Title: Goran Hyden
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This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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Interviewer: James Wilson

Interviewee: Goran Hyden

UF 300 AB

W: Today is March 8, 1996. It is a Friday. My name is James

Wilson and I am speaking this morning with Dr. Goran Hyden.

Dr. Hyden I am going to ask you to state your full name.

H: My name is Goran Hyden.

W: Okay, Dr. Hyden and you are currently at what position here

at the University of Florida?

H: I am a professor of political science here at the University

of Florida since 1986 and I am also for the last sixteen to

seventeen months the interim Director of the Center for

African Studies.

W: Before we discuss your tenure here at the University of

Florida, I would like for you to begin with your career as a

political scientist leading to your appointment here in

1996. Just briefly tell us how you became a political

scientist? I know that is expanding some years, but if you

could maybe highlight how you became interested in political

structures? What were some of your first appointments?

Just kind of an overview.

H: My political interests started when I interned as a

journalist in Swedish newspapers during the period I was a

student at the University of Lund. During that time which

was from 1959 to 1963, a lot of things happened around the

world, not the least the coming of African independence.

While I was doing some reporting of politics back in Sweden

I also took an interest and was encouraged by my senior

colleagues to try to help them to understand Africa. My

original interest in Africa and in politics started when I

was a journalist. That is how I eventually got into

studying political science at the graduate level, because my

department, political science at the University of Lund,

invited me back in 1962 to actually do first a master's and

then a doctorate degree at the University of Lund. That is

how I continued.

W: Any part of Africa in particular?

H: I was not at that time interested in any one country because

being involved on a long distance basis Africa was just one

big place. I tried to follow several countries because

things happen not only in one place but in many.

W: The University of Lund is in Sweden?

H: It is in Sweden, yes.

W: How involved was Sweden at that time with the affairs of


H: Very limited. Most of the people who had been in Africa,

worked in Africa, and had contacts in Africa were

missionaries. I was one of the first Africanists in Sweden.

In fact, I was one of the first to receive a research

fellowship in 1963 to go to, as it turned out in the end,

Tanzania to do my field work in 1964.

W: This was ripe, newly independence era.

H: Just the first few years after independence, correct.

W: What were some of your first impressions of Africa as a

young journalist/Africanist? Did you have any Swahili

background? At that time you were not a missionary, you

were not a part of the government, how were you perceived

when you were there?

H: First of all I had studied Swahili while I was at UCLA as a

graduate student in 1962-1963, so I had limited knowledge of

Swahili when I went to Tanzania in 1964. I do not know if I

should say my impressions of Africa and Tanzania, east

Africa with Tanzania in particular at that time. It was

exciting to be out in the field and to me it was something

that turned me on in a sense that I felt that Africa was the

place that I could relate to both at the personal level and

at the professional level. Eventually I was to find my wife

in that very area where I was working. Melania, who was at

that time just back from England where she had been trained

as a registered nurse and myself began our relationship

during the period I was in Bukoba on the western side of

Lake Victoria where I did my field work and where Melania

comes from.

W: I have heard a lot of that story because as you know Melania

is my Swahili professor. I am wondering, after how many

years were you in Tanzania in that position?

H: One year, my field work was essentially a one year

assignment. I had a grant for that period.

W: Then you returned back to Sweden?

H: No, while I was in Bukoba I was in touch with people at

Makerere University in Kampala which was about four hours

drive away. When I needed academic advice I was actually

often in touch with people up there. The Department of

Political Science at Makerere invited me in 1965 to stay on

for awhile teaching at Makerere in order to fill a gap for

someone in Uganda. In fact, Kenyan, but somebody coming

back to teach. That person was supposed to finish his Ph.D.

in six months I was told when I was first hired so I should

be there for only six months. As it turned out he stayed on

or had to take longer time to finish his Ph.D. so my stay

there became fifteen months rather than six. I stayed in

Uganda and Melania and I had our first child, Michael during

that time.

W: So you really have an East African experience here because

your field research is in Tanzania, but it is very close

across the border from Uganda.

H: That is right.

W: Then after your fifteen months teaching experience in Uganda

can you tell me how that was at first? You were completing

your dissertation and teaching at the same time?

H: Yes, so I was a very young lecturer and uncertain of myself

partly because I had never taught really except when I had

been assisting as a teacher while I was still in Sweden. I

had never taught on my own. So that was a challenge, but

also the language. English is not my mother tongue.

Although by that time I felt I handled the English language

reasonably well. After all I had been both to Oxford in

England and I had been to UCLA. I had been one year at that

time in East Africa where in addition to Swahili you speak a

lot of English. It was not that I was all that

uncomfortable using the English language, but it was still a

little bit of a challenge. I had my own doubts how well I

would do but at least I know from that experience that I

could do it. I had no big major problem. My students at

least never complained about my language.[laughter] Even

the political science I taught seem to have gone down well.

W: What courses particularly did you teach? An introduction of

political science, of political theory? At this time Uganda

as well as, Kenya and Tanzania are going through a major

political change. What type of political theory were you

teaching at this time?

H: I was told or asked to teach public administration which was

an area I did not really know all that much about but I at

least had some sense of. It was a baptism you might say,

which was slightly outside of my own area of comparative

politics. I managed to do that and it is interesting in my

own career since then I have always retained an interest in

public administration or development administration. In

some respects that first assignment and the need to really

read up and be conversant with public administration

literature was something that I now look back at as a plus

or as a bonus.

W: You also said that this was a comparative policy and

development and I know from reading your resume that you

have done a lot of development work. At that time in your

career did you see yourself not just as a politician, but

also as a developer in terms of you were creating the next

generation of leaders in Uganda and coming in contact with

some of the rising stars in Tanzania? Were you involved in

any development work at the same time as you were teaching

at the University as well as working on your dissertation?

H: No, let me say first of all, I do not think that we had the

sense, at least I did not have a sense at that time in the

early years when I was in East Africa that I was teaching

the next generation. For better or for worse that did not

dawn on me until eventually in the 1970s. I realized that

some of the people I had taught and even after that, were

becoming as you indicated, important peoples in their own

right in government or in business and so on, so that in

politics generally. At that time I did not have the sense

of it, nor did I actually engage in any develop work though

I thought from the very beginning that development was an

issue that I was interested in. My own dissertation focused

on political development. I was interested particularly in

the context of that area, which was very far from the

capital of Dar es Salaam, how much people in that distant

area really knew about politics and what was going on. I

did a survey of people in that area which provided the data

for my dissertation. I tested their knowledge to see if for

instance, people lived far away from the regional capital in

this case Bukoba, whether they were educated or less

educated. Whether there was commercial activity or less

commercial activity in the area where they lived. Whether

that made a difference in terms of their political outlook,

political attitude and political knowledge. The interesting

thing with my dissertation was that all of these so called

modernization variables did not really make a difference.

In fact, you found that even poor people, people who were

not educated, people who lived far away from the regional

capital, had as a good a political knowledge [and] had

pretty much the same political attitudes as people who were

closer to this particular city. I found as an explanation

to this the fact that the political organization of the

ruling party that in those days TAN or Tandaneka African

National Union. I hope you can spell that.

W: I can.

H: That party in itself had mobilized people and raised their

consciousness so that even in the distant corners of this

part, even in the more distant corners of that particular

region, there was not really any difference in terms of what

people knew about what was going on and their attitude was

pretty much the same as people who live close to Bukoba.

W: Did you use a lot of oral history in your dissertation?

H: No, I did not do much oral history, although I did a little

bit of it. Not being a historian [and] perhaps not being

sensitive enough at that time to historical legacy.

Although, I did have a chapter on the historical background

of the area. I cannot say that I went out of my way to

speak to people other than a couple of older men whom I met

who were providing me with some information. I cannot say

it was an oral history project, no.

W: For the next five or six years you have a combination of

going back to Sweden, going to Kenya, and going to Tanzania

and it goes from I think two years, one year, two year


H: Yes, I went back to finish my degree in early 1967 and I

remember my wife and our son, and Melania's niece was also

with us at that time, we arrived I think it was the 31st of

January 1967, on a day that was both cold and snowy. My

wife had been to England and knew what snow was but it was

still not the kind of warm reception that you had. The

warmth of the reception fortunately was that not only was my

family there to welcome my family, but also some of my

friends were there. It was like coming home in that since.

That was good. We stayed in Sweden while I finished my

doctorate. We stayed in Lund for about eighteen months. We

left in late July 1968, to go to Kenya this time. I had

never worked in Kenya before, before I went back to East

Africa. I took up a job as lecturing government or in

political science at the University of Nairobi in 1968 and

was there until 1971. At that time I had been promoted to

what they called senior lecturer and I moved as senior

lecturer in political science to the University of Dar es

Salaam where I then taught for six years from 1971 to 1977.

Again in a period during which in 1974 I was promoted to

professor of political science.

W: In the University of Dar es Salaam?

H: Yes, at the University of Dar es Salaam. That was a very

exciting period in Dar es Salaam because shall we say, Dar

es Salaam was in a way both an intellectual and a political

capital particularly for those people who were in there

supporting the liberation movements in Southern Africa. Dar

es Salaam was the sight of the OAU Liberation Committee

headquarters. There were a lot of people but at the

University itself there were a lot of interesting people

like Walter Rodney for instance who was teaching at the

University of Dar es Salaam at that time. Several other

prominent historians and social scientists and others who

have moved on in some cases to other countries in Africa or

moved on to other places in the world depending on where

they came from. It was really an exciting environment.

Some people may have complained that it was

ideological if you were comparing with you your average

American campus. Certainly what was going on in Dar es

Salaam was much more embedded in an ideological sort of

context for not only Socialists, but generally you might say

principles of justice and equity or equality were very

important. It was in that kind of a climate that I taught.

I must say being not convinced myself about Marxism, I was

not a part of the inner core of some of the people who made

up much of the left at that time. I did have not only good

relations at the personal level with many of these people

but I did also have a chance to understand and better

appreciate the importance of that particular ideological

perspective. I had as to learn if I may say so,

the conceptual structure of Marxism, as well as the language

of Marxism without necessarily digesting in the sense of

saying that I am a believer. I never became a believer and

when I wrote my book on Tanzania which actually I did in

1977-1978 when I had sabbatical leave in Berkeley. Much of

my concern at that time was to show not only the inadequacy

of modernization, but also the inadequacy of Marxism as a

general theory and the problems of applying that which is

both intuitively but more specifically on the basis of the

work I did during those years in Tanzania, the inadequacy of

this broad, general explanations of what was going on in

Africa. I felt that for instance, class analysis, among

other things was really taken too far or used in a way that

suggested that the people were not interested in really

doing what you might call the field work to get the support

for what they were trying to argue.

W: If I understand this, your career as a political scientist

has been both theoretical but grounded in the reality of the

experience. You use the time that it was an exciting time

during the time that you were actually seeing the political

structure form with political actors that were coming better

now in various parts of the world. The way political

scientists learn what you know now is very different. They

learn it mainly from people like you. Is there an open

period now in the world where political scientists would be

able to see the practicality of political structures right

before them as you did in Africa?

H: I think that anyone who wants to become a serious scholar in

the comparative field, in my case comparative politics, I

think has to have his or her feet on the ground in one or

two places so that they know what they are talking about.

In other words they need to be able to have a relatively

detailed area knowledge in order to be effective either as

researchers or as teachers. You might say I was fortunate

enough to have not only my field year in Bukoba, but I also

had on top of that another, whatever it became, eleven or

twelve years of teaching. That allowed me to get a much

better sense of what Africa is all about and what Africans

are all about both as colleagues and as human beings. I

would say that the extended stay of mine in Africa which

eventually was extended further by my work with the Ford

Foundation, but all those years certainly have shaped my own

outlook on both Africa and on political science. Do

political scientists today get that experience? Well in

some respects the answer is most people today do not get

those teaching experiences because even if you get the

fulbright to go out you may be able to go out to an African

country for at best a year. The exchange programs that

exist at the faculty level provide some similar kind of

experiences, but by and large the long and extended period

that people could get in 1960s and early 1970s because there

were there were gaps to fill. Those are much

more difficult these days. Although I think it is possible

that one of the things that Africanist on this side of the

Atlantic could possible do if there only were funds, would

be to go out and help or in other words assist in the

teaching and in that process also learn something more about

Africa. I would see that as a benefit, but I realize that

funding for that kind of a program in the 1990s is almost

out of the question.

W: I think I take your point because as a former Peace Corps

volunteer, studying African history is very different

because I lived with people, I speak the language, but I

understood the culture and it is very different from doing

field research where you are the main person gathering

information and not necessarily receiving all the things

that helped shape your perspectives. When you live among

people and speak the language, eat the food, understand the

customs, you become a little different in the outlet. Let

me get an update, from Tanzania you have a sabbatical at the

University of California-Berkeley, and at that sabbatical

you are writing primarily a book on Tanzania...

H: No, called Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania. I do not know if you

need that to be spelled, who are you to remember.

W: How was the book received during that time?

H: There were two kinds of reactions, mainly critical although

I think that maybe I had two critical reactions and one

positive. I am not sure, I think on the whole the positives

probably in the long run were more than the negatives.

There were two negative critiques not surprisingly at all

one was from the Marxist side who complained about the fact

that I was doing away or not realizing the importance of

class. The other one was from the emerging or the re-

emerging neoclassical economists who believed that I was not

acknowledging enough the rationality of the farming peasant

in Tanzania and suggesting that he was not responsive to

market forces which is what everyone wanted to believe in

the early 1980s. I think some people who criticized me for

either of those things probably today would say something

different. In those days that is what was said. The

positive reaction which I had was largely that this was

something that provided a new perspective on what was going

on in Africa in Tanzania in particular. It was, if I may

use a word which I think was used by some of my reviewers, a

refreshing analysis or refreshingly original analysis of

what was going on. That is why people who were positive in

their reviews tended to write about this as an important

contribution. I think on the whole that book probably

stands out as the most important one I have written.

Although I did write one called No Shortcuts to Progress in

1983 that has also been fairly often cited but in a way more

often by people in the development of communities rather

than in academia. Although I know people in certain areas,

of certain schools where they teach public administration or

development administration, or development have often used

that book.

W: After that you returned back to Sweden to do your free lance

advance brief. Were you a free lance consultant?

H: Yes, we stopped there because my father had died while we

were in Berkeley and my mother had come over to visit us in

the Bay Area where we lived. It was just at that the loss

of her husband at that time was still quite deep so we

decided that on our way to Kenya where I had taken up a job

with the Ford Foundation in 1977, actually taken it up for

1978 in August. I asked for permission to postpone my

arrival in Kenya until the end of the year so that I had a

chance to stay with my mother for awhile which the

foundation was graciously agreeing to. We stayed on for

about five or six months, I think from June to December of

1978, before we went to Kenya. I did not do anything as I

have indicated in my CV. I did a little bit of teaching at

my old department and I did a little bit of independent

consulting for SIDA the Swedish International

Development Authority as it was called in those days.

W: You have two children at this time?

H: Three.

W: Three children at this time and they have to be trilingual.

They must be divergent in English, Swahili and


H: Yes, the two elder children went to school in Sweden that

fall semester and learned Swedish and had acquired enough

Swedish at that time to be conversant. We never spoke

Swedish in the family otherwise. When we were in Africa it

was English and Swahili. The youngest one who was only two

or three when we went to Sweden never picked up Swedish. He

never learned Swedish and to this day although he is a

Swedish citizen, at least formally speaking, he has a

Swedish passport, he still does not speak Swedish very well.

He understands it but he feels hesitant to speak it because

it does not come naturally to him. My wife and the two

other children learned a bit of Swedish during that period


W: I have had the pleasure of seeing the in

yourself mix Swahili and English in one sentence. [laughter]

Did Swedish ever get mixed in it as well?

H: To tell you the truth we speak Swedish occasionally. The

time when we use it between ourselves, Melania and I for

instance, is when we need to say something that we do not

want other people to understand. [laughter] If we are in

Africa or in the US, but especially in Africa, we use

Swedish to say something that might not be understood by

others. When we are in Sweden we use Swahili so we can get

away. [laughter] We do not do that to embarrass people.

The occasion to be able to say something assuming that

people could listen in those cases call for a language that

is not necessarily understood by everyone in the immediate


W: That is a good switch. I do not know too many Swedes that

will be speaking Swahili and vice versa not too

many Tanzanians speaking Swedish.

H: That is true.

W: 1979 to 1980 were you working as a Ford...

H: Become the social science research advisor. I replaced an

anthropologist from the University of Washington called

Edgar "Bud" Winans, who in turn had succeeded two years

before that in African American political scientist called

Clem Cottingham. Clem I believe was and may still be at

Rutgers, or at least he was teaching at Rutgers after he

returned from Kenya. I was essentially there responsible

for running a research competition, providing support for

fellowship in the field of population studies and doing a

few other things including eventually getting involved with

some limited support to NGO's that did community development

work in Kenya.

W: What was Kenya like during that time?

H: This was just after had taken over from the

Kenyata. If I may call that a honeymoon period.

Politically things were both stable and relatively exciting

and people were relieved for sure that the transition from

Kenyata to had gone that smoothly. I think

politically these were not difficult years. I experienced

more political turbulence in 1969 when I was in Kenya the

first time because that is when they assassinated Thoman

Boyle and it was also the time when Kenyata went to Quesumu

and they had a major confrontation with Kenya People Union

supporters. The KPU was banned and people were killed at

the political rally in Quesumu. That was a much more

turbulent year. Those first two years in Kenya, 1978-1980

when I was a social science research advisor, were very

pleasant years and good years on the whole for both Kenya

and for anyone staying there.

W: Where did you live in Nairobi?

H: We lived on something called Cambera Road which was called

the lower hill which was between Kenyata National Hospital

and the railway, or highway I should say. We overlooked the

railway was going right by the bottom of our yard. Maybe

another 200 yards beyond that was the Highway

going out to the airport. So we faced in a way I think a

southerly direction. It was on something called lower hill.

W: After that you stayed on for five years?

H: Yes, I was asked to become the director or the

representative as it is called of the foundations office for

Eastern and Southern Africa in 1980. I took that up and I

was in that job for five years.

W: Kenya is changing during this time.

H: That was a more difficult time politically. I tell you

particularly because during those years in 1982, our office

hosted the Ford Foundation Board in Nairobi, meeting there

late August to early September. That was bringing in a

number of big shots like Robert MacNamara and Don McHenry

and others who had been visible particularly during the

Carter Administration in the case of McHenry. There were a

number of big people coming out. The problem was that I had

to write political reports to the Foundation headquarters in

New York, keeping them posted about what was going on

because this was a time when in June of 1982, Moy detained a

number of prominent politicians and constitutionalized in an

arbitrary fashion the one partisan state. The same day as

Melania and I went on leave to Sweden which was the thirty-

first of July, there was an attempted coup which took place

only three hours after we left the airport. We were in

Greece on our way to Sweden and suddenly the next day, in

fact it was Monday, we left on a Saturday evening, I bought

the International Herald Tribune and the main headline was

Attempted Coup In Kenya Fails. Fortunately I did not have

to cut my vacation short but that added to my worries. The

board meeting went very well, but what I did not realize was

that my political reporting to the New York headquarters had

actually been picked up by special branch people and had

been given to them, we suspect by one of my local employees.

By 1983 out of the blue came a letter from immigration

saying we give you one week to leave the country. No


W: Did you say anything in the reports that were...

H: Yes, I had said a number of things that were maybe you could

say to some extent speculative, but they were clearly either

indicating that I knew too much or that I had offended

somebody in power. I was in a situation as you can

understand it was not very easy to just accept that. The

foundation was on my side through out this and so was some

of my friends in the Kenyan government including the late

Robert Woco who was eventually killed. At that time [he]

was the person who helped me to finally get out of this by

telling Moy that the Ford Foundation and I are important

people, we need to do something. Eventually the message was

conveyed to the Foundation and to myself, but that was

almost a year later. During that time my stay had been

extended and there was no problem that I never had any

difficulty working with either the government people our

others. It took sometime before this was resolved, but once

it was resolved it was resolved in a way that the president

himself expressed as forgive and forget, were the two words

he used.

W: You met him personally?

H: Yes, I met Moy myself but I was not somebody who was close

to him nor did I have any particular desire to [be].


W: Did you like working for the Ford Foundation?

H: Yes, it was exciting for the first few years but what I

realized when I got closer to the end of my term was that it

is very difficult to renew yourself in that kind of job.

You become the manager and you loose track of much of what

you want to do, especially since I still felt that I was not

academic. In 1985 when my term came to an end I was at that

time able to spend a sabbatical year at Dartmouth College in

New Hampshire. During that period I was looking for a job

and although there were a couple of offers including from

the World Bank to work for them in the UNICEF. I decided in

the end to go back to academia and I had two offers at that

time. One was from Brown and one was from the University of

Florida. Florida in the end prevailed for two strong

reasons. One was they could offer tenure, and that became

not automatic but it was a formality because I had enough

credibility that I could be hired at the professorial level.

The other one was the growing African Studies interest on

campus at that time. It had always been there but it was

crystallizing in new ways which was making it more

interesting for me to come here. Brown did not have much of

a Africanist orientation. Although you might say that Brown

would have been a very nice place to be at for the purposes

of teaching.

W: You were there for a number of years from 1986 to 1993

H: Where?

W: As a part time...

H: Well you see what happened was Brown could not come up with

a package for me but there were some people on campus who

still wanted me. What we agreed was that during the summer

when I am not employed by the University of Florida I would

be employed by Brown. I was serving as associate director

of what they call there the Allen Schoem Feinstein World

Hunger Program which focused on not only Africa. I became

the linkman to Africa. I used to work either in Providence

during part of the summer or doing my work in Africa for the

World Hunger Program. That is why I had that relation for

seven years until 1993.

W: That is nice.

H: Yes, that was a nice way of keeping myself busy during the

summer and it fell in line with what I was interested in.

W: Tell me about your first years here at the University of

Florida. You came in 1996. Just give me an overview of

what political science department was like? What the

growing African Studies department was like? What the

University on a whole was like ten years ago?

H: First of all, when I was hired I was surprised by the extent

to which there was not only money but genuine interest in

African Studies here. I think the then Dean, Sittman, was

really very anxious to build up African Studies and earn the

University of Florida more visibility with what it already

had as a good African Studies Center. At that time the now

late Gwendolyn Carter had retired, the second retirement in

her case to Florida and although she did not live in

Gainesville she was still up here quite often in the early

years of 1986-1987. She was often part of the group that I

met with here and certainly she was an attraction for me to

come here at that time. What else can I say? Hunt Davis

was the director of the center at that time and I thought he

did an excellent job here in terms of both administrating

the center and being an advocate for more positions. We

were able to do that and when I came here I became part of

the group of people who wanted to strengthen African Studies

particularly in history. We were able to do that although

it was more by chance perhaps because when Hunt Davis

stepped down in 1988 and we were looking for a successor I

chaired the search committee. We got some very good

candidates, Randall Packard, from at that time Tufts

University, historian on Zaire and Southern Africa. We got

Steven Firemen from Wisconsin. We had Peter Schmidt from

Brown and I have forgotten, there were two more candidates

whose names now escape me. The relevant thing here was not

only did we hire Peter eventually as the director, but we

also hired Steve Firemen because there were enough interests

in hiring him for the history department. David Coalburn

served on the search committee, he was chair of history and

really was interested in having a star like Steve Firemen

come here. So again with Charles Sidman's, I think that is

his first name, approval we were able to get two people out

of one search which was very gratifying especially for

African Studies.

W: It is too bad we cannot do that today.

H: Hopefully that could be done, but it is true the chances of

doing it this time are very, very slim I agree. Political

science in those days was a very strange place to get into

because it was very factionalized at that time.

W: What does that mean?

H: There was a group of people who really ran the department

and then there was the rest. It was interesting that the

rest referred to the group in charge as the central

committee. Although it was not formally constituted as the

central committee everyone talked about the leadership in

political science under the then chair Al Cluebach as the

central committee. It was a legacy of that old regime that

prevailed because I came in at the same time as the new

chair of political science which was professor Wayne

Francis. Wayne Francis was like myself in a position to

really try to get the department to move beyond those

divisions of polarization that had existed. I think Wayne

paved the way and laid the foundation for a more collegial

and hospitable environment in the department. I believe

that one of the things that helped was that perhaps the most

contentious person in the department at that time actually

decided to move partly because he claimed that he was not

appreciated enough by the new chair. He moved on to

Louisiana State. As a result of him leaving and then

eventually another person retiring, and one moving on to the

honors program, there was essentially sort of almost a

totally new field of people and a new generation began to

emerge. It was that new generation that took over in 1989

when Ken Wald became the chair of political science and

served in that capacity for five years. Maybe it was 1990.

He was the new chair and I think that was to me a new

generation because before that Wayne and Cluebach and most

of the other people had been older than me, but Ken Wald and

subsequently Steve Sanderson who is now the chair of the

department are younger than me. I look at them as a new

generation and a younger generation.

W: How many African political scientists were a part of the

department at this time?

H: There was only Renella Mashon and myself. Renee had been

alone in the department as an Africanist for a long time so

he was please to see me come. Although he and I had a

couple of intellectual scuffles, but most of them fun, we

remain on good terms throughout. Nevertheless, the main

point was that we were able to attract a much bigger number

of better graduate students to come to work in the

department on Africa or on development which was the

dimension that I brought to the department in a way that had

not been there before. I share now with several others

including Steven Sanderson and I do not know, I have a lot

of friends. At that time it was not as pronounced. Steve

was at the time I came here on leave working for the Ford

Foundation in Brazil. Even though he had already

established himself as a development scholar, he was not

here. He was out of the country.

W: You are housed here in Grinter in the African Center. How

did the construction with Steve Firemen and Peter Schmidt

coming here [and] how did the formulation of Grinter, the

African Center start? Were you always housed here or were

you housed with the political scientists?

H: No, I was one of those who were given the office on this

floor and my former colleague Renella Mashon also had his

office here so the idea was to keep the senior Africanists

in Grinter Hall. I think that was a deliberate policy to

make sure that there was not a distinct presence of

Africanists in the building on the floor. Steve Firemen had

his office up here and Hunt Davis. Eventually others who

had been working here like John Mason who came in I think a

couple of years after that also had an office on this floor.

Art Hanson has an office here. Bernadete Kiere who is

french and literature is also here. There have

been a number of people. I think the policy will continue

to keep a few senior Africanists, if not all of us, on this


W: That was a policy stated by the University?

H: I think so, even from the beginning when this building first

came into existence.

W: How has the African Center changed in the ten years that you

have been here? Right now you are acting as the Acting

Director until we have a replacement which you have in my

opinion done an excellent job. How have you seen the Center

grow and change? In 1985-1986 when you first came here

there was a growing spurt and now ten years later there is

still a growing spurt.

H: What I would say is that there was more growth in the 1980s

than there has been in the 1990s. What I am pleased about

is that the University of Florida has not cut down on

Africanist lines as many other schools have. I think the

University of Florida and our college in particular and I

credit the deans and the heads of departments for having

been respectful of the significance of area studies in

African studies included. What we are faced with now is a

more generally difficult climate for hiring which means that

it is not so much the fact that people do not want to hire

Africanists but there simply is not the money. That is the

big difference between the mid-1980's and mid-1990s, the ten

years that I have been here. The Center is still holding

out as the Africanist community here is still holding out.

Compared to other places we are fairly strong. The only

other places I can think of that might compete with us would

be UCLA and possibly Wisconsin. Maybe Michigan State and

possibly Boston University also have something to show for

themselves. I doubt whether they could really compete with

us. I would say we are competitive with them without any

question but that is in terms of both numbers and quality

and students. Talking about students, that is a big

difference, James. When I came here I remember first of all

there was no political science graduate students. There was

not a single one in African studies. The students I met

were essentially in anthropology. That was the department

that had graduate students working on Africa, but no other.

Anthropology was the only one. History as I recall maybe

there was one and political science none. What has happened

since is as you have probably seen yourself a little bit is

the growth in the number of graduate students studying

Africa here. They come to not only anthropology any longer

but they come also to political science and they come to

history. We have one or two in geography as well and some

of the other departments. Wildlife ecology and zoology and

forestry where we have also done well in recruiting good

students who are committed in their own way to Africa and

not just treating Africa as a piece of international real


W: The exchange programs with Universities in Tanzania, have

they been in existence for a long time?

H: Most of these exchange programs, all of them I think, came

about after Peter Schmidt came here. Peter has been very

instrumental in building up those programs including the one

in Dar es Salaam which I think he has particularly nurtured.

It is true that we have not been able to get as many

undergraduate students from the University of Florida campus

to go there but we have had some and we have had others

from other schools. On the whole the whole program has

allowed the University of Florida to send students to Dar es

Salaam. Because of the agreement that was originally signed

between the two universities the money that our students pay

to the Dar es Salaam University is actually set aside in a

separate fund for what are essentially professional

development grants to faculty from Dar es Salaam to visit

the University of Florida. That is one way of trying to

combine both students from here going out to learn about

Tanzania and faculty from there getting a chance to upgrade

themselves at the University of Florida for a semester.

W: How long has that been working?

H: This has been going on now for five years maybe six. It

started off soon after Peter came whether it was 1989 or

1990 we first had some people coming I do not recall but it

was sometime around that time.

W: I am going to ask you just briefly to tell me how do you see

the department in the next ten years? I presume and I hope

for the Universities sake that you will not be keeping with

your tradition of going from Kenya to Sweden, that you may

be here for the next ten years.

H: Yes, I have grown older now. I do not see myself actually

moving unless something very unexpected or very attractive

comes up. That would be attractive not just for me but for

the family, Melania especially. Melania and I have been

quite happy in Gainesville and [at] the University of

Florida. Both of us are small town people rather than big

city people so we had no problem fitting into Gainesville.

For Melania who is coming from a tropical country, having at

least the opportunity to live in a sub-tropical as I call

north central Florida is something that she has found

attractive. I have had offers from places in the north

since I came here both in Northern Europe and in Northern

America. I have not taken them up because I have enjoyed

Florida. I consider Florida to be a good base to work from

if you are an Africanist. Melania has enjoyed it here too.

We have found that if we are going to live outside of

Sweden or if we are going to live outside of Tanzania, we

have decided in a way to organize our life around the three

places we have a connection to. In the sense that we enjoy

being in Florida for the period of time when we work here

but because we have connections, family and professional, in

Africa and in Sweden we spend our summer break in Africa,

Tanzania in particular. We stop over in Sweden for usually

three to four weeks on our way back from Tanzania to

Florida. We get a chance to meet the family on both sides,

friends and others who we interacted with during those


W: Can you say you have become a Gator since you have been

here? Have you been to the football games and partaken in

the whole festivity of being a Florida Gator here?

H: Yes, Melania and I did not have any particular sports

interest together before we came here but we developed a

sports interest in basketball. Melania and I have been

following it and have had season tickets every year we have

been here since 1988. Both of us go to as many of those

games as we can. I have never been able to convince Melania

that American football is something that she would enjoy.

The person that actually introduced football to me and to

the family, although for Melania it is still a nuisance, but

not to me, is Eric our youngest son who has a football

interest and who has grown up here and is a Gator. Although

he was originally a Seminole when he was in high school, he

became a Gator eventually. I have been taking a much more

serious interest in football as well in the last two, three

years in particular. Since Spurrier came here it has been

hard not to do it. I have not bought season tickets. I

prefer to go occasionally and I have enjoyed watching the

games on television. In a way because of the size of the

stadium unless you sit at a reasonable distent from the

actually field you are much better off watching the game on

television. You see much better what is going on.

W: Are there any things about the University of Florida, the

African Center or the political science program that you

would like to say as a closing about the University?

H: First of all a couple of points on each of those things.

The political science department I did not necessarily tell

you the full story. I thought that the new leadership

provided by both Wayne Francis and Ken Wald pushed the

department in a very different direction. I want to say

that I consider the political science department at the

University of Florida to be one of the most collegial work

places that I can think of. There are few political science

departments that can compete with the University of Florida

as a pleasant work place. I think today most people in the

department share this. Visitors and people who come here

for recruitment purposes have always commented on the

collegiality and the good climate or atmosphere that exists

in the department.

W: Why is that?

H: Because people respect each other. We respect the diversity

of each other. We respect that political science is not

just one theory and one approach and one methodology but we

respect that we have to consider the study of politics as

something that requires diversity both in theory and in


W: Is that reflected with the faculty that you have?

H: Yes, we have people working, hard core quantitative

political scientists and we have those who are both

theoretical and [END OF TAPE A]

We were presently talking about the political science


H: I almost forgot what I said before that but I think I did

mention about the respect of diversity, the tolerance of

different approaches and it is reflected in the context of

the department. We do have people with different

backgrounds and I think we take pride in being diverse

rather than being uniform.

W: You have been the director of the African Studies

Association just recently and we are now in the process of

hiring a new director. With that you have seen five

excellent candidates and you have some sense of the

direction of where the African Studies program is going.

Can you just briefly tell me in a statement where you see

this center going?

H: The new director, whoever that person is going to be, will

eventually set the tone for that. Although I expect,

judging from what I have heard from at least most of the

candidates that they would also want to work with the rest

of us so that it is not as if that person is necessarily

going to be all by himself or herself in terms of deciding

where we are going. It is important that the Center

continues to reach out to faculty, not only in the college

but also in the other colleges. I see that as a priority.

I also want myself to see a closer interaction with Afro-

American studies as it is called here in the Institute of

Black Culture. There is something likely to happen although

I do not know what, but I believe that the whole question of

what should be the institutional relation of the

intellectual interaction between these units is going to

come up. There should be an attempt to overcome the

imbalance between African Studies and Afro-American Studies

that has existed on campus which I think has been

unfortunate in terms of there being less contact between the

two of them that should have been there. The time certainly

has come for doing something about that. Beyond that we

should continue to first of all, be sure that we do not lose

the faculty lines. I do not see any immediate risk of that,

but nevertheless we need to push for a few more lines.

People have mentioned the need to have at least one or two

more people in history. People have talked about the need

for someone perhaps in literature. People have talked about

the need for maybe some other people. I would, as a

political scientist, want to have at least one, perhaps two

more Africanists working in my department.

W: Again thank-you Dr. Hyden for allowing me to interview you.

I have gotten a very rich account of your professional

developments as a political scientist in Africa, Sweden and

here in the United States, as well as an overview of the ten

years that you have been here at the University of Florida.

I think your actual anniversary is this coming Fall. It

will be ten years complete. Hopefully there will be an

acknowledgement of those long ten years because you

certainly have done a lot. I hope that in the next ten

years you will continue to be here.

H: As I said the risk of my leaving is relatively small, but

whether I deserve anything beyond retirement at one time,

that is still to be decided. I enjoyed being here and I do

not work to feel that I need to be rewarded at some point in

time in terms of either money or anything else. In fact,

partly because I have done recently well in my professional

career, that has never been an issue. I have usually been

rewarded for various reasons. It has not been a big thing

for me. I never had to fight for it, nor do I feel that I

want to fight for it because I think I am not a good

professional unless I can speak for myself and let myself,

my words and my wisdom, if there is any, speak for itself

rather than having to fight for that and fight for


W: Thank you sir.

H: Thank you.

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