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In: Strength beyond Structure
A Socio-Cultural History of SNV Netherlands Development Organisation
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The history of development cooperation has attracted very little research to date. This volume offers an innovative interpretation by considering the history of SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, which has been in existence for over forty years now. Through SNV’s history, an analysis emerges of the role of the Netherlands in development cooperation and the attitudes of Dutch society towards it over the last fifty years as well as the changing ideas, practices and policies in development work more generally.
The views and expectations of (former) SNV staff and those of local participants who were ultimately to benefit from the development activities were the focus of this historical research. This has resulted in a socio-cultural history ‘from below’ rather than a dry description of the organisation’s administrative changes and formal bureaucratic structures.
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In: Afrika Focus
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In most of the literature on the subject, urban and rural areas are presented as real physical entities that are geographically determined. Obviously such an approach is important and necessary, but in this contribution I want to draw attention to ‘the urban’ and ‘the rural’ as ideas, as items of cultural landscape rather than as physical facts. This will result both in a history of ideas and a social history of the war in Angola as experienced by civilians from the south-eastern part of the country. The article is based on a case-study that deals with the history of south-east Angola, an area that was in a state of war from 1966 to 2002. In the course of the 1990s I spoke with immigrants from this region who were resident in Rundu, Northern Namibia, mostly as illegal refugees. In our conversations the immigrants explained how the categories ‘town’ and ‘country’ came into being during colonialism and what changes occurred after the war started. They argued that during the war agriculture in the countryside became well-nigh impossible and an opposition between ‘town’ and ‘bush’ came into being that could have lethal consequences for the civilian population living in the region. This case-study on south-east Angola shows the importance of a historical approach to categories such as ‘urbanity’ and ‘rurality’ as such categories may undergo relatively rapid change – in both discourse and practice.

Open Access
In: Afrika Focus
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In: Afrika Focus
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Abstract

The language of African literature has been the subject of fierce debate. Often the start of this debate is placed at the Makerere conference in the 1960s and summarized by the different opinions of two titans of African literature - Achebe and Ngũgĩ. While Achebe sees no problems in using English as an African writer, for Ngũgĩ_ this is anathema: he views English as an imperial language imposed on Africans during the colonial era.

Here I argue that this summary does not suffice, even the case of the Gikuyu language alone shows that the debates are much older and much more complex. For Ngũgĩ using his Gikuyu mother tongue has revolutionary implications as it resists imperial imposition. Yet, independent school organizers of the 1920s and 1930s refused to have Gikuyu imposed on them by the colonial educational system: they regarded learning ‘correct’ English in school as a means to strive for self-mastery. And, for the Gikuyu author par excellence Gakaara wa Wanjaũ, decolonization meant speaking and writing ‘correctly’, in whatever language.

Open Access
In: African Futures