The Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War

Co-sponsored by International Development Program and Transnational Challenges and Emerging Nations Dialogue (TRANSCEND)
Nov 18, 2011
School of International Service Founder’s Room

By Adekeye Adebajo

The Curse of Berlin refers to the Conference of Berlin in 1884 – 1885 at which the rules were effectively set by European states for the partition of Africa. The book argues that historical and structural events continue to affect and shape Africa’s contemporary international relations. This study adopts a historical approach, even though its main focus is on contemporary issues. The first part of the book focuses on Africa’s quest for security with three essays on Africa’s security institutions; another on the political, peacekeeping, and socio-economic roles of the United Nations (UN) in Africa; and a third on an assessment of Africa’s two UN Secretaries-General: Egypt’s Boutros  Boutros-Ghali and Ghana’s Kofi Annan. The second section of the book focuses on Africa’s quest for leadership and six essays examine the hegemonic roles of South Africa, Nigeria, the United States, China and France on the continent. The five essays in the final section of the study analyse Africa’s quest for unity and examine the roles and significance for Africa of six historical figures: Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Kwame Nkrumah, Cecil Rhodes, Barack Obama and Mahatma Gandhi; as well as assessing the African Union and the European Union in comparative perspective.


Adekeye Adebajo has been Executive Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa since 2003. He served as Director of the Africa Programme of the New York-based International Peace Academy.  During the same period, Dr Adebajo was an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in New York.  He previously served on UN missions in South Africa, Western Sahara and Iraq.  Dr Adebajo is the author of Building Peace in West Africa; Liberia’s Civil War; and co-editor of Managing Armed Conflicts in the Twenty-First Century; West Africa’s Security Challenges; A Dialogue of the Deaf: Essays on Africa and the United Nations; South Africa in Africa; Gulliver’s Troubles: Nigeria’s Foreign Policy After the Cold War; and From Global Apartheid to Global Village: Africa and the United Nations. He obtained his doctorate from Oxford University in England, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.