This April 2015 issue of the CODESRIA Newsletter is being released as the Council counts down the days to its 14th General Assembly, which will be held in Dakar, Senegal on June 8-12, 2015. The theme of the General Assembly, which will be held at the King Fahd Palace, is Creating African Futures in an era of Global Transformations: Challenges and Prospects. This General Assembly is of particular significance on account of three internal reviews that are being conducted by CODESRIA. In an effort to position itself to continue to operate as the leading social science research organization in a changing Africa, CODESRIA has commissioned teams to review its management, intellectual agenda and its governance and membership. The review committee on governance and membership has already completed its work, resulting in submissions for charter amendments that will be discussed during the General Assembly. The reports of all three committees will be presented to the Assembly in June. It is hoped that the Council’s members, who come from all over the African continent and the Diaspora will undertake discussions that will help CODESRIA contribute to the future.
The diverse and cosmopolitan form that CODESRIA General Assemblies always take is a testament to the Council’s belief and commitment to an Africa in which national, linguistic, gender and intercommunal boundaries are of little consequence in interpersonal and intercommunal relations. It is a commitment to the old Pan-African dream of an Africa that is united in its diversity and that can interact with the rest of the world from a position of equality.
Unfortunately, the recent xenophobic outbreaks in South Africa demonstrate the fact that the ideal of diversity and cosmopolitanism are not always sacrosanct in many minds and communities on the continent. While South Africa has, rightly received much bad press on account of the attacks, incidences of xenophobia and xenophobic attacks are all too common on the continent. In the worst cases they have led to open violence that has taken countries like Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic to the brink. But much less visible outbreaks in the Forest Region of Guinea, for example, often leave scores dead and go largely unreported.
Pieces by three prominent African scholars- Francis Nyamnjoh, Achille Mbembe and Helmi Sharawy- who have played prominent roles in the life of CODESRIA that reflect on the South African outbreaks are featured in the ‘Opinions’ section of this issue of the newsletter. The message of openness that informs their pieces is one that has featured in much of their writings over the years. It is the same message that informed the formation of CODESRIA. It is one that more Africans need to buy into to facilitate the interactions that would bring to reality the development and peace goals of the continent and give meaning to the various commitments to humanitarianism that inform the many national, sub-regional, regional and international instruments that many African countries have agreed to.