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How Societies Are Born

Governance in West Central Africa before 1600

Jan Vansina

Like stars, societies are born, and this story deals with such a birth. It asks a fundamental and compelling question: How did societies first coalesce from the small foraging communities that had roamed in West Central Africa for many thousands of years?

Jan Vansina continues a career-long effort to reconstruct the history of African societies before European contact in How Societies Are Born. In this complement to his previous study Paths in the Rainforests, Vansina employs a provocative combination of archaeology and historical linguistics to turn his scholarly focus to governance, studying the creation of relatively large societies extending beyond the foraging groups that characterized west central Africa from the beginning of human habitation to around 500 BCE, and the institutions that bridged their constituent local communities and made large-scale cooperation possible.

The increasing reliance on cereal crops, iron tools, large herds of cattle, and overarching institutions such as corporate matrilineages and dispersed matriclans lead up to the developments treated in the second part of the book. From about 900 BCE until European contact, different societies chose different developmental paths. Interestingly, these proceeded well beyond environmental constraints and were characterized by "major differences in the subjects which enthralled people," whether these were cattle, initiations and social position, or "the splendors of sacralized leaders and the possibilities of participating in them."

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The Impossible Machine

A Genealogy of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Adam Sitze

Adam Sitze meticulously traces the origins of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission back to two well-established instruments of colonial and imperial governance: the jurisprudence of indemnity and the commission of inquiry. This genealogy provides a fresh, though counterintuitive, understanding of the TRC’s legal, political, and cultural importance. The TRC’s genius, Sitze contends, is not the substitution of “forgiving” restorative justice for “strict” legal justice but rather the innovative adaptation of colonial law, sovereignty, and government. However, this also contains a potential liability: if the TRC’s origins are forgotten, the very enterprise intended to overturn the jurisprudence of colonial rule may perpetuate it. In sum, Sitze proposes a provocative new means by which South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be understood and evaluated.

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In the Twilight of the Revolution

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (South Africa) 1959-1994

This book is a long-overdue history of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the rise of the Africanist ideology in South Africa. From its formation in 1959, the PAC underground inside South Africa and in exile shaped the dynamics of the anti-apartheid movement and liberation struggle by framing alternative ideologies. Kwandiwe Kondlo analyses the radical traditions, the structural contradictions and the internal conflicts of this rival to the African National Congress (ANC), South Africaís dominant liberation organisation. The contributions of some of the PAC leaders, including Robert Sobukhwe, Potlake Kitchener Leballo, Vusumzi Make and John Nyathi Pokela, are reconstructed as are the PACís experiences in exile and the strategies pursued by its military wing, the Azanian Peopleís Liberation Party (APLA). The role of the PAC in the power-sharing negotiations leading to the historic 1994 elections in South Africa round off the narrative. The PAC story is a highly controversial one, as the perspectives are wide and various. This book seeks to present a balanced picture which includes diverse views in a comprehensive narrative.

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The Inevitable Pipeline into Exile

Botswana’s Role in the Namibian Liberation Struggle

The role played by Botswana in various southern African liberation struggles has previously been neglected in historical studies. The countryís politics of support and mobilisation early on in Namibiaís struggle for independence from South Africa proved crucial for the formative period of both nation states. Botswanaís difficult and contradictory position as neighbour of the South African apartheid state and colonial power in Namibia are carefully dealt with, as are the challenges faced by the fragile Namibian refugee networks and liberation movements, SWANU and SWAPO, operating in Botswana for decades. ìThe Inevitable Pipeline into Exileî deals with a crucial phase of nationalism and transnational politics during the period of southern African decolonisation at the height of South Africaís diplomatic and military aggression throughout the region.

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Intonations

A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to Recent Times

Marissa J. Moorman

Intonations tells the story of how Angola's urban residents in the late colonial period (roughly 1945-74) used music to talk back to their colonial oppressors and, more importantly, to define what it meant to be Angolan and what they hoped to gain from independence. Author Marissa J. Moorman presents a social and cultural history of the relationship between Angolan culture and politics. She argues that it was in and through popular urban music, produced mainly in the capital city of Luanda's musseques (urban shantytowns), that Angolans forged the nation and developed expectations about nationalism. Through careful archival work and extensive interviews with musicians and those who attend performances in bars, community centers, and cinemas, Moorman explores the ways in which the urban poor imagined the nation. The spread of radio technology and the establishment of a recording industry in the early 1970s reterritorialized an urban-produced sound and cultural ethos by transporting music throughout the country. When the formerly exiled independent movements returned to Angola in 1975, they found a population receptive to their nationalist message but with different expectations about the promises of independence. In producing and consuming music, Angolans formed a new image of independence and nationalist politics. A compilation of Angolan music is included in CD format.

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Land, Memory, Reconstruction, and Justice

Perspectives on Land Claims in South Africa

Cherryl Walker

In South Africa land is one of the most significant and controversial topics. Land restitution has been a complex, multidimensional process that has failed to meet the expectations with which it was initially launched in 1994. Ordinary citizens, policymakers, and analysts have begun to question progress in land reform in the years since South Africa’s transition to democracy. Land, Memory, Reconstruction, and Justice brings together a wealth of topical material and case studies by leading experts in the field who present a rich mix of perspectives from politics, sociology, geography, social anthropology, law, history, and agricultural economics. The collection addresses both the material and the symbolic dimensions of land claims, in rural and urban contexts, and explores the complex intersection of issues confronting the restitution program, from the promotion of livelihoods to questions of rights, identity, and transitional justice. A valuable contribution to the field of land and agrarian studies, both in South Africa and internationally, it is undoubtedly the most comprehensive treatment to date of South Africa’s postapartheid land claims process and will be essential reading for scholars and students of land reform for years to come.

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Last Outpost on the Zulu Frontiers

Fort Napier and the British Imperial Garrison

Graham Dominy

Small and isolated in the Colony of Natal, Fort Napier was long treated like a temporary outpost of the expanding British Empire. Yet British troops manned this South African garrison for over seventy years. Tasked with protecting colonists, the fort became even more significant as an influence on, and reference point for, settler society. Graham Dominy's Last Outpost on the Zulu Frontier reveals the unexamined but pivotal role of Fort Napier in the peacetime public dramas of the colony. Its triumphalist colonial-themed pageantry belied colonists's worries about their own vulnerability. As Dominy shows, the cultural, political, and economic methods used by the garrison compensated for this perceived weakness. Settler elites married their daughters to soldiers to create and preserve an English-speaking oligarchy. At the same time, garrison troops formed the backbone of a consumer market that allowed colonists to form banking and property interests that consolidated their control.

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The Law and the Prophets

Black Consciousness in South Africa, 1968-1977

Daniel R. Magaziner

“No nation can win a battle without faith,” Steve Biko wrote, and as Daniel R. Magaziner demonstrates in The Law and the Prophets, the combination of ideological and theological exploration proved a potent force.

The 1970s are a decade virtually lost to South African historiography. This span of years bridged the banning and exile of the country’s best-known antiapartheid leaders in the early 1960s and the furious protests that erupted after the Soweto uprisings of June 16, 1976. Scholars thus know that something happened—yet they have only recently begun to explore how and why.

The Law and the Prophets is an intellectual history of the resistance movement between 1968 and 1977; it follows the formation, early trials, and ultimate dissolution of the Black Consciousness movement. It differs from previous antiapartheid historiography, however, in that it focuses more on ideas than on people and organizations. Its singular contribution is an exploration of the theological turn that South African politics took during this time. Magaziner argues that only by understanding how ideas about race, faith, and selfhood developed and were transformed in this period might we begin to understand the dramatic changes that took place.

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A Life for Freedom

The Mission to End Racial Injustice in South Africa

Denis Goldberg. foreword by Z. Pallo Jordan

From June 1963 to October 1964, ten antiapartheid activists were tried at South Africa's Pretoria Supreme Court. Standing among the accused with Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, and Walter Sisulu was Denis Goldberg. Charged under the Sabotage and Suppression of Communism Acts for "campaigning to overthrow the government by violent revolution," Goldberg was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. The only white man convicted during the infamous Rivonia trial, he played a historic role in the struggle for justice in South Africa.

In this remarkable autobiography, Goldberg discusses growing up acutely aware of the injustice permeating his homeland. He joined the South African Communist Party and helped found the Congress of Democrats. It was his role as an officer in the armed underground wing of the African National Congress (ANC), however, that led to his life sentence -- the outcome of which was a staggering twenty-two years behind bars. While he was incarcerated, the racist dogma of apartheid imposed complete separation from his black comrades and colleagues, a segregation that denied him both the companionship and the counsel of his fellow accused.

Recounted with humor and humility, Goldberg's story not only provides a sweeping overview of life in South Africa both during and after apartheid, but also illuminates the experiences of the activists and oppressors whose fates were bound together.

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"Little Research Value"

African Estate Records and Colonial Gaps in a Post-Colonial National Archive

Ndeshi Namhila

Ellen Ndeshi Namhila is intrigued by the question: Why can the National Archives of Namibia respond to genealogical enquiries of Whites in a matter of minutes with finding estate records of deceased persons, while similar requests from Blacks cannot be served? Not satisfied with the sweeping statement that this is the result of colonialism and apartheid, she follows the track of so-called “Native estates” through legislation, record creation and disposal, records management and administrative neglect, authorised and unauthorised destruction, transfer and appraisal, selective processing, and (almost) final amnesia. Eventually she discovers over 11,000 forgotten surviving African estate records – but also evidence for the destruction of many others. And she demonstrates the potential of these records to interpret the lives of those who otherwise appear in history only as statistics – records which were condemned to destruction by colonial archivists stating they had “little research value and no functional value”. This study of memory against forgetting is a call to post-colonial archives to re-visit their holdings and the systemic colonial bias that continues to haunt them. This is the revised version of Ellen Namhila’s 2015 doctoral thesis published at the University of Tampere, Finland.

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