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Call for Papers Chiedza Vol 22 No 2 May 2020

2020-02-10

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: chiedza@arrupe.ac.zw 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-Chief

Read more about Call for Papers Chiedza Vol 22 No 2 May 2020

Current Issue

Vol 20 No 1 (2018): Cultural Survival of Africa

More than fifty years down the line, there are indications that the cultural survival of Africa is under threat. Culture may be seen as the constellation of the learned ways of feeling, thinking and acting that enables a group of people to understand themselves and the world around them. This is facilitated by a narrative conception of the self, where, as Alasdair Maclntyre points out, individuals make sense of their lives in terms of the stories in which they find themselves. Thus, they come to define themselves as members of a particular family, ethnic group, nation or continent. The recent calls for secession by the English-speaking Cameroonians and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) reflect a loss of faith in the national narratives of Cameroon and Nigeria respectively. Such a loss of faith in a grand narrative can be caused by economic and social inequalities. Culture is not only something we are born into; a passive acquiring of ways of feeling, thinking and acting. Stuart Hall argued that we position ourselves in culture. This allows for agency when thinking about culture.

Despite the “African Rising” tale, the continent is marred by growing inequality and deprivation. The increase in the rate of unemployment, lack of basic social amenities, ailing and dilapidated educational and health facilities, poor governance and unbridled corruption, are some of the factors that seem to threaten the once-held faith in a multitude of new and hopeful nations and in the continent. One of the consequences of all these is the massive migration of Africans to other African states and outside the continent. All of these put the cultural survival of Africa at risk. Culture is here taken in its various dimensions: political, economic, social, legal and environmental.

Chiedza, Journal of Arrupe Jesuit University, has for its theme of Volume 20, No.1, May 2018: The Cultural Survival of Africa. In this issue, we intend to reflect on various factors that threaten, as well as ways of ensuring, the survival of Africa both at individual and collective levels. What are the historical factors that has shaped the cultures of Africa in their various dimensions? Can we talk with any precision about a homogenous African culture or is this simply a refusal to acknowledge Africa's diversity? There is the view that cultures never die; that they constantly transform to accommodate new contexts and contingencies. Is the vibrancy of that process of transformation and the new manifestations of African culture worth celebrating? If the understanding of the self as belonging to a nation is through narratives, who controls national memory? What are the effects of censorship of art, books and school curricula on the national memory and the sense of belonging to a nation? Does censorship sometimes have its basis in cultural fundamentalism? What are the prospects of freedom of expression as a fundamental human right in contemporary African states? Can the failure of the nation-states be traced back to the inadequacy of colonial-imposed boundaries? If the identity of a group of people is partly shaped by recognition or its absence, what is the place of recognition in the cultural survival of Africa? What is the role of the media in ensuring recognition and survival of cultures? In the current era of social media, with its breadth and increasing ease of access, how can it (the various social media platforms) contribute to cultural survival? Does the anonymity present in the use of social media pose any threat to public opinion?

Many have viewed the recent change of regime in Zimbabwe as a victory for public opinion. How do such changes guarantee the survival of democratic institutions? Does the recent withdrawal of Burundi from the International Criminal Court (ICC) serve the interests of the citizens or that of the leaders? What kind of reforms are needed in the political institutions of Africa to guarantee survival of Africans? What contributions can Africa make to the rest of the world?

The recent discovery of slave markets in Libya has been greeted with an outburst of condemnation. Should these condemnations be directed solely at the slave traders or the governments of the nations from which these migrants come? How does the growing population of internally displaced persons affect the survival of a people and a nation? Is secession the way forward for Biafra and English-speaking Cameroonians? How much importance has been given to the survival of the ecosystem? What contribution can science and technology make to ensuring survival? All of these issues affect the cultural survival of Africa in its political, legal, economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Published: 2019-01-13
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