Challenging Discourse and Searching for Alternative Paths: Justice, Human Rights and Leadership in Africa

  • Everisto BenyeraEmail author
  • Romain Francis
  • Ahmed Haroon Jazbhay
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


This is the introductory chapter of the book: Justice, Human Rights and Civil Religion in Africa: Challenging Discourse and Searching for Alternative Paths. The chapter is divided into three sections on justice, leadership and human rights. It locates the various failed attempts in Africa to develop, democratise and instil virtues of a just state and society, promote benevolent leadership and advance political and economic rights and freedoms in the resilience of the colonial state. The resilience of the colonial state requires a ‘new’ imagination from Africa itself as opposed to Africa relying on external ‘help’. The central argument of the chapter is that the colonial state continues to operate in Africa under various guises such as international law, humanitarian interventions, multilateralism, aid and the threat or actual use of force, economic or military. The chapter distinguishes good from just leadership. Good leadership points outs malpractices while just leadership points out and acts against identified malpractices. The alternative path for Africa out of the colonial state is to demand its right to rights as a sine qua non for a just society.


Leadership Africa Just leadership Decoloniality Epistemic break Justice 


  1. Ake, C. 1975. A Definition of Political Stability. Comparative Politics 7 (2): 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ake, C. 2003. Democracy and Development in Africa. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited.Google Scholar
  3. Amin, S. 1976. Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baez, A.C., and M. Soto-Lafontaine. 2015. Sexual Self-determination in Cuba: The Epistemic Decolonial Turn. Sexualities 18 (7): 775–797. Scholar
  5. Benyera, E. 2014a. Debating the Efficacy of Transitional Justice Mechanisms: The Case of National Healing in Zimbabwe, 1980–2011. Pretoria: The University of South Africa.Google Scholar
  6. Benyera, E. 2014b. Exploring Zimbabwe’s Traditional Transitional Justice Mechanisms. Journal of Social Science 41 (3): 335–344.Google Scholar
  7. Benyera, E. 2015. Presenting Ngozi as an Important Consideration in Pursuing Transitional Justice for Victims: The Case of Moses Chokuda. Gender & Behaviour 13 (2): 6760–6773. Retrieved from
  8. Benyera, E. 2016. On the Question of the Transition: Was Zimbabwe a Transitional State Between 2008 and 2013? Journal of Human Ecology 55 (3): 160–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benyera, E. 2018. Is the International Criminal Court Unfairly Targeting Africa? Lessons for Latin America and the Caribbean States. Politeia 37 (1): 1–30.
  10. Benyera, E., O. Mtapuri, and A. Nhemachena. 2018. The Man, Human Rights, Transitional Justice and African Jurisprudence in the Twenty-First Century. Social and Legal Theory in the Age of Decoloniality: (Re-)Envisioning African Jurisprudence in the 21st Century, 187–218. Langaa: Bamenda, Cameroon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown, D. 2010. Breaching the Colonial Contract: Anti-Colonialism in the US and Canada. The International Journal of Illich Studies 8 (1): 75–79.
  12. Buzan, B. 1944. New Patterns of Global Security in the Twenty-First Century. Source: International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 67 (3): 431–451. Scholar
  13. Campbell, H. 2013. Global NATO and the catastrophic failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cesaire, A. 1955. Discourse on Colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  15. Chandler, D. 2004. The Responsibility to Protect? Imposing the “Liberal Peace”. International Peacekeeping 11 (1): 59–81. Scholar
  16. Christie, I. 1988. Machel of Mozambique. Harare: Zimbabwe Government Printers.Google Scholar
  17. Deng, F. M., and W. I. Zartman. 2011. Conflict Resolution in Africa. In The Ancient World-Systems Versus the Modern Capitalist World-System. Review (Fernand Braudel Center), ed. Samir Amin, 349–385. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  18. Evans, G. 2013. The Responsibility to Protect: Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law) 98 (May): 78–89.Google Scholar
  19. Fanon, F. 1952. Black Skin White Masks. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  20. Fanon, F. 2017. Pitfalls of National Consciousness. New Agenda: South African Journal of Social and Economic Policy 66: 36–40.Google Scholar
  21. Fernandes, A. 2018. Varieties of Epistemic Freedom. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4): 736–751. Scholar
  22. Frank, A. G. 1966. The Development of Underdevelopment. Boston: MA: New England Free Press.Google Scholar
  23. Ghiso, M. P., and G. Campano. 2013. Coloniality and Education: Negotiating Discourses of Immigration in Schools and Communities Through Border Thinking. Equity & Excellence in Education, 46 (2): 252–269. Scholar
  24. Gready, P. 2010. The Era of Transitional Justice: The Aftermath of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and Beyond. Scholar
  25. Grosfoguel, R. 2013. The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities: Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century. Human Architecture 11 (1): 73–90. Scholar
  26. Grosfoguel, R. 2017. Decolonizing Western Universalisms: Decolonial Pluri-versalism from Aime Cesaire to the Zapatistas. In Towards a Just Curriculum Theory: The Epistemicide.
  27. Gwaambuka, T. 2016, April 16. Ten Reasons Libya Under Gaddafi Was a Great Place to Live. The African Exponent. Retrieved from
  28. Jazbhay, A. H. 2019. African Powerhouses: A Decolonial Critique of Nigeria and South Africa’s Perceived Economic and Political Strengths in the Modern World-System. In Nigeria-South Africa Relations and Regional Hegemonic Competence, ed. O. Tella, Advances i, 25–42. New York: Springer. Scholar
  29. Karambakuwa, R.T., and S. Mangwende. 2010. Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKSS) Potential for Establishing a Moral, Virtuous Society: Lessons from Selected IKSS in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa 12 (7): 209–221.Google Scholar
  30. Keet, A. 2014. Epistemic “Othering” and the Decolonisation of Knowledge. Africa Insight 44 (1): 23–37.Google Scholar
  31. Latour, B. 2006. Reassembling the Social an Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Politica y Sociedad, vol. 43. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Scholar
  32. Machel, S. 1986. A Luta Continua. Maputo: Afrontamento.Google Scholar
  33. Madlingozi, T. 2007. Post-apartheid South Africa and the Quest for the Elusive “new” South Africa. Journal of Law and Society 34 (1): 77–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Madlingozi, T. 2010. On Transitional Justice Entrepreneurs and the Production of Victims. Journal of Human Rights Practice 2 (2): 208–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Madlingozi, T. 2015. Transitional Justice as Epistemicide: On Steve Biko’s Pluralist Coexistence ‘After’ Conflict. In WiSER Seminar, Wits University, Johannesburg, 27 July 2015, 1–28. Johannesburg: Unpublished.Google Scholar
  36. Maldonado-Torres, N. 2018, October. On the Coloniality of Human Rights. Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais 114: 117–136.
  37. Mamdani, M. 1996. Citizens and Subjects: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonisation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Mamdani, M. 2015. Political Identity, Citizenship and Ethnicity and Post-colonial Africa. In Keynote Address at the Arusha Conference “New Frontiers of Social Policy”, 1–18. Arusha.Google Scholar
  39. Mandela, N. 1994. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Boston: MA: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  40. Mawere, M. 2010. Zvierwa as African IKS: Epistemological and Ethical Implications of Selected Shona Taboos. Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems 9 (1): 29–44.Google Scholar
  41. Mignolo, W. 2000. Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Mignolo, W. 2009. Who Speaks for the ‘Human’ in Human Rights? Hispanic Issues on Line 5 (1): 7–24.Google Scholar
  43. Mignolo, W.D., and C. Walsh. 2018. On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis. Durham and London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mill, J.S. 1859. On Liberty by Stuart Mills. London: Longmans, Green and Company.Google Scholar
  45. Mill, J.S. 1895. Utilitarianism. London: Longmans, Green and Company.Google Scholar
  46. Morris, J. 2013. Libya and Syria: R2P and the Spectre of the Swinging Pendulum. International Affairs 89 (5): 1265–1283. Scholar
  47. Moyo, D. 2009a. Dead aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Retrieved from
  48. Moyo, D. 2009b. Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa. Wall Street Journal, 1–6. Scholar
  49. Moyo, G. 2017. The Entrapment of Joshua Nkomo Within Global Imperial Snares. In Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo of Zimbabwe: Politics, Power, and Memory, ed. S.J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, 115–147. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. J. 2013. Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa: Myths of Decolonisation. Dakar, Senegal: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.
  51. Ngara, R., R. Mangizvo, and R. V. Mangizvi. 2013. Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Conservation of Natural Resources in the Shangwe Community in Gokwe District, Zimbabwe. International Journal of Asian Social Science 3 (1): 20–28. Retrieved from
  52. Nhemachena, A., N. Mlambo, and M. Kaundjua. 2016. The Notion of the “Field” and the Practices of Researching and Writing Africa: Towards Decolonial Praxis. Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies 9 (7): 15–36.Google Scholar
  53. Nhemachena, A., T.V. Warikandwa, and S.K. Amoo. 2018. Identity, Originality and Hybridity in Jurisprudence and Social Theory: An Introduction. In Social and Legal Theory in the Age of Decoloniality: (Re-)Envisioning African Jurisprudence in the 21st Century, ed. A. Nhemachena, T.V. Warikandwa, and S.K. Amoo, 1–72. Bamenda, Cameroon: Langaa.Google Scholar
  54. Nkrumah, K. 1963. Africa Must Unite. New York and Washington: Frederick A. Praeger.Google Scholar
  55. Nkrumah, K. 1965. Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  56. Reno, W. 2000. Clandestine Economies, Violence and States in Africa. Journal of International Affairs 53 (2): 433–459. Scholar
  57. Rotberg, R. 2012. Transformative Political Leadership: Making a Difference in the World. London and Chicago: Chicago University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rotmann, P., G. Kurtz, and S. Brockmeier. 2014. Major Powers and the Contested Evolution of a Responsibility to Protect. Conflict, Security & Development 14 (4): 355–377. Scholar
  59. Shivji, I. 2007. Silences in NGO Discourse: The Role and Future of NGOs in Africa. Nairobi and Oxford: Fahamu Books.Google Scholar
  60. Shivji, I. 2019. Social Responsibility of Intellectuals in Building Counter-Hegemonies. Keynote Address at Launching of African Humanities Programme Books, 1–7. Dar es Salaam: University of Dar es Salaam.Google Scholar
  61. Simon, W. O. 2011. Centre-Periphery Relationship in the Understanding of Development of Internal Colonies. International Journal of Economic Development Research and Investment 2 (1): 147–156. Retrieved from Relationship in the Understanding of Development of Internal Colonies.pdf.
  62. Sithole, T. 2014. Violence: The (Un)real, power and excess in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow. Journal of Literary Studies 30 (2): 86–103. Scholar
  63. Sithole, T. 2016. The Concept of the Black Subject in Fanon. Journal of Black Studies 47 (1): 24–40. Scholar
  64. Spivak, G. C. 1988. Can the Subaltern Speak? In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. C. Nelson and L. Grossberg, 271–315. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Scholar
  65. Spivak, G.C. 1999. A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of The Vanishing Present. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Suarez-Krabbe, J. 2012. “Epistemic Coyotismo” and Transnational Collaboration: Decolonizing the Danish University. Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 10 (1): 31–44. Retrieved from
  67. Velleman, J. D. 2016. Epistemic Freedom. The Winnower, 1–17.Google Scholar
  68. Wallerstein, I. 2007. World Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Wallerstein, I. 2011. The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, vol. 1. California: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  70. Webel, C., H. Hintjens, and D. Zarkov. 2015. Conflict, Peace, Security and Development: Theories and Methodologies. In ed. C. Webel and J. Galtung. Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Everisto Benyera
    • 1
    Email author
  • Romain Francis
    • 1
  • Ahmed Haroon Jazbhay
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political SciencesUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations