AbstractThe dawning of the 21st century generally brought new hope to African leaders and countless thousands of ordinary citizens of many countries on the continent. The first signs of a new turn of events shone through by the end of the last decade of the previous century. This was manifested by economic growth rates that started to pick up in a number of African states, by pro-democracy movements which in country after country succeeded in replacing authoritarian regimes, and by the winding down and termination of some of Africa’s most devastating wars.
The results of this analysis confirm the above-mentioned positive political, economic and conflict trends in Africa. It is clearly a significant turn of events given the well-known political and economic predicament with which Africa is struggling. When this negative legacy and Cold War background of Africa is considered, the importance of present developments is clear to see. The identified heightened sense of purpose among the leaders and peoples of Africa and the changed mood and need among Africans to take charge of their own future that found expression in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) are indeed significant and bode well for the future of the continent.
A word of warning here is, however, necessary. Our conduct with Africa must be very cautious and we must guard against over-optimism and the exaggerated belief that Africa is now on a trajectory of sustained development and peace. We cannot generalise about Africa – for that the continent is just too big and diverse from a geographical, cultural, economic and political point of view.