Samson Bezabeh, an Ethiopian PhD student at the University of Bergen in Norway is the winner of the 2012 African Author Prize from African Affairs, the leading peer reviewed journal of African Studies. The Prize is awarded biennially to recognize excellent African scholarship in African institutions and overseas.
The awarding committee included Richard Dowden (Director of the Royal African Society), Megan Vaughan (President of The African Studies Association of the United Kingdom (ASAUK), Nicoli Nattrass (Member of the Editorial Board), and the editors of African Affairs.
Bezabeh won the award for his article "Citizenship and the Logic of Sovereignty in Djibouti", published in African Affairs in October 2011. The article examined the highly unequal nature of in Djibouti, showing how a large part of the population are systematically denied state rights through various methods of exclusion. In awarding Bezabeh the prize, the award committee praised his work for its" theoretical innovation and for its exciting combination of detailed ethnographic and archival research.
According to its reviewers, the article is an important contribution to current debates about citizenship in Africa and challenges dominant interpretations that the problems of African citizenship stem from the legacies of colonialism and the incompleteness of the African state.”
A runner-up prize was also awarded to Nigerian lecturer and PhD student, Shola Omotola for his article ‘Elections and Democratic Transition in Nigeria under the Fourth Republic’.
The prize winner, Bezabeh receives £500, and an all-expenses paid trip to the African Studies Association Conference in the UK, and both the winner and the runner-up receive a free year’s subscription to African Affairs.
Picture: Samson Bezabeh accepting the African Author Prize from Dr. Rita Abrahamsen
Dele Fatunla, RAS Website Editor