William Ellis

Grant Type

Conference Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Western Cape, U. of the

Grant number

Gr. CONF-833

Approve Date

February 14, 2020

Project Title

Ellis, William (Western Cape, U. of the) The Hopeful continent: Africa Rising 20 Years On

Since the beginning of the 21st century, Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced two decades of virtually uninterrupted economic growth, now popularly phrased as ‘Africa Rising’. The Financial Times defined ‘Africa Rising’ as a narrative that ‘improved governance means the continent is almost predestined to enjoy a long period of mid-to-high single-digit economic growth, rising incomes and an emerging middle class’. The emerging narrative associated this with the democratisation of African states since the end of the Cold War, comparative peace, greater availability of mobile phones and the Internet, and an increase in African consumer spending as well as a growth in entrepreneurship. For many development specialists and influential Western commentators, this growth revival displaced a deep sense of ‘Afro-pessimism’ that dominated the closing decades of the 20th century. The new Afro-optimism, Afro-futurism and post westernism outlooks have fostered hope that poverty can be reduced at a faster pace. In reality, the poor African masses still feel little from aggregate growth. Despite this, the term has spawned a number of spin-off ideas, such as “Latin America Rising” and “Asia Rising.’ Cohosts Anthropology Southern Africa and the Ethnological and Anthropological Society of Nigeria invite a multi-disciplinary approach to explore this broad and specific narrative of ‘rising’ in both Africa and across the globe.