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Robert Lachmann’s letters to Henry George Farmer (from 1923-38) provide insightful glimpses into his life and his progressive research projects. From an historical perspective, they offer critical data concerning the development of comparative musicology as it evolved in Germany during the early decades of the twentieth century. The fact that Lachmann sought contact with Farmer can be explained from their mutual, yet diverse interests in Arab music, particularly as they were then considered to be the foremost European scholars in the field. During the 1932 Cairo International Congress on Arab Music, they were selected as presidents of their respective committees.
Transnational Histories touched by National Socialism and Apartheid
This book is situated at the cutting edge of the political-ethical dimension of history writing. Henkes investigates various responsibilities and loyalties towards family and nation, as well as other major ethical obligations towards society and humanity when historical subjects have to deal with a repressive political regime. In the first section we follow three pre-war German immigrants in the Netherlands during the era of National Socialism. The second section explores the positions of three Dutch post-war emigrants who left for South Africa. The narratives of these transnational agents and their relatives provide a lens through which changing constructions of national identities, and the personal acceptance or rejection of a nationalist policy on racial grounds, can be observed in everyday practice.
L’œuvre d’un historien guinéen à l’époque coloniale / The Work of a Guinean Historian during the Colonial Period
Essai d’histoire locale fut écrit par un acteur-clé de l’historiographie de l’Afrique de l’Ouest pourtant encore méconnu: Djiguiba Camara. Rédigé en 1955, ce texte est centré sur l’histoire du Nord de la Guinée, avec une attention particulière portée sur l’empire de Samori Touré et la résistance anticoloniale.
Ce texte, Essai d’histoire locale, illustre la fabrique de l’histoire locale et coloniale par un intermédiaire colonial guinéen et un intellectuel, à partir du point de vue spécifique de la famille Camara, qui fut engagée dans les armées de Samori. Ce texte n’a été connu que parce qu’il est devenu l’une des sources majeures de l’historien français Yves Person pour sa monumentale thèse Samori, Une Révolution Dyula (1968-1975). Avec cette édition annotée d’une source primaire, “Essai d’histoire locale” de Djiguiba Camara devient enfin accessible à un lectorat plus vaste. Elara Bertho et Marie Rodet ont démontré grâce à cette publication que Essai d’histoire locale est une source essentielle pour la compréhension de l’histoire de la Guinée ainsi que de la fabrique de l’historiographie, en particulier du travail d’Yves Person.

Although a key figure in West African historiography, Djiguiba Camara from Damaro has remained almost completely unknown. He wrote Essay on Local History over many years but finally finished it in 1955. His focus was the history of Northern Guinea with an emphasis on the Empire of Samori Touré and anticolonial resistance.
Everywhere in Essay on Local History we can see not only the highly developed craft of the local and colonial historical writing of a Guinean colonial intermediary and scholar, but the view he gave is from the particular perspective of the Camara family, who had served in Samori’s armies. Djiguiba Camara’s own work had been known only by reputation as a source for the monumental thee-volume Samori – Une Révolution Dyula (1968-1975) by the French historian Yves Person. Now however, in this fully annotated text edition, Djiguiba Camara’s Essai d’histoire locale becomes available to a wider audience for the first time. Elara Bertho and Marie Rodet have demonstrated through this publication that Essay on Local History is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand both the history of Guinea and more especially Yves Person’s modus operandi.

Abstract

The South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO of Namibia) had a unique status among anti-colonial movements. Fighting South Africa’s illegal occupation of South West Africa/Namibia, dubbed by the United Nations as a “trust betrayed,” it resorted to armed struggle in the 1960s. SWAPO was subsequently recognized as “the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people” by a United Nations General Assembly resolution since the mid-1970s. The political culture in post-colonial Namibia is much characterized by the dominance of SWAPO as a former liberation movement and its official history. This paper summarizes the relevance of the armed struggle for the heroic narrative. It contrasts the glorification with some of the ‘hidden histories’ and trajectories related to some less documented realities of the armed struggle and its consequences which do not have much visibility in the official historiography. It thereby finally seeks to present a more nuanced picture by giving voice to some protagonists of a post-colonial political culture not considered as mainstream.

In: Matatu

Abstract

This essay is a preliminary attempt to compare the ways in which the liberation struggles in Namibia and South Africa have been memorialised, both in non-fiction writing about the two struggles and in monuments, memorials and museums. Such a comparison needs to be undertaken through contextualising the two struggles. Though they have some similar features, the ways they have been memorialised are strikingly different, with the armed struggle having been given much greater emphasis in Namibia than in South Africa.

In: Matatu

Abstract

Both Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo and South African author Niq Mhlongo encapsulate in novels published by each of them in 2013 what has become of their governments’ promises of freedom and prosperity. In her novel We Need New Names, Bulawayo criticises the poverty, corruption and mismanagement seen under the regime of Robert Mugabe and caricatures the grandiose slogans of ‘Black Power.’ In his novel Way Back Home, Mhlongo reveals how a former anti-apartheid activist in the ANC becomes enmeshed in self-enrichment and nepotism and is pursued by the ghosts of the past. Both Bulawayo and Mhlongo are not content with merely decoding slogans, but identify possible paths to a future with greater self-determination. Disappointment about the unredeemed promises is thus transformed into a sobering résumé and stocktaking that can provide a basis for a new consideration and new definition of social objectives.

In: Matatu

Abstract

This paper looks at the novels by Joseph Diescho (Born of the Sun, 1988), Kaleni Hiyalwa (Meekulu’s Children, 2000), and Neshani Andreas (The Purple Violet of Oshaantu, 2001) with a special focus on the access to education and land, but also problems such as Gender Based Violence and poverty. By comparing how an independent Namibia is imagined during South African apartheid rule, during the Liberation Struggle, and post-independence, the novels open up perspectives that empirical studies may overlook or decide not to emphasise. Furthermore, this comparison also allows for a linear, yet non-chronological, view on how the literary visions evolve with concepts such as nation and liberation, but also modernity and nationalism as they ‘enter’ into the characters’ every day. With the protagonists deeply involved in the make-up of their respective villages, they can also be considered prototypical Namibians in their value systems and networks. Through their eyes, it is possible to trace how political promises that were envisioned and imagined prior to 1990 are either realised or disappointed.

In: Matatu
In: Matatu

Abstract

Literature struggles in South Africa—or, struggles of interpretation?—evince, and continue to evince, a thematic and stylistic impulse to belong to a common society, but, paradoxically, a society that is often more disjunctive than conjunctive. How, then, to belong? I trace the trajectory from the black-and-white voices of the 1970s to a more heterogeneous conception of the society, after apartheid, and particularly over the last decade, or so. What is peculiar about literature struggles is that the heroic mode has played a relatively marginal role in sense-making or imaginative projection; rather, the critical insight ensures that political language—too often crude in its singularities of either/or—has seldom enjoyed the unalloyed assent of literary language. Considerations of nation-building hardly feature alongside the concerns of living in a functioning society.

In: Matatu

Abstract

After a South African air raid attack against the liberation-struggling independence movement of their parents, more than four hundred young Namibian refugees—preschoolers, primary school pupils and teenagers—arrived in the German Democratic Republic in 1979. This chapter evaluates representations of the deportation of the children and their experiences in the GDR by looking at (auto)biographical depictions. With regard to the question of whether their spectacular life stories have (co-)shaped the prevailing post-independence national narrative of Namibia or not, their own perspective yields both an unambiguous and, given the conditions under which they had been sent on their odyssey in the first place, surprising result. While the former exile children have ultimately been denied the privilege of being part of the country’s elite, they do not seem to resent their near invisibility in these self-images of the nation, and seem to have come to terms with their situation (and identity) as Africans with a German past.

In: Matatu