By now, longtime readers are used to us taking a break at this time of the year–from around before Christmas until a few days into the new year. So the radio silence well beyond the first two weeks of January is not unusual to them. As one contributor, Abraham Zere, wondered: “Where’s the usual “On Safari’ post?” Like this and this from years past. Well, instead of that, this year we ended with “Asante Sana“–this one a real Robert Mugabe Quote–on the end of the Mugabe dynasty only to be replaced by a new version of the one-party state in Zimbabwe. The plan was to come back in the new year with the launch of our a newly designed website. This new site will be the first public manifestation of our partnership with the Jacobin Foundation. We tried to hold back the date we start publishing again until the new site was finished, but some technical glitches with the launch meant that we can’t wait any longer. All things equal, we should have a new website within the next couple of weeks.
If you’re wondering if the eventual website change will mean we are abandoning our core mission, that is: in the main asking our contributors to translate scholarly debates and high-level political and cultural analyses into accessible language, the answer is no. However, there are some things we’ll aim to do more of. First we hope to offer more timely commentary on the political, social and economic issues of the day (our old bread and butter).
Secondly, as Africa Is a Country becomes an online hub for African public scholarship and writing, we want to make sure it continues to act as progressive, alternative force within debates on development, governance, public policy, intellectual thought and culture on the continent. We will continue to bring you the work of luminaries like Mahmood Mamdani, Issa Shivji, Sisonke Msimang (who is a contributing editor) and Achille Mbembe, as well as provide more space for younger African writers and intellectuals, many who already publish in publications on the continent, but whose voices are mostly absent in debates about policies that effect them directly.
And yes, we’re aware that we can’t expect people to work for free. So in 2018, fundraising is a big thing around here. We are working on a number of strategies–in fact I have just been awarded a fellowship by the Ford Foundation (under the title #AfricaNoFilter)–to go about more systematically to bring you the work of more Africa-based writers and scholars.
Finally, I will also take this opportunity to announce a group of our longtime contributors as contributing editors. They are: Anakwa Dwamena, Benjamin Fogel, Samar Al-Bulushi, Lina Benabdullah, Maria Hengeveld, George Kibala Bauer, Sarah El-Shaarawi and Noah Tsika. They join Sisonke Msimang and Grieve Chelwa who are already on the roster. Also, we want to announce Oumar Ba, currently a contributing editor and assistant professor of political science at Morehouse College, to become a member of our Editorial Board. Thank you very much, we look very much forward to the new horizons.
Let’s get to work.