Prof Adebajo on The Curse of Berlin and the need for regional hegemons in Africa

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On the 31st of July, 2017, Prof Adekeye Adebajo, Director of the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC), Johannesburg, South Africa, delivered a public lecture which revolved around the ideas put forward in his critically acclaimed book The Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War.

Prof Adebajo’s exposition of the issues treated in The Curse of Berlin was quite incisive and thought-provoking. He narrated the personal episodes in his education, career, and travels that provoked him to write the book, paying special tribute to the late Prof Ali Mazrui whose insights on the need for an Africa-grown and Africa-owned security architecture was a fundamental inspiration for the position taken in the book and the arguments advanced in it.

The pressing issues that Prof Adebajo called attention to are Africa’s problems in the areas of continental security, leadership and unity. And in proposing solutions to these problems, he argued, among other things, that there is an urgent need for the big powers on the continent, e.g. Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, etc., to assume leadership roles as regional ‘hegemons’. He situated ‘the curse of Berlin’ in the conjuncture of geopolitical factors and dynamics that have since the conference of 1884-1885 hampered the realization of the leadership potential of indigenous hegemonic powers on the continent, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 only signalling another stage in the obstruction of the emergence of African hegemonic states with enough will and clout to lead the rest of the continent in formulating and actuating a continent-wide framework for security and development.

The audience at the lecture was drawn from a wide range of disciplines in the arts and social sciences, including the Department of European Studies, University of Ibadan, from which Prof Adebajo obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in German. The exchange between the speaker and the audience was both dramatic and illuminating, especially in regard to his proposition of the need for the emergence and consolidation of hegemonic leadership in the regions of the continent.

Prof Adebajo expressed appreciation for the warmth and critical attentiveness of the audience, as well as for the nice ambience of Drapers Hall.

Dr Ayo Adeduntan introduces Prof Adekeye Adebajo
Dr Ayo Adeduntan introduces Prof Adekeye Adebajo
IAS Director, Dr O.I. Pogoson, welcoming the audience
IAS Director, Dr O.I. Pogoson, welcoming the audience
 
Prof Adebajo on 'The Curse of Berlin'
Prof Adebajo on 'The Curse of Berlin'