Secessionism in African Politics: Aspiration, Grievance, Performance, Disenchantment

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Secessionism in African Politics: Aspiration, Grievance, Performance, Disenchantmen
Edited by Mareike Schomerus, Pierre Englebert, and Lotje de Vries
Palgrave Macmillan, 2018
501 pp.

This collection of essays examines 14 secessionist attempts in Africa. Some are fairly well known—South Sudan’s split from Sudan, for instance, or the emergence of a de facto state of Somaliland within Somalia. But the contributors also analyze several less well-known cases, including that of the island of Anjouan, which declared independence from the Comoros in 1997 only to rejoin in 2001, and the emergence of a secessionist movement in the Caprivi region, in northeastern Namibia. No two cases are the same, but secessionist demands usually originate in some combination of a desire to escape economic or political marginalization, historical grievances, and unhappiness with institutional arrangements. Most intriguing, some movements start as gambits to gain attention from the national government and foreign powers. Discontent with the national borders inherited from colonialism has been a constant of postcolonial African politics, even if those tensions have led to secession in only two cases, Eritrea and South Sudan.

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