Closing the Circle

Closing the Circle

Democratization and Development in Africa

By Richard Sandbrook



This format can only be shipped to Canada.

Closing the Circle is a provocative, sober analysis of the struggles to construct democracy in Africa. Well-known African Studies scholar Richard Sandbrook argues that Africa’s problems will not be solved until order is created. And in the creation of order, politics is primary. In this, his eighth book on Africa, Sandbrook explores the realities and possibilities of democracy in Africa. He argues for the necessity of a “virtuous” and self-reinforcing circle of civil and political rights, growing prosperity, and state renovation. In the end, says Sandbrook, Africa’s tragedy is that external as well as internal constraints operate–and that both require attention. He makes a radical call for a supportive social-democratic reform of globalization.


A comprehensive, scholarly, thoroughly researched, objective analysis of the state of political and economic trends in Africa in recent times. Relevant for academics, students, democracy workers, civil society organizations, and above all politicians and policy makers inside and outside Africa.

– Patrick Molutsi, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Stockholm, formerly Dean, Social Science, University of Botswana

Sandbrook does a remarkable job of presenting an extraordinary range of material about an extraordinarily complex subject-the meltdown of politics and economies in Africa-in a way that makes complete sense of the challenges and proposes a clear solution. Optimism is usually the sign of a flawed understanding, but Sandbrook convinces the reader that Africans are fully capable of working out their own solutions once global conditions are reformed.

– Timothy Brook, Department of History, Stanford University

Richard Sandbrook refuses to get sucked into the general pessimism about Africa’s future. He examines the causes of conflict and disorder with a steady eye and a humane, practical vision. In his view, human needs have to govern the market. Good governance, security, welfare and liberty have to go together. Sandbrook pioneered, sustained and now has developed a powerful case for a social democratic order in Africa. His analysis is well informed and convincing.

– Robin Cohen, Professor of Sociology, Warwick University

Comprehensive, clear, and constructive, this book offers an excellent analysis of democratization and development in Africa. A strong argument is made in favour of ‘social-democratic globalisation’ as a much needed external condition for “getting the politics right” in many African states. I can think of no better way for students and scholars to get a quick yet far-reaching and inclusive overview of the complex conditions defining democracy and development in Africa.

– Georg Sorensen, Political Science, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Richard Sandbrook is in the commendable habit of writing successful books. This is in the tradition of the earlier ones, but it surpasses them in incisive communicative lucidity, logic, and scholarly rigour.

– Professor J.A.A. Ayoade, Dean, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Ibadan


List of Tables
Map of Sub-Saharan Africa
Chapter 1 Patterns and Perspectives
Chapter 2 The Real World of African Democracy
Chapter 3 Democratization and Deadly Conflict
Chapter 4 Democratization and Market Reforms
Chapter 5 Democratization and State Rehabilitation
Chapter 6 Closing the Circle