The Nyanga district of eastern Zimbabwe shows a cultural history that is similar to the rest of Zimbabwe and the southern African region. Although largely undated, the Stone Age—from the Early Stone Age, the Middle Stone Age, through to the Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers—is represented at a number of open sites and rock shelters. Later Stone Age rock art, some of which exhibits rather unique artistic attributes and characteristics such as the stripped images, has been recorded in this area. The advent of settled iron-using farming communities is also evident, as elsewhere in southern Africa dating from the 2nd to the 3rd century ce. The well-known Early Farming Communities Ziwa ceramic tradition of southern Africa is in fact named after the type site in this district. The Nyanga district is however particularly famous for its stone constructions that come in a variety of forms, consisting of stone terraced hillsides, which extend for almost sixty-five miles from north to south and cover some twenty-three hundred square miles, as well as stone-lined pit structures, hilltop forts, stone-walled enclosures, and trackways. Dating from the 14th to the early 19th century, the culture is one of the Later Farming Community cultures of Zimbabwe. The stone architecture and several other cultural aspects differ from those of the more famous Zimbabwe Culture, such that, although the two entities partly overlapped chronologically, Nyanga represents a separate cultural development in Zimbabwe’s history. The purpose of the stone structures has been a subject of archaeological debate for some time. The majority of scholars generally agree that the terracing and pit structures were constructed for agricultural and animal herding practices. However, since the early 2010s, some scholars have somewhat unconvincingly argued that gold-mining and processing were the primary motivation for the Nyanga architectural remains. The traditional view of the communities associated with the Nyanga stone architecture has largely seen them as representing basic peasant agricultural people lacking complex sociopolitical organization. However, examination of the scale and extent of the architecture, including consideration of the size of the enclosures and their spatial distribution, strongly suggests that the Nyanga people were organized as fairly complex sociopolitical formations that are archaeologically consistent with the chiefdom level, at the very least.
The Archaeology of Nyanga, Eastern Zimbabwe
Culture and Society at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652–1795
In 1652 the Dutch East India Company founded a “refreshment station” in Table Bay on the southwestern coast of Africa for its fleets to and from the East Indies. Within a few years, this outpost developed into a fully-fledged settler colony with a “free-burgher” population who made an existence as grain, wine, and livestock farmers in the interior, or engaged in entrepreneurial activities in Cape Town, the largest settlement in the colony. The corollary of this development was the subjugation of the indigenous Khoikhoi and San inhabitants of the region, and the importation and use of a relatively large slave labor force in the agrarian and urban economies. The colony continued to expand throughout the 18th century due to continued immigration from Europe and the rapid growth of the settler population through natural increase. During that century, about one-third of the colony’s population lived in Cape Town, a cosmopolitan harbor city with a large transient, and overwhelmingly male, population which remained connected with both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds. The unique society and culture that developed at the Cape was influenced by both these worlds. Although in many ways, the managerial superstructure of the Cape was similar to that of a Dutch city, the cosmopolitan and diverse nature of its population meant that a variety of identities and cultures co-existed alongside each other and found expression in a variety of public forms.
Miriam Makeba (March 4, 1932–November 9, 2008) was among the first to popularize African music on a global scale. Nelson Mandela named her South Africa’s first lady of song; she was also nicknamed Mama Africa. Makeba has been credited with inaugurating the “world music” movement, a designation that she did not like as it marginalized music from a so-called Third World. Already renowned in her native South Africa as a sophisticated and highly sought-after performer in her own right, Makeba’s arrival in the United States in 1959 transformed that country’s music scene. She was a contemporary of Nina Simone and Odetta, with the three women credited for a resurgence of folk music in the United States as they drew songs of everyday life onto the concert stage. South Africa’s apartheid government revoked Makeba’s passport in 1960, when she sought to return home to bury her mother. She was a vocal critic of apartheid in exile, appearing before the United Nations (UN) on at least four occasions (including twice as a delegate of Guinea) to urge sanctions against the apartheid regime and mobilize support for Black South Africans caught under apartheid’s yoke. She supported US civil rights movement organizations and activists, and through her activism embedded US struggles for civil rights within a continuum of African liberation struggles, including anti-apartheid and anti-colonial liberation movements on the continent. She was a cultural ambassador who bore witness to the independence of many African countries through song, with countries for which her performances contributed to the ushering in of independent regimes including Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. She was the only performer at the inaugural conference of the Organization for African Unity. As South Africa’s apartheid government began transitioning power, Makeba was able to return home in 1992 for a brief visit and subsequently decided to permanently return. Under South Africa’s democratically elected regime, Makeba was appointed an FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Goodwill ambassador for the UN. She continued performing in her later years, but in November 2008 she collapsed following a performance in Italy and died from cardiac arrest. Her legacy continues through the work of the ZM Makeba Foundation.