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History > African History > West Africa

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Highlife Saturday Night

Popular Music and Social Change in Urban Ghana

Nate Plageman

Highlife Saturday Night captures the vibrancy of Saturday nights in Ghana—when musicians took to the stage and dancers took to the floor—in this penetrating look at musical leisure during a time of social, political, and cultural change. Framing dance band "highlife" music as a central medium through which Ghanaians negotiated gendered and generational social relations, Nate Plageman shows how popular music was central to the rhythm of daily life in a West African nation. He traces the history of highlife in urban Ghana during much of the 20th century and documents a range of figures that fueled the music's emergence, evolution, and explosive popularity. This book is generously enhanced by audiovisual material on the Ethnomusicology Multimedia website.

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The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970

John J. Stremlau

Biafra's declaration of independence on May 30, 1967, precipitated a civil war with important implications for the territorial integrity of all newly independent African states. Allegations of genocide commanded the world's attention and brought forth unprecedented humanitarian intervention. This full account of the internationalization of that conflict draws on hitherto confidential records and more than two hundred interviews with foreign policymakers, including Yakubu Gowon and C. Odumegwu Ojukwu.

Originally published in 1977.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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The Izon of the Niger Delta

The Izon of the Niger Delta is a global history of the Izon, Ijo or Ijaw people from their homelands in the Niger Delta, through Nigeria, the West and Central African coastlands, and in the African diaspora into Europe, the America and the Caribbean. It is a preliminary study that raise questions and opens ground for further research. The book provides chapters that take an overview of issues on the environment of the Niger Delta, an analysis of the Ijo population, the language, culture, resources, history and linkage to the rest of Nigeria and the world. In effect these chapters provide a synopsis of the Ijo in the past and their situation in the present.

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Journey of Song

Public Life and Morality in Cameroon

Clare A. Ignatowski

During the long dry season, Tupuri men and women in northern Cameroon gather in gurna camps outside their villages to learn the songs that will be performed at widely attended celebrations to honor the year's dead. The gurna provides a space for them to join together in solidarity to care for their cattle, fatten their bodies, and share local stories. But why does the gurna remain meaningful in the modern nation-state of Cameroon? In Journey of Song, Clare A. Ignatowski explores the vitality of gurna ritual in the context of village life and urban neighborhoods. She shows how Tupuri songs borrow from political discourse on democracy in Cameroon and make light of human foibles, publicize scandals, promote the prestige of dancers, and provide an arena for powerful social commentary on the challenges of modern life. In the context of broad social change in Africa, Ignatowski explores the creative and communal process by which local livelihoods and identities are validated in dance and song.

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Kwame Nkrumah. Vision and Tragedy

"The yearlong celebration of Ghana's Golden Jubilee provides a fitting context for the republication of the book Kwame Nkrumah: Vision and Tragedy. In the lead-up to the celebration and over the course of the year, the life and times of Kwame Nkrumah will receive unprecedented public attention, official and unofficial. Kwame Nkrumah's very wide name-recognition is, paradoxically, accompanied by sketchy, often oversimplified knowledge about the events and processes of his life and times. For most of those born after independence in 1957, such knowledge does not extend much beyond who Kwame Nkrumah was and vague notions about he won us Independence"". This book presents new material and new analysis, which helps to clarify aspects of the record, while advancing new perspectives. What comes across clearly throughout the book is the significant contribution of Nkrumah's vision and personality at a critical moment in the history of Africa and the Third World. He, perhaps more than any other, was able to identify, focus and catalyse the major factors and players driving the struggle for political independence in Ghana and liberation in other parts of Africa. In the process, he committed his life and work totally to a wide variety of activities and processes in Ghana, the continent and in the global Non-Aligned Movement."" - Akilagpa Sawyerr Association of African Universities Accra, Ghana 10 March 2007 ""This is an objective study which should be read by all concerned with the history of post-colonial Africa."" - Conor Cruise O'Brien Former Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana, Legon. David Rooney is a specialist on Ghana from Cambridge. His research for this book unearthed unpublished material in Ghana, UK, and the United States, where he had access to CIA papers. He has written extensively on the Commonwealth and modern Africa, and is the author of a biography of Sir Charles Noble Arden Clarke."

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Land, Mobility, and Belonging in West Africa

Natives and Strangers

Carola Lentz

Focusing on an area of the savannah in northern Ghana and southwestern Burkina Faso, Land, Mobility, and Belonging in West Africa explores how rural populations have secured, contested, and negotiated access to land and how they have organized their communities despite being constantly on the move as farmers or migrant laborers. Carola Lentz seeks to understand how those who claim native status hold sway over others who are perceived to have come later. As conflicts over land, agriculture, and labor have multiplied in Africa, Lentz shows how politics and power play decisive roles in determining access to scarce resources and in changing notions of who belongs and who is a stranger.

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Letters on West Africa and the Slave Trade. Paul Erdmann Isertís Journey to Guinea and the Carribean Islands in Columbis (178

Paul E. Isert, a Dane, arrived in Ghana (then the Gold Coast) in 1783, taking advantage of an opening in the slave trade between Guinea and the West Indies. He was appointed as chief surgeon to the Danish establishments on the Guinea Coast. In 1786 he sailed to the West Indies with a cargo of slaves, who revolted. His experiences in Ghana and the West Indies resolved him to end the trans-Atlantic slave abuse. This book is written in the form of letters to his father. An elusive character, it is clear that he nonetheless had an unreservedly positive attitude towards Africa and its indigenous peoples, and an equally negative attitude towards the Europeans on the Guinea coast. An admirer of Rousseau?s philosophy, he was concerned about the corrupting influence of the European ?civilisation? on the ?Blacks?. His writing attempts at objectivity, seeking to find the common humanity. He claims that the ?Black? was, at least equal to that of the ?European?,which was not shared by his Danish predecessors. This is the first English language edition of his original Danish letters, previously published in German, Dutch, French, and Swedish.

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The Métis of Senegal

Urban Life and Politics in French West Africa

Hilary Jones

The Métis of Senegal is a history of politics and society among an influential group of mixed-race people who settled in coastal Africa under French colonialism. Hilary Jones describes how the métis carved out a niche as middleman traders for European merchants. As the colonial presence spread, the métis entered into politics and began to assert their position as local elites and power brokers against French rule. Many of the descendants of these traders continue to wield influence in contemporary Senegal. Jones's nuanced portrait of métis ascendency examines the influence of family connections, marriage negotiations, and inheritance laws from both male and female perspectives.

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Making Men in Ghana

Stephan F. Miescher

By featuring the life histories of eight senior men, Making Men in Ghana explores the changing meaning of becoming a man in modern Africa. Stephan F. Miescher concentrates on the ideals and expectations that formed around men who were prominent in their communities when Ghana became an independent nation. Miescher shows how they negotiated complex social and economic transformations and how they dealt with their mounting obligations and responsibilities as leaders in their kinship groups, churches, and schools. Not only were notions about men and masculinity shaped by community standards, but they were strongly influenced by imported standards that came from missionaries and other colonial officials. As he recounts the life histories of these men, Miescher reveals that the passage to manhood -- and a position of power, seniority, authority, and leadership -- was not always welcome or easy. As an important foil for studies on women and femininity, this groundbreaking book not only explores masculinity and ideals of male behavior, but offers a fresh perspective on African men in a century of change.

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