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Volume II: Popculture, Environment, Colonialism and Migration
With Africa as its point of reference and departure, volume II of Africa's Radicalisms and Conservatisms examines why and how the two concepts – radicalisms and conservatisms – should not be taken as mere binaries around which to organize knowledge. It demonstrates that these concepts have multiple and diverse meanings as perceived and understood from different disciplinary vantage points, hence, the deliberate pluralization of the terms. The essays show what happens when one juxtaposes the two concepts and how they are easily intertwined when different peoples’ lived experiences of politics, pop-culture, democracy, liberalism, the environment, colonialism, migration, identities, and knowledge, etc. across the length and breadth of Africa are brought to bear on our understandings of these two particularisms.

Contributors are: Adesoji Oni, Admire M. Nyamwanza, Akin Tella, Akinpelu Ayokunnu Oyekunle, Bamidele Omotunde Alabi, Charles Nkem Okolie, Craig Calhoun, Diana Ekor Ofana, Edwin Etieyibo, Folusho Ayodeji, Gabriel Akinbode, Godwin Oboh, Joseph C. A. Agbakoba, Julius Niringiyimana, Lucky Uchenna Ogbonnaya, Maxwell Mudhara, Muchaparara Musemwa, Nathan Osareme Odiase, Obvious Katsaura, Okpowhoavotu Dan Ekere, Olaniran Olakunle Lateef, Omolara V. Akinyemi, Owen Mafongoya, Paramu Mafongoya, Philip Onyekachukwu Egbule, Rutanga Murindwa, Sandra Bhatasara, Takesure Taringana, Tunde A. Abioro, Victor Clement Nweke, William Muhumuza, and Zainab M. Olaitan.
Following the Tea Ritual from China to West Africa
Green tea, imported from China, occupies an important place in the daily lives of Malians. They spend so much time preparing and consuming the sugared beverage that it became the country’s national drink. To find out how Malians came to practice the tea ritual, this study follows the beverage from China to Mali on its historical trade routes halfway around the globe. It examines the circumstances of its introduction, the course of the tea ritual, the equipment to prepare and consume it, and the meanings that it assumed in the various places on its travel across geographical regions, political economies, cultural contexts, and religious affiliations.
Swahili Poetry of Commitment by Ustadh Mahmoud Mau
The present volume is a pioneering collection of poetry by the outstanding Kenyan poet, intellectual and imam Ustadh Mahmmoud Mau (1952 - ) from Lamu island, once an Indian Ocean hub, now on the edge of the nation state. By means of poetry in Arabic script, the poet raises his voice against social ills and injustices troubling his community on Lamu. The book situates Mahmoud Mau’s oeuvre within transoceanic exchanges of thoughts so characteristic of the Swahili coast. It shows how Swahili Indian Ocean intellectual history inhabits an individual biography and writings while also portraying a unique African Muslim thinker and his poetry in the local language, which has so often been neglected as major site for critical discourse in Islamic Africa. The authors’ approaches highlight the relevance of local epistemologies as archives for understanding the relationship between reform Islam and local communities in contemporary Africa.
The selected poetry is clustered around the following themes: jamii: societal topical issues, ilimu: the importance of education, huruma: social roles and responsabilities, matukio: biographical events and maombi: supplications. Prefaced by Prof. Rayya Timamy (Nairobi University), the volume includes contributions by Jasmin Mahazi, Kai Kresse and Kadara Swaleh, Annachiara Raia and Clarissa Vierke.
The present volume sets Swahili religious tracts available in Kenya and Tanzania in their context. The book starts with an overview of tracts in Swahili from the 19th century to the present day, an examination of Swahili as a religious language, and an introduction to Swahili versions of the Bible and Qurʾān. Chesworth then introduces the range of tracts currently available, examining eight in detail. In particular he considers how they present scripture in order to promote their own faith, Islam or Christianity, whilst denigrating the ‘other’. Finally, the volume discusses the impact from modern media on these tracts.
Approches nouvelles de la violence et de la démocratie
L’islam Ouest-africain compte plusieurs confréries soufies notamment au Nord-Nigeria, au Niger et au Sénégal, des pays où la Tijāniyya occupe une place importante dans la sphère publique. Dans la première partie de ce livre, par une perspective comparatiste utilisant les concepts de démocratie, de laïcité, de domination et de violence, l’auteur montre comment ceux-ci sont déployés au niveau local surtout dans le champ politique sénégalais. Dans une deuxième, il s’engage dans un décryptage des relations complexes entre religion et politique dans le Sénégal des deux régimes d’alternance, utilisant alors une approche bourdieusienne de la domination. Bien des marabouts interviennent pour arrêter les projets de personnalisation du pouvoir central. Leur intervention politique sous forme d’appel à la non-violence parvient à stabiliser le Sénégal.

West African Islam has several Sufi orders, particularly in Northern Nigeria, Niger and Senegal, countries where the Tijāniyya occupies an important place in the public sphere. In the first part of this book, through a comparative perspective therefore using the concepts of democracy, secularism, domination and violence, the author depicts how these categories are exercised at the local level, especially in the political field. In the second part, he engages in deciphering the complex relations between religion and politics in the so-called alternance regimes between 2000 and 2020, using a Bourdieusian approach to domination. Many marabouts intervene to stop the projects of personalization of the central power. The author concludes that there is a new form of community democracy that Sufi guides use to politically stabilize Senegal.


Changes in forestry policies in Cameroon have often been initiated by different stakeholders in line with their respective interests, political and/or economic power, capacities and views. Consequently, communities, and especially women, inhabiting forest areas have faced difficulty using and managing forests, for cultural, social, economic and institutional reasons that limit their rights regarding the forest. This paper argues that institutional changes in Cameroon around ownership, use and management of forest resources have had far-reaching impacts on women who are dependent on these forests. We use secondary and primary data to support our analyses. Our findings reveal that over time, forestry reforms in Cameroon have been gender-blind or gender-neutral, with no clauses in forestry reforms that consider women’s vulnerabilities, needs and responsibilities. These reforms continue to impose secondary roles on women. By using gender-inclusive success stories from Nepalese forest communities, this research presses on policymakers to be more gender-inclusive when enacting forestry policies. Raising awareness and enforcing accountability that supports women will both improve the standards of living for everyone in forest communities and enhance sustainable forest management.

In: Afrika Focus
Author: Michel Thill


My dissertation is about everyday police work, the effects of police reform and the state in the Democratic Republic of Congo (drc). Despite the role of the police in state–society relations, in Congo and the wider region that role remains under-explored. My thesis asks in what ways police practices and encounters with the public reproduce, sustain or collapse Congo’s state. Based on a year of immersive field work during which I followed police officers from the classroom via the station to the street, I argue that officers make police work possible through their everyday performativity that draws on, combines and subverts rationalities of three entangled governmentalities. The resulting Craft of the Congo Cop lies in the ability to reconcile colliding governmentalities and project the state as a temporary yet convincing effect of authority. From this inherently contingent performative process, the state in Congo emerges as a composite of temporary and fast-changing effects.

In: Afrika Focus
Author: Wim Verbruggen


Dryland ecosystems are globally widespread and have a large impact on the global land carbon sink. Yet a detailed optimisation of dynamic vegetation models for these ecosystems is lacking. This works contributes to resolving this problem. Based on data from our own field work, we parameterised two dynamic vegetation models to dryland conditions, specifically the Sudano-Sahel region. The optimised parameterisation enables the models to realistically simulate carbon and water fluxes measured at several fluxtower sites across the region, as well as several satellite data products. Using these models, we then studied how climatic factors and soil texture may influence the functioning of dryland ecosystems. By using and tuning dynamic vegetation models for simulating dryland vegetation, this work provides a unique insight into dryland ecosystem functioning.

In: Afrika Focus
Free access
In: Afrika Focus
Author: Rafael Verbuyst


The Khoisan were decimated, dispossessed and assimilated into the mixed-race “Coloured” group during colonialism and apartheid, spawning the notion of their supposed extinction. However, Cape Town, where colonial history runs deepest, became the epicentre of “Khoisan revivalism” after apartheid. Khoisan revivalists reject Coloured identity and campaign for cultural development, historical justice and indigenous rights. Many also claim land and traditional leadership titles. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among Khoisan revivalists, my PhD dissertation scrutinises Khoisan revivalism’s origins, appeal and political aspirations. It focuses on the various ways that historical events, figures and practices inform diverse articulations of indigeneity. Khoisan revivalists are primarily seeking a relatable connection with the past and select sources, mediums and content accordingly. Moreover, in simultaneously replicating, disregarding and appropriating colonial representations, they produce a “subversive authenticity”. While empowering to many, Khoisan revivalism has also emboldened some to mobilise a racialised identity politics based on prior occupancy, which today extends beyond the movement.

In: Afrika Focus