African Studies Research Seminar: African Diplomacy: Past and Present

Conveners: Rachel Taylor and Abigail Branford

Speakers: Mohamed Cassimjee (University of Oxford) and Jonathan Jackson (University of Cologne)


Join online via teams


Mohamed Cassimjee (University of Oxford): Advancing the African Agenda in a Period of Geopolitical Flux

In the 21st century, the global order is in a state of flux with geopolitical risks at the forefront of diplomatic decision-making. A new and evolving “Strategic Alliance” global order, characterised by the absence of a single hegemonic power creates both risks as well as opportunities for Africa’s domestic and International priorities. At diplomatic forums and engagements  with major and middle powers, Africa will need to chart a course that ensures that the “African Agenda” remains an integral part of the international relations discourse. Therefore, the conduct of diplomacy will also require a highly strategic approach to foreign policy implementation. 

Mohamed Cassimjee was a senior diplomat for the South African foreign service for over 26 years. He served as Deputy Ambassador to Germany from 2016-2020, and prior to that served abroad in Washington DC, Uganda and Senegal. He has managed bilateral and multilateral relations including with the African Union and EU at the foreign ministry. He is a research associate with the African Studies Centre at Oxford University.


Jonathan Jackson (University of Cologne): Their Majesties and the Metropole: King Lewanika of Barotseland in Britain and the Coronation of King Edward VII, 1902'

Many histories of colonialism centre conquest and dispossession. Others highlight realities between the ‘resistance-collaboration’ dichotomy. Few African statespeople, however, continuously engaged colonialism along diplomatic lines. Fewer still travelled from ‘peripheries’ to the metropole to negotiate positions directly. King Lewanika of Barotseland was one such person, who attended the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. The Colonial Office hoped the visit would stabilise diplomatic relations. Lewanika had ulterior motives. Each leveraged the occasion in pursuit of political ends. Enshrouded by the celebration of sovereignty – British, African, or otherwise – the visit was underlaid by serious political dealings with great international significance.

Dr Jonathan M. Jackson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in African History at the University of Cologne, and Academic Visitor at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford. His first monograph on development in Tanzania is in press. He has previously published his research in English and Swahili.