The Long Struggle: Discourses on Human and Civil Rights in Africa and the African Diaspora

By Oladipo, Ola | African Studies Quarterly, October 2019 | Go to article overview

The Long Struggle: Discourses on Human and Civil Rights in Africa and the African Diaspora


Oladipo, Ola, African Studies Quarterly


Adebayo Oyedabe and Gashawbeza Bekele. 2017. The Long Struggle: Discourses on Human and Civil Rights in Africa and the African Diaspora. Austin, Texas: Pan-African University Press. 225 pp.

What are human and civil rights without the right to have them? In The Long Struggle: Discourses on Human and Civil Rights in Africa and the African Diaspora, scholars from various disciplines interrogate how blacks advocate, challenge, and ensure both their human and civil rights. Introducing the book, Adebayo Oyebade and Gasgawbeza Bekele note that while considerable progress has been made in ensuring human and civil rights in Africa and its diaspora, the global black population still "struggles with critical rights issues" (p. xxii). In five parts and thirteen chapters, the book investigates these issues from multidisciplinary perspectives.

In chapter 1, Bessie House-Soremekun links the origin of the travails of blacks in Africa to colonialism, and in its diaspora to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Next, Martha Alibah contextualizes House-Soremekun's argument by looking at the history of British oppression and aggression in colonial Ghana and America. Ultimately, Alibah concludes that both colonies shared much in common: they were administered through discriminatory legislation and violent practices. In chapter 3, Abolade Adeniji investigates the "enthusiastic" coverage of apartheid in the Nigerian press to foreground Nigeria's commitment to ridding Africa "of the vestiges of colonialism and apartheid" (p. 49).

The fourth chapter focuses on the life and work of political theorist, Claude Ake. Here, Tokunbo Ayoola unpacks Ake's criticisms of the global idea of human rights as an "irrelevant" Western concept that privileges the "fights for the rights of individuals as opposed to that of the collectives" (p. 61). In chapter 5, Bernard Steiner Ifekwe exemplies how black Jamaicans collectively fight for their rights through reggae music. Ifekwe opines that the phenomenal work done by Reggae artists such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh helped highlight the agonies of blacks in Jamaica, proclaim black consciousness, decriminalize ganja, and successfully ensure black group rights.

Chapter 6 begins part 2, which focusses on minority group rights. Two linguists, Ngozi U. Emeka-Nwobia and Chinwe E. Obianika, unpack the linguistic and gender dynamics of domestic violence on Igbo women in Southeastern Nigeria. Accordingly, they argue that gender-based violence and other forms of rights violations are not always physical. …

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