Struggles for Citizenship in Africa.
MetadataShow full item record
What is citizenship? Who is a citizen? These seemingly simple, yet highly complex, questions are at the core of the discussions in this short but engaging book. Manby outlines and discusses various challenges to the quest for a holistic and inclusive definition of citizenship within the constitutional frameworks of African countries. Caught up in this problematic struggle to conceptualize citizenship are millions of people whose enjoyment of their otherwise inherent citizenship rights is curtailed by the accident of their identity - gender, ethnicity, race, or religion. The opening words, “we needed a war because we needed our identity cards...” (p. 1), quoted from a rebel fighter in Côte d‟Ivoire, highlight the frustrations of such people, rendered stateless and invisible by their inability to obtain citizenship documents. The identity card, a colonial relic, is symbolic of the exclusionist nature of identity politics in Africa. Following the colonial blue print, independent African governments have continued to use (and abuse) identity cards, among other citizenship documents, to determine who is included, or excluded, in the enjoyment of citizenship rights and privileges (chapter 6). Manby‟s core argument is that denial of the right to citizenship, with the attendant implications for ownership of land, property, and participation in the social and political life of the nation, has been at the heart of many of the social and political upheavals in post independence Africa.