Which African leaders qualify as an icon? Perhaps this is always a controversial question, but it was much easier to answer, say, 25 years ago, when the public memories of Pan-Africanist champions such as Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere were still fresh, Nelson Mandela had just walked out of prison, and Robert Mugabe was a widely respected leader.
While the privileged few may cross legitimately by simply presenting their passport, for most, borders present difficult if not insurmountable hurdles. Furthermore there are plenty of other lines of division: social, ethnic, religious and ideological. Any border is a painful memory of the fact that it is not an individual’s choice to define which side he or she is on.
Across the world, activists, social movements and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are facing verbal hostility from politicians, new laws and regulations that curtail their ability to operate, and outright violence. Africa is no exception.
Satire may not necessarily change politics but, as most articles in this edition illustrate, it is a powerful tool to undermine propaganda, expose abuses of power, and ridicule cultural and social taboos.
Despite the formal commitment of many African states to universal human rights, the realisation of those rights remains unfulfilled for a great number of their citizens, especially women. Reflections on sexual and reproductive rights in Africa.
Rumours serve as a medium through which unfulfilled hopes or unspecific fears can be voiced. They bond and drive a wedge between people and population groups at the same time. An issue about the social function of rumours.
While legal entitlements to equality and justice for women have been achieved over the years, a persistent gender-bias in the administration of justice prevents those hard-won successes from becoming a reality. This issue of Perspectives provides insight into some country-specific challenges and controversies.
Women's land rights remain one of the most important sites of contestation in post-colonial Africa. Yet access, control and ownership of land still remain in the possession of the patriarchal structures.
The articles in this issue of Perspectives seek to reflect on the extent to which African legislatures have taken steps that mark their shift from being the “weakest link” of government to stronger, independent institutions. In essence, we ask – do African Parliaments really occupy the privileged position accorded to them in representational democracies?
Although there continues to be widespread popular support across the African continent for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its mandate to prosecute high-level individuals accused of perpetrating international crimes, strong anti-ICC sentiments are brewing among parts of Africa’s political elite and state actors.