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Fifty Years of African Independence:Personal Reflections

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 Fifty Years of African Independence: Personal Reflections

By Thandika Mkandawire

When Professor Thandika Mkandawire, the Fifth Distinguished Nyerere lecturer, 2013, delivered this lecture at the legendary Nkrumah Hall at the University of Dar es Salaam, the venue was packed with men and women of different generations, all visibly charged with a sense of curiosity and fervour. In his lecture, Professor Mkandawire offered reflections on the trajectory of developments in the African continent since independence, and ultimately hinted at the future of the continent and her people. His account is both exciting and intellectually challenging, with its eminence deriving not so much from detailing the developmental landscapes of Africa during the first fifty years, as from probing important themes and providing nuanced and often cautious explanations of what transpired. With occasional references to his personal experience, Professor Mkandawire candidly discussed the realistic and utopian aspirations of the first generation of African nationalist leaders, the clear and shaded meanings of the decolonisation experience, the gains and lost opportunities of the first decade of independence, the unfortunate and long-lasting reversals of the 1980s and 1990s, and the promising development potentials of the current conjuncture.

Born in Malawi, Professor Mkandawire, is the former Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and the first person to take on the position of Chair in African Development at the London School of Economics (LSE). He was active in the Malawi African Congress under the reign of Kamuzu Hastings Banda. At a young age he fell out with Banda and spent thirty years in exile.

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