The best book on contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis Author Of The Suicidal State in Somalia: The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969-1991
By Mohamed Haji Ingiriis

The Books I Picked & Why

The Invention of Somalia

By Ali Jimale Ahmed

The Invention of Somalia

Why this book?

This groundbreaking and pioneering book was the best book ever written on Somalia. It was indeed an eye-opener for me during my early years of academia. It dramatically changed how I would think of Somali studies. I still recall vividly to this day how I became enchanted with how authors, most of whom were Somalis, had critically challenged previous anthropological and historical scholarship on Somalia, pompously written at the time by Eurocentrists. As soon as I finished reading the book, I began to follow in the footsteps of scholars like Professor Ali Jimale Ahmed.


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Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War

By Catherine Besteman, Lee V. Cassanelli

Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War

Why this book?

I read this original and outstanding book long before I decided to join academia. It was almost a year before I embarked on my undergrad years. It was a memorable time of my life, as an exile in a small town, a suburban of Brussels, Belgium, to grasp the real causes of the state failure in Somalia. The authors brilliantly presented painful empirical research findings on land grabbing they had collected a few years before the collapse of the military regime in Somalia in 1991 which navigated a new route in research findings on the post-state collapse in Somalia that allowed me to look differently at the Somali conflict.


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Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism

By Mahmood Mamdani

Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism

Why this book?

This is one of the most compelling books written on Africa. The author insightfully and thoughtfully reassesses the predicament and plight of the African continent with regards to socio-cultural development, institution-building, nation-building, and state-building. The book – both challenging and stimulating as it is – proves to be a somewhat difficult read as the author alternately targets scholars of African studies more than students of Africa as his main audience and recipients.


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The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State

By Basil Davidson

The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State

Why this book?

Whenever I see suddenly this remarkable book on my bookshelves, I wonder how the author, writing in later years of his life, was able of combining his practical experience in Africa with his theoretical engagement of Africa. The author narrates sympathetically how African political elites who embraced Western alien institutions and state ideals failed to reconsider the reconfiguration of the nation-state on their continent.


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The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly

By Jean-Francois Bayart

The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly

Why this book?

This extraordinary book forces anyone who attempts at studying African politics during the post-colonial period (‘on the postcolony’ in Achile Mbembe’s term) as well as in the late Cold War to (re)consider the role of Africans in the shaping of post-colonial Africa. The author uses various examples to nuance the dilemma of the African state-building process. The notion of ‘the politics of the belly’ derived from a Cameroonian saying, not a Bayart’s creation, as many in the West would think of it.


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