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Self-censorship in African scholarship and scholarly publishing

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Since the late 1980s, the African continent has been witnessing an enormous socioeconomic transformation, and yet the writings of many African scholars today bear signs of self-censorship: censorship outside the direct influence of the state. This form of censorship is part of the African educational system, its of ficial languages, and its societal values; it is packaged in the form of ideology and therefore constitutes part of the intellectual make-up of the African scholar, ultimately endangering the development of sustainable scholarly publishing in Africa.

IT IS SAFE TO ARGUE that since the late 1980s the people of Africa have been determinedly pushing forward the democratization process of the continent. National conferences in Benin, Mali, Congo, and Zaire; the end of apartheid in South Africa; the end of one-party politics in Malawi and Zambia; and spontaneous mass rallies and a prolonged workers' strike in Nigeria are but a few signs of that determination. Ceaselessly confronted by globalization, with its agenda for political and economic liberalization, the African continent is witnessing a new wave of socio-economic transformation due to both internal and external pressures. This transformation is manifested by the avalanche of emerging social movements that are religious, ethnic, and political in character. The preoccupation of these social movements is yet to be fully captured and uncompromisingly put on record by African scholars. Where attempts have been made to record these events, most of the studies unfortunately rely on euphemisms and platitudes in presenting their research findings. Has African scholarship become less beneficial to its readers and more of a service to the careers and personal enrichment of authors? Where do we place academic and scientific integrity?

For the scholarly publisher, the most visible manifestations of freedom of judgement are expressing and publishing opinion, and this freedom cannot be separated from freedom of...