Convener: Dr Doris Okenwa
About the event
Redesigning Democracy is a series of conferences that aims to start an original conversation that pushes normative discourses on African politics towards narratives that incorporate creative dissidence, popular culture, histories and emergent forms of everyday innovative social change.
The first instalment features a first of an unceremonious convivial interaction between high politics and everyday culture. This multi-perspective and cross-generational event brings together established and aspiring young politicians, activists, scholars and creatives who have been vociferous in their imaginings and critique of politics in Nigeria.
Taking the 2023 general elections in Nigeria as the discursive starting point, the event will explore the impact of the EndSARS moment (framed here as alternative politics) on elections and governance within and beyond 2023.
The revolutionary energy of the 2020 EndSARS protests renewed discourses of youth politics, popular culture, radical democracy and social change in Nigeria. It raised questions as to whether this was a transient phenomenon or an abiding movement towards alternative ways of thinking about politics and the kinds of political alternatives that might emerge to challenge the status quo. Crucially, EndSARS, reminiscent of other protests like Occupy Nigeria, albeit in a different context, positioned the upcoming 2023 general elections as the time of change – with contemporary strategies and new media technologies aimed at amplifying historically marginalised voices. While popular protests and agitations for youth and gender inclusive politics have a long history in Nigeria, the significance of post-EndSARS politics opens up an opportunity to explore the nexus between popular culture, electoral politics, and development in new and interesting ways.
The conference which coincides with the 2nd anniversary of the EndSARS protests, aims to move beyond the rhetoric of youth political ‘empowerment’ to explore the vernacular ways they are shaping the political space. Youth here is conceptualised as a social category, a structuring concept and an affective disposition beyond age in numbers. In this sense, next generation also speaks to a shift in the class, demography and category of political actors
Overall Redesigning Democracy will explore Alternative politics vs Political Alternatives in the context of:
• EndSARS as an alternative politics gamechanger particularly the impact on political consciousness among young people and the ways popular culture is shaping the political landscape .
• The ways in which current forms of organising succeeds (or fails) in ideological transformations and to what extent it will result in increased voting or act as a vote cutter in the upcoming elections;
• For those that succeeded in gaining a party ticket, how they envision effecting the desired kind of politics and governance;
• Thinking beyond 2023: what does next generation/post EndSARS politics actually mean for governance more broadly beyond romanticized notions? Is Nigeria ready for it beyond rhetoric? Are the actors themselves ready?
• Is it time to expand the attention placed on electoral/party politics towards other domains of social change?
The two day conference will hold virtually (only) on Wednesday 19 October and in-person on Thursday 20 October from 3:30 – 6pm at the Investcorp Theatre, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.
If you’re interested in alternative thinking in Africa, do join us for this eclectic event that pushes the boundaries of how we think about politics in Africa.
Convenor : Dr Doris Okenwa, Fellow in African Anthropology & Lecturer in African Studies , University of Oxford
Wednesday 19 October 3:00 – 4:30pm (Online Only)
- Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje
- Dayo Adedayo “Mr Macaroni”
- Simi Olusola
- Seun Okinbaloye
- Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu
Chair: Professor Wale Adebanwi, Presidential Penn Compact Professor of Africana Studies
Thursday, 20 October 3.30 - 6.00pm (In person, Investcorp Lecture Theatre, St Antony's College)
- Dr Kayode Fayemi
- Olubankole (Banky W) Wellington
- Ayisha Osori
- Dr Portia Roelofs
- Samson Itodo
- Chukwuemeka Nwangele
Chair : Professor Miles Larmer, Professor of African History & Director, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford