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Emerging Perspectives on ‘African Development’

Speaking Differently


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 7. Regional Integration, a Prospect for Development



Development in the context of African society is a contested concept. Most development organizations and donor communities in the Western world believe that African society needs development projects devised outside of Africa. To this end, Indigenous Africanist scholars such as Dei (1993) despondently note that “the impulse of development in Africa is informed by Western hegemonic understandings of what developing societies lack and what they are expected to do or become” (p. 98). In a similar tone, Tucker (1999, p. 3) argued that this model of “development was conceived as economic growth, industrial development and the establishment of complementary social and political institutions designed on the model of the United States. Other cultural formations were viewed primarily as forms of resistance to modernization which had to be overcome.” The linear development approach accounts for the failure of most development projects aimed at alleviating African societies from real or perceived poverty. The argument in this chapter is that African societies need a reconstructed development agenda with Africans as its key architects. Such a development paradigm must take into consideration the lived experiences of the local population.

As noted in Dei (1993) and Tucker (1999), the defects of development paradigms coined outside of Africa and imposed on Africa as an engine for socio-economic and ← 128 | 129 → political progress are excavated. Development paradigms alien to Africa, which do not value African diversity, have for decades offered deceptive optimism not only for Africa but also for other...

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