In his new book, Human Rights in Africa
(Cambridge University Press, 2018), Bonny Ibhawoh
examines the discourse of human rights in Africa. He challenges some of the dominant narratives that focus on ruthless violators and benevolent activists. Crafting the longue duree
history of human rights in Africa, he argues that these rights were neither invented during the enlightenment period, nor with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the postwar period. In his analysis, he draws from African rights tradition that was central in the anti-slavery and anti-colonial struggles. He sees these struggles as human rights histories and challenges the idea that these were merely humanitarian acts. He argues that Africans in the continent and abroad during the abolition, emancipation, colonization, and decolonization processes framed and linked their activism to human rights.
The discourse of human rights is so important that it should not be relegated to experts. Ibhawoh's book is written in a scholarly, clear, and concise way to appeal to general audiences and also to further the conversation and debates on human rights, as well as affirming the dignity of all human beings.
Bonny Ibhawoh is a professor of history and global human rights at McMaster University. He has taught in universities in Africa, the United States, and Canada. He was previously a Human Rights Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs, New York, and a Research Fellow at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the author of Imperial Justice: Africans in Empires Court
and Imperialism and Human Rights
, named American Library Association Choice Outstanding Academic Title.
Bekeh Utietiang Ukelina is an Assistant Professor of History at SUNY, Cortland. His research examines the ideologies and practices of development in Africa, south of the Sahara. He is the author of
The Second Colonial Occupation: Development Planning, Agriculture, and the Legacies of British Rule in Nigeria. For more NBN interviews, follow him on Twitter @bekeh or head to bekeh.com.