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Africa still yearns for democracy says academic
2009-05-26

Leading academic Prof Achille Mbembe (pictured), says that in spite of substantial changes the African continent is still yearning for democracy.

Prof Mbembe was delivering a lecture commemorating Africa Day at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.

He said many Africans feel that democracy and the law, including the paramount law – the constitution itself - have betrayed them.

“Many have a feeling that they have not yet lived fully or fulfilled their lives, that they might not or might never fulfill their lives.”

Prof Mbembe, who originates from Cameroon and has been living in South Africa for nine years , said that what struck him about this country in this democratic era was that many people are still yearning for a return to the past.

He said many black South Africans know that the advent of democracy has not provided them with the kind of life they hoped for.

“If anything, democracy has rendered life even more complex than before,” he said.

“South Africa is still a nation where too many black people possess almost nothing.

“Real freedom means freedom from race,” he said. “The kind of freedom that South Africa is likely to enjoy because this nation will have built a society, a culture and a civilization in which the colour of one’s skin will be superfluous in the overall calculus of dignity, opportunity, rights and obligations,” Prof Mbembe said.

“This freedom will originate, purely and simply, from our being human.”

Prof Mbembe is currently a Research Professor in History and Politics at the University of the Witwatersrand in the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research. He has written extensively on African history and politics.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
26 May 2009
 

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