Transforming Innovations in Africa

Explorative Studies on Appropriation in African Societies


Africa abounds with examples of material and immaterial innovations that were envisaged, developed and designed elsewhere yet came to be innovatively and sometimes unexpectedly transformed in Africa. The authors in this volume explore how external innovations (products, technologies, services, institutions and processes) have been appropriated in African societies in order to be acceptable and relevant to local conditions, expectations and demands. Written from different disciplinary perspectives, the chapters demonstrate the depth and richness of innovation in Africa with, in some cases, surprising outcomes. The case studies presented are on subjects as diverse as the wine industry, trading stores, land reforms, washing powder, M-Pesa, cassava, weddings, international borders, guest houses, urban water supply, car technology, shallow wells, and railways and blacksmithing.

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Jan-Bart Gewald, (PhD), is a historian at the African Studies Centre in Leiden. His research interests include the history of the social relationship between people and technology in Africa. He co-edited The Speed of Change: Motor Vehicles and People in Africa, 1890-2000 (Brill, 2009), with Sabine Luning and Klaas van Walraven.

André Leliveld, (PhD), is a development economist at the African Studies Centre in Leiden. His research interests include (informal) insurance, and economic transformation and innovation in African economies. He co-edited Inside Poverty and Development in Africa: Critical Reflections on Pro-Poor Policies with Marcel Rutten and Dick Foeken (Brill, 2008).

Iva Peša is a historian and is currently doing her PhD at Leiden University on the social history of Mwinilunga District in northwestern Zambia. Her interests include the changing patterns of (agricultural) production, consumption, labour migration and social relationships.

Maps, figures, tables, boxes and photos

1 Introduction: Transforming innovations in Africa; explorative studies on appropriation in African societies
Jan-Bart Gewald, André Leliveld & Iva Peša

2 Who killed innovation in the Cape wine industry? The story of a stuck fermentation c. 1930-1986
Paul Nugent

3 Entrepreneurship, colonial monetary economy and the limits of creativity:
Appropriating trading stores in Northern Namibia, 1925-1980
Gregor Dobler

4 Frugal innovation in Africa: Tracking Unilever’s washing-powder sachets
Cees van Beers, Peter Knorringa & André Leliveld

5 Mobile cash for nomadic livestock keepers:
The impact of the mobile phone innovation (M-Pesa) on Maasai pastoralists in Kenya
Moses Mwangi & Marcel Rutten

6 From Gao: Sawaba and the politics of decolonization and insurrection in
the Songhay Zone of Mali and Niger (1957-1964)
Klaas van Walraven

7 From self-help group to water company: The Wandiege Community Water Supply Project (Kisumu, Kenya)
Samuel O. Owuor & Dick Foeken

8 ‘It is time to start my own farm’:
The unforeseen effects of two waves of resettlement on household formation in Zimbabwe
Marleen Dekker & Bill Kinsey

9 ‘Cassava is our chief’: Negotiating identity, markets and the state through cassava in Mwinilunga, Zambia
Iva Peša

10 The social cocktail: Weddings and the innovative mixing of competences in Botswana
Rijk van Dijk

11 Of labradors and libraries: The transformation of innovation on a farm in Kibale, western Uganda
Jan-Bart Gewald

12 Engine of change: A social history of the car-mechanics sector in the Horn of Africa
Stefano Bellucci & Massimo Zaccaria

13 Water innovations among the Maasai pastoralists in Kenya:
The role of outside interventions in the performance of traditional shallow wells
Moses Mwangi & Marcel Rutten

14 Stealing from the railways: Blacksmiths, colonialism and innovation in Northern Nigeria
Shehu Tijjani Yusuf

List of authors
All those interested in the social process how external innovations (products, technologies, services, institutions and processes) are appropriated and transformed in African societies. This volume is multidisciplinary with wide coverage of Africa.
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