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The Individual in African History

The Importance of Biography in African Historical Studies


Edited by Klaas van Walraven

This volume investigates the development of biographical study in African history and historiography. Consisting of 10 case studies, it is preceded by an introductory prologue, which deals with the relationship between historiography and different forms of biographical study in the context of Western history-writing but especially African (historical and anthropological) studies. The first three case studies deal with the methodological insights of biographical studies for African history. This is followed by three case studies dealing with personas living through fundamental societal transitions, and four case studies focusing on the discursive dimensions of biographical subjects (including religion, cosmology and ideology). Countries or regions discussed include South Africa, Zambia, Gold Coast, Cameroon, Tanganyika, Congo-Kinshasa and the Central African Republic in colonial times.

Contributors are Lindie Koorts, Elena Moore, Iva Peša, Paul Glen Grant, Jacqueline de Vries, Duncan Money, Morgan Robinson, Eve Wong, Klaas van Walraven, Erik Kennes.

Context and Catholicity in the Science and Religion Debate

Intercultural contributions from French-speaking Africa


Klaas Bom and Benno van der Toren

For years the fact that the debate on science and religion was not related to cultural diversity was considered only a minor issue. However, lately, there is a growing concern that the dominance of ‘Western’ perspectives in this field do not allow for new understandings. This book testifies to the growing interest in the different cultural embeddings of the science and religion interface and proposes a framework that makes an intercultural debate possible. This proposal is based on a thorough study of the ‘lived theology’ of Christian students and university professors in Abidjan, Kinshasa and Yaoundé. The outcomes of the field research are related to a worldwide perspective of doing theology and a broader scope of scholarly discussions.


Konstanze N'Guessan

In Histories of Independence in Côte d’Ivoire: an Ethnography of the Past Konstanze N’Guessan deals with memory work in Côte d’Ivoire and bridges an ethnographic approach with the insights of newer theoretical approaches in historiography. Adopting a long-term perspective from the late 1950s to the present, she attempts to disentangle the condensation of meanings of the lieu de memoire “Ivorian independence” and explores how different practices of recalling the past complement and/or contradict each other. Histories of independence in Côte d’Ivoire looks at national-day celebrations, academic historiography, oral tradition and memory politics in order to understand how (political) actors mobilize the past in order to produce pleasant presents and futures.

Regional Integration in Africa

What Role for South Africa?


Edited by André Mbata Mangu

In Regional Integration in Africa: What Role for South Africa, Henri Bah, Zondi Siphamandla and Andre Mbata Mangu reflect on African integration and the contribution of post-apartheid South Africa. From their different scientific background, they demonstrate that despite some progress made under the African Union that superseded the Organisation of African Unity, Africa is still lagging behind in terms of regional integration and South Africa, which benefitted from the rest of the continent in her struggle against apartheid, has not as yet played a major role in this process. Apart from contributing to advancing knowledge, the book should be a recommended read for all those interested in African regional integration and the relationships between Africa and post-apartheid South Africa.
Contributors are Henri Bah, Andre Mbata Mangu, Eddy Maloka and Zondi Siphamandla.


Edited by Ingo Haltermann and Julia Tischler

The volume Environmental Change and African Societies contributes to current debates on global climate change from the perspectives of the social sciences and the humanities. It charts past and present environmental change in different African settings and also discusses policies and scenarios for the future. The first section, “Ideas”, enquires into local perceptions of the environment, followed by contributions on historical cases of environmental change and state regulation. The section “Present” addresses decision-making and agenda-setting processes related to current representations and/or predicted effects of climate change. The section “Prospects” is concerned with contemporary African megatrends. The authors move across different scales of investigation, from locally-grounded ethnographic analyses to discussions on continental trends and international policy.
Contributors are: Daniel Callo-Concha, Joy Clancy, Manfred Denich, Sara de Wit, Ton Dietz, Irit Eguavoen, Ben Fanstone, Ingo Haltermann, Laura Jeffrey, Emmanuel Kreike, Vimbai Kwashirai, James C. McCann, Bertrand F. Nero, Jonas Ø. Nielsen, Erick G. Tambo, Julia Tischler.

Moving Spaces

Creolisation and Mobility in Africa, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean


Edited by Marina Berthet, Fernando Rosa and Shaun Viljoen

Moving Spaces: Creolisation and Mobility in Africa, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean addresses issues of creolisation, mobility, and migration of ideas, songs, stories, and people, as well as plants, in various parts of Africa, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean worlds. It brings together Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone specialists from various fields – anthropology, geography, history, language & literary studies – from Africa, Brazil, Europe, and the Indo-Pacific. It is a book which, while opening new perspectives, also intriguingly suggests that languages are essential to all processes of creolisation, and that therefore the latter cannot be understood without reference to the former. Its strength therefore lies in bringing together studies from different language domains, particularly Afrikaans, Creole, English, French, Portuguese, and Sanskrit.

Contributors include Andrea Acri, Joaze Bernardino, Marina Berthet, Alain Kaly, Uhuru Phalafala, Haripriya Rangan, Fernando Rosa, António Tomás and Shaun Viljoen.


Hans Olsson

In Jesus for Zanzibar: Narratives of Pentecostal (Non-)Belonging, Islam, and Nation Hans Olsson offers an ethnographic account of the lived experience and socio-political significance of newly arriving Pentecostal Christians in the Muslim majority setting of Zanzibar. This work analyzes how a disputed political partnership between Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania intersects with the construction of religious identities.

Undertaken at a time of political tensions, the case study of Zanzibar’s largest Pentecostal church, the City Christian Center, outlines religious belonging as relationally filtered in-between experiences of social insecurity, altered minority / majority positions, and spiritual powers. Hans Olsson shows that Pentecostal Christianity, as a signifier of (un)wanted social change, exemplifies contested processes of becoming in Zanzibar that capitalizes on, and creates meaning out of, religious difference and ambient political tensions.

Roads Through Mwinilunga

A History of Social Change in Northwest Zambia


Iva Peša

Roads through Mwinilunga provides a historical appraisal of social change in Northwest Zambia from 1750 until the present. By looking at agricultural production, mobility, consumption, and settlement patterns, existing explanations of social change are reassessed. Using a wide range of archival and oral history sources, Iva Peša shows the relevance of Mwinilunga to broader processes of colonialism, capitalism, and globalisation. Through a focus on daily life, this book complicates transitions from subsistence to market production and dichotomies between tradition and modernity. Roads through Mwinilunga is a crucial addition to debates on historical and social change in Central Africa.

A Decade of Tanzania

Politics, Economy and Society 2005-2017

Kurt Hirschler and Rolf Hofmeier

Tanzania is widely recognized as a rather exceptional case of an African country that has seen political continuity and stability for more than five decades and has not experienced any major conflicts as has been the case elsewhere on the continent. Major political transformations – such as the transformation from a socialist one-party state to a market-oriented multi-party system – were initiated from above and controlled by the Revolutionary Party CCM, which has ruled the country since it gained independence in 1961. Despite its peaceful development and steady economic growth rates over the past 15 years, Tanzania has remained a low-income country with a huge majority of its people living in poverty.

This volume contains the original country chapters on Tanzania from the Africa Yearbook. Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara, covering the period 2005 – 2017. It embraces the entire 10-year presidency of President Kikwete and the first two years under the current President Magufuli.

Biblical Interpretation and African Traditional Religion

Cross-Cultural and Community Readings in Owamboland, Namibia


Helen C. John

In Biblical Interpretation and African Traditional Religion, Helen C. John juxtaposes grassroots biblical interpretations from Owamboland, Namibia, with professional interpretations of selected New Testament texts, effectively demonstrating the capacity of grassroots interpretations to destabilise, challenge and nuance dominant professional interpretations. John uses a cross-cultural and dialogical approach – ‘Cross-Cultural Biblical Interpretation Groups’ – to explore the relationship between African Traditional Religion (ATR), Christianity and biblical interpretation in Owamboland, Namibia. She contextualises the grassroots Owambo interpretations using fieldwork experiences and ethnographic literature, thus heightening the cross-cultural encounter. In particular, John reflects on Western epistemologies and the Eurocentric interpretative trends that are brought into relief by the African interpretations gathered in Owamboland.

Crime, Law and Society in Nigeria

Essays in Honour of Stephen Ellis


Edited by Rufus Akinyele and Ton Dietz

This volume in honour of Stephen Ellis is a follow-up to the public presentation of his book on the history of organised crime in Nigeria This Present Darkness (Hurst, 2016) at the University of Lagos, Nigeria on 28 October 2016. In addition to four papers, and a book review presented at this colloquium, other contributions about crime in Nigeria have been added, written by Nigerian authors. In July 2015 Stephen died, and he has worked on This Present Darkness almost to his last moments, as a senior researcher of the African Studies Centre in Leiden. This book also contains a tribute to his life and work written by his wife and scholar Gerrie ter Haar.

Contributors include: A.E Akintayo, Jackson Aluede, Franca Attoh, Ayodele Atsenuwa, Edmund Chilaka, Samson Folarin, Gerrie ter Haar, Ayodeji Olukoju, Abiodun Oluwadare, Paul Osifodunrin and Leo Enahoro Otoide.

A Decade of Zimbabwe

Politics, Economy and Society 2008-2017

Amin Kamete

This ten-year review covers a difficult but exciting period in Zimbabwe. It starts when the so-called ‘Zimbabwe Crisis’ was full-blown, and the country was experiencing political, economic and social turmoil, characterized by hyperinflation, de-industrialization, polarization and persistent repression. The review captures the fast-moving events in the three major institutions in Zimbabwe: the state, the ruling party and the main opposition. It also captures the goings-on in national governance, from ruling party dominance, to a Government of National Unity in 2008 and back to ruling party dominance in contested elections in 2013. In this period, the country saw a change from the Mugabe years to his ouster in a so-called ‘soft-coup’ and a change in leadership in 2017.

A Decade of Cameroon

Politics, Economy and Society 2008-2017

Fanny Pigeaud

This ten-year review of Cameroon's economic, social and political events covers a delicate period in the recent history of this Central African country, rich in natural and human resources. It begins with a difficult year: 2008 was marked by serious socio-political unrest linked to the wish of President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, to change the constitution, by removing the limitation on the number of presidential terms. Once the constitution was amended, the president was re-elected in 2011 for seven years. But in a predictable way and while the economy was stagnating, the political situation slowly deteriorated in the following years, leading in 2017 to the beginning of a civil war in one part of the country. This decade allows us to see a locked political system, inherited from colonization, but which seems more and more at the end of the race.

Cette revue de dix ans de l’actualité économique, sociale et politique du Cameroun couvre une période délicate de l’histoire récente de ce pays d’Afrique centrale, riche en ressources naturelles et humaines. Elle commence par une année difficile : 2008 a été marquée par des troubles sociopolitiques graves liés à la volonté du président Paul Biya, au pouvoir depuis 1982, de changer la constitution, afin de supprimer la limitation du nombre de mandats présidentiels. Une fois la constitution modifiée, le président a pu être réélu en 2011 pour sept ans. Mais de manière prévisible et alors que l’économie stagnait, la situation politique s’est lentement dégradée au cours des années suivantes, jusqu’à déboucher en 2017 sur un début de guerre civile dans une partie du pays. A travers ces dix ans se dessine ainsi un système politique verrouillé, hérité de la colonisation, mais qui semble de plus en plus en fin de course.

A Decade of Niger

Politics, Economy and Society 2008-2017

Klaas van Walraven

This volume provides an overview of political and socioeconomic developments in Niger during the last ten years. Besides demonstrating the structural continuities in the politics of Niger, its society and economy, it goes into some of the fundamental changes that the country experienced in this period. Thus, it discusses the end of the Mamadou Tandja era, the beginning of oil production, the new Islamist insurgencies and the threat to Niger’s security, the chronic difficulties in food production and the growth of authoritarianism in Mahamadou Issoufou’s government.
Published in association with the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Africa Futures features cutting-edge research that critically reflects on some of the big questions relevant to imagining Africa’s future as a place. The series emerges out of CODESRIA’s strategic focus on futures and alternatives, showcasing rigorous scholarly interventions that engage constructively with African futures, and rooted in research that challenges orthodoxies associated with dominant, but often problematic discourses about the continent. Wide-ranging in its scope, Africa Futures encourages interdisciplinary thinking about Africa’s developmental challenges that are informed by history. Both individual monographs and edited volumes are welcome.


Raphaël Lambert

In Narrating the Slave Trade, Theorizing Community, Raphaël Lambert explores the notion of community in conjunction with literary works concerned with the transatlantic slave trade. The recent surge of interest in both slave trade and community studies concurs with the return of free-market ideology, which once justified and facilitated the exponential growth of the slave trade. The motif of unbridled capitalism recurs in all the works discussed herein; however, community, whether racial, political, utopian, or conceptual, emerges as a fitting frame of reference to reveal unsuspected facets of the relationships between all involved parties, and expose the ramifications of the trade across time and space. Ultimately, this book calls for a complete reevaluation of what it means to live together.

Ways of Knowing Muslim Cultures and Societies

Studies in Honour of Gudrun Krämer


Edited by Bettina Gräf, Birgit Krawietz and Schirin Amir-Moazami

This volume showcases a variety of innovative approaches to the study of Muslim societies and cultures, inspired by and honouring Gudrun Krämer and her role in transforming the landscape of Islamic Studies. With contributions from scholars from around the world, the articles cover an extraordinarily wide geographical scope across a broad timeline, with transdisciplinary perspectives and a historically informed focus on contemporary phenomena. The wide-ranging subjects covered include among others a “men in headscarves” campaign in Iran, an Islamic call-in radio programme in Mombassa, a refugee-related court case in Germany, the Arab revolutions and aftermath from various theoretical perspectives, Ottoman family photos, Qurʾān translation in South Asia, and words that can’t be read.

Regional Integration and Migration in Africa

Lessons from Southern and West Africa


Vusi Gumede, Samuel Ojo Oloruntoba and Serges Djoyou Kamga

This comparative book debates migration and regional integration in the two regional economic blocs, namely the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The book takes a historical and nuanced citizenship approach to integration by analysing regional integration from the perspective of non-state actors and how they negotiate various structures and institutions in their pursuit for life and livelihood in a contemporary context marked by mobility and economic fragmentation.


Fiona Leach

Reclaiming the Women of Britain’s First Mission to Africa is the compelling story of three long-forgotten women, two white and one black, who lived, worked and died on the Church Missionary Society’s first overseas mission at the dawn of the nineteenth century. It was a time of momentous historical events: the birth of Britain’s missionary movement, the creation of its first African colony as a home for freed slaves, and abolition of the slave trade. Casting its long shadow over much of the women’s story was the protracted war with Napoleon.

Taking as its starting point a cache of fifty letters from the three women, the book counters the prevailing narrative that early missionary endeavour was a uniquely European and male affair, and reveals the presence of a surprising number of women, among them several with very forceful personalities. Those who are interested in women’s life history, black history, the history of the slave trade and British evangelism will find this book immensely enjoyable.

Challenging the Status Quo

Diversity, Democracy, and Equality in the 21st Century


Edited by David G. Embrick, Sharon M. Collins and Michelle S. Dodson

In Challenging the Status Quo: Diversity, Democracy, and Equality in the 21st Century, David G. Embrick, Sharon M. Collins, and Michelle Dodson have compiled the latest ideas and scholarship in the area of diversity and inclusion. The contributors in this edited book offer critical analyses on many aspects of diversity as it pertains to institutional policies, practices, discourse, and beliefs. The book is broken down into 19 chapters over 7 sections that cover: policies and politics; pedagogy and higher education; STEM; religion; communities; complex organizations; and discourse and identity. Collectively, these chapters contribute to answering three main questions: 1) what, ultimately, does diversity mean; 2) what are the various mechanisms by which institutions understand and use diversity; and 3) and why is it important for us to rethink diversity?

Contributors: Sharla Alegria, Joyce M. Bell, Sharon M. Collins, Ellen Berrey, Enobong Hannah Branch, Meghan A. Burke, Tiffany Davis, Michele C. Deramo, Michelle Dodson, David G. Embrick, Edward Orozco Flores, Emma González-Lesser, Bianca Gonzalez-Sobrino, Matthew W. Hughey, Paul R. Ketchum, Megan Klein, Michael Kreiter, Marie des Neiges Léonard, Wendy Leo Moore, Shan Mukhtar, Antonia Randolph, Victor Erik Ray, Arthur Scarritt, Laurie Cooper Stoll.


Ushehwedu Kufakurinani

In Elasticity in Domesticity: White women in Rhodesian Zimbabwe, 1890-1979 Ushehwedu Kufakurinani examines the colonial experiences of white women in what was later called Rhodesia. He demonstrates the extent to which the state and society appropriated white women’s labour power and the workings of the domestic ideology in shaping white women’s experiences. The author also discusses how and to what extent white women appropriated and deployed the domestic ideology. Institutional as well as personal archives were consulted which include official correspondence, diaries, personal letters, newsletters, magazines, commissions of inquiry, among other sources.

Mozambique on the Move

Challenges and Reflections


Edited by Sheila Pereira Khan, Maria Paula Meneses and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

Being a first of its kind, this volume comprises a multi-disciplinary exploration of Mozambique’s contemporary and historical dynamics, bringing together scholars from across the globe. Focusing on the country’s vibrant cultural, political, economic and social world – including the transition from the colonial to the postcolonial era – the book argues that Mozambique is a country still emergent, still unfolding, still on the move.
Drawing on the disciplines of history, literature studies, anthropology, political science, economy and art history, the book serves not only as a generous introduction to Mozambique but also as a case study of a southern African country.

Contributors are: Signe Arnfred, Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, José Luís Cabaço, Ana Bénard da Costa, Anna Maria Gentili, Ana Margarida Fonseca, Randi Kaarhus, Sheila Pereira Khan, Maria Paula Meneses, Lia Quartapelle, Amy Schwartzott, Leonor Simas-Almeida, Anne Sletsjøe, Sandra Sousa, Linda van de Kamp.

Nature Conservation in Southern Africa

Morality and Marginality: Towards Sentient Conservation?


Edited by Jan-Bart Gewald, Marja Spierenburg and Harry Wels

Nature conservation in southern Africa has always been characterised by an interplay between Capital, specific understandings of Morality, and forms of Militarism, that are all dependent upon the shared subservience and marginalization of animals and certain groups of people in society. Although the subjectivity of people has been rendered visible in earlier publications on histories of conservation in southern Africa, the subjectivity of animals is hardly ever seriously considered or explicitly dealt with. In this edited volume the subjectivity and sentience of animals is explicitly included. The contributors argue that the shared human and animal marginalisation and agency in nature conservation in southern Africa (and beyond) could and should be further explored under the label of ‘sentient conservation’.

Contributors are Malcolm Draper, Vupenyu Dzingirai, Jan-Bart Gewald, Michael Glover, Paul Hebinck, Tariro Kamuti, Lindiwe Mangwanya, Albert Manhamo, Dhoya Snijders, Marja Spierenburg, Sandra Swart, Harry Wels.

Chinese and African Entrepreneurs

Social Impacts of Interpersonal Encounters

Edited by Karsten Giese and Laurence Marfaing

This book offers in-depth accounts of encounters between Chinese and African social and economic actors that have been increasing rapidly since the early 2000s. With a clear focus on social changes, be it quotidian behaviour or specific practices, the authors employ multi-disciplinary approaches in analysing the various impacts that the intensifying interaction between Chinese and Africans in their roles as ethnic and cultural others, entrepreneurial migrants, traders, employers, employees etc. have on local developments and transformations within the host societies, be they on the African continent or in China. The dynamics of social change addressed in case studies cover processes of social mobility through migration, adaptation of business practices, changing social norms, consumption patterns, labour relations and mutual perceptions, cultural brokerage, exclusion and inclusion, gendered experiences, and powerful imaginations of China.

Contributors are Karsten Giese, Guive Khan Mohammad, Katy Lam, Ben Lampert, Kelly Si Miao Liang, Laurence Marfaing, Gordon Mathews, Giles Mohan, Amy Niang, Yoon Jung Park, Alena Thiel, Naima Topkiran.


Edited by Carole Ammann and Till Förster

This 10th thematic issue of International Development Policy presents a collection of articles exploring some of the complex development challenges associated with Africa’s recent but extremely rapid pace of urbanisation that challenges still predominant but misleading images of Africa as a rural continent. Analysing urban settings through the diverse experiences and perspectives of inhabitants and stakeholders in cities across the continent, the authors consider the evolution of international development policy responses amidst the unique historical, social, economic and political contexts of Africa’s urban development.

Co-operativism and Local Development in Cuba

An Agenda for Democratic Social Change


Edited by Sonja Novković and Henry Veltmeyer

Co-operativism and Local Development in Cuba consists of a series of pathbreaking essays on the role of co-operativism, and the new co-operatives, in the democratic transformation of Cuba and the government’s plan to update the model in the current context. The contributors are well-known specialists on Cuba, co-operativism and local development. With a shared concern for how an increased focus on co-operativism and local development can contribute to the updating of the Cuban model and the advance of socialism, the contributors to the book have placed an analysis of the issues involved in the broader context of the international co-operative movement and the ongoing capitalist development process in Latin America.

Contributors include: Milford Bateman, Al Campbell, Grizel Donéstevez Sánchez, Cliff DuRand, Olga Fernández Ríos, Julio C. Gambina, Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, Sonja Novković, Dayrelis Ojeda Suris, Gabriela Roffinelli, Frederick. S. Royce, Dean Sinković, Henry Veltmeyer, Marcelo Vieta.

Spatial Practices

Territory, Border and Infrastructure in Africa


Edited by Ulf Engel, Marc Boeckler and Detlef Müller-Mahn

The edited collection Spatial Practices: Territory, Border and Infrastructure in Africa presents research findings from the German Research Council’s Priority Programme 1448 “Adaptation and Change in Africa” (2011-2018). At the heart of the volume are important new spatial practices that have emerged after the end of the Cold War in the fields of conflict, climate change, migration and urban development, to name but a few, and their ordering effects with regard to social relations. These findings bear particular relevance for the co-production of territorialities and sovereignties, for borders and migrations, as well as infrastructures and orders.

Contributors are: Sabine Baumgart, Andrea Behrends, Marc Boeckler, Martin Doevenspeck, Ulf Engel, Claudia Gebauer, Karsten Giese, Katharina Heitz Tokpa, Shahadat Hossain, Anna Hüncke, Gabriel Klaeger, Kelly Si Miao Liang, Andreas Mehler, Felix Müller, Detlef Müller-Mahn, Wolfgang Scholz, Sophie Schramm, Jannik Schritt, Michael Stasik, Florian Weisser, Julia Willers, and Franzisca Zanker.

Translocal Connections across the Indian Ocean

Swahili Speaking Networks on the Move


Edited by Francesca Declich

The book describes the worlds where Swahili is spoken as multi-centred contexts that cannot be thought of as located in a specific coastal area of Kenya or Tanzania. The articles presented discuss a range of geographical areas where Swahili is spoken, from Somalia to Mozambique along the Indian Ocean, in Europe and the US. In an attempt to de-essentialize the concepts of translocality and cosmopolitanism, the emphasis of the book is on translocality as experienced by different social strata and by gender and cosmopolitanism as an acquired attitude.

Contributors are: Katrin Bromber, Gerard van de Bruinhorst, Francesca Declich, Rebecca Gearhart Mafazy, Linda Giles, Ida Hadjivayanis, Mohamed Kassim, Kjersti Larsen, Mohamed Saleh, Maria Suriano, Sandra Vianello.


Janice P. De-Whyte

In Wom(b)an: A Cultural-Narrative Reading of the Hebrew Bible Barrenness Narratives Janice Pearl Ewurama De-Whyte offers a reading of the Hebrew Bible barrenness narratives. The original word “wom(b)an” visually underscores the centrality of a productive womb to female identity in the ANE and Hebrew contexts. Conversely, barrenness was the ultimate tragedy and shame of a woman. Utilizing Akan cultural custom as a lens through which to read the Hebrew barrenness tradition, De-Whyte uncovers another kind of barrenness within these narratives. Her term “social barrenness” depicts the various situations of childlessness that are generally unrecognized in western cultures due to the western biomedical definitions of infertility. Whether biological or social, barrenness was perceived to be the greatest threat to a woman’s identity and security as well as the continuity of the lineage. Wom(b)an examines these narratives in light of the cultural meanings of barrenness within traditional cultures, ancient and present.

Transfers of Belonging

Child Fostering in West Africa in the 20th Century


Erdmute Alber

In Transfers of Belonging, Erdmute Alber traces the history of child fostering in northern Benin from the pre-colonial past to the present by pointing out the embeddedness of child foster practices and norms in a wider political process of change. Child fostering was, for a long time, not just one way of raising children, but seen as the appropriate way of doing so. This changed profoundly with the arrival of European ideas about birth parents being the ‘right’ parents, but also with the introduction of schooling and the differentiation of life chances. Besides providing deep historical and ethnographical insights, Transfers of Belonging offers a new theoretical frame for conceptualizing parenting.

Anthropology of Law in Muslim Sudan

Land, Courts and the Plurality of Practices


Edited by Barbara Casciarri and Mohamed A. Babiker

Anthropology of Law in Muslim Sudan analyses the hybridity of law systems and the plurality of legal practices in rural and urban contexts of contemporary Sudan, shedding light on the complex relation between Islam and society. It is the outcome of the international research program ANDROMAQUE ( Anthropologie du Droit dans les Mondes Musulmans Africains et Asiatiques), funded by the French ANR ( Agence National de la Recherche) between 2011 and 2014. Crossing two disciplinary perspectives, anthropology and law, the present volume contains original fieldwork data on contemporary urban and rural Sudan. Focusing on two major domains, land property and courts, several case studies demonstrate the relevance of an approach based on “legal practices” to underline, first, the plurality and hybridity of law systems and the relative role of the Islamic reference in Sudanese society, and, secondly, the reshaping of legal behaviors and norms after the breaking point of South Sudan's independence in 2011.

Contributors are: Zahir M. Abdal-Kareem; Azza A. Abdel Aziz; Musa A. Abdul-Jalil; Munzoul M.A. Assal; Mohamed A. Babiker; Yazid Ben Hounet; Barbara Casciarri; Baudoin Dupret; Philippe Gout; Enrico Ille.

Land Reform Revisited

Democracy, State Making and Agrarian Transformation in Post-Apartheid South Africa


Femke Brandt and Grasian Mkodzongi

Land Reform Revisited engages with contemporary debates on land reform and agrarian transformation in South Africa. The volume offers insights into post-apartheid transformation dynamics through the lens of agency and state making. The chapters written by emerging scholars are based on extensive qualitative research and their analysis highlights the ways in which people negotiate and contest land reform realities and politics. By focusing on the diverse meanings of land and competing interpretations of what constitutes success and failure in land reform Brandt and Mkodzongi insist on looking beyond the productivity discourses guiding research and policy making in the field towards an informed view from below.

Contributors are: Kezia Batisai, Femke Brandt, Sarah Bruchhausen, Nerhene Davis, Elene Cloete, Tariro Kamuti, Tarminder Kaur, Grasian Mkodzongi, Camalita Naicker, Fani Ncapayi, Mnqobi Ngubane, and Chizuko Sato.


Edited by Jacqueline Knörr and Wilson Trajano Filho

This book deals with creolization and pidginization of language, culture and identity and makes use of interdisciplinary approaches developed in the study of the latter. Creolization and pidginization are conceptualized and investigated as specific social processes in the course of which new common languages, socio-cultural practices and identifications are developed under distinct social and political conditions and in different historical and local contexts of diversity. The contributions show that creolization and pidginization are important strategies to deal with identity and difference in a world in which diversity is closely linked with inequalities that relate to specific group memberships, colonial legacies and social norms and values.

Anxious Mobilities in Accra and Beyond

Making Modern African Subjects in Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story

Anna-Leena Toivanen


In Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story (1991), the characters are constantly on the move: tropes of mobility recur throughout the novel. Cars, hotels, business and leisure travel, modern technologies and the figure of what can be referred to as the Afropolitan avant la lettre play a pivotal role in embodying meanings that pertain to class, gender, globalization, and consumerism marking the postcolonial African condition, and give the novel an articulate contemporary character. This article adopts a wholesale understanding of mobility in order to explore the ways in which Aidoo’s characters employ different forms of mobility in their processes of self-fashioning as modern African subjects. The article draws attention to the anxiety that informs processes of self-fashioning among urban African elites, caught as they are between the tensions of the traditional and the modern.

Obari Gomba


The Nigerian civil war has left a lasting impact on the politics of Nigeria. It has also provided material for I.N.C. Aniebo’s Rearguard Actions. Given the prior success of his novel The Anonymity of Sacrifice, this collection of short stories expands his creative portfolio on the subject of war. Over and above the predilection of Biafran discourse for blaming others for Biafra’s failure, Aniebo’s depiction of the war calls attention to the failings of Biafra itself. On the strength of Aniebo’s stories, this paper seeks to examine the nature of the abuse of power in Biafra and to show how such abuse helped precipitate the collapse of the breakaway nation-state.

Changing Conceptions of Masculinity in the Marital Landscape of Africa

A Study of Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood

Nii Okain Teiko


Recent critical studies of men have focused on multiple masculinities and the need for a change in theorizing the hegemonic constructions of gender. This growing body of scholarship has influenced literary studies, particularly in the readings of male characters as presented in literary works. The portraiture of the male characters in Aidoo’s Changes and Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood has attracted the attention of critics who examine the conflicted hegemonic constructions of masculinity mediated by the powerful forces of colonialism and modernity. These critics contest the patriarchal privileges of masculinity and redefine the gender constructions of both sexes to reflect current studies which focus on the plurality, fluidity, and complexities of masculine roles. This paper argues that Aidoo and Emecheta’s novels depict a hybridism of masculinities, in the context of marriage, in which both the male and the female characters strive to maintain a balance between their traditional African roles as husbands/wives, fathers/mothers and maintain an imitated eurocentric display of love and affection in enacting their roles in the marital enterprise.

Abba A. Abba


Christopher Okigbo conveyed in his poetry the sense of patriotism and personal anguish at the monstrosity of a benighted nation. Some critics have argued that Okigbo was not only obsessive in his depictions of metaphors that incarnated the recurring trope of death, but also embodied a death wish culminating in his death in the Nigeria–Biafra war. They further argue that he embodied a suicidal impulse that motivated his general conduct and death in that battle. Unfortunately, only a handful of scholars have sought to contest this view and to illuminate Okigbo’s self-immolation in the name of a higher duty. To be sure, suicide and martyrdom may go beyond the question of dying to the problem of laying one’s death dramatically at someone else’s door. Following Kant’s theory of the ethical act, this paper undertakes a critical intervention that reappraises some of Okigbo’s poetry as well as documented accounts of his life in order to identify him appropriately: is he a genuine martyr or a mere suicide who presides ritually over his own dismemberment, or both? Examining lines of his poetry that have been misread as embodying his ‘haunting’ death-wish, on the one hand, and evidence of his self-giving impulse, on the other, the paper seeks to articulate how Okigbo as a tragic poet transcends his destiny by submitting to it—victor and victim at once. In its conclusion, the paper reconciles Okigbo’s will to heroic action with the symbolic meaning that is locked in his poetry in order to justify his ascension to the rank of martyr.

Citizen Journalism and Conflict Transformation

The Ushahidi’s Response to Kenya’s 2008 Post-Election Violence

Toyin Ajao and Cori Wielenga


The ubiquitous Internet platform in Africa has given rise to a new set of non-state actors responding to protracted conflicts through the use of new media technology. As a departure from a state-centric approach to addressing conflict in Africa, this interdisciplinary study explores the contribution of the public in responding to armed conflicts through citizen journalism. To unearth non-violent African digital innovations, this research explored the Ushahidi platform, which emerged as a response to Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence. Using a qualitative method, data was gathered through unstructured in-depth interviews. The data was analysed using thematic analysis. The data showed the transformative role the Ushahidi platform played during Kenya’s electoral violence through crisis-mapping, the early warning multi-agent consortium, a constitutional referendum, and election monitoring. Evidence also emerged regarding the pioneer work of Ushahidi in other non-violent technological involvements in addressing crisis in Kenya.

Creativity and the Burden of Thoughts

Deconstructing Melancholia in Wumi Raji’s Rolling Dreams

Stephen Kekeghe


The art of creative expression is a mentally tasking endeavour which requires intense probing of the creator’s inward states. Since writers create in solitude and and engage in dialogic strategies in shaping their imagery, they manifest ‘normal’ neurotic episodes, which are privileged as markers of artistic genius. Despair has thus been acknowledged as a significant feature of the creative imagination. Many writers script out their distressed moods, a paradoxical catharsis, in artistic mentation, that has become a major issue in contemporary studies of scriptotherapy, especially in Europe and North America. Studies of psychotherapy have revealed that the art of re-creating agonizing experiences brings mental restoration to the writer. Due to the emotional commitment and spontaneity required, poetry is clearly a convenient literary genre for the exploration of despondency and melancholic depression. However, this subject of poetry therapy has not been given adequate attention in Nigerian literary scholarship. The present study attempts an exemplary ‘poetic-diagnosis’ of melancholia in Wumi Raji’s Rolling Dreams. The article relies on psychoanalysis, a theory of the mind, deployed for the analysis of the abject imagery of the poems, and on deconstructionist theory, for autonomous and polysemous investigation of the melancholic poetic canvas of the collection.

Electoral Music Reception

A Meta-Analysis of Electorate Surveys in the Nigerian States of Lagos and Bayelsa

Garhe Osiebe


Audiences in Africa are a grossly under-researched demographic. This paper centres on the comparative analysis of two electoral audience-based surveys conducted between April and September 2012 in the Nigerian states of Bayelsa and Lagos; following the April 2011 presidential election in Nigeria that ushered the erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan into power. The surveys sought to know the electorates’ reaction to the electoral campaign songs that endorsed Jonathan and how these songs informed their choice of candidate. The paper’s analysis combines an appreciation of the surveys’ results and the surveys’ procedure while focusing on the middle-ground between aesthetics and politics in the context.

Maurice Taonezvi Vambe


Recent surges and advances in the popular use of electronic technology such as Internet, email, iPad, iPhone, and touch-screens in Africa have opened up great communicative possibilities among ordinary people whose voices were previously marginalized in traditional elitist media. People far apart geographically and living in different times can communicate rapidly and with great ease. This technological revolution has challenged and broken down boundaries of dependence on television, newspapers, and novels, the traditional forms of communication. It is now possible to upload a novel onto an iPad and read it as one moves from place to place. The burden of carrying hard copies is relieved but not eradicated; in most African countries, including Zimbabwe (the centre of focus in the present article), the creative work of art or hard copy of a novel is still relied upon as source of information. There are creative, experimental innovations in the novel form in Zimbabwe which to some extent can justify one’s speaking of a hypertextual novel. This new type of novel incorporates multiple narratives, and sometimes deliberately uses genres such as the email form as a constitutive narrative style that confirms as well as destabilizes previous assumptions of single coherent stories told from one point of view. Using the concepts of hypertextuality, intertextuality, and Bakhtin’s notions of carnivalesque and heteroglossia in speech and written utterances, this article reconsiders the implications of the presence of ideologies of hypertextuality in one novel from Zimbabwe, Nyaradzo Mtizira’s The Chimurenga Protocol (2008). The article argues that the multiplicity of narratives constitutes the hypertextual dimension of the novelistic form.

Ignatius Chukwumah and Cassandra Ifeoma Nebeife


Sociopolitical phenomena such as corruption, political instability, (domestic) violence, cultural fragmentation, and the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970) have been central themes of Nigerian narratives. Important as these are, they tend to touch on the periphery of the major issue at stake, which is the vector of persecution underlying the Nigerian tradition in general and in modern Igbo Nigerian narratives in particular, novels and short stories written in English which capture, wholly or in part, the Igbo cosmology and experience in their discursive formations. The present study of such modern Igbo Nigerian narratives as Okpewho’s The Last Duty (1976), Iyayi’s Heroes (1986), Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (2007), and other novels and short stories applies René Girard’s theory of the pharmakos (Greek for scapegoat) to this background of persecution, particularly as it subtends the condition of the Igbo in postcolonial Nigeria in the early years of independence.

Azeez Akinwumi Sesan


The popularity of Nollywood movies has established their relevance in cultural studies to interrogating afresh the presumed norms among people of ethno-cultural and racial difference. To this end, film critics have focused their attention on the theme and genre studies of Nollywood movies with a view to relating the issues in the film texts to the often heated sociological debates on coloniality in African socio-cultural and political experiences. Kunle Afolayan’s October 1 contributes to these raging debates through the motif of return (return to self, return of nation, and return to nation) that runs through the film text. This motif of return contributes to the overall film gestalt through characterization and plot. Postcolonial theory is adopted to describe the return motif through the investigation of consciousness, nostalgia, and trauma, as experienced individually or collectively. The theory explains the nature, pattern, and dimensions of adjustment and adaptation of individuals, communities, and the nation to complexity and dynamism of change during colonial encounters and the journey towards political independence on October 1. The kernel of the movie’s argument is that the country’s independence was heralded by hypocrisy, dishonesty, and violence. The movie thus questions the misconceived notion of racial purity by the white racists through their ignoble role in the return process of the country at the attainment of political independence on 1 October 1960.

Augustine Uka Nwanyanwu


Today African literature exhibits and incorporates the decentred realities of African writers themselves as they negotiate and engage with multifarious forms of diaspora experience, dislocation, otherness, displacement, identity, and exile. National cultures in the twenty-first century have undergone significant decentralization. New African writing is now generated in and outside Africa by writers who themselves are products of transcultural forms and must now interrogate existence in global cities, transnational cultures, and the challenges of immigrants in these cities. Very few novels explore the theme of otherness and identity with as much insight as Adichie’s Americanah. The novel brings together opposing cultural forms, at once transcending and celebrating the local, and exploring spaces for the self where identity and otherness can be viewed and clarified. This article endeavours to show how African emigrants seek to affirm, manipulate, and define identity, reclaiming a space for self where migrant culture is marginalized. Adichie’s exemplary focus on transcultural engagement in Americanah provides an accurate representation of present-day African literary production in its dialectical dance between national and international particularities.

Traversing Geography, Attaining Cognition

The Utility of Journey in the Postcolonial African Bildungsroman

Ogaga Okuyade


Although a number of studies of the African bildungsroman exist, they hardly explore the utility of journeying in the development of the protagonist. Some of these studies continue to reiterate the existence of the postcolonial African bildungsroman and its structure or how postcolonial writers have subverted this genre to narrativize the African experience of growth. However, the crucial role of travel in the African bildungsroman remains to be discussed comprehensively. It is my intention, therefore, to address this oversight and begin to fill the gap. My central contention is that travel is an essential catalyst in the process of personal growth. Chimamada Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus will function as my primary text for analysis, but I also make reference to other narratives as ancillary texts in order to accentuate the functionality of journey, its metaphoric implications, and its structural application to Purple Hibiscus as a postcolonial African bildungsroman. In order to understand how mobility facilitates the construction of consciousness in Purple Hibiscus, I situate Kambili’s personal growth around a kind of mobility which resides within the usual-everyday kind of journey, which is by no means mythic, to articulate a template that foregrounds Kambili’s struggle for individuation—familial confinement, separation-cum-isolation, initiation, and return.


Edited by Akinyinka Akinyoade, Ton Dietz and Chibuike Uche

Historically, entrepreneurs have always played a central role in the development of nation states. Aside from rentier states, which depend extensively on the availability of mineral resource rents, most economically prosperous nations in the world have strong, innovative and competitive business enterprises and entrepreneurs as the bedrock of their economic development and prosperity. It was arguably because of the above historical fact that the World Bank in 1989 declared that entrepreneurs will play a central role in transforming African economies. Chapters in this book contribute to our understanding of the theory, structure and practice of entrepreneurship in diverse African countries. Case studies examined include: African multinational banks and businesses, female entrepreneurs, culture and entrepreneurship, finance and entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Contributors include: Akinyinka Akinyoade, Kenneth Amaeshi, Crescence Marie France Okah Atenga, Ton Dietz, Françoise Okah Efogo, Emiel L. Eijdenberg, Abel Ezeoha, Yagoub Ali Gangi, Miguel Heilbron, Uwafiokun Idemudia, Nsubili Isaga, Afam Ituma, Jane N. O. Khayesi, Rebecca I. Kiconco, Jerry Kolo, Peter Knorringa, Addisu Lashitew, André Leliveld, Marta Lindvert, Nnamdi Madichie, Hesham E. Mohamed, Knowledge C. Mpofu, Albogast Kilangi Musabila, Ayodeji Olukoju, Eunice Abam Quaye, Miriam Siun, Arthur Sserwanga, Rob van Tulder, Chibuike Uche and Jaap Voeten.

Livelihoods and Development

New Perspectives

Edited by Leo de Haan

This books aims to further develop theory and practice on people-centred development, in particular on the livelihood approach. It focuses on four contemporary thematic areas, where progress has been booked but also contestation is still apparent: power relations, power struggles and underlying structures; livelihood trajectories and livelihood pathways: house, home and homeland in the context of violence; and mobility and immobility.
Contemporary livelihood studies aim to contribute to the understanding of poor people’s lives with the ambition to enhance their livelihoods. Nowadays livelihood studies work from an holistic perspective on how the poor organize their livelihoods, in order to understand their social exclusion and to contribute to interventions and policies that intend to countervail that.

Contributors are: Clare Collingwood Esland, Ine Cottyn, Jeanne de Bruijn, Leo de Haan, Charles do Rego, Benjamin Etzold, Urs Geiser, Jan Willem le Grand, Griet Steel, Paul van Lindert, Annelies Zoomers.

Les mémoires de Maalaŋ Galisa sur le royaume confédéré du Kaabu

Un récit en langue mandinka de la Guinée-Bissau


Cornelia Giesing and Denis Creissels

Edition d'un récit en mandinka par Maalaŋ Galisa (octobre 1988) sur la constitution et les conditions de vie au Kaabu, territoire situé entre la Gambie, le Sénégal et la Guinée-Bissau, connu depuis le 16e siècle et détruit vers 1867. La gamme des sujets couvre: le peuplement, le gouvernement, les codes de conduite des guerriers, religieux, esclaves et 'hôtes étrangers', les règles de l'esclavage, du mariage et de la succession, la coexistence des religions, les relations entre groupes d'âge et de genre.
Le texte diffère d'autres qui se focalisent sur un unique fondateur-patriarche, Tiramakan de l'épopée de Sunjata. Galisa parle du sud-est du Kaabu, à la frontière avec la Guinée. Il ajoute des couleurs locales au modèle mandinka, évoquant la puissance féminine et certains conflits violents.

Edition of a recital in Mandinka by Maalaŋ Galisa (October 1988) on the political constitution and living conditions in Kaabu, a territory situated between present Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, known since the 16th century, definitely destroyed in 1867. The narrative presents a range of topics covering governance, codes of conduct of warriors, clerics, slaves and 'strangers', rules of slavery, marriage and succession, the cohabitation of different religions, relations of age and gender.
This text is distinctive from others focussing on a single founder-patriarch, Tiramakan of the Epic of Sunjata. Galisa focuses on South-eastern Kaabu, bordering on the region of Labé (Guinea). He adds local colours to the Mandinka model, depicting powerful women and violent conflicts resulting from injustice.


Eric Montgomery and Christian Vannier

In this book, Eric Montgomery and Christian Vannier provide an ethnographically informed text on the cultural meanings and practices surrounding the gods and metaphysics of Vodu, as they relate to daily life in an ethnic Ewe fishing community on the coast of southern Togo. The authors approach this spirit possession and medicinal order through “shrine ethnography,” understanding shrines as parts of sacred landscapes that are ecological, economic, political, and social. Giving voice to practitioners and situating shrines and Vodu itself into the history and political economy of the region make this text pertinent to the social changes and global relevance of Millennial Africa.


Edited by Kurt Beck, Gabriel Klaeger and Michael Stasik

The Making of the African Road offers an account of the long-distance road in Africa. Being a latecomer to automobility and far from saturated mass mobility, the African road continues to be open for diverging interpretations and creative appropriations. The road regime on the continent is thus still under construction, and it is made in more than one sense: physically, socially, politically, morally and cosmologically. The contributions to this volume provide first-hand anthropological insights into the infrastructural, economic, historical as well as experiential dimensions of the emerging orders of the African road.

Contributors are: Kurt Beck, Amiel Bize, Michael Bürge, Luca Ciabarri, Gabriel Klaeger, Mark Lamont, Tilman Musch, Michael Stasik, Rami Wadelnour.

Godwin Aondofa Ikyer

The world is enmeshed in a political and economic downturn, the environment is increasingly being polluted and destroyed, and development models, mostly Western, have cruised abroad, to disappointing gasps of neoliberal delight, in their aspiration to charm a wider population. Developing countries and marginal communities together with their subsuming cultures, ethno-science, engineering, technology, arts and crafts, and creative genius are undermined, their values reduced to mere ‘primitivism’, their vibrant intrinsic strength attenuated by the mesmerizing jargon of technocracy into genetically modified values endorsed by Western-trained intellectuals in these same communities. This dynamic has denied these communities the opportunity to explore their own natural and intellectual potential for culturally based science and to organize and strategize folklore for environmental and historically founded Nigerian truths that can help in the exploitation of resources for good health and economic development. The essay investigates this culturally-based science, proposing the deployment of folklore with a view to full participation in cultural science-based research and application. The scholarly task is to suggest ways of bridging the gap between the potentialities of autochthonous lore and Western science.

A Fete of Lamentations

Celebrating the Nigerian State through Ademola Dasylva’s Songs of Odamolugbe

Stephen O. Solanke

The Nigerian political milieu has, for more than five decades since independence, been bedevilled by adventurist civilian and military leaders, coups d’ état, and a seemingly ‘docile’ citizenry (who receive the ‘fallout’ of bad governance). This political landscape saw a handful of democratic governments (two overthrown by putsch). These leadership swaps have resulted in no major changes in the socio-political and economic lives of the led. In his poem collection Songs of Odamolugbe, Ademola Dasylva explores imagery, realistic symbolism, and revolutionary poetry to paint, recall, and re-live various past and present debilitating national issues engendered by groups and personalities. This essay draws on Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theory of the unconscious. Freud distinguishes between psychoanalysis as i) a method for investigating unconscious mental processes and ii) a method for treating neurotic disorders. There is the subtle examination of the mental workings of the leadership and the led in and towards governance. This essay seeks to explore how Dasylva exposes leaders’ mental flaws, egoistic behaviour, and wrongly placed ‘patriotism’ and seeks redeeming positives in his poetry of social protest and resistance. The poetry rejects the cerebral, laissez-faire ‘sit-down-look’ attitude of the people, encouraging instead a different type of analytical and active ‘patriotism’ imbued with the fresh spirit of ‘Naija’. The essay affirms that there should be full and positive participation in the polity and development of the country by both the leaders and the led.

From Sidi to Ene

The Evolutionary Phases of the African Woman in Nigerian Theatre

E.B. Adeleke

To say that African women have come a long way is to state the obvious. In economic, spiritual, political, and educational terms, African women have made significant contributions to Africa’s development. In literature generally, but especially in drama, the phases of the African woman are easily traceable. The maxim used to be ‘the place of a woman is in the kitchen’ or ‘women are to be seen and not heard’. Accordingly, African women were depicted in early modern African plays as docile, submissive, cooperative, and obedient. However, contemporary African drama shows that African women can no longer be tagged in this way. Therefore, in this essay, exploring various shades of feminism, we trace the evolutionary phases of African women from Wole Soyinka’s Sidi in The Lion and the Jewel to Tracy Utoh-Ezeajugh’s Ene in Our Wives Have Gone Mad Again, to show that African women have developed from the docile to the rebellious and even ruthless. We shall draw our illustrations from plays across Africa.

Morning Sir!

Identity Negotiation in Nigerian Army Barracks

Akinmade Timothy Akande

Nigerian military army barracks are a rich domain in which soldiers and officers display different strands of their identity. A typical army barracks in Nigeria often accommodates many ethnic groups owing to the federal policy governing the recruitment of both soldiers and officers. Thus, it is common in the barracks for military men to be aware of their ethnic, linguistic, religious, and regional affiliations and to relate to one another based on these various affiliations. It is against this backdrop that the present study seeks to investigate how soldiers and officers make use of linguistic resources available to them to convey religious, occupational, ethnic, and linguistic identity in the barracks. Data for the study were collected from 46 military men, soldiers and officers, in four military barracks. The locationss are Akure, Enugu, Saki, and Zaria Barracks. The instruments used in gathering the data were questionnaire, face-to-face interviews, and participant observation. The study revealed that both soldiers and officers represent their occupational identity through the specific use of certain lexical items and slang, while their ethnic identity is signified through the use of ethnic and other local languages. Their personal names were also observed to be symptomatic of their religious identity.

Tony E. Afejuku and E.B. Adeleke

Femi Osofisan belongs to the new breed of writers, inadequately referred to as the ‘second generation of writers’. An accomplished writer whose works include plays, poems, essays, and novels, Osofisan is widely regarded as the most significant playwright in Africa after Soyinka. As a committed playwright, Osofisan focuses on the reappraisal of his immediate society and the challenges of living in this society. He calls attention to all that is undesirable in the politics, economy, and religion of contemporary Nigeria and asks for a change of attitude which, hopefully, will bring sanity to the country. One of the means by which Osofisan achieves his artistic objective is the use of lore from Yorùbá mythology. Specifically, we shall show in this essay that Osofisan makes use of the myths of Ṣango and Èṣù and the legends of Môrèmi and Solarin as a means of thematic exploitation. By so doing, he creates a unique contemporary Nigerian theatre which other playwrights emulate and develop. We shall use Many Colours Make the Thunder King, Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels, Morountodun, and Who’s Afraid of Solarin? as our illustrative texts.

Nigerian Children’s Literature

Harnessing Its Potential for National Integration

Idaevbor Bello and James O. Okpiliya

This essay argues for the potential of children’s literature in Nigeria as a genre serving as a means of building nationhood in the minds of children growing up in the country. It posits that because of the greed of the ruling elites, the potential in terms of both human and natural resources was frittered away after independence, thereby vitiating the function of children’s literature in helping reinforce Nigeria’s presence in the comity of nations. It is still possible to retrace our steps as a country by progressively deploying such literature, through its themes and character delineation, to inculcating in children a sense of nationhood and patriotism so they can relate across both ethnic and religious divisions to espouse ideals as a people with a common destiny. The literature that is the focus here is that written in English as the language of interaction among the different ethnic groups in the country, and as the language of instruction in our schools.

The Poet as Town-Crier

The Example of Niyi Osundare in Village Voices

Idaevbor Bello

This essay proceeds from the consideration of literature as a medium of disseminating information to society at large, and argues that poetry, being a branch of literature, lends its resources and compact form to this function of information dissemination. It goes further to argue that Niyi Osundare in Village Voices, like the town-crier in our traditional societies, clearly brings to the attention of the leaders and the led important developments within society. However, he does not stop at informing society of those developments, especially the negative conduct of its leaders, but goes further to warn the latter of the consequences of persisting in their negative ways, and, addressing the mass of the people, calls for the necessary action that would extricate and free them from their bad leaders.

Oyeh O. Otu

The prolificity, contemporaneity, and topicality of Wale Okediran’s themes are irrefutable indices to his claim to a place in the Nigerian literary canon. His engagement with and exposé of Nigeria’s intractable neurotic leadership disorders are timely and highly commendable. Also worthy of note are the promotion and popularity that the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) has given his latest novel, Tenants of the House, as it fills a significant gap and promises a positive turn in the development of Nigerian literature. This essay examines Okediran’s topical themes in relation to his craftsmanship; it investigates his deployment of aesthetic devices in the realization of his artistic vision. It fundamentally asks: what constitutes literariness in Okediran’s novels? Where does this belong in the Nigerian tradition of the novel? If it marks a shift from the conventional novelistic tradition, in what ways does it advance it? Considering that Okediran is one of Nigeria’s most prolific contemporary writers, it is important to determine his place in the Nigerian canon and also to analyse critically the factors responsible for that position.

The Predicament of Women in a Postmodern World

A Reading of Njabulo Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela

Dele Bamidele and Blessing Abuh

Feminism has no unanimous acceptance in Africa, so women who are associated with it are regarded as deviants or radicals who have chosen to kick against the norms and traditions of traditional Africa. This study explores the plight of suppression and exploitation experienced by women and also revealed the dangerous and difficult situations that often reduce women to mental wrecks. Njabulo Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela is the focus of this essay, as the novel accounts for the entrapment and subjugation of women caused by traditional laws and customs, as well as their determined effort to survive in a patriarchal culture. Njabulo examined the lives of five South African women in post-apartheid South Africa, who had to wait indefinitely for their absent husbands. This essay attempts to create awareness of the need for societal reforms in order to improve the lot of women in patriarchal societies and encourage cooperation between women in order to stand up to the challenges of life and assert their individual worth and value, as espoused in the novel. This study concludes that the subjugation of women by patriarchal societies is to the detriment of the family and society at large. Thus, there is a need to re-evaluate and redefine gender roles in African societies in order to establish mutual understanding and relationships between the genders.

“Sex, Pleasures, Dangers, Love and Lies!”

Representing Female Sexualities in Selected Contemporary Poetry by Malawian Women

Asante Lucy Mtenje

This essay examines how contemporary Malawian female poets writing in the post-dictatorship era engage with aspects that inflect female sexuality such as eroticism, sexual desire, marriage, sexual violence, and HIV/AIDS through their poetry and how they represent these aspects against normative expectations of gender and sexuality. I am interested in how these poets depict the complex mediation of female sexualities by the state, the family, religious, and cultural bodies and how, in turn, they represent sexuality as simultaneously a domain of restriction, repression, and danger as well as a domain of exploration, pleasure, and agency. Through an analysis of selected works by Malawian female poets, I examine how the authors negotiate issues of female sexuality within the new democratic dispensation which have traditionally been relegated to the margins in favour of more politically ‘relevant’ issues. I argue that these poets challenge the monolithic status quo through which Malawian women’s sexualities have been constructed by portraying the nuances, complexities, and ambiguities that characterize female sexuality in Malawi.

Producing Stateness

Police Work in Ghana


Jan Beek

Jan Beek’s book explores everyday police work in an African country and analyses how police officers, despite prevailing stereotypes about failed states and African police, produce stateness. Drawing on highly readable ethnographic descriptions, the book shows that Ghanaian police practices often involve the exchange of money (bribes), the use of violence and the influence of politicians. However, such informal practices allow police officers to deal with the inconsistent necessities and the social context of their work. Ultimately, Ghanaian police officers are also inspired by a bureaucratic ethos and their practices are guided by it. Stateness, the book argues, is a quality of organizations, gradually emerging out of such everyday encounters. Producing Stateness allows a close look at the realities of police work in Africa and provides surprising insights into the rationalities of policing and state bureaucracies everywhere.

Rethinking Private Higher Education

Ethnographic Perspectives from the Middle East and Beyond


Edited by Daniele Cantini

Rethinking Private Higher Education takes the university as a core institution in modern nation states, which is currently undergoing a serious revision. It offers fresh insights into the actual meaning of ‘private’ in different higher education contexts, contributing to a deeper understanding of the actual effects of global policies in local contexts through ethnographies. This book explores how private universities were established, their context and history, and their changing business models and operations.

The strengths of this book are its ethnographic detail, which shows the complexity and fast changing forms of private higher education, and its reluctance to jump to simplified labelling of public and private. It is a model for further ethnographic studies of local developments in higher education.

Contributors are: Ayça Alemdaroğlu, Daniele Cantini, Carmela Chávez Irigoyen, Enrico Ille, Sylvie Mazzella, Alexander Mitterle, Annemarie Profanter, and Susan Wright.

Subverting Nationalism

Historicizing Horrors of the Past in Femi Fatoba’s They Said I Abused the Government and Wole Soyinka’s Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known

Niyi Akingbe

The thematics of Femi Fatoba’s They Said I Abused the Government (2001) and Wole Soyinka’s Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known (2002) demonstrate the potential of art to bear witness to the bizarre, depressing anomie bedevilling Nigeria between 1993 and 1998. This anomie was ruinously orchestrated by the power-hungry military, who annulled the free and fair presidential election won by Chief M.K.O. Abiola. This military incursion into Nigeria’s political sphere was facilitated by a nebulous nationhood plagued by contending differences among its federating units. The notorious brutality of General Abacha’s regime was a cavalcade of incarceration and killings of real and imagined political dissidents. Especially, outspoken politicians who fell victim to unstable power-plays were kept in detention facilities across the country. They Said I Abused the Government and Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known’s articulation of these ‘years of the locusts’ is epitomized by the closing of newspapers, brain drain, and the imagery of stasis and displacement. These occurrences are captured by the accusatory tone of Femi Fatoba and Wole Soyinka’s poetics as they protest the military brigandage in their works. The essay seeks to explicate how protest and satire have been harnessed to articulate the subversion of nationalism in postcolonial Nigeria.

Fawzia Mustafa

Ismael R. Mbise’s novel Blood on Our Land (1974) re-creates the events known as the Meru Land Case, when in 1951 a group of Wameru from northern Tanganyika petitioned the UN to prevent the British authorities from evicting them from their land. The petition drew international attention to the area for a fleeting moment and, though unsuccessful, it has since entered the national imaginary as an original gesture of peaceful resistance to colonial control. Mbise’s re-creation has also been read as a critical allegory of the implementation of villagization associated with the policies of Ujamaa. The novel does this and more in its brilliant comparative analysis of the vectors of violence within the politics of language, history, and representation, the practices of Indirect Rule and its force of law, and development and its mechanics of ‘modernization’: a triple play.


Dorrit van Dalen

The seventeenth century was a period of major social change in central sudanic Africa. Islam spread from royal courts to rural communities, leading to new identities, new boundaries and new tasks for experts of the religion. Addressing these issues, the Bornu scholar Muḥammad al-Wālī acquired an exceptional reputation. Dorrit van Dalen’s study places him within his intellectual environment, and portrays him as responding to the concerns of ordinary Muslims. It shows that scholars on the geographical margins of the Muslim world participated in the debates in the centres of Muslim learning of the time, but on their own terms. Al-Wālī’s work also sheds light on a century in the Islamic history of West Africa that has until now received little attention.

A Decade of Namibia

Politics, Economy and Society – The Era Pohamba, 2004-2015

Henning Melber

Hifikepunye Pohamba has been the second Head of State since Namibia’s Independence in 1990. As successor to Sam Nujoma he held office for two terms from March 2005 to March 2015. At the end of his presidency he was awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize for good governance as the fifth statesman of the continent. This overview covers the twelve years from his election in 2004 until his retirement as documented in the chapters previously published in the Africa Yearbook. Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara, reviewing Namibia’s development during his presidency. An introductory analysis putting the Pohamba era into the context of Namibian society precedes the chronological account.


Hilary C. Palmer and Malyn D.D. Newitt

Henry Edward O’Neill was British Consul in Mozambique from 1879 to 1889. He completed thirteen exploratory journeys in northern Mozambique, including the first exploration of the Makua and Lomwe countries between Mozambique Island and Lake Malawi. This recreation of the book, which he never published, makes available for the first time a large body of information on the peoples of northern Mozambique (a region still little researched), on the history of the slave trade in the western Indian Ocean and on the expansion of Portuguese rule and the resistance to it by powerful local communities. The Introduction includes the first ever biographical study of O’Neill and his contribution to African exploration.

Ademola Kazeem Fayemi

Discourse on the possibility and necessity of an African environmental ethics is widespread in contemporary African studies, albeit with new dimensions and emphasis. With the growing work of such scholars as S. Ogungbemi, A. Fadahunsi, G. Tangwa, P. Ojomo, C.J. Ekwealo, and W. Kelbessa, among others exploring (in different ways) the thesis of indigenous African environmental values and principles which are considered sacrosanct in the restoration of humans and the environment in Africa, it is less controversial whether or not there is awareness of environmental ethical thinking among Africans. Beyond this theoretical polemic, the present essay observes the paucity of environmental activism and movements in Nigeria, whose underlying principles and tenets are seen to be incongruent with the ostensible African environmental ethics and values. This lacuna, it is here argued, aligns with the failure to match theory with praxis in many African states—the problem of wrong prioritizing and a conceptually deficient framework for action. This essay accordingly questions some previous outlines of African ethical environmental theory, with a view to establishing a cogent hermeneutico-reconstructive theory of African environmental management, one that gives prominence to ethical theorizing without neglecting activism.

Clifford Ezekwe Nwanna

Most Western legal philosophers did not have Africa in mind when institutionalzing the meaning of law; hence, they consider African customary law as obscure and undesirable. This Western notion of the African judicial system is misleading—there was no record of breakdown of law and order in pre-colonial Africa, where only customary laws operated. This essay examines the consequences of the imposition of the Western legal system on Africa using the Awka civil war (1900–1904) as an example. The study reveals that the African traditional legal system was broadly accepted by the people as a means of providing stability, certainty, and social change. It represents the indigenous and authentic law of the people.

Between the Subversive Pen and the Blasphemous Microphone

A Comparative Study of Calixthe Beyala’s Amours sauvages and Saint Janet’s Faaji Plus

Uchenna Bethrand Anih

Iconoclasm is a term that has been used to characterize any subversive, transgressive, and blasphemous adventure. There is abundant evidence that the African female creative impulse is geared towards subverting the existing social order as dominated and controlled by men. The two African female artists whose works are analysed in this study employ vivid sexual imagery to challenge the hegemony of male-oriented discourse. This essay examines the iconoclastic tendencies to be found in the Cameroonian Calixthe Beyala’s Amours sauvages and the Nigerian Saint Janet’s Faaji Plus. It concludes that although the two writers belong to different linguistic and geographical regions, and indeed to different generations, their works provide clear evidence of subversive art and depict a radical reaction to phallocentric norms and values in the African context.


Hilary C. Palmer and Malyn D.D. Newitt

Braving the Storm

A Brief Review

Michael Tosin Gbogi

Contesting Meanings in the Postmodern Age

The Example of Nigerian Hip Hop Music

Michael Tosin Gbogi

Recent years have seen an explosion in the production and consumption of hip hop music in Nigeria. From the MTV Africa Music Awards to the BET Awards, Nigerian hip hop heads have continued to push the boundaries of their music on the international front, linking it, in the process, to a sort of global Hip Wide Web. Yet, despite these breakthroughs, the general perception of the discursive landscape of this music is not altogether positive in Nigeria itself. In particular, the message(s) of the music’s lyrics has been severally described as a venture that has no meaning beyond its noisy character. This is especially the case when the music is being evaluated by older generations of Nigerian critics who do not share in, and are almost averse to, the hip hop culture that has newly ascended as the dominant youth culture. Problematizing these evaluations under five paradigms—crossing, multilingualism, and styling, repetition, inversion of order, meaninglessness, and pornography—this essay contends that what appears as meaninglessness in Nigerian hip hop music inscribes a masked matrix of meanings in the postmodern age. It argues that the elements of the lyrical gamut that are often perceived as meaningless are in fact meaningful and valuable resources that the artists, and by extension their audience members, harness to perform their generational ingroupness and multiplex postmodern identities.

Creating a Bildungsroman from a Collage

Re-Reading Shimmer Chinodya’s Can We Talk and Other Stories

Ifeyinwa Genevieve Okolo

The essay re-reads all of the stories in Shimmer Chinodya’s collection Can We Talk and Other Stories as one entity—a collage—that establishes the framework of a bildungsroman. Here, the exploration of the bildungsroman is limited to the tracing of levels/stages of growth and is extended to the protagonist’s adult life, against the traditional early years of life. From the opening story, of a three-year-old protagonist looking at the adult world through the stories of different protagonists who grapple with different stages of life, to the last story, of an embittered husband in a dysfunctional marriage, the collection strongly suggests a conscious arrangement conveying a sense of a coming of age, both individual and national. In essence, at the end of reading the collection, there is a strong indication that the different situations of the lives of the different protagonists of the eleven stories in the collection build up to yield a unified sense of growth.

Grace Uchechukwu Adinku

The girl child’s transition from childhood to adulthood, Dipo, is of prime importance in the development of the Krobo community of Ghana. The transition acknowledges the part women play in the welfare of society; hence the performance of elaborate puberty rites for girls. The performance of Dipo puberty rites is therefore regarded as a means of unifying teenage women in their social role and integrating the arts of the Krobo people. Furthermore, it reveals the significance of these different art forms in the life of the Krobo people and in Dipo performance in particular. The problem, however, is that although there are several artistic elements embedded in the performance of Dipo, they have not been documented as art forms; nor have they constituteded a site for critical discussion and appraisal of Ghanaian performing arts. Early historical and anthropological scholarship on Dipo almost completely overlooks these artistic elements. This essay responds to this critical gap by situating Dipo in the context of these artifacts as displayed in multiple phases of ritual ‘installation’ performance. This essay also identifies and examines the specific artistic elements featuring in the rite in order to highlight their embeddedness in and significance to the Krobo people, and, by extension, Ghana. The artistic elements in Dipo include ritualized visual, verbal, body, and theatrical elements, all of which are active and inseparable in the rites. As such, these art forms are analysed and discussed by means of figures and plates, which confirm visually their existence, aesthetic significance, and cultural value.

Environmental Sustainability

African Womanist Response in Ojaide’s The Activist

Charles A. Bodunde and Saeedat B. Aliyu

Western ecofeminists’ perspective on the connections between the domination, oppression, and abuse of women and the abuse of the natural environment would be an overgeneralization of the challenges facing women and the natural environment across cultures and spaces. The position in this essay is that the challenges faced by women derive mostly from cultural factors whereas the contemporary degradation of the environment stems mainly from economic considerations. This essay, rather than associating the domination of African women with the pillaging of the natural environment, contends that African women themselves are frontline environmental activists who see the linkage between sustaining the natural environment and the successful fulfilment of the biological and cultural role of nurturing. By stressing the importance of achieving environmental sustainability, the African perspective of a symbiotic relationship between man and the environment emerges. This essay thus concludes that as the contemporary world assumes concern for gender equality and responsibility for environmental sustainability, ingenious solutions to these challenges from Africa need to be recognized, adopted, and adapted to diversify global approaches to the challenges of gender equity and environmental balance.

Ethnic Conflict in Burundi

Implications for Education and Culture

Marie-Thérèse Toyi

In spite of the laudable political and humanitarian efforts to tackle the cyclical ethnic-related conflicts in Burundi, the impact of the refugee and returnee phenomena on the culture, education, and economy of the country and beyond has not yet received its full due attention. This study aims at increasing awareness on this issue. It first identifies the refugee- and returnee-related new linguistic trends in Burundi, together with their subsequent impact on education. How many Burundians learned Kiswahili in exile in Tanzania or in the Democratic Republic of Congo, not only for educational or professional purposes but also for survival, but who, back in Burundi, saw their language of exile become an obstacle to the pursuit of a standard education? Why has their plight not attracted as much attention as did that of war orphans, widows, and former child soldiers? This study also surveys the cultural exchanges between Burundian refugees and returnees with their host country and their motherland.