The North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa Divide – Twitter Discussion

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“As an inhabitant of North Africa, I have always rejected the Barcelona Agreement which regards North Africa as part of the Middle East, with a vocation to integrate with Europe. This is a conspiracy against the integrity of Africa….They want to draw us in and to make use of us, through the Barcelona agreements, to dismember the African continent, stealing North Africa to make it join with the European Union. This is unacceptable. – Muammar Gaddafi…” (Horace Campbell, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya – Lessons in the Forgoing of African Unity, 2013 p.16)

The idea of North and Sub-Saharan Africa is a recent phenomena that has had an economic, political and social impact on the African continent. It is reinforced in academia, politics, film, media, foreign policy, immigration policies and many other aspects affecting the lives of Africans.

In contemporary Western paradigm, Africa is divided by the Saharan desert in to North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Western scholars have placed North Africa as a part of the Arab World. This idea has been pervasive and over the past few decades, “Africa” is commonly a reference sub-Saharan Africa with the exclusion of North Africa. North Africa is typically considered the Middle East or ‘Arab world’ with the exclusion of sub-Saharan Africa.

African scholars, Pan-Africanists have historically regarded African continent as a single unified continent with common roots and routes.  During the colonial era, and the continent’s struggle for independence, Africans regarded the continent in its entirety.

The creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)/African Union fifty years ago by all African countries at the dawn of  the post-colonial era, remains a symbol of this pan-African ideology.In contemporary African paradigm, there are diverging viewpoints on the continent with regards to the designations of ‘North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. However, there is also a renewed call for pan-Africanism and unity on the continent.

Although a social construct, these designations have had real consequences for economic growth, trade treaties, politics and social relationships in both north and south of the Sahara.

Our twitter discussion will focus on the historical relationship between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. It will cover topics such as African identities

‘what it means to be African’, ‘who is considered an African’, ‘who decides who is African?’, dual identities – Muslims/Arabs, Africans), regional trade blocs, colonial independence movements, the Barcelona agreement/process, the origins of the ‘divide’, establishment of the OAU/African Union, racism, social consequences of the ‘divide’, perceptions and misconceptions, and the recent revival of pan-Africanism on the continent.

To join the twitter chat follow #AOTBCHAT  on Friday 14/6/13 at 7pm BST

Sitinga is a scholar in Sociology and African Studies. Topics of interest include socio-economic development, nation-branding, tourism, image, identity, and the global political economy and of course, Africa!She has worked worked in non-profit, healthcare, development, and education organizations. She is on the board of the Malawi Washington Association and Southern African Community USA. She has lived in Malawi and South Africa and currently lives in the US but you can catch her online, blogging at and

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