The ethnic and cultural diversity of African societies can be a source of enrichment, competitiveness, and growth, but it can also increase the risk of inter-ethnic tensions, conflict, and instability that undermine social cohesion. While ethnic conflict is not universal across Africa, it is a concern in many countries in the continent.
How can Africa harness its ethnic and other differences as its strength and drivers of growth and development?
Through an examination of the continent’s histories, this book attempts to understand the present situation with regard to diversity and to reflect on how Africans could work toward a more trusting society. It includes case studies, statistical expositions and theoretical reflections, which together bring some conceptual clarity to the often poorly understood contexts and processes of social cohesion not only in Africa but also across the world.
Recommendations, that acknowledge the uniqueness of Africa’s historical, economic and demographic conditions, have been put forth. “Let nobody suppose that its leaders face anything other than a most daunting task.” (Hino et al, From Divided Pasts to Cohesive Futures: Reflections on Africa, pp. 431) Encouraged by Africa’s emerging pluralistic societies, it is concluded with cautious optimism that cohesive futures can flourish from the continent’s divided pasts.
This book is a product of JICA Research Institute’s (JICA-RI) project “Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa.” The project was launched in October 2008 in collaboration with the Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, and was led by Hiroyuki Hino, former special fellow of JICA-RI, former professor at Kobe University, and current visiting research scholar at Duke University. Professor Nobuaki Hamaguchi of Kobe University and Professor Motoki Takahashi of Kyoto University were core members of the team of historians, anthropologists, economists and political scientists from Africa, Japan, North America and Europe that Hino put together to carry out this project.
This book is a sequel to two previous project publications: “Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and “How Can Africa Flourish with Ethnic Diversity?: Synopsis of the Fifth Kobe University/JICA Conference on Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa” (Research Institute for Economics & Business administration, Kobe University, 2013).