The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the twenty-seventh session of its Small Grants Programme for Thesis Writing. The grants serve as part of the Council’s contribution to the development of the social sciences in Africa, and the continuous renewal and strengthening of research capacities in African universities, through the funding of primary research conducted by postgraduate students.
This symposium aims to investigate the relationships between books and urban city spaces. Cities are complex networks that exist in a constant state of transformation. More than just the built environment of the metropolis, cities are constituted through a range of cultural, geographic, social, political and economic dynamics. Drawing together a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, the symposium seeks to investigate the ways in which these aspects of the city have been articulated by books, their production, distribution and collection.
The aim of the proposed symposium is 1) to carry out further analysis and translation of Diallo’s writings and 2) to provide a platform for broader scholarship on Diallo’s life and related subjects, for both specialists and members of the public. The proposed symposium, to be held at the British Library, represents a unique opportunity to carry out new research on Diallo’s correspondence and to communicate that research to a wider public.
In September 2012, the fourth meeting of ‘African Solidarity with Cuba’ took place at the African Union, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For two days, representatives of 27 African countries engaged in discussions with a Cuban delegation to cries of ‘Viva Fidel!’ and ‘Cuba estamos contigo!’ Delegates discussed shared struggles, the sanctions against Cuba, the fate of the ‘Cuban Five’ held in the United States and the joint development of Cuba and African countries. What did this show of solidarity reflect? Was it Cuban internationalism with a taste of anachronism? Pan-Africanism nourished in the matrix of Marxism? Developmentalism supported by policies of collaboration? Renewed South-South solidarity? (Adams 1981, Adi 2014, Falk 1987, Gleijeses 1996). To address these questions, we have to go back over the histories, representations and practices that accompanied, transformed or influenced the relations between Cuba and Africa. The objective of this first meeting is to measure the scale of the many-sided engagements between Cuba and many African countries.
The attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako on Friday 20 November was a reminder of the political instability in Mali. The political crisis in the country surfaced with the insurrection in the North, which led to the occupation of that region and major towns such as Timbuktu and Gao in mid-2012. During this period hundreds—perhaps a couple of thousand even—of metal crates of manuscripts were moved from Timbuktu to Bamako. Fortunately, these metal crates are housed far from the hotel that was the scene of the hostage-taking by two armed men affiliated to one or other rebel grouping in the country. By the end of the 2012 – 2013 crisis, when I learned of the transport of the manuscripts from the insecurity of the North to the relative security of the capital, Bamako, I mused to myself: “What if the capital is not all that safe?” But I did not declare this concern because it would have appeared too negative. My concern with that transfer of the metal crates was expressed in rather technical terms: Bamako is far too humid, storing paper in metal crates in a humid climate is not a very good idea, the cost of renting space to house these crates must be prohibitive, when will the situation in the North return to normality allowing the manuscripts to return to their original locations? The concern I kept to myself—about the probability of armed violence and general insecurity in Bamako—was based on what was reported about Bamako during the 2012 – 2013 period. The Presidential Palace was attacked and even ransacked. If this can happen to the most secure of building precincts in the capital then it does make one doubt the security of other spaces in the otherwise peaceful capital by the Niger River. We hope that the bloody incident of Friday November 20 does not happen again. We have many friends and colleagues in Bamako including those who relocated there from the North because of the problems besetting the region. We have many reasons to keep going to Bamako not least because the libraries are now hidden there.