The Heirs of all Revolutions – Intro

I’ve decided to reserve my blog posts to give a general outline of the final product of my research, instead of giving updates on how my reading went every so often. This first post describes how my project changed as I was in the process of reading. The next post will discuss each of the three states I read about, and my final post will tie it all together and give some context about the time period.


I’ve ended up with a lot of context, as the course of the project didn’t follow exactly what I planned when I wrote my proposal. Originally I’d planned to read works that focused on only one state at a time, but my books covered more than one state or period of history. This ended up helping much more than hurting. I didn’t have to sacrifice much depth with each reading, and I gained a much broader understanding of the economic and social transformations taking place before, during, and after European colonization.


I planned to do a specific analysis of three African socialist states and compare and contrast their political systems. These states were (and still are) Ghana, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso. This would have explained each political system and attempted to make a comparative analysis between them. As the summer went on, I realized that this was far outside the reach of the project. Each book I read gave me a good chunk of information to take in, and I wanted to make sure I could process it all.


I still covered all three states, but I’ve shifted from comparing their political structures to a more historical analysis of their roles during and directly after their decolonization. Basically, the focus of the project has changed from the states themselves to the transformation taking place throughout Africa as the Europeans left and Africans adjusted to self-rule; the states are a means to focus the analysis of this otherwise massive topic. And I shouldn’t really say “otherwise;” you could do a doctoral thesis on any one of the states I read about during this time period.


So as I wrote before, tomorrow I’m posting an overview of each state I studied and the political philosophy behind each state. Each state (Ghana, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso) had a kind of figurehead that lead them through a pivotal time after decolonization. Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, and Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara all made significant changes to the way their states were run. Some of these stuck, but most of them didn’t. I’ll talk about how the leaders came to control their state, what each leader believed, how they dealt with things like the global economic downturn in the 1970s, and how each leader left power. The day after that, I’ll connect the story of each state with the larger story playing out across Africa. This will provide more information about Africa before and during colonization, as well as some information about what was going on in Africa while the leaders I discussed held power. Later in September, I’ll wrap up my project by presenting my paper discussing my research.


  1. Hey Sam,

    Looking forward to your future posts! I think your topic is very intriguing and doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the average education. Given the initial success of these governments that then went sour with the economic downturn, do you think that had there not been a global economic setback, these governments may have survived and these leaders looked upon more favorably by history and by their people?