General News of Sunday, 9 June 2013

Source: Daily Post

My First Coup D’etat At Yale University

Currently among the books being studied at Yale University by students studying African History is the autobiography of His Excellency the President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama. The book, titled MY FIRST COUP D’ETAT is to be read by the students under the topic “Introduction to African Politics”. The Daily Post has managed to lay hands on the course content for students studying African History and the books they are to study which includes MY FIRST COUP D’ETAT. Please Read:

Introduction to African Politics

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30 – 2:20

220 York, Room 001

Instructor: Elizabeth Carlson Office hours: Monday10-12

Luce Hall, Room 301B

This course is designed to prepare you for future study, research, or work in Africa by providing an introduction to Africa’s political context. We will discuss the legacies of colonialism, the characteristics of the African state, the behavior of African citizens, and the causes of slow growth. Underlying the material of the course, however, will be the question “Is there such a thing as African politics?” Is there enough in common across the countries of the continent that we can legitimately discuss the African state or the African citizen? And is politics in Africa different from politics elsewhere? The answer to these questions, as you will see, is a resounding “sort-of.”



There are two distinct sets of material for this course. First is the material covered in lecture. Lecture is where you will learn how social scientists go about studying Africa, the findings of recent academic research, the trends in relevant data, and, ultimately, our current best understanding of how politics works in Africa. The second set of material is the readings, which are all popular non-fiction. They are intended to be engaging and intuitive – if not entirely rigorous – illustrations of the African political context. You will discuss these readings, and how they correlate (or don’t correlate) with the material from lecture, in section.

Because each of the assigned books touches on wide-ranging aspects of African political culture, the readings match up only roughly with the order of topics on the syllabus. Therefore, I have not set deadlines for which chapters must be read by each lecture. However, to avoid last-minute anxiety, you do want to keep up roughly with the dates on the syllabus: you should finish King Leopold’s Ghost, for example, by the third week of class. Each week’s section will focus on the book associated with that week, and you will not get the most out of section (or the best section grade) if you have not yet begun the book.

The books for the course are at the Yale bookstore or any other bookstore:

• King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild

• My First Coup D’etat by John Dramani Mahama

• It’s Our Turn to Eat by Michela Wrong

• Notes from the Hyena’s Belly by Nega Mezlekia

• Africa by Richard Dowden


Map Quiz - 10% In-Class Final -25%

Section - 10 % Take-home Final - 30%

Midterm - 25%

You will take a map quiz in your first section. For this quiz, you will be provided in advance with a labeled map. For the quiz, twenty countries will be labeled for you to identify. You must spell a country’s name correctly (and legibly) in order to get credit for it.

There will be two in-class exams: the midterm and final. Both will be ID exams, in which you must define each given term and identify its significance to the course and African politics in general. You must define all ID’s on the exam, but the list of possible IDs will be handed out in advance. Material on these exams will be primarily from lecture, but some terms from the reading may also be included.

There will also be an open-book take-home final exam, due in my mailbox by December 14th at noon. You will choose one prompt and produce an essay of no more than six double-spaced pages. A complete answer will synthesize multiple lectures and readings, from both halves of the course, into a comprehensive whole.

The final ten percent of your grade is section participation. Your grade in section will depend on how often you add to the discussion, which is in turn dependent on both your attendance and your preparation.


By enrolling in this class, you are indicating that you understand and agree to abide by all university regulations on cheating and plagiarism. In the event that you turn in something that violates these academic norms, ignorance will not be accepted as an excuse. I will turn all suspicious work over to the University Executive Committee, and give a score of zero to the relevant assignment.



SECTION ONE: COLONIALISM – How did Europeans govern Africa? How did this impact how Africans govern themselves? Are the effects of colonialism still being felt?

Tuesday, September 4: Introduction

Thursday, September 6: Colonialism

** MAP QUIZ in section**

Tuesday, September 11: Independence

Thursday, September 13: Legacy of Colonialism

Tuesday, September 18: The European Model in Africa

Assignment: King Leopold’s Ghost and Africa, Chapters 3 and 13

SECTION TWO: THE AFRICAN STATE – How is power gained and kept in Africa? What checks does the executive face on his power? How do African leaders distribute scarce resources? Is African governance effective?

Thursday, September 20: Democracy and Autocracy

Tuesday, September 25: Formal Institutions

Thursday, October 2: Institutional Breakdown

Tuesday, October 4: Long-term leaders

Assignment: My First Coup D’Etat

Tuesday, October 9: Clientelism and Patronage

Thursday, October 11: Distributive Politics

Tuesday, October 16: Weak State, Strong State, Big State, Small State

Assignment: It’s Our Turn to Eat (first half)

** Thursday, October 18: MIDTERM in class**

SECTION THREE: AFRICAN CITIZENS – What mechanisms do African voters have to hold their politicians accountable? How do Africans decide who to vote for? What do citizens do when the state fails?

Tuesday, October 23: Civil Society and Social Cleavages

Tuesday, October 30: Participation and Protest

Thursday, November 1: Political Parties

Tuesday, November 6: Voting Behavior

Thursday, November 8: Information, Education, and Knowledge

Tuesday, November 13: Alternatives to the State

Assignment: It’s Our Turn to Eat (second half); Notes from the Hyena’s Belly

SECTION FOUR: DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH – Why is Africa growing so slowly? What is the role of governance in dampening growth? Does the international community have a role?

Thursday, November 15: Geography

Tuesday, November 20: Ethnic Diversity

Thursday, November 22: Economic Policy

Tuesday, November 27: Corruption

Thursday, November 29: Conflict

Tuesday, December 4: Africa and the West

Assignment: Africa

**Thursday, December 6: FINAL in class **

**Friday, December 14: TAKE-HOME FINAL to instructor’s mailbox**