Judged based on both good and bad sides of the continent, African politics is still quite one of the world’s interest areas, which has made Oxford Dictionary released the Dictionary of African Politics that provides rich data of African politics.
Put together by two doctoral candidates and Professor Nic Cheeseman from the University of Birmingham, the new dictionary gives detailed overviews of selected political personalities, events and occasions in African politics, explains theoretical terms specific to Africa and several countries in the continent and also provides information on Africa’s contribution to global and modern politics.
Speaking with The Conversation, the team explains that it put together the long overdue Dictionary by the simple use of social media and crowdsourcing information through suggestions for the most relevant and insightful terms.
Through the long term study of terms used by social media users during periods such as elections or national political debates, several terms used in particular areas were noticed and added to the dictionary soon after concise information was available.
Aside from the use of social media, the process also involved collecting and sifting through suggestions from people in Africa upon request.
The dictionary also touches on relevant topics such as HIV, gender-related issues such as feminism, genocide, famine, and apartheid. It includes one of the most thorough timelines of African political events ever compiled, with direct links to entries that put critical events into context.
A few popular terminologies that feature in the dictionary are Watermelon Politics from Zambia referring to an individual that professes to support one political party but in reality, belongs to another. The term comes from the fact that the leading political parties have green and red as their party colors.
Another popular term in the Oxford dictionary of African Politics is the Ghanaian term “skirt-and-blouse voting” which means to vote for different parties for presidential and legislative elections.
The dictionary does not play bias to Anglophone Africa and features Francophone Africa and various terms from indigenous languages that have become universal covering as much as possible from the continent.
Eloïse Bertrand, one of the PhD candidates that worked on the dictionary announced its release on Twitter and it has since received some reactions from Africans on the app.
Very excited that the Oxford Dictionary of African Politics we put together with @Fromagehomme & @SaeeduH is finally out! Read about why it was needed on @TC_Africa https://t.co/Pg4j88bM0E and check out the dictionary at https://t.co/yoGXQqIuCh
— Eloïse Bertrand (@Eloise_Btd) March 14, 2019
A crowd-sourced Oxford Dictionary of African Politics! https://t.co/kv03e6Sx1I
— Andrea Purdekova (@AndreaPurdekova) March 14, 2019
Skirt and blouse, very much Ghanaian
— Kojo Otoo (@BraKojoGh) March 15, 2019
With the great effort, dedication and time that went into the making of the dictionary, it promises to be a great addition to African political history and be a great source for academics studying or seeking a better understanding of how politics generally work in Africa.