The Association of African Historians in January 2011 granted the Historical Society of Nigeria rights to host the 5th Congress of the Association in Nigeria. Founded in 1971, the Association of African Historians brings all historians of African origin under one umbrella. Every three years, it holds a Congress that discusses themes that are of importance to historians of the continent. The 4th Congress was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nigeria is to host the 2012 edition scheduled to hold in Abuja from 10 – 14 November 2013.
Theme and Rationale for the Fifth Congress
The theme for the Fifth Congress is Historicizing 50 Years of African Independence. Since 2007, African states, with only a few exceptions, have celebrated their fiftieth anniversary of attaining independence. As Historians, and at a continental level, it is imperative to dimension the nature and character of 50 years of independence, reflect on paths taken, mistakes made, lessons learnt and debate plans for the future that have been charted.
By the 1960s a sweeping song of victory had resonated across much of Africa. From Libya who won its independence in 1951 to Equatorial Guinea’s freedom in 1968, 39 countries had broken free of the colonial chains. In 1960 alone 16 nations including Nigeria got independence. In the aftermath, old ties were broken down, renegotiated and hybrids created; cultures were reconfigured reflecting new social realities; and new forms of territoriality with attendant sense of identity emerged. In the lopsided road so far travelled, hopes have been dashed but victories also won. The emergent new forces in postcolonial Africa have struggled to re-appropriate the African’s identity tottering under the weight of bad governance, corruption, economic inequality and dependence on foreign aid. Data culled from World Bank in 2008 attest to this heavy dependence on foreign aid – it constituted almost a third of government spending in Mali, Cameroun and Burkina Faso. Such daunting prospects propel doubts about independence won!
The nationalist project that had promised independence, development, and African unity hit a dead end at the end of the seventies, having led to structural adjustment programmes and sometimes, even, thinly disguised arguments for a re-colonised Africa that would fall prey to all the ‘demons of self-destruction’. Such mutations in the social, economic and political fabric have created a critical space of resistance opening up the way for renegotiating rules of existence in public spaces, and eliciting a need for a revaluation of Africa. The result was a highlighting of the cracks and malaise of Africa. Obviously the balance sheet of Africa is less than promising, yet all hope is not lost, not all battles fought were lost.
The fiftieth anniversary period presents a good platform for introspection, to learn from past mistakes and build lines of convergence for the reconstruction of a new Africa, one that can proactively compete in a global world. It is in this regard that the Historical Society of Nigeria will be hosting the 5th Congress of the AAH. The scientific community, individuals and collective actors in public and private life in Africa are invited to deliberate within a historical perspective on Africa’s positioning in global affairs, challenges encountered and strides made. After half a century of freedom, where does Africa stand?
• To historicize the fact of 50 years of Independence in Africa and provide an intellectual forum that will stimulate creative and critical analysis of this fact and the major issues affecting the African continent and proffer likely solutions.
• To discuss and chart alternative and innovative ways of harnessing the positive socio-economic, cultural and human resources of the continent that would speak to the reality of the African society.
• To facilitate a cross-cultural interaction of African scholars and the diaspora with the aim of fostering fruitful collaborative ventures that would contribute to the development of Africa.
• To re-integrate history as a useful tool in charting the way forward for Africa.
The following sub-themes will be interrogated:
Theoretical foundations: An analysis of the writings of leaders of the African independence movement.
Debating the nationalist movement: Who wins?
Post-colonial cultures: Literature, sports, cinema, music.
Micro-nationalism vs Panafricanism: Border issues, from the OAU to the AU what future in a globalised world?
Single party, military coups, multipartyism: Ruses of political modernism.
Economics: The impossible rupture.
Independent Africa in global geopolitics: Relations with former colonial powers, the cold war and non-alignment.
Space for dissent: Trades unions, youth (student) movements.
African women in the politics and economics of Africa.
Research in Africa: Situational analysis and future prospects.
Tomorrow’s Africa: Towards a new utopia.
Please submit an abstract of approximately 300 words to www.africanhistorian.org. Please include the following: Title of paper, full name, current position, institutional affiliation, email address, telephone number and five key words.
Abstracts deadline is 30th June, 2013.
Full papers (approximated 8,000 words) should be received by 30 July, 2013.
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