Michael Timneng, from the Kom kingdom in the Bamenda Grassfields, led a life both remarkable and unremarkable, leaving an indelible mark on Kom society. Born before the establishment of a permanent European presence in the late nineteenth century, his life not only coincided more or less with the colonial enterprise, it also reflected that enterprise. He fulfilled a succession of roles, including palace retainer, early Christian convert, soldier in the German Schutztruppe during the First World War, internee in Spanish Equatorial Guinea, founder of the Catholic mission in Kom in 1919, Catechist for over a decade, Bible translator, and political dissident persecuted both by traditional and colonial administrations. His biography is an intriguing illustration of the intersection of colonial politics with personal ambition and circumstance. A closer look at life stories such as that of Michael Timneng can further our understanding of the repercussions of European policy and interests on individual lives, in turn spawning new questions about the impact of colonial rule in general.
Once the juggernaut of coloured resistance against racial inequality in the first half of the twentieth century, today, Dr Abdullah Abdurahman has been almost entirely effaced from South African historiography. As the first politician of colour elected to public office, Dr Abdurahman held a seat on the Cape Town City Council for nearly 40 years. Descended from enslaved grandparents and possessing a complex interplay of Indian, Cape Malay, and coloured identities, how was he able to rise to such prominence? What were the foundational influences in not just motivating his political activism but in the formulation of his ideologies and philosophies regarding the relationships between the individual, society, and governance? This chapter focuses on Dr Abdurahman’s early education and family to challenge the minimisation of childhood and its significance in orthodox political biography and to contribute further studies of childhood in historical studies.
This essay deals with the relationship between historiography and various forms of biographical study – in the context of Western history but especially that of African studies. First, it charts how, earlier in the twentieth century, structuralist perspectives led to a disconnect between biography and Western-history writing, arguing that narrative and biography were among structuralism’s first casualties. However, subsequent genres in historiography, such as the history of daily life, women’s history, and African American history, helped to resurrect the interest in the study of individual lives. In addition, the subjective orientation inherent in post-modernism encouraged (but also potentially complicated) a focus on the persona. The essay discusses the historical evolution of biographical study and its various forms, as well as theoretical issues such as the relation with psychology, the ‘hero’ concept, the multi-layered issue of context, the distinction between biography and life-history research and the concept of agency. It then confronts the nihilistic challenge posed to biography by post-modernism, arguing the importance of the notion of ‘self-fashioning’ (especially in an African context) and querying the nature of the ‘self’ in the context of Western and African history. The essay charts the birth of modern African biography and life-history research, whose roots go back to the eighteenth century but which came into their own with the development of academic African studies after World War II. The subsequent expansion of Africanist biographical research is discussed including in the fields of prosopography, women’s life history, and social history. The fragmentation of modern historical scholarship and the linkages with daily-life history and microhistory are outlined, including their importance in encouraging biographical study of different types of African (historical) actors. The final sections discuss the issue of representivity vs singularity of biographical subjects and introduce the different case studies of this volume.
With the death of Laurent Kabila in 2001, a generational cycle in Congolese politics ended. Mobutu’s victory over Lumumbist forces in 1965 did not deter some of the latter from continuing their resistance activities in remote areas. Laurent Kabila developed one of these movements into a Marxist guerrilla group that maintained its autonomy against Mobutist hegemony until 1986. When Kabila took power in 1997, an entire generation representing the hidden part of the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) took centre stage again, but the new regime was unable to implement its political programme. From the presidency of his son Joseph, a post-independence generation ruled the country. This begs the question whether the rebel movements from the 1960s embodied a possible alternative for the country, or a road not taken. The answer to this question is not clear. If Laurent Kabila’s presidency was, in a sense, the truth of the resistance movements of the 1960s, it represented the possibility of an alternative road and a source of inspiration. Further comparative biographical research of past and present leaders and their political thought could yield elements for the construction of a more elaborate political alternative for the DRC.
Today, Jack Hodgson is best-known as a tenacious anti-apartheid militant and for his role in Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the African National Congress. Details about his earlier life as a miner on the Rand and the Copperbelt are virtually unknown, and this helps explain why it has been assumed in the literature that Hodgson’s opposition to racial discrimination was consistent throughout his life. In fact, Hodgson was a shop steward in a whites-only trade union on the Copperbelt and a staunch proponent of the colour bar. This chapter explores Hodgson’s life and political transition to stress the role of subjectivity and argue that the impact of material conditions and experiences is not homogeneous. Many biographies of individuals involved in African nationalist movements depict a straightforward trajectory of radicalisation in response to experiences of injustice and oppression. Although Hodgson was radicalised by his experiences of industrial unrest and war, the many thousands of others who participated in these events alongside were not, or not in the same way. His biography is an illustration of how people’s lives are not an ordered sequence of actions and events, but often contradictory and fractured.
In this chapter, I focus on the ways in which Coloured families in Cape Town, during the period 1950–2015, responded to political and racial violence. I demonstrate that participants in this study, through the interactions with their family members and in their homes, engaged in a myriad of daily practices that challenged political and racial violence. By drawing on biographical narrative interviews with Coloured families, the chapter demonstrates that notwithstanding the conditions of being forcefully removed, and subjected to ongoing spatial and racial violence during and beyond apartheid, participants in this study used the home and intimate relationships to develop responses to everyday violence throughout the life course. By analysing these practices of resistance, I shift the focus on the ways in which a ‘struggle for a home’ was achieved by drawing on the home and family as critical forms of capital in enacting resistance.
The main objective of this paper is to examine the position of Africa in the global division of labor in the era of globalization by deconstructing the assumptions, institutions and tools that buttress the North-South and the South-South relations in general and by using the aid, trade and investment regimes in particular. The paper argues that Africa has been integrated in the global economy at least since the middle of the 19th century with the colonization of the continent, albeit in a different form and intensity, but it has been located at the bottom of the hierarchy of the integration ladder playing a marginal role mainly on account of two reasons – firstly, its development destiny has been dictated from afar by its old (Global North, like Europeans) and also by the emerging (Global South, like China and India) external powers, as each of them tried to fulfill their national interests; and secondly, it has been following protectionist and unwelcoming economic policies internally. The net effect of the external pressure on Africa is nothing, but the emergence of an asymmetrical economic relationship between Africa and that of the old and the new powers. Accordingly, at present, the continent is suffering from the multiple byproducts of economic globalization like low prices for its primary products, infant manufacturing and industrialization, limited and constrained market access, huge debt burden, and economic and political conditionality.
This study is intended to examine the mediating role of citizens’ overall satisfaction on the relationship between good governance practices and public trust in Ethiopian local government. It is based on quantitative research; data was obtained by distributing a survey questionnaire for 440 respondents. The usable questionnaires response rate was 81 percent (n = 357). The study was informed by the institutional theory of trust. The data was then analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling (sem). The study findings indicated that citizens’ overall satisfaction had a full mediating role on the relationship between perceived transparency and public trust in local government. However, citizens’ overall satisfaction partially mediates the relationship between perceived accountability, perceived responsiveness, perceived public participation, and public trust in local government. It was further noted that citizens’ overall satisfactions have had no mediating role on the relationship between perceived rule of law and public trust in local government. This meant that the perceived rule of law has a direct relation with public trust in local government.