Structural Violence as a Constraint to African Policy Formation in the 1990s : Respositioning Education in International Relations

Abstract: This study is a meta-analysis of the manner in which global relations impact on national level policy spaces and policy formation. As the International Financial Institutions tighten their grip through the Structural Adjustment Programmes over African countries, and donors steadily shift their ground and push conditionality beyond economic policy into institutional arrangements, the issue of political sovereignty of African countries, and of indirect rule through aid becomes a key concern.Using conceptual and analytical tools developed in social psychology, sociology, peace studies, linguistics and political economy, the study challenges the neutrality of the combined thrust by the IFIs and donors, and argues that genuine progress and recovery of Africa is hampered not by the presence of the state, but by the structural violence so necessary for the maintenance of western hegemony.The policy domain is chosen as a point of focus because policy-making defines the functions of the state; and the policy arena is one in which state policies are objectified and elaborated. Precisely because the policy arena is one in which values, ideologies and principles are given concrete expression, it is also this space that, in a context of the hegemony of neo-colonial relations, is targeted for effective control. As the analysis of the pattern of happenings at the United Nations reveal, the more the poor countries attempt to create an alternative, the higher the level of vigilance on the part of the west to contain, derail, or neutralize it.Development is thus exposed as not being anymore about how a people might develop according to their own definition, in their diversity, but rather, about becoming transmogrified into an inverted mirror of other's identity, a mirror that belittles them and sends them to the end of the queue. Modern aid is also revealed to be far from the good Samaritan binding the wounds of the man who fell victim to the robbers, but as a cold calculating instrument for the imposition of "good conduct", subjecting the needy to the cold gaze of the helper, demanding of the crier, scientific, ideological, and externally verified proof of need.The study holds that by maintaining a silence over whose normative heritage is being transmitted through education, by avoiding to discuss the philosophical basis for education, and by evading the issue of self-reliance as a core imperative for any development, educators have voted to participate in this framework by encouraging the misrecognition of this violence.The study calls for a second liberation in Africa, a project of conscientizing the west, a renewed interest in policy studies, and a focus on dialogue as a method, as a strategy and as an objective at all levels of human interaction. Most of all, it reiterates the plea to give the African continent credibility, and thereby a better chance to consolidate itself and prepare for a genuine recovery.