News: Honorary African Scholar Serves as the Sidore Lecturer

Plymouth State University had the honor of hosting the renowned Dr. Toyin Falola on Monday, March 9 in the Smith Recital Hall at the Silver Center for the Arts. As a part of their Saul O. Sidore Lecture Series, this year’s theme is the state of democracy. Dr. Falola’s presentation entitled, “Convention, Culture, and Corruption: Democracy in Africa” focused on the key issues related to creating and maintaining democratic political systems in Africa. He spoke to numerous faculty, students, and community members and sparked thought-provoking conversation centered on the issues with the West’s definition of democracy in regard to African nations.

Dr. Falola argued that the Western definition of democracy is limited in scope. Simply put, this ideology cannot easily define Africa’s government due to the country’s long struggle with military regimes, authoritarianism, and violence. The constant military rule within the country has caused many communities to become imbalanced and unequal.

The push for democracy stems from this belief, but it does not solve the problem entirely. African nations are still suffering from corruption, judicial manipulation, poor leadership, and ethnic rivalries. While democracy may seem like the only solution from a Western perspective, Dr. Falola cited that democratic nations are still repressive and do not promote a search for Africa’s ideal government.

Based on Dr. Falola’s research, African nations should, instead, invest in creating vibrant institutions undefined by democracy. With such institutions in place, Africa can then spend their efforts on uplifting poor communities and building equal nations. He encourages everyone to take part in the process by helping to spread ideas on development and initiate conversations on equality.

Dr. Toyin Falola currently serves as the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair Professor in the Humanities, as well as the Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is both the Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria and of the Nigerian Academy of Letters. Dr. Falola has received numerous awards and honors for his work, such as the Jean Holloway Award for Teaching Excellence and the Ibn Khaldun Distinguished Award for Research Excellence. He has written and edited many publications, including the historical book, Nationalism and African Intellectuals and the personal memoir, A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt. Dr. Falola also sits on various committees for the United Nations and travels on peace missions to Africa.

The final lecture of the series will be held on Tuesday, April 7 at 7 p.m. The speaker, Marin Gilens, a professor of politics at Princeton University, will be discussing the failures with American democratic institutions. All Sidore lectures are free and open to the public.

Published in Plymouth State University's newspaper, The Clock