Nicholas Westcott

A regular blog from RAS Director, Nicholas Westcott.


Friday, 9 August 2019
Written by Nick Westcott
I visited Tanzania last month for the first time in five years, and the first time since John Magufuli was elected President.  I have been visiting the country regularly since 1976, spending a year living there in 1979 as a student, and three years in 1993-6 as a diplomat.  I have followed its fortunes through the decades with close interest, meeting all its Presidents (except the incumbent) at one time or another. While I was there on this occasion, the journalist Erick Kabendera... more
Tuesday, 16 July 2019
Written by Nick Westcott and Chi Onwurah
When a prominent Liberian women’s rights activist, let us call her Mary, was personally invited to Britain by DfID to speak at the 2017 Family Planning Summit, she leapt at the opportunity to give direct testimony to a key meeting.  But first she had to travel to Ghana, at her own expense, to apply for the necessary visa, and then despite active support from DfID so much additional information was requested and so many delays took place, that when the visa was finally issued the... more
Friday, 31 May 2019
Written by Nick Westcott
On 23 May, the Royal African Society, with the SOAS Centre for African Studies and London Business School’s Africa Club, held an open workshop on ‘The African Middle Class Re-examined’. The discussion explored who exactly the ‘African middle class’ are: do they exist at all in any meaningful way, and if so how do they define themselves, where do they live, what do they consume, and how do they behave politically and socially? We brought together insights and... more
Last month, in mid-April, I visited Addis Ababa with a group from SOAS’s Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy to talk to people about multilateral diplomacy in Africa and the respective roles of the African Union, United Nations and individual national governments. We struck lucky, arriving as public protests in Algeria and Sudan were reaching their climax, with President Bouteflika already gone and President al-Bashir removed while we were there, and with the AU and UN... more
Tuesday, 12 March 2019
Written by Nick Westcott
It has been election season in Africa over the last few months.  To be honest, it is always election season somewhere on the continent.  But since late last year we have had three particularly important elections: in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in Nigeria and in Senegal.  Each has been important, but in very different ways. First and foremost, all were overwhelmingly peaceful.  Tragically, there were some deaths in both DRC and Nigeria.  But none of the... more