|Born||4 October 1949
|Alma mater||Wayne State University (1975)|
|Notable works||Africans and African Americans: Complex Relations - Prospects and Challenges (2009)
Africa 1960 - 1970: Chronicle and Analysis (2009)
He was born in the town of Kigoma in western Tanganyika - what is now mainland Tanzania - on 4 October 1949. Godfrey's father, Elijah Mwakikagile, attended Malangali Secondary School, one of the top schools in colonial Tanganyika, where he was head prefect. His classmates there included Jeremiah Kasambala, who became a cabinet member in the early years of independence under Prime Minister (later President) Julius Nyerere, and John Mwakangale, who in the 1950s became one of the leaders of the independence movement in Tanganyika.
As Godfrey stated in his autobiographical works, he moved to Rungwe District in 1955 with his parents when he was five years old after living in different parts of Tanganyika. Rungwe was the home district of his parents, and they were members of an ethnic group indigenous to that part of Tanzania. His father Eijah worked as a medical assistant for the British colonial government, and also worked at the Amani Research Institute in Muheza District.
Mwakikagile attended Kyimbila Primary School near the town of Tukuyu and Mpuguso Middle School in the Rungwe District of Mbeya Region in the Southern Highlands. He then attended Songea Secondary School near the town of Songea in Ruvuma Region and Tambaza High School (through Form Six) in Dar es Salaam.
While still in high school, he joined the editorial staff of the Standard, later renamed the Daily News, in 1969 as a junior reporter.
After finishing high school in November 1970, he joined the National Service in January 1971, which was mandatory for all those who had completed secondary school and college or university studies.
Sometime after leaving the National Service, he returned to the Daily News. His editor then was Benjamin Mkapa, who also helped him to go to school in the United States and years later became president of Tanzania, serving two five-year terms (1995-2005).
He also worked as an information officer at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (now known as the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports) in Dar es Salaam before going to school in the United States in November 1972.
He then attended Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1976. One of his professors of economics at this college was Kenneth Marin. Marin had worked as an economist for the government of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam in the late-1960s and early-1970s. Years later, Mwakikagile wrote about economics and other subjects, mostly about Africa.
Mwakikagile's first book, Economic Development in Africa, was published in June 1999. He has maintained a steady pace since then, writing more than 60 books in 20 years as his bibliography shows, mostly about Africa during the post-colonial era. He has been described as a political scientist, although his works defy classification. He has written about history, politics, economics, as well as contemporary and international affairs from an African and Third World perspective.
He is known for his book Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, published not long after Nyerere died. The book brought Mwakikagile into prominence in Tanzania and elsewhere. He is considered by many experts to be an authority on Nyerere and one of his most prominent biographers. Professor David Simon, a specialist in development studies at the University of London and Director of the Centre for Development Areas Research at Royal Holloway College, published in 2005 excerpts from the book in his compiled study, Fifty Key Thinkers on Development. The book was reviewed by West Africa magazine in 2002. It was also reviewed by a prominent Tanzanian journalist and political analyst, Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala of the Daily News, Dar es Salaam, in October 2002, and is seen as a comprehensive work, in scope and depth, on Nyerere. The same book was also reviewed by Professor Roger Southall of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), formerly of Rhodes University, South Africa, in the bi-annual interdisciplinary publication, the Journal of Contemporary African Studies (Taylor & Francis Group), 22, No. 3, in 2004. Professor Southall was also the editor of the journal during that period.
The book has also been cited by a number of African leaders including South African Vice-President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in one of her speeches about African leadership and development in which she quoted the author.
Mwakikagile's 2000 book Africa and the West was favourably reviewed in a number of publications, including the influential West Africa magazine by editor Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, who described Mwakikagile as an author who articulates the position of African Renaissance thinkers. The book has been described as an appeal to Africans to respect their cultures, values, and traditions and take a firm stand against alien ideas that pollute African minds and undermine Africa. A strong condemnation of the conquest of Africa by the imperial powers, it is also a philosophical text used in a number of colleges and universities in the study of African identity, philosophy, and history.
But in spite of his passionate defence of Africa, past and present, Mwakikagile is highly critical of some Afrocentric scholars who propagate myths about Africa's past and even reinvent the past just to glorify the continent, claiming spectacular achievements in the precolonial era in some areas where there were hardly any or none; for example, in advanced science, technology, and medicine. They also inflate achievements in some areas. He contends that true scholarship requires rigorous intellectual discipline and entails objective enquiry and analysis of facts and evidence including admitting failures and shortcomings, a position he forcefully articulates in Africa and The West and Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should be Done, among other works.
It is a position that led one renowned Afrocentric Ghanaian political analyst and columnist Francis Kwarteng to describe Mwakikagile as a "Eurocentric Africanist" in his article "End of the Dilemma: The Tower of Babel," on GhanaWeb, 28 September 2013.
It is a case of Africans themselves, especially the leaders, contributing to the underdevelopment of Africa. Bad leadership including corruption in African countries is one of the subjects Mwakikagile has addressed extensively in his books. He contends that bad leadership is the biggest problem most African countries have faced since independence, and everything else revolves around it.
Mwakikagile has written extensively about ethnicity and politics in Africa in the post-colonial era and how the two phenomena are inextricably linked in the African political context. He has used case studies in different analyses of the subject in different parts of the continent. One of his works, Ethnicity and National Identity in Uganda, has been described by Tierney Tully as "a great book, but very dense."
Mwakikagile's other books on the subject include Identity Politics and Ethnic Conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi: A Comparative Study; Burundi: The Hutu and The Tutsi: Cauldron of Conflict and Quest for Dynamic Compromise; Civil Wars in Rwanda and Burundi: Conflict Resolution in Africa; Ethnic Diversity and Integration in The Gambia; and Belize and Its Identity: A Multicultural Perspective, re-published as British Honduras to Belize: Transformation of a Nation, a scholarly work on the Central American nation founded by the British colonial rulers and African slaves as British Honduras and which, culturally and historically, is considered to be an integral part of the Afro-Caribbean region, hence of the African diaspora. Although written by an African, the book is an important part of Afro-Caribbean literature.
One American journalist who interviewed Mwakikagile described him as an independent scholar who was also a widely read and highly regarded author. Mwakikagile responded by saying that he was just an ordinary African, like tens of millions of others, deeply concerned about the plight of his continent.
In his book African Political Thought (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), Professor Guy Martin has described Mwakikagile as one of Africa's leading populist scholars who refuse to operate and function within the limits and confines of Western ideologies - or any other external parameters - and who exhort fellow Africans to find solutions to African problems within Africa itself and fight the syndrome of dependency in all areas and create a "new African."
Edmond J. Keller, professor of political science and former Director of the UCLA Globalization Research Center-Africa and of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center at the University of California-Los Angeles, described Godfrey Mwakikagile as a "public intellectual" and an "academic theorist" in his review of Professor Guy Martin's book, African Political Thought. The review was published in one of the leading academic journals on African research and studies, Africa Today, Volume 60, Number 2, Winter 2013, Indiana University Press.
Professor Ryan Ronnenberg who wrote a profile of Godfrey Mwakikagile in the Dictionary of African Biography stated that Mwakikagile has written major works of scholarship which have had a great impact in the area of African studies and continue to do so. He went on to state that Mwakikagile embraced Tanzania's independence, and the independence of the African continent as a whole, with fierce pride. 'I was too young to play a role in the independence movement, but old enough to know what Mau Mau in neighbouring Kenya was all about, and who our leaders were: from Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana to Julius Nyerere in Tanganyika; from Nnamdi Azikiwe in Nigeria to Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya and Patrice Lumumba in Belgian Congo' (Africa and the West, 2000). His experience also inspired his thinking regarding Africa and its relationship to the Western world, which led to several academic works dedicated to the subject.
Mwakikagile's early works focused on pressing issues in African studies, particularly the theory and realisation of development in Africa. Economic Development in Africa (1999) uses the rich case study of Tanzania's transition from socialism to free-market capitalism as a foundation for broader conclusions concerning the continent's development failures.
Mwakikagile writes about Africa as a whole in such a way as to suggest that he possesses not only a keen understanding of the way things are, but also a deep understanding of the way they should be. The acerbically titled Africa Is in a Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done reflects on the decades since independence with pragmatism and regret, observing the loss of both leadership and ingenuity as the continent's intellectual elite settle abroad, while suggesting how this process might be reversed.
In fact, as the years have passed, and as those early optimistic moments after independence have slipped away, Mwakikagile has taken it upon himself to write about why Africa has fallen short of its vision.
Mwakikagile has translated his experience as a youth in colonial East Africa and his adulthood in postcolonial Tanzania into provocative scholarship concerning topics vitally important to African studies.
Mwakikagile has been invited to give lectures at different universities and as a public intellectual has also been sought for interviews by BBC, PBS, and by Voice of America (VOA), among other media outlets.
Although he has been exposed to Western cultures, was educated in the Western intellectual tradition and lived in the United States for many years, Mwakikagile's perspectives and philosophical conceptions have undoubtedly been shaped by his African upbringing and are deeply rooted in African cultures and traditions. And he rejects the notion that Africa was a blank slate until Europeans came to write on it. He argues that the history written about Africa by Europeans when they first went to Africa and even during colonial rule as well as after independence is not African history but the history of Europeans in Africa and how they see Africa and Africans from their European perspective.
He also contends that traditional Africa has produced philosophers and other original thinkers whose knowledge and ideas - including ideas at a high level of abstraction - can match and even surpass the best in the West and elsewhere in the world. He forcefully articulates that position in his book, Africa and The West.
And although he sees Africa as an indivisible whole, he argues that all nations, including those in Africa, have different national characters. He looks at the concept of national character in the African context in his book Kenya: Identity of A Nation, and makes a compelling case for this idea, which is sometimes highly controversial. The work is, among other subjects, a study of comparative analysis in which the author looks at the national characters of Kenya and Tanzania. Kenyans themselves have had to grapple with questions of identity, ethnic versus national, and how to reconcile the two for the sake of national unity, peace and prosperity.
Tanzania is one of the few countries on the continent to have been spared the agony and scourge of ethnic conflicts, unlike Kenya which Mwakikagile has used for comparative analysis in looking at the identities of the two neighbouring countries. In his books, including Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, he has also explained how Tanzania has been able to contain and even neutralise tribalism unlike other countries on the continent.
Mwakikagile has written extensively about tribalism, contending that it is one of the biggest problems Africa faces and is the source of instability in many countries on the continent, including civil wars.He expresses strong Pan-Africanist views in his writings and sees Africa as a collective entity and one organic body and has strongly been influenced by staunch Pan-Africanist leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Ahmed Sekou Toure and Patrice Lumumba whom he also strongly admires.
He also strongly admires Thomas Sankara as a man of the people like Nyerere and contends that among the new breed of African leaders, Sankara showed great promise but was eliminated by some of his so-called compatriots working for France and other Western powers before he could realise his full potential the same way Lumumba was, eliminated by the United States and Belgium. Mwakikagile has written about Sankara in Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties and in African Countries among other works.
But some of his critics contend that he overlooks or glosses over the shortcomings of these leaders precisely because they are liberation icons and played a leading role in the struggle for independence and against white minority rule in Southern Africa.
He also seems to be "trapped" in the past, in liberation days, especially in the 1970s when the struggle against white minority rule was most intense. But that may be for understandable reasons. He was a part of that generation when the liberation struggle was going on and some of his views have unquestionably been shaped by what happened during those days as his admiration for Robert Mugabe, for example, as a liberation icon clearly shows; although he also admits in Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era that the land reform programme in Zimbabwe could have been implemented in an orderly fashion and in a peaceful way and without disrupting the economy.
But his admiration for Mugabe as a true African nationalist and Pan-Africanist remains intact, a position that does not sit well with some of his critics although he does not condone despotic rule. He admires Mugabe mostly as a freedom fighter and liberation hero who freed his people from colonial rule and racial oppression and exploitation, and as a strong leader who has taken a firm and an uncompromising stand against Western domination of Africa.
By remarkable contrast, his contempt for African leaders whom he sees as whites with a black skin also remains intact. He mentions Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda as a typical example of those leaders. He has written about Banda and other African leaders, among other subjects, in Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood.
Mwakikagile also contends that only a few African leaders - Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ahmed Ben Bella and Modibo Keita - strove to achieve genuine independence for their countries and exercised a remarkable degree of independence in their dealings with world powers; and Mugabe is the only African leader today who fits this category, in spite of his shortcomings.
Mwakikagile's background as a Tanzanian has played a major role in his assessment of many African leaders because of the central role his country played in the liberation struggle in the countries of Southern Africa.
In those days, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was the headquarters of all the African liberation movements, under the leadership of President Julius Nyerere, and Mwakikagile got the chance to know many of the freedom fighters who were based there when he worked as a young news reporter in the nation's capital. They included Joaquim Chissano, who was the head of the FRELIMO office in Dar es Salaam, and later became the minister of foreign affairs and then president of Mozambique when his country won independence after 500 years of Portuguese colonial rule.
In his seminal work Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, he has written extensively about the liberation struggle, and the liberation movements in Southern Africa in what is probably one of the best accounts of that critical phase in the history of Africa, as well as an excellent analysis of the Congo Crisis during the turbulent 1960s.
Mwakikagile has also written a book entitled South Africa in Contemporary Times (2008) about the struggle against apartheid and the end of white minority rule in South Africa and on the prospects and challenges the country faces in the post-apartheid era.
The years he spent on the editorial staff at the Standard and the Daily News were critical to his future career as a writer. Those were his formative years, and had he not become a news reporter, his life, and his career as an author, might have taken a different turn.
As he states in Nyerere and Africa, he was first hired by renowned British journalist David Martin who was the deputy managing and news editor of the Tanganyika Standard. The managing editor was Brendon Grimshaw, also British who, in the 1970s, bought Moyenne Island in the Seychelles and became its only permanent inhabitant. Brendon Grimshaw also played a major role in recruiting Mwakikagile as a member of the editorial staff at the Standard.
It was a turning point in Mwakikagile's life. That was in June 1969 when he was a student at Tambaza High School in Dar es Salaam. He was 19 years old and probably the youngest reporter on the editorial staff at the Standard during that time.
The Standard, the largest English newspaper in Tanzania and one of the largest and most influential in East Africa, served Mwakikagile well, not only in terms of providing him with an opportunity to sharpen his writing skills but also - after it became the Daily News in 1970 - in helping him to attend school in the United States, where he became an author many years after he graduated from college.
David Martin, when he worked at the Tanganyika Standard and at the Daily News, and thereafter, was the most prominent foreign journalist in Eastern and Southern Africa in the 1960s and '70s, and wrote extensively about the liberation struggle in the region for the London Observer and the BBC. In Nyerere and Africa, Mwakikagile has written about the role Martin played as a journalist during the liberation struggle in Southern Africa. But Martin was also instrumental in opening the door for Mwakikagile into the world of journalism, writing every day, after which both became successful writers.
As Mwakikagile has stated in his books, including Nyerere and Africa, Africa after Independence: Realities of Nationhood, The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties and in Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done, his background as a news reporter, which included meeting deadlines when writing news articles, prepared him for the rigorous task of writing books.
Mwakikagile grew up under the leadership of Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, a staunch Pan-Africanist and one of the most influential leaders Africa has produced. In his writings, Mwakikagile has defended his socialist policies because of the egalitarian ideals they instilled in Tanzanians, despite the poverty they endured under ujamaa, Nyerere's African version of socialism.
Mwakikagile, however, has been highly critical in his writings of other African leaders from the same generation who led their countries to independence. He has contended that most of them did not care about the well-being of their people.
Mwakikagile belongs to a generation that preceded independence and was partly brought up under colonial rule. He even wrote a book, Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, about those years.
Independence from Britain was very important to Mwakikagile. When he was 12 years old, his uncle took him to Tukuyu to participate in the independence celebrations when Tanganyika attained sovereign status under Nyerere. He witnessed the flags changing at midnight when the Union Jack was lowered and the flag of the newly independent Tanganyika went up. His recollections are stated in his book, My Life as an African: Autobiographical Writings.
Early in his life when he was a teenager, he developed strong Pan-Africanist views under the influence of Nyerere and other Pan-Africanist leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Sekou Toure. He still holds those views today, crystallised into an ideology for a new African liberation and forcefully articulated in his writings.
As Professor Guy Martin states in his book African Political Thought (pp. 8, 6) about Mwakikagile and other Pan-Africanist theorists and thinkers, their individual national identities are secondary to their primary identity as Africans and even irrelevant when they articulate their position from a Pan-African perspective: "Note that all these scholars are dedicated Pan-Africanists and many would shun the reference to their nationality, preferring to be simply called 'Africans'.... Some of the most prominent Africanist-populist scholars include... Godfrey Mwakikagile...."
One of Mwakikagile's critics has described him as "a shrewd intellectual in defence of liberation icons" and accuses him of not being intellectually honest about leaders such as Nyerere, Nkrumah and Sekou Toure for not criticising them harshly for their failures because he admires them so much as staunch Pan-Africanists.Some of the confusion among his readers about his position on African leaders of the independence generation has to do with his own background since he was an integral part of that generation in the sense that he witnessed the end of colonial rule and the emergence of the newly independent African states although he was not old enough to have participated in the independence struggle.
He admires the leaders who led their countries to independence, yet he is highly critical of them in most cases for their failures during the post-colonial period. He became disillusioned with the leadership on the continent through the years, filled with broken promises, and not long after the countries won independence. He admires many aspects of Nyerere's socialist policies in Tanzania, yet concedes the policies were also a failure in many cases. And he strongly favours fundamental change in African countries, yet he is nostalgic about the past.
His advocacy for fundamental change is articulated in many of his writings including The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, which was published in 2001 and which is also one of his most well-known books.
In his review of the book, Ronald Taylor-Lewis [born of a Sierra Leonean father], editor of Mano Vision magazine, London, described it as "a masterpiece of fact and analysis."
The book has also been reviewed in other publications. Tana Worku Anglana reviewed Godfrey Mwakikagile's Modern African State: Quest for Transformation in Articolo and described it as "unbiased literature."
In many of his writings, Mwakikagile focuses on internal factors - including corruption, tribalism and tyranny - as the main cause of Africa's predicament, but not to the total exclusion of external forces.
The union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar and the Zanzibar revolution are subjects Mwakikagile has also addressed in detail in two of his other books: Why Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form Tanzania and Africa in The Sixties.
And his diagnosis of - and prescription for - Africa's ailments has also been cited by scholars and other people for its relevance in other parts of the Third World. As Dr. Hengene Payani, a political scientist at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, stated in his review of Mwakikagile's book Africa is in A Mess on amazon.com, "the book is excellent, honest and thought-provoking and is relevant even in the context of Papua New Guinea, a country which has been ruined by greedy politicians."
Although he has written mostly about Africa, and as a political scientist or as a political analyst, his works cover a wide range of scholarship including American studies.
But there are limitations to the role played by people such as Godfrey Mwakikagile in their quest for fundamental change in African countries. Their contribution is limited in one fundamental respect: They are not actively involved with the masses at the grassroots level precisely because of what they are. They belong to an elite class, and the concepts they expound as well as the solutions they propose are discussed mainly by fellow elites but rarely implemented.
African writers such as Mwakikagile and other intellectuals are also severely compromised in their mission because most African leaders don't want to change. Therefore, they don't listen to them--in many cases the entire state apparatus needs to be dismantled to bring about meaningful change.
In spite of the limitations and the obstacles they face, many African writers and other intellectuals still play a very important role in articulating a clear vision for the future of Africa, and Mwakikagile's writings definitely fit this category because of his analysis of the African condition and the solutions he proposes, although he is not a political activist like other African writers such as Ng?g? wa Thiong'o in neighbouring Kenya or Wole Soyinka in Nigeria.
But even they had to flee their homelands, at different times, for their own safety, in spite of the courage they had to contend with the political establishment in their home countries, and sought sanctuary overseas although that has not been the case with Mwakikagile and many other Africans who once lived, have lived or continue to live in other countries or outside Africa for different reasons.
Writers including Mwakikagile and other members of the African elite have a major role to play in the development of Africa. They affect constructive dialogue involving national issues. But it is not the kind of effect that reverberates across the spectrum all the way down to the grassroots level precisely because they are not an integral part of the masses, and also because they are not actively involved with the masses to transform society.
So, while they generate ideas, they have not been able to effectively transmit those ideas to the masses without whose involvement fundamental change in Africa is impossible, except at the top, recycling the elite. And while they identify with the masses in terms of suffering and as fellow Africans, many of them - not all but many of them - have not and still do not make enough sacrifices in their quest for social and political transformation of African countries. Mwakikagile is fully aware of these shortcomings, and apparent contradictions, in the role played by the African elite. He's one himself.
Yet, he has not explicitly stated so in his writings concerning this problem of African intellectuals; a dilemma similar to the one faced by the black intelligentsia in the United States and which was addressed by Harold Cruse, an internationally renowned black American professor who taught at the University of Michigan for many years, in his monumental study, The Crisis of The Negro Intellectual. The book was first published in 1967 at the peak of the civil rights movement, five years before Godfrey Mwakikagile went to the United States for the first time as a student.
But that does not really explain why he has not fully addressed the subject, the dilemma African intellectuals face in their quest for fundamental change, especially in his books - The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Done, and Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood - which are almost exclusively devoted to such transformation in Africa in the post-colonial era.
Still, Mwakikagile belongs to a group of African writers and the African elite who believe that the primary responsibility of transforming Africa lies in the hands of the Africans themselves, and not foreigners, and that acknowledgement of mistakes by African leaders is one of the first steps towards bringing about much-needed change in African countries; a position he forcefully articulates in his writings. For example, Political Science Professor Claude E. Welch at the State University of New York-Buffalo, in his review of one of Mwakikagile's books - Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties - published in the African Studies Review (Vol. 45, No. 3, December 2002, p. 114), described the author as being merciless in his condemnation of African tyrants.
Mwakikagile advocates for a closer union within Africa in the form of an African confederation or African federal government starting with economic integration, leading to an African common market, and eventually, resulting in a political union. Concretely, he proposed the following plan for a Union of African states: "If the future of Africa lies in federation, that federation could even be a giant federation of numerous autonomous units which have replaced the modern African state in order to build, on a continental or sub-continental scale, a common market, establish a common currency, a common defense and maybe even pursue a common foreign policy under some kind of central authority - including collective leadership on rotational basis - which Africans think is best for them" 
Mwakikagile identifies the type of government best suited for the African situation as a democracy by consensus, which, in his view, would allow all social, ethnic and regional factions to freely express themselves. Such a democracy should take the form of a government of national unity, inclusive of both the winners and the losers in the electoral process, and would entail a multiparty system approved by national referendum; it should also be based on extreme decentralization down to the lowest grassroots level to enable the masses, not just the leaders and the elite, to participate in formulating policies and making decisions which affect their lives. That is the only way it can be a people's government and federation that belongs to the masses and ordinary citizens instead of being a government and federation of only the elite and professional politicians. Let the people decide. He has elaborated on that in his other books, Africa at the End of the Twentieth Century: What Lies Ahead and Restructuring The African State and Quest for Regional Integration: New Approaches.
He also believes that in this democratic system the tenure of the president must be limited to one term (preferably five to six years), and the tenure of the members of the national legislatures to two three-year terms.
In what is probably his most controversial book, Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done, Mwakikagile strongly criticises most of the leaders of post-colonial Africa for tyranny and corruption, and for practising tribalism, a common theme in the works of many African writers and other people including well-known ones and many African scholars in and outside Africa. But his book stands out as one of the most blunt ever written about Africa's rotten leadership.
Unfortunately, because of its vitriolic condemnation of most African leaders during the post-colonial era, the book has been cited by some people as a clarion call for the re-colonisation of Africa although the author says exactly the opposite in his work.
Yet in spite of all that, Mwakikagile unequivocally states in Africa is in A Mess that he does not support any attempt or scheme, by anybody, to recolonise Africa, but also bluntly states that African countries have lost their sovereignty to donor nations and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dominated by Western powers including those who once colonised Africa and are therefore virtual colonies already.
The premier of Western Cape Province in South Africa, Helen Zille, in her speech in the provincial parliament on 28 March 2017, also cited Godfrey Mwakikagile's analysis of the impact of colonial rule on Africa in defence of her tweets which her critics said were a defence of colonialism and even called for her resignation. She said her analysis was the same as Mwakikagile's and those of other prominent people including Nelson Mandela, Chinua Achebe, Ali Mazrui, and former Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and wondered why she faced so much criticism when she made exactly the same point they did.
Mwakikagile also contends that African countries have really never been free in spite of the instruments of sovereignty they are supposed to have. He also warns about the dangers of the Second Scramble for Africa by the industrialised nations which are busy exploiting Africa's resources for their own benefit and contends that globalisation is in many ways a new form of imperialism.
Yet he has wrongly been portrayed, along with some prominent African and European scholars including Professor Ali Mazrui, Christoph Blocher, Mahmood Mamdani, Peter Niggli, and R. W. Johnson, as someone who advocates the recolonisation of Africa.
Mwakikagile says exactly the opposite in Africa is in A Mess. In fact, the title, although not the sub-title, comes from President Julius Nyerere who used exactly the same words in 1985: "Africa is in a mess." Mwakikagile explicitly states that he got the title from Nyerere's statement and felt it was appropriate for his work, although the tone and content might be disturbing to some people. He is brutally frank about the continent's deplorable condition.
And in the same book, Mwakikagile is also highly critical of Western powers for ruthlessly exploiting Africa even today in collusion with many African leaders.
His harsh criticism of bad leadership on the African continent prompted Ghanaian columnist and political analyst Francis Kwarteng to put him in the same category with George Ayittey, a Ghanaian professor of economics at The American University, Washington, D.C., and author of Africa Betrayed and Africa in Chaos, among other books.
Mwakikagile's books have been reviewed in a number of academic publications, including the highly prestigious academic journal African Studies Review, by leading scholars in their fields. They include Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties, which was reviewed in that journal by Professor Claude E. Welch of the Department of Political Science at the State University of New York, Buffalo; and Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, reviewed by Nigerian Professor Khadijat K. Rashid of Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
Other books by Mwakikagile have also been reviewed in the African Studies Review and in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, including Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era and The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation which were reviewed in the African Studies Review. Nyerere and Africa was also reviewed in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies.
His book, Western Involvement in Nkrumah's Downfall, was reviewed by Professor E. Ofori Bekoe, in Africa Today, an academic journal published by Indiana University Press.
Mwakikagile has also written about race relations in the United States and relations between continental Africans and people of African descent in the diaspora in his titles such as Black Conservatives in The United States; Relations Between Africans and African Americans; and Relations Between Africans, African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. Professor Kwame Essien of Gettysburg College, later Lehigh University, a Ghanaian, reviewed Relations Between Africans and African Americans: Misconceptions, Myths and Realities, in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Volume 13, Issue 2, 2011, an academic journal of Columbia University, New York, and described it as an "insightful and voluminous" work covering a wide range of subjects from a historical and contemporary perspective, addressing some of the most controversial issues in relations between the two. It is also one of the most important books on the subject of relations between Africans and African Americans.
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