Mahmood obliges us to focus on the activists and specifically the danger of activism becoming an end in itself. Rather than acting in solidarity with a domestic political agenda, activism on Darfur become entranced with its own image and is ending up spinning on itself.
Mahmood, myself and a generation of Africans are all activists, coming from a background of political struggle for liberation and democracy. Activism as practiced today, in America especially and focused on Africa, has a completely different character. We feel dismayed and let down that the word “activist”, which we once owned and which was a badge we proudly wore, has been appropriated by others with such different worldviews.
Western activists are now empowered with unprecedented resources, not for purposes of the traditional NGO work of advocacy in solidarity with domestic political forces, but advocacy that is focused on overwhelming domestic political actors and defining a solution to the problem that forces the international players to buy into it.
That is Abdul Mohammed in SSRC’s Making Sense of Darfur blog, reviewing Mahmood Mamdani’s latest volume on Darfur. The blog has collected almost two dozen reflections on Mamdani’s provacative book. The write-ups and comments are all excellent, and are required reading for Darfur specialists, aid workers, and international activists in general.