The Heirs of All Revolutions- The Broader Picture

In this post I’ll try to explain how the experiences of the African leaders I studied fit in with the larger transformations taking place across Africa in the 20th century. Many of the trends seen in Africa today have roots in the pre-colonial history of Africa. For instance, Jeffrey Herbst writes that in many African societies, a polity’s control of territory did not always grant it control of the people living in that territory. In other words, sovereignty was not intrinsically tied to land. To a lesser extent, this can sometimes be true of Western states; one can now still be a citizen of a state and not live in the territory it controls. However, each modern, Western state still clearly delineates its territorial boundaries. Perhaps because the average population density of Africa was (and remains) low, a great deal of competition occurred over the control of people.

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The Heirs of All Revolutions – Nkrumah, Nyerere, and Sankara

To recap, the three states I looked at were Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah, Tanzania under Julius Nyerere, and Burkina Faso under Thomas Sankara. Each of these leaders were nominally socialist and faced many of the same challenges, Still, it’s easy to notice big differences between these leaders’ political beliefs. I’m going to provide a brief description of these leaders and their general attitudes and philosophies.

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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.

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The Heirs of All Revolutions: Post-Colonial Socialist States in Sub-Saharan Africa

 As European colonialist empires collapsed after World War II, independent states emerged into a world divided by the Cold War. In many of these states, leaders took power that tried to restructure their societies into socialist states. In some instances, these leaders were explicitly Marxist; in others, leaders developed their own socialist philosophies. This project will explore various conceptions of socialism and leftism in post-colonial, sub-Saharan African states through the review of literature on the subject of colonialism and its effects on sub-Saharan Africa.

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