Oxford Makes a New Dictionary Just for African Countries



African countries are getting their very own Oxford dictionary.

The historical dictionary has released a new one dedicated to politics in Africa.

It is called the Dictionary of African Politics. So far, it has over 350 entries.

Why create a dictionary for Africa?

The team behind this new dictionary explains its purpose in an interview with Australian website

The Conversation.

“It allows for a better understanding of the contributions that the continent has made to the practice and understanding of everyday politics. It also makes it possible to share the perceptive and shrewd ways that people speak truth to power in various countries: this is the real reason that the world needs a new dictionary of African politics, ” they said.

It was put together by two doctoral candidates and Professor Nicholas Cheeseman of Democracy at the University of Birmingham . He is also the author of ‘Democracy in Africa’ (2015), ‘How to Rig an Election’ (2018), a former editor of the journal African Affairs, and an adviser to Kofi Annan ‘s African Progress Panel.

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The news was shared online by one of the doctoral candidates, Eloïse Bertrand.

What you can expect to see inside the African dictionary

It shares details of selected political events and personalities in African politics. These personalities include former South African leader Jacob Zuma,

the late Kenyan Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathaai,

and the current vice president of Gambia Aja Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang.

You can expect to see terminologies like the Nigerian practice of “zoning”, which is supposed to ensure equity in the distribution of political offices. “Watermelon Politics” from Zambia is also in there. This refers to an individual who claims to support one political party but actually belongs to another.


Another one is the Ghanaian term “skirt-and-blouse voting” which means to vote for different parties for presidential and legislative elections.

The dictionary also contains relevant topics like gender quotas, South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and the Rwandan genocide.

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