Editor: Seifudein Adem
In the closing years of the 19th century, the Japanese decided they should modernize economically without culturally westernizing, and they succeeded. Following de-colonization, Africans also pursued the goal of achieving economic modernization without cultural westernization. To some extent, however, Africa became westernized culturally, but failed to attain economic modernization. How can we explain Africa’s failure and Japan’s success? The book addresses these issues from a variety of perspectives also in relation to economic interactions between Africa and Japan and Africa’s place in Japan’s diplomacy and academic discourse.
Author: Seifudein Adem

In the 1990s Japan changed its prime ministers nine times just in a span of nine years, an extraordinarily high turnover by any standard, and — above all — by Japan’s own. But all the transitions took a characteristically peaceful form. Although fewer changes took place in individual African countries in the same period, the process was invariably less than peaceful and often bloody. Simple observations such as these automatically call to mind a number of questions which, it should be admitted, are easier to ask than to answer. As an African who has studied and lived in Japan for a while, the specific questions I was confronted with included the following. Why does violence mar political change in Africa, but not in Japan? What are the lessons that Africa could draw from Japan’s experience? Formidable questions indeed. Social scientists generally explain change in terms of the nature and the state of political structures and institutions in a given society. In a sense intended neither to dismiss nor belittle the usefulness of this approach, I wish to address the above questions in the eye of a non-specialist primarily from a cultural perspective in order to (a) highlight the less obvious but significant forces which seem to be also at work in Japan, and (b) suggest the lessons Africa could extract from the experience.

In: African and Asian Studies
In: African and Asian Studies
Author: Seifudein Adem

Abstract

Japan broke a new path of modernization when it became the first successfully-industrialized nation in the non-Western world. Therefore Japan's modernization experience has a wider relevance for Africa and beyond. The objective of this paper is, however, to single out and discuss only the role of cultural factors in the process and then consider the implications for Africa's development. A conclusion is then drawn – that is, Japan's historical experience strongly suggests that Africa's own cultures have a greater relevance for Africa's development. What does this mean, and why is it so? The paper addresses these questions.

In: African and Asian Studies
Author: Seifudein Adem

Abstract

In many cases it was China’s longstanding solidarity with several liberation movements in Africa in the colonial period which was later upgraded to bilateral and state-level diplomatic relations in the postcolonial era. However, the twenty-first century has also brought about quantitative and potentially qualitative changes in Sino-African relations which are more complex than what the advocates of stronger Sino-African relations (Sino-optimists) and proponents of disengagement (Sino-pessimists) seem to suggest. The defining patterns of China’s influence in Africa are either not yet fully crystallized or they come in paradoxical pairs. The essay spells out the manifestations of these paradoxes and what can be done under the circumstances to improve the African condition. The divergent schools of thought about the possible impacts of China’s increased activities in Africa seem not to be totally unrelated to their underlying assumptions about the causes of Africa’s unsuccessful modernization. The essay also explores these intellectual issues by focusing on the contradictory dimensions of Afro-Chinese relations.

In: African and Asian Studies