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Discourses on liberation and democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa: the cases of Eritrea and Ethiopia

Ofuho, Cirino Hiteng (1997) Discourses on liberation and democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa: the cases of Eritrea and Ethiopia. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85973) (KAR id:85973)


In the last four devades, most of Africa's indigenous non-colonial governments have been confronted by internal wars of liberation in the form of revolutions or of military uprisings and coup de'tats. Since independence, these regimes have faced the most lucid and trenchant criticism from intellectuals, from writers, playwrights and poets such as Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Wole Soyinka, and, especially in the 1990s, from renowned academics such as Ali A. Mazrui, A.M. Babu, Peter Anyang Nyong'o, Issa Shivji, Korwa G. Adar, Samuel Decalo, Julius Nyang'oro and many others. In the view of these critics, the past years of Africa's independence appear as the lost decades. Such criticism helped to reveal the reality of the changing political situation in post-colonial Africa.

Discourses on Liberation and Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa is a theoretical, historical and political analysis of liberation movements in post-colonial countries in the sub-continental region of Africa. It examines the confrontation between liberation movements and indigenous, that is non-colonial, non-white-minority-rule governments in the region. It attempts to clarify the role played by liberation movements in the shaping of post-colonial African political order. The main aim of the study is threefold: (i) to contribute to the theories of liberation by looking at the specific problems faced by liberation from indigenous post-colonial non-white-minority-regimes in Africa; (ii) to link the theories to empirical cases by looking at the self-views of the actors involved in the liberation struggle itself, and finally (iii) to assess current problems faced in African societies during the process of democratisation.

The study looks at the two cases studies of Eritrea and Ethiopia in order to illustrate and inform the theoretical discussion. The two cases are particularly interesting because they are clearly linked and still provide two different narratives on liberation. As will be shown in the course of the investigation, Eritrean self-views centre more around self-determination/secession and/or independence, while Ethiopian self-views refer more to democratic principles. The investigation of the liberation movements in Eritrea and Ethiopia allows is to study the relationship between two different narratives on liberation (self-determination and democracy) in one concrete historical setting. Eritrea and Ethiopua are a unique experience because their fighters or liberation have defeated a powerful army of a status quo regime backed, at one moment, by both world powers. They form a challenge to much received thought and suggest the need for an incorporation into discourse of the unusual, often autochthonous struggles of others.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85973
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Eritea; Ethiopia; democracy
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:23 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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