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<nettime> Two lectures on African development
Keith Hart on Sat, 16 Jun 2007 15:40:33 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Two lectures on African development

Paul's post about Venice reminded me that I have been writing about 
African culture too. For some years now I have been planning a book 
called The African Revolution. Its proposed table of contents goes:


*Part I The idea of Africa*


      Africa today: 'through a glass, darkly'


      Africa on my mind


      Africa in world history

*Part II The engines of inequality*


      Waiting for emancipation: slavery, colonialism, apartheid


      The intellectuals of the anti-colonial revolution


      'Development': the post-colonial counter-revolution

*Part III What happened in the twentieth century*


      Africa's urban revolution


      'The informal economy': the rise of the market


      The explosion of the modern arts

*Part IV Africa's (neo-)liberal revolution?*


      Moral politics and the religious revival


      The new diaspora in the information age


      A second imperialism or emancipation at last?

 From time to time, I perform the script in public. But recently, on the 
invitation of Eric Worby, I gave two lectures at WISER, Witwatersrand 
University, Johannesburg. Doubling the length exposed the holes in the 
argument more than before. But I now feel that I have to write the book. 
So I post the pair on nettime in case anyone can be bothered to suggest 
remedies. Or for your reading pleasure on a quiet summer afternoon. I 
include a table of contents so that you can skip.



*Lecture 1: African development in the twentieth century*

1. 'Africa' and the question of 'development'

2. Africa's traditional societies and agrarian civilization

3. Africa's urban revolution in the twentieth century

4. A note on the North and South African exceptions

5. Urban commerce and the informal economy

*Lecture 2: African development in the twenty-first century*

1. The story so far

2. An African liberal revolution?

3. The cultural sources for a liberal revolution

4. Classes for and against the liberal revolution

5. Africa must unite

1. African development in the twentieth century

'/Africa//' and the question of 'development' /

In these two lectures, I consider Africa's development prospects in the 
coming half-century, viewed in the light of the century that has just 
passed. The future is unknowable of course, but whatever happens next 
must build on social conditions created by recent developments, as well 
as on longer-term continuities. Africa has seen extraordinary urban 
growth in the twentieth century and this, rather than the conventional 
view of the continent as an exporter of raw materials, should form the 
basis for thinking about development in future. This means exploring 
ways of linking present forms of urban commerce to the world economy, as 
well as to national and regional markets. Indigenous commerce has so far 
been approached mainly in terms of the 'informal economy'. Currently 
70-90 percent of African national economies are estimated to be 
'informal'; so the social forms that organize the informal economy and 
mobilize its resources must surely play a significant part in whatever 
happens next.

What prospects do neo-liberal markets hold for Africa as a whole? 
Africa's experience in the twentieth century is often represented as a 
failure to 'develop'. I accept that economic and political trends in 
post-colonial Africa have often been dire; but I do not agree that this 
situation is terminal. Indeed in my second lecture I explore the 
possible conditions for an African liberal revolution, an economic 
turnaround rapid enough to merit comparison with Europe and America at 
an earlier stage or with parts of Asia today. 'Afro-optimism' of this 
sort at least goes beyond the negative or palliative limits of much 
development thinking today. But I must first clarify what I mean by 
'Africa' and 'development', before looking back over the twentieth 
century for the rest of this lecture.

'Africa' refers to either a continent -- from the Cape to Cairo -- or to a 
race. The two are sometimes combined as 'the land of the blacks', but 
this land is hard to pin down. North Africa has been an integral part of 
circum-Mediterranean civilization from the beginning and Southern Africa 
was dominated by white settlers in modern history. The regions in 
between ? West, Central and East Africa ? historically had strong 
external links, but most were made subject to colonial empire only from 
the 1880s onwards and achieved their independence by the 1960s. The 
brevity of this European occupation makes it bizarre to periodize 
continental history as pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial; but 
then Africans were not principally responsible for this division. The 
middle belt of African countries is sometimes called 'Sub-Saharan 
Africa' or just 'Black Africa'; but it is not obvious what they have in 
common or indeed where they are. The huge country of Sudan was always 
part of Egyptian history; the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia avoided being 
colonized; Liberia had a black colonial elite. So it would not be hard 
to claim that the umbrella term 'Africa' is untenable. Yet it persists 
and, I shall argue, should be an integral part of any development 
strategy for the region. The world is turning, in response to 
globalization, to regional trading blocs like the EU, NAFTA, ASEAN and 
Mercosur; and Africa can't afford to miss out on this trend.

There is already some precedent for viewing Africa as a unity. The 
African Union, NEPAD and other continental institutions, whatever their 
limitations, do exist after all. World maps show Africa as a seventh of 
the earth's total land mass separated from Europe and the Middle East by 
the Mediterranean and Red Seas and two narrows. The first half of the 
twentieth century gave rise to empire's antithesis, 'Pan-Africanism', 
probably the most inclusive political movement of its time. It was a 
species of nationalism uniting Africans who aimed to recover control of 
their own land with New World descendants of African slaves who were 
still subjected to racial exclusion there. Getting the British, French, 
Belgians and Portuguese out of Africa seemed to be of one piece with 
fighting the systematic racial discrimination on which Atlantic and 
world society were then founded. The idea of Africa as the home of a 
people stigmatized by colour and occupying the lowest stratum of a 
racialized global order remains a tremendous obstacle to the full 
participation of black people in world society as equals. The continuing 
failure of African countries to 'develop' underwrites such prejudice. It 
would therefore constitute a major upheaval in world society, if this 
presumption of Africa's eternal economic backwardness were to be 
dramatically refuted.

The apartheid principle of separating rich and poor spatially is to be 
found everywhere in local systems of discrimination, more or less 
blatant. But the Caribbean Nobel-prizewinning economist, Sir Arthur 
Lewis in /The Evolution of the International Economic Order/ (1978) 
makes a plausible case that twentieth-century world society as a whole 
was constructed along racial lines at a particular historical 
conjuncture. In the decades leading up to the First World War, fifty 
million Europeans left home for temperate lands of new settlement; the 
same number of Indians and Chinese ('coolies') were shipped to the 
colonies as indentured labourers. These two streams of migrants had to 
be kept apart since, although their work and skill-level was often 
similar, whites were paid on average nine shillings a day, while Asians 
received one shilling a day. In those areas where Asian workers were 
allowed to settle, the price of local wage-labour was driven down to 
their level. Western imperialism's division of the world at this time 
into countries of dear and cheap labour had profound consequences for 
their subsequent economic development. Demand in high-wage economies is 
stronger than in their low-wage counterparts. World trade has been 
organized ever since in the interests of the better-paid, with tax-rich 
states subsidizing their farmers to dump cheap food overseas at the 
expense of local agricultural development, while preventing the poorer 
countries' manufactures from undermining the wages of industrial workers 
at home. South Africa and the United States each encouraged heavy 
immigration of working-class Europeans while seeking to retain a reserve 
of poorly-paid black and Asian labour. The resulting dualism is 
inscribed on their shared history of racist urbanization.

So, the idea of 'Africa' may be most suitably conceived of as a 
continental territory ? Africans, Arabs and Europeans alike -- embarked 
on the great march towards economic and political union. But the legacy 
of imperialism means that race and development are still linked in 
symbolic and practical terms; and dreams of African emancipation have 
global, not just regional implications. The long human conversation 
about a better society has come to be identified with the term 
'development'. What does it mean? In essence, that society is moving, 
rather than being fixed. In this sense, 'development' is similar to its 
Victorian counterpart, 'evolution'. But I prefer to think of 
'development' as a stage of contemporary history defining political 
relations between rich and poor countries, like its predecessor 
'colonialism', and lasting for much of the previous half-century.

This period had two distinct phases which we may identify loosely by the 
terms 'social democracy' and 'neo-liberalism'. The first, roughly 
1945-1975 (/'les trente glorieuses'/), saw an economic boom fed by 
public expenditures in the leading industrial nations. The idea that the 
rich could materially assist poor countries to narrow the economic gap 
between them was taken seriously at this time, even if the recipes for 
'development' now look naïve. After the oil price shocks of the 1970s 
and economic problems such as 'stagflation', a 'free market' era was 
inaugurated by Reagan and Thatcher and, with some modifications, 
persists today. This period has seen a widening gap between rich and 
poor countries, especially between Africa and everyone else, fuelled by 
massive extraction of debt interest and the undermining of weak states 
in the name of 'structural adjustment'. The world economy has been 
depressed ever since the 70s; currently China alone accounts for almost 
half of global economic growth in any year and most of the rest comes 
from credit expansion in the USA. In these circumstances, 'development' 
as a description of the partnership between rich and poor countries has 
become a sham and indeed most 'development' activities consist of 
putting sticking plaster on the wounds inflicted by an unfettered 

/Africa//'s traditional societies and agrarian civilization/

If African 'development' is ever to break out of the unhappy pattern 
established in the last half-century, its engine will have to be 
sustained endogenous economic growth. Our task is to analyze why 
independence did not confer the conditions for such growth and how the 
conditions established then might, with the benefit of new development 
strategies, feed an economic revolution now. But, in order to understand 
Africa's twentieth-century experience ? the extraordinary compression of 
contradictory social developments within a short period -- we must first 
take a long view of the region's divergence from the general historical 
trajectory of the Eurasian land mass.

My teacher, Jack Goody has written a series of books seeking to explain 
how and why African societies south of the Sahara diverged before the 
modern period from their counterparts in Europe and Asia ('Eurasia'). He 
concluded that all the agrarian civilizations of Eurasia shared a common 
origin in the 'urban revolution' of Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. This 
pattern also extended to Egypt and the African littoral of the 
Mediterranean millennia ago. By the 11^th century, Cairo was the hub of 
a mercantile civilization stretching from Spain to India. The rise of 
cities was accompanied by the formation of states whose function was to 
supervise a new kind of class society, where a narrowly-based urban 
elite extracted agricultural surpluses from an increasingly servile 
rural labour force. Goody showed how forms of kinship and marriage 
reflected property relations that were themselves made possible by more 
intensive technologies, such as the plough and irrigation. Sub-Saharan 
Africa, he held, had largely missed out on this urban revolution along 
with its agricultural technology, higher population density and unequal 
property relations. This accounts for why traditional African forms of 
kinship and marriage are so different and their societies were, 
relatively speaking, classless.

The contrast between egalitarian societies built on kinship and unequal 
societies based on state power and class division goes back to L. H. 
Morgan's /Ancient Society/ (1877) and before him to Rousseau in the 
/Discourse on Inequality/ (1754). Clearly it cannot be applied 
unambiguously to Africa and Eurasia before the modern age, even if we 
try to isolate Black Africa from its Northern and Southern extremities. 
The Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades generated coastal enclaves in 
both West and East Africa. The medieval civilization of the West African 
Sahel was a significant part of the Islamic world: when the King of Mali 
went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in the 13^th century, he spent so much 
gold in Egypt as to cause runaway inflation there for three decades. Of 
the Yoruba agro-cities that emerged as a result of nineteenth-century 
warfare, Ibadan's population had reached 200,000 by the onset of 
colonial rule. These examples of pre-colonial urbanization were rightly 
emphasized when the anti-colonial revolution delivered independence to 
most African countries in the second half of the twentieth century.

Even so, if the contrast were presented as a statistical trend rather 
than as a categorical fact, it must be admitted that large swathes of 
middle Africa entered the modern epoch with a minimal urban population 
and that the dominant institutions of their societies owed a lot more to 
kinship than to class differences. Indigenous states were commonplace in 
the early modern period, many of them emerging in response to the 
political, economic and demographic upheavals provoked by European 
imperial expansion. But, in a dozen volumes ranging from productive 
technologies, property forms and the means of communication to cooking, 
decoration and myth, Goody documents in substantial detail how most 
African societies south of the Sahara diverged from the pattern of 
agrarian civilization typical of all the major regions of pre-industrial 
Eurasia. This institutional package included territorial states, 
embattled cities, landed property, warfare, racism, bureaucratic 
administration, literacy, impersonal money, long-distance trade, work as 
a virtue, world religion and the nuclear family; and its grip on modern 
world society is still strong.

Of course, if traditional African societies appeared to be more equal 
than their European counterparts, it does not mean that inequality was 
wholly absent there. Friedrich Engels, in /The Origins of the Family, 
Private Property and State/ (1884), where he drew heavily on Morgan's 
work, made much of the progressive subordination of women, first in 
tribal societies based on agriculture and pastoralism, later in 
pre-industrial states and finally in capitalist societies. A body of 
Marxist and feminist scholarship in the 1960s and 70s extended this 
analysis to the conflict between African males of different age, with 
polygamous elders commanding young men's labour through control of 
access to marriageable women and the latter condemned to doing most of 
the work without effective political representation. Gender and 
generation differences accordingly take on huge salience in African 
societies. I have gone into this issue at some length since it is 
central to grasping Africa's twentieth-century experience.

/Africa//'s urban revolution in the twentieth century/

If Africa is normally judged these days in terms of what /did not/ 
happen in the twentieth century ('development'), what actually /did/ 
happen? In 1900, Africa was the least densely populated region in the 
world with the smallest proportion of its inhabitants living in cities 
(probably around 2%, near the world average for the beginning of the 
modern era around 1800). By 2000, a sustained population explosion means 
that the continent now has a share of world population equal to its 
share of land area and up to a half of its inhabitants live in cities 
(also near the world average). Since Africa's population (currently a 
bit less than either India's or China's) is still growing much faster 
than other regions at 2.5% per annum, so too is its relative size in the 
world, if not yet its purchasing power in the world economy (which is 
around 2%). A simple Keynesian logic suggests that, if Africans became 
more prosperous, everyone else would benefit from the increased demand. 
Certainly the Asian exporters of manufactures are keenly aware of the 
potential of Africans' market share. But the Americans and the Europeans 
who still control global economic institutions have not yet demonstrated 
any awareness of this possibility.

Instead of harping on Africa's failure to develop, it might be more 
fruitful to focus on what positively occurred in the twentieth century. 
In short, Africa experienced its own version of the urban revolution 
that it had largely avoided before. This means not just that cities 
proliferated on an unprecedented scale, but that the whole package of 
pre-industrial class society was installed there more or less for the 
first time: states, new urban elites, intensification of agriculture and 
a political economy based on the extraction of rural surpluses. Africa 
made the transition to agrarian civilization after Europe and America 
had moved on to industrial capitalism in the nineteenth century and 
while the Asians followed suit in the next. The relative success of 
Asians in translating their political independence into effective 
economic competition with the West has significant consequences for 
Africa's prospects now. In the meantime, any strategy for African 
development in the coming decades must build on the social conditions 
resulting from the construction of nominally independent nation-states 
on an economic foundation of pre-industrial agriculture.

The anti-colonial revolution, beginning in Asia after the war and 
continuing in Africa, unleashed extravagant hopes for the transformation 
of an unequal world. These hopes have not yet been realized for most 
Africans who are still waiting for political forms that will guarantee 
their full participation as equals in world society. By most accounts 
African economies have not fared well since independence. But what was 
the model of development they were expected to adopt? I call it 
'national capitalism', the attempt to manage markets and money through 
central bureaucracies organized by the nation-state. Development in this 
sense never had a chance to take root in Africa. For the first half of 
the twentieth century, African peoples were shackled by colonial empire 
and in the second half, after they achieved independence, their new 
nations struggled to keep afloat in a world economy organized by and for 
the major powers, then engaged in the Cold War.

When Kwame Nkrumah was leading Ghana to independence, he used to declaim 
'Seek ye first the political kingdom.' The idea was that merely changing 
ownership of the state would be sufficient to deliver economic 
development to African peoples, regardless of conditions in the world at 
large. Frantz Fanon took a different view. In /The Wretched of the Earth 
/(first published in French in 1959), written from the depths of 
Algeria's own anti-colonial struggle, he spoke prophetically of the 
'pitfalls of national consciousness' which would undermine Africa's 
post-colonial states and especially of the weakness of the new middle 
class who led them:

"From the beginning the national bourgeoisie directs its efforts towards 
(economic) activities of the intermediary type. The basis of its 
strength is found in its aptitude for trade and small business 
enterprises, and for securing commissions. It is not its money that 
works, but its business acumen. It does not go in for investments and it 
cannot achieve that accumulation of capital necessary to the birth and 
blossoming of an authentic bourgeoisie."

In other words, Africa's new leaders thought they were generating modern 
economies, with ambitions for public expenditure to match, but in 
reality they were erecting fragile states whose economic base was the 
same backward agriculture as before.
As Fanon predicted, this weakness led them inexorably to exchange the 
democratic legitimacy generated in the independence struggle for 
dependence on foreign powers later. These ruling elites first relied on 
revenues from agricultural exports, then on loans contracted under 
dubious circumstances, finally on the financial monopoly that came from 
being licensed to supervise their country's relations with global 
capitalism. But this bonanza was switched off in the 1980s, when foreign 
capital felt that it could dispense with the mediation of local state 
powers and concentrated on collecting debts from them. Many governments 
were made bankrupt and some simply collapsed into civil war.

It is hardly surprising under these circumstances that hopes for African 
democracy soon flew out of the window, to be replaced by a norm of 
dictatorship, whether civil or military. Concentration of political 
power at the centre led to primate urbanization, as economic demand 
became synonymous with the expenditures of a presidential kleptocracy. 
Political scientists have long written of the patrimonial norm for 
African states without pushing the analysis far or deep enough. The 
growth of cities should normally lead to an expanded level of 
rural-urban exchange, as farmers supply food to city-dwellers and in 
turn buy the latter's manufactures and services with the proceeds of 
their sales. But this progressive division of labour was stifled at 
birth in post-colonial Africa by the dumping of cheap subsidized food 
from North America and Europe and of cheap manufactures from Asia. For 
'structural adjustment' meant that African national economies had no 
protection from the strong winds of world trade. The result was that a 
peasantry subjected to political extraction and violence at home had no 
option other than to migrate to the main cities and abroad or to 
stagnate. Somehow the cities survived on the basis of markets that 
emerged spontaneously to recycle the money concentrated at the top and 
to meet the population's needs for food, shelter, clothing, transport 
and the rest. It is to these markets, often referred to as 'the informal 
economy', that we must turn if we wish to understand the economic 
potential of Africa's urban revolution.

/A note on the North and South African exceptions/

 From the above, it should be clear why generalizations about middle 
Africa need to be qualified when considering the continent's northern 
and southern extremes. North Africa did not wait until the last century 
to develop agrarian civilization. It was in on the process almost from 
the beginning. If countries from Morocco to Egypt bear some resemblance 
to the ideal portrait I have painted of post-colonial Africa, it is 
because they too have failed to move beyond a pre-industrial level to 
anything resembling national capitalism and they too have been subject 
to a western imperialism not unlike what afflicted Africa south of the 
Sahara. In this respect there has been a convergence between the regions 
of late. The lands of white settlement of the South tell a wholly 
different story. South Africa, in particular, stands out as the only 
African country where national capitalism took root. This has immense 
consequences for its current and prospective relationship to the rest of 
the continent, as we will see in my next lecture.

Writing of Johannesburg in 1900, J. A. Hobson, the author of a famous 
treatise on imperialism, described the men who headed the mining 
companies there as follows:

"Never have I been so struck with the intellect and the audacious 
enterprise and foresight of great businessmen as here. Nor are these 
qualities confined to the Beits and Barnatos and other great 
capitalists; the town bristles and throbs with industrial and commercial 
energy. The utter dependence upon financial 'booms' and 'slumps' [and 
the political situation]?has bred by selection and by education a type 
of man and of society which is as different from that of Manchester as 
the latter is from the life of Hankow or Buenos Ayres." /The War in 
//South Africa/ (1900)

Despite the involvement of international finance, technology and skilled 
labour in the Rand's early years, the large mining-finance conglomerates 
grew to become increasingly South African in the twentieth century, 
while their contribution to output, employment, exports and state 
revenue was crucial to the modernisation and growth of the country's 
economy. When the Afrikaners declared their own independence from 
colonial empire in 1948, South Africa embarked on its own distinctive 
course of national capitalism. The contribution of the mining and energy 
sector to the economy has declined in the post-apartheid era, while the 
big houses have moved offshore and restructured themselves in 
significant ways; but their power and influence endures. Agrarian 
civilization has played a negligible part in South Africa's modern 
history; and that too is something we need to keep in mind when 
contemplating Africa's future.

/Urban commerce and the informal economy/

'Form' is /the rule/, an idea of what ought to be universal in social 
life; and for most of the twentieth century the dominant forms were 
those of bureaucracy, particularly national bureaucracy, since society 
was identified to a large extent with nation-states. The idea of an 
'informal economy' is entailed in the institutional effort to organize 
society along formal lines. Until the 1970s it was agreed that only the 
state could effectively promote and manage development. The flood of 
migrants into African cities after independence provoked alarmist 
reports of mass unemployment there. Where were all the jobs going to 
come from? Policy-makers at both national and international levels were 
anxious to head off urban riots and worse. In a paper presented to a 
1971 conference, based on fieldwork in the slums of Ghana's capital 
city, Accra, I argued that the urban poor were not 'unemployed'. They 
were working, although often for low and erratic returns. 'Informal' 
incomes, unregulated by law and invisible to bureaucracy, were a 
significant part of urban economies that had grown up largely without 
official knowledge or control.

In the 1970s, the informal sector was often promoted as a source of 
employment creation capable of lifting a poor economy by the bootstraps. 
It was still assumed that this was primarily the state's responsibility. 
Things changed in the 1980s, with the arrival of neo-liberal regimes in 
the USA, Britain and elsewhere. The World Bank and IMF embarked on a 
radical program of 'structural adjustment' whose chief effect was to 
open up poor countries to international capital flows and to scale down 
public expenditures there. Now the engine of development was 'the 
market' and the informal economy was encouraged as one of its 
instruments. If governments lacked the funds to provide public services 
on the scale to which people were accustomed, the latter would have to 
supply their own needs for health, education, transport and utilities 
informally. These services would be paid for directly and thus 
constituted a major boost for the free market -- free because largely 
unregulated. Neo-liberal policies since then have fostered massive 
growth in the 'informal' portion of global and national economies, by 
reducing state controls and promoting the gigantic money flows known 
simply as 'the markets'. The informal sector is now thought to account 
for 70-90% of the economy in most African countries. War-zone economies 
such as the Eastern Congo are almost wholly informal. There is a gender 
component to the informal economy too, in that men have a 
disproportionate share of formal positions and women's work is 
predominantly informal.

The label 'informal' may be popular because it is both positive and 
negative. To act informally is to be free and flexible; but it also 
refers to what people are not doing ? not being regulated by the state. 
The 'informal economy' allows academics and bureaucrats to incorporate 
the teeming street life of Africa's cities into their abstract models 
without having to know what people are really up to. For two centuries 
now we have been living through humanity's rapid disengagement from the 
soil as the chief object of labour and matrix of social life. The hectic 
growth of cities could not be organized immediately as ruling elites 
would like. The informal economy is one way of pointing to how people 
devised their own means of survival and sometimes of prosperity in the 
urban markets that spring up to meet their needs.

What the concept can't do is show us the social forms through which 
African urban economies are actually organized. In my next lecture I 
will consider some of these. They include religious and criminal 
institutions, for example. Rather than emphasize the absence of 
bureaucracy, I would now draw attention to the growth of urban commerce, 
of markets in all their various guises. This shifts the burden of 
analysis, of course, from the formal/informal pair to the relationship 
between markets and capitalism in the neo-liberal era. I have argued 
that African markets have hitherto been concentrated in major cities 
largely as a result of political concentration of surpluses produced by 
predominantly agrarian economies. The undoubted commercial energies of 
African peoples have of late been stifled and locked up in a political 
economy of a type labelled 'the urban revolution' or 'agrarian 
civilization'. Another name for this would be the Old Regime, whose 
nemesis, as we all know, was the string of liberal revolutions that 
inaugurated the modern age in England, America, France and Italy between 
the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.

My question is whether the conditions brought about by the installation 
of an Old Regime in most of Africa during the latter half of the 
twentieth century might be the launch-pad for another liberal revolution 
there in the twenty-first. The only progressive antidote to this latest 
stage of collective unfreedom for Africans is a drive for genuine 
political emancipation underwritten by economic freedom of a more than 
rhetorical sort: a liberal revolution, in other words. It sounds 
counter-intuitive, I know. But I hope to persuade you at least to 
consider the possibility in my second lecture.

2. African development in the twenty-first century

"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall 
fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be 
knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in 
part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part 
shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood 
as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away 
childish things. For now we see /through a glass, darkly/; but then face 
to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am 
known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the 
greatest of these is charity."

1 Corinthians 13: 8-13 (King James version)

/The story so far/

Charity', in Christian theology, is love directed first toward God but 
also toward oneself and one's neighbours as objects of God's love, that 
is, love of humanity. St. Paul says here that most of the time we make 
do with knowing a little and guess the rest. In any case it's usually 
wrong. We don't understand ourselves and we project onto others an image 
of our own dark side. One day we will be able to recognize the humanity 
in everyone, when we meet each other face to face, instead of through 
the distortions of identity politics. Humanity is a collective noun, a 
moral quality and a historical project for our species. What will it 
take to succeed in this project? Belief, hope and love: clinging to what 
we hold dear. Last week I summed up Africa's experience of the twentieth 
century. Today I will consider its development prospects for the next 
half-century. What I have to say is not intended as prophecy, even less 
as Christian propaganda. But social science is limited when it comes to 
imagining possibility, never mind to realizing it. If the idea of 
'African development' is soon to take on the substance of rapid economic 
growth, we would be unwise to neglect the part to be played in that 
process by religion and the arts and indeed by love of humanity. As a 
boy ethnographer four decades ago, I spent two years in the slums of 
Accra. I was forced to meet people as they were, rather than through the 
cracked mirror of race, since I could not have survived alone otherwise. 
The book I hope to write from these lectures is my belated attempt to 
express what I learnt then and have been reflecting on ever since.

I argued last week that 'development' is best thought of as a name for 
the relationship between rich and poor countries after the collapse of 
European colonial empire in the second half of the twentieth century. In 
the post-war decades, when an economic boom was fed by social democracy, 
'development' constituted a serious, if often misguided attempt to 
narrow the gap between the two; but it has become a sham in the 
neo-liberal era of the last three decades, when extraction of debt 
interest has far exceeded aid contributions. Africa is principally 'the 
land of the blacks'. Every person of African descent, whatever their 
actual history and experience ? they could be Barack Obama, for example 
-- suffers the practical consequences of being stigmatized by colour in a 
world society that has been built on racial difference. The United 
States and South Africa stand out for their racist oppression of black 
people, whether under slavery, colonialism or apartheid. But many 
Africans do not share this extreme history. My original experience of 
Africa comes from research in West Africa, a populous region that 
suffered the predations of the slave trade for centuries, but never had 
to accommodate white settlers and endured colonialism for a relatively 
short period. 1 in 6 Africans is a Nigerian and it makes no sense at all 
to approach their history through the lens of colonial empire -- before, 
during and after.

As a continent, Africa is divided into three disparate regions -- North, 
South and Middle (West, Central and East Africa); but a measure of 
convergence between them is now taking place, raising the prospect of 
economic and political union, as once envisaged in Pan-Africanist 
ideology. I endorse the drive to bring Africa closer together as a 
geographical unit. Such a process must be fuelled by the collective 
aspiration of black people for their long-delayed emancipation, a matter 
of universal concern since the blight of racism affects us all, 'through 
a glass darkly'. Africa's relative poverty has increased in the last 
half-century, but, from being the most sparsely populated and least 
urbanized major region around 1900, Africa's seventh of the world's 
population now equals its share of the total land mass; and urbanization 
there is fast approaching the global average of around 50%. Our task is 
to understand this 'urban revolution' of unprecedented speed and scale; 
and specifically how the social conditions it has generated lay the 
groundwork for whatever lies ahead.

Drawing on the classical tradition of Rousseau, Morgan and Engels for an 
anthropology of unequal society, I distinguished between three types of 
social formation: egalitarian stateless societies based on kinship; 
agrarian civilizations in which urban elites control the mass of rural 
labour by means of the state and class division; and 'national 
capitalist' societies, where markets and money are regulated by central 
bureaucracies. Although Africa south of the Sahara has a more complex 
history than can be captured neatly by this typology, I followed Jack 
Goody in arguing that its dominant institutions before the modern period 
could best be understood in terms of the classless type based on kinship 
institutions. The second type, agrarian civilization covered most of 
Europe, Asia and North Africa in a sequence whose common origin was 
Mesopotamia's urban revolution 5,000 years ago. 'National capitalism' 
took root within the region uniquely in South Africa. So Middle Africa, 
in the course of the twentieth century and particularly after 
independence, made a belated transition to the Old Regime of agrarian 
civilization, just when Europe and North America, followed more recently 
by much of Asia, embraced national capitalism. This brought North and 
Middle Africa closer together as pre-industrial class societies, while 
South Africa's current experiment in post-apartheid capitalism requires 
it to accommodate its own African majority in new ways, as well as to 
draw nearer to the rest of Africa.

A preoccupation with Africa's post-colonial failure to 'develop' has 
obscured what really happened there in the twentieth century. The rise 
of cities has been accompanied by the formation of weak and venal 
states, locked into dependency on foreign powers and leaving the urban 
masses largely to their own devices. The latter have generated 
spontaneous markets to meet their own needs and these have come to be 
understood as an 'informal economy', which has been stretched to include 
70-90% of most African economies. Whatever its value in bringing to 
light hitherto invisible economic activities, this concept is largely 
negative, focusing on whatever is not regulated by bureaucracy and law. 
It tells us nothing about how these practices are concretely organized. 
This becomes crucial when we seek to identify trends in Africa's urban 
economies today that might act as a springboard for sustained economic 
development in the twenty-first century. There is no substitute for 
finding out what is actually going on now. Despite its origins in 
firsthand ethnographic research, the informal economy idea mainly allows 
policy-makers to ignore the real lives of the supposed beneficiaries of 

The Old Regime in England, America, France and Italy was overthrown in 
each case by a liberal revolution whose social consequences were more 
mixed than was envisaged at the time. This is how the idea of freedom 
entered modern history, as a popular desire to escape from the arbitrary 
inequality of class societies that concentrated power and privilege in 
the hands of a hereditary elite. The world has moved on since then, of 
course, but in the remainder of this lecture I will explore the 
prospects for such a revolution in Africa over the coming half-century 
or so. Africans have already undergone several revolutions without so 
far achieving the political forms capable of guaranteeing their equal 
participation in world society. These revolutions include the abolition 
of the slave trade, colonial conquest, the false dawn of independence 
and the explosion of cities in the post-colonial era. Of late there has 
grown up a sort of 'Afro-pessimism', a genre epitomized for me by 
Stephen Smith's /Négrologie/ (2003), a pun on the French for an obituary 
column whose subtitle is /pourquoi l'Afrique meurt/. When I read that, I 
could only think that Africa is still young and growing, whereas France 
is old and shows it. So I suppose what follows is an exercise in 
'Afro-optimism'. I do not predict an inevitably happy outcome for 
Africa, but I would claim that exploring positive scenarios can put a 
more hopeful gloss on development discourse there.

/An African liberal revolution? /

Expectation of rapid economic improvement soon in Africa seems 
counter-intuitive at this time, especially given Africa's symbolic role 
as the negation of 'white' superiority. Black people have played this 
role for centuries as the stigmatized underclass of an unequal world 
society organized along racial lines; and never more than now, when 
American and European dominance is being undermined by a shift in the 
balance of economic power to countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia 
and, within its own region, South Africa. Rather than face up to a 
decline in their economic fortunes, the whites prefer to dwell on the 
misfortunes of black people and on Africa's apparently terminal 
exclusion from modern prosperity. Failed politicians and aging rock 
stars, such as Blair and Bono, announce their mission to 'save' Africa 
from its presumed ills. The western media represent Africa as the 
benighted battleground of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: famine, 
war, plague and death. It all goes to reassure a decadent West that at 
least some people are a lot worse off than themselves. I was once 
explaining my book to a French woman and noticed her face hardening when 
I spoke of hopeful developments in Africa. So I added, 'Of course 
Africa's a mess in many ways?? and she said, ?Yes! It's a mess?. She had 
never been there, but it was important for her to know that Africa was 

It is a curious fact that China occupied a similar slot in western 
consciousness not long ago. In the 1920s and 30s, Americans and 
Europeans often spoke of the Chinese the way they do of Africa today. 
China was then crippled by the violence of warlords, its peasants mired 
in the worst poverty imaginable. Today the country is spoken of as the 
only one capable of standing up to the United States, while its 
manufactures make inroads into western dominance on a scale far greater 
than Japan's ever did. This profound shift in economic power from West 
to East does not guarantee Africa's escape from the shackles of 
inequality, but it does mean that structures of Atlantic dominance which 
once seemed inevitable are perceptibly on the move; and that should make 
it easier to envisage change. We are entering a new phase of economic 
possibility, as well as altered patterns of constraint in world society.

Africa's advantage in current upheavals is its weak attachment to the 
status quo. The world economy could easily regress to a condition 
similar to that of the 1930s, when the current financial bubble bursts 
and while the USA fights to maintain its grip on global power against 
all-comers. In this case, Africans have less to lose; and the old 
Stalinist 'law of unequal development' reminds us that, under such 
circumstances, winners and losers can easily change places. I like to 
tell my European friends who express concern about African poverty, 
?Don't worry about them ? they have only one way to go, which is up. You 
should be worried about your own decline.? This applies particularly to 
my own country, Britain, for whom postponing recognition of the loss of 
empire has become a way of life in itself. A recent poll reported that 
Africa has a higher proportion of hopeful people than anywhere else in 
the world, 30% if I recall. The /New York Times/ couldn't understand how 
this could be so, since everyone knows that Africa is the most hopeless 
place on earth. The idea of Africa as a basket case goes very deep.

To speak of a possible economic upturn begs the question of what 
Africa's new urban populations could produce as a means of bringing 
about their own economic development. So far, African countries have 
relied on exporting raw materials, when they could. Minerals clearly 
have a promising future owing to scarce supplies and escalating demand; 
but the world market for food and other agricultural products is skewed 
by western farm subsidies and prices are further depressed by the large 
number of poor farmers seeking entry. Conventionally, African 
governments have aspired to manufacturing exports as an alternative, but 
here they face intense competition from Asia. It would be more fruitful 
for African countries to argue collectively in the councils of world 
trade for some protection from international dumping, so that their 
farmers and infant industries might at least get a chance to supply 
their own populations first. But the world market for services is 
booming and perhaps greater opportunities for supplying national, 
regional and global markets exist there.

There was a time when most services were performed personally on the 
spot; but today, as a result of the digital revolution in 
communications, they increasingly link producers and consumers at 
distance. The fastest-growing sector of world trade is the production of 
culture: entertainment, education, media, software and a wide range of 
information services. The future of the human economy, once certain 
material requirements are satisfied, lies in the infinite scope for us 
to do things for each other -- like singing songs or telling stories -- 
that need not take a tangible form. The largest global television 
audiences are for sporting events like the World Cup or the Olympic 
Games. The United States' three leading exports are now movies, music 
and software; and this is why they have sponsored an intellectual 
property treaty (TRIPs) that seeks to shore up the profits of 
corporations whose products can be reproduced digitally at almost no 
cost. The central conflict in contemporary capitalism is between this 
attempt to privatize the cultural commons and widespread popular 
resistance to it. Any move to enter this market will be confronted by 
transnational corporations and the governments who support them. 
Nevertheless, there is a lot more to play for here and the terrain is 
not as rigidly mapped out as in agriculture and manufactures. It is also 
one where Africans are exceptionally well-placed to compete because of 
the proven preference of global audiences for their music and plastic arts.

Why do you think Hollywood is where it is? A century ago, film-makers on 
the East Coast struggled under Thomas Edison's monopolies of electrical 
products; so some of them escaped to the Far West and kicked off the 
movie industry with as little regulation as possible. For his first 
Mickey Mouse cartoon, Walt Disney ripped off a Buster Keaton movie, 
'Steamboat Willie'. Now the Disney Corporation sues Chinese cartoonists 
for illegal appropriation of the Mickey Mouse logo. Did you know that 
the world's third largest producer of movies, after Hollywood and 
Bollywood, is Lagos in Nigeria ('Nollywood')? Most of their movies cost 
no more than $5,000, a pattern reminiscent of Hollywood when W.G. 
Griffith was king. American popular culture is still that country's most 
successful export. There is no reason why it couldn't be for Africans too.

The classical liberal revolutions were sustained by three ideas: that 
freedom and economic progress require increased movement of people, 
goods and money in the /market/; that the political framework most 
compatible with this is /democracy/, putting power in the hands of the 
people; and that social progress depends on /science/, the drive to know 
objectively how things work that leads to enlightenment. For over a 
century now an anti-liberal tendency has disparaged this great 
emancipatory movement as a form of oppression and exploitation in 
disguise; and, in common with many social revolutions, it this is 
partially true. Africa today must escape soon from varieties of Old 
Regime that owe a lot to the legacy of slavery, colonialism and 
apartheid; but conditions there can no longer be attributed solely to 
these ancient causes. It is possible that the example of the classical 
liberal revolutions, reinforced by endogenous developments in economy, 
technology, religion and the arts, could offer fresh solutions for 
African underdevelopment. These would have to be built on the conditions 
and energies generated by the urban revolution of the twentieth century.

We all know of course that power is distributed very unequally in our 
world and any new liberal movement would soon run up against entrenched 
privilege. In fact, world society today resembles quite closely the Old 
Regime of agrarian civilization, as in eighteenth century England and 
France, with isolated elites enjoying a lifestyle wildly beyond the 
reach of masses who have almost nothing. It is not just in post-colonial 
Africa where the institutions of agrarian civilization rule today. Since 
the millennium, the United States, whose own liberal revolution once 
overcame the Old Regime of King George and the East India Company, seems 
to have regressed to presidential despotism in the service of 
corporations like Haliburton.

/The cultural sources for a liberal revolution/

It has long been acknowledged that the rise of capitalism in Europe drew 
heavily on religion as one of its motors. Max Weber insisted that an 
economic revolution of this scope could only take root on the back of a 
much broader cultural revolution. If Africa's informal economy has the 
potential to evolve into a more dynamic engine of urban commerce, what 
might be the cultural grounds for such a development? As I said, 
whatever happens next must build on what has already been put in place. 
The basis for Africa's future economic growth must be the cultural 
production of its cities and not rural extraction or the reactionary 
hope of reproducing capitalism's industrial phase. This in turn rests on:

1. The energy of youth and women

2. The religious revival

3. The explosion of the modern arts

4. The communications revolution

5. The new African diaspora linked to sub-national identities

In the time available, I can only sketch an outline of what is a 
book-length argument.

1. African societies, traditional and modern, have been dominated by 
older men. Women have benefited less from their opportunities and are 
less tied to their burdens. In many cases they have been quicker to 
exploit the commercial freedoms of the neo-liberal international 
economy. Even when men and boys have plunged whole countries into civil 
war, thereby removing state guarantees from economic life, an informal 
economy resting on women's trade has often kept open basic supply lines. 
The social reality of Africa's cities is a young population without 
enough to do and a growing generation gap. The energies of youth must be 
harnessed more effectively and the chances of doing so are greater if 
the focus of economic development is on something that interests them, 
like popular culture.

2. The religious revival in Africa, both Christian and Muslim, is a 
matter of immense significance for the forms of economic development. 
This is in many cases founded on young people's rejection of the social 
models and political options offered by their parents' generation. 
Fundamentalist and less extreme varieties of religion make a different 
kind of connection to world society than that offered by the 
nation-state, based on the assumption of American dominance or its 
opposite. They help to fill the moral void of contemporary politics and 
often offer well-tried recipes for creative economic organization (e.g. 
the Mourides of Senegal, see below). Christian churches are usually 
organized and supported by women, even if their leadership is often male.

3. In all the talk of poverty, war and AIDS, the western media rarely 
report the extraordinary vitality of the modern arts in post-colonial 
Africa: novels, films, music, theatre, painting, sculpture, dance and 
their applications in commercial design. There has been an artistic 
explosion in the last half-century, drawing on traditional sources, but 
also responding to the complexity of the contemporary world. One recent 
example is the 'Africa Remix' exhibition that toured Europe and Japan, a 
hundred installations from Johannesburg to Cairo, showing the modernity 
of contemporary African art. The African novel, along with comparable 
regions like India, leads the world. I have already referred to the 
creativity of the film industry.

4. Africa largely missed the first two phases of the machine revolution, 
based on the steam engine and electricity; but the third phase, the 
digital revolution in communications whose most tangible product is the 
internet, the network of networks, offers Africans very different 
conditions of participation that they already show signs of taking up 
avidly. In origin a means of communication for scientists and the 
military, the internet is now primarily a global marketplace with very 
unusual characteristics. Like the informal economy, it goes largely 
unregulated; but this market freedom is harnessed to the most advanced 
technologies of our era. The internet has also generated new conditions 
for managing networks spanning home and abroad by radically shortening 
the time and space dimensions of communication and exchange at distance. 
The extraordinarily rapid adoption of mobile phones has made Africa a 
crucible for global innovations, such as the first multi-country network 
and use of phones for banking purposes in East Africa. Nor should we 
neglect the role of television as a transnational means of widening 
perceptions of community.

5. In the last half-century a new African diaspora has emerged, based 
unlike that formed by Atlantic slavery on economic migration to America, 
Europe and nowadays Asia. These migrants are usually known away from 
home by their national identity, but many of them by-pass the national 
level when maintaining close relationships with their specific region of 
origin. They are often highly educated, with experience of the corporate 
business world, while retaining links to relatives living and working in 
the informal economy at home. One consequence of neo-liberal reforms has 
been that transnational exchange is now much easier than it was, drawing 
at once on indigenous knowledge of local conditions and the expertise 
acquired by migrants and their families in the West. Remittances from 
abroad are of immense importance everywhere, but they are bound to play 
a major role in Africa's economic future.

/Classes for and against the liberal revolution/

You may well ask how these separate factors might generate sustainable 
forms of enterprise capable of raising African economies to new levels 
in the near future. Economic success is always a contingent synthesis of 
existing and new conditions. There is no model of successful enterprise, 
just many stories of economic innovation waiting to be discovered by 
those who will look. Thus the Mourides, a Sufist order founded in the 
early twentieth century, constitute an informal state with the state of 
Senegal. Their international trading operations are capable of 
influencing national economies, as when they recently shifted shoe 
supplies to the USA via Harlem from Italy to China. A similar network of 
North African Muslims has been running cars and car parts illegally from 
Europe to Africa through Marseille on such a scale that the French car 
industry has moved some of its production South to meet the demand. 
Pioneering communications enterprises in Kenya and Ghana are beginning 
to attract notice from far afield for their exciting mix of local 
cultural resources and modern technologies. The Nollywood phenomenon 
offers morality plays to African audiences at an affordable price. It is 
often under-estimated in part because Lagos and Nigeria are perceived as 
being chaotic. Yet in seventeenth-century London, while England was 
going through its political, commercial and scientific revolutions, 
herds of wild pigs savaged unwary pedestrians to death and the water 
supply was undrinkable. The development standard for Africa is set today 
by the bureaucratized societies of the West, by a type of anaesthetized 
experience that goes by the name of 'world-class city'. But it may be 
that earlier phases of the West's development offer Africans a more 
appropriate framework of comparison.

In the second chapter of /The Wretched of the Earth/ (1959), 
'Spontaneity: its strengths and weaknesses', Frantz Fanon provides an 
excellent blueprint of how to go about analyzing the class structure of 
decadent societies that are ripe for revolution, in his case the 
anti-colonial revolution. He points out that political parties and 
unions are weak and conservative in late colonial Africa because they 
represent a tiny part of the population: the industrial workers, civil 
servants, intellectuals and shopkeepers of the town, a class unwilling 
to jeopardize its own privileges. They are hostile to and suspicious of 
the mass of country people. The latter are governed by customary chiefs 
supervised in turn by the military and administrative officials of the 
occupying power. A nationalist middle class of professionals and traders 
runs up against the superstition and feudalism of the traditional 
authorities. Landless peasants move to the town where they form a 
/lumpenproletariat/. Eventually colonial repression forces the 
nationalists to flee the towns and take refuge with the peasantry. Only 
then, with the rural-urban split temporarily healed by crisis, does a 
mass nationalist movement take off. This compressed summary does not do 
Fanon's analysis justice. I introduce it as an example of what must be 
done if we face up to the real possibilities for another African 
revolution now.

The African states brought into being by independence likewise rely on 
chiefs to keep the rural areas insulated from the more unruly currents 
of world society. Where the state's writ has been fatally undermined, 
warlords take its place. Since the 'structural adjustment' policies of 
the 1980s, international agencies have systematically preferred to 
approach rural populations through NGOs, the missionaries of our age, 
rather than national governments. World trade is organized by and for an 
alliance of the strongest Western governments and corporations. Some of 
the latter, especially in remote extractive industries, operate as 
independent states with the state. The cities, massively expanded in 
size, still sustain a very small industrial proletariat, since 
mechanized production is poorly developed in post-colonial Africa. The 
civil servants have been ravaged as a class by neo-liberal pressure to 
cut public expenditures. This leaves us with the informal economy of 
unregulated urban commerce, a phenomenon that is not best summarized by 
the pejorative term, /lumpenproletariat/. Clearly, trade and finance are 
not organized, in Africa or in the world at large, with a view to 
liberating the potential of these classes. It is not likely, therefore, 
that a liberal revolution could succeed by relying solely on a popular 
economic movement from below. There are larger players on the scene and 
their influence too must surely be felt.

/Africa// must unite/

South Africa, the one African country to make a go of 'national 
capitalism' and probably the last, is well-placed to lead the next stage 
of African development as a whole. This reflects of course President 
Mbeki's vision of an African Renaissance. Since 1994, a new national 
bourgeoisie has begun to emerge there, consisting of old white capital, 
black politicians and Indian businessmen, linked to Asian and Western 
sources of capital and with a new opportunity to expand rapidly into 
their continental backyard. Capitalist development along these lines 
cannot remain for long satisfied with a political regime granting 
ultimate power to national sovereignties. Moreover, it is in South 
Africa's interest for such expansion not to be seen in exclusively 
national terms. It should rather be represented, on an analogy with 
Prussia's role in German unification, as a drive for African unity 
initially in a limited economic sense, led by the strongest black 
government with a Pan-African agenda. And indeed the two most 
significant continental institutions, the African Union in Addis Ababa 
and NEPAD (the UN funding body) in Johannesburg are beginning to talk 
about coordinating their functions. If Africans want to have a say in 
what happens to them next, they will have to tap old and new social 
forces to develop their own capacity for transnational association, in 
the face of the huge coalitions of imperial power mobilizing at this 
time to deny them that opportunity for self-expression.

Pan-Africanism gave way to the aspiration for national capitalism half a 
century ago because world society was not organized then to accommodate 
it. When the anti-apartheid movement led to African independence in 
South Africa, global thinking took second place to the non-racial 
nationalism that was always espoused by the ANC. But, as a result of 
neo-liberal globalization, one of the strongest political movements 
today is the formation of large regional trading blocs: the EU, NAFTA, 
ASEAN, Mercosur. This is a good time for Africans to renew the movement 
towards greater continental unity, at first in economic affairs and as a 
complement to, not replacement for national governments, since the rest 
of the world is doing the same thing and they would inevitably lose out 
again if they fail to do so. If we needed any reminder of the 
contemporary salience of Pan-Africanism, we have only to note the USA's 
recent formation of a unified African military command, with the aim of 
controlling access to mineral resources there in competition with China.

I have focused on the possibilities for dramatic developments in Africa 
since, it seems to me, so much thinking about the future there is timid, 
being limited to ambitions for reprising some earlier phase of the 
West's economic history when the door is effectively closed to 
newcomers. Ideally such developments would be an expression of Africans' 
drive from below for democracy and economic freedom; but it is unlikely 
to take place except within the framework of a revolution from above 
drawing on forces both external and internal to the continent. I have 
tried to draw attention here to scenarios that go beyond the limits of 
current conventional thinking. Africa could make rapid economic advances 
in the coming decades through a mixture of top down and bottom up 
forces. But this would require both a radical shift in development 
strategy and willingness to confront, by whatever combination of 
peaceful and violent means, the entrenched institutions of economic 
backwardness. Above all, it is vital for Africans to gain historical 
awareness of the global context for whatever they attempt locally and 
regionally. This perspective has largely been missing before.

Real economic progress requires us to go beyond merely documenting the 
scope of informal economic activities. We need to discover the social 
and cultural dynamism that underpins its most progressive clusters. What 
are the social forms that already organize the informal economy and how 
could their prospects for engaging fruitfully with the national, 
regional and global economy be enhanced in partnership with the 
regulatory agencies? Ongoing research into what we may call 'the human 
economy' or 'economics with people in' is indispensable to such a 
programme of development.

It was never the case that a national framework for development made 
sense in Africa, except possibly for South Africa, and it makes even 
less sense today. The coming African revolution could leapfrog many of 
the obstacles in its path, but it will not do so by remaining tied to 
the national straitjacket worn by African societies since they won 
independence from colonial rule.

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