1st Edition

Africa's Soft Power Philosophies, Political Values, Foreign Policies and Cultural Exports

By Oluwaseun Tella Copyright 2021
    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book investigates the ways in which soft power is used by African countries to help drive global influence.

    Selecting four of the countries most associated with soft power across the continent, this book delves into the currencies of soft power across the region: from South Africa’s progressive constitution and expanding multinational corporations, to Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry and Technical Aid Corps (TAC) scheme, Kenya’s sport diplomacy, fashion and tourism industries, and finally Egypt’s Pan-Arabism and its reputation as the cradle of civilisation. The book asks how soft power is wielded by these countries and what constraints and contradictions they encounter. Understandings of soft power have typically been driven by Western scholars, but throughout this book, Oluwaseun Tella aims to Africanise our understanding of soft power, drawing on prominent African philosophies, including Nigeria’s Omolúwàbí, South Africa’s Ubuntu, Kenya’s Harambee, and Egypt’s Pharaonism.

    This book will be of interest to researchers from across political science, international relations, cultural studies, foreign policy and African Studies.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at

    http://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/ 9781003176022, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license

    1. Introduction

    2. De-Americanising and Africanising soft power

    3. Nigeria: Naija swagger

    4. South Africa: Mzansi symbolism

    5. Egypt: The resilient pharaoh

    6. Kenya: Harambee attraction

    7. Conclusion: Africa as a model




    Oluwaseun Tella is Director, The Future of Diplomacy, Institute for the Future of Knowledge, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

    "This seven-chapter book is a powerful testimonial to consummate African scholarship. Its analysis is rigorous, insightful, lucid and authoritative, providing fresh perspectives on selected uniquely African philosophies, and the potentialities, deployment and limitations of soft power in Africa’s international relations. The author rigorously Africanises the concept, broadening its analytic scope from its biased Western methodology, thus brilliantly fulfilling that great African proverb made famous by the inimitable Chinua Achebe: 'that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.' This is truly an intellectual tour de force." 

    W. Alade Fawole, Professor of International Relations, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.  

    "This book addresses an important tool in the arsenal of foreign policy from an African perspective. African states have significant soft power capacities, although soft power is not always appreciated as a lever of influence, or fully integrated into countries’ foreign policy strategies. Tella takes Nye’s original concept and Africanises it, discussing Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa via their respective philosophies of Pharaonism, Harambee, Omolúwàbí and Ubuntu. This study is a critical contribution to the literature on African foreign policies and how to use soft power to greater effect in building up African agency on the global stage."

    Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive, South African Institute of International Affairs, Johannesburg, South Africa.

    "Soft power is seldom associated with African states, given decades bedevilled by coup d’états, brazen dictatorships and misrule. This ground-breaking book is certainly a tour de force in conceptualising soft power in the African context. It is a must read for experts and students of African diplomacy and International affairs." 

    Peter Kagwanja, President and Chief Executive, Africa Policy Institute, Nairobi, Kenya; and Adjunct Professor of Diplomacy and International Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya.