• Government-donor relations in Sierra Leone: who is in the driving seat?

      Harris, David; Conteh, F.M. (2020-03)
      Since the cessation of conflict in 2002, Sierra Leone has experienced extraordinary levels of involvement from Western donors. Paradoxically, while relationships are often portrayed on the ground as strong with significant donor influence, our research shows considerable fluidity in individual and institutional relationships. The article disaggregates donor-government relations at various levels over a short but crucial period, 2010-16, asking in each case who occupies the driving seat. In so doing, the article interrogates the concept of ‘extraversion’, investigating to what extent government - and indeed donors - has space in which to manoeuvre and how and why government and donors act as they do in this space. The period 2010-16 is of particular interest due to extreme iron ore price volatility and the Ebola epidemic of 2014–15. The article adds much-needed critique and empirical evidence to the debate on donor influence and ‘extraversion’.
    • Learning in the Palaver Hut: The ‘Africa Study Visit’ as teaching tool.

      Ambrozy, M.; Harris, David (2016)
      The aim of this article is to assess the experiential learning environment of the African Study Visit (ASV). It presents a theoretically grounded analysis of the ASV. Although field visits are not a new phenomenon within Higher Education, they seem, but with few exceptions, to be considered as an add-on teaching method. By drawing from the experiential learning literature, we demonstrate that there are sound pedagogical reasons for incorporating field visits like the ASV into the curriculum as stand-alone components. Thus, the original contribution of this article is to place the ASV within the experiential learning literature such that the theoretical, practical and conceptual benefits for students are understood. Its significance is that this article offers a set of practices from an experiential learning perspective that can be used for deepening the levels of comprehension of political issues in Africa for international studies students.
    • Liberia in 2011: Still Ploughing its own Democratic Furrow?

      Harris, David; Lewis, T. (2013-01)
      The momentous 2005 Liberian elections followed a devastating civil war. Remarkably, the winner of the presidential race was a woman, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the second-placed was a footballer, George Weah. In addition, in stark contrast to many African elections in particular those in neighbouring Sierra Leone, voting patterns were fragmented: voters often chose President, Senators and Representatives from different parties or independents. Much can be explained by a remarkably level playing-field delivered by an interim coalition government providing no incumbent. In 2011, the Johnson-Sirleaf incumbency stood to significantly change the dynamics. This article seeks to discern whether Liberian elections maintain their unusual patterns, whether Liberia has joined the ranks of African patron-clientelist, dominant-party or two-party systems, in particular compared to that of Sierra Leone, or whether there are new twists in its democratic development.
    • Liberia’s Run-up to 2017: Continuity and Change in a Long History of Electoral Politics

      Pailey, R.N.; Harris, David (2017-05-04)
      If successfully orchestrated, the October 2017 elections in Liberia will mark the first time in recent memory when a democratically elected Liberian president – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – will hand over power to a similarly elected head of state. This is very likely to be a close election and our Briefing investigates changes and continuities in the candidates, political parties, electoral processes and the workings of the Liberian state at a watershed moment in a long and shifting democratic history.
    • Sierra Leone: A Political History

      Harris, David (2014)
      Sierra Leone came to world attention in the 1990s when a catastrophic civil war linked to the diamond trade was reported globally. This fleet- ing and particular interest, however, obscured two crucial processes in this small West African state. On the one hand, while the civil war was momentous, brutal and affected all Sierra Leoneans, it was also just one element in the long and faltering attempt to build a nation and state given the country's immensely problematic pre-colonial and British colonial legacies. On the other, the aftermath of the war precipitated a huge inter- national effort to construct a 'liberal peace', with mixed results, and thus made Sierra Leone a laboratory for post-Cold War interventions. Sierra Leone examines 225 years of its history and fifty years of independence, placing state- society relations at the centre of an original and revealing investigation of those who have tried to rule or change Sierra Leone and its inhabitants and the responses engendered. It interweaves the historical narrative with sketches of politicians, anecdotes, the landscape and environment and key turning-points, alongside theoretical and other comparisons with the rest of Africa. It is a new contribution to the debate for those who already know Sierra Leone and a solid point of entry for those who wish to know.
    • Sierra Leone: A Political History

      Harris, David (Hurst, 2020-06)
      Sierra Leone came to world attention in the 1990s when a catastrophic civil war linked to the diamond trade was reported globally. This fleeting and particular interest, however, obscured two crucial processes in this small West African state. On the one hand, while the civil war was momentous and brutal, affecting all Sierra Leoneans, it was also just one element in the long and faltering attempt to build a nation and state, given the country’s immensely problematic pre-colonial and British colonial legacies. On the other, the aftermath of the war precipitated a huge international effort to construct a ‘liberal peace’, with mixed results, and interrupted by the devastating Ebola pandemic. This made Sierra Leone a laboratory for both post-conflict and health crisis interventions. Sierra Leone examines over 230 years of its history and sixty years of independence, placing state–society relations at the centre of an original and revealing investigation of those who have tried to rule or change Sierra Leone and its inhabitants, and the responses engendered. It interweaves the historical narrative with sketches of politicians, anecdotes, the landscape and environment and key turning-points, alongside theoretical and other comparisons with the rest of Africa. It is a new contribution to the debate for those who already know Sierra Leone and a solid point of entry for those who wish to.
    • Swings and roundabouts: the vagaries of democratic consolidation and ‘electoral rituals’ in Sierra Leone

      Conteh, F.M.; Harris, David (2014)
      The history of the electoral process in Sierra Leone is at the same time tortuous and substantial. From relatively open competitive multi-party politics in the 1960s, which led to the first turnover of power at the ballot box, through the de facto and de jure one-party era, which nonetheless had elements of electoral competition, and finally to contemporary post-conflict times, which has seen three elections and a second electoral turnover in 2007, one can discern evolving patterns. Evidence from the latest local and national elections in 2012 suggests that there is some democratic consolidation, at least in an electoral sense. However, one might also see simultaneous steps forward and backward – What you gain on the swings, you may lose on the roundabouts. This is particularly so in terms of institutional capacities, fraud and violence, and one would need to enquire of the precise ingredients – in terms of political culture or in other words the attitudes and motivations of electors and the elected – of this evolving Sierra Leonean, rather than specifically liberal type, of democracy. Equally, the development of ‘electoral rituals’, whether peculiar to Sierra Leone or not and whether deemed consolidatory or not, has something to say as part of an investigation into the electoral element of democratic consolidation.1 The literature on elections in Africa most often depicts a number of broad features, such as patronage, ethno-regionalism, fraud and violence, and it is the intention of this article to locate contemporary Sierra Leone, as precisely as possible, within the various strands of this discourse.
    • Taking 'development cooperation' and South-South Cooperation Discourse Seriously: Indian claims and Ghanaian responses

      Harris, David; Vittorini, S. (2018)
      Indian interaction with the global South is at a crossroads. For a long time wedded to Nehruvian values of South-South cooperation, there are now considerable claims that economics underpins interactions. This article looks at current Indian ‘development cooperation’ in Ghana and, crucially, also asks what form Ghanaian responses take. The article concludes that while the rhetoric and ideas behind South-South cooperation are toned down, there are still ideas: Indian ‘development cooperation’ is partly ideologically and normatively informed, is not simply national interests, and has effects; whilst being extremely broad in content and significantly adding to global re-conceptualisations of development assistance.
    • “We don’t know who be who”: post-party politics, forum shopping and Liberia’s 2017 elections

      Harris, David; Pailey, R.N. (2020)
      Liberia’s 2017 elections represented a watershed moment in the country’s political history. In addition to completing the first democratic transfer of power from one president to another since 1944, it resulted in wide representation across many different parties and independents as well as high levels of legislative turn-overs. Additionally, these polls brought forward unprecedented numbers of party reconfigurations, increased levels of defections, and politicians/parties losing abysmally in presumed ethno-regional bases. In this article, we argue that Liberia currently exists in a post-war arena of “post-party” politics where a profound disregard for parties is the norm, and in which the electorate and politicians alike forum shop for candidates and/or political configurations they presume will deliver the best results at national, sub-national and local levels. Although literature exploring electoral trends in Africa tends to over-emphasize ethno-regionalism as a driver and constraint in the choices of voters and politicians, we demonstrate instead that Liberians make relatively informed, strategic decisions about political alliances and ballot casting thereby subverting allegiances to ethnicity and region. By further eschewing party loyalties, Liberians have gradually become astute forum shoppers in a political marketplace that makes running for office and voting complex undertakings.