DPhil Sa’eed Husaini co-authors new Oxford Dictionary of African Politics

20 March, 2019

DPhil Sa’eed Husaini is the co-author of a new Dictionary of African Politics, which brings together authoritative information on key people, institutions, events and terminology in the politics of the continent, including a range of fascinating and important vernacular terms that were crowd sourced via social media.

The new dictionary, published by Oxford University Press, was co-authored with Professor Nic Cheeseman of the University of Birmingham and Eloïse Bertrand, a PhD candidate in Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick.

It includes coverage of elections, parties, judiciaries, popular protest, gender relations, the politics of development, and Africa’s international relations as well as major events and figures within African politics.

Entries range from Afrocentrism and the Bandung Conference to ‘Rhodes must fall’ and Sino–African relations and include key terms of particular relevance to Africa, such as neopatrimonialism, queue voting, and post-conflict power-sharing.

The dictionary also showcases the remarkably vibrant and insightful political language used in Africa, including a range of vernacular terms that are essential for a deep understanding of local political realities.

The terms were crowd sourced via social media, and come from a variety of languages including Kiswahili, Chibemba, Kikuyu, Wolof, isiZulu and isiXhosa and from across the continent.

They include colourful expressions – such as ‘skirt-and-blouse voting’, meaning to vote for different parties for presidential and legislative elections, or ‘Watermelon politics’ for individuals who professes to support one political party but in reality belong to another – as well as key local concepts, such as the Nigerian practice of ‘zoning’, set up to try and ensure that the presidency alternates between northerners and southerners, or Kenya’s model of ‘negotiated democracy’ – the sharing of political positions between different communities in advance of an election to avoid conflict.

The dictionary, which can also be searched online, can be found here.