VII-4. Secessionist Movements in Africa: Identity, Governance and State-Building in a Changing Landscape

Conveners: Ibrahim Ndzesop (Université Paris I), Nadine Machikou Ngameni (University of Yaounde II, Cameroon); e-mail:

Secession, generally through war has been the normal process of the birth of new states and is common to all continents. But since the 20th Century has witnessed a shape decrease in that process worldwide. Paradoxically, African states are still living the process. Since the 1960s when several Africa countries gained independence from European colonizers, several separatist movements have emerged in the continent. While some of these movements have expressed the need to revert to the precolonial status, others have advanced bad governance and failed statebuilding processes in support of secession. Africanist scholars have undertaken extensive research on the question of secession in Africa. But most of these studies have been too focused on specific cases and have not been able to put it in the larger context of statebuilding and governance. This panel intends to fill this gap by considering newest research on this issue and by comparing secession movements not only across Africa, but elsewhere like in Ukraine or the Crimea. In order to draw the best from presenters, this panel will particularly focus on three cases of secessionist movements in Africa, viz; Southern Cameroon, Northern Mali and South-East Nigeria (Biafra). The goal is to question the processes and find a model explanation that can help scholars to understand the causes, actors and possible outcomes. Papers focused on comparative research are therefore welcome, especially those comparing the cases of Southern Cameroon, Northern Mali and South-East Nigeria (Biafra). Presentations related to the embarrassment of the African Union whose ambition is to build a European Unionlike continental organization while discouraging territorial fragmentation within states, are also welcome.