Elite Africa: Creativity, Expertise and Power

Both popular and academic treatments of Africa tend to feature those actors commonly regarded as “weak,” small or poor. There is a curious squeamishness about focusing in a sustained way on those who are most powerful, effective and influential on the continent—its elites. Alternatively, where elites are considered, they tend to be treated as uniformly corrupt and self-serving. These approaches ignore the burgeoning ranks of globally-renowned artists, prominent intellectuals, innovative businesspeople, accomplished scientists and many others who are flourishing on the continent and, in the process, transforming both Africa and the global fields within which they work. These approaches are due for a reassessment. This group seeks to 1) challenge the narrow and often racist popular and scholarly understandings of elites in Africa as comprising only a venal comprador class; 2) map the dynamics of elite formation in Africa; and 3) theorize power as a process that is transformed by this dynamic, rather than simply as an object to be captured.


  • Dickson Eyoh, New College African Studies
  • Antoinette Handley, A&S Political Science
  • Sean Hawkins, A&S History
  • Nakanyike Musisi, A&S History


Faculty, University of Toronto

  • Thembele Kepe, UTSC Human Geography
  • Melissa Levin, (instructor) New College African Studies

Faculty Members outside University of Toronto

  • Gerald Bareebe, Political Science, York University
  • Peter Lewis, Political Science, Johns Hopkins University
  • Thomas Kwasi Tieku, Political Science, Western University

Graduate Students, University of Toronto

  • John Dotse, Political Science
  • Rhoda Osei-Afful, Political Science