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Reclaiming Security

Nationalist movements in Africa and other areas of the colonial world shared a common premise: the acquisition, or re-acquisition, of sovereignty by colonized peoples would lead to an enhancement of their security in multiple domains. The key instruments of enhanced security were expected to be the state itself and governmental entities.

Attempts to reclaim security in many African countries, during the transitions from colonial rule or subsequent transformations, have often been followed by greater insecurity. Rulers and regimes frequently respond to such challenges by heightening political repression. There are many countries that illustrate this tendency today. They include Cameroon, both republics of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.


Since the publication of my 1978 article “Affluence and Underdevelopment: The Nigerian Experience”, I have participated in many forums and collaborative projects to address the dilemmas of state, governance, and democratic development. The relevant documents are being curated and a digitized selection will be made accessible via the internet. Their availability will increase understanding of how the core problems have been perceived, the corrective actions advocated, and the progress made or stymied. Progress in overcoming basic insecurities depends on knowing the roads traveled and those still to cross.

Sam Forsgren presenting on Liberia Sept

Student research assistants at The Carter Center, left in 2017, and the Arima Learning and Resource Center, Northwestern University, in 2018

NU Collaborative Learning Initiative

The nucleus of a Learning and Resource Center has been created at Northwestern University courtesy of its Transportation Center and with the support of its Weinberg College, Department of Political Science, Buffett Institute, and student research grants from several entities including the Office for Undergraduate Research. In recent years, Northwestern students have been given access to primary archival documents and provided opportunities to expand their knowledge via interviews with established scholars in person or video-conferencing.

The CLI will be launched at Northwestern at a meeting in spring 2019. In addition to the archival and country-based research that students have conducted as members of successive research teams, they will be invited to tackle one of the most perplexing challenges in Africa: How can developmental governance replace predatory practices which have inhibited equitable and sustainable growth. Today’s technologically-adept, and globally-aware, students can be encouraged to invest their skills in the design of solutions grounded in an understanding of past struggles, successes, and failures. The evolving immersive and collaborative learning practices, and the unique opportunity to have access to contemporaneous documents, will enable students of Northwestern and other institutions to foster the “conceptual change” suggested by Matthew Page.


Research Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS (REACH), Nigeria, 2010; and colleagues A. Olukotun, F. Adesola, and M. Omotoso, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, 2015

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