Josephat Stephen Itika ~ Fundamentals Of Human Resource Management: Emerging Experiences From Africa

‘Leaders must be guided by rules which lead to success.’ (Machiavelli: The Prince)

For over half a century now, most African people south of the Sahara are still living under political, social and economic hardships, which cannot be compared with the rest of the world. For many, the expectations of independence have remained a dream. This state of affairs has many explanations but it is fundamentally based on the nature of African countries and organisations on one hand, and on the other hand there is over reliance on Eurocentric philosophies, theories, and assumptions on how administrators and managers should manage African countries, organisations, and people in such a way that will lead to prosperity. As a result, the same Eurocentric mindsets are used to develop solutions for African leaders and managers through knowledge codification and dissemination in the form of textbooks and the curricula in education systems.

Evidence from economies in South East Asian countries suggests that the success behind these countries is largely explained by high investment in human capital and, to some extent, avoiding wholesale reliance on the importing of northern concepts, values and ways of managing people; that is, the development of human resources capable of demonstrating management in setting and pursuing national, sector wide, and corporate vision, strategies, and commitment to a common cause within the context of their own countries and organisations. Similarly, African managers and leaders effectively cannot manage by merely importing Eurocentric knowledge without critical reflection, sorting and adaptation to suit the context they work in and with cautious understanding of the implications of globalisation in their day-to-day management practices. They have to understand and carefully interpret northern concepts and embedded assumptions, internalise and develop the best strategies and techniques for using them to address management problems in their organisations and countries, which are, by and large, Afrocentric.

Therefore, like Machiavelli, human resource managers, like leaders, must be guided by rules which lead to the success of their countries and organisations. The main challenge facing human resource managers now is to know which rules are necessary and when applied would lead to effective human resource management results in different types of public and private sector organisations and contexts. This is a difficult question to answer. However, we can start by learning one small step at a time from the emerging experiences of our own practices of human resource management in Africa and elsewhere.

This book on ‘Fundamentals of human resource management: Emerging Experiences from African Countries’ has just made a small step in the journey of establishing a link between Eurocentric concepts, philosophies, values, theories, principles and techniques in human resource management and understanding of what is happening in African organisations. This will form part of the groundwork of unpacking what works and what does not work well in African organisational contexts and shed more light on emerging synergistic lessons for the future. The book has fourteen chapters each addressing important issues in human resource management in terms of the Eurocentric approach and reflecting on what is happening in African governments and organisations at the end of each chapter.
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Marijke Gijswijt‐Hofstra (Ed.& transl.) ~ Among The Mende In Sierra Leone: The Letters From Sjoerd Hofstra (1934-36)

This book offers a unique look behind the scenes of anthropological fieldwork amongst the Mende in Sierra Leone in the mid-1930s. The Dutch anthropologist and sociologist Sjoerd Hofstra (1898-1983), Rockefeller research fellow of the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures and one of Bronislaw Malinowski’s three ‘Mandarins’ (as were also Meyer Fortes and S. Frederick Nadel), reports in long, bi-weekly letters to his adoptive mother about his experiences with the Mende. During his first stay in Sierra Leone (January 1934 – March 1935), Hofstra got blackwater fever, a complication of malaria tropica. His second stay (May – September 1936) came to an untimely end because he again developed symptoms of blackwater fever and was advised to return to Europe. Because of this his fieldwork remained unfinished, and Hofstra never got round to publishing the planned book on the Mende. However, Hofstra published four articles on the Mende in English, photocopies of which are included in this book. Next to these articles Hofstra’s letters to his adoptive mother contain valuable first-hand information about his fieldwork. His daughter, cultural and social historian Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra, has edited and translated these letters, while also including contextual information.

ASC Occasional Publication 19 – ISBN: 978‐90‐5448‐138‐6 – 2014

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Solani Ngobeni ~ Scholarly Publishing: The Challenges Facing The African University Press

This paper seeks to examine the challenges that face the university press in Africa in general and South Africa in particular. It will start by examining the state of the university press in Africa, the state of the university press in South Africa, the challenges that face university presses, such as the declining purchasing of scholarly monographs by university libraries since the budgets of most university libraries are now spend on subscribing to expensive journals and serials, poorly paid academic staff that does not purchase scholarly books, poor teaching and research infrastructure where the course pack has replaced the monograph in the classroom, a generally under-developed market, a weakly developed reading culture, short print-runs which are not economically viable, lack of distribution hubs such as bookshops and lack of intra-Africa book trade. Whereas in the past scholarly publishers could sell between 1000 and 1500 copies of a monograph, today they sell between 200-300 copies. Since publishing small print runs is not economically viable due to economies of scale, scholarly publishers are caught between a declining market and high costs involved in publishing small print runs. It will further examine the role that research institutes and science councils play in scholarly publishing and lastly it will examine the opportunities that new modes of communications offers to scholarly publishers.

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ASC Working Paper 100 / 2012

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Michiel O.L. van den Bergh ~ Bridging The Gap Between Bird Conservation And Sustainable Development. Perceptions And Participation Of Rural People In Burkina Faso’s Sahel Region

Introduction ~ A (research) project in the Sahel

The Sahel
The Sahel is a loosely defined and not well demarcated region; it comprises the semi-arid transition region between the Sahara Desert to the north and wetter regions of sub-Saharan Africa to the south (CSELS 2010; UNEP 2007; Agnew & Chappell 1999).[i] The Sahel region is often defined by means of the number of days of the growing season or by the average annual amount of precipitation. Alternatively, the boundaries have also been drawn using latitude and longitude (Agnew & Chappell 1999). However, the boundaries are gradual and arbitrary, changing in time following weather patterns (e.g. droughts), climate changes, and land-use changes and concomitant land-cover changes (Ton Dietz, director ASCL, pers. comm. 2015). Agnew & Chappell (1999: 300) argue that “it is normally taken to be the arid West African countries from Senegal to Chad, but some also include Sudan to the East” (Figure 1.1).

The Sahel region constitutes one major ecoregion[ii] of the African continent (Brito et al. 2014). Different habitats can be found in the region, including large flat plains, gallery forests and sand dunes. The plains are mostly used for grazing and extraction of commodities (i.e. food, medicine, fodder and wood), and some smaller areas are also used for cultivation (increasing in area from north to south in the region) (Lykke et al. 2004). Traditional land-use practices such as nomadic pastoralism and agroforestry, as well as modern forestry rules, are adapted to the arid climate and erratic rainfalls (Zwarts et al. 2009; Mortimore & Adams 2001; Boffa 2000). However, this dynamic equilibrium is in jeopardy from increased agricultural and pastoralist activities, but also from overhunting, unsustainable extraction of natural resources and water overexploitation (irrigation and hydroelectric dams) (Adams et al. 2014; Brito et al. 2014; Zwarts et al. 2009).

Most, if not all, Sahel countries’ economies are strongly dependent on natural resources, but at the same time they are depleting their natural capital, making them exceptionally vulnerable (Cohen et al. 2011). Furthermore, agriculture and animal husbandry in the Sahel are highly vulnerable to climate change (Dietz et al. 2004). The region is home to a population of 100 million, and UN demographic projections for 2050 are 300 million. This rapid population growth coupled with environmental degradation and, at the same time a high dependence on the environment, is cause for grave concern. In 2012, 18 million people in the West African Sahel were suffering from malnutrition (Potts & Graves 2013). Indeed, the Sahel is sometimes labelled as one of the poorest and most environmentally degraded areas on earth (Brandt et al. 2014; CSELS 2010; Lindskog & Tengberg 1994).

The African continent is a winter ground for a quarter of the more than 500 bird species breeding in Europe, which includes between 2 and 5 billion individual birds. Especially the continent’s northern savannas, including the Sahel region, serve as a wintering ground for migrant birds. Indeed, the Sahel is an important area for migrant European birds, both for those species that spend their winter here, and for those species wintering further south on the continent that use this region as a staging area. These migrant birds are highly vulnerable to environmental change in the Sahel (Vickery et al. 2014; Zwarts et al. 2009; Jones 1995). Thus, environmental degradation in the Sahel is threatening the survival of both birds and people (Brandt et al. 2014; Ouédraogo et al. 2014; Cresswell et al. 2007).

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[i] “Due to the large contrast in the yearly rainfall, the West African landscape gradually changes from north to south, within a distance of 600-700 km from Sahara desert to humid woodland” (Zwarts et al.2015).
[ii] “Ecoregions are relatively large units of land containing a distinct assemblage of natural communities and species, with boundaries that approximate the original extent of natural communities prior to major land-use change.” (Olson et al. 2001: 933)

ISBN: 978-90-5448-155-3 ~ © Michiel van den Bergh, 2016

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Michael Weldeghiorghis Tedla ~ The Eritrean Liberation Front: Social And Political Factors Shaping Its Emergence, Development And Demise, 1960-1981

Young female soldier of the Eritrean Liberation Front Eritrea 1975 – Photo:

In the second half of the twentieth century, Eritrea was an arena of uninterrupted armed conflict that went on for about three decades. The conflict was basically rooted in history and geography. But it was also aggravated by outside intervention for many years. Ethiopia being supported first by the US, Israel, and latter on by the USSR, and the Eritrean nationalists by socialist oriented Middle Eastern and Asian countries and organizations turned Eritrea into a proxy battle field between opposing forces during the Cold War era.

The protracted Eritrean war of independence started in 1961 under the auspices of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). The ELF (1960-1981) was the first, and largely Muslim-based, armed resistance movement that emerged to contest Ethiopian rule over Eritrea. Formed in 1960, the ELF carried out political and military activities for the subsequent twenty years in an attempt to gain independence. This armed resistance movement was, however, unable to accomplish its stated goals of achieving independence. Rather, the task of achieving de facto independence was realized by its offspring organization in 1991. This study is, therefore, an attempt to reconstruct the history of a socio-political movement that has been important in the recent history of Eritrea: the Eritrean Liberation Front. In the following sections an attempt is made to outline the fundamental research problem and the motivation for my interest in undertaking the intended study, research questions, scope of the study, theoretical framework, methodology, relevance of the study, and organization of the thesis.

Problem Statement and Rationale
In 1950, the UN passed a resolution that federated Eritrea with Ethiopia, without any form of plebiscite. Within few years, Ethiopia dismantled the pillars of the federation that guaranteed Eritrea’s limited autonomy one by one without hesitation. Throughout the federal period, Eritreans protested against Ethiopia’s violations of the Eritrean autonomy. As it became quite difficult to organize and agitate inside Eritrea, the task of organizing a movement to promote the Eritrean cause fell on the Diaspora. Frustrated with the system, a new breed of Eritrean nationalists founded the underground Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM)[i] in Port Sudan in 1958. The ELM sought to terminate Ethiopian rule through a coup d’état. But before the ELM could attempt a coup, the war for independence was launched in 1961 under the auspices of the ELF.[ii] After that the country lapsed into a cycle of political disorder, violent conflict and human suffering in the three decades that followed.

The founders of the ELF were Eritrean political exiles and students in Cairo, Egypt, who drew inspiration from the Algerian revolution.[iii] The initial ELF leaders, who were living abroad, came mainly from Muslim backgrounds and this had a profound impact on the membership and mobilization of the ELF. Consequently, during the early years of the first decade of its history, the movement favoured Muslims over Christians.[iv]

In the 1960s, the movement nevertheless grew steadily as it started to attract support from diverse segments of the population and from the Diasporas. The fighters (also called Tegadelti in Tigrinya, one of the most widely spoken languages in Eritrea) were individuals who came from diverse economic, social, educational, gender, and age backgrounds and came to be marked by their devotion to the success of the struggle. Some of the early fighters received training in Syria, China, Cuba, and Iraq; whilst the rest were trained in the liberated areas. Within the next ten years, the ELF became a serious threat to the Ethiopian rule in Eritrea. The impact of its existence was felt beyond the boundaries of Ethiopia, especially when Ethiopian planes were subjected to subversive activities. In 1970, there was a major breakaway from the initial movement. Three splinter groups emerged and latter coalesced to form the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which became a strong rival to the parent Front. The ELF remained a viable organization for the next ten years, but in the 1970s a series of armed clashes between the two dominant movements occurred. These clashes were typically exemplified by a struggle for dominance. Finally, in 1982, the EPLF superseded the ELF and other smaller groups as the most effective armed resistance to the Ethiopian forces, and defeated the ELF in the process. The ELF fighters fled to Sudan, and many went on to Europe and North America, while some members opted to return to Eritrea and join the rival nationalist movement, the EPLF.
In May 1991, the EPLF took control of the whole country from Ethiopia and Eritrea achieved its de jure independence in 1993 after holding a UN observed referendum, in which 99.8 percent of Eritreans voted for sovereignty. The EPLF transformed itself into the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) in 1994 and has been leading the country since its independence.

The ELF, emerging years before its rival the EPLF, and having been in a position of prominence in military terms with regard to the latter, nevertheless was superseded and destroyed in a relatively short period of time. This calls for investigation into the reasons why one movement, from the outside looking stronger, so spectacularly failed not only to achieve its aims but even to maintain itself as an organization, while a seemingly weaker front, the EPLF, not only managed to outflank and supersede its rival but also went on to occupy the whole of Eritrea. The Eritrean example, in this manner, offers a unique comparative example of two movements with different strategies and with very different fortunes. Although it is beyond the scope of the study to address the ELF from a comparative dimension, it is important to at least note that the Eritrean example may hold general lessons on the variables that affect the viability and strength of national-revolutionary movements.

In my previous career as a junior researcher and archivist at the Research and Documentation Centre (RDC), the acting national archive of Eritrea, from 2004 to 2012, I was confronted with a large amount of archival materials concerning the movement in question. Despite the availability of such bulky serviceable source materials, the history of the Eritrean struggle for independence remained by and large incomplete and undeveloped.[v]
This absence of well researched publications and analysis poses a challenge in developing a broader understanding of the dynamics of the Eritrean politics prior to the independence of the country. This experience instilled in me the desire to study the nature and development of the ELF using the idea of writing history from the stand point of those former ELF fighters. In this study,special attention has been given to its origin, development, and demise of the movement, and the how and why questions have also been investigated thoroughly.

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[i] Ruth Iyob, The Eritrean Struggle for Independence: Domination, Resistance, Nationalism, 1941-1993 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 98-101; see also Dan Connel and Tom Killion. Historical Dictionary of Eritrea (2nd ed.) (Lanham, Toronto and Plymouth, UK: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2011), Connel and Killion, 218-20.
[ii] Ruth, 103; see also Redie Bereketeab, “Eritrea: The Making of a Nation 1890-1991” (PhD. diss., Uppsala University, 2000), 183-184.
[iii] John Markakis, National and Class Conflict in the Horn of Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 113.
[iv] Redie, 185
[v] Bairu Tafla, “Interdependence through Independence: The Challenges of Eritrean Historiography,” in New Trends in Ethiopian Studies, ed. Harold G. Marcus. (Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1994), 500.

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Grace Akello ~ Wartime Children’s Suffering And Quests For Therapy In Northern Uganda

Ojok: An exemplary case of suffering and quests for well-being by wartime children in Gulu Municipality I will call this child Ojok (not his real name) to ensure anonymity. In 2004 when I met him, Ojok was a fifteen-year-old boy (1989) who was born in Kitgum four years after the beginning of the then twenty-year-old insurgency in northern Uganda. When telling his life history, he related how, whenever he asked his mother who his father was, he provoked anger, tears and fear. His mother, like a substantial number of women in northern Uganda, had been raped by a group of men in the rebel army. When she went to report the case to the state army, instead of being helped she was detained for weeks and subsequently raped frequently by a group of state soldiers. She managed to escape to one of the camps in the neighbouring Gulu district, but was already three-months pregnant with Ojok – a child-of-rape. Statistics are unavailable but it is well-known that as a consequence of any armed conflict, there are a substantial number of children with a similar life history. Ojok serves as an ‘archetypal case’. A substantial number of children such as Ojok were neglected till they died of malnourishment or abandoned in public hospitals and camps in Gulu. Ojok was lucky to survive till his age.

When Ojok was two years old, his mother got married to an ex-combatant with the Lords Resistance Army, who had escaped, and had settled in a camp in Gulu where she lived. In this marital union they had three children, aged 13, 9 and 7 years respectively in 2004. Although they were a relatively stable family, Ojok’s stepfather succumbed to HIV/AIDS when his youngest child was five years old. Before his death he had introduced his family to his patrilineal kin, but made it clear that Ojok did not belong to the family. According to Ojok, they had been living together in good peace with his stepfather’s kin even after his death. However, two years later, he also lost his mother to HIV/AIDS. Being the eldest in the family of four orphans, automatically Ojok assumed the responsibility of caring for his siblings, including providing for food, healthcare needs and where possible educational costs. He had to drop out of school in order to do leja leja (casual farm labour) and other income generating activities to meet all these expenses. One weekend in April 2004, he was summoned by his stepfather’s kin for a meeting. In this meeting he was told that he did not belong to the family and was subsequently ordered to vacate their land together with his siblings. To confirm their determination, the entire kinship group uprooted all the crops Ojok had on his farm and demolished the children’s house. Ojok together with his siblings left for Lacor night commuters’ home where they lived at the time of interviews in July 2004. He still worked at the hospital premises and other neighbouring places, but had a lot of medical complaints.

When Ojok was asked about his experiences in a one month recall he mentioned malaria, cough and diarrhoea. For malaria he bought chloroquine from a grocery shop for 100 Uganda shillings (approximately 0.043 euros), but for cough he and his siblings used mango and guava leaves. The nurse gave him some yellow tablets for diarrhoea. For his siblings, he bought chloroquine when they had malaria.

According to the night commuters’ shelter nurse where Ojok lived together with his family, “he is always taking Panadol for his headache, which never recovers”. Sometimes, the nurse gave him a higher Panadol dosage, say three instead of two tablets, but still he complained of headache. At night, Ojok presented another challenge to the people at the night commuters’ shelter. If he was not tossing around on his mat he was always having violent nightmares. Therefore, the nurse gave him a dose of Valium each evening. However, in the recent past, the nurse complained, “even if Ojok took five Valium tablets, they did not work! The administration was considering giving him oxazepams and perhaps other very strong tranquilizers”. Assessing Ojok holistically, it is clear that underlying his persistent complaints is a web of all sorts of social and psychological issues.

The main objective of this exemplary case is to show the complexity of the effects of armed conflict on children’s lives, including their illness experiences and quests for therapy. The content in Ojok’s story signifies a child facing uncertainty, having relatives dying of HIV/AIDS and the direct effects of the breakdown of social networks leading to complex healthcare issues in wartime. Ojok as I mentioned, is a synecdoche or archetypal case of a substantial number of children living in a situation of armed conflict. And for the armed conflict in northern Uganda which had lasted more than twenty years at the time of this study Ojok’s experiences could only be a tip of the iceberg of the magnitude of problems in conflict and post conflict northern Uganda which are intertwined with health and healthcare issues.

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ISBN 978-90-5448-095-2 © Grace Akello, 2010 – African Studies Collection, vol. 25

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