Marissa Moorman (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, African Cultural Studies) on Angolan social history and media studies. We discuss the evolving trajectory of her scholarship, research in southern Africa and Portugal, and her latest book, Powerful Frequencies: Radio, State Power, and the Cold War in Angola, 1931–2002. The interview features a musical interlude (courtesy of Paulo Flores). It closes with insights on Moorman’s public-facing work with Africa Is A Country and provides a sneak peak into her current book project.
Cherif Keita (French and Francophone Studies, Carleton College) reflects on his life as a scholar from Mali and on his documentary films about John Langalibalele Dube and Nokutela Dube, founding figures of the African National Congress of South Africa. The interview closes with a discussion of musician Salif Keita’s journey from social outcast (as an albino) in Mande society to icon of world music.
David Coplan (Wits, Emeritus) takes us on a journey from New York to Soweto and into the making of his ethnographic studies of music and popular culture in West and South(ern) Africa. Coplan then turns to his recent book about The Bassline jazz club in Johannesburg. The interview concludes with insights from his new research on African borderlands and its contributions to global Border Theory.
Barry Gilder, South African folk singer and ex-ANC intelligence operative, is the author of Songs and Secrets: South Africa from Liberation to Governance. In the interview, he reflects on freedom songs, exile, and armed struggle. Gilder performs his “Matola Song,” about a friend killed by an apartheid death squad. He ends with thoughts on democratic governance and on the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, a think tank he co-founded in 2010.