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Article

Slavery in Luanda and Benguela  

Mariana P. Candido and Vanessa Oliveira

The institution of slavery existed in West Central Africa before the arrival of Europeans as a form of labor exploitation. While in local states political elites targeted outsiders and criminals as potential captives, slavery in the colonial settlements of Luanda and Benguela was similar to bondage in other Atlantic ports such as Rio de Janeiro, Havana, or Cartagena, and even in other colonial towns on the African coast including Cape Town and Lagos. Captives of war or people born into bondage performed most of the domestic and public labor. Their productive and reproductive capacities were appropriated for the benefit of their owners. Slaves could be bought and sold, were considered property, and did not enjoy rights, including to their own sexuality. Despite owners’ control, enslaved men and women resisted oppression and sought to ameliorate their condition and status through different strategies such as flight or paying for their own manumission. Slavery remained an important element of colonial societies in Luanda and Benguela until it was officially abolished in 1869, and new forms of compulsory labor were introduced.

Article

Women and Violence in Africa  

Peace A. Medie

Violence, in all of its forms, touches girls and women’s lives in Africa. While there is evidence that girls and women do participate in violence, research has shown that a significant proportion of them have also been victims. Violence against women describes violence inflicted on girls and women because of their gender and includes femicide, rape, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking. It also includes harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriage. While it is a global problem, the levels of some forms of violence against women are particularly high in Africa. The problem is caused by a complex interaction of factors operating at multiple levels, including at the global level. Historical records show that acts of violence against women, including intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, were perpetrated during the colonial era. During this period, perpetrators of non-partner sexual violence included colonial officers and troops under their command. Cases brought before colonial courts sometimes resulted in the conviction of the offender, but sentences were generally light. However, incidents of violence against women were mostly resolved within the family or community, with relatives and traditional leaders playing a central role. The post-independence period has seen increased attention to violence against women. Activism by women’s movements contributed to placing the issue on the agenda of states and of international organizations such as the United Nations. Sexual violence perpetrated by armed actors during wars in the 1990s also served to draw attention to violence against women. Consequently, most African countries have amended colonial-era rape laws and have adopted new legislation to address acts such as intimate partner violence, early marriage, and female genital mutilation. Many of them have also created specialized criminal-justice-sector institutions to address various forms of violence against women. These actions on the part of states have been influenced by women’s movements and by pressure from international organizations such as the United Nations. While this demonstrates progress on the part of African states, there is a large implementation gap in most countries. Thus, girls and women rarely benefit from the progressive laws on the books. This demonstrates that there is much work that needs to be done to address violence against women in Africa.

Article

Political History of Zimbabwe Since 1980  

Ushehwedu Kufakurinani

The political history of Zimbabwe has been one of radical shifts and turns. Winning its political independence from white minority rule in 1980, Zimbabwe emerged as a promising nation. The new prime minister, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, preached hope and reconciliation. There was euphoria at independence as the nation celebrated political freedom achieved through war and highly emotive negotiations at Lancaster House Conference. Before the first half of the decade passed, the new government was already engaged in a war against its citizens, dubbed Gukurahundi. By the end of the decade, it was also clear that its socialist rhetoric and corruption, among other things, were plunging the nation into an economic crisis, which drove the nation into the jaws of the IMF and World Bank. The economic crisis only worsened, and the so-called neoliberal era in the 1990s sent the nation into an economic quagmire. The economy has always been inextricably intertwined with the politics of the country. Political (mis)calculations triggered economic problems, while on other occasions the reverse was true. The years 2000–2009, in particular, were truly a lost decade. The century began with the controvertible Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). After a period of extreme political tensions in the country, a Government of National Unit (GNU) was established in 2009 in which the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), and the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), came to form a government. The period from 2010 to 2013 seemed to offer some relief to the nation, partly as a result of the GNU. However, this honeymoon was short-lived. As soon as ZANU PF regained power after the contested 2013 elections, there was a noticeable decline of the economy. Meanwhile, as the economy melted, power struggles intensified within ZANU PF. These reached their peak in 2017, culminating in what has come to be known as the November coup that saw the demise of Mugabe and the takeover by his deputy, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, as president. The post-coup era in Zimbabwe has been a period of political drama and deeper economic challenges.

Article

Women in South Africa  

Jill E. Kelly

Gendered processes produced and sustained families and labor in southern Africa from the first hunter-gatherers through the present, but these processes were never static or uncontested. Archaeological, oral, and ethnographic sources suggest that southern Africa’s first hunter-gatherers experienced tense contestations of social and sexual roles and that the division of labor was more fluid than is normally assumed. Some 2,000 years ago new ways of life—pastoralism and agriculture—organized societies according to gender and generation, with young persons under the control of adults, and older women able to wield control over children-in-law as well as political and spiritual power. For agriculturalists, the home was a political space. During the centralization of states in the region, leaders tightened control of women, coming-of-age practices, and marriage as well as militarized age sets. After the onset of colonialism, gendered violence and contested social relations shaped and maintained a gendered and racialized capitalist society. Enslaved, dependent, and free African women’s labor unfolded in the service of white settlers along European ideas of women’s work, and a consensus emerged among officials, missionaries, and African Christian converts over the centrality of educated women converts to the making of Christian African families. Authorities enacted legislation to govern sex and marriage and to differentiate by race and culture. The developing system of migrant labor relied upon women’s agricultural work in the reserves. The apartheid state, too, intervened in social relations to control labor and produce not only racialized but also ethnicized persons in the service of separate development. Across the 20th century women shaped nationalisms, often using their association with social reproduction, and mobilized both within larger nationalism movements and specifically as women. Their political and social activism continues in the post-apartheid era.

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

Rubber Production in Africa  

Reuben A. Loffman

Rubber—both synthetic and natural—has been produced largely because of its useful combination of malleability and resilience. Historically, natural rubber has been harvested across many parts of the equatorial world, with West, West-Central, and Equatorial Africa playing a significant—although not dominant—role in global production from the late 19th century onward. Conversely, synthetic rubber, developed in the early 20th century, has played a far more marginal part in Africa’s economic history. While natural rubber was indeed tapped, refined, and sold in Africa during the precolonial period, until about 1800, its impact was negligible on the societies that dealt with it. During the late 19th century, rubber increasingly exercised considerable influence on Africa. The demand for rubber exploded as new technologies, such as the bicycle and, later, the automobile, that needed it began to be mass-produced in the industrializing world. European colonial regimes occupying much of Africa in the late 19th century quickly capitalized on this demand, and the industry proliferated across much of Africa at the turn of the 20th century. African entrepreneurship was fundamental to the turn-of-the-century rubber boom, not least in West African colonies, such as French Guinea, where the state did not intervene in rubber production. Yet, some states in the rubber industry, notably the French Congo and the Congo Free State (CFS), later the Belgian Congo, and, to a lesser extent, Angola, were blighted by violence as they conceded land to companies that lacked capital and relied on violence. In these cases, European agents and African intermediaries, working for concession companies or the state, coerced Africans to tap wild rubber under threat of gruesome punishments, such as mutilation, imprisonment, or even murder. The legacy of coercive rubber production in these states during the fin de siècle was significant because many of the African societies drawn into them experienced considerable demographic collapses. The horrific conditions in which rubber was collected in the two Congos in particular eventually became global news, leading to the end of the CFS in 1908. However, Africa’s relative marginality in the world market, rather than the extreme violence, was a more sustained feature of rubber production in the 20th century. African cultivators might have decisively shifted away from collected wild rubber to planted rubber after global prices collapsed in 1912. And prices did recover in the wake of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 largely as part of the resulting global militarization in the lead-up to the Second World War. But, even then, rubber production in Africa remained marginal to global production. The development of a profitable synthetic rubber industry outside Africa; competition from Asian countries, such as Thailand; a spate of political upheavals; and many disastrous nationalization schemes set African rubber production back. At the same time, heavily capitalized Asian conglomerates, such as Sinochem and Bridgestone, have dominated the African rubber industry in the early 21st century. But whether they can reliably make a profit while safeguarding the environment and labor conditions remains to be seen.

Article

Witchcraft in Liberia  

Henryatta L. Ballah

In Liberian cosmology, the spirit world influences and regulates all aspects of daily life, for good and evil. Liberians of various religious backgrounds—Indigenous faiths, Christianity, and Islam—believe in the supernatural abilities of witches to cause misery to and even kill their victims. Throughout Liberia’s history, most accused witches have been women and people with physical disabilities. Since the 1990s, Liberia has witnessed a surge in violence against women and children, boys and girls, accused of witchcraft. Scholars see this surge as a reaction to mass violence and socio-economic uncertainty—the country’s fourteen-year civil war, massive unemployment, state corruption, lack of adequate health care and educational infrastructure, and more. Many accused witches in this period, like in precolonial Liberia are from low socio-economic backgrounds, and they are often attacked physically and sexually, with impunity. And yet, while Liberian national laws criminalize violence against women and children, efforts to combat witchcraft violence through legal means have been minimal and ineffective. This is partly the result of how laws and policies were conceptualized and implemented in Liberia by international organizations, such as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and Amnesty International, during post-civil war reconstruction of the country (2003–2010). Lack of funding and Liberians’ persistent belief in the power of witchcraft, including politicians, help to explain why little has been done to eradicate witchcraft violence against women and children.

Article

Karamoja Historical Perspective  

Mustafa Mirzeler

The 18th and 19th centuries in northern Uganda’s Karamoja were characterized by successive social, political, economic, and ecological disruptions that led to transformation. Among the major causes of disruption were the expansion of pastoralism; the onset of the ivory trade; epidemics and droughts; the incursion of Swahili, Ethiopian, and early European ivory traders; and Britain’s establishment of colonial rule. The Karimojong were members of an agropastoral community in the arid zone who encountered Ethiopian and Swahili ivory traders and, later, the British colonial state. The traders brought with them cattle. Later, guns were introduced to protect the family herd, as well for raids. In exchange for cattle and guns, Karimojong-speaking communities offered the ivory traders security, knowledge of the locations of elephants, and their labor, leading to the decimation of the elephant population for the global ivory markets. From this interaction, a new way of raiding and plundering evolved that had never been part of the community and that did not reflect the traditions of a people that respected life and property. Karimojong-speaking people’s conflict in the early 21st century has its roots in economic interaction with ivory traders and the colonial states’ concerted efforts to control traditional leadership and raiding patterns. These efforts caused the emergence of small-scale thefts, which afflicted the dry zone with a vigorous form of political anarchy. Thus, the traders and the emerging colonial state were forged in an area troubled by successive devastating famines and wars, triggering one of the most lawless forms of pastoralism. The viciousness of the intercommunity conflict escalated, continuing even after the abrupt departure of the British colonial state in the 1960s.

Article

Women in Global African Diasporas  

Tiffany Patterson

Global African diasporas are communities of African-descended peoples scattered across the world by slave trades and migrations. Slavery and other forms of bonded labor were sanctioned by Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In the Mediterranean region, Africans from the Sudan were sold as slaves into the Middle East and Egypt as early as the 7th century. In the Indian Ocean region, Africans established contact with South Asians as soldiers, sailors, merchants, musicians, and explorers but were also part of a slave trade from countries on the east coast of Africa including Ethiopia (Abyssinia), Kenya, and Mozambique. Slaves were sold to Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka as well as the Pacific region—as far as China—to work as domestics in the homes of the wealthy, as soldiers, and as concubines. An Atlantic trade in African slavery developed from the 16th to the 19th centuries carrying more than twelve million Africans across the Atlantic for a growing plantation economy in the Americas. These Africans came from the Bight of Benin, Bight of Biafra, Windward Coast, and the Congo in southwest Africa, a region controlled by the Portuguese. Transported on slave ships from Europe, African women, men, and children were carried across the Atlantic to labor on sugar, rice, coffee, and cotton plantations. Women were also sexually exploited, producing more laboring bodies and introducing color hierarchies throughout the Americas. Once free of slave systems, African-descended women used their labor to build their communities and support their families. Though they faced discrimination, many became artists, cultural workers, and activists in movements for justice and freedom. Women developed political and social organizations in support of education and human rights issues and achieved economic power. They also became political and cultural leaders and continued to challenge discriminatory systems based on race, color, class, and gender.

Article

Women in South Sudan  

Christopher Tounsel

Since the late 19th-century, Southern Sudanese have experienced Anglo-Egyptian colonialism (1899–1956), national independence with Northern Sudan (1956), two civil wars that resulted in South Sudanese independence (1955–1972, 1983–2005), a civil war within the new nation (2013–2018), and the conclusion of that conflict (2018). Southern Sudanese women’s experiences within, and contributions to, this stream of cataclysmic events has been harrowing and significant. This tumultuous history is rife with harsh realities. Women and girls have consistently had unequal access to education compared to their male counterparts, been subjected to sexual violence, marginalized from the political sphere, and faced a multitude of socioeconomic constraints and hardships. Many social scientists, furthermore, have argued that women’s vulnerabilities have increased as the result of lengthy militarized violence. However, in the midst of these realities, women have found ways to make important contributions not only as mothers, wives, and daughters but also as soldiers, teachers, activists, agriculturalists, and in various other positions during each of the postcolonial liberation wars. While women’s political participation has been encouraged since South Sudan’s 2011 independence, war, sexual violence, and socioeconomic inequalities have kept the female population in a vulnerable position.

Article

Women in Gabon  

Claire H. Griffiths

Gabon, a small oil-rich country straddling the equator on the west coast of Africa, is the wealthiest of France’s former colonies. An early period of colonization in the 19th century resulted in disease, famine, and economic failure. The creation of French Equatorial Africa in 1910 marked the beginning of the sustained lucrative exploitation of Gabon’s natural resources. Gabon began off-shore oil production while still a colony of France. Uranium was also discovered in the last decade of the French Equatorial African empire. Coupled with rich reserves in tropical woods, Gabon has achieved, since independence in 1960, a higher level of export revenue per capita of population than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa in the postcolonial era. However, significant inequality has characterized access to wealth through paid employment throughout the recorded history of monetized labor. While fortunes have been amassed by a minute proportion of the female population of Gabon associated with the ruling regime, and a professional female middle-class has emerged, inequalities of opportunity and reward continue to mark women’s experience of life in this little-known country of West Central Africa. The key challenge facing scholars researching the history of women in Gabon remains the relative lack of historical resources. While significant strides have been made over the past decade, research on women’s history in Francophone Africa published in English or French remains embryonic. French research on African women began to make a mark in the last decade of colonization, notably with the work of Denise Paulme, but then remained a neglected area for decades. The publication in 1994 of Les Africaines by French historian Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch was hailed at the time as a pioneering work in French historiography. But even this new research contained no analysis of and only a passing reference to women in Gabon.

Article

Women and Genocide in Africa  

Erin Jessee

Genocide, defined in international law as killings and related mass atrocities that are committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” has negatively impacted countless communities across Africa over the centuries. The resulting historical literature is strongest regarding those genocides that occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries due to a tendency to privilege written sources. Within this literature, African women’s experiences remain understudied compared to the experiences of men, despite widespread recognition that genocides often affect people differently according to their gender identity. However, in looking at the widely studied examples of colonial genocides in Belgian-occupied Congo (1885–1908) and German-occupied Namibia (1904–1908), and the subsequent genocides in Burundi (1972), Rwanda (1994), and Sudan (2003–2008), it becomes evident that perpetrators have targeted women in particular ways as part of their broader efforts to exterminate unwanted communities. While women are frequently killed alongside men during genocides, the literature on these case studies abounds with examples of sexual violence, particularly rape, that the perpetrators inflict upon women as part of their efforts to undermine the social vitality of their intended victims’ communities. Women’s experiences of genocide are often far more diverse than the literature’s singular focus on sexual violence suggests, however. The case of Rwanda demonstrates that women can also serve as combatants and perpetrators, while the case of Belgian-occupied Congo reveals that women can lead resistance movements in opposition to genocidal violence. Similarly, German-occupied Namibia and Rwanda demonstrate that women can serve important roles in rebuilding their communities and advocating for recognition and reparations in the post-genocide period. Scholars are beginning to pay greater attention to women’s diverse experiences of genocide, but there is a great deal of research to be undertaken, particularly regarding how different facets of women’s identities, such as class, ethnicity, and socio-economic status, among others, shape their experiences of genocide.

Article

Women in Angola  

Mariana P. Candido

European colonial powers established the contemporary boundaries of Angola during the Conference of Berlin (1884–1885). However, colonialism dates to the 15th century, when Portuguese merchants first contacted the Kingdom of Kongo along the Congo River and established early settlements in Luanda (1575) and Benguela (1617). Parts of the territories that became known as Angola in the early 20th century have a long history of interaction with the outside world, and as a result European primary sources provide much of the information available to historians. The reports, official correspondence, and diaries were produced by European men and are therefore problematic. However, by reading against the grain scholars can begin to understand how women lived in Angola before the 20th century. Some, such as Queen Njinga, had access to political power, and others, such as Dona Ana Joaquina dos Santos e Silva, enjoyed great wealth. Kimpa Vita was a prophet who led a movement of political and religious renewal and was killed as a result. Most women never appeared in historical documents but were fundamental to the economic and social existence of their communities as farmers, traders, artisans, mediums, and enslaved individuals. The end of the slave trade in the 1850s led to the expansion of the so-called legitimate trade and plantation economies, which privileged male labor while relying on women’s domestic contributions. The arrival of a larger number of missionaries, colonial troops, and Portuguese settlers by the end of the 19th century resulted in new policies that stimulated migration and family separation. It also introduced new ideas about morality, sexuality, and motherhood. Women resisted and joined anticolonial movements. After independence, decades of civil war increased forced displacement, gender imbalance, and sexual violence. The greater stability at the end of the armed conflict may favor the expansion of women’s organizations and internal pressures to address gender inequalities.

Article

Women in Burundi  

Marie Saiget

The history of women is characterized by nonlinear and gendered social, political and economic processes. In particular, the history of Burundian women’s collective actions has been embedded in the contested and violent trajectory of the Burundian state. Burundian women’s collective actions refer to a broad range of interactions: from protest, and social mobilizations to institutionalized actions. These interactions have been shaped by both global and local social structures, and by complex conflictive and cooperative relations between the Burundian state, political parties, women’s organizations and movements, and external actors (colonial powers, international organizations, non-governmental organizations). Women’s experiences in Burundi’s pre-colonial patriarchal society are little known, with the exception of the glorified Queen-mothers. German and Belgian colonial policies (1886–1962) reinforced and rigidified pre-colonial social constructions of ethnic and gendered social identities and roles, assigning ordinary women to the domestic sphere and sanctioning their social inferior status along with ethnic lines (Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa). After Burundi’s independence, the one-party military regime organized and supervised the first forms of women’s political participation through the Union des femmes burundaises (1962–1980s). The democratic transition of the early 1990s led to the creation of autonomous women’s organizations and networks, which were extended during the civil war (1993–2005). Burundian women actively contributed to national and grassroots peace processes. In particular, a delegation of seven Burundian women participated in the negotiations held in Arusha (1998–2000), with observer status. Post-conflict struggles for women’s rights posed the central issue of women’s political representation, with the adoption of gender quotas from 2005, but left aside other issues after 2010, such as women’s right to inherit land. In Spring 2015, Burundian women were present in protests against the president’s third mandate; with the women’s march being the first to reach the city center in March 2015. Women’s organizations kept mobilizing towards women’s rights after the electoral crisis, in exile or within Burundi, though facing important financial constraints and political repression.

Article

Portuguese Colonialism in Africa  

Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo

The Portuguese colonial empire was the first and the last European empire overseas, from the conquest of Ceuta (1415), in Morocco, North Africa, until the formal handover of Macau to the People’s Republic of China (1999). From the coastline excursions in Africa and the gradual establishment of trade routes in Asia and in the Indian Ocean and the related emergence of the Estado da Índia (the Portuguese empire east of the Cape of Good Hope), to the colonization projects in the Americas, namely, in Brazil, and, in the second half of the 19th century, in Africa, the Portuguese empire assumed diverse configurations. All of these entailed expansionist projects and motivations—political, missionary, military, commercial—with changing dynamics, strongly conditioned by local circumstances and powers. In Africa, actual colonization was a belated and convoluted process, which started and ended with violent conflicts, the so-called pacification campaigns of the 1890s, and the liberation wars of the 1960s and 1970s. In Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe, the Portuguese enacted numerous modalities of formalized rule, based on political, military, and religious apparatuses. These forms of control engaged with and impacted on local societies differently. However, until the very end, coercive labor and tax exactions, racial discrimination, authoritarian politics, and economic exploitation were the fundamental pillars of Portuguese colonialism in Africa.

Article

The Ethiopian Red Terror  

Jacob Wiebel

The Red Terror was a period of intense political and inter-communal violence in revolutionary Ethiopia during the late 1970s. This violence erupted two years after the revolution of 1974 and was concentrated in the cities and towns of Ethiopia, particularly in Addis Ababa, Gondar, Asmara, and Dessie. In the struggle over the direction and ownership of the revolution, opposition groups of the radical left violently opposed a military regime that itself came to embrace and promulgate Marxist-Leninist language and policies, and that relied heavily on the use of armed force to stifle dissent. While much of the violence was carried out by security personnel, the delegation of the state’s means and instruments of violence to newly formed militias and to armed citizens was a defining feature of the Red Terror. The number of casualties and victims of the Red Terror remains heavily contested and is subject to divergent counting criteria and to definitions of the Terror’s scope in relation to other concurrent conflicts in the region, such as the Eritrean and Tigrayan civil wars; plausible figures suggest more than 50,000 deaths, in addition to many more who were subjected to torture, exile, personal losses, and other forms of violence. To this day, the Red Terror constitutes a period that is remembered in Ethiopia as much for the forms of its violence as for the extent of its harm. Its ramifications, from the support it triggered for the ethno-nationalist insurgencies that overthrew the military regime in 1991, to its role in the emergence of a sizeable Ethiopian diaspora, make the Red Terror an episode of defining and lasting significance in the modern history of Ethiopia.

Article

Guns in Africa  

Felix Brahm

Guns have loomed large in many African societies since early modern times. This has much to do with their military and economic potential, but also with the influential social life they often obtained. Being instruments of destruction in the first place, the history of guns is closely connected with various forms of violence, especially with warfare and hunting; however, the significance of the gun went far beyond this. Guns were, for instance, applied in every-day protection of crops and livestock and integrated into ceremonies and festivities; they became signifiers of royal and chiefly power, objects of gender identification, attributes of professional groups, and markers of social status and racial difference. Studying the social life of guns allows for new insights into the material foundations of cultural domains and the construction of social hierarchies; at the same time, it demonstrates that the social and cultural meanings of objects, including guns, are never stable and are subject to constant change. The history of guns in Africa is also one of appropriation and domestication of foreign technology, rising consumerism, and efforts to overcome dependency from importation. The presence of guns often had strong impacts on social and natural environments, both physically and mentally. Studying gun violence and arms regimes from an historical perspective helps us to better understand processes of political centralization and fragmentation, practices of resistance against colonial rule, and also the forming of authoritarian regimes and criminal organisations. The ambiguous history of the gun resonates in contemporary images and memories, connected with both order and violence and liberation and oppression.

Article

History of Photography in Apartheid South Africa  

Kylie Thomas

The beginning of apartheid in 1948 saw the emergence of a generation of photographers whose work would come to define South African photography for the next four decades. Many of the most well-known South African photographers, such as Ernest Cole, Bob Gosani Peter Magubane, and Jürgen Schadeberg, worked for Drum magazine in the 1950s, where their images conveyed the experiences of Black people living in cities in the first years of apartheid. Photographers chronicled the Defiance Campaign, the violence of the police, and the growing resistance movements. At the same time, they took portraits and images of everyday life that provide insight into what it was like to live under apartheid. These kinds of images have increasingly been of interest to researchers and curators who have come to recognize the importance of vernacular photography, street photography, and the work of studio portrait photographers. The Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 marked a turning point in the country’s history and was followed by intensified repression and violence, the banning of opposition political parties, the jailing of political leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe, and mass forced removals as neighborhoods were declared “whites only” areas. The Soweto uprisings in June 1976 and the protests that followed across South Africa signaled the beginning of a time of increased violence as the apartheid state sought to crush the resistance movements and thousands of protestors were detained without trial, interrogated, and tortured and several political activists were murdered by the security police. By the 1980s, photography had a clear place in the struggle for freedom in the country and many photographers perceived the camera as a weapon to be used against the state. In 1982, the Afrapix collective was formed by a group of photographers committed to opposing apartheid who went on to produce the most significant visual record of this time. The years immediately before the end of apartheid saw an increase in political violence and between 1990 and 1994 more than 10,000 people were killed. Photographers who documented this time drew the world’s attention to the bitter struggle in the country. They went on to photograph the jubilation when Mandela was finally released from prison and the first free and fair elections when South Africans of all races were able to vote. Some of the most brilliant photographers of the last century documented the apartheid years, and their work plays a key role in how this time period is remembered and understood.

Article

Early Factionalism in Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle  

Brooks Marmon

The course of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle was fundamentally shaped by tensions among competing nationalist factions. The impact of this dynamic is typically observed from 1963, when Zimbabwe’s long-serving ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU)-Patriotic Front, was founded following a fissure in the liberation movement. Earlier instances of intranationalist competition in Southern Rhodesia (colonial Zimbabwe) have generally escaped scholarly attention despite their pioneering contributions to the dynamics of political pluralism in Zimbabwe and the presence of noted political figures amidst their leadership. In 1961, the Zimbabwean nationalist movement experienced its first significant split with the formation of the Zimbabwe National Party (ZNP) which broke away from the National Democratic Party. The ZNP, in turn, experienced its own rupture a year later when the Pan-African Socialist Union (PASU) was formed. Although these were the two only two nationalist challengers of note in the early 1960s prior to ZANU, several other short-lived Black-led political parties emerged at this time in settler-dominated Southern Rhodesia. The ZNP and PASU appealed to rising grievances with the prosecution of the anticolonial liberation struggle. They were also a consequence of the changing geopolitics wrought by Africa’s decolonization. The two parties sought to consolidate their position by appealing to the emerging cohort of African anticolonial leaders across the continent. These efforts induced extensive backlash from the main wing of the nationalist movement, then led by Joshua Nkomo. Both the ZNP and PASU were short-lived, effectively collapsing by 1963. While neither party was able to effectively overcome these intense assaults, their comparatively fleeting existence shaped the political environment by influencing tactics and providing a template for subsequent nationalist contenders seeking greater longevity.

Article

The Minibus-Taxi Industry in South Africa  

Timothy Gibbs and Ofentse Mokwena

South Africa’s barely regulated, murderously competitive, contemporary minibus-taxi industry dates to the turn of the 1980s. It is synonymous with the sixteen-seat (latterly twenty-two- and thirty-two-seat) minibuses, which forced their way onto bus routes and soon displaced government-subsidized public transport services. Nonetheless, the minibus-taxi industry traces its roots to the Black-owned informal transportation sector that first developed on the fringes of South Africa’s segregated cities in the early decades of the 20th century. Heroic stories of these pioneering guerrilla entrepreneurs—who successfully ran unlicensed “pirate” transport operations, while dodging the heavy hand of state regulation and White racism—remain potent memories in parts of South Africa. Academics might pay more attention to the tangled relationship between patterns of urban change, racial segregation, political economy, and public-transport provision. In one sense, South Africa’s minibus-taxi sector shares striking parallels to Kenya’s matatus and Tanzania’s daladalas. At the same time, the distinctive history of South Africa’s minibus-taxi sector is perhaps best understood when placed into the longue durée of urban segregation and transport apartheid, which shares many similarities with the more tightly planned, racially segregated cities of the Americas.