Allah Thomas (Bernstein, 2006:45) exposes the complexity of understanding the contemporary meaning of development when he explicates the term to mean a vision, description or measure of the state of being a desirable society, or a historical process of social change in in which societies are transformed over long periods, or a ‘development’ consisting of deliberate efforts aimed at improvement on the part of various agencies, including governments, all kinds of organizations and social movements. For Kothari, (2005:47; Frank, 1976, Rodney, 1972) a ‘truncated’ version of the historiography of development, an interrogation of the relationship between colonialism and development is essential. Kothari (2005:48) maintains that such a critique acknowledges how “problematizing, deconstructing and decentring the supposed universality of western knowledge”, rescues development studies from ‘obscuration and usurpation by hegemonic histories’.
A vast proportional of the world’s poorest people live in sub-Africa; yet, it is a continent which has seen massive inflows of international development assistance in its various form. This course explores how Africa became a ‘development problem’ and the various strategies employed over the decades since colonial times to bring about social, political and economic transformation in Africa. It considers the theories underpinning specific development strategies and initiatives, the social and political contexts in which they were undertaken, and the reason for their success and failure. The course focus on specific examples of development initiatives in Africa considering the interaction among the range of actors involved (states, elites, peasants, civil society, Multinational Corporation, multilateral institutions, donors, NGOs, etc).
The course study consists of lectures, seminars and assignments in which students will grapple with topical issues in contemporary development discourse. The intention is to enable students to understand and appreciate different theories and the historical paradigms shifts in the development of the development discourse, problematic and the challenges of the contemporary development panaceas. Given that this is a third year course the lecturer’s role is more supervisory than teaching. This is intended to prepare the students for postgrad studies or the work environment that might be in an NGO, Government or research institutions inter alia where self-motivation and innovation would be considered an assert. Student will thus be expected to be very active in class discussions, presentation and seminars.