During his studies, PhD in Administration graduate Dr McBride Nkhalamba balanced his doctoral studies involving a three-country case study with a hectic work and family schedule – all while living on two continents.
Nkhalamba’s current appointment as the Head of Research Methodology and Development for the African Union’s African Peer Review Mechanism involves providing strategic leadership to the research efforts of an inter-governmental agency of the African Union established to promote Africanised governance modes in Africa.
The avid scholar who hails from Malawi holds a Bachelor of Social Science degree from the University of Malawi. Although Nkhalamba is a Fulbright Scholar with a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs, University of Syracuse, New York, his doctoral studies presented intellectual and logistical challenges as he travelled between South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and elsewhere across Africa.
‘As a doctoral researcher, the first challenge I confronted was the need to be intellectually formless about the upcoming results. A doctoral researcher, as should be the case with all researchers, can only grow as a scholar and create new knowledge by first being dispassionate with one’s thought traditions as well as personal belief and value system. This was a challenge, especially since I have over two decades of work experience in sectors closely related to the topic of study,’ said Nkhalamba.
Through his study: The Confluence of Regionalism, State Functionalism and Public Private Partnerships in Southern Africa: Perspectives from Botswana, Malawi and South Africa, Nkhalamba presents new novel knowledge about regional integration and statecraft with implications for public-private partnerships in Africa. This knowledge promotes African epistemologies; breaking away from westernised paradigms of governance and international relations. The study was supervised by Dr Fayth Ruffin.
‘My motivation to pursue this degree was borne out of two critical interests I consider to be imperative for the advancement of any society or civilisation. The first was my need to develop a grounded scientific understanding of statecraft and regional integration in southern Africa. The second aspect was the indispensable need to create a record of the profound findings on endogenous conceptualisations of statecraft and regional integration. As a Pan-African scholar, I recognise that effective statecraft is inalienable to the goal of creating a united and prosperous Africa. I recognised from my earlier studies that undue external influences on our polities were significantly owed to our poor ideation and incoherent architecture of our own politico-administrative space,’ explained Nkhalamba.
‘The novel study findings strongly suggest that in southern Africa, among the most senior and respected practitioners, there is a deep rooted indifference to the ideological and architectural origins of the concepts that govern statecraft and regional integration. The unquestioned adoption of the notion of Westphalia sovereignty, which is defined by neo-colonial geo-politics or borders, reveals the extent to which the political liberation project remains unaccomplished. Further, despite the emphasis on the European Union linear model of economic integration, the politico-administrative frame within which southern African polities are required to govern the process, remains exogenously driven and unyielding. These dynamics have been confirmed by the study and have implications for the forms and direction of regional integration in the Southern Africa community. The study introduced the new concepts of “Afristate intrafunctionalism” and “amalgamated sovereignty” to advance statecraft and regionalism,’ he added.
Looking to the future, Nkhalamba says he has renewed commitment towards making a difference in Africa by working to entrench endogenously conceived concepts and models into the architecture of statecraft and the economic logic of continental Africa’s intra-regional and cross-continental engagement.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Rogan Ward