The Elite Africa Project is a global network of scholars working to shift how Africa and its elites are understood.

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The Elite Africa Project

is a Canadian-based global network of scholars working to challenge predominant understandings of Africa and its elites.

Both in academia and in wider public discourse, African elites have either been ignored or depicted as grasping and self-interested. This framing perpetuates negative depictions of the continent and its peoples and draws on a simplistic understanding of what power is and how it is wielded. Our work aims to counter these perceptions by initiating global conversations about “who leads” in Africa and how they do so.

We seek to disrupt and renew both academic and public discussions of African leadership, refocusing attention on a wider, qualitatively different set of elites from those that have predominated in the past (such as the parasitic “Big Men” of neo-patrimonial politics).

Burna Boy, Nigerian musician, rapper and songwriter; in 2021, his album Twice as Tall won the Best World Music Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, and he enjoyed back to back Grammy award nominations in 2019 and 2020.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian economist, fair trade leader, environmental sustainability advocate, human welfare champion, sustainable finance maven and global development expert. Since March 2021, Okonjo-Iweala has been serving as Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

This project focuses on Africa’s elites, defined as those who operate at the highest level across a range of domains, wield significant power, and possess expert knowledge, skills, and personal strengths that are deployed in strategic, creative, and generative ways. While elites are those who possess the most consequential and powerful agenda-setting and decision-making capacity, Africa’s elites have either been sidelined in many of our analyses or rendered monotonal. When we switch frames to consider the continent as embodying and projecting new, generative forms of power, it changes our view of Africa. It may also change how we understand power itself.

We look at six domains of elite power, from the political to the aesthetic, and ask how we might shift how we think about and study Africa, and how this shift would impact our conceptualization of power and its exercise. Our goal is to contribute to popular conversations about Africa and to highlight the achievements of the astonishing new generation of leaders for a broader public audience.

This website will serve as a hub for collaborative activity by scholars, activists, and practitioners working on Elite Africa and house a searchable database of primary and secondary materials on African elites.

Kofi Annan (1938-2018), Ghanaian-born diplomat, trained in economics, international relations and management; was the first UNSG to be elected from within the ranks of the UN staff itself and served in various key roles before becoming Secretary General.

Namwali Serpell, Zambia award-winning novelist and writer; Recognised early on with the Caine prize, her numerous subsequent awards include the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize, one of the world’s richest literary prizes.

Mohammed "Mo" Ibrahim, Sudanese billionaire businessman. He worked for several telecommunications companies, before founding Celtel, which when sold had over 24 million mobile phone subscribers in 14 African countries.

The Elite Africa Project

is a Canadian-based global network of scholars working to challenge predominant understandings of Africa and its elites.

Both in academia and in wider public discourse, African elites have either been ignored or depicted as grasping and self-interested. This framing perpetuates negative depictions of the continent and its peoples and draws on a simplistic understanding of what power is and how it is wielded. Our work aims to counter these perceptions by initiating global conversations about “who leads” in Africa and how they do so.

We seek to disrupt and renew both academic and public discussions of African leadership, refocusing attention on a wider, qualitatively different set of elites from those that have predominated in the past (such as the parasitic “Big Men” of neo-patrimonial politics).

This project focuses on Africa’s elites — those who operate at the highest level across a range of domains, wield significant power, and possess expert knowledge, skills, and personal strengths that are deployed in strategic, creative, and generative ways. When we switch frames to consider the continent as embodying and projecting new, generative forms of power, it changes our view of Africa. It may also change how we understand power itself.

This website is the hub for collaborative activity by scholars, activists, and practitioners working on Elite Africa and will house a searchable database of primary and secondary materials on African elites.

ELITE AFRICA PROJECT DATABASE

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Hakim Adi

Author/Activist/Historian (History of Africa and the African Diaspora)

Website: hakimadi.org

Adi Hakim

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Historian (History of Africa and the African Diaspora), UK.

Political

Hannah Uzzor

Visual Artist (Painting)

Location: UK
Website: hannahuzor.com

Uzor Hannah

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Visual Artist, UK

Aesthetic

SMO Contemporary Art (SMO)

International art platform

Location: Lagos, Nigeria
Contact Information: info@smocontemporaryart.com/+234 813 599 6640
Website: smocontemporaryart.com

SMO Contemporary Art (SMO) is an international art platform, showcasing a unique portfolio of modern and contemporary art from Africa and the Diaspora to a global audience. Based in Lagos, Nigeria, SMO curates exhibitions, as well as public and private art events of leading and emerging talents for a diverse audience. SMO is dedicated to artists of all generations who have been instrumental in shaping West Africa's contemporary art canon and who became crucial in establishing a unique narrative of the continent. The SMO program sheds light on forgotten talents who have paved the way for new identities in contemporary art while encouraging a vibrant and continuous discourse around their oeuvres.

The platform curates private and public creative events at international venues, and showcases a dynamic portfolio of contemporary art at local and international fairs. Specialized in art advisory services SMO Contemporary curates and manages important private and corporate art collections with a great commitment to documentation, preservation and communication.

Source: Organization's website.

SMO Contemporary Art (SMO)

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SMO Contemporary Art (SMO), Lagos, Nigeria

Aesthetic

Prosper Dovonon

Full Professor, Department of Economics, Concordia University

Email: prosper.dovonon@concordia.ca
Webpage: sites.google.com/site/prosperdovonon

Dovonon Prosper

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Full Professor, Department of Economics, Concordia University

Economic

Romuald Hazoumè

Artist/Sculptor

Location: Republic of Benin

Hazoumè Romuald

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Artist/Sculptor, Republic of Benin

Aesthetic
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