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Surviving Dreams and Nightmares: Empowering the angry civil society & Understanding domestic violence in Africa

Saleh, I. (2010). Surviving Dreams and Nightmares: Empowering the angry civil society & Understanding domestic violence in Africa. A Project Funded by Carneige Research Development and University of Cape Town, South Africa. Alliance of Civilizations: Media Literacy Clearing House.
http://www.aocmedialiteracy.org/index.php?option=com_content&ta...



Introduction:
Any definition of civil society will be different on opposite sides of the Sahara, since from a political point of view, the problems are not identical. Sociologists in the Maghreb, for example, include only "the parties and associations which, despite their divergences of opinion on many issues, share the same values of human rights and individual freedoms" (Monga, 1996).
Many African nations are off the track in meeting the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) as a result of a number of reasons ranging from the poor growth performance, the failure to reduce poverty inequality, social fragmentation problems, violence and impotent civil societies have converted these societies into a state of wrath.

The cornerstone here is to elevate the conditions in which the African civil society exist within, though most if not all of the African nations do not fit the traditional notion of civil society in the western dimension. As the Tunisian sociologist Mohammed Kerrou puts it eloquently, the concept of civil society remains as a fibre through which the African societies have the opportunity and capacity of African societies to evolve within their own unique trajectory.

That’s why, much attention must be directed towards the civil society in Africa because it is the cause and effect of the wheel that increasingly undermines the ability of 'pro-poor growth' in Africa as a result of the general absence of a grip on the actual mechanisms of the African society, and continuous violence reflecting cumulative frustrations, collective modes of expression and discontent, including the informal attempts to use them as vehicles for political action. t is thus important to put things in context first by defining what the 'pro-poor growth' means because it is another debatable issue. Some argue that it refers to power reduction, while others refer to the increase in the incomes of the poor associated with declining inequality. However, the article perceives it as a process that maximizes the income gains of the poor and thus accelerates progress toward meeting MDG1.

Among of the pertinent issues related to the 'pro-poor growth' are the remaining obstacles facing the majority in Africa such as the absence of high-quality schooling, particularly beyond the primary level? Besides, gender inequalities in Africa does not only hurt the females affected, but also reduce overall economic growth and thus poverty reduction.
A key element in promoting 'pro-poor growth' involves the focus on the disadvantaged groups in Africa and other developing nations that have lower caste and tribal groups, ethnic minorities, and ongoing discrimination (Saleh, 2009).

This article attempts to define, determine, and measure how the UN could help enhance pro-poor growth. In this context, there are a number of questions that must be addressed: Role of UN in redirecting disenchantment and resolving conflicts in Africa? How can UN help lighten the burden of broken dreams and unforgettable nightmares that incited majority of poor African people to follow blindly political opportunists who led them toward the current brink? And more importantly, how can the African civil society survive the dreams and become reinvented positively?

As such, a priority must be given to put to an end the current discrimination in education, labour, and credit markets and targeted initiatives to promote education and access to resources for these disadvantaged groups. In addition, the historical memoire of colonization and the oppressive leadership in many parts in Africa, whether we are talking about north or south Africa, have forged a concept of indiscipline as a method of popular resistance to survive and resist laws and rules judged to be obsolete. As an act of disentrancement, the public has learnt to go on a long fight against their patron states, while formulating a hybrid civil society that cunningly defies everything symbolizing public authority as the case of South Africa since 1994, and Egypt with its relative progressive policies, any collective revolt can only lead to a profound civic deficit because the society cannot change overnight (Saleh, 2009).

Setting the Scene:
In the last few decades, many African countries experienced an increasing rise in the intensity of public wrath and an unfolding role of the syndicates and Unions to direct the sense of public frustration in cycles of violence, crime and turmoil, though some argue that this is not the cause of such drive to create voluntary organizations in which governments are unable to manage their societies (Thériault 1992; Melucci 1985), but rather an attempt to fill the social void that the absence of the state represents for so many of the inhabitants.

The article perceives a number of ways and means through which UN could help elevate the current sad situation in Africa, though the recommendations are primarily based on the urgency of willingness and the readiness of different actors and players to go beyond the pure economic development framework into assessing the societal dynamics and mechanism as a cause and effect in the current dilemma.

The civil society as the third UN should be a core player in this developmental process away from the conventional attempts of involving the minorities’ elites into a deeper level of engaging the ordinary citizens that peace is a strong economic asset and that the visible and invisible costs of violence go against their self-interests. But more importantly, there must be an agenda building through communication and independent media towards a more holistic frame of help that aims at consolidating democratic processes and affirming all dimensions of citizenship to be able to better understand the different motivations and impulses in comprehending the current turmoil.

A kick off into realizing that goal is to acknowledge that the civil society in Africa faces a continuous struggle between two opposed figures, two beings seeking to wipe out the other in order to gain respect in the form of master-slave dialectic. Hence, there must be a gradual construction of a collective view of how the different societies in Africa could share the same common values and interests of social groups. This can be surely crystallized with the help of UN help, by creating institutional and political frameworks in Africa that energize civil society and clearly define their scope of action, and facilitating freedom of movement to make people in contact with one another and create a public space for markets and business opportunities.

Conclusion:
That’s why, the key competent potential for any policy recommendations here should be tied to the idea of a common destiny to redirect the current frustrations into a source of energy in which civil and social engineering could be adopting the of "togetherness." This mass mediated discourse could reinforce the African mind set through developmental project could perceive the current challenges as a collective view of the same destiny through a carefully research and-designed communication strategies.

It is also urgent need to empower communal leadership that could understand the historical narrative, grasp the complex dynamics of the people, and imagine new political strategies to the fright the obstacles ahead. Strengthening civic communities, supporting NGOs and embracing the notion of "brotherhood" could help build links, and stipulate 'social capital' such as trust, norms, and networks to improve the efficiency of society and facilitate coordinated actions.

The article concludes by offer four practical suggestions that the UN could offer Africa: The first step is to have social stability, limiting conflict between the adversaries and construct links with the legislature. The second step has to stop the current anarchic disharmony behind the mask of an unstructured civil society. The third step is to acquire material resources, and benefit from the knowledge, experience, and savoir faire of others. The fourth is to instigate social engineering to attain a more harmonious society. These recommendations should be all inclusive of all kinds of mechanisms, rules, and institutions to attain the best possible regulation of relations between the state, the market, and the society.
At the end, the prior condition is to give attention to the fact that it is not a matter of transferring ready-made solutions in the North to the South, but rather offer means of avoiding errors, delays, and catastrophes that marked the democratic process in the West to help Africa survive the dreams and nightmares that it encountered over the years.


References:
Kerrou, M. (1989), "A propos de la société civile," Outrouhat (Tunis), Vol. 15, pp. 26–29.
Melucci, A. (1985), "The Symbolic Challenge of Contemporary Movements," Social Research, no.
52 (4), pp. 789–816.
Monga, C. (1995), "Civil society and Democratization in Francophone Africa," Journal of African
Studies, Vol. 33, No.3, Cambridge University Press, p.359-379.
Saleh, I. (2009). "Living in a Lie and Dying in Silence: The Trauma of Civil Society in the Middle East and North Africa," The International Journal of Not-For- Profit Law, A Quarterly Publication of The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Volume 11, Number 4, August 2009, pages 30-38, Washington, DC, US.
Thériault, J. (1992), "La société civile est-elle démocratique?" in: Gérard Boismenu, Pierre Hamel,
and Georges Labica (eds.), Les formes modernes de la démocratie, Paris and Montréal, L’Harmattan, Presses de l’université de Montréal, pp. 67–79.








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