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Über dieses Buch

This book highlights the use of art in human rights, specifically within Africa. It advances an innovative pattern of thinking that explores the intersection between art and human rights law. In recent years, art has become an important tool for engagement on several human rights issues. In view of its potency, and yet potential to be a danger when misused, this book seeks to articulate the use of arts in the human rights discourse in its different forms. Chapters cover how music, photography, literature, photojournalism, soap opera, commemorations, sculpting and theatre can be used as an expression of human rights. This book demonstrates how arts have become a formidable expression of thoughts and a means of articulating reality in a form that simplifies truth and congregates resolve to advance change.



Chapter 1. Arts, Human Rights and the Law in Africa: An Introduction

While arts, human rights and law are well established fields that have emerged and developed through knowledge systems that are rich and extensive in engagement, their confluence has become a significant point of interest in recent years. Arts are as ancient as Africa’s history. To understand Africa, and indeed, the culture of the continent, the role of arts is crucial. Prehistoric records reflect the use of rock arts in many parts of modern day Africa. As early as 8000 BC, arts were engraved on caves and even today gives us a sense of ancient African culture (Ofei 2008, p. 168). The Nok culture in Nigeria possesses notable terracotta sculptures with records doing as far back as 500 BC (Rupp et al. 2008, p. 284). Aside from the rich history of African Saharan trade, which was ‘the vehicle for the transmission of ideas’ (Isichei 1997, p. 218), African arts have been the vehicle of continental civilisation. In more recent years, the arts has become the mechanism for visual representation not only of African history but also communication of culture, feelings, power and knowledge. Across Africa, the arts has become a formidable expression of thoughts and a means of articulating reality in a form that simplifies truth and bolster resolve to advance change. In the human rights context, the arts has become a pertinent tool in expressing thoughts. In contemporary Africa, the potency of arts in human rights has been brought into light through various campaigns on the abduction of children by Joseph Kony in Uganda, the sale of migrants in Libya and the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign in Nigeria. While a plethora of examples abound on how arts has shaped the human rights narrative, scholarship on the intersection between arts and human rights law remains at its infancy. This book examines this intersectionality given the importance of arts in African expression. The arts serve as a formidable way of harvesting the voices of various groups. In recent years, it has become an important tool for engagement in view of the fourth industrial revolution and the power of visuals in representing pertinent issues. However, arts can also be used as to perpetuate dangerous stereotypes and propaganda machinery to entrench practices that violate human rights, usually of the most vulnerable in society. This book explores these intersectionalities within the African context. There are ten chapters in this book. The authors engage the subject of the arts from a plethora of perspectives: music, photographic silhouette, literature, photojournalism, soap operas, visual arts, sculpture and theatre. All ten chapters in this book were peer-reviewed in addition to the internal review process.
Romola Adeola, Michael Gyan Nyarko, Adebayo Okeowo, Frans Viljoen

Chapter 2. Critical Pedagogy of International Legal Education in Africa: An Exploration of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s Music

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was a revolutionary who used his music as a weapon for tackling autocracy and global injustice. He advocated for pan-Africanism in socio-political and economic processes and fought against the marginalisation of the downtrodden. His non-conformist, radical stance resulted in numerous arrests, harassments and torture at the hands of successive military regimes in Nigeria. Fela’s infectious beats and critically engaging lyrics, mainly sang in Pidgin English, continue to inspire multi-layered interests in his works. Beyond the commercial appropriation of his legacy, his intense and methodical delivery provides an important window to exposing students to critical understanding of the global system. While Fela’s musical oeuvre generally speak to social consciousness, three of his songs are relevant to the critical teaching of international law: “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense”, “International Thief Thief”, and “Beast of No Nations”. These songs reflect some of the issues raised by critical movements, such as the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), thereby making them an important gateway to understanding the works of this school of thought. These issues include the hypocrisy of the international community regarding democracy, illicit financial flow from Africa, and the unequal structure of the United Nations (UN). This chapter discusses the ideational issues that should guide the introduction of Fela’s music into the process of rethinking the pedagogy of international legal education in African law schools.
Babatunde Fagbayibo

Chapter 3. Photographic Silhouettes and Human Rights in Africa: Confronting and Deterring Female Genital Mutilation in Aida Silvestri’s Unsterile Clinic

In 2016, Eritrean artist Aida Silvestri addressed female genital mutilation (FGM) in her solo exhibition, Unsterile Clinic. Silvestri interviewed and photographed East African-born women who were forced to undergo FGM. Unsterile Clinic presented photographic silhouettes of some of these women. Silvestri sewed beads and flowers to pieces of leather whose shapes resemble stylized vulvas in order to evoke the effects of the different kinds of FGM. She affixed the leather pieces to the mouth areas of the silhouettes to visualise the silencing of the women’s voices. As children, their cries of pain and protest against the procedure went unheard and, as adult women, their shame and the taboo nature of the subject made the women reluctant to speak of it. Through Unsterile Clinic, Silvestri intends to bring greater awareness of FGM’s harmful physical and psychological effects thereby encouraging individuals to take a stand against culturally sanctioned gender-based violence. Due to international migration, FGM does not only occur in Africa but has also been reported in Europe, North America, and Australia. Despite the widespread recognition of FGM as a violation of the rights of girls and women and various laws banning FGM in multiple countries, the World Health Organization estimates that millions of girls are still at risk of being subjected to the procedure. For Silvestri, this is unacceptable and the photographic work comprising Unsterile Clinic functions as a means for her to serve as an advocate for the abused, a voice for the silenced, and an educator for the unaware.
Kaia L. Magnusen

Chapter 4. Literature and Human Rights in Africa: Making a Case for a Trauma-Sensitive Approach in Proving Persecution in Asylum Processes through Adichie’s The American Embassy

The right to seek and enjoy asylum is recognised in international law as a cardinal principle in the safeguard for persons in need of international protection. Drawing on the discretion of states to grant asylum, the right to seek and enjoy asylum is contained in several in a plethora of international soft norms and underscored in international refugee law through the principle of non-refoulement. In the process of seeking asylum, an applicant would need to demonstrate the fact that there was a fear of persecution which is well-founded in the country of origin. This process may entail retelling a factual situation which has psychosocial implications given the sensitivity of the particular situation and its consequences on the mental health of the asylum-seeker. Using Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The American Embassy, this chapter makes the case for trauma-sensitive approach to be utilised in the course of proving persecution in asylum processes.
Romola Adeola

Chapter 5. Photojournalism and Human Rights in Africa: Stories from the Field

In this chapter, the research attempts to briefly demonstrate the impact and effectiveness of photojournalism by describing the lived experience and surrounding cultural, historical, and political contexts of certain events that took place in several African countries, including Sierra Leone, and Liberia. In Sierra Leone and Liberia, through the lived experience as a photojournalist and through in-depth research and analysis, I come to the conclusion in this work that while photojournalism can prove useful in promoting immediate impact, whether in the form of donations or government action (albeit minimal), it may not always impact or provoke the government’s or the international community’s seeking of justice. Regardless, photojournalism in Africa is essential in providing an agenda and laying a framework to seek justice for human rights abuses and promote progress. Photojournalism is a crucial player in witnessing history in Africa, and it functions as a key player in pushing forward human rights issues. In this chapter, I focus on the role of photojournalism in highlighting the Ebola situation in Sierra Leone and Liberia, relaying personal experience as a photojournalist in Africa.
Mohammed Elshamy

Chapter 6. Soap Operas and Human Rights in Africa: African Feminist and Human Rights Perspective on the Representation of Black Women in the Media

Negative depictions of women in television shows contribute to the widespread cultural stereotyping of women. This chapter questions how black women are represented in SABC television shows—Skeem Saam on SABC 1, Muvhango SABC 2 and Isidingo on SABC 3. The chapter uses content analysis and the Bechdel test, along with African feminist theory as tools to examine black women’s representations. This chapter argues that how black women are showcased fails to meet the obligations set out in the Convention on the Elimination of Discriminataion Against Women (CEDAW) and Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (African Women’s Protocol). Additionally as African feminist theory illustrates, the raceless and often a historical depiction of black women on these shows renders them invisible. The goal of this chapter is to add to the growing epistemology of African feminism and representations of black women in the media.
Reshoketswe Mapokgole

Chapter 7. Commemoration and Human Rights in Africa: Revisiting the Politics of Memory Through Visual Arts in Kenya

When societies experience widespread patterns of injustice, exploitation and gross human rights violations, normative international human rights standards require accountability and generally the establishment of measures to address them. By and large, societies subjected to the scourge of blatant human rights violations, repression and widespread patterns of injustice, have to find ways to mourn the dead, remember the painful past, preserve the memory and work towards reconstruction. Some of the measures established to address the past include truth commissions, reparations, memorials and reconstruction of institutions. However, these measures have their own limitations in terms of time, money and dependence on political will of the individuals in power. To counter the limitations of these mechanisms, visual arts may be employed as their unofficial counterpart. Visual arts create a platform for victims of gross human rights violations to voice their views and concerns. This chapter seeks to shed light on the complexity of memory, highlight state of amnesia and denial of gross human rights by the Kenyan government and to discuss ways that visual art be a means to commemorate and liberate memory and promote respect for human rights.
Josephat M. Kilonzo

Chapter 8. Sculpting and Human Rights: An Exploration of Fasasi Abeedeen Tunde’s Works in Italy

This chapter engages the use of sculptures in spotlighting human rights focusing on the issue of migration and specifically the plight of migrants at sea. It explores the significant work of Fasasi Abeedeen Tunde—a Nigerian migrant—who crossed the Mediterranean sea into Europe. Through sculpting, Fasasi has been able to share powerful visuals depicting both the horrors and kindness he witnessed during his voyage. His artwork has been exhibited in Italy and garnered notable attention. His artworks accomplish what philosopher Emmanual Levinas called meeting the “Other” face to face, bringing about a moral imperative, based upon intrasubjective experience, which calls the viewer to action. This chapter examines this intersection through the work of Fasasi Abeedeen Tunde and the possibility for art to create changes in society in order to improve the application of human rights.
Elizabeth Lisot-Nelson

Chapter 9. Theatre and Human Rights in Africa: Historical and Literary Representations in South Africa

Theatre and dramatic literature play an important role in addressing human rights subject both by enhancing its maintenance and by censuring its numerous violations. Scholarly works have significantly explored the importance of theatre towards human empowerment, development and conscientisation. It is also worthy to note that since the turn of the last century, the world has seen in multiple ways, how practical drama has been adopted through dramatic literature and performance theatre to effectively explore human rights issues. The work of Shakespeare, Judith Malina and Julian Beck’s The Living Theatre (1947), Brazilian theatre practitioner, Augusto Boal—Theatre of the Oppressed (1960), Market and Protest theatres of apartheid South Africa, Pakistani, and Juliano Mer Khamis’ Freedom Theatre are some of many examples of the most influential attempts to address human rights concerns through theatre. In this chapter, I explore specific aspects of human rights and theatre in a country whose political history remains unique in different ways: South Africa. Considering the historical past of this country, Hein Marais describes it as one of the miracles of the twenty-first century (South Africa: limits to change: the political economy of transition. University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town, Hein 2001). In terms of literature and arts in general, this history or what Hein terms ‘miracle’ has made South Africa a lush site for literary exploration. With this in mind, the chapter interrogates the historical engagements of theatre in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa along with how theatre/drama as a form of art has endured different forms of limitations. Additionally, it engages a specific South African play text Green Man Flashing (2006) by dramatist, Mike Van Graan, which explores the scourge of rape in South Africa to further explore the concept of human rights and theatre/drama.
Albert O. Oloruntoba

Chapter 10. Music and Human Rights in Africa: The Role of Music in the Promotion of Human Rights in Uganda

At the global level, the use of art in the form of music has become significant in the realisation of human rights. Music has been used to highlight human rights abuses, raise awareness and shape the human rights scholarship. This chapter deals with music and human rights in Uganda. The chapter provides a useful overview in the way music and artistic expression can be used to promote human rights in Uganda. This article begins with a general introduction in music and human rights, while the second part examines the relevance of music as a tool for human rights advocacy in Uganda. Overall, this chapter critically examines the intersection between music as an art and human rights law in Uganda as an innovative pattern of thinking about human rights gives concluding remarks and recommendations on the furtherance of this objective.
Ronald Kakungulu-Mayambala
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