Hauwezi kuvuka ziwa hadi uwe na ujasiri wa kutouona urefu wa pwani: Made in Africa Evaluation as courageous conversation

Antony B. Maikuri, Vidhya Shanker, Rodney K. Hopson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Kiswahili proverb that serves as the title of this article translates into English as, ‘You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore’. Objectives: To elaborate on the implications for Made in Africa Evaluation (MAE) of the results of previous research that the authors conducted on harm and the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) cycle, specifically the connection that the previous study’s participants drew between care and courage. Method: The article uses personal vignettes and insights from African revolutionary praxis in addition to abductive qualitative data analysis of interview data as well as literature on evaluation and Africa to understand and apply findings from an earlier study on harm and the M&E cycle. These findings connect care, trust and courage; discuss solidarity across artificially constructed difference; and name systems of oppression. It then reviews the literature on evaluation and Africa that refers to care, trust or courage. This literature tends to focus on three interrelated themes that parallel the interview results: relations between knowledge systems, the quest for a distinctive Africanness and a systems-oriented understanding of evaluation. Results: The article proffers three interrelated paradigmatic shifts in the mental model or narrative for MAE - ‘crossings’ from the familiar shore into uncertain waters - that correspond with each theme above. Focusing on the first, it draws from the personal experience of one of the authors and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s work on decolonisation through language to propose that MAE cross from translation to courageous conversation as a mental model for relations among knowledge systems. Conclusion: The article suggests three ways that MAE can shift from translation to conversation between knowledge systems: challenging the equation of writing with knowledge and linearity with rationality; keeping indigenous ways of knowing and languages alive to resist atrophy; and recognising these indigenous modalities as forms of protection and resistance against the ongoing subjugation of nonhierachical, systems-oriented knowledge as part of the subordination of African and other indigenous peoples and their lands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbera625
JournalAfrican Evaluation Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Africa
  • Care
  • Courage
  • Ethics
  • Evaluation
  • Language
  • Relationality
  • Solidarity
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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