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Human Rights in Africa

Book description

Human rights have a deep and tumultuous history that culminates in the age of rights we live in today, but where does Africa's story fit in with this global history? Here, Bonny Ibhawoh maps this story and offers a comprehensive and interpretative history of human rights in Africa. Rather than a tidy narrative of ruthless violators and benevolent protectors, this book reveals a complex account of indigenous African rights traditions embodied in the wisdom of elders and sages; of humanitarians and abolitionists who marshalled arguments about natural rights and human dignity in the cause of anti-slavery; of the conflictual encounters between natives and colonists in the age of Empire and the 'civilizing mission'; of nationalists and anti-colonialists who deployed an emergent lexicon of universal human rights to legitimize longstanding struggles for self-determination, and of dictators and dissidents locked in struggles over power in the era of independence and constitutional rights.

Reviews

‘In Human Rights in Africa, Professor Ibhawoh weaves, in his usual incisive and sharp-witted way, an aptly and appropriately complex and sophisticated story about the long career of human rights thought and action on the African continent. Shorn of the de-historicization, linear progressivism, facile accounting, and de-politicization that has all-too-often marked marred human rights scholarship and action in regard to the continent, Human Rights in Africa succeeds vastly in its stated goal of broadly analyzing the development of human rights as idea, discourse and struggle in Africa. The book is a must read for anyone interested in gaining a thorough understanding of the deep complexity of Africa's relationship to human rights ideas and practices.'

Obiora Okafor - York University, Toronto

‘Highly readable, versatile, subtle, nuanced and authoritative, this book gives the subject of human rights an outstanding treatment, superseding most of the current literature on the subject. Its coverage is both balanced and sweeping, moving at a fast pace from the past to the present without losing focus and proportionality. Students will find it a stunning achievement, and scholars will see merit in moving forward so many arguments that the fresh insights open up.'

Toyin Falola - Frances and Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, University of Texas at Austin

‘How can human rights be universal if they originate in one place or are applied to only sector of humanity? This and related questions have occupied scholars of rights in and outside of Africa for generations. Bonny Ibhawoh's exciting new work sweeps past this redundancy by delving deeply into rights-based rhetoric, argument, and mobilization by Africans transnationally and transregionally. Ibhawoh connects rights visionaries of the African and diasporic past to the political challenges of the present in provocative and innovative ways and has written highly readable and teachable book.'

Benjamin N. Lawrance - Rochester Institute of Technology

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