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The Spatial Factor in African History

The Relationship of the Social, Material, and Perceptual

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Edited by Allen Marvin Howard and Richard Matthew Shain

The authors of this inter-disciplinary collection examine the role of space in six areas of West, Central and East Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They demonstrate the active quality of space and analyze the ways in which people have contested and shaped space, including responses to crises. In addition, a lengthy essay re-interprets tropical African history, 1800-1930, using spatial theory. Contributors look at how people have constructed mental maps, used discourse to organize territories, and perceived social landscapes. The studies employ a tri-level approach, one that moves from specific places to regions to macro-regional or transnational systems and back again. Authors draw upon written and oral sources to reconstruct the past and employ innovative mapping techniques to illustrate spatial dynamics.

To Subsidise My Income

Urban Farming in an East-African Town

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Dick Foeken

Urban agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa has gained momentum in recent years in terms of research and policy, as well as in practical terms. The paradox of accelerated urbanisation and the increase in urban agriculture in developing countries is widely recognised. More than ever before, urban residents all over the developing world are cultivating urban plots and/or keeping animals to sustain their livelihoods. This volume looks at urban farming in the Kenyan town of Nakuru and is based on surveys and in-depth studies carried out by various researchers, including Kenyan Masters students. It considers farming techniques, the socio-economic aspects of urban farming and the environmental issues involved, and there is also a chapter on school farming. Specific attention is paid to urban farming in relation to poverty, with the conclusion being that those who depend on urban agriculture the most are, in fact, benefiting the least from it.

Servants of the Sharia (2 vols)

The Civil Register of the Qadis' Court of Brava 1893-1900

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Edited by Alessandra Vianello and Mohamed Kassim

This volume contains the full Qadi Records of Brava (1893 – 1900). The importance of these records for those studying Southern Somalia and the Swahili coast cannot be overestimated. The register is like a daily journal of events in a typical Swahili town. The information in the records covers a wide range of issues: Slavery, the role of women and their usage of the court system in the 19th century, the role of the Ulama, trade, inheritance, et cetera. The register is signed and stamped by the Italian Commander/governor in Asmara, Eritrea where it was taken and authenticated and bears the Official Stamp of the Royal Italian Government. This volume contains both the Arabic original and a translation into English.

Mobile Africa

Changing Patterns of Movement in Africa and Beyond

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Edited by Rijk van Dijk, Dick Foeken and Mirjam de Bruijn

This anthology deals with the complexity, variety and experience of all the forms of mobility we witness today in Sub-Saharan Africa. Three sets of issues are being discussed.
First, the concept of mobility itself is considered and how it is conceived of in distinction from sedentarity. Second, which forms of mobility can be distinguished, not only from the perspective of Western social sciences, but also from the perspective of people's own experiences, ideas, notions, etc? Social science in Africa has particularly focused on rural-urban migration, but it is clear that there are many other forms as well. Third, the concept of mobility concerns not only geographical space, but there are other 'spaces' to consider as well. In addition to 'forms of mobility' there is a 'mobility of forms' in which the perception of those other spaces plays a crucial role.
In short, the book intends to turn the whole notion of mobility as a supposedly rupturing phenomenon on its head, emphasizing that rather through travelling connections are established and continuity is experienced. We are challenged to delve into the traveller's mind, to think and follow their multi-spatial livelihoods and to explore what it means to people if they move in a variety of spaces.

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Bernth Lindfors

Some of the essays in this book - notably those concerned with examining Western influences on sub-Saharan African writings (tracing Shakespearean and Brechtian echoes in Nigerian drama, for instance, or following the footprints of Sherlock Holmes in Swahili detective fiction) - fit the traditional definition of comparative literature. These are essays that cross national literary boundaries and sometimes transcend language barriers as well. They look for correspondences in related literary phenomena from widely dispersed areas of the globe, bringing together what is akin from what is akimbo. But most of the essays included here involve closer comparisons. Two focus on works produced in different languages within the same African nation (Yoruba and English in Nigeria, Afrikaans and English in South Africa), and one presents a taxonomy of dominant literary forms in English in three East African nations. Others concentrate on the oeuvre of a single author, and on the likely future output of exiled writers who soon will be returning home. One essay contrasts discursive tendencies within the same text, and another investigates conflicting African and Western religious beliefs. A great variety of comparative methodologies is deployed here; not all of these are transnational, multilingual or pluralistic in scope. The last two groups of essays deal with matters of characterization and authorial reputation. Studies of the depiction of African Americans, politicians and women in a wide range of African literary texts are followed by an assessment of the current standing of anglophone Africa's leading authors. In entering such highly contested terrain, the comparatist approach adopted has been that of the neutral witness to early African attempts - comparatist in their own way - to define an African canon of classic texts.
Authors discussed include: Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana); Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark, Cyprian Ekwensi, D.O. Fagunwa, Wole Soyinka and Amos Tutuola (Nigeria); Peter Abrahams, J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Alex La Guma, Thomas Mofolo, Es'kia Mphahlele and Karel Schoeman (South Africa).

Sukuma Labor Songs from Western Tanzania

'We Never Sleep, We Dream of Farming'

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Frank Gunderson

This volume is an interpretive analysis of a collection of 335 song texts treated as primary historical sources. The collection highlights the cultural practices that link music with labor in Sukuma communities in northwestern Tanzania. These linkages are evident in the music of the elephant, snake, and porcupine hunting associations that flourished in the precolonial epoch, in the nineteenth-century regional and long-distance porter associations, and in the farmer associations that have proliferated since the beginning of the twentieth century. Acting primarily as an interpretive editor, the author collaborated with several Tanzanian scholars and translators towards fine-tuning the translation of these texts into English, and gathered testimonies in order to create succinct interpretive statements about the songs.

The African Music Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology is pleased to announce that the 2012 Kwabena Nketia Book Prize has been awarded to Frank Gunderson for his book, Sukuma Labor Songs from Western Tanzania: "We Never Sleep, We Dream of Farming, published by Brill in 2010. Grounded in nearly twenty years of ethnographic research, we congratulate Professor Gunderson for this excellent publication in African music studies

Writing for Kenya

The Life and Works of Henry Muoria

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Wangari Muoria-Sal, John Lonsdale and Derek Peterson

Edited by Bodil Folke Frederiksen

Henry Muoria (1914-97), self-taught journalist and pamphleteer, helped to inspire Kenya's nationalisms before Mau Mau. The pamphlets reproduced here, in Gikuyu and English, contrast his own originality with the conservatism of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first President. The contributing editors introduce Muoria's political context, tell how three remarkable women sustained his families' life; and remember him as father. Courageous intellectual, political, and domestic life here intertwine.

Nomads in the Shadows of Empires

Contests, Conflicts and Legacies on the Southern Ethiopian-Northern Kenyan Frontier

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Gufu Oba

In Nomads in the Shadows of Empires Gufu Oba presents accounts of why the legacies of banditry and ethnic conflicts have proved so difficult to resolve along the southern Ethiopian and northern Kenyan frontier. Using interpretative and comparative methods to dialogue the relationships between different political actors on both sides of the frontier, the work captures the dynamics of political events related to imperial contests over borders and trans-frontier treaty. A complex evolution of inter-societal relations, as well as the relations between partitioned nomads and the imperial states had resulted in persistent conflicts. This work improves the understanding why frontier pastoralists continue to experience conflict over land, even after the transfer of the tribal territories to the imperial and postcolonial states.

Please click here to watch an interview with the author in Oromo.

Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Kenya

A Social History of the Shifta Conflict, c. 1963-1968

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Hannah Whittaker

In Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Kenya, Hannah Whittaker offers an in-depth analysis of the Somali secessionist war in northern Kenya, 1963-68. Combining archival and oral data, the work captures the complexity of the conflict, which combined a series of local, national and regional confrontations. The conflict was not, Whittaker argues, evidence of the potency of Somali nationalism, but rather an early expression of its failure. The book also deals with the Kenyan government’s response to the conflict as part of the entrenchment of African colonial boundaries at independence. Contrary to current narratives of an increasingly borderless world, Whittaker reminds us of the violence that is produced by state-led attempts to shore up contested borderlands. This work provides vital insights into the history behind the on-going troubled relationship between the Kenyan state and its Somali minority, and between Kenya and Somalia.