Adeshina Afolayan (Ibadan): Resignifying the Universal: Critical Commentary on the Postcolonial African Identity and Development. A review of Winds of Change in South Africa (From Apartheid to Freedom) by Raphael Alade. Inside the insular and secretive Eritrea: Ruled by an intolerant autocratic regime, the proud people of Africa’s newest independent state have embraced globalisation amid sealed borders. A review of African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen by Lindiwe Dovey. While most Ethiopians have kept scrupulously silent about the terror they endured under the Derg regime, Hirut Abebe-Jiri has made loud remembrance her life’s work. The fact that the World Cup has finally come to Africa means that Fifa has stepped into a region where the game has all but collapsed under the weight of corruption. A review of The Making of Poverty in South Africa by Bethuel Setai. In Algeria, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, preparations for dynastic successions appear to be underway. A review of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden. In recent years, international attention on Sudan has focused on Darfur, but the regime in Khartoum has been concerned with its own political survival. Timbuktu preserves historic manuscripts: Arabic texts date back hundreds of years and contain invaluable information about religion, science, history. A look at the many ways Africans are dying. Change beckons for billionth African: Africa's rapidly growing population will see urbanisation, economic growth, health and climate problems. A review of Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa by Adam Ashforth.

Go with the flow: Michel de Montaigne, first and greatest writer of "essays", can cure you of broken-resolution blues. An age of fleeting plausibility: This has been a decade in which we allowed ourselves to believe the most unlikely stories — why? A review of books on Ernst Cassirer. Why Twitter will endure: So you’re drowning in a sea of information — perhaps the answer is more information. Richard Harris, pastor of Living Hope Community Church in Lakeland, wrote One Nation Under Curse about his days as a member of the KKK in Indiana and how he was called to his religious faith. If you’re a reporter in Washington, you undoubtedly know Daniel Lippman well, very well — sometimes, perhaps, a little too well. A review of Thinking About Almost Everything: New Ideas to Light Up Minds. Millions of religious believers around the world share a passionate belief in the coming of doomsday — and that means that the End of Days will remain a factor in politics at least until, well, the end of humankind. A review of Sugar: A Bittersweet History by Elizabeth Abbott. Techno-utopian fail: From Iran to China, blogs and social-networking sites were touted by the West as the ultimate tools of democracy dissident movements; however, last year the revolution would not be Twitterised. Scary movie: A look at how Psycho loosed mayhem and chaos in American cinema. A review of The Healing Power of Ancient Literature. Nespresso, a widely popular espresso machine that uses individual capsules or pods, is the latest thing in high-end coffee. Open Democracy writers on 2010: global cracks, human prospects (and part 2).

A review of The Birth (and Death) of the Cool by Ted Gioia (and more). A trip to South Florida reveals that hip-hop, once the subject of legal and moral reprimands, has become a major fixture in the region. A review of The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera by Daniel Snowman. The blood and the Stones: Four months after the love-in of Woodstock, the Stones played a fateful, fatal concert on Dec. 6, 1969 — and its stain on rock 'n' roll has lingered ever since. Czech band helped change course of history: Avant-garde rockers Plastic People of the Universe were a thorn in the side of totalitarian regime. From The Village Voice, the decade in music genre hype: A solemn tribute to once-hot-shit trends that (mostly) won't be joining us in the '10s. One surprisingly successful technique for converting hip-hop haters and deepening the existing fan's love for the culture is to expose them to "old school hip-hop". Messiah Man: The music of George Frideric Handel "makes you want to live". From Slate's Music Club, here's a defense of Lady Gaga. Simon Reynolds's Notes on the noughties: The musically fragmented decade. What were they singing about?: A look at how barrelhouse words defines the Blues. A review of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout (and more and more and more and more and more). Born and raised in internet chatrooms and DIY studios, world music 2.0 has colonised international playlists.  A review of Sibelius: A Composer’s Life and the Awakening of Finland by Glenda Dawn Goss. A review of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin D.G. Kelley (and more).

A review of How They See Us: Meditations on America (and more). A Ponzi scheme that works: The greatest strength of America is that people want to live there. A review of Dying to Live: A Story of US Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid by Joseph Nevins. Mark Arax reviews Imperial by William T. Vollmann. The Latino Crescent: An article on the changing face of Muslim America. Burn or turn: America's Navajo Indians are facing their own environmental fork in the road. From HistoryNet, a look at why cotton got to be King. From Southern Spaces, through the case of Jackson Hill, LeAnn Lands describes the turn toward residential segregation in early twentieth-century Atlanta. A Man and His Plan: You have probably never heard of Francis Everett Townsend, but his enormous and controversial legacy is with us today. Hard times revisited: A review of Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon and Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein (and more and more; and more at Bookforum). A review of King of the Lobby: The Life and Times of Sam Ward, Man-about-Washington in the Gilded Age by Kathryn Allamong Jacob. Myths of the American Revolution: Historian John Ferling debunks the conventional wisdom about America's War of Independence. More and more on Gordon Wood's Empire of Liberty. A review of America's Prophet: Moses and the American Story by Bruce Feiler. Orville Schell on the melting of America: The story of a can’t-do nation. From The Atlantic, is the nation in terminal decline? James Fallows on how America can rise again (and more).