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Repainting the Walls of Lunda

Information Colonialism and Angolan Art

Delinda Collier

Repainting the Walls of Lunda chronicles the publication and dissemination of an anthropology book, Paredes Pintadas da Lunda (Painted Walls of Lunda), which was published in Portuguese in 1953. The book featured illustrations of wall murals and sand drawings of the Chokwe peoples of northeastern Angola. These reproductions were adapted in postindependence Angolan nationalist art and post–civil war contemporary art. As Delinda Collier recounts, the pictorial narrative foregrounds the complex relationships between content, distribution, and politicization. The result is a nuanced look at the practices of art entangled in political economies as much as in issues of aesthetics.

After historicizing the drastic changes in media for the Chokwe images, from sand and dwelling to book and from analog to digital, Collier analyzes the formal and infrastructural logic of the two-dimensional images in their subsequent formats, from postindependence canvas paintings to Internet images. Collier does not view any of these iterations as a negation or obliteration of the previous one. Instead, she argues that the logic of reproductive media envelops the past: each mediation adds another layer of context and content. As Collier sees it, the images’ historicity is embedded within these media layers, which many Angolan postindependence artists speak of in terms of ghosts or ancestors when describing their encounter with reproductions of the Chokwe art.

If, as Collier contends, “Africa troubles media,” this book troubles facile theories and romantic constructions of “analog Africa,” boundaries between art and cybernetics, and the firewall between the colonial and the postcolonial.


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Rethinking the South African Crisis

Nationalism, Populism, Hegemony

Gillian Hart

Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has become an extreme yet unexceptional embodiment of forces at play in many other regions of the world: intensifying inequality alongside “wageless life,” proliferating forms of protest and populist politics that move in different directions, and official efforts at containment ranging from liberal interventions targeting specific populations to increasingly common police brutality.

Rethinking the South African Crisis revisits long-standing debates to shed new light on the transition from apartheid. Drawing on nearly twenty years of ethnographic research, Hart argues that local government has become the key site of contradictions. Local practices, conflicts, and struggles in the arenas of everyday life feed into and are shaped by simultaneous processes of de-nationalization and re-nationalization. Together they are key to understanding the erosion of African National Congress hegemony and the proliferation of populist politics.

This book provides an innovative analysis of the ongoing, unstable, and unresolved crisis in South Africa today. It also suggests how Antonio Gramsci’s concept of passive revolution, adapted and translated for present circumstances with the help of philosopher and liberation activist Frantz Fanon, can do useful analytical and political work in South Africa and beyond.

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Robert Thorne Coryndon

Proconsular Imperialism in Southern and Eastern Africa, 1897-1925

Robert Thorne Coryndon, born in South Africa in 1870, served twenty-eight years as the top-ranking administrator of African dependencies, a career unmatched by any other British colonial governor. “Governors were expected, through a combination of good sense and good character, to exercise rule over dependent peoples in an honest and impartial manner—an amalgam of liberal values and autocratic methods which lent a certain ambiguity to British imperial rule in Africa and elsewhere.”

During his rule in Barotseland (1897–1907) under Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company, Coryndon confronted the problems of establishing a colonial regime; in 1914–1915, during the last seven years of his Swaziland appointment, he served as Chairman of the land commission that delineated the boundaries of African reserves in Southern Rhodesia; as governor of Uganda during a time of rapid economic expansion (1917–1922), he set up legislative and executive councils; and as governor of Kenya (1922–1925) he formed local native councils as an experiment in indigenous administration.

This first full-length study of Coryndon is neither a traditional gubernatorial biography of a favoured son of the imperial school nor an ideological history of colonial oppression. Instead Youé sets out to analyze Coryndon’s relationships with African rulers, white settlers, Indian traders, and metropolitan officials in order to assess the impact of his administrations on the territories he governed and to delineate the constraints on proconsular rule.

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SheMurenga: The Zimbabwean Women's Movement 1995-2000

This book demonstrates the place of womenís movements during a defining period of contemporary Zimbabwe. The government of Robert Mugabe may have been as firmly in power in 2000 as it was in 1995, but the intervening years saw severe economic crisis, mass strikes and protests, the start of land occupations, intervention in the war in the DRC, and the rise of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Shereen Essof shows how Zimbabwean women crafted responses to these and other events, and aimed for a feminist agenda that would prioritise the interests of the rural and urban poor. Rejecting both the strictures of patriarchy and the orthodoxies of established feminism, she demands that Zimbabweís women be heard in their own voices and in their own contexts. In doing so she writes a book that combines scholarly integrity with a wild, joyous cry for liberation.

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Slavery by Any Other Name

African Life under Company Rule in Colonial Mozambique

Eric Allina

Based on documents from a long-lost and unexplored colonial archive, Slavery by Any Other Name tells the story of how Portugal privatized part of its empire to the Mozambique Company. In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the company governed central Mozambique under a royal charter and built a vast forced labor regime camouflaged by the rhetoric of the civilizing mission.

Oral testimonies from more than one hundred Mozambican elders provide a vital counterpoint to the perspectives of colonial officials detailed in the archival records of the Mozambique Company. Putting elders' voices into dialogue with officials' reports, Eric Allina reconstructs this modern form of slavery, explains the impact this coercive labor system had on Africans’ lives, and describes strategies they used to mitigate or deflect its burdens. In analyzing Africans’ responses to colonial oppression, Allina documents how some Africans succeeded in recovering degrees of sovereignty, not through resistance, but by placing increasing burdens on fellow Africans—a dynamic that paralleled developments throughout much of the continent.

This volume also traces the international debate on slavery, labor, and colonialism that ebbed and flowed during the first several decades of the twentieth century, exploring a conversation that extended from the backwoods of the Mozambique-Zimbabwe borderlands to ministerial offices in Lisbon and London. Slavery by Any Other Name situates this history of forced labor in colonial Africa within the broader and deeper history of empire, slavery, and abolition, showing how colonial rule in Africa simultaneously continued and transformed past forms of bondage.

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Sonic Spaces of the Karoo

The Sacred Music of a South African Coloured Community

Marie Jorritsma

Sonic Spaces of the Karoo is a pioneering study of the sacred music of three coloured (the apartheid designation for people "not white or native") people's church congregations in the rural town of Graaff-Reinet, South Africa. Jorritsma's fieldwork involves an investigation of the choruses, choir music, and hymns of the Karoo region to present a history of the people's traditional, religious, and cultural identity in song. This music is examined as part of a living archive preserved by the community in the face of a legacy of slavery and colonial as well as apartheid oppression.

Jorritsma's findings counteract a lingering stereotype that coloured music is inferior to European or African music and that coloured people should not or do not have a cultural identity. Sonic Spaces of the Karoo seeks to eradicate that bias and articulate a more legitimate place for these people in the contemporary landscape of South Africa.

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South Africa's Struggle for Human Rights

The History of Rights in South Africa

Saul Dubow

The human rights movement in South Africa’s transition to a postapartheid democracy has been widely celebrated as a triumph for global human rights. It was a key aspect of the political transition, often referred to as a miracle, which brought majority rule and democracy to South Africa. The country’s new constitution, its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the moral authority of Nelson Mandela stand as exemplary proof of this achievement. Yet, less than a generation after the achievement of freedom, the status of human rights and constitutionalism in South Africa is uncertain. In government the ANC has displayed an inconsistent attitude to the protection, and advancement, of hard-won freedoms and rights, and it is not at all clear that a broader civic and political consciousness of the importance of rights is rooting itself more widely in popular culture.

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South Africa's Weapons of Mass Destruction

Helen E. Purkitt and Stephen F. Burgess

South Africa's Weapons of Mass Destruction offers an in-depth view of the secret development and voluntary disarmament of South Africa's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons program, Project Coast. Helen E. Purkitt and Stephen F. Burgess explore how systems used for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in South Africa were acquired and established beyond the gaze of international and domestic political actors. On the basis of archival evidence from Project Coast and their own extensive interviews with military and political officials, Purkitt and Burgess consider what motivates countries to acquire and build such powerful weaponry and examine when and how decisions are made to dismantle a military arsenal voluntarily. Questions such as how to destroy weapons safely and keep them from reappearing on international markets are considered along with comparative strategies for successful disarmament in other nation-states.

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Spear of the Nation

Umkhonto weSizwe

Janet Cherry

Umkhonto we Sizwe, Spear of the Nation, was arguably the last of the great liberation armies of the twentieth century—but it never got to “march triumphant into Pretoria.” MK—as it was known—was the armed wing of the African National Congress, South Africa’s liberation movement, that challenged the South African apartheid government. A small group of revolutionaries committed to the seizure of power, MK discovered its principal members engaged in negotiated settlement with the enemy and was disbanded soon after.

The history of MK is one of paradox and contradiction, of successes and failures. In this short study, which draws widely on the personal experiences of—and commentary by—MK soldiers, Janet Cherry offers a new and nuanced account of the Spear of the Nation. She presents in broad outline the various stages of MK’s thirty-year history, considers the difficult strategic and moral problems the revolutionary army faced, and argues that its operations are likely to be remembered as a just war conducted with considerable restraint.

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Steve Biko

Lindy Wilson

Steve Biko inspired a generation of black South Africans to claim their true identity and refuse to be a part of their own oppression. Through his example, he demonstrated fearlessness and self-esteem, and he led a black student movement countrywide that challenged and thwarted the culture of fear perpetuated by the apartheid regime. He paid the highest price with his life. The brutal circumstances of his death shocked the world and helped isolate his oppressors.

This short biography of Biko shows how fundamental he was to the reawakening and transformation of South Africa in the second half of the twentieth century—and just how relevant he remains. Biko’s understanding of black consciousness as a weapon of change could not be more relevant today to “restore people to their full humanity.”

As an important historical study, this book’s main sources were unique interviews done in 1989—before the end of apartheid—by the author with Biko’s acquaintances, many of whom have since died.

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