Is Realism really applicable in Africa? (The Problems of academic gate-keeping)


In international relations theory is used to make sense of the world of international politics, a theory is mainly used to understand, explain and predict the behavior of states in the international system. For instance (why do states go to war?) but come to think of it; are some theories in international relations really applicable in Africa?
Various studies and scholars continue to question the applicability of theories in African international relations, that various theories in international studies neglected the developing world and Africa to be specific. Scholars in the western world are believed to be the ethos or owners of knowledge hence their counterparts in the developing world are consumers of knowledge hence the problem of academic gate-keeping, thus “The politics of knowledge productions”

i met Francis Fukuyama early this year in a conference at Strathmore business school, Nairobi Kenya

i met Francis Fukuyama early this year in a conference at Strathmore business school, Nairobi Kenya

Realism focuses on the world super powers for instance the US, UK, Russia and maybe China to mention but a few this countries today are seen as dominant actors in the world stage with the ability to influence and make other actors do what they might have not done , Realism is about power, survivor and self-help.Many would agree that Africa and other developing countries have little to contribute in power dynamics of the international stage, and that Africa has no business in participating in the balance power.
Well on the contrary Africa has had great experience of realism, one good example is the Africa leaders who believe or rather believe in the power of the military purposed to ensure state and regime survivor. The African union mission to Somalia (AMISON) is another great example purposed to ensure regional security with the aim to deal with the threat of terrorism right from its source. The African union peace and security framework is one to reckon with, I mean it even has a military organ called the African stand-by force with the mandate to intervene in ongoing conflicts to a prevent acts of genocide.And of course the ever increasing security and military budgets of African majors countries.
The African style of Realism is unique far different from its traditional form, but it is clear to me that Africa has had its own share,experience and definition of Realism, but what about pan-Africanism and African socialism. Kwame Nkrumah one of the greatest African forefathers of all times and a proponent of pan-Africanism once said “Any meaningful humanism must begin from egalitarianism (equality, fairness, classlessness) and must lead to objectivity chosen policies for safeguarding and sustaining egalitarianism”.  Maybe it is time we reclaim the African pride by concentrating on African own theories use them to explain, understand, define and predict the future of Africa.

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One thought on “Is Realism really applicable in Africa? (The Problems of academic gate-keeping)

  1. Well, whereas it is true it is impracticable to use some IR theories in/on Africa, I believe Realism is not only practical to Africa, but to any stable state. Africa has a lot to contribute in regards to power dynamics. Competition between the US and CHINA to influence Africa cant be ignored. Use of African resources for exchange of weapons cannot also be ignored.

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