Bonny Ibhawoh (McMaster Univ.) and Christian Williams (U. Free State) on historicizing refugees in Africa. Looking at children evacuated from the Biafran War to Gabon and Ivory Coast, Ibhawoh discusses the politics of “refugee” labeling. Williams’s biography of a woman born in a SWAPO camp in exile in Tanzania shows how displaced people are agents of history, not just faceless victims. The interview ends with lessons for refugee crises today.
John Mugane (Harvard University) on his book, The Story of Swahili, a history of the international language and its speakers. Mugane sheds light on enduring questions: Who is Swahili? What is authentic Swahili? He also discusses the state of publishing in Swahili, and the challenges and approaches to teaching African languages in the U.S.
Part of a podcast series in collaboration with the U.S. African Studies Association.
Anthropologist Rosemarie Mwaipopo (U. of Dar es Salaam) on artisanal and small-scale mining in Tanzania. She discusses the roles of women;grassroots dimensions, including cultural and gender dynamics; and government policies. The interview concludes with a comparative look at small-scale mining in Africa.
Abdilatif Abdalla is the best-known Swahili poet and independent Kenya’s first political prisoner. He discusses poetry as a political instrument and as an academic field; publication prospects for African poets; and how poetry enabled him to survive three years of solitary confinement, after which he spent 22 years in exile. The interview ends with Abdalla reciting his poem “Siwati” (“I Will Never Abandon My Convictions”).
Dorothy Hodgson (Anthropology, Rutgers) on Maasai pastoralists in Tanzania, with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of women. She discusses the intersections of gender, ethnicity, and Christianity, and then turns to the subject of her new book, Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous, which explores local activists’ engagement with the transnational indigenous rights movement.