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Book Launch ‘Africa’s First Democrats’

This event is the book launch of Abdi Ismail Samatar’s book ‘Africa’s First Democrats’, which will be launched for the first time in London. The book provides a clear and foundational history of Somalia at the dawn of the country’s independence when Africa’s first democrats appeared. While many African countries were dominated by authoritarian rulers when they entered the postcolonial era—and scholars have assumed this as a standard feature of political leadership on the continent—Somalia had an authentic democratic leadership. Samatar’s political biography of Aden A. Osman and Abdirazak H. Hussen breaks the stereotype of brutal African tyranny. Samatar discusses the framing of democracy in Somalia following the years of control by fascist Italy, the formation of democratic organizations during the political struggle, and the establishment of democratic foundations in the new nation. Even though this early state of affairs did not last, these leaders left behind a strong democratic legacy that may provide a model of good governance for the rest of the continent.

Abdi Ismail Samatar is Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography, Environment, and Society at the University of Minnesota and a research fellow at the University of Pretoria. He is an elected member of the African Academy of Sciences, a former president of the African Studies Association, and a trustee of Mogadishu University. He is the author of four books, including An African Miracle, and more than seventy articles and essays on African development and politics, including “The Dialectics of Piracy in Somalia: The Rich versus the Poor.