By Richard Joseph
In the first of a three-part series for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Richard Joseph examines Africa’s “progress narrative.” The article can be read below or on the Council’s website.
Three narratives about Africa can be seen in contemporary media reports: a progress narrative, a disaster narrative, and what I call a prismatic narrative. The first narrative emphasizes the sustained growth, accompanied by poverty reduction and other social gains, that is now evident in about a quarter of the continent’s 55 countries. The disaster narrative was recently captured by Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times: “Many parts of Africa are clearly sinking deeper into violence, chaos, and obscurity.” The prismatic narrative can be seen in a report of the Africa Progress Panel chaired by Kofi Annan: “Progress, stagnation, and discouraging regression continue to co-exist on the continent.”
By: Richard Joseph
The following introductory remarks come from the second talk in a three-part series by Prof. Richard Joseph, and were delivered at Brown University on March 13, 2012. The lecture was co-sponsored by The Department of Africana Studies and the Watson Institute of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The PowerPoint can be downloaded here, and video of the lecture can be viewed here.
Thank you for inviting me to speak today. Special thanks to Professor Corey Walker and his colleagues for their sterling planning efforts. I congratulate President Ruth Simmons on her many achievements as President of this illustrious university. As many speakers attested during the third Chinua Achebe Colloquium on Africa last December, Brown University deserves high praise for having brought Professor Achebe to join your faculty and for establishing the Achebe Colloquium. I am honored to have been invited to speak at each of its first three meetings.