History, Identity and Politics

Socio-ethnic differences, in contexts of socio-political inequalities, have been used and abused across Africa for political reasons. Identities such as ‘native citizens’ and ‘foreigners’, ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’, etc. have been constructed by political and traditional leaders in their struggle for power. The consequences not only recently in the Ivory Coast have been xenophobia, civil war, death and destruction.
Over the past twenty years, there has been a fundamental transformation of societies in West Africa like in other parts of the continent due to democratisation, globalisation, technological progression, individualism, population growth and migratory dynamics. National, regional and individual identities are in flux. Many people are still living in rural settings, but an increasing number are now urbanised and, in the rapidly expanding urban metropoles of West Africa, they mix from different African countries.
Many young women and men in the region are searching for new identities because tradition, often juxtaposed with modernity and personal aspirations, no longer provides them with clear answers. Whereas some find solace in religious belief systems, in solidarity amongst family friends or in the workplace, others chase a selfish and materialistic dream.
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Dakar supports projects involving research on the legacy of colonialism, changing identities and public debate and dialogue on changing identities in West Africa.
For more information please contact Armin Osmanovic armin@rosalux.co.za
The Association for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Consolidation of Peace, Development -TEMEDT – is devoted primarily to the promotion and protection of human rights including the fight against slavery and discrimination, consolidating peace and development in the regions of northern Mali.