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Edgar Pieterse to Deliver GIPCA Great Texts/Big Questions Public Lecture

Africa's Urban RevolutionRenowned urbanist and academic Professor Edgar Pieterse, co-editor of Africa’s Urban Revolution, will discuss the topic of the book as part of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts‘ Great Texts/Big Questions public lecture series.

The lecture will take place on Wednesday 30 April at Hiddingh Hall in Cape Town, and is free. Refreshments will be served from 5 PM, and no booking is necessary.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 30 April 2014
  • Time: 5:00 PM for 5:30 PM
  • Venue: Hiddingh Hall
    UCT Hiddingh Campus
    31 Orange Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • Refreshments: Refreshments will be served
  • RSVP: GIPCA office,, 021 480 7156

Book Details

Kai Peters Shares the Question You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting an MBA

Steward LeadershipKai Peters, chief executive of the Ashridge Business School and co-author of Steward Leadership: A Maturational Perspective, has shared his thoughts on the value of doing an MBA with Rachel Savage from Management Today.

Peters suggests that people thinking of doing a full MBA later on in their careers need to ask themselves the following question: “Do you have ambitions to run the whole place or not?”

If that is not your main goal then Peters suggests doing shorter, more targeted courses.

Good management, as the blurb on the inside cover of Ann Francke’s practical new book states, makes a difference.

A CMI/Penna study shows that organisations that invest in management and leadership development perform 25 percent better than similar organisations that do not. A McKinsey/LSE study shows comparable results, and common sense surely confirms that good management is critical.

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Mark Swilling: “Africa Has a Unique Opportunity to Shape Its Own Future”

Just TransitionsMark Swilling, co-author of Just Transitions: Explorations of Sustainability in an Unfair World and Academic Director of the Sustainability Institute, recently delivered the keynote address at an event hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa to address the theme Greening Africa’s Economies and Structural Transformation.

Swilling touched on a variety of topics, including Africa’s identity withing the global picture, urbanisation, economic changes, learning to love our cities, farming by restoring the soils and breaking the resource curse. He notes that “Africa has a unique opportunity to shape its own future. It can choose to wait and see how things pan out and then respond; or it can anticipate a future and position itself accordingly.”

As an African who spends a lot of time anticipating African futures, I often get asked where I draw my inspiration. I used to refer to two great African texts: Ben Okri’s Mental Fight and Wangari Mathai’s speech when she received the Nobel Prize. But there is a third that I can put on this short list. I am referring to the speech by Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, 30 January 2014. This speech, for those of you who may not have read it, is an email written in 2063 looking back at how Africa had been transformed during the 50 years since 2013 into a peaceful place where everyone can live a good life.

What I want to do today is contribute to the discussion of this vision of Africa in 2063 so eloquently captured in this speech. I want to suggest ways of thinking about the pathways to this vision that I think will be required if we Africans want to achieve our vision

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Laurie Nathan Comments on Project Veritas and the Vetting of ANC MPs by Intelligence Agents

Falls the ShadowIn 2008 Laurie Nathan, co-editor of Falls the Shadow and director of the Centre for Mediation in Africa, co-wrote a review of South Africa’s security services, which focused especially on the infringement of constitutional rights.

The report “warned of scenarios not very different to Project Veritas,” writes Phillip de Wet in an article for the Mail & Guardian. The project De Wet refers to is an intelligence operation based at the ANC headquarters which includes in its duties the vetting of potential Parliament members, “helping to select those who are to oversee the activities of intelligence agencies for the next five years.”

Nathan tells De Wet that the government was warned of this kind of of problem but did not listen, which he says may be due to in-house nature of the issue: “All revelations about illegal political engagement by domestic intelligence has not been in relation to opposition parties. It has almost always been about the internal factional issue in the ruling alliance.”

In 2008 Kasrils scrambled to make public the so-called Matthews report, to sound the alarm on the excesses of the security services and the urgent need for comprehensive reform. The report, written by former deputy minister Joe Matthews, former National Assembly speaker Frene Ginwala and academic Laurie Nathan, warned of scenarios not very different to Project Veritas.

As far as can be ascertained in the shadowy realms of intelligence, the report has been entirely ignored ever since.

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Rob Brooks: Sexual Selection is Always Happening

Sex, Genes and Rock 'n Roll“The idea that human intelligence is on a slippery evolutionary slope lubricated by the protections societies provide to their less fortunate or well-endowed citizens has always been a dangerous one” writes Rob Brooks, author of Sex, Genes and Rock ‘n Roll: How evolution has shaped the modern world, in a recent article for The Conversation.

Brooks discusses a paper by Brian Hollis and Tadeusz Kawecki which is titled “Male cognitive performance declines in the absence of sexual selection”. Brooks comes to the conclusion that monogamy undermines intelligence, noting that “sexual selection is always happening”:

Modern civilisation has – thank goodness – eliminated many of the ghastly ways in which our ancestors could die. And that has dampened natural selection on survival. But sexual selection is always happening. And much of sexual selection’s power comes from the fact that humans aren’t life-long exclusive monogamists.

People compete for status and wealth with which to attract mates, they do the most outlandish things to get noticed and they engage in the most elaborate forms of persuasion to court and seduce their mates. Either to find somebody to settle down with, or to find another, or another. These are all expressions of intelligence, and while smarts don’t always win out, they usually help.

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Chidi Oguamanam: Africa’s Intellectual Property Rights Need to Be Re-evaluated

Innovation and Intellectual PropertyChidi Oguamanam, co-editor of Innovation and Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa, has written an article on Africa’s intellectual property rights, saying that they are “dismal and in urgent need of re-evaluation”

“As a continent, Africa needs more independent and less suspect capacity building on IP that breaks from the prevailing status quo,” Oguamanam says. “Such an initiative could serve as an integral part of tertiary education curriculum development and be deliverable at graduate level, as a congenitally interdisciplinary endeavour.”

Africa’s experience with intellectual property rights, or IPRs, is dismal and in urgent need of re-evaluation. Not many dispute the observation that ‘for more than a century, African states have participated in IPR regimes with little or nothing to show for it in terms of economic development and transfer of technology’.

IPR is that branch of law that deals with the governance of knowledge, information and innovation, including the allocation of benefits or rights arising from their production and exploitation.

Book details

Video: Susan Parnell Defines and Discusses Africa’s Urban Revolution

Africa's Urban RevolutionSusan Parnell recently spoke to the Africa Research Institute about Africa’s Urban Revolution, which she co-edited with Edgar Pieterse. She discusses the key components of the urban revolution underway in Africa and defines the concept of the continent’s urban revolution.

Parnell points out that the ambiguity of the term “Africa’s urban revolution” is important as it tells us there are many things going on simultaneously: “Just the very fact of this profound shift in where people live, that the majority of people now grow up in cities (and that will be increasingly the case), is the essence of the revolution, but that fact is the catalyst for a whole lot of other revolutions.”

Watch the interview:

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Videos: Highlights from the Launch of Africa’s Urban Revolution

Africa's Urban RevolutionAfrica’s Urban Revolution, edited by Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse, was recently launched with a panel discussion and eloquent presentations from Jo Beall of the British Council and Sean Fox of the University of Bristol.

Beall and Fox steered the discussion on how conflict and population growth are affecting cities in Africa, as well as the complexities that revolve around cities, conflict and demographic changes.

Fox believes there is a widely held mistaken belief that urbanisation in African cities is increasing, and stressed an important distinction between urban growth and urbanisation.

“There’s a widespread misconception that urbanisation is growing really rapidly in Africa,” he said. “It’s not. It’s just simply not happening. Urban populations are growing really fast, but the percentage of people living in urban areas is growing quite slowly. And this is a distinction between urban growth and urbanisation which is often not appreciated but has significant implications in how we think about the challenges that we’re facing.”

In her presentation, Beall said it is important to “break apart” the perception that Africa is a “dark”, “damaged” continent.

“[With] people who work on cities there’s a great tendency to go towards the noir – the dark, the black – to talk about urban distopias,” she said. “And when you combine that with Africa, which is often seen as ‘the lost continent’ – the hopeless continent, according to the economists, a continent ravaged by war – the potential to look at conflict and cities leads you to a place that could be very dark. One of the things we wanted to do was break that apart.”

Watch the launch highlights:

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Listen to the panel discussion:

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Podcast: Marie Huchzermeyer on Informal Settlements, Exclusion and City Rights

Cities with 'Slums'Towards the end of last year, Marie Huchzermeyer gave her inaugural lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand, titled “Humanism, creativity and rights: invoking Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city in the tension presented by informal settlements in South Africa today”.

Wits University has now shared a recording of her lecture, in which Huchzermeyer discusses how informal settlements and other unauthorised low income dwellings are “evidence of deep rooted exclusions that signal urgent attention to the realisation of city rights”.

Huchzermeyer is a professor in the School of Architecture and Planning and author of Cities with ‘Slums’: From informal settlement eradication to a right to the city in Africa.

Listen to the podcast, read about her lecture and have a look at photographs from the event:

“Informal settlements and other forms of unauthorised low income dwellings in South African cities, and the struggles that are fought in their defence, are evidence of deep rooted exclusions that signal urgent attention to the realisation of city rights.”

This is according to Professor Marie Huchzermeyer from the School of Architecture and Planning in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment who delivered an inaugural lecture on Humanism, Creativity and Rights: Invoking Henri Lefebvre’s Right to the City in the Tension Presented by Informal Settlements in South Africa Today.

Book details

Morten Jerven: “Economic History of Africa is Experiencing a Strong Resurgence”

Poor NumbersMorten Jerven recently spoke to SJ Cooper-Knock from Democracy in Africa about his work over the past year and what he thinks will be the main focus of African economics in 2014.

Jerven explains that in 2013 his research focused on “the histories of material progress and how this is measured in economic statistics,” which was the subject of his book, Poor Numbers: How we are mislead by African development statistics and what to do about it.

“Economic history of Africa is experiencing a strong resurgence,” Jerven says of the promising developments in his field over the last year. Developmental statistics became a mainstream issue, with figures such as Bill Gates taking an interest. Jerven says that this will continue to be a point of interest in 2014 and that the relationship between governance and growth will also be examined.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and your area of interest.

I am an economic historian, and my work has focused on economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, both in the very long run and in the independence period. Most recently I have done a lot of work on the histories of material progress and how this is measured in economic statistics. This work has been published in Poor Numbers, and Economic Growth and Measurement Reconsidered in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, 1965-1995 forthcoming in 2014 with Oxford University Press.

Book details

  • Poor Numbers: How we are mislead by African development statistics and what to do about it by Morten Jerven
    EAN: 9781775820659
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