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History > African History > East Africa

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Lost People Cover

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Lost People

Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar

David Graeber

Betafo, a rural community in central Madagascar, is divided between the descendants of nobles and descendants of slaves. Anthropologist David Graeber arrived for fieldwork at the height of tensions attributed to a disastrous communal ordeal two years earlier. As Graeber uncovers the layers of historical, social, and cultural knowledge required to understand this event, he elaborates a new view of power, inequality, and the political role of narrative. Combining theoretical subtlety, a compelling narrative line, and vividly drawn characters, Lost People is a singular contribution to the anthropology of politics and the literature on ethnographic writing.

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Mau Mau’s Children

The Making of Kenya’s Postcolonial Elite

David P. Sandgren; Foreword by Thomas Spear

In 1963 David P. Sandgren went to Kenya to teach in a small, rural school for boys, where he remained for the next four years. These were heady times for Kenyans, as the nation gained its independence, approved a new constitution, and held its first elections. In the school where Sandgren taught, the sons of Gikuyu farmers rose to the challenges of this post colonial era and, in time, entered Kenyan society as adults, joining Kenya’s first generation of post colonial elites.
    In Mau Mau’s Children, Sandgren has reconnects with these former students. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews, he provides readers with a collective biography of the lives of Kenya’s first postcolonial elite, stretching from their 1940s childhood to the peak of their careers in the 1990s. Through these interviews, Mau Mau’s Children shows the trauma of growing up during the Mau Mau Rebellion, the nature of nationalism in Kenya, the new generational conflicts arising, and the significance of education and Gikuyu ethnicity on his students' path to success.

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Mtoro bin Mwinyi Bakari

Swahili lecturer and author in Germany

This book presents a study of the life history of Mtoro bin Mwinyi Bakari (c. 1869 - 1927). Mtoro bin Mwinyi Bakari grew up and studied Islamic Sciences in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. He became a Swahili lecturer and author in Germany and is known to have written Desturi za Wasuaheli, an important work in Swahili culture. The book introduces the wider historical context of his writings, and, in particular, reconstructs the racism and discrimination in both the colonial and metropolitan contexts, features which negatively influenced his career and his life as a whole. The study also offers insights into contributions of the colonized to the study of African languages and cultures during this same historical context.

Muslim Women in Postcolonial Kenya Cover

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Muslim Women in Postcolonial Kenya

Leadership, Representation, and Social Change

Ousseina D. Alidou

In education, journalism, legislative politics, social justice, health, law, and other arenas, Muslim women across Kenya are emerging as leaders in local, national, and international contexts, advancing reforms through their activism. Muslim Women in Postcolonial Kenya draws on extensive interviews with six such women, revealing how their religious and moral beliefs shape reform movements that bridge ethnic divides and foster alliances in service of creating a just, multicultural, multiethnic, and multireligious democratic citizenship.

            Mwalim Azara Mudira opened a school of theology for Muslim women. Nazlin Omar Rajput of The Nur magazine was a pioneer in reporting on HIV/AIDS in the Muslim community. Amina Abubakar, host of a women's radio show, has publicly addressed the sensitive subject of sexual crimes against Muslim women. Two women who are members of parliament are creating new socioeconomic and political opportunities for girls and women, within a framework that still embraces traditional values of marriage and motherhood.
            Examining the interplay of gender, agency, and autonomy, Ousseina D. Alidou shows how these Muslim women have effected change in the home, the school, the mosque, the media, and more—and she illuminates their determination as actors to challenge the oppressive influences of male-dominated power structures. In looking at differences as opportunities rather than obstacles, these women reflect a new sensibility among Muslim women and an effort to redefine the meaning of women's citizenship within their own community of faith and within the nation.

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Mutira Mission

An African Church Comes of Age in Kirinyaga, Kenya (1912-2012)

Cultural memory and narrative theology are well-known hallmarks of postmodern constructivist thought. The authorís research into a century of Anglican history in the Mount Kenya region has helped to establish the little known village of Mutira on the world map of the history of Christianity in Africa. This book, a composition of African biographies and mission history, chronicles how the Anglican Church has carried out its work in Mutira area in the past 100 years.

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Nairobi Today

The Paradox of a Fragmented City

Despite being a large capital city in Africa in terms of size and its regional role, Nairobi is an unrecognised entity. For the majority of its inhabitants, the capital of Kenya is a transit point rather than a dwelling place. Since its origins, Nairobi has been a city of migrants, more predisposed to their rural roots than to their current city status. It is a non-conforming town, which conceals its urbanity more than it claims it, and whose identity remains evasive. Nairobi presents itself as a mosaic of residential areas which bring to mind the cityís history. The racial segregation that stratified the development of the colonial city has today disappeared, but it has given way to a form of social segregation. One must, therefore, not seek a unique identity in Nairobi, but rather, several identitiesóthose of different communities that comprise the city and whose dynamics are seen at village and residential estate level. However, Nairobi is also a city that is contradictory. This East African capital city is often associated with slums and crime, and their increase and growth stigmatises the failure of urban policies. Therefore, it is at these cracks and fringes of the city that we should seek out the identities and dynamics that have shaped the city for a century. Nairobi is a fragmented city that can be understood in steps. The 13 contributory articles in Nairobi Today thus reveal the city. This multidisciplinary collective work invites us to gain entry into certain areas of the city, to visit its communities and to familiarise ourselves with its formal and informal institutions. This is a requirement in order to fully understand what makes Nairobi what it is today.

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Pan-Africanism or Pragmatism

Lessons of the Tanganyika-Zanzibar Union

The Pan-Africanist debate is back on the historical agenda. The stresses and strains in the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar since its formation some forty years ago are not showing any sign of abating. Meanwhile, imperialism under new forms and labels continues to bedevil the continent in ever-aggressive, if subtle, ways. The political federation of East Africa, which was one of the main spin-offs of the Pan-Africanism of the nationalist period, is reappearing on the political stage, albeit in a distorted form of regional integration. It is in this context that the present study is situated. Backgrounding the major dramas of the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar this book studies the personalities involved and their politics, and includes an account of the Dodoma CCM conference that toppled President Jumbe. It is also a detailed legal analysis of the union incorporating powerful new material.

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The Pate chronicle

edited and translated from MSS 177, 321, 344, and 358 of the Library of the University of Dar es Salaam

Marina Tolmacheva

In late October 1890, a British force led by Admiral Fremantle assaulted and subdued the East African town of Witu, the mainland capital of the Nabahani rulers of Pate; five years later, the entire region and the adjacent coastal islands came under British administration. One of the great tragedies suffered as a result of Admiral Fremantle's initial attack was the loss of the original manuscript of the history of Pate, The Book of the Kings of Pate.
     This historical work in its various forms is representative of a living historical tradition developed in the coastal city-states of East Africa and is considered one of the important literary treasures of their culture and society. It also stands as the most important indigenous source for Swahili history, the history of the Swahili language, its dialects, and its written tradition. The four Arabic-Swahili versions (manuscripts 177, 321, 344, and 358 of the Library of the University of Dar es Salaam) presented here in The Pate Chronicle add significantly to the growing pool of information available about Pate and East Africa before the era of European colonialism.

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Peasant Intellectuals

Anthropology and History in Tanzania

Steven Feierman

Scholars who study peasant society now realize that peasants are not passive, but quite capable of acting in their own interests.  But, do coherent political ideas emerge within peasant society or do peasants act in a world where elites define political issues?  Peasant Intellectuals is based on ethnographic research begun in 1966 and includes interviews with hundreds of people from all levels of Tanzanian society.  Steven Feierman provides the history of the struggles to define the most basic issues of public political discourse in the Shambaa-speaking region of Tanzania.  Feierman also shows that peasant society contains a rich body of alternative sources of political language from which future debates will be shaped.

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Performance and Politics in Tanzania

The Nation on Stage

Laura Edmondson

In Performance and Politics in Tanzania, Laura Edmondson examines how politics, social values, and gender are expressed on stage. Now a disappearing tradition, Tanzanian popular theatre integrates comic sketches, acrobatics, melodrama, song, and dance to produce lively commentaries on what it means to be Tanzanian. These dynamic shows invite improvisation and spontaneous and raucous audience participation as they explore popular sentiments. Edmondson asserts that these performances overturn the boundary between official and popular art and offer a new way of thinking about African popular culture. She discusses how the blurring of state agendas and local desires presents a charged environment for the exploration of Tanzanian political and social realities: What is the meaning of democracy and who gets to define it? Who is in power, and how is power exposed or concealed? What is the role of tradition in a postsocialist state? How will the future of the nation be negotiated? This engaging book provides important insight into the complexity of popular forms of expression during a time of political and social change in East Africa.

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