Taking Power, Changing Lives

Taking Power, Changing Lives

For the current Bokamoso blog theme, we have been discussing the idea of Changing the world without taking power.  Many of the articles we have published until now have been  theoretical and philosophical, and we have appreciated these thoughtful pieces and the productive dialogue they have created.  Included in these articles, however, I have also noticed poignant examples or ‘case studies’ of changing our worlds without taking power.

But what if we do take power?  Moving forward in the next quarter of the year for Bokamoso, I want to consider the idea of African citizens taking power in order to enact positive change in our communities and societies.  As Oumar Ba has proposed reversing the idea of the Panopticon in order to alter power relations, we might also use this thought in order to redefine the ways that progressive Africans can take or use power for accomplishing certain goals.  If we reverse the Panopticon to constantly watch and hold accountable the state, aren’t we also in some sense forcing power into the hands of the citizen ?  We will then be able to participate more fully in our societies and affect decision-making process.

There are different forms of power within our worlds, even in our social circles, which we may have access to.  Whether speaking about starting a revolution with a whisper for change or the involvement of young South Africans in history and politics, we’ve examined different relations of social power and examples of ‘powerlessness.’  Now, we want to consider some of the following questions: Through what means do African citizens take power?  In what ways will the use of that power help us accomplish our specific goals for our societies?  How do we ‘empower’ each other and the ‘powerless’?  Can we find examples where  African citizens have taken power into their hands to enact change and what can we learn from these cases, both positive and negative?  In this theme we will continue for the next three months, as an extension of the idea of ‘changing the world without taking power.’

In addition, the African Union is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary in May. We also welcome contributions related to this idea, in particular the intersections between citizens’ power and the AU.  Some questions we might consider: Who is the AU for? The states?  The heads of states?  African peoples?  In whose name(s) does it speak?  In whose interests does it act?  How much power does it have? Does it need to be empowered more? Is it relevant to our daily struggles?

To our regular and guest contributors of Bokamoso: in the next quarter, from March to June, consider ways in which African citizens take or use power to change our worlds, and we look forward to your pieces!  If you’re interested in becoming a guest contributor, please contact us.


Eden Almasude

Eden Almasude is a second-year medical student at the University of Minnesota with an M.A. in African Studies from Ohio University. She is interested in foreign policy, international development, and public health.


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