Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

Editorial N 8

After an unfortunate break, for which the editorial team apologizes, we are pleased to welcome you to Issue 8 of the CODESRIA Newsletter. This issue is being released at an important moment for our continent and for the world...

Après une regrettable interruption pour laquelle l’équipe éditoriale s’excuse, nous sommes heureux de vous accueillir pour le huitième numéro de la Lettre d’information du CODESRIA. Ce numéro est publié à un moment crucial pour notre continent et pour le monde...

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The ongoing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa, which has claimed so many lives, is bringing to the fore old questions about the nature and history of African states and their boundaries and the nature of health and other social welfare facilities on the continent. It has also raised questions about global inequalities and unequal access to healthcare and many other goods on our planet. Unfortunately, it is also increasingly posing new questions concerning the meanings of Pan-Africanism, Pan-African solidarity and regional cooperation in the face of severe threats.

The Ebola outbreaks in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo come against a background of violent conflicts in South Sudan, CAR, the north of Nigeria and ongoing troubles in Mali amongst other places. Further afield, recent hostile exchanges between Hamas and the Israeli Defence Forces that exacted a very heavy toll on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip implicated Egypt, which played a leading role in the negotiation of a cease fire.

The continent, in both its sections facing crises as well as its areas where the news are very encouraging, is undergoing significant transformations that span the political, economic, social and cultural realms. Countries as well as their regional and continental groupings are being called upon to refashion themselves in drastically changing environments.

CODESRIA is called upon to face the same challenge some 40 years after its establishment. The need for the Council to reposition itself within the new and changing political, economic, social and cultural environment in which the Council and the higher education institutions that it works with operate motivated the Council to institute an Internal Review Committee (IRC) after its 2011 General Assembly in Rabat, Morocco.

It is to permit the committee to complete its work and make concrete proposals on possible charter amendments that the Executive Committee during its June 2014 meeting, based on discussions during the Council’s 40th Anniversary celebrations as well as the recommendations of the IRC, reached the decision to postpone the business sessions of Council’s General Assembly to June 2015. The draft report of the IRC will be discussed during the scientific conference of the General Assembly, along with the early draft of another committee set up by the Executive Committee to review the intellectual agenda of the Council. The final reports of both review committees, as well any possible proposals for charter amendments will be presented to the business session of the General Assembly in June 2015 where new members of the Executive Committee (EC) will also be elected.

Making this decision was aided by the existence of earlier instances in which the General Assembly of the Council was postponed on account of important processes and events in the life of CODESRIA. It is the hope of the Council that these reviews will result in substantial recommendations and changes that will place CODESRIA on a sound footing to continue its role as the leading Pan-African social science research organization into the next 40 years of its existence.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind all members of CODESRIA that only individual and institutional members who are up-to-date in terms of the payment of their annual membership fees can participate in the making of decisions of the Council (including the adoption of amendments of the CODESRIA Charter and election of members of the EC).

The EC had also taken a decision to hold the scientific conference of the 14th General Assembly of CODESRIA in December 2014. Unfortunately, the challenges and risks that EVD poses to the organization of large international meetings has now encouraged the Executive Committee to also postpone the scientific conference to June 2015.

In addition to allowing members of the African and Diaspora social science community to broach many critical scholarly and organization questions, June 2015 will also permit the proper celebration of the lives and work of two leading African scholars who recently passed away- Professor Ali A. Mazrui and Professor Jacob Ade Ajayi. While we could describe them as Kenyan and Nigerian, respectively, it is more proper to describe them simply as ground-breaking African intellectuals who led the way in the challenging but important task of re-imagining the African past and fashioning an African future after decades of colonial intellectual and physical violence. This issue of the CODESRIA Newsletter includes tributes to them by leading African scholars. Professor Mazrui was awarded Life Membership of CODESRIA during the celebration of the Council’s 30th Anniversary in 2003, a conference at which he was one of the keynote speakers. He also participated in the CODESRIA conference that led to the adoption of the Kampala Declaration on Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility in November 1990. Readers of CODESRIA Bulletin would also recall the very lively Mazrui-Mafeje debates that went on in the columns of the Bulletin for nearly two years.

To their families, friends and former colleagues, CODESRIA, on behalf of the African social science research community (including the Diaspora), wishes to extend its sincere condolences. May their souls rest in eternal peace!

The CODESRIA Newsletter editorial team

October 29 2014