perspectives

Informed by the discussions at an international conference jointly organised by the German Development Institute, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Stanford University on “Emerging Power or Fading Star? South Africa’s Role on the Continent and Beyond”, held 12–14 July 2016 in Cape Town, the articles gathered in this edition of Perspectives shed light on some of the nuances and challenges that define South Africa’s place in the world today.

Activists, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social movements across the world are facing verbal hostility from politicians, new laws and regulations that curtail their ability to operate, and outright violence. Africa is no exception.

When you write about Africa, make sure to always include sad and starving characters, advises Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainana in his famously ironic essay “How to write about Africa”, which takes aim at Western prejudices. In the same way that everyday laughter has been excluded from all-too-familiar depictions of the continent, African humour and satire as a form of social and political engagement remains underexplored.

With this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation explores some of the approaches and instruments that communities and their NGO partners have developed to create room for community-centred stakeholder participation, and to champion community interests and rights.

With this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation seeks to unpack some of the underlying tensions and challenges facing the promotion of sexual and reproductive rights on Africa.

The articles gathered in this edition of Perspectives capture the complex and plural ways in which Africans are attempting to use ICTs to democratise democracy on the continent, the challenges they face, and the valuable lessons learned.

For this edition of Perspectives the Heinrich Böll Foundation asked a number of African intellectuals, writers and analysts to provide their take on Africa’s relationship with Europe. The result is a small collection of interviews, short essays and comments that throw light on the complexities and complexes of this relationship, using analysis, imagery, experience, provocation and humour.

For this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation offered Africa-based thinkers and commentators an opportunity to critically reflect on what a “transition towards sustainability” means or should mean for the region. The articles gathered here go beyond ideological debates to also provide some case studies where green-economy principles have been applied.

With this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation gives Africa based commentators and experts from across the continent the opportunity to critically reflect on the “Africa rising” story and the sub-narratives it carries, including the rise of the African woman, the rise of the African middle class and the power of innovation.