ which continues to masquerade as the ultimate definition of democracy, has failed to provide the citizenry the promises of democracy. There is an old adage that says, “When one is at the edge of a cliff, sometimes progress is stepping backward”; I want my readers to think seriously about this adage as they read further. But first let me offer a few personal and academic reflections to contextualize this discussion.

I recall coming to Canada for the first time in 1979 for my postgraduate study. About two days after my arrival a televised news flash announced that an elected government was in danger of losing power over a ‘no-confidence vote’ in Parliament. This decision was fueled largely by the public outcry over the inability of the government to deliver on its promise to fight inflation. As a student who had grown up participating in demonstrations against ‘bad’ government policies in my country of birth, Ghana, I found this exciting. My astonishment was just how easy and simple the whole process looked in Canada, at least from the outside. I remember stamping my foot and saying there must be consequences for the abuse and the mistrust of ‘people’s power.’ Recent events on...

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