UJ Institute for the Future of Knowledge

Soft Power Individuals in Nigeria and South Africa: An Appraisal of Olusegun Obasanjo’s and Thabo Mbeki’s Power of Attraction

The Round Table
The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs
Volume 109, 2020 – Issue 5


Despite the increasing influence of non-state actors in international affairs, soft power analysis in Africa and globally remains state-centric. By extension, assessment of individuals’ soft power is undeveloped. This article examines the extent to which, if at all, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki wielded soft power in the international arena both during and after their presidencies. It examines their idiosyncratic traits and varied ideas and policies, particularly with regard to pan-Africanism and African Renaissance that generate or undercut soft power. The article concludes that Obasanjo and Mbeki have successfully used their soft power and international clout to make significant contributions in Africa and beyond.

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