Professor Amidu O. Sanni (Lagos State University) on his work for the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project and preservation of West African intellectual heritage. He discusses the importance of Ajami sources (African languages written in Arabic script) for historical and cultural analysis and suggests possibilities for future research and training initiatives.
Micere Githae Mugo (Syracuse, Emeritus) and Simon Gikandi (Princeton) discuss the making and aftermath of The Trial of Dedan Kimathi and, on the 40th anniversary of the play, reflect on the play’s historical and political significance in Kenya and beyond; its innovative elements; and researching, writing, and enacting the play with Ngugi wa Thiong’o and with the community.
John Aerni-Flessner (MSU) on his forthcoming book The Desire for Development: Foreign Assistance, Independence, & Dreams for the Nation in Lesotho. Discussion focuses on development projects and their local, national and international politics; perspectives of Basotho youth, farmers, chiefs and government; and interactions with South Africa, U.S. Peace Corps and the foreign aid industry.
Tejumola Olaniyan (Wisconsin–Madison) on African cartoonists, their depictions of the body and struggles with censorship, and the aesthetics of corpulence in African political cartooning. He elaborates on the deeper origins and gendered nature of satire in African societies and also discusses his website Africa Cartoons.com.
Susanne Klausen (History, Carleton U.) on the history and politics of women’s reproductive rights in South Africa. Our discussion of race, nationalism, and women’s sexuality focuses on her new book, Abortion Under Apartheid, the first full-length study of the history of abortion in an African context. The interview concludes with an assessment of the present and future of abortion rights in South Africa and internationally.
Toyin Falola (History, Texas; President, African Studies Association) on Yoruba history and culture; language policy in Nigeria; creativity and decolonization; forms of community action in “hyper-modern” times; and the meaning of Buhari’s victory in the 2015 presidential election.
Lisa Lindsay (North Carolina) on her forthcoming biography of James Churchwill Vaughan—whose life provides insights into the bonds of slavery and family and the differing prospects for people of African descent in the 19th-century Atlantic world. Vaughan’s odyssey took him from slavery-ridden South Carolina to Liberia and finally Nigeria, where he was involved in the Yoruba Wars, led a revolt against white racism, and founded not only the first independent Nigerian church but also a family of activists. With guest host, Laura Fair.
Hikabwa Decius Chipande (PhD 2015 Michigan State) on the political and social history of football (soccer) in Zambia. He discusses becoming an historian; the game’s relationship with British colonizers, the copper mines, and postcolonial governments; and the archival research and oral interviewing process. Chipande concludes with insights from his extensive experience with sport development in Africa.
Chitja Twala (History, Univ. of Free State) on the history of black politics and the African National Congress in the Free State province; oral history; cultural resistance; the field of History in South Africa; lessons of the Marikana Massacre; and “transformation” in South African higher education.
Denis Goldberg reflects on his activism, hardships in prison, and the highs and lows of the antiapartheid movement. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1963 in South Africa’s Rivonia trial with Mandela and other leaders. He served 22 years in an apartheid prison. Goldberg’s autobiography is titled The Mission: A Life for Freedom in South Africa.