POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICA
Popular sovereignty assumes that within a state the people have final control over who governs them and how that government is exercised. In most contemporary states some constitutional mechanism is in place which enables citizens to select and subsequently confirm in office executives and legislators whose policies correspond to what they want for the states. There is also a mechanism which allows citizens to dismiss the officers who have failed to deliver what the citizens anticipated. If this mechanism functions successfully then a majority of the citizens can be said to be sovereign in a particular state.
The May 2020 Edition of Chiedza: Journal of Arrupe Jesuit University, has for its theme: Popular Sovereignty in contemporary Africa. In this issue, Chiedza Journal seeks to interrogate the notion of Popular Sovereignty at all levels possible. We also intend to find out the conventional, traditional or popular understanding of this theme, as well as the emerging understanding of Popular Sovereignty in the contemporary society. With Achebe, we believe that the world is like a mask dancing, to see it well, one has to stand in different places. Thus, Chiedza invites diverse, and well-thought arguments in addressing our theme. Popular sovereignty can be a political, cultural, socio-economic, ethical, religious and or a philosophical argument. Chiedza seeks to gather a market place of intelligible ideas and insights pertaining the concept of Popular Sovereignty in contemporary Africa.
Some questions of reflection in relation to our theme; “Popular Sovereignty in contemporary Africa”
Is Popular Sovereignty a reality in the international community, or to bring it closer home, is it a reality in Africa? If not, what is wrong with Africa? How far are the people of any African nation state really in control of what the state decides to do? At issue here is whether our existing executives and legislature really represent the people. They may represent the majority of the people but that raises the question of how the minority is represented. If a minority is never heard how is sovereignty popular? One could be cynical and ask whether any African state is sovereign when many are in debt to international finance or to larger and more powerful countries. If it is not sovereign, can the people be? Also, does the nature of governmental structures that exist in a state affect the actualization of the notion of Popular sovereignty, especially the participation of citizens on diverse issues which affect them without being threatened by coercive measures?
How far does the national sovereignty translate into the actual empowerment of the people of a nation? Is Popular sovereignty popular to all groups and classes in a given society, or it is only popular among the elite? Are multi-party systems a practical expression of popular sovereignty when a party with majority backing assumes control in a nation state? How do African states
approach the notion of popular sovereignty when it comes to political power? If a multi-party system is functioning in a state, is this evidence that the people are indeed sovereign in that state? Is multi party systems the incarnation of popular sovereignty in Africa?
How does the people’s voice express itself as popular sovereignty? Are party decisions expressions of the will of the party membership itself? In Things Fall Apart, Achebe suggests that, Popular Sovereignty is affirmed when all the men of a village come together at a meeting and show approval or disapproval of a particular course of action. Can such a meeting be reproduced at national level given the diversity of cultures, traditions, beliefs and philosophies in the contemporary society. What are the negative and positive effects of Popular Sovereignty in Africa at any level, from any angle across cultures? Is Popular sovereignty in contemporary Africa achievable without the necessary systems which support the concept? Can the government or ruling party condone Popular Sovereignty even when it threatens the security, coherence and or the homogeneity of the state?
Finally, Chiedza endeavours to find out the role played by the African Philosophy of Ubuntu in fostering, enhancing, or (de)constructing the notion of Popular Sovereignty? Among the key principles of Ubuntu, which ones can be adopted in order to enhance Popular Sovereignty in Africa? Contributors may wish to interrogate the origins of Popular Sovereignty, and whether or not we need Popular Sovereignty in Africa? Did colonization affect our understanding of Popular Sovereignty in Africa? Could it be argued that the independence of African nations came about as an expression of popular sovereignty since the majority of people in any state supported it?
Articles should be 4,000 words or less. We also welcome articles, book reviews, poems which do not necessarily reflect these topics or our theme. All articles are to be sent to: email@example.com before 13/04/2020.
Please refer to the Chiedza Website https://www.arrupe.ac.zw/journals/index.php/chiedza for other details, including the Chiedza style sheet.
Ashley Salima, O.Carm
Editor-in-ChiefRead more about Call for Papers Chiedza Vol 22 No 2 May 2020