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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.73 n.4 Pretoria  2008


Africa: Signs of hope?


Afrika: Tekens van hoop?



J.F. Kirsten

School for Social & Government Studies, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, Potchefstroom. E-mail:




The dawning of the 21st century generally brought new hope to African leaders and countless thousands of ordinary citizens of many countries on the continent. The first signs of a new turn of events shone through by the end of the last decade of the previous century. This was manifested by economic growth rates that started to pick up in a number of African states, by pro-democracy movements which in country after country succeeded in replacing authoritarian regimes, and by the winding down and termination of some of Africa's most devastating wars.
The results of this analysis confirm the above-mentioned positive political, economic and conflict trends in Africa. It is clearly a significant turn of events given the well-known political and economic predicament with which Africa is struggling. When this negative legacy and Cold War background of Africa is considered, the importance of present developments is clear to see. The identified heightened sense of purpose among the leaders and peoples of Africa and the changed mood and need among Africans to take charge of their own future that found expression in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) are indeed significant and bode well for the future of the continent.
A word of warning here is, however, necessary. Our conduct with Africa must be very cautious and we must guard against over-optimism and the exaggerated belief that Africa is now on a trajectory of sustained development and peace. We cannot generalise about Africa - for that the continent is just too big and diverse from a geographical, cultural, economic and political point of view.

Key concepts: Africa; democratisation; political and economic trends; transformation, political; wars, major


Die aanbreek van die 21e eeu het nuwe hoop en vooruitsigte vir Afrika se leiers en sy mense gebring. Die eerste tekens van 'n verandering het na vore begin tree teen die einde van die laaste dekade van die 20e eeu. Dit het gemanifesteer in beter ekonomiese groeikoerse in talle Afrikastate, in pro-demokrasiebewegings wat in een na die ander staat daarin geslaag het om outoritêre bewinde te vervang, en deur die feit dat talle van Afrika se ergste oorloë begin taan het en selfs stopgesit is.
Die resultate van hierdie studie bevestig dat bogenoemde positiewe politieke, ekonomiese en konfliktendense inderdaad besig is om plaas te vind. Dit verteenwoordig 'n belangrike en betekenisvolle verloop van gebeure, veral gegewe die bekende politieke en ontwikkelingsdilemma waarin Afrika hom sedert sy toetrede tot die internasionale politiek bevind. Die groter doelgerigtheid wat tans onder Afrikaleiers heers, asook 'n duideliker behoefte by gewone Afrikane om groter beheer oor hulle lewe en omstandighede te probeer verkry, is bemoedigend. Hierdie veranderde gesindheid het onder andere uitdrukking gevind in die Nuwe Bondgenoodskap vir Afrika se Ontwikkeling (NEPAD). Dit is betekenisvol en voorspel goeie dinge vir die toekoms.
Met Afrika moet egter versigtig omgegaan word en daar moet gewaak word teen ooroptimisme en die oordrewe verwagting dat Afrika nou op 'n trajek van volgehoue vooruitgang en vrede is. Oor Afrika kan daar nie veralgemeen word nie - daarvoor is die kontinent uit 'n geografiese, kulturele, ekonomiese en politieke oogpunt net té groot en divers.

Kernbegrippe: Afrika; demokratisering; oorlog, grootskaalse; politieke en ekonomiese tendense; transformasie, politieke



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