PLYMOUTH — The Saul O Sidore Lecture Series at Plymouth State University will present Toyin Falola speaking on "Convention, Culture and Corruption: Democracy in Africa" on Monday, March 9 at 7 p.m. in the Smith Recital Hall at the Silver Center for the Arts on Main Street in Plymouth.
"Africans do not define democracy as distinct from, nor outside of, the definition of development," says Falola. Further, he asks whether it is wise to view the country with an American definition of democracy if their policies do not mirror our own. That linkage creates another problematic question: can leadership and institutions that do not deliver development be treated as democratic?
Falola will argue that the Western-liberal definition of democracy is limited in its application, and that reading Africa through Western literature is not always useful. He says, "Democracy in Africa contains dosages of militarism, authoritarianism and prebendalism, while being constrained by the pressures of globalism."
Falola is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria, a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, and the author of The Power of African Cultures, Nationalism and African Intellectuals.
The theme for this year's Sidore Lecture Series is "The State of Democracy." The series' premise is that Americans consider our political system to be the premier model of democracy, and that we like to think that others throughout the world wish to emulate us. But the democratic nature of our institutions cannot be taken for granted and they need to be examined and reexamined. Headlines in the news—about growing inequality, money in politics, changes in voter registration laws, government surveillance, and setbacks of democratic movement in various parts of the world—suggest that now is a good time for reflecting on the state of democracy in the United States and elsewhere.
The next speaker in the series will be Martin Gilens asking, "Is the United States a Democracy or an Oligarchy?" at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, at the Silver Center.
All Sidore Lectures are free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended. A reception follows each lecture. Free tickets are available at the Silver Center Box Office, 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869.