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2 mai 2010 7 02 /05 /mai /2010 11:40




member of the Workshop on Africa.






Born in Mozambique, Maria João Sande Lemos  returned to Portugal at 18 years of age, in 1960. Her father was an official of the Portuguese Government.

She was a foundress of the  Portuguese Social Democratic Party, where she was an active and enthusiastic militant from 1974 to 1999. She was actively engaged  in the promotion of Feminine Condition in Portugal.  She was also a member of the Portuguese Government Delegation at the United Nations Conference on Women at Peking in September 1995.

She is also member of Amnesty International, Portuguese Section, and Founding Member of the Association :”Tratado of Simulambuco – Cabinda House”.

In September 1992, she was an international observer at the elections of the Popular Republic of Angola.

In June 1994, she was invited in Mozambique. She participated in the Portuguese Forum for Peace and Democracy in Angola.

She has realized a number of missions in Angola (Luanda and province) as guest in the Congresses of the Parties of the Angolese opposition.




One of the main challenges for African societies in search  of Democracy as a system of government of participation  and participation is the formation and strengthening of the space of civil society. It is in this space that citizenship, organized and independent from the State, lays down the institutions  and the individuals with the power  of mediation in the relations and conflicts  between Society, the Electorate, and the Government as an elected group to represent the State. Besides, it is in the autonomy of this space that the citizen can and has the power of controlling the actions of the State, and exerts over it a pressure for its being held responsible.


The idea of a civic society requires, first of all, a cursory observation. Achille Mbembe, an African academician of great fame, trusts in the use of the word.  For him, civil society  cannot be mistaken with the simple existence of autonomous associations , out of State control, nor with society in general.  Mbembe’s argument  is that civil society emerges and acts within a frame where the public institutions are autonomous, and provided with the capacity and authority to put in practice  the “checks and balances” in the governing system.It is within this frame that civil society can  effectively  play its mediating part between the State and Society.


How can we contribute, then, to this wish, in the emergent democracies of Africa, where the high-handedness of the political leaderships, as in the case of Angola, Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau,  Equatorial-Guinea, Gabon, etc. maintains the paralysis of the public institutions,  and demoralizes the capacity of the citizen to claim changes effectively ? How can we characterize  the civil society of these countries, when the  political oppositions are gagged, brutalized, corrupted, or co-opted to the point of turning them meaningless,  or to turn them in partners in the system and  of the problem ?

 History gives us an important lesson.  The process of independence in Africa  was partly due to the emergence of nationalist political leaderships which stimulated their peoples and the Continent on the ideal of self-rule. Cabral, Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Nyerere and Senghor are some names among the principal who gave substance to the redeeming of African conscience, asserting eloquently their place in universal history. During this period, solidarity movements originating from different sectors of the world  organized themselves to support the self-rule of the Africans.


However, the process of democratization is stained by ironies.. A large number of African leaders chose to abandon the principal pledges of the nationalism which consisted in the struggle against ignorance, poverty and disease, in favour  of the arbitrariness  of power and of personality-cult.. In exchange for resources, the West  henceforth guarantees the security of these  regimes, as in the case of Mobutu’s Zaïre, Bongo’s Gabon, etc.  The period of democratization has turned to be the period of the imposition, from the viewpoint of the West,  of structural adjustments  which have led to  the worsening of many African economies, and to the strengthening of policies of coercion. One of the sectors where this policy is noteworthy is in the support of the civilian societies. In the more frequent cases, those who determine the agendas of the social groups are the international donors, in the countries to which they offer funds.

Thus, it is fundamental to to restore the principle of solidarity, of backing the active civic leaderships which manifest themselves, in a clear and organized form, in favour of the autonomy of the public institutions  as the preliminary condition for the development  of the intermediate sectors  of society. The autonomy of these leaderships, in relation to external agendas, should be unequivocally guaranteed, in respecting the right to request, by their own initiative, civic solidarity and material assistance, according to their own ideas, priorities,  a,d urban forms of organization and civic action.







 ACHILLE MBEMBE writes in the “International Mail”:


QUESTION:  Do the great powers do all they can to hinder the democratization of Africa ?

ANSWER: Concerning France, yes. She is a real agent of nuisance: and it is to be hoped that, for lack of  reforming radically her African policies, she should move out of the Continent.

Maybe that the others (particularly the United States of America) do not actively oppose themselves to it. Cynicism and hypocrisy are largely sufficient -  but noting that numerous American private organizations  contribute multiform help to consolidate  civic African societies . This is for example  the case of numerous American foundations.

This being said, if the Africans want Democracy, it is up to them   to pay the price. Nobody will pay it in their stead.  Neither will they obtain it on credit. Nevertheless they shall need to rely on new networks  of international solidarity , a great moral coalition besides the States  -- not a coalition of charity bluffers, but that of all those who believe that without its African counterpart, our world would decidedly be even poorer in spirit and in humanity.

ACHILLE MBEMBE,  interviewed by Pierre Cherruau.  Courrier International,  27th of June 2008.



 NOTE. Achille Mbembe was born in Cameroon in 1957.  Sometime a Jecist.  Recognized as one of the noteworthy  actual theorists on post-colonialism,, he has intervened  in numerous American universities and institutions, as the Columbia University  of New York, Brooklin  Institute of Washington, the University of Pennsylvania , the University  of California, Berkeley, Yale University, but also at the Council for the development of research in  social sciences  in Africa (Codesria) sat Dakar, Senegal. He is actually member  of the team  of “Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research” (WISER) of Witwatersrand  University  of Johannesburg, South Africa.  His principal points of interest are African History, African Politics, and Social Sciences.

(translation:  Germain Brémont, cssp).


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Octobre 2009,

Les associations de la Coalition Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez – France, se retrouvent à Paris, au Secours Catholique, rue du Bac, avec Marou Amadou et Ali Idrissa, tous deux membres de la coalition PCQVP – Niger.

Marou a été arrêté et incarcéré le 10 août pour les positions qu'il avait prises en tant que Président du Fusad sur le coup d'état constitutionnel. Il a été mis en liberté provisoire après cinq semaines d'incarcération et vient quelques jours en France et en Belgique. C'est l'opportunité pour nous de rencontrer ces deux militants.

Je suis allé à cette rencontre avec camescope et appareil photo. Mais en les entendant et en comprenant ce qui se passe au Niger, je me dis : « Vaut mieux ne pas sortir mes appareils. Mettre Marou et Ali sur internet, c’est les exposer un peu plus ».

Je leur pose tout de même la question :

- « Il vaut mieux éviter les photos et les interviews sur internet ? ».

Mais, surprise :

« Non, au contraire. Vous pouvez filmer, faire connaitre notre combat. Nous voulons vivre. Nous n’avons pas peur. Nous voulons une meilleure répartition des richesses, nous voulons un peu plus de démocratie. Pourquoi avoir peur ? Nous ne pouvons pas vivre dans la peur. Soutenez nous. »

Gérard Warenghem


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