In the quest for Social Justice for Africa and the African Diaspora ‘Development’ Model


As a United Kingdom based African Diasporan engaging in International Development, I am delighted to be a 2014/15 MSc NGO and Development Management student at the University of East London. The journey that has led me to undertake this task has been as exciting as it has been fraught with uncertainty.

I am here in the quest for Social Justice for Africa and the African Diaspora ‘Development’ model. Gaining a thorough understanding of how to effect ‘good change’ (Chambers 1997) in development for Africa, particularly in my own country Zambia (yes I am home biased!), is essential if I am to accomplish my quest successfully.

As a child growing up in Zambia, my first real awareness of the international development discourse was during the Ethiopian famine. Images of emaciated people, children in particular, and the prodigious efforts and support that the rest of the world made to alleviate the situation were all imprinted on my young impressionable mind. However, I soon realised that a myriad of development issues were also present right there in my own country.

Social Justice

“Social justice defined as equality of opportunities for well-being, both within and among generations of people, can be seen as having at least three aspects: economic, social, and environmental. Only development that manages to balance these three groups of objectives can be sustained for long……Conversely, ignoring one of the aspects can threaten economic growth as well as the entire development process.”

Soubbotina, 2004, p.10

Whereas our increasing significance as African Diaspora development actors, contributing to Africa’s sustainable, social and economic development, has steadily gained momentum, we remain an untapped resource with the potential of being the catalyst that will bring about the required traction to tip Africa’s future over this current development impasse.

“With great power there must also come – great responsibility!” Stan Lee. Therefore, with all this power that we hold, what trajectory will we lead the African development discourse? What ideologies and theories will we espouse to and/or develop? In particular, how will my “diaspora activism” contribute effectively to enhancing the attainment of social justice for Africa? These questions, and more, are what I am hoping the MSc will assist me to answer.


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11 Responses to “In the quest for Social Justice for Africa and the African Diaspora ‘Development’ Model”

  1. Garth Mulenga Chibangu Says:

    Thank you for sharing this Chibwe. Many of us have the same question, I believed you will be answered and you will share with us. Good luck.

  2. Chanda Museba Says:

    In your journey to acquire answers, one fore see-able challenge might be how to achieve such changes, with the current mind-set amongst the 3rd world countries, communities etc (that’s a debate on its own). At the back of my head, I always try to believe that Africa, especially, is a VERY rich continent and it doesn’t deserve to be where it is now (economically).
    Something needs to give and it is only with activists like yourself and many others, finding that missing piece, shall that ‘justice’ prevail.

    • chibwehenry Says:

      Thank you Ba Chanda. You are so right. Finding that elusive piece of the puzzle is the biggest challenge that we face as Africans trying to achieve social and economic development for the continent. The point here then is that, we are poignantly aware that these challenges exist in the discourse and are actively trying to resolve them critically, based on empirical evidence……….not just passion!

  3. Negroes Dube Says:

    “In the quest for Social Justice for Africa and the African Diaspora ‘Development’ Model”
    Africa seems to be dogged by the same systemic problems famine, disease, corruption, aid, poverty, underdevelopment…..
    These issues sometimes seem to be perpetuated by African Governments themselves. Why? The answer is simple poor uneducated people are easy to manipulate!
    We need firstly to strengthen institutions of governance and not rely on powers vested in one person such as presidents. That’s why the recent convictions at the International criminal court must sent a clear warning to leaders.
    Secondly the Issue of corruption needs to be adequately addressed and the international financial system must help capital flight from poor nations.
    Thirdly there is need to seriously look at sustainable agricultural policies that adequately deal with food security.
    Then ensure that people have access to basic health facilities everywhere and at all levels whether at child birth or during old age.
    The question is how do we do all this? We need to start from somewhere, that is, sensitisation through a well-informed community.
    I believe your barometer of success will be the level of change you make in your community.

    • chibwehenry Says:

      Thank you for your comment Dube. You have accurately listed well known indicative issues that have undermined most of Africa’s growth prospects and development since postcolonial times. However, it is imperative to add here that most of the developing countries are victims of an enforced homogenised neoliberal policy framework, originating from the North. This agenda has now proven ill suited to addressing individual country specific economic growth challenges in the South. Worse of all, it has relegated these country governments to give primacy to servicing massive debt interests for loans that will never be repaid, whilst leaving near to nothing for the provision of basic necessities for their citizens, i.e. Education and Health care, etc.

      There is hope for us yet though……The Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO), the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the International Development Economic Associates (IDEAs), in the framework of the third three-year phase of the Africa/Asia/ Latin America Scholarly Collaborative Programme – will be holding the Seventh South-South Institute on INEQUALITY, DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT UNDER NEOLIBERALISM AND BEYOND in Chennai, India, from November 3 to 7, 2014.

      The main premise of this scholarly collaboration is the glaring inadequacy of much of the theories and methodologies developed in the North, crystallised in the mainstream social sciences, to provide the required instruments for a sound understanding of the problems confronting the countries of the South. Through both the discussion as well the autonomous translation and adaptation of theories and the creation of new ones through the South-South Institute, it is hoped to be able to mobilise young scholars from across Africa, Asia and Latin America to reflect on the alternatives that are available for overcoming the challenges facing the countries of the South.

      I am keen to hear what they come up with. Please follow this link for more information.

      • Negroes Dube Says:

        You have raised two pertinent issues Chibwe.
        That of forced policies and lack of concerted efforts within subregions to champion organic research aimed at challenging IMF and World Bank dictates.
        I agree with your assertion that scholarly efforts through collaboration many be key to getting answers for problems that have eluded most of the African effort.

  4. leutha Says:

    Hi chibwehenry, it is inspiring to read your post with such a positive outlook. I followed up the link you gave to Tatyana Soubbotina’s book published by the World Bank. One of the things I am currently getting my head round is the way the World Bank has so significantly changed its profile. I have been working through the archive of the Campaign for Academic Freedom in Africa, an organisation based in United States founded by George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici after they were driven from their academic posts in Africa. What is striking about comparing the material they publish now and what was going on fifteen, twenty, thirty years ago is that in the old days they did not seem to mind being associated with the destruction of the education system across Africa, even at the cost of many of the lives of the students who opposed them. Now, publishing material like Soubbotina’s book, it makes me wonder, has the leopard changed its spots?

  5. Eddie Mulenga Says:

    Thank God for your journey Chibwe, your post is quiet educative.
    Africa needs a serious reset of mindset and this must start with the politicians. Yesterday I read a heart rending story from Sierra Leone about a shipping container packed with protective gowns, gloves, stretchers, mattresses and other medical supplies needed to help fight Sierra Leone’s exploding Ebola epidemic. The problem is that this shipment has been sitting idly on the docks for nearly two months. We are talking about 100 bags and boxes of hospital linens, 100 cases of protective suits, 80 cases of face masks and other items — in all, more than $140,000 worth of medical equipment locked inside a container at the port since August 9, 2014. Interestingly, this particular shipment was by a local opposition politician named Chernoh Alpha Bah who contested local elections in 2012 and lost but the government is playing politics while health workers have endure grave shortages of lifesaving supplies, putting them at even greater risk.
    Keep up with the vision and stay blessed, do remember to replicate your knowledge so that we have more ambassadors

    • chibwehenry Says:

      Thank you Eddie for commenting. It is a travesty of justice that needless deaths could have been prevented but for no other reason than selfish politicking.

  6. victoriaevbuomwan Says:

    Great work

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