Differenciating dysfunction: domestic agency, entanglement and mediatised petitions for Africa's own solutions
Nzioki, Mutinda (Sam)
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Africa’s optimistic expressions of a reawakening, a rising, to its own solutions remain nervously alive, albeit haunted by the reversals that quenched all previous enthusiasms concerning a rebirth. Still, this study draws creative impetus from African wisdom voiced in the Akamba idiom, Mbéé ndì Mwéné (No one can claim ownership of what lies ahead/the future). Being so, this study proceeds as a contemporary re-entering into part of the existing terms which calibrate the question of how to get Africa right. This process obliges consultations with earlier African voices and ideas that committed to ‘own solutions’ to post-independence problems, or rather more unflatteringly, ‘dysfunctions’. As a contemporary inquiry, this effort contends that posing adequate questions that can get to the heart of present normative life or public culture – as Lewis Gordon and Achille Mbembe put it – requires thinking in African scholarship and practice proceeding in ontological commitments which enable sharper specification of Africa’s difficult situations: for instance, bursts of ethno-religious violence, perilous migrations, xenophobia/Afrophobia, and corruption. However, seeing that many an Africanist scholarship makes these very claims, key to this challenge are the terms and approaches developed for sharper specification and adequacy, as these relate to locating, affirming and/or disregarding numerous important processes immediate to Africa’s conditions. In this regard, key concepts in this study are Africarise, differenciation, mediatisation, ground, and our way, with the central approaches being co-theorisation and relatedly, transversalism which involves creative interconnection with ideas and practices. Further still, because current life has increasingly seen mediatised expressions dominate social production, sharper specification of Africa asks of this African scholarship to connect with other generative grammars and methods of encountering Africans and Africanity. Those connections draw on established concepts that have often spoken Africa, alongside African ideas whose capacity remains un-utilised, as well as mediatised expressions in the street. However, while this process of connections and openings will unveil ugly clashes and contradictions, it offers even greater cause for affirmingpossibilities in Africa’s future.