The "Mail & Guardian" and "Africa's Country" feature works by RCAH's John Aerni-Flessner

RCAH assistant professor John Aerni-Flessner’s work was recently published by two popular African media outlets. Aerni-Flessner coauthored two articles which centered on the recent election in Lesotho after the country’s coup last year. Voters went to the polls in February 2015 and effectively ushered in a new coalition government, with a former prime minister taking over from the incumbent prime minister.

The first, titled “Pierce Lesotho's fog with facts,” was co-written with Charles Fogelman and Jeffrey Smith and published by the South African online newspaper the Mail and Guardian. The story, which was published the day before the election, is about the media’s effect on politics.

The second, titled “Is this the maturation of politics in Lesotho?” was co-written with Charles Fogelman and published by the blog Africa is a Country. The story is an analysis of the results of the election.

Aerni-Flessner’s interest in African affairs first developed after he finished his undergraduate degree and started working as a teacher in Lesotho.

“It was an amazingly difficult year, but I was blown away by the people I met and how friendly and open they were,” he said.

Broadly, Aerni-Flessner’s work focuses on Lesotho’s transition from colonial rule to independence and the rhetoric of development. Aerni-Flessner says the country, which gained independence from Great Britain in 1966, is dealing with a number of serious problems, including a high rate of HIV/AIDS and a low life-expectancy. Still, he says the people of Lesotho are optimistic and have immense pride in their country.

“People are still holding out hope for independence almost 50 years after the flag changed,” he said. “This explains why people are so passionate about politics that they claim to loathe. If they get the right mix of people in there, then their lives can improve. And this type of argument really cuts against the grand narrative of Africa – that it’s a poor place, that people don’t like development.” 

Story by RCAH student Kelsey Block. Photo credit: A general view of buildings is seen in the capital Maseru August 31, 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko