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Niger's political history has lacked a synthesis on the army's involvement in politics since independence. The country is a fertile ground for such analysis. Between 1964 and 1999, the country witnessed three successful military coups during the democratisation process (April 1974, January 1996, and April 1999) and at least four military coup attempts (1964, 1975, 1976, 1983). In its forty years of independence, Niger has been under military rule for twenty-one years. It has also experienced seven different institutional regimes while four out of the six presidents who headed the country were soldiers. Niger evolved from the Second to the Fifth Republic in less than ten years - from the national conference (November 1991) to the last military coup (April 1999). In statistical terms, Niger has been witnessing a military coup or a military coup attempt every five-years since 1974. In addition to that, the country recorded seven mutinies and various other forms of troop rebellion between December 1963 and August 2000. In terms of institutional instability, Niger's record is unparalleled in Africa. A study on the army is therefore more needed than ever before. The recurrence with which the military appears on the political scene imposes another way of looking at Niger's army. A critical analysis of the military phenomenon, if not an assessment, would help envisage new prospects for Niger's future. This work, which was undertaken by a multi disciplinary team, suggests an analysis, from a historical and sociological perspective, of the long-standing involvement of the army in politics (the apparition of war leaders in the 19th century, the transition from colonial army to national army, the politicisation of the army and the emergence of 'military-politicians', the army sociology.). It aims at providing an answer to a key question: Why is the army so deeply involved in politics in Niger? It reveals how a significant military component has been gradually built up in Niger's political arena to become a highly dynamic political entrepreneur, able to compete with civilian politicians. The work shows, on the one hand, the significance of socio-political and economic contexts that promote the propensity for military interventionism, and on the other hand the transformations within the army that explain its propensity to intervene. It relates two decades of 'military rule', analyses their modes of legitimating, organising and managing power, gives an assessment of their economic policies and sheds light on women's role in that institution, which was thus far a men's business.
Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo
Between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries, the west central African kingdom of Kongo practiced Christianity and actively participated in the Atlantic world as an independent, cosmopolitan realm. Drawing on an expansive and largely unpublished set of objects, images, and documents, Fromont examines the advent of Kongo Christian visual culture and traces its development across four centuries marked by war, the Atlantic slave trade, and, finally, the rise of nineteenth-century European colonialism. By offering an extensive analysis of the religious, political, and artistic innovations through which the Kongo embraced Christianity, Fromont approaches the country's conversion as a dynamic process that unfolded across centuries.
Sidi Ballo and the Art of West African Masquerade
In 1978, Patrick McNaughton witnessed a bird dance masquerade in the small town of Dogoduman. He was so affected by this performance that its dazzling artistic power has never left him. As he revisits that very special evening in A Bird Dance near Saturday City, McNaughton carefully considers the components of the performance, its pace, the performers, and what the entire experience means for understandings of Bamana and West African aesthetics and culture. The performance of virtuoso dancer Sidi Ballo becomes McNaughton's vehicle for understanding the power of individuals in African art and the power of aesthetics as a cultural phenomenon. Topics such as what makes art effective, what makes it "good," how production is wrapped in individual virtuosity, and what individual artistry suggests about society reveal how individuals work together to create the indelible experience of outstanding performance. This exuberant and captivating book will influence views of society, culture, art, history, and their makers in West Africa for years to come.
The Tabom, Slavery, Dissonance of Memory, Identity, and Locating Home
Management and Resolution, 1981-2011
At independence, Cameroon and Nigeria adhered to the OAU principle of UTI POSSEDETIS JURIS by inheriting the colonial administrative borders whose delineation in some parts was either imperfect or not demarcated or both. The two countries tried to correct these anomalies. But such efforts were later thwarted by incessant geostrategic reckoning, dilatory, and diversionary tactics in the seventies and eighties that persisted and resurfaced in the nineties with a more determined posture. On two occasions, the border conflict almost boiled over to a full-scale war. First, in May 1981 when there was the exchange of fire between Cameroonian and Nigerian coast guards and second, in February 1994 when Nigeria marched her troops into Cameroonís Bakassi Peninsula. Elsewhere in Africa, border incidents like these have often degenerated into war. But Cameroon and Nigeria together with the international community managed these protracted incidents from escalating into war. This book examines the part played by the disputing parties, Cameroon and Nigeria; the mediation, conciliatory and adjudicatory role of third parties; and the regional and international organisations, in the process of the resolution of the border dispute from 1981-2011. The study situates the nature and dynamics of the dispute historically, and comprehensively explores in detail its causes, settlement and resolution.
Film as a Vehicle for Liberation
Cinema and Development in West Africa shows how the film industry in Francophone West African countries played an important role in executing strategies of nation building during the transition from French rule to the early postcolonial period. James E. Genova sees the construction of African identities and economic development as the major themes in the political literature and cultural production of the time. Focusing on film both as industry and aesthetic genre, he demonstrates its unique place in economic development and provides a comprehensive history of filmmaking in the region during the transition from colonies to sovereign states.
Governor Edward Carstensen on Danish Guinea 1842-50
Sitting on the terrace of the royal plantation Frederiksgave, his favourite retreat, Governor Edward Carstensen came to see the inevitable: Denmark had to give up her ìpossessionsî in Africa. As fate would have it, he came to be the instrument by which two centuries of Danish involvement on the Gold Coast was terminated, thereby making way for the emergence of the colonial system that developed there. After the abolition of the slave trade, Denmark had struggled to find ways and means to legitimate her continued stay at the Coast. At an early stage the Danes initiated a number of attempts to establish experimental plantations to cultivate export crops such as cotton, coffee and sugar. But a transition from slave trade to ìlegitimateî products required stability and peace, and a need for control, which the rather limited Danish presence was not able to maintain. Closing the Books comprises a compilation of the official reports that the last Danish Governor sent home during his term of office at the Gold Coast. The reports reflect his personal views regarding the economic and political situations there, as well as his ideas on the ìcivilization of Africaî.
Clearly written and free of jargon, Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea argues that Guinea’s vote for independence was the culmination of a decade-long struggle between local militants and political leaders for control of the political agenda. Since 1950, when RDA representatives in the French parliament severed their ties to the French Communist Party, conservative elements had dominated the RDA. In Guinea, local cadres had opposed the break. Victimized by the administration and sidelined by their own leaders, they quietly rebuilt the party from the base. Leftist militants, their voices muted throughout most of the decade, gained preeminence in 1958, when trade unionists, students, the party’s women’s and youth wings, and other grassroots actors pushed the Guinean RDA to endorse a “No” vote. Thus, Guinea’s rejection of the proposed constitution in favor of immediate independence was not an isolated aberration. Rather, it was the outcome of years of political mobilization by activists who, despite Cold War repression, ultimately pushed the Guinean RDA to the left.
The significance of this highly original book, based on previously unexamined archival records and oral interviews with grassroots activists, extends far beyond its primary subject. In illuminating the Guinean case, Elizabeth Schmidt helps us understand the dynamics of decolonization and its legacy for postindependence nation-building in many parts of the developing world.
Examining Guinean history from the bottom up, Schmidt considers local politics within the larger context of the Cold War, making her book suitable for courses in African history and politics, diplomatic history, and Cold War history.
Northern Nigeria in the Great Depression
Ochonu shows that the economic downturn made colonial exploitation all but impossible and that this dearth of profits and surpluses frustrated the colonial administration which then authorized a brutal regime of grassroots exactions and invasive intrusions. The outcomes were as harsh for Northern Nigerians as those of colonial exploitation in boom years.
Northern Nigerians confronted colonial economic recovery measures and their agents with a variety of strategies. Colonial Meltdown analyzes how farmers, women, laborers, laid-off tin miners, and Northern Nigeria’s emergent elite challenged and rebelled against colonial economic recovery schemes with evasive trickery, defiance, strategic acts of revenge, and criminal self-help and, in the process, exposed the weak underbelly of the colonial system.
Combined with the economic and political paralysis of colonial bureaucrats in the face of crisis, these African responses underlined the fundamental weakness of the colonial state, the brittleness of its economic mission, and the limits of colonial coercion and violence. This atmosphere of colonial collapse emboldened critics of colonial policies who went on to craft the rhetorical terms on which the anticolonial struggle of the post–World War II period was fought out.
In the current climate of global economic anxieties, Ochonu’s analysis will enrich discussions on the transnational ramifications of economic downturns. It will also challenge the pervasive narrative of imperial economic success.
Criminal Justice in Nigeria
A pioneering book on prisons in West Africa, Colonial Systems of Control: Criminal Justice in Nigeria is the first comprehensive presentation of life inside a West African prison. Chapters by prisoners inside Kirikiri maximum security prison in Lagos, Nigeria are published alongside chapters by scholars and activists. While prisoners document the daily realities and struggles of life inside a Nigerian prison, scholar and human rights activist Viviane Saleh-Hanna provides historical, political, and academic contexts and analyses of the penal system in Nigeria. The European penal models and institutions imported to Nigeria during colonialism are exposed as intrinsically incoherent with the community-based conflict-resolution principles of most African social structures and justice models. This book presents the realities of imprisonment in Nigeria while contextualizing the colonial legacies that have resulted in the inhumane brutalities that are endured on a daily basis.