Though not the largest continent in the world, Africa is arguably the most diverse. Data published in a 2002 paper for the Harvard Institute of Economic Research titled, ‘Fractionalization‘, indicated that “the 13 most ethnically diverse countries are all in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Yogoslavia and then 7 more Sub-Saharan African countries” (p 8). The authors of African Languages: An Introduction cite a source that estimates 2,035 African languages but makes it clear that the “number is not fixed” (p. 2).
In the PfAL Network alone, the 130 current members represent 23 African countries, and we anticipate that number to grow over the coming years. Many lively conversations and debates have resulted from the varied perspectives and life experiences of members from across the Continent as well as from different parts of each represented country; however, the diversity has been a valued aspect of the Network from the start. As indicated in the PfAL Leadership Code, one of the principles and values PfAL alumni pledge to uphold is:
Diversity–We embrace differences in heritage, cultures, backgrounds, ideas and perspectives, harnessing this in the pursuit of excellence.
But what are the implications of such ethnic heterogeneity on political governance across the Continent? On Thursday 10 December 2015, PfAL@LSE students explored the question in a debate, opened by four volunteer speakers and chaired by Professor Teddy Brett, Visiting Professor at LSE’s Department of International Development. Click through the slideshow to catch a glimpse of the spirit and passion the issue sparked in the room!
(If the slideshow does not appear below, click here to go to our Flickr page)
Photos by Owen Billcliffe Photography (owenbillcliffe.co.uk)