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Article

Eduardo Mondlane  

Livio Sansone

Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane (1920–1969) was one of the founders of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) and its first president until his assassination. Generally considered one the “fathers” of independent Mozambique and the unifier of this young country, in recognition of that and his academic standing—he had a PhD in sociology—the main university of Mozambique is named after him. His singular, exciting, cosmopolitan, and engaged life has thus far attracted less international attention than could be expected, even though, over the last decade, also on account of his centennial in 2020, a growing national and international scholarship is developing around several facets of Mondlane’s biography. One aspect that is still relatively unexplored is his academic training and many years spent abroad studying in South Africa, Portugal, and the United States. His international training and showing how this had a profound impact on his performance as leader of Frelimo.

Article

The History of Togo and the Togolese People  

Marius Kothor and Benjamin N. Lawrance

The history of Togo and the Togolese people may best be told as a pluralizing historical narrative. Togo’s history is first narrated in a relatively conventional framework, which one might find in any historical dictionary or encyclopedia, to show how national histories can weave, bend, and misdirect attention at particular national and regional dimensions. A subsequent richer retelling of Togolese history via a transnational and translocal approach, inclusive of women in events in the region, broadens an historian’s understanding of the history of Togo and the Togolese people to offer new insights beyond those of the traditional nation-state and area studies models. The archives of Togo are scattered around the world, notably in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Great Britain. Scholarship on Togo, covering themes from the precolonial period to the postcolonial epoch and present day, is well developed and multilingual.

Article

Nationalism, Decolonization, and Development in Kenya  

Kara Moskowitz

In colonial Kenya, the British administration appropriated fertile lands for European settlers. The resulting land shortage, alongside coercive policies such as taxation, forced many African families to become laborers on white farms or in cities. As land scarcity heightened and labor conditions worsened, African communities in Kenya engaged in various forms of anticolonial resistance, ranging from strikes to protests to violent conflicts like Mau Mau. In the 1940s, the colonial state began responding to African resistance with development and welfare. Development not only failed to improve standards of living, but it also allowed the state to intervene more aggressively into African lives. The imposition of misguided and unwanted programs, which also relied on communal forced labor, produced only greater discontentment. In cities especially, workers appropriated the language of development as a new basis to make claims. Building on mounting protests and shifting global politics, nationalist politics intensified, and as a result, processes of decolonization formally started in 1960. During independence negotiations, contestations for land shaped political alliances and drove heated debates over the structure of the postcolonial government. Prior to the resolution of these issues, the colonial administration began enacting land resettlement. These programs—based on the principle of willing buyer–willing seller at market value—protected white settlers and further entrenched class, ethnic, and gender inequalities. Kenya gained independence with a federal constitution, but Jomo Kenyatta and the KANU (Kenya African National Union) party that came into power opposed regionalism. Within a year, Kenya had become a de facto one-party state, and the federal constitution was abolished. Though Kenyatta adeptly strengthened and preserved his power, postcolonial Kenya witnessed the rise of populist, ethnonationalist, and separatist movements. While none have been wholly successful, Kenya’s economic and political inequalities, its unmet promises of decolonization, and its ethnic antagonisms have ensured continual protest and a fractured nation.

Article

Pereira, Carmen  

Ângela Sofia Benoliel Coutinho

Born in Bissau in 1936, Carmen Pereira was the daughter of a Guinean lawyer (one of only two Guinean lawyers at the time). She studied at the primary school in Bissau, and married in that city in 1957. In 1961, following her husband’s flight to Senegal to avoid being arrested as a political agitator, Carmen joined the independence movement led by the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde), with three small children in her charge. Guinea-Bissau was then a Portuguese colony, with a far-right dictatorship based in the metropole. So-called Portuguese Guinea was about the size of Belgium or Haiti, and had a tropical, hot, and humid climate; most of its inhabitants, who belonged to more than twenty different peoples, were dedicated to agriculture. In the 1960s the majority of Guinea-Biassau’s inhabitants were Animists; there was also a significant Muslim population, and a few, like Carmen Pereira herself, were Catholics. The guerilla war began in Guinea-Bissau in 1963, and lasted until independence was declared in 1974. During this period Carmen travelled to the Soviet Union, where she studied to be a nurse. On her return to Africa she was given responsibility for the Health sector in the South region, where she also became the Political Commissioner for the areas controlled by the PAIGC, as a consequence of her proven leadership skills, and in accordance with the PAIGC’s policy of giving women equal opportunities and rights within the movement. Carmen Pereira is an important figure in African history, principally because she was the only woman to be elected a member of the Executive Committee (formerly the Political Bureau) of the PAIGC, which is itself significant as one of the few African movements for political liberation that led a successful war for independence. In the new state of Guinea-Bissau, Carmen Pereira was elected President of the Parliament, and appointed Health Minister, Minister for Social Affairs, and State Council member. She died in Bissau in June 2016.

Article

The Nile Waters Issue  

Terje Tvedt

To understand the role of the modern Nile in African history, it is first necessary to have familiarity with the premodern “natural” Nile, including both its hydrology and societal importance. It is well known that no river basin in the world has a longer, more complex, and more eventful history. The Nile water issue in modern times is a history of how economic and political developments in East and North Africa have been fundamentally shaped by the interconnectedness of the Nile’s particular physical and hydrological character; the efforts of adapting to, controlling, using, and sharing the waters of the river; and the different ideas and ambitions that political leaders have had for the Nile.

Article

Decolonization in Portuguese Africa  

Pedro Aires Oliveira

The dissolution of Portugal’s African empire took place in the mid-1970s, a decade after the dismantling of similar imperial formations across Europe. Contrary to other European metropoles, Portuguese rulers were unwilling to meet the demands for self-determination in their dependencies, and thus mobilized considerable resources for a long, drawn-out conflict in Angola, Guinea, and Mozambique from 1961 to 1974. Several factors can explain Lisbon’s refusal to come to terms with the “winds of change” that had swept Africa since the late 1950s, from the belief of its decision-makers that Portugal lacked the means to conduct a successful “exit strategy” (akin to the “neocolonial” approach followed by the British, the French, or the Belgians), to the dictatorial nature of Salazar’s “New State,” which prevented a free and open debate on the costs of upholding an empire against the anti-colonial consensus that had prevailed in the United Nations since the early 1960s. Taking advantage of its Cold War alliances (as well as secret pacts with Rhodesia and South Africa), Portugal was long able to accommodate the armed insurgencies that erupted in three of its colonies, thereby containing external pressures to decolonize. Through an approach that combined classic “divide and rule” tactics, schemes for population control, and developmental efforts, Portugal’s African empire was able to soldier on for longer than many observers expected. But this uncompromising stance came with a price: the armed forces’ dissatisfaction with a stalemate that had no end in sight. In April 1974, a military coup d’etat put an end to five decades of authoritarianism in the metropole and cleared the way for transfer of power arrangements in the five lusophone African territories. The outcome, though, would be an extremely disorderly transition, in which the political inexperience of the new elites in Lisbon, the die-hard attitude of groups of white settlers, the divisions among the African nationalists, and the meddling of foreign powers all played critical roles.

Article

Money and Currency in African History  

Jane I. Guyer and Karin Pallaver

African peoples have managed multiple currencies, for all the classic four functions of money, for at least a thousand years: within each society’s own circuits, in regional exchange, and across the continent’s borders with the rest of the world. Given the materials of some of these currencies, and the general absence of formalized denominations until the colonial period, some early European accounts defined certain transactions as barter. The management of multiplicity is traced through four eras: a) the precolonial period, with some monies locally produced and acquired, and others imported through intercontinental trades, such as the Atlantic slave trade, and eventually under the expansion of capitalism to Africa; b) the colonial period, when precolonial monies, in some places, still circulated with official monies; c) postcolonial national monies for the new African states; and d) the most recent phase of multiplicity in use, due to migration and sales across borders as well as to the use of new technologies, such as mobile money. The management of multiplicity thereby has a long history and continues to be an inventive frontier. History and ethnography meet on common ground to address these dynamics through empirical study of money in practice, and broader scholarship has drawn on a large variety of original sources.

Article

Pepetela  

Alexandra Santos

Pepetela (b. 1941) is one of the most awarded Angolan writers and a successful creator of the myths and epics sustaining Angolan identity in the symbolic domain. He has played many roles throughout his life, from revolutionary socialism ideologist to guerrilla fighter, government member, university professor, and civic activist. Most notably, he is a prolific writer; his dozens of novels, chronicles, plays, and fables constitute an incomparable testimony to 20th-century Angola. His writing articulates a strong sociological awareness with a world vision that feeds on the ideological currents of nationalism and socialism. This surprising junction makes the basis for literary works in which the struggle for independence, the construction of the Angolan nation, the socialist revolution, and social analysis assume great relevance, as does the quest for the symbolic roots of national identity. Pepetela has been the most thorough explorer of Angolan historical sources and autochthonous myths, from which he assembled narratives that are considered foundational to the nation. His work is the object of numerous academic essays in several languages. Just as importantly, he is a favorite among readers worldwide.

Article

Political History of Cameroon  

Emmanuel M. Mbah

First visited by the Portuguese in the 1500s, Cameroon was eventually colonized first by the Germans from 1884 to 1916 and later by the French and British until independence in 1960 and 1961. The division of the former German colony between the French and the British after Germany’s defeat during World War I laid the foundation for a complex postindependence history of Cameroon. This complexity, chaperoned by two presidents, has witnessed a trajectory that starts with a federation and continues with Cameroon becoming a republic that was increasingly challenged by separatists of the former British section. External challenges from a war with Nigeria over Bakassi as well as conflicts with Boko Haram have only made the process of nation-building more complexed.

Article

The Kalanga in Historical Perspective  

Thembani Dube

The Kalanga are one of the ethnic groups found mostly in the Bulilima and Mangwe districts, in the southwestern parts of Zimbabwe. Although the origins of the Kalanga date back to a thousand years, it is important to note that Kalanga ethnic identity is a socially constructed phenomenon, which continues to be negotiated. Therefore, it is vital to note that dynamism, flexibility, and malleable are some of the attributes of this identity. As such, Kalanga history and identity, which has been a product of various processes, such as precolonial political and social organization, colonial rule and the postcolonial Zimbabwean state, will be sought after. Central to these processes are actors such as Kalanga chiefs, missionaries, colonial administrators, Kalanga elites, women, and the ordinary people, who played a significant role in shaping and articulating Kalanga identity at different historical epochs. Moreover, markers of Kalanga identity such as language, Ngwali/Mwali religion, chieftaincy, and histories of origin have been used to (re)construct Kalanga identity. Nonetheless, the heterogeneity of Kalanga people and the complexity involved in the intricate processes of identity formation will be acknowledged. In postcolonial Zimbabwe there has been rising interest from Kalanga elites who have lobbied the government to recognize the Kalanga. This activism is inspired by perceived marginalization of the Kalanga and other minority groups, which has been enforced through monolithic linguistic policies, orchestrated through government favoritism toward the so-called majority languages, such as Shona and IsiNdebele. However, the interaction and cordial relations among the Kalanga and other ethnic groups found in Zimbabwe will also be acknowledged. Nonetheless, there is no exhaustive account of this group as scholars continue to engage with them, hence contributing to always expand the different interpretations on these people. It is therefore hoped that the history of this particular group will be chronicled and perhaps directions for future research on the Kalanga pointed out. In order to fully explore this historical account, various sources that have been used in the study of Kalanga history will be critically engaged.