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.
David Gordon (Bowdoin, History) on his recent book Invisible Agents: Spirits in a Central African History. Gordon explores how and why spirits and discourses about spirits inspired social movements and influenced historical change, from precolonial Bemba chieftaincies and 1930s Watchtower millenarianism to the postcolonial state’s humanism and Pentecostalism under Kaunda and Chiluba, respectively. Gordon closes by noting the effervescence of Zambian studies today. (Note: the interview was recorded via Skype.)
David Killingray (Emeritus, Goldsmiths College, U. of London) on the often-neglected role of African travelers and intermediaries in 19th-century Africa; black writers and activists in Victorian Britain; and the significance of documenting lived experiences of Africans to better understand processes of historical change.
Sekibakiba Peter Lekgoathi (U. Witwatersrand/Michigan) on radio, ethnicity and knowledge production in South Africa, both apartheid’s Bantu Radio and the liberation movement’s Radio Freedom, including broadcasts and audiences, idioms, songs and slogans. Also discusses formation of Ndebele ethnicity and role of popular radio in forging a strong ethnic consciousness, and histories of African interpreters and research assistants.
Dag Henrichsen (Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Basel) on protest and prophecy among Herero intellectuals in 1940s Namibia. Also discussed are the 1904-5 German genocide, construction of Herero modernity, private archives, popular culture, Namibian historiography, and how Namibians conceptualized a “South African Empire.”