Godfrey Mwakikagile (born 4 October 1949 in Kigoma) is a prominent Tanzanian scholar and author specialising in African studies. He was also a news reporter for the Standard (later renamed the Daily News) — the oldest and largest English newspaper in Tanzania and one of the three largest in East Africa.
|Born||4 October 1949|
|Occupation||scholar, author and news reporter|
|Alma mater||Wayne State University (1975)|
|Notable works||Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era (2007)
Africa and The West (2000)
|Relatives||Elijah Mwakikagile (father) and Syabumi Mwakikagile (née Mwambapa, mother)|
Mwakikagile came to prominence after he wrote Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era — a major biographical book on the life of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere set in the backdrop of Africa's early post-colonial years and the liberation wars in the countries of southern Africa in which Nyerere played a major role.
Growing up in the 1950s, Mwakikagile experienced a form of apartheid and racial segregation in Tanganyika, what is now mainland Tanzania, and wrote extensively about it in some of his works, as he did about the political climate of Tanganyika during the colonial era.
- 1 Early life and family
- 2 Writings
- 3 Newspaper background
- 4 Criticism of post-colonial Africa
- 5 Vision for an African Federal Government
- 6 Controversy
- 7 Academic reviews
- 8 References
- 9 Selected bibliography
Early life and familyEdit
Mwakikagile was born on 4 October 1949 into a middle class Tanganyikan family in the town of Kigoma, Western Province of Tanganyika – what is now mainland Tanzania. His father Elijah Mwakikagile, who once worked at the internationally renowned Amani Research Institute in the late forties, was a medical assistant during the British colonial era and was one of the very few in the entire country of 10 million people. Medical assistants underwent an intensive three-year training after finishing secondary school and worked as a substitute for doctors. They were even called madaktari (doctors) in Swahili and formed the backbone of the medical system in Tanganyika as was the case in other British colonies. There were fewer than 10 doctors in colonial Tanganyika in the forties and fifties and only 12 at independence on 9 December 1961. And there were fewer than 300 medical assistants during those years serving millions of people in a vast country of more than 365,000 square miles. Godfrey's mother Syabumi Mwakikagile (née Mwambapa), a pupil of Tanganyika's prominent British feminist educator and later member of parliament Mary Hancock, was a housewife. The eldest of his siblings, he was named Godfrey by his aunt Isabella, one of his father's younger sisters, and was baptised at an early age.
His father played a critical role in his early life and education. He was a very strict disciplinarian and taught him at home when he was attending primary school and during the first two years of middle school before he left home to go to boarding school when he was 13 years old. His mother, who taught Sunday school and was a volunteer adult education teacher for some time teaching adults how to read and write, also taught him at home when he was in primary school.
Mwakikagile grew up in a politically conscious family. His parents, especially his father, were friends with some of the leading figures in the struggle for independence, and some renowned African nationalists and Pan-Africanists of that era. They included Austin Shaba, Elijah Mwakikagile's co-worker as a medical assistant and earlier his classmate at a medical training centre at Tanganyika's largest hospital in the capital Dar es Salaam later transformed into the country's first medical school who also served as a member of parliament for Mtwara and cabinet member in the first independence cabinet— serving as Minister of Local Government under Julius Nyerere, and later as Minister of Health and Housing, and as Deputy Speaker of Parliament; John Mwakangale, a classmate of Elijah Mwakikagile from Standard One at Tukuyu Primary School to Malangali Secondary School. They came from the same area, five miles apart, and knew each other since childhood. Mwakangale became one of the prominent leaders of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) under the leadership of Pan-Africanist and African nationalist Julius Nyerere.
John Mwakangale was also the first leader Nelson Mandela met in newly independent Tanganyika in January 1962 - just one month after the country emerged from colonial rule - when Mandela secretly left South Africa on 11 January to seek assistance from other African countries in the struggle against apartheid and wrote about him in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. Tanganyika was the first independent African country Mandela visited and the first in the region to win independence. He went to other African countries using a travel document given to him by the government of Tanganyika. The document stated: "This is Nelson Mandela, a citizen of South Africa. He has permission to leave Tanganyika, and to return here." Tanganyika was chosen by other African leaders in May 1963 to be the headquarters of all the African liberation movements under the leadership of President Julius Nyerere when they met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
John Mwakangale was also a member of parliament and served in the cabinet as Minister of Labour under Nyerere in the early part of independence. Professor John Iliffe in his book A Modern History of Tanganyika described John Mwakangale as a "vehement nationalist." He did not even want American Peace Corps in Tanganyika and accused them of causing trouble. He was quoted in a news report, "M.P. Attacks American Peace Corps," which was the main story on the front page of the Tanganyika Standard, 12 June 1964, stating: "These people are not here for peace, they are here for trouble. We do not want any more Peace Corps."
American Peace Corps were some of Godfrey Mwakikagile's teachers in middle school and secondary school. One of them was Leonard Levitt, his teacher in middle school in 1964 who became a renowned author. He wrote, among other works, An African Season, the first book ever written by a Peace Corps.
Other classmates of Elijah Mwakikagile were Wilbard B.K. Mwanjisi from Standard One at Tukuyu Primary School to Malangali Secondary School who became a doctor, prominent member of TANU and, before leaving government service, was president of a national organisation for African government employees during colonial rule; Jeremiah Kasambala, Elijah Mwakikagile's classmate at Malangali Secondary School and former head of the Rungwe African Cooperative Union responsible for mobilising support from farmers to join the struggle for independence. Kasambala went on to become a cabinet member in the early years of independence—taking over the portfolio for Commerce and Cooperatives and later served as Minister of Industries, Minerals and Energy; and Brown Ngwilulupi, Secretary General of the Cooperative Union of Tanganyika (CUT) during the first administration, appointed by President Nyerere.
Ngwilulupi later left the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, and became co-founder of Tanzania's largest opposition party Chadema and served as vice chairman. Brown Ngwilulupi and Elijah Mwakikagile came from the same village four miles south of the town of Tukuyu in Rungwe District in the Southern Highlands Province and were classmates from Standard One at Tukuyu Primary School to Malangali Secondary School, one of the top schools in colonial Tanganyika where Elijah was head prefect. They later became relatives-in-law. Their respective wives, who came from the same area their husbands came from, were first cousins to each other and were born and brought up together in the same household. Brown Ngwilulupi was an elder brother of Ephraim Weidi Ngwilulupi Mwasakafyuka—a former senior diplomat at the Tanzania Mission to the United Nations and at the Tanzanian embassy in Ethiopia and later Tanzania's ambassador to France and Nigeria who also left the ruling party and joined one of the main opposition parties where he became head of its foreign affairs division. He also once served as head of the Africa and Middle East Division at the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The American ambassador to Tanzania, James W. Spain, described Weidi Mwasakafyuka in the following terms, according to a "Public Library of US Diplomacy" report, 5 May 1976:
"E.W. N. Mwasakafyuka, Director of Africa and Middle East Division of Foreign Ministry (also Head of the OAU Affairs Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), educated at the University of California-Los Angeles (and Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada)...is a career Foreign Service Officer who has served in Addis Ababa and at the U.N. He drafts many Tanzanian policy papers on African matters, and is articulate, outspoken, approachable, and confidential, prepared to listen to US points of view with an open mind. He is friendly with Americans, has a strong but dry sense of humor, and looks like a black Disraeli....FonOff (Foreign Office) number one African expert...a forthright source when he is unleashed. A regular embassy contact."
Godfrey Mwakikagile is also a first cousin of Brigadier-General Owen Rhodfrey Mwambapa, a graduate of Sandhurst, a royal military academy in the United Kingdom, and former head of the Tanzania Military Academy, an army officers' training school at Monduli in Arusha Region. Owen's father was an elder brother of Godfrey's mother, the last-born in her family. And Godfrey's father was a first cousin of one of Tanzania's first commercial airline pilots Oscar Mwamwaja who was shot but survived when he was a co-pilot of an Air Tanzania plane that was hijacked on 26 February 1982 and forced to fly from Tanzania to Britain. Elijah's mother was an elder sister of Oscar's father.
Education and early employmentEdit
Godfrey Mwakikagile attended Kyimbila Primary School - founded by British feminist educator Mary Hancock and transformed into a co-educational institution - near the town of Tukuyu, and Mpuguso Middle School in Rungwe District, Mbeya Region, in the Southern Highlands. The headmaster of Mpuguso Middle School, Moses Mwakibete, was his math teacher in 1961 and later became a judge at the High Court of Tanzania appointed by President Nyerere. Mwakikagile also attended Songea Secondary School in Ruvuma Region which was once a part of the Southern Province, and Tambaza High School (up to Form Six) in Dar es Salaam.
While still in high school at Tambaza, Mwakikagile joined the editorial staff of the Standard (later renamed the Daily News) in 1969 as a reporter. Founded in 1930, it was the oldest and largest English newspaper in the country and one of the three largest in East Africa, a region comprising Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
After finishing high school in November 1970, Mwakikagile joined the National Service in January 1971 which was mandatory for all those who had completed secondary school, high school and college or university studies. He underwent training, which included basic military training, at Ruvu National Service camp when it was headed by his former primary school teacher Eslie Mwakyambiki before he became a Member of Parliament (MP) and Deputy Minister of Defence and National Service under President Nyerere. Mwakikagile then progressed to another National Service camp in Bukoba on the shores of Lake Victoria in the North-West Region bordering Uganda.
After leaving National Service, Mwakikagile returned to the Daily News. His editor then was Sammy Mdee who later served as President Nyerere's press secretary and as Tanzania's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, and then Benjamin Mkapa who helped him to further his studies in the United States. Years later, Mkapa became President of Tanzania after serving as President Nyerere's press secretary, Minister of Foreign Affairs and as ambassador to Nigeria, Canada and the United States among other cabinet and ambassadorial posts.
Mwakikagile also worked as an information officer at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (now known as the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports) in Dar es Salaam before going to the United States in November 1972 for further studies.
In the U.S., Mwakikagile served as president of the African Students Union whilst attending Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from that university in 1975. He is listed as one of the "notable people" in academia among all of the alumni of Wayne State University in an article in Wikipedia about the school.
After completing his studies at Wayne State, Mwakikagile progressed to Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1976. One of his professors of economics and head of the economics department at Aquinas was Kenneth Marin who had worked as an economist for the government of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Before he went to Tanzania, Professor Marin was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve on Wage and Price Control during the mid-sixties. President Johnson appointed him as a member of the White House Consumer Advisory Council. In 1966, Professor Marin was a member of a U.S. State Department evaluation team that was assigned to review various performances in the economic and political arena in six South American countries.
On an Aquinas College website, Godfrey Mwakikagile is described as a "renowned African studies scholar" and together with three other alumni is listed as being among "some of the most esteemed" in the history of the school.
Racism in colonial TanganyikaEdit
Tanganyika was a racially stratified society during colonial rule. Mwakikagile lived under this system of racial segregation and discrimination when he was growing up in Tanganyika in the fifties. Racial segregation based on skin colour similar to those in apartheid South Africa and the United States was inflicted against the native Africans by the European colonialists. Lavatories were labelled "Europeans," "Asians" and "Africans." Some hotels and bars were labelled "Europeans." There were separate schools for Europeans, Asians and Africans. Facilities for Africans - black people - were the worst.
African leaders, including Julius Nyerere, campaigning for independence were subjected to the same racial indignities which continued even after the end of colonial rule, especially during the early years, but drew a swift response from the new government which was predominantly black and multi-racial. As Mwakikagile stated in his book Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, citing Legum and Mmari:
- "Mwalimu [Julius Nyerere] himself had experienced racial discrimination, what we in East Africa – and elsewhere including southern Africa – also call colour bar. As Colin Legum states in a book he edited with Tanzanian professor, Geoffrey Mmari, Mwalimu: The Influence of Nyerere:
- I was privileged to meet Nyerere while he was still a young teacher in short trousers at the very beginning of his political career, and to engage in private conversations with him since the early 1950s.
- My very first encounter in 1953 taught me something about his calm authority in the face of racism in colonial Tanganyika. I had arranged a meeting with four leaders of the nascent nationalist movement at the Old Africa Hotel in Dar es Salaam. We sat at a table on the pavement and ordered five beers, but before we could lift our glasses an African waiter rushed up and whipped away all the glasses except mine.
- I rose to protest to the white manager, but Nyerere restrained me. 'I am glad it happened,' he said, 'now you can go and tell your friend Sir Edward Twining [the colonial governor at the time] how things are in this country.'
- His manner was light and amusing, with no hint of anger.
Simple, yet profound. For, beneath the surface lay a steely character with a deep passion for justice across the colour line and an uncompromising commitment to the egalitarian ideals he espoused and implemented throughout his political career, favouring none.
Years later his son, Andrew Nyerere, told me about an incident that also took place in the capital Dar es Salaam shortly after Tanganyika won independence in 1961 near the school he and I attended and where we also stayed from 1969 - 1970. Like the incident earlier when Julius Nyerere was humiliated at the Old Africa Hotel back in 1953, this one also involved race. As Andrew stated in a letter to me in 2002 when I was writing this book:
'As you remember, Sheikh Amri Abeid was the first mayor of Dar es Salaam. Soon after independence, the mayor went to Palm Beach Hotel (near our high school, Tambaza, on United Nations Road in Upanga). There was a sign at the hotel which clearly stated: 'No Africans and dogs allowed inside.' He was blocked from entering the hotel, and said in protest, 'But I am the Mayor.' Still he was told, 'You will not get in.' Shortly thereafter, the owner of the hotel was given 48 hours to leave the country. When the nationalization exercise began, that hotel was the first to be nationalized.'
Such insults were the last thing that could be tolerated in newly independent Tanganyika. And President Nyerere, probably more than any other African leader, would not have tolerated, and did not tolerate, seeing even the humblest of peasants being insulted and humiliated by anyone including fellow countrymen." - (Godfrey Mwakikagile, Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, Fifth Edition, New Africa Press, 2010, pp. 501 – 502).
There was also residential segregation in urban areas reminiscent of apartheid South Africa and the United States during and even after the era of segregation. Members of different races lived in their own areas. Dar es Salaam was a typical example. As Trevor Grundy, a British journalist who worked in Tanzania at the same newspaper where Godfrey Mwakikagile also worked as a news reporter during the same period, stated in his review of Professor Thomas Molony's book, Nyerere - The Early Years:
"The British turned Tanganyika into an undeclared apartheid state that was socially divided between divided Africans, Europeans and Asians....It was British-style apartheid - their secret was never to give racial segregation a name." - (Trevor Grundy, "Julius Nyerere Reconsidered", review of Thomas Molony, Nyerere - The Early Years, africaunauthorised.com, 4 May 2015).
The years Godfrey Mwakikagile spent under segregation when he was growing up in different parts of Tanganyika shaped his thinking and perspective on race relations and on the impact of colonial rule on the colonised when he became a writer of non-fiction books about colonial and post-colonial Africa.
There was also racial discrimination in employment during colonial rule when Godfrey Mwakikagile was growing up in the fifties. Europeans, Asians and members of other races earned more than Africans did even if they had the same skills and level of education. His father was a victim of such discrimination when he worked for the colonial government, as he has stated in his autobiographical writings.
The struggle for independence in Tanganyika in the 1950s, Mwakikagile's formative years, was partly fuelled by such racial injustices which, years later, became the focus of some of his writings.
He has written about racism in his book Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties and other works including Life under British Colonial Rule: Recollections of an African in which he has described some incidents of racial injustice. One such incident involved his father when a white supervisor where he worked told him he could not have lunch in the office they shared or even put it on the table. But the supervisor could eat there.
Another one had to do with Godfrey Mwakikagile himself when, as a six-year-old walking to school with other boys, he was severely injured after being chased and bitten by a dog owned by a white couple who lived in a house the children went by everyday, on a public road, on their way to and from school. Decades later, he stated in his autobiographical writings, Life under British Colonial Rule: Recollections of an African published in 2018, that he still had a highly visible scar on his right knee where he was bitten by the dog. It was a large dog and it could have killed him.
The couple had two dogs, including a German shepherd, which used to chase the boys. They knew the children went by their house and saw them on their way to and from school everyday but did not tie the dogs or keep them on leashes.
The house was on a tea plantation at Kyimbila, the children passed through, and the husband was the manager of Kyimbila Tea Estate.
That was in 1956 when Godfrey Mwakikagile was in Standard One in primary school in Rungwe District in the Southern Highlands Province, as he stated in his books Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, My Life as an African, Life under British Colonial Rule and Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African Statesman.
After being bitten by the dog, he stated in his autobiographical writings that he went on to school where he attended class without getting any help – there was no medical assistance at the primary school, not even a First Aid kit – until he returned home in the evening. He continued to go to school in the following days. And nothing could be done to the dog owners during those days. It was colonial rule, blacks did not have the same rights whites had and "knew their place" in terms of social status as colonial subjects not as equal citizens in a racially divided society which was vertically structured not only to keep whites on top of other races, especially blacks, but also virtually above the law.
Godfrey Mwakikagile also stated in his autobiographical works that when he was bitten by the dog, the attack was seared in his memory but as a six-year-old he did not see it in terms of racism until he became a teenager. Years later, he stated in some of his writings that had the children been white, the white couple would probably not have allowed the dogs to roam freely knowing they could attack them.
The colonial rulers and many white settlers had total disregard for the wellbeing of Africans as Godfrey Mwakikagile himself experienced when he was growing up in colonial Tanganyika and almost lost his life when he was attacked by a dog owned by a white couple who did not care about the safety of African children, or any other blacks, passing by their house even though they walked on a public road. As he stated in his book, Life under British Colonial Rule:
"There is no question that justice was colour-conscious during colonial rule. That was one of the tragedies of being colonised; our status defined by the colour of our skin.
Colour is immaterial but it carries a lot of weight." - (Godfrey Mwakikagile, Life under British Colonial Rule, New Africa Press, 2018, p. 108; G. Mwakikagile, Black Conservatives in the United States, 2006, p. 96).
Mwakikagile's first book, Economic Development in Africa, was published in June 1999. He has maintained a steady pace since then, writing more than 70 books in 20 years as his bibliography shows, mostly about Africa during the post-colonial era. He has been described as a political scientist and as a historian although his works defy classification. He has written about history, politics, economics, as well as contemporary and international affairs from an African and a Third World perspective.
He takes an interdisciplinary approach in his works combining history, political science, economics, philosophy, cultural and international studies and other academic disciplines in his analysis of a wide range of issues focusing on Africa, especially during the post-colonial era. He has also written some books about the African diaspora, mainly Black America and the Afro-Caribbean region including Afro-Caribbean communities in Britain and the United States.
Book: Nyerere and Africa: End of an EraEdit
He is known for his book Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, published not long after Nyerere died. The book brought Mwakikagile into prominence in Tanzania and elsewhere. He is considered by many experts to be an authority on Nyerere and one of his most prominent biographers. Professor David Simon, a specialist in development studies at the University of London and Director of the Centre for Development Areas Research at Royal Holloway College, published in 2005 excerpts from the book in his compiled study, Fifty Key Thinkers on Development. Mwakikagile's book was reviewed by West Africa magazine in 2002. It was also reviewed by a prominent Tanzanian journalist and political analyst, Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala of the Daily News, Dar es Salaam, in October 2002, and is seen as a comprehensive work, in scope and depth, on Nyerere. The same book was also reviewed by Professor Roger Southall of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), formerly of Rhodes University, South Africa, in the bi-annual interdisciplinary publication, the Journal of Contemporary African Studies (Taylor & Francis Group), 22, No. 3, in 2004. Professor Southall was also the editor of the journal during that period.
Others who reviewed the book include Professor A.B. Assensoh, a Ghanaian teaching at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, in the United States. He reviewed the first edition of Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era in the African Studies Review, an academic journal of the African Studies Association, in 2003.
It is also a comprehensive work on post-colonial Africa in terms of the major events covered since the sixties when most countries on the continent won independence.
Events covered include emergence and consolidation of the one-party state as a continental phenomenon after the end of colonial rule; the Congo crisis triggered by the secession of Katanga Province and the assassination of Patrice Lumumba; the end of Mobutu's reign over Congo after decades in power since Lumumba's assassination; the Zanzibar revolution followed by the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form Tanzania; declaration of independence by Biafra and subsequent civil war ignited by the secession of the Eastern Region resolutely opposed by Federal Nigeria; the war between Tanzania and Uganda under Idi Amin.
Other events Mwakikagile has covered in his book include Western involvement in the countries of southern Africa in support of white minority governments; the liberation struggle in Mozambique and eventual victory by the freedom fighters of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo); the war in Zimbabwe leading to victory by the liberation forces of ZANU and ZAPU; the struggle for independence in Angola led by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and subsequent victory over the Portuguese colonial forces.
The influence of Nyerere as a continental and Third World leader also constitutes a significant part of the book including a chapter on Nyerere and Nkrumah on the different approaches they took in an attempt to achieve continental unity under one government.
The first and last chapters provide a comprehensive look at the continent from the sixties to the nineties and beyond, constituting a panoramic view of post-colonial Africa during some of its most turbulent times since the end of colonial rule.
The book has also been cited by a number of African leaders including South African Vice-President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in one of her speeches about African leadership and development in which she quoted the author.
The premier of Western Cape province in South Africa, Helen Zille of the Democratic Alliance (DA), the main opposition party in the country, also mentioned Godfrey Mwakikagile in her speech in parliament on 28 March 2017 in defence of what she wrote about colonialism in her Tweets, stating that he was one of the prominent intellectuals who articulated the same position she did on the impact of colonialism on the colonised. Others she mentioned in the same speech were Professor Ali Mazrui, an internationally renowned scholar from Kenya, and Nigerian award-winning author Chinua Achebe. She also cited Nelson Mandela and former prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, saying they expressed similar sentiments these leading intellectuals and herself did on the impact of colonialism on Africa and elsewhere.
Book: Africa and the WestEdit
Godfrey Mwakikagile's 2000 book Africa and the West was favourably reviewed in a number of publications, including the influential West Africa magazine by editor Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, who described Mwakikagile as an author who articulates the position of African Renaissance thinkers. The book has been described as an appeal to Africans to respect their cultures, values, and traditions and take a firm stand against alien ideas that pollute African minds and undermine Africa. A strong condemnation of the conquest of Africa by the imperial powers, it is also a philosophical text used in a number of colleges and universities in the study of African identity, philosophy, and history.
Mwakikagile has written about the impact of Western influence on Africa and how it has affected the continent's destiny even in terms of perception of its people by the rest of the world. Although he concedes there may have been some benefits – on both sides – from the interaction between Africa and Europe, he contends that the effect of Western influence on Africans has largely been negative and has served to reinforce racial stereotypes about Africans which have a long history in the minds of Westerners from the first time they came into contact with Africans.
He contends that racism has been a major factor in this interaction between Africa and the West, including total disregard for the wellbeing of Africans which was a continental phenomenon especially during colonial rule even if the parallels were not exact; it was the same experience, and humiliation, nonetheless, be it in Tanganyika, Kenya, Guinea or Mali. As he states in his book Africa and The West:
“In all the African colonies, exploitation went hand in hand with degradation and brutality. In the Congo under the Belgian King Leopold II, Belgians chopped off the hands and arms of Africans who did not collect enough rubber from the forest. In Tanganyika, when it was German East Africa, Germans introduced forced labor and corporal punishment, virtually enslaving Africans, a practice which triggered the Maji Maji war of resistance from 1905 – 07 and covered almost half of the country. The uprising almost ended German rule which was saved only after reinforcements were rushed from Germany.
The French in West Africa also introduced forced labor. Some of the leaders of independent Africa toiled in those labor camps. Madeira Keita, a native of Mali who was active in the politics of Guinea before it won independence in 1958 and collaborated closely with Sekou Toure in founding the Democratic Party of Guinea, was one of them. In April 1959, he became Interior Minister of Mali, and in August 1960, he also became Minister of National Defense, holding two ministerial posts under President Modibo Keita. He related his experience as a conscripted laborer:
'Before 1945, there was a colonial regime with government by decree, the regime of the indignat. The indignat form of government permitted the colonial administration to put Africans in prison without any trial. Sometimes you were put in prison for two weeks because you did not greet the administrator or the commander. You were happy enough if they did not throw stones at you or send you to a work camp, because there was also forced labor at that time. In 1947, I met French journalists who were very surprised to learn that forced labor was nonvoluntary and not paid for. Transportation was not even covered; nor were food and lodging. The only thing that was covered was work.'
The conquest of Africa inexorably led to such brutality because its purpose was exploitation which has no room for compassion. It was an invasion we could very well have done without. The baneful foreign influence Africa is still subjected to is a result of that invasion. And we are now inextricably linked with our former conquerors, for better or for worse, in an international system which accentuates inequalities and from which no part of humanity can extricate itself.
But the materialism of the West, which has found its way into Africa with devastating impact, must be counterbalanced with the spirituality and sense of sharing of the African which animates his culture, indeed his very being." - Godfrey Mwakikagile, Africa and The West, Huntington, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2000, pp. 14 – 15; Madeira Keita, "Le Parti Unique en Afrique," in Presence Africaine, No. 30, February – March 1960; and Madeira Keita, "The Single Party in Africa," in Paul E. Sigmund, ed., The Ideologies of the Developing Nations, New York: Praeger, 1963, p. 170. On the African uprising and war of resistance against German colonial rule in Tanganyika, see, among other works, G. C. K. Gwassa and John Iliffe, eds., Records of the Maji-Maji Rising, Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Publishing House, 1968).
Mwakikagile further stated in Africa and The West:
"The argument that we blacks are genetically inferior to members of other races is nothing new. It is a stereotype rooted in Western intellectual tradition and has even been given "credibility" by some of the most eminent thinkers of the Western world including Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, David Hume, and Baron de Montesquieu. Some of them did not even consider blacks to be full human beings. As Montesquieu stated in The Spirit of the Laws:
'These creatures are all over black, and with such a flat nose, that they can scarcely be pitied. It is hardly to be believed that God, who is a wise Being, should place a soul, especially a good soul, in such a black, ugly body. The Negroes prefer a glass necklace to that gold which polite nations so highly value: can there be a greater proof of their wanting common sense? It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures to be men.'
The other philosophers were no less racist. According to Kant:
'The Negroes of Africa have received from nature no intelligence that rises above the foolish. The difference between the two races (black and white) is thus a substantial one: it appears to be just as great in respect of the faculties of the mind as in color.'
'I am apt to suspect the Negroes...to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences...Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction betwixt these breeds of men.'
And according to Hegel:
'Africa...is no historical part of the world; it has no movement or development to exhibit.'
It is a sentiment echoed more than 100 years later in contemporary times by many people including British historian Arnold Toynbee who died in 1975. As he put it:
'The black races alone have not contributed positively to any civilization.'
And in the words of that great humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer:
'The Negro is a child, and with children nothing can be done without the use of authority. We must, therefore, so arrange the circumstances of daily life that my natural authority can find expression. With regard to the Negroes, then, I have coined the formula: 'I am your brother, it is true, but your elder brother"...
The conquest of Africa led not only to oppression and exploitation, but also to denigration of her culture and indigenous institutions. Africans, at least a vary large number of them, were brainwashed into believing that they had no history they could be proud of; that all their customs and traditions were bad, and that even their languages were bad.... When Africa was conquered by the imperial powers, she was also conquered by ideas...as a very effective weapon for conquering other people by conquering their minds....
There is no other continent which is endowed with so much in terms of natural resources. But there is also no other continent where it has been so easy for foreigners to take what does not belong to them.... Because of the pervasive nature of Western influence, its negative impact has reached all parts of the world, including Africa where the devastation wrought is difficult to contain because of the underdeveloped nature of our economies, and also because of our inability to resist such penetration. The sheer scope of such influence, as well as its negative attraction especially among the youth who are mesmerized by the glitter of the West, is mind-boggling and far beyond our capacity to resist it. That is especially the case in the cities which continue to attract millions of people in search of better - read, Western - life. It is a burden Africa cannot bear.
The West may have harnessed the forces of nature and pushed the frontiers of knowledge in many areas, from which Africa has indeed benefited as has the rest of the world. But Africa's contribution – material and spiritual as well as intellectual – to the growth of Western civilization has never been fully acknowledged. Nor has the destruction of African civilization by the West through imperial conquest. That is undoubtedly one of the saddest chapters in the history of relations between Africa and the West. As Immanuel Kant, although a racist, conceded in one of his works Eternal Peace and Other Essays:
'If we compare the barbarian instances of inhospitality...with the inhuman behavior of the civilized, and especially the commercial, states of our continent, the injustice practiced by them even in their first contact with foreign lands and peoples fills us with horror; the mere visiting of such peoples being regarded by them as equivalent to a conquest...The Negro lands,...The Cape of Good Hope, etc., on being discovered, were treated as countries that belonged to nobody; for the aboriginal inhabitants were reckoned as nothing...And all this has been done by nations who make a great ado about their piety, and who, while drinking up iniquity like water, would have themselves regarded as the very elect of orthodox faith.'
Africa has yet to recover from the multiple wounds inflicted on her by this Western invasion. But there is a glimmer of hope. And that is traditional Africa. In spite of all the devastating blows our continent has sustained from the West, traditional Africa continues to be the continent's spiritual anchor and bedrock of our values without which we are no more than a dilapidated house shifting on quick sand. It is to traditional society that we must turn to save Africa from the West, and also save ourselves – from ourselves....Our future may lie in the past." - (G. Mwakikagile, Africa and The West, ibid., pp. vii – ix, vi, 208, 218).
If Africans don't do that, true African Renaissance is impossible. It is traditional Africa which defines who and what we are as a people and as an organic entity because it is the heart and soul, and essence, of our very being, but capable of coexistence with others on the basis of equality without necessarily leading to a higher synthesis of cultures at the expense of individual cultural identities, he contends.
Mwakikagile further contends that it is this essence of African-ness which is acknowledged even by some Westernised or brainwashed Africans in rare moments of nostalgia when they say: That is how we lived before the coming of Europeans; that is how our ancestors lived; that is what our ancestors did; not everything was good but they were good old days; our communal and family ties were stronger in those days than they are today; that is how we lived as Africans; that is what it meant to be African - those days are gone.
It was an essence, of African-ness, that was not contaminated or threatened in its pristine beauty, by foreign influence, because there was no such influence. When they acknowledge this essence, they are invoking the essence of their very being, yet at the same repudiate it when they embrace Westernisation or any other foreign influence and identity because they think it is better than being African, he contends.
He goes on to argue that Africans can continue to be active members of the global community and benefit from modernisation without losing or compromising their essence as Africans. And that means reclaiming the spirit and values of traditional Africa and its institutions as well as indigenous knowledge to enable them to chart their way forward and navigate in the treacherous waters of globalisation which threatens the integrity and wellbeing of the continent in terms of identity and personality.
Otherwise we are going to copy everything from other people and become a product of other cultures as if we did not have our own essence and identity before we came into contact with them, he contends.
He goes on to argue that culture is a vital force and source of life for a nation. A nation without culture has no soul. It has no spiritual identity. And it has no vitality of its own as if it is a lifeless corporeal entity, he contends.
He also states that by turning against traditional Africa, modernised Africans have lost their soul since it is traditional Africa which is the essence of their very being.
Effects of colonial rule
Mwakikagile also contends that cultural imperialism has had a devastating impact on many Africans in terms of identity, with many of them preferring to be anything else but African because they are ashamed of their "primitive" African heritage and Africa's "backwardness." Some of them even proudly profess they have "forgotten" their native languages after living abroad, especially in the West, for only a few years; sometimes for only two to three - let alone five or more. They say they can no longer speak Swahili, Gikuyu and so on.
They can only speak English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish or some other European language. Many of them don't even know those languages well. Yet they are so proud of speaking them because they are not African languages. And there are those who anglicise their African names or spell them in some other European language because it makes them "sophisticated" and no longer "primitive."
He further states that many Africans like to mix English, French or Portuguese - languages of their former colonial masters - with the native languages they speak as a sign of "sophistication" and of being "well-educated," a phenomenon which, in East Africa, has led to the evolution of what is known as Kiswanglish, a hybrid of Kiswahili and English especially in Kenya and Tanzania. He goes on to state that this is especially so among the elite, most of whom are a product of Western education even in local schools in terms of intellectual preparation from the primary school level patterned after the colonial educational systems of Western origin.
Mwakikagile also contends that even African countries are described as English-speaking, French-speaking and Portuguese-speaking even though the vast majority of the people in those countries don't even understand let alone speak those languages. Africans themselves describe their countries in terms of being Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone instead of describing them as multi-lingual African-speaking countries since most of the people in those countries speak indigenous languages.
Mwakikagile further states that cultural imperialism also has been very destructive in terms of indigenous knowledge that has been lost through suppression of native languages which are the repository of such knowledge transmitted from one generation to the next. Languages of the conquerors who ruled Africa are still given priority at the expense of native languages even decades after independence.
Little or nothing is being done to give native languages the status they deserve as vital tools for the preservation and dissemination of indigenous knowledge while, at the same time, continuing to use the languages of the former colonial powers - English, French and Portuguese - out of necessity. It is as if native languages are irrelevant to the wellbeing of Africans, reinforcing the attitude that nothing good comes out of Africa except minerals and other natural resources. And nothing good, not even indigenous knowledge and institutions, ever came from Africans except labour, especially manual labour.
He also contends that Western education was intended to de-Africanise Africans, as educated Africans also deliberately attempted to de-Africanise themselves by turning against their own indigenous cultures and traditional ways of life and values - hence against their very being - in order to become "British," "French," and "Portuguese," the colonial powers which ruled Africa. Western education was also intended to alienate them from their own people - the more educated the less African - and turn them into loyal servants of their conquerors to perpetuate imperial domination of Africa even after the end of colonial rule; a goal that was achieved in most cases as has been demonstrated by the existence of neo-colonial governments in all parts of the continent since independence.
He says there were only a few exceptions such as Ghana under Nkrumah, Tanzania under Nyerere, and Guinea under Sekou Toure where the leaders made a genuine attempt to achieve true independence. But even in those countries, there were subversive elements within the government and elsewhere in society working with the imperialist powers to undermine the leaders in order to sabotage their efforts to achieve true liberation from foreign domination.
The colonial rulers never really left Africa; they only changed faces, he contends.
Mwakikagile goes on to state that conquest of the mind was the worst form of imperial subjugation, a position he articulates in his works, Life under British Colonial Rule: Recollections of an African and Conquest of the Mind: Imperial subjugation of Africa which was published on his birthday in 2019.
He contends that in many cases, the conquered ended up identifying with their conquerors. They emulated them and even tried to be more British than the British themselves, or more French than the French themselves, and glorified them as if they were the best specimen of mankind in spite of all the suffering and humiliation the colonial rulers inflicted on them.
He further contends that many Africans even identify themselves with their former colonial masters more than they do with fellow Africans who were ruled by other colonial powers. For example, Malians and Senegalese identify with the French more than they do with Ghanaians and Nigerians who were ruled by the British, further reinforcing the racist notion that Europeans are superior to Africans – it is better to be a part of them than it is to be a part of fellow Africans.
He goes on to state that the political and cultural divide between Francophone and Anglophone Africa is evident even in the African Union (AU). There is rivalry and even mistrust between member countries which were ruled by the two colonial powers: France and Britain. The most tragic case, within a country, is the bloody conflict between Anglophone Cameroon and Francophone Cameroon in a nation where the former colonial power, France, still wields enormous power and influence to the detriment of English-speaking Cameroonians of Southern Cameroons in the southwestern part of the country.
Mwakikagile contends that imperial control of Africa is manifested in many other ways, making a mockery of independence Africans are so proud of.
He also states that one of the tragedies that befell Africa was that to many Africans, their conquerors - European colonialists - not only became their role models; they emulated them in many ways and, by doing so, ended up destroying themselves in terms of their Africanness. He says it was a diminution of African identity and an attack on the African personality that goes on even today.
He contends all that is a victory for cultural imperialism not only in terms of language, European manners and mannerisms and culture adopted by many Africans but also in terms of ideas propagated by the West.
That is also the imperial logic, deliberately placing Africans in the sub-human category not only in terms of intellect but also in every other conceivable way.
And that was the attitude of some settlers even in Tanganyika, placing Africans in the same category with dogs or other animals, especially monkeys, when Godfrey Mwakikagile was growing up in the fifties. That was the case even after independence in the early sixties, like the white manager of a hotel in the nation's capital Dar es Salaam who had a sign at the entrance of his hotel clearly stating, "No Africans and dogs allowed inside", and even refused to let in the mayor simply because the mayor was black.
Mwakikagile also states that even members of other races, not just whites, have been equally condescending and outright racist towards blacks. They include Mahatma Gandhi who was not a champion of racial equality yet was revered by a number of African and African American leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King for using non-violent methods of civil disobedience in the struggle against racial injustices and to fight for India's independence.
When he lived in South Africa for 21 years, Gandhi expressed extreme racist views and described black people as "raw" kaffirs, an extremely offensive term used by racist white South Africans and others which is equivalent to calling black people niggers. He argued that Indians were "infinitely superior" to blacks who were "savage," "half-heathen natives" and inferior to other people as well in many ways. He also supported racial segregation to keep blacks away from members of other races. He said unlike blacks, Indians should be on the same level with whites because they were of the same stock; they had the same Aryan roots.
In 2016, his statue was removed from the University of Ghana in Accra because he did not deserve to be honoured as an icon in the struggle for racial equality and justice when he despised blacks. His statues sparked similar outrage in South Africa.
Mwakikagile further states that many Asians - mostly of Indian and Pakistani origin - and Arabs in Tanganyika, later Tanzania, also held racist views but did not express them openly in a country where they were far outnumbered by blacks and whose destiny lay in the hands of the black majority.
He also states that East Africans who were born and brought up during colonial rule had more direct experience with racism than West Africans did because of the larger white population in East Africa with significant settler communities, especially in Kenya, although smaller and fewer in Tanganyika. Many of them had bitter experience with the colonial rulers and the white settlers because of the racial injustices perpetrated against them, including doubts about their intelligence and even common sense expressed by some whites. As he stated in Africa and The West:
"Colonialism, as a system of oppression and exploitation, not only continued to plunder Africa but sought to instill in the minds of Africans feelings of inferiority to justify such domination...This is just one example – what Colonel Ewart Grogan, the doyen of the white settlers in colonial Kenya and leader of the Kenya British Empire Party, said about Africans attending the renowned Makerere University College in Uganda:
'Just teaching a lot of stupid monkeys to dress up like Europeans. Won’t do any good. Just cause a lot of discontent. They can never be like us, so better for them not to try.'
Another (Kenyan) settler in the 'Dark Continent' had this:
'I’ve actually got a farm hand who wears a tie – but the stupid bastard doesn’t realize you don’t wear a tie without a shirt!'
The implication is obvious. It is a sweeping indictment against all 'native Africans' as a bunch of idiots.
'It is time for the people in England to realize that the white man in Africa is not prepared and never will be prepared to accept the African as an equal, either socially or politically. Is there something in their chromosomes which makes them more backward and different from peoples living in the East and West?'" - (Godfrey Mwakikagile, ibid., pp. 9 – 10, 69; Colin M. Turnbull, The Lonely African, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962, pp. 89, 21, 90, 97).
Godfrey Mwakikagile also stated that the total disregard for the rights and wellbeing of Africans was earlier demonstrated by the arrogance of the imperial powers at the Berlin Conference in 1885 which led to the partition of Africa. He went on to state that Africans were not even represented at the conference, yet it was their fate that was being determined by Europeans who decided to partition the continent among themselves as if Africans did not even exist.
He also stated that this kind of arrogance and contempt for Africans was expressed in its crudest form in many ways including inflicting humiliating punishment on full-grown black men. They were subjected to corporal punishment at the hands of the white settlers who were young enough to be their sons. And shooting blacks was equated with shooting wild animals, as some white settlers in Kenya conceded, including those who had moved there from apartheid South Africa.
Arbitrary seizure of land, depriving Africans of their only means of livelihood, was simply seen as a white man's right exercised at will in what had become a white man's possession. In his book Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, Godfrey Mwakikagile has given one example of this kind of imperial arrogance demonstrated by what happened to Tom Mboya who, together with Oginga Odinga, was one of the leaders of the Kenyan delegation to the constitutional talks in London in 1960 on Kenyan independence. Mboya stated in his book Freedom and After that when he was walking on a street in London, one old English lady stopped him and asked him:
"Which one of our possessions do you come from?"
The British settlers in East Africa even wanted to establish a giant federation of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia and turn it into a white dominion. Kenya was even declared a “white man's country.” Blacks were nothing. It was a sentiment shared by many white settlers. Ewart Grogan, the most outspoken leader of the white settlers in Kenya, was known for such imperial arrogance, as Godfrey Mwakikagile stated in his book Africa and The West:
"A man with a flair for controversy and an outspoken racist, Grogan described himself as 'the baddest and boldest of a bold bad gang.' He also gained notoriety for publicly flogging Africans in Nairobi. The settlers from South Africa also came 'with the racial prejudices of that country. Frederick Jackson, Sir Charles Eliot's Deputy Commissioner, told the Foreign Office that the Protectorate was becoming a country of 'nigger-' and game-shooters'...
Colonel Ewart Grogan, a leader of the white settlers, bluntly stated: 'We Europeans have to go on ruling this country and rule it with iron discipline...If the whole of the Kikuyu land unit is reverted to the Crown, then every Kikuyu would know that our little queen was a great Bwana.' - (G. Mwakikagile, ibid., pp. 97, 113; E. S. Grogan, in the East African Standard, Nairobi, Kenya, 12 November 1910; Elspeth Huxley, White Man’s Country, Vol. I, London and New York: Macmillan, 1935, pp. 222 – 223, 261 - 262; George Padmore, Pan-Africanism or Communism?: The Coming Struggle for Africa, London: Denis Dobson, 1956, pp. 255, 256).
The humanity of Africans, and their lives, meant absolutely nothing to many whites, demonstrated by the injustices and indignities black people suffered under colonial rule. African children, even if not the primary target, sometimes witnessed their parents and other adults being humiliated by their colonial masters. It happened in Kenya, and in Tanganyika, Mwakikagile's home country, even when the countries were approaching independence; the fifties being one of the most critical periods in the history of colonial rule in Africa.
School children who grew up in the fifties were among the victims in terms racial inequalities. The problem was compounded by inequities in the provision of funds and facilities for education. Meagre resources were allocated to education for African children in sharp contrast with the amount spent on schools for European and Asian children. The school Godfrey Mwakikagile attended was no exception. It was also the dawn of a new era in the history of Tanganyika.
He stated in his autobiographical works that the fifties which was a decade that preceded independence was a transitional period which symbolised the identity and partly shaped the thinking of those who grew up in those years as a product of both eras, colonial and post-colonial. They also served as a bridge between the two.
Godfrey Mwakikagile also stated in his works, Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties and Life under British Colonial Rule among others, that it was in the same year he was bitten by the white couple's dog on his way to school that Princess Margaret visited Mbeya and Sao Hill in his home region, the Southern Highlands Province, as well as other parts of the country, in October 1956; a visit that symbolised British imperial rule over Tanganyika but also at a time when the nationalist movement was gaining momentum in the struggle for independence. The party that led the country to independence, Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), had been formed just two years before, in July 1954, and within months succeeded in mobilising massive support across the country in its quest to end colonial rule. Independence was inevitable.
A few months after Princess Margaret visited Tanganyika, the Gold Coast became the first black African country to emerge from colonial rule as the new nation of Ghana in March 1957, blazing the trail for the African independence movement; while Tanganyika blazed the trail in East Africa four years later.
Godfrey Mwakikagile has written about incidents of racial injustice and other subjects to show how life was in colonial Tanganyika in the fifties from the perspective of colonial subjects who hardly had any rights in their own country ruled and dominated by whites. Africans were lowest in the racial hierarchy, with Asians and Arabs ranked next to whites.
But in spite of his passionate defence of Africa, past and present, Mwakikagile is highly critical of some Afrocentric scholars who propagate myths about Africa's past and even reinvent the past just to glorify the continent, claiming spectacular achievements in the precolonial era in some areas where there were hardly any or none; for example, in advanced science, technology, and medicine. They also inflate achievements in some areas. He contends that "true scholarship requires rigorous intellectual discipline and entails objective enquiry and analysis of facts and evidence including admitting failures and shortcomings." Otherwise you lose credibility, he contends. It is a position he forcefully articulates in Africa and The West and Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should be Done, among other works.
It is a position that led one renowned Afrocentric Ghanaian political analyst and columnist Francis Kwarteng to describe Godfrey Mwakikagile as a "Eurocentric Africanist" in his article "End of the Dilemma: The Tower of Babel," on GhanaWeb, 28 September 2013, in which he discussed the role and the question of race, religion, and ethnicity in Ghana's politics and, by extension, in a Pan-African context including the African diaspora; which is a wrong characterisation of Mwakikagile since all his works are written from a purely African, not a Eurocentric, perspective.
In his article, Francis Kwarteng also cited one of Godfrey Mwakikagile's books, Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, in his analysis of the role of ethnicity in national politics in Africa:
"Wole Soyinka...rightly admits in Of Africa that if America, a racist country at that, can elect a person of African ancestry, a black man of Luo ethnicity, president, then, he sees no reason Kenya shouldn't learn from that—that precedent....Soyinka believes Kenya's democratic process must allow enough political space for the accommodation of ethnic diversification, so that qualified minorities can also partake in leadership positions, principally the presidency....But Soyinka's Nigeria has its own fair share of problems, a cornucopia of them. A truism flies across Nigeria's social and political landscape that Hausas are born natural rulers....Yet Nigeria has about 250 ethnic groups. So, what defines the criteria for Nigeria's multiethnic exclusivism from the presidential pie?....This is not unique to Nigeria, however. The same thing happened in Ghana and Uganda, producing the likes of Idi Amin. This phenomenon is captured in the Eurocentric Africanist Godfrey Mwakikagile's Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria."
In another article on GhanaWeb, 15 October 2013, Francis Kwarteng also stated:
"We all know how Western material culture and unholy spiritualism are destroying Africa. Corruption in Africa is proliferating like cancerous cells in the body politic. Corrupt African politicians collaborate with Western banking officials to secrete the people's money in Western banks, monies, which, however you look at it, either fortunately for the West or unfortunately for Africa, are reinvested in Western national economies. So, in the long run Africa becomes positively poorer and the West negatively wealthier. Analytically, this runs counter to the central thesis of Rodney's How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. In fact, it's what the Eurocentric Africanist Godfrey Mwakikagile calls 'Africa in a Mess.' This inverse relationship of economic bilateralism is unhealthy and must be critically addressed by Africa."
It is a case of Africans themselves, especially the leaders, contributing to the underdevelopment of Africa. Bad leadership including corruption in African countries is one of the subjects Mwakikagile has addressed extensively in his books, especially in Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should be Done, The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood, Africa at the End of the Twentieth Century: What Lies Ahead, Statecraft and Nation Building in Africa: A Post-colonial Study, Africa in Transition: Witness to Change, and Post-colonial Africa: A General Survey.
He contends that bad leadership is the biggest problem most African countries have faced since independence, and everything else revolves around it.
Africans of all ideological stripes agree corruption is one of the biggest problems African countries face. It is even acknowledged by some leaders. And a number of African scholars including Godfrey Mwakikagile have addressed the problem, proposing solutions to a seemingly intractable problem. As Francis Kwarteng stated in "A Political Coin of Three Sides: What Do We Actually Want?", GhanaWeb, 8 November 2013:
"Today's leadership has failed to show moral and social leadership in the face of mounting national crisis. Indeed corruption threatens the very future of the youth....President Mahama's book My First Coup D'état must be read in tandem with Wole Soyinka's The Open Sore of a Continent, Ali Mazrui's The African Condition: A Political Diagnosis, Molefi Kete Asante's Rooming in the Master's House, and Godfrey Mwakikagile's Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done and Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood. In fact, these bibliographies must be included in every secondary school curriculum as well as the curricula of teacher training institutions across the country. We may then use them as bibliographical platforms to ask students to come up with comprehensive solutions to our myriad national problems."
As he stated in another article, "Africa Must Practice Its Own Democracy: A Moral Necessity," GhanaWeb, 17 October 2013:
"We were not the first to raise this question; others had before us! Celebrated prescient leaders like Kwame Nkrumah made this philosophical mantra part of their political platform, so were others ― Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, etc. Literacy scholars like Chinua Achebe, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o; international economists like Dambisa Moyo and Yaw Nyarko; political scientists like Ali Mazrui, Godfrey Mwakikagile, and Mahmood Mamdani; legal experts like Shadrack Gutto and Randall Robinson; world-renowned anthropologists and linguists like Cheikh Anta Diop and Théophile Obenga; and Afrocentrists like Molefi Kete Asante, Chinweizu, Maulana Karenga, and Ama Mazama had made similar arguments in the past few decades―via their prolific scholarship, organizations, and political activism."
One of the problems Africa faces in nation building is how to achieve unity in diversity in countries composed of different ethnic groups and threatened by ethno-regional loyalties and rivalries. It is one of the subjects Godfrey Mwakikagile has addressed in his books.
Mwakikagile has written extensively about ethnicity and politics in Africa in the post-colonial era and how the two phenomena are inextricably linked in the African political context. He has used case studies in different analyses of the subject in different parts of the continent. One of his works, Ethnicity and National Identity in Uganda, has been described by Tierney Tully as "a great book, but very dense."
Mwakikagile's other books on the subject include Identity Politics and Ethnic Conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi: A Comparative Study; Burundi: The Hutu and The Tutsi: Cauldron of Conflict and Quest for Dynamic Compromise; Civil Wars in Rwanda and Burundi: Conflict Resolution in Africa; Ethnic Diversity and Integration in The Gambia; The People of Ghana: Ethnic Diversity and National Unity, and Belize and Its Identity: A Multicultural Perspective, re-published as British Honduras to Belize: Transformation of a Nation, a scholarly work on the Central American nation founded by the British colonial rulers and African slaves as British Honduras and which, culturally and historically, is considered to be an integral part of the Afro-Caribbean region, hence of the African diaspora. Although written by an African, the book is an important part of Afro-Caribbean literature.
One American journalist who interviewed Godfrey Mwakikagile described him as an independent scholar who was also a widely read and highly regarded author. Mwakikagile responded by saying that he was just an ordinary African, like tens of millions of others, deeply concerned about the plight of his continent.
In his book African Political Thought (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), Professor Guy Martin has described Godfrey Mwakikagile as one of Africa's leading populist scholars and thinkers who refuse to operate and function within the limits and confines of Western ideologies – or any other external parameters – and who exhort fellow Africans to find solutions to African problems within Africa itself and fight the syndrome of dependency in all areas and create a "new African."
Professor Martin examines the political thought of leading African political thinkers throughout history dating back to ancient times (Kush/Nubia, sixth century BCE) and systematically introduces the reader to the ideas of specific theorists and their biographies. The thinkers and theorists he has examined include Julius Nyerere, Amílcar Cabral, Kwame Nkrumah, Cheikh Anta Diop, Steve Biko, Claude Ake, and Godfrey Mwakikagile.
Professor Edmond J. Keller, chairman of the political science department, director of the UCLA Globalization Research Center-Africa and former director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center at the University of California-Los Angeles, described Godfrey Mwakikagile as a "public intellectual" and an "academic theorist" in his review of Professor Guy Martin's book, African Political Thought. The review was published in one of the leading academic journals on African research and studies, Africa Today, Volume 60, Number 2, Winter 2013, Indiana University Press.
Professor Ryan Ronnenberg who wrote an article about Godfrey Mwakikagile as a prominent African scholar and writer in the Dictionary of African Biography, Volume 6 (Oxford University Press, 2011) covering the lives and legacies of notable African men and women since ancient times, edited by Harvard University professors, Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., stated that Mwakikagile has written major works of scholarship which have had a great impact in the area of African studies and continue to do so. He went on to state that Mwakikagile embraced Tanzania's independence, and the independence of the African continent as a whole, with fierce pride. 'I was too young to play a role in the independence movement, but old enough to know what Mau Mau in neighbouring Kenya was all about, and who our leaders were: from Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana to Julius Nyerere in Tanganyika; from Nnamdi Azikiwe in Nigeria to Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya and Patrice Lumumba in Belgian Congo' (Africa and the West, 2000).
His experience also inspired his thinking regarding Africa and its relationship to the Western world, which led to several academic works dedicated to the subject. Professor Ronnenberg further stated that Mwakikagile's early works focused on pressing issues in African studies, particularly the theory and realisation of development in Africa. Economic Development in Africa (1999) uses the rich case study of Tanzania's transition from socialism to free-market capitalism as a foundation for broader conclusions concerning the continent's development failures.
Professor Ronnenberg also stated that Mwakikagile writes about Africa as a whole in such a way as to suggest that he possesses not only a keen understanding of the way things are, but also a deep understanding of the way they should be. The acerbically titled Africa Is in a Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done reflects on the decades since independence with pragmatism and regret, observing the loss of both leadership and ingenuity as the continent's intellectual elite settle abroad, while suggesting how this process might be reversed.
In fact, as the years have passed, and as those early optimistic moments after independence have slipped away, Mwakikagile has taken it upon himself to write about why Africa has fallen short of its vision. Professor Ronnenberg went on to state that Mwakikagile has translated his experience as a youth in colonial East Africa and his adulthood in postcolonial Tanzania into provocative scholarship concerning topics vitally important to African studies.
Mwakikagile's books are used in various academic disciplines up to the post-graduate level including doctoral studies. He has also been invited to give lectures at different colleges and universities. And as a public intellectual, he has also been sought for interviews by BBC, PBS and Voice of America (VOA), among other media outlets.
Although he has been exposed to Western cultures, was educated in the Western intellectual tradition and lived in the United States for many years, Mwakikagile's perspectives and philosophical conceptions have undoubtedly been shaped by his African upbringing and are deeply rooted in African cultures and traditions. And he rejects the notion that Africa was a blank slate until Europeans came to write on it. He argues that the history written about Africa by Europeans when they first went to Africa and even during colonial rule as well as after independence is not African history but the history of Europeans in Africa and how they see Africa and Africans from their European perspective.
He also contends that traditional Africa has produced philosophers and other original thinkers whose knowledge and ideas – including ideas at a high level of abstraction – can match and even surpass the best in the West and elsewhere in the world. He forcefully articulates that position in his book, Africa and The West.
And although he sees Africa as an indivisible whole, he argues that all nations, including those in Africa, have different national characters. He looks at the concept of national character in the African context in his book Kenya: Identity of A Nation, and makes a compelling case for this idea, which is sometimes highly controversial. The work is, among other subjects, a study of comparative analysis in which the author looks at the national characters of Kenya and Tanzania. Kenyans themselves have had to grapple with questions of identity, ethnic versus national, and how to reconcile the two for the sake of national unity, peace and prosperity.
Tanzania is one of the few countries on the continent to have been spared the agony and scourge of ethnic conflicts, unlike Kenya which Mwakikagile has used for comparative analysis in looking at the identities of the two neighbouring countries. In his books, including Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, he has also explained how Tanzania has been able to contain and even neutralise tribalism unlike other countries on the continent.
Mwakikagile has written extensively about tribalism, contending that it is one of the biggest problems Africa faces and is the source of instability in many countries on the continent, including civil wars.He expresses strong Pan-Africanist views in his writings and sees Africa as a collective entity and one organic body and has strongly been influenced by staunch Pan-Africanist leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Ahmed Sekou Toure and Patrice Lumumba whom he also strongly admires.
He also strongly admires Thomas Sankara as a man of the people like Nyerere and contends that among the new breed of African leaders, Sankara showed great promise but was eliminated by some of his so-called compatriots working for France and other Western powers before he could realise his full potential the same way Lumumba was, eliminated by the United States and Belgium. Mwakikagile has written about Sankara in Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties and in African Countries among other works.
But some of his critics contend that he overlooks or glosses over the shortcomings of these leaders precisely because they are liberation icons and played a leading role in the struggle for independence and against white minority rule in Southern Africa.
He also seems to be "trapped" in the past, in liberation days, especially in the 1970s when the struggle against white minority rule was most intense. But that may be for understandable reasons. He was a part of that generation when the liberation struggle was going on and some of his views have unquestionably been shaped by what happened during those days as his admiration for Robert Mugabe, for example, as a liberation icon clearly shows; although he also admits in Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era that the land reform programme in Zimbabwe could have been implemented in an orderly fashion and in a peaceful way and without disrupting the economy.
But his admiration for Mugabe as a true African nationalist and Pan-Africanist remains intact, a position that does not sit well with some of his critics although he does not condone despotic rule. He admires Mugabe mostly as a freedom fighter and liberation hero who freed his people from colonial rule and racial oppression and exploitation, and as a strong leader who has taken a firm and an uncompromising stand against Western domination of Africa.
By remarkable contrast, his contempt for African leaders whom he sees as whites with a black skin also remains intact. He mentions Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda as a typical example of those leaders. He has written about Banda and other African leaders, among other subjects, in Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood.
Mwakikagile also contends that only a few African leaders – Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ahmed Ben Bella and Modibo Keita – strove to achieve genuine independence for their countries and exercised a remarkable degree of independence in their dealings with world powers; and Mugabe is the only other African leader who fits this category, in spite of his shortcomings.
Mwakikagile's background as a Tanzanian has played a major role in his assessment of many African leaders because of the central role his country played in the liberation struggle in the countries of Southern Africa.
In those days, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was the headquarters of all the African liberation movements, under the leadership of President Julius Nyerere, and Mwakikagile got the chance to know many of the freedom fighters who were based there when he worked as a young news reporter in the nation's capital. They included Joaquim Chissano, who was the head of the FRELIMO office in Dar es Salaam, and later became the minister of foreign affairs and then president of Mozambique when his country won independence after 500 years of Portuguese colonial rule.
In his seminal work Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, he has written extensively about the liberation struggle, and the liberation movements in Southern Africa in what is probably one of the best accounts of that critical phase in the history of Africa, as well as an excellent analysis of the Congo Crisis during the turbulent 1960s.
Mwakikagile has also written a book entitled South Africa in Contemporary Times (2008) about the struggle against apartheid and the end of white minority rule in South Africa and on the prospects and challenges the country faces in the post-apartheid era.
The years he spent on the editorial staff at the Standard and the Daily News were critical to his future career as a writer. Those were his formative years, and had he not become a news reporter, his life, and his career as an author, might have taken a different turn.
As he states in Nyerere and Africa, he was first hired by renowned British journalist David Martin who was the deputy managing and news editor of the Tanganyika Standard. The managing editor was Brendon Grimshaw, also British who, in the 1970s, bought Moyenne Island in the Seychelles and became its only permanent inhabitant. Brendon Grimshaw also played a major role in recruiting Mwakikagile as a member of the editorial staff at the Standard.
It was a turning point in Mwakikagile's life. That was in June 1969 when he was a student at Tambaza High School in Dar es Salaam. He was 19 years old and probably the youngest reporter on the editorial staff at the Standard during that time.
The Standard, the largest English newspaper in Tanzania and one of the largest and most influential in East Africa, served Mwakikagile well, not only in terms of providing him with an opportunity to sharpen his writing skills but also – after it became the Daily News in 1970 – in helping him to attend school in the United States, where he became an author many years after he graduated from college.
David Martin, when he worked at the Tanganyika Standard and at the Daily News, and thereafter, was the most prominent foreign journalist in Eastern and Southern Africa in the 1960s and '70s, and wrote extensively about the liberation struggle in the region for the London Observer and the BBC. In Nyerere and Africa, Mwakikagile has written about the role Martin played as a journalist during the liberation struggle in Southern Africa. But Martin was also instrumental in opening the door for Mwakikagile into the world of journalism, writing every day, after which both became successful writers.
As Mwakikagile has stated in his books, including Nyerere and Africa, Africa after Independence: Realities of Nationhood, The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties and in Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done, his background as a news reporter, which included meeting deadlines when writing news articles, prepared him for the rigorous task of writing books.
Criticism of post-colonial AfricaEdit
Mwakikagile grew up under the leadership of Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, a staunch Pan-Africanist and one of the most influential leaders Africa has produced. In his writings, Mwakikagile has defended his socialist policies because of the egalitarian ideals they instilled in Tanzanians, despite the poverty they endured under ujamaa, Nyerere's African version of socialism.
Mwakikagile, however, has been highly critical in his writings of other African leaders from the same generation who led their countries to independence. He has contended that most of them did not care about the well-being of their people.
Mwakikagile belongs to a generation that preceded independence and was partly brought up under colonial rule. He even wrote a book, Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, about those years.
Independence from Britain was very important to Mwakikagile. When he was 12 years old, his uncle took him to Tukuyu to participate in the independence celebrations when Tanganyika attained sovereign status under Nyerere. He witnessed the flags changing at midnight when the Union Jack was lowered and the flag of the newly independent Tanganyika went up. His recollections are stated in his book, My Life as an African: Autobiographical Writings.
Early in his life when he was a teenager, he developed strong Pan-Africanist views under the influence of Nyerere and other Pan-Africanist leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Sekou Toure. He still holds those views today, crystallised into an ideology for a new African liberation and forcefully articulated in his writings.
As Professor Guy Martin states in his book African Political Thought (pp. 8, 6) about Mwakikagile and other Pan-Africanist theorists and thinkers, their individual national identities are secondary to their primary identity as Africans and even irrelevant when they articulate their position from a Pan-African perspective: "Note that all these scholars are dedicated Pan-Africanists and many would shun the reference to their nationality, preferring to be simply called 'Africans'.... Some of the most prominent Africanist-populist scholars include... Godfrey Mwakikagile...."
One of Mwakikagile's critics has described him as "a shrewd intellectual in defence of liberation icons" and accuses him of not being intellectually honest about leaders such as Nyerere, Nkrumah and Sekou Toure for not criticising them harshly for their failures because he admires them so much as staunch Pan-Africanists.Some of the confusion among his readers about his position on African leaders of the independence generation has to do with his own background since he was an integral part of that generation in the sense that he witnessed the end of colonial rule and the emergence of the newly independent African states although he was not old enough to have participated in the independence struggle.
He admires the leaders who led their countries to independence, yet he is highly critical of them in most cases for their failures during the post-colonial period. He became disillusioned with the leadership on the continent through the years, filled with broken promises, and not long after the countries won independence. He admires many aspects of Nyerere's socialist policies in Tanzania, yet concedes the policies were also a failure in many cases. And he strongly favours fundamental change in African countries, yet he is nostalgic about the past.
His advocacy for fundamental change is articulated in many of his writings including The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, which was published in 2001 and which is also one of his most well-known books.
In his review of the book, Ronald Taylor-Lewis [born of a Sierra Leonean father], editor of Mano Vision magazine, London, described it as "a masterpiece of fact and analysis."
The book has also been reviewed in other publications. Tana Worku Anglana reviewed Godfrey Mwakikagile's Modern African State: Quest for Transformation in Articolo and described it as "unbiased literature."
In many of his writings, Mwakikagile focuses on internal factors – including corruption, tribalism and tyranny – as the main cause of Africa's predicament, but not to the total exclusion of external forces.
The union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar and the Zanzibar revolution are subjects Mwakikagile has also addressed in detail in two of his other books: Why Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form Tanzania and Africa in The Sixties.
And his diagnosis of – and prescription for – Africa's ailments has also been cited by scholars and other people for its relevance in other parts of the Third World. As Dr. Hengene Payani, a political scientist at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, stated in his review of Mwakikagile's book Africa is in A Mess on amazon.com, "the book is excellent, honest and thought-provoking and is relevant even in the context of Papua New Guinea, a country which has been ruined by greedy politicians."
Although he has written mostly about Africa, and as a political scientist or as a political analyst, his works cover a wide range of scholarship including American studies.
But there are limitations to the role played by people such as Godfrey Mwakikagile in their quest for fundamental change in African countries. Their contribution is limited in one fundamental respect: They are not actively involved with the masses at the grassroots level precisely because of what they are. They belong to an elite class, and the concepts they expound as well as the solutions they propose are discussed mainly by fellow elites but rarely implemented.
African writers such as Mwakikagile and other intellectuals are also severely compromised in their mission because most African leaders don't want to change. Therefore, they don't listen to them—in many cases the entire state apparatus needs to be dismantled to bring about meaningful change.
In spite of the limitations and the obstacles they face, many African writers and other intellectuals still play a very important role in articulating a clear vision for the future of Africa, and Mwakikagile's writings definitely fit this category because of his analysis of the African condition and the solutions he proposes, although he is not a political activist like other African writers such as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in neighbouring Kenya or Wole Soyinka in Nigeria.
But even they had to flee their homelands, at different times, for their own safety, in spite of the courage they had to contend with the political establishment in their home countries, and sought sanctuary overseas although that has not been the case with Mwakikagile and many other Africans who once lived, have lived or continue to live in other countries or outside Africa for different reasons.
Writers including Mwakikagile and other members of the African elite have a major role to play in the development of Africa. They affect constructive dialogue involving national issues. But it is not the kind of effect that reverberates across the spectrum all the way down to the grassroots level precisely because they are not an integral part of the masses, and also because they are not actively involved with the masses to transform society.
So, while they generate ideas, they have not been able to effectively transmit those ideas to the masses without whose involvement fundamental change in Africa is impossible, except at the top, recycling the elite. And while they identify with the masses in terms of suffering and as fellow Africans, many of them – not all but many of them – have not and still do not make enough sacrifices in their quest for social and political transformation of African countries. Mwakikagile is fully aware of these shortcomings, and apparent contradictions, in the role played by the African elite. He's one himself.
Yet, he has not explicitly stated so in his writings concerning this problem of African intellectuals; a dilemma similar to the one faced by the black intelligentsia in the United States and which was addressed by Harold Cruse, an internationally renowned black American professor who taught at the University of Michigan for many years, in his monumental study, The Crisis of The Negro Intellectual. The book was first published in 1967 at the peak of the civil rights movement, five years before Godfrey Mwakikagile went to the United States for the first time as a student.
But that does not really explain why he has not fully addressed the subject, the dilemma African intellectuals face in their quest for fundamental change, especially in his books – The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Done, and Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood – which are almost exclusively devoted to such transformation in Africa in the post-colonial era.
Still, Mwakikagile belongs to a group of African writers and the African elite who believe that the primary responsibility of transforming Africa lies in the hands of the Africans themselves, and not foreigners, and that acknowledgement of mistakes by African leaders is one of the first steps towards bringing about much-needed change in African countries; a position he forcefully articulates in his writings. For example, Political Science Professor Claude E. Welch at the State University of New York-Buffalo, in his review of one of Mwakikagile's books – Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties – published in the African Studies Review (Vol. 45, No. 3, December 2002, p. 114), described the author as being merciless in his condemnation of African tyrants.
Vision for an African Federal GovernmentEdit
Mwakikagile advocates for a closer union within Africa in the form of an African confederation or African federal government starting with economic integration, leading to an African common market, and eventually, resulting in a political union. Concretely, he proposed the following plan for a Union of African states: "If the future of Africa lies in federation, that federation could even be a giant federation of numerous autonomous units which have replaced the modern African state in order to build, on a continental or sub-continental scale, a common market, establish a common currency, a common defense and maybe even pursue a common foreign policy under some kind of central authority - including collective leadership on rotational basis - which Africans think is best for them"
Mwakikagile identifies the type of government best suited for the African situation as a democracy by consensus, which, in his view, would allow all social, ethnic and regional factions to freely express themselves. Such a democracy should take the form of a government of national unity, inclusive of both the winners and the losers in the electoral process, and would entail a multiparty system approved by national referendum; it should also be based on extreme decentralization down to the lowest grassroots level to enable the masses, not just the leaders and the elite, to participate in formulating policies and making decisions which affect their lives. That is the only way it can be a people's government and federation that belongs to the masses and ordinary citizens instead of being a government and federation of only the elite and professional politicians. Let the people decide. He has elaborated on that in his other books, Africa at the End of the Twentieth Century: What Lies Ahead and Restructuring The African State and Quest for Regional Integration: New Approaches.
He also believes that in this democratic system the tenure of the president must be limited to one term (preferably five to six years), and the tenure of the members of the national legislatures to two three-year terms.
In what is probably his most controversial book, Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done, Mwakikagile strongly criticises most of the leaders of post-colonial Africa for tyranny and corruption, and for practising tribalism, a common theme in the works of many African writers and other people including well-known ones and many African scholars in and outside Africa. But his book stands out as one of the most blunt ever written about Africa's rotten leadership.
Unfortunately, because of its vitriolic condemnation of most African leaders during the post-colonial era, the book has been cited by some people as a clarion call for the re-colonisation of Africa although the author says exactly the opposite in his work.
Yet in spite of all that, Mwakikagile unequivocally states in Africa is in A Mess that he does not support any attempt or scheme, by anybody, to recolonise Africa, but also bluntly states that African countries have lost their sovereignty to donor nations and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dominated by Western powers including those who once colonised Africa and are therefore virtual colonies already.
The premier of Western Cape Province in South Africa, Helen Zille, in her speech in the provincial parliament on 28 March 2017, also cited Godfrey Mwakikagile's analysis of the impact of colonial rule on Africa in defence of her tweets which her critics said were a defence of colonialism and even called for her resignation. She said her analysis was the same as Mwakikagile's and those of other prominent people including Nelson Mandela, Chinua Achebe, Ali Mazrui, and former Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and wondered why she faced so much criticism when she made exactly the same point they did.
Mwakikagile also contends that African countries have really never been free in spite of the instruments of sovereignty they are supposed to have. He also warns about the dangers of the Second Scramble for Africa by the industrialised nations which are busy exploiting Africa's resources for their own benefit and contends that globalisation is in many ways a new form of imperialism.
Yet he has wrongly been portrayed, along with some prominent African and European scholars including Professor Ali Mazrui, Christoph Blocher, Mahmood Mamdani, Peter Niggli, and R. W. Johnson, as someone who advocates the recolonisation of Africa.
Mwakikagile says exactly the opposite in Africa is in A Mess. In fact, the title, although not the sub-title, comes from President Julius Nyerere who used exactly the same words in 1985: "Africa is in a mess." Mwakikagile explicitly states that he got the title from Nyerere's statement and felt it was appropriate for his work, although the tone and content might be disturbing to some people. He is brutally frank about the continent's deplorable condition.
And in the same book, Mwakikagile is also highly critical of Western powers for ruthlessly exploiting Africa even today in collusion with many African leaders.
His harsh criticism of bad leadership on the African continent prompted Ghanaian columnist and political analyst Francis Kwarteng to put him in the same category with George Ayittey, a Ghanaian professor of economics at The American University, Washington, D.C., and author of Africa Betrayed and Africa in Chaos, among other books.
Mwakikagile's books have been reviewed in a number of academic publications, including the highly prestigious academic journal African Studies Review, by leading scholars in their fields. They include Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties, which was reviewed in that journal by Professor Claude E. Welch of the Department of Political Science at the State University of New York, Buffalo; and Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, reviewed by Nigerian Professor Khadijat K. Rashid of Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
Other books by Mwakikagile have also been reviewed in the African Studies Review and in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, including Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era and The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation which were reviewed in the African Studies Review. Nyerere and Africa was also reviewed in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies.
His book, Western Involvement in Nkrumah's Downfall, was reviewed by Professor E. Ofori Bekoe, in Africa Today, an academic journal published by Indiana University Press.
Mwakikagile has also written about race relations in the United States and relations between continental Africans and people of African descent in the diaspora in his titles such as Black Conservatives in The United States; Relations Between Africans and African Americans; and Relations Between Africans, African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. Professor Kwame Essien of Gettysburg College, later Lehigh University, a Ghanaian, reviewed Relations Between Africans and African Americans: Misconceptions, Myths and Realities, in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Volume 13, Issue 2, 2011, an academic journal of Columbia University, New York, and described it as an "insightful and voluminous" work covering a wide range of subjects from a historical and contemporary perspective, addressing some of the most controversial issues in relations between the two. It is also one of the most important books on the subject of relations between Africans and African Americans.
- Kyoso, David E, Godfrey Mwakikagile: Biography of an Africanist, Intercontinental Books (2017), pp. 8-9, ISBN 9781981731503  (last retrieved 10th November 2018)
- Kyoso, David E., Godfrey Mwakikagile: Biography of an Africanist, Intercontinental Books (2017), pp. 7 -12, 116 ISBN 9781981731503
- My Life as an African, pp. 89–90; "Newsman Leaves for America," Daily News, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 7 November 1972, p. 3; Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, p. 56.
- Godfrey Mwakikagile, Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, ISBN 9789987160129, New Africa Press, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 2009, p. 19. See also, G. Mwakikagile, My Life as an African: Autobiographical Writings, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: New Africa Press, 2009, p. 21. ISBN 9789987160051.
- Kyoso, p. 123, 169, 176
- Kyoso, pp. 22, 193-4
- Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, New Africa Press (2007), p. 105, ISBN 9780980253412  (last retrieved 1 December 2018)
- AllAfrica.com - Tanzania: Recalling the First Union Cabinet of 1964 (25 November 2010) 
- Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Life under British Colonial Rule: Recollections of an African and a British Administrator in Tanganyika and Southern Rhodesia, New Africa Press (2018), p. 112, ISBN 9789987160426 (last retrieved 1 December 2018)
- Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, pp. 44, 77, 122; My Life as an African, pp. 47-48, 78, 89, 92, 117, 119, 138, 154, 172, 175; Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African Statesman, pp. 15–16, New Africa Press - Pretoria, South Africa, (2006), ISBN 9780980253498
- "Newsman Leaves for America," Daily News, 7 November 1972, p. 3; Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, p. 123; My Life as an African, p. 90.
- "Newsman Leaves for America," Daily News, 7 November 1972, p. 3; Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, pp. 122–123; My Life as an African, p. 176.
- Wayne State University Alumni, 1975; My Life as an African, pp. 76, 86, 120, 140, 164, 188, 190, 192, 246, 250, 266, 281; Godfrey Mwakikagile, Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, 5th Edition, 2010, pp. 86, 491, 509–511, 658, 664–665.
- My Life as an African, pp. 306, 328; Nyerere and Africa, p. 649.
- "Former CUNA (Credit Union National Association) chairman Ken Marin dies," Credit Union Times, Hoboken, New Jersey, 8 January 2008. See also My Life as an African, p. 306; Nyerere and Africa, p. 649, 664.
- Godfrey Mwakikagile, Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, 5th Edition, ISBN 0980253411, Pretoria, South Africa: New Africa Press, 2010.
- A. B. Assensoh, review of Nyerere and Africa, in African Studies Review, Journal of African Studies Association, 2003.
- David Simon, ed., Fifty Key Thinkers on Development: Routledge Key Guides, ISBN 9780415337908, London/New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2005.
- Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, "Nyerere's Vision," in West Africa, 25 November–1 December 2002, p. 41; K. Akosah-Sarpong, "Back to The Roots," in West Africa, 21–27 January 2002, p. 43.
- F. Ng'wanakilala, "Nyerere: True pan-Africanist, advocate of unity," in "Three Years After Mwalimu Nyerere", Daily News, 14 October 2002, p. 19.
- Godfrey Mwakikagile quoted by South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in "Address Delivered by the Deputy President, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the Third Annual Julius Nyerere Memorial Lecture at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa." Issued by the Presidency through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pretoria, South Africa, 6 September 2006.
- Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, "Back to The Roots," in West Africa, 21–27 January 2002, p. 43.
- Godfrey Mwakikagile, Africa and The West, ISBN 9781560728405, Huntington, New York, 2001, pp. 1–46, and 201–218.
- Godfrey Mwakikagile, Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, 5th Edition, 2010. For Mwakikagile's Pan-Africanist views and perspectives, see also Professor Eric Edi of Temple University, "Pan-West Africanism and Political Instability: Perspectives and Reflections," which cites Mwakikagile's books Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties and The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation.
- Kwesi Johnson-Taylor, "Author, a shrewd intellectual in defence of liberation icons," review of Nyerere and Africa, amazon.com, 21 February 2006.
- Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era.
- Godfrey Mwakikagile, Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood, 2006, pp. 86, 91, 168–171; Godfrey Mwakikagile, Africa 1960 – 1970: Chronicle and Analysis, 2009, p. 510; Roger Pfister, Apartheid South Africa and African States: From Pariah to Middle Power, 1961–1994, London/New York: I.B. Tauris & Co., International Library of African Studies 14, 2005, p. 40, ISBN 1850436258; Joseph Hanlon, Beggar Your Neighbours: Apartheid Power in Southern Africa, ISBN 0852553072, London: James Currey/Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1986, p. 237; Mwesiga Baregu and Christopher Landsberg, eds, From Cape to Congo: Southern Africa's Evolving Security Challenges, London/Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003ISBN 1588261026; ISBN 1588261271.
- In May 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The OAU chose Tanzania to be the headquarters of the African liberation movements under the auspices of the OAU Liberation Committee which was based in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam.
- Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, pp. 92–93. See also Nyerere and Africa, pp. 10–12, 65, 314, 363, 375, 484.
- Nyerere and Africa, pp. 224, 487–488; "Newsman Leaves for America," Daily News, 7 November 1972, p. 3.
- Nyerere and Africa, pp. 360, 486. See also, "Brendon Grimshaw Dead," Seychelles Nation, Victoria, Seychelles, Thursday, 7 July 2012; "Brendon Grimshaw is dead," Daily News, Dar es Salaam, 7 July 2012.
- Nyerere and Africa, pp. 486, 500, 569; My Life as an African: Autobiographical Writings, pp. 89, 156, 176, 375–376, 378.
- Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done, 2006; Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood, ISBN 9789987160143, New Africa Press, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 2006; The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, ISBN 9781560729365, Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Huntington, New York, 2001; Military Coups in West Africa Since the Sixties, ISBN 9781560729457, Huntington, New York, 2001; Military Coups in West Africa Since the Sixties, 2001. George B. N. Ayittey, Africa Betrayed, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, ISBN 9780312104009, 1993, p. 294.
- Kwesi Johnson-Taylor, "Author, a shrewd intellectual in defence of liberation icons," in his review of Mwakikagile's book, Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, on amazon.com, 21 February 2006.
- Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, pp. 7–8.
- Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, pp. 31 – 32. See also Africa is in A Mess and Africa and The West.
- Ronald Taylor-Lewis, in his review of Godfrey Mwakikagile, The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation, in Mano Vision, London, Issue 23, October 2001, pp. 34–35. See also Professor Catherine S. M. Duggan, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, in her paper, "Do Different Coups Have Different Implications for Investment? Some Intuitions and A Test With A New Set of Data," in which she cites Mwakikagile on fundamental changes in African countries. See also Godfrey Mwakikagile, cited in Christopher E. Miller, A Glossary of Terms and Concepts in Peace and Conflict Studies, p. 87; and in Gabi Hesselbein, Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, and James Putzel, "Economic and Political Foundations of State-Making in Africa: Understanding State Reconstruction," Working Paper No. 3, 2006.
- The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation; Wole Soyinka, The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of The Nigerian Crisis, ISBN 9780195119213, Oxford University Press, 1997; Chinua Achebe, The Trouble with Nigeria, ISBN 9789781561474, Enugu, Nigeria: Fourth Dimension Publishing Co., 2000.
- See also Ismail Rashid, a Sierra Leonian in exile in Canada, in the New African, London, May 1992, p. 10; Rashid Ismail in G. B. N. Ayittey, Africa Betrayed (1993), p. 295. See also George B. N. Ayittey, Africa in Chaos: A Comparative History, ISBN 0312217870, Palgrave Macmillan, 1997; Wole Soyinka, in a speech at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, quoted by Zia Jaffrey, "The Writer in Exile as 'Opposition Diplomat,'" in the International Herald Tribune, 2 May 1997, p. 24; Africa is in A Mess, pp. 63–64; Peter Anassi, Corruption in Africa: The Kenyan Experience, p. 209; Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, in Popular Struggles for Democracy in Africa (London: Zed Books, 1987), pp. 14–25.
- Alfred A. R. Latigo, The Best Options for Africa: 11 Political, Economic and Divine Principles, ISBN 9781426907678, Trafford Publishing, Victoria, BC, Canada, 2010, pp. 114–115; Senyo B-S.K. Adjibolosoo, The Human Factor in Developing Africa, ISBN 027595059-X, Praeger Publishers, Westport, Connecticut, USA, 1995, p. 64; John Mukum Mbaku, Institutions and Development in Africa, Africa World Press, 2004, ISBN 1592212069, p. 236.
- Mwakikagile, Godfrey (1 January 2001). The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation. Nova Publishers. ISBN 9781560729365.
- Martin, G. (23 December 2012). African Political Thought. Springer. ISBN 9781137062055.
- Dr. Kenday Samuel Kamara of Walden University in his abstract "Considering the Enormity of Africa's Problems, is Re-Colonization an Option?" cites Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done and related works by other African leading academic authors, including Professor Ali Mazrui, and Professor George Ayittey's Africa in Chaos. See also Tunde Obadina, "The Myth of Neo-Colonialism," in Africa Economic Analysis, 2000; and Timothy Murithi, The African Union: Pan-Africanism, Peacebuilding and Development.
- Professor Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, a Zimbambwean teaching international studies at Monash University, South Africa campus, in his abstract "Gods of Development, Demons of Underdevelopment and Western Salvation: A Critique of Development Discourse as a Sequel to the CODESRIA and OSSREA International Conferences on Development in Africa" (June 2006), advances the same argument as Mwakikagile and cites Africa is in A Mess to support his thesis. See also Floyd Shivambu, "Floyd's Perspectives: Societal Tribalism in South Africa," 1 September 2005, who cites Mwakikagile's Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, in his condemnation of tribalism in post-apartheid South Africa; Mary Elizabeth Flournoy of Agnes Scott College, in her paper "Nigeria: Bounded by Ropes of Oil," citing Mwakikagile's writings, including Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria; Professor Eric Edi of Temple University, in his paper, "Pan West Africanism and Political Instability: Perspectives and Reflections," citing Mwakikagile's books Military Coups in West Africa Since The Sixties and The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation.
- Professor Claude E. Welch, Jr., in African Studies Review, Vol. 45, No. 3, December 2002, pp. 124–125; and Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, reviewed by Nigerian Professor Khadijat K. Rashid of Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. in African Studies Review, Vol. 46, No. 2, September 2003, pp. 92 – 98.
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- Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, ISBN 9781931768740, Protea Publishing Co., Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 2002
- Africa is in A Mess: What Went Wrong and What Should Be Done (2004), ISBN 0980253470, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: New Africa Press, 2006
- Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African Statesman, ISBN 978-0980253498, 2006
- Black Conservatives: Are They Right or Wrong?, ISBN 978-1596820036, 2004
- Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era: Expanded Edition with Photos, ISBN 9781593440954, 2005
- Relations Between Africans and African Americans: Misconceptions, Myths and Realities, ISBN 9780980253450, 2007
- Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties: My Reflections and Narratives from The White Settler Community and Others, ISBN 9780620359818, 2006
- Life in Tanganyika in The Fifties, ISBN 978-9987160129, 2009
- African Countries: An Introduction, ISBN 0-620-34815-1, Continental Press, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2006
- African Countries: An Introduction, ISBN 978-0620348157, 2009
- Africa After Independence: Realities of Nationhood, ISBN 9789987160143, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: New Africa Press, 2006
- Life under Nyerere, ISBN 978-0980258721, 2006
- Black Conservatives in The United States, ISBN 978-0980258707, 2006
- Africa and America in The Sixties: A Decade That Changed The Nation and The Destiny of A Continent, ISBN 978-0980253429, 2006
- Relations Between Africans, African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans: Tensions, Indifference and Harmony, ISBN 978-0980258745, 2007
- Investment Opportunities and Private Sector Growth in Africa, ISBN 978-0980258776, 2007
- Kenya: Identity of A Nation, ISBN 978-0980258790, 2007
- South Africa in Contemporary Times, ISBN 978-0980258738, 2008
- South Africa and Its People, ISBN 978-0981425832, 2008
- African Immigrants in South Africa, ISBN 978-0981425825, 2008
- The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar: Product of The Cold War?, ISBN 978-0981425856, 2008
- Ethnicity and National Identity in Uganda: The Land and Its People, ISBN 978-9987930876, 2009
- My Life as an African: Autobiographical Writings, ISBN 978-9987160051, 2009
- Uganda: The Land and Its People,ISBN 978-9987930890, 2009
- Botswana Since Independence,ISBN 978-0980258783, 2009
- Congo in The Sixties, ISBN 978-1448665709, 2009
- A Profile of African Countries, ISBN 978-9987160167, 2009
- Africans and African Americans: Complex Relations – Prospects and Challenges,ISBN 978-9987930852, 2009
- Africa 1960 – 1970: Chronicle and Analysis, ISBN 9789987160075, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: New Africa Press, 2009
- Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, 5th Edition, ISBN 0980253411, Pretoria, South Africa: New Africa Press, 2010
- Zambia: Life in an African Country, ISBN 978-9987160112, 2010
- Belize and Its Identity: A Multicultural Perspective, ISBN 978-9987160204, 2010
- Ethnic Diversity and Integration in The Gambia: The Land, The People and The Culture, ISBN 978-9987932221, 2010
- Zambia: The Land and Its People, ISBN 978-9987932252, 2010
- Belize and Its People: Life in A Multicultural Society, ISBN 978-9987932214, 2010
- The Gambia and Its People: Ethnic Identities and Cultural Integration in Africa, ISBN 978-9987160235, 2010
- South Africa as a Multi-Ethnic Society, ISBN 978-9987932238, 2010
- Life in Kenya: The Land and The People, Modern and Traditional Ways, ISBN 978-9987932276, 2010
- Botswana: Profile of A Nation, ISBN 978-9987932290, 2010
- Uganda: Cultures and Customs and National Identity,ISBN 978-9987160273, 2011
- Burundi: The Hutu and The Tutsi: Cauldron of Conflict and Quest for Dynamic Compromise, ISBN 978-9987160310, 2012
- Identity Politics and Ethnic Conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi: A Comparative Study, ISBN 978-9987160297, 2012
- The People of Uganda: A Social Perspective, ISBN 978-9987160334, 2012
- Uganda: A Nation in Transition: Post-colonial Analysis, ISBN 978-9987160358, 2012
- Obote to Museveni: Political Transformation in Uganda Since Independence, ISBN 978-9987160372, 2012
- Uganda Since The Seventies, ISBN 978-9987160228, 2012
- Civil Wars in Rwanda and Burundi: Conflict Resolution in Africa, ISBN 978-0981425849, 2013
- Peace and Stability in Rwanda and Burundi: The Road Not Taken, ISBN 978-9987160327, 2013
- Africa at the End of the Twentieth Century: What Lies Ahead, ISBN 978-9987160303, 2013
- Statecraft and Nation Building in Africa: A Post-colonial Study, ISBN 978-9987160396, 2014
- Africa in The Sixties, ISBN 978-9987160341, 2014
- Remembering The Sixties: A Look at Africa, ISBN 978-9987160365, 2014
- Restructuring The African State and Quest for Regional Integration: New Approaches, ISBN 978-9987160433, 2014
- Africa 1960 – 1970: Chronicle and Analysis, ISBN 978-9987160075, Revised Edition, 2014
- Post-colonial Africa: A General Study, ISBN 978-9987160419, 2014
- British Honduras to Belize: Transformation of a Nation, ISBN 978-9987160471, 2014
- Why Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form Tanzania, ISBN 978-9987160457, 2014
- Congo in The Sixties, Revised Edition, ISBN 9789987160495, 2014
- The People of Kenya and Uganda, ISBN 978-9987160402, 2014
- Namibia: Conquest to Independence: Formation of a Nation, ISBN 978-9987160440, 2015
- Western Involvement in Nkrumah's Downfall, ISBN 978-9987160044, 2015
- Africa: Dawn of a New Era, ISBN 978-9987160488, 2015
- The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar: Formation of Tanzania and its Challenges, ISBN 978-9987160464, 2016
- The People of Ghana: Ethnic Diversity and National Unity, ISBN 978-9987160501, 2017
- Africa in Transition: Witness to Change, ISBN 978-9987160082, 2018
- The African Liberation Struggle: Reflections, ISBN 978-9987160105, 2018
- Life under British Colonial Rule: Recollections of an African and a British Administrator in Tanganyika and Southern Rhodesia, ISBN 978-9987160426, 2018
- Conquest of the Mind: Imperial subjugation of Africa, ISBN 978-9987997817, 2019