Early Post-independence Progressive Policies: Insights for Our Times

Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei, Aishu Balaji, Adebayo Olukoshi, and Anita Nayar

This introductory article frames the thesis underlying this special issue: that the recovery of the policies and thinking of early post-independence African governments holds profound insights for contemporary struggles against neoliberalism. The article unpacks the impacts of primary commodity export dependence on African economies, whose foundations were violently established under colonialism and maintained through neoliberalism. It then outlines the uniqueness of the early post-independence period, when governments adopted policies to break out of this dependence and promote autonomous development processes, including through nation-building, industrialisation, economic and agricultural diversification, and pan-Africanism. Finally, it suggests the value of efforts like this special issue produced by Post-Colonialisms Today, which seek to reimagine these approaches for today.

Play Video

Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei is the Head of Programmes at the Third World Network-Africa and a member of the Working Group of Post-Colonialisms Today. He holds an LLM in International Economic Law and has more than 20 years of work experience in international trade and investment policy and negotiations. His work has been informed by fundamental questions of Africa’s economic developmental challenges.

Aishu Balaji is Senior Coordinator at Regions Refocus, which serves as Secretariat for Post-Colonialisms Today. After experiencing frustration working in the neo-colonial context of INGOs, Aishu undertook research on the development industry through a critical lens as a master’s student at the London School of Economics and a Research Assistant to development academics. Her areas of inquiry have included caste-intersectionality in the Indian women’s movement, the political organizing of asylum seekers, autonomous development in post-independence Somaliland, and the politics of return migration.

Adebayo Olukoshi is Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg, and member of the Advisory Group of Post-Colonialisms Today. He has previously served as Executive Secretary of CODESRIA, Director of the Africa Governance Institute, and Director of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning. His research centers on the politics of development.

Anita Nayar is Director at Regions Refocus, which serves as Secretariat for Post-Colonialisms Today. Anita has worked nationally and internationally on issues including women’s human rights, economic globalization, and climate justice. She previously served as Chief of the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service in New York and on the Executive Committee of the South-based feminist network, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN).

More from the authors

Reclaiming Africa’s Early Post-Independence History

This article introduces the Post-Colonialisms Today series Reclaiming Africa’s Early Post-Independence History, published in Africa is a Country, which shares lessons from early post-independence Africa to address contemporary development challenges.

A History of Resource Plunder

Since colonization, Africa has been trapped in a pattern of providing raw materials for the global North; what can we learn from the early post-independence governments who attempted to break free from this dependence? By Tetteh-Hormeku Ajei (Third World Network- Africa; Post-Colonialisms Today Working Group) and Camden Goetz (Regions Refocus).

Tracing Primary Commodity Export Dependence

Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei (Third World Network- Africa; Post-Colonialisms Today Working Group member) traces the histories and structures of commodity export dependence across the African continent and the essential challenges it presents for economic policy.