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Undergraduate Courses

African Political Thought (AXL2202F)

Convenors: Associate Professor: H. Chitonge and Ms. Z. Msomi
This is a second-year undergraduate core course for a new African Studies major.

Course Description
This course explores African political systems and thought, from precolonial Africa through to postcolonial political systems. In so-doing, the course examines the forms of African political thought that emerged across three periods: the pre-colonial; the era of colonisation and political forms of resistance against it; and the postcolonial/neo-colonial period.

The course starts with an exploration of political formations and systems in precolonial Africa as an entry into the thoughts behind the systems. The first section of the course demonstrates that there were well-established political systems in various parts of Africa before the advent of colonialism, contrary to claims that politics and history in Africa are a product of the colonial period. In order to understand how the introduction of colonial rule affected African political thought and institutions, the course also examines the forms of political organisation and institutions introduced during colonialism in Africa.

From here, it moves to the forms of political resistance to colonial rule that emerged within Africa, and examines some of the alternative political forms put forward by movements such as pan- Africanism, and various nationalists. In so doing, we demonstrate that colonialism was not an all- encompassing system, and that African agency and forms of African political thinking were able to continue. We also demonstrate that African political thought is not a single homogenous system, but instead encompasses multiple forms. Finally, the course looks at postcolonial political thought and institutions, demonstrating the tensions that emerge within local-global nexuses of power. The course ends with current critiques of postcolonial governance, which argue that, in many important ways, decolonisation of our political systems has not yet occurred. This is a paperless course. Ensure that you check VULA announcements and refer regularly to your emails. All readings and assignments will be uploaded onto VULA. Your student card will be loaded with Rx.

Download the draft course outline in PDF format