The Speed of Change

Motor Vehicles and People in Africa, 1890-2000

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In the early 1900s the motor-vehicle (car, bus, lorry or motor-cycle) was introduced in sub-Saharan Africa. Initially the plaything and symbol of colonial domination, the motor-vehicle transformed the economic and social life of the continent. Indeed, the motor-vehicle is arguably the single most important factor for change in Africa in the twentieth century. A factor for change that thus far has been neglected in research and literature. Yet its impact extends across the totality of human existence; from ecological devastation to economic advancement, from cultural transformation to political change, through to a myriad of other themes. This edited volume of eleven contributions by historians, anthropologists and social and political scientists explores aspects of the social history and anthropology of the motor-vehicle in Africa.

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Jan-Bart Gewald, Ph.D. (1996) in History, Leiden University, is senior researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden. He has published extensively on aspects of African history and is specifically interested in the history of the social relationship between people and technology in Africa.
Sabine Luning, Ph.D. (1997) is lecturer at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University. She has published on dynamics of rituals, politics and land use in Burkina Faso. Her current research focuses on economic anthropology, in particular gold mining in West Africa.
Klaas van Walraven Ph.D. (1997) in Political Science, Leiden University, is a researcher at the African Studies Centre in Leiden. He has published on Africa’s international relations (OAU, AU, ECOMOG) and is working on a history of the Sawaba rebellion in Niger (1954-1975).
Contents
List of photographs ix
List of maps x
Preface xi
MOTOR VEHICLES AND PEOPLE IN AFRICA: AN INTRODUCTION 1
Jan-Bart Gewald, Sabine Luning & Klaas van Walraven
PART I: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES
1 PEOPLE, MINES AND CARS: TOWARDS A REVISION OF
ZAMBIAN HISTORY, 1890-1930 21
Jan-Bart Gewald
2 MOTORCARS AND MODERNITY: PINING FOR PROGRESS
IN PORTUGUESE GUINEA, 1915-1945 48
Philip J. Havik
3. VEHICLE OF SEDITION: THE ROLE OF TRANSPORT WORKERS
IN SAWABA’S REBELLION IN NIGER, 1954-1966 75
Klaas van Walraven
PART II: ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES
4 HUG ME, HOLD ME TIGHT! THE EVOLUTION OF PASSENGER
TRANSPORT IN LUANDA AND HUAMBO (ANGOLA),
1975-2000 107
Carlos M. Lopes
5. STRIKING GOLD IN COTONOU? THREE CASES OF
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE EURO-WEST AFRICAN
SECOND-HAND CAR TRADE IN BENIN 127
Joost Beuving
8 table of contents
PART III: ANTROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
6 THE ART OF TRUCK MODDING ON THE NILE (SUDAN):
AN ATTEMPT TO TRACE CREATIVITY 151
Kurt Beck
7 THE HILUX AND THE ‘BODY THROWER’: KHAT TRANSPORTERS
IN KENYA 175
Neil Carrier
8 MODERN CHARIOTS: SPEED AND MOBILITY IN CONTEMPORARY
‘SMALL’ WARS IN THE SAHARA 191
Georg Klute
9 RELIGION ON THE ROAD: THE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE OF ROAD
TRAVEL IN GHANA 212
Gabriel Klaeger
10 A CHIEF’S FATAL CAR ACCIDENT: POLITICAL HISTORY AND
MORAL GEOGRAPHY IN BURKINA FASO 232
Sabine Luning
11 ‘ANYWAY!’: LORRY INSCRIPTIONS IN GHANA 253
Sjaak van der Geest
List of authors 295
Index 297
All those interested in African Studies, African history, Cultural anthropology, African Political Studies, African Cultural studies, and Sociology, as well as theorists dealing with the social construction of technology and social science and technology.