Foreign Policy Blogs

Africa Roundup

Here are a few stories that have caught my eye of late, with brief commentary as apt:

In an interesting (but probably passing) change of direction, China is putting pressure on Sudan “to seek urgently the release of 29 Chinese workers held by rebels in the border state of South Kordofan.” China traditionally sees national sovereignty as sacrosanct. But now it is their ox being gored and suddenly a fixed position on questions of national sovereignty seems foolish. Hopefully they keep this incident in mind the next time one of their client states commits brutality against its own people.

Africa Roundup

African Heads of State meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (EPA/Jacoline Prinsloo)

The African Union was supposed to decide on its leadership this week. Instead gridlock has set in. South Africa had hoped that its Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, would emerge victorious, but she has been unable to garner enough votes. As this story has developed I have been skeptical of whether or not Dlamini-Zuma could muster enough supports. Not because she is not qualified. But rather because South Africa occupies an interesting position on the continent. By virtually every measure it is the most powerful country on the continent, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. But that means that many Africans are wary of South Africa and want to push back against its pretensions to continental leadership. Or at least its pretensions to official positions of leadership. Culturally, economically, politically, and militarily the country is the de facto regional superpower.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has denounced the AU for recognizing Libya’s National Transitional Council at a recent summit. At the Harare airport, Mugabe levied accusations toward his African colleagues for being: “‘fronts’ for Western powers whose ‘criminal’ NATO bombardment of Libya helped lead to the killing of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, a former Mugabe ally.” Of course he did.

Finally, if you’re going to be anywhere near the Research Triangle in North Carolina this weekend, I’d encourage you to swing by the South East Regional Seminar in African Studies (SERSAS) and the South East Africanist Network (SEAN) Conference. The main program will take place on Saturday at the University of North Carolina’s Fedex Global Education Center. The conference theme is “Border Crossings, Migrations, and Interventions,” but panels will deviate from those themes. I’m on the panel and would love to meet any readers who might be in the area.






Derek Catsam

Derek Catsam is a Professor of history and Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan Professor in the Humanities at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He is also Senior Research Associate at Rhodes University. Derek writes about race and politics in the United States and Africa, sports, and terrorism. He is currently working on books on bus boycotts in the United States and South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s and on the 1981 South African Springbok rugby team's tour to the US. He is the author of three books, dozens of scholarly articles and reviews, and has published widely on current affairs in African, American, and European publications. He has lived, worked, and travelled extensively throughout southern Africa. He writes about politics, sports, travel, pop culture, and just about anything else that comes to mind.

Areas of Focus:
Africa; Zimbabwe; South Africa; Apartheid