Primary source collections
Internet African History Sourcebook
This popular online source collection, maintained by Fordham University, includes sources ranging from the Old Kingdom to the continental slave trader to Rhodesian independence. Categories “European Imperialism,” “the Fight for Independence,” and “Modern Africa” list over a hundred publicly accessible primary sources by theme and region.
The Mau Mau Rebellion
Boston University’s collection of primary materials, secondary sources, and teaching handouts provides instructors with the resources necessary to teach a comprehensive unit on Kenya’s Mau Mau Rebellion. The collection incorporates a variety of sources, from cartoons and advertisements to propaganda videos.
Global African History: Primary Documents
This collection from Black Past includes primary sources that shaped the geopolitical and cultural trajectory of colonialism and postcolonial nations in Africa. Explore this collection to view essential documents like the Treaty of Berlin, Uganda Agreement, Arusha Declaration, and more.
Extracted primary sources
Jomo Kenyatta, “The Kenya Africa Union is not the Mau Mau” (1952)
Before he became Kenya’s first president, Kikuyu activist Jomo Kenyatta delivered this speech at the Kenya African Union Meeting at Nyeri in July 1952. In his speech, Kenyatta warns against violent resistance, encouraging the KAU to instead trust the discretion of the British Royal Commission.
The Mau Mau Warrior Oath (c. 1950s)
This warrior oath was sworn by Mau Mau warriors who rebelled against British colonial rule in Kenya during the 1950s. The oath stipulates that Mau Mau warriors must protect indigenous Kenyan lands from European theft at all costs, and that warriors must commit themselves to violent, self-sacrificial resistance in order to do so.
All-African People’s Conference, “Resolution on Imperialism and Colonialism” (1958)
In this December 1958 resolution, representatives from the All-African People’s Conference in Accra expressly denounce any European imperial claim to sovereign African lands, resources, and peoples. The resolution condemns the “nefarious game of power politics” played by imperial powers and mandates that the civil and human rights of African peoples can only be protected by African peoples themselves.
Patrice Lumumba, “Speech at Accra” (1958)
In December 1958, two years before becoming the first Prime Minister of the Congo, president of the Congolese National Movement Patrice Lumumba delivered this brief speech to the Assembly of African Peoples. Lumumba and the CNM’s political aims are simple: to free themselves of “the shackles of colonialism and all its consequences.”
Harold Macmillan, “The Winds of Change” (1960)
British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan’s 1960 address to the South African Parliament turned out to be the most famous public speech of his long political career. In “the Winds of Change,” MacMillan concedes that decolonization has had an irreversible effect on the continent of Africa, and that the days of the once-powerful British Empire were numbered.
Ousame Sembene, God’s Bit of Wood (1960)
Originally written in French, this novel by Senegalese author Ousame Sembene focuses on a 1940s railroad strike in colonial Senegal. Unlike more radical anti-colonial contemporaries, Semebene subtly emphasizes more accommodative and collaborative decolonization efforts between the Senegalese and the French.
Patrice Lumumba, “Speech at the Ceremony of the Proclamation of the Congo’s Independence” (1960)
Patrice Lumumba delivered his first speech as the free state of Congo’s first prime minister the day the Democratic Republic of Congo officially announced independence. Lumumba applauds the Congolese people for their tenacity in the face of injustice and suffering and emphasizes a national future devoted to social justice and civil existence.
Kwame Nkrumah, “I Speak of Freedom” (1961)
Founder and first president of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah published this call for African unity in 1961. Nkrumah encouraged newly decolonized African nations to reconsider their independence, arguing that continental unity could be the “African solution” to transnational issues of poverty, violence, resource extraction, and other issues incurred upon the continent by imperial powers.
U Thant, “The Congo Problem” (1962)
In this excerpt from the records of the United Nations Security Council, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Burmese diplomat U Thant comments on the UN’s efforts to establish a stable, democratic central government in what was formerly Belgian Congo. Thant also explicitly refuses to recognize the independence of the copper and cobalt-rich region of Katanga.
John Burns (the New York Times), “The World: Four White Rhodesians Talk About the Future” (1978)
In a group interview conducted by the New York Times’ John Burns, four white Rhodesians engaged in a variety of social and political endeavors discuss their hopes and fears for the new state of Rhodesia. The interviewees address majority rule, racial and political integration, and the possibility of leaving east Africa.
“Lancaster House Agreement, Southern Rhodesia Constitutional Conference Held at Lancaster House, London” (1979)
This agreement, signed by British officials and representatives from Zimbabwe’s Patriotic Front, the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union, the Zimbabwe African National Union, and the Zimbabwe Rhodesian government, allowed the creation and recognition of the independent Republic of Zimbabwe. By recognizing Zimbabwean sovereignty, the agreement simultaneously refused to recognize the state of Rhodesia.
Otieno, Wambu Waiyaki, Mau Mau’s Daughter, a Life History, Boulder, CO and London, UK: Lynne Rienner Publishers (1998)
Wambui Waiyaki Otieno, Kenyan activist and wife of the late S.M. Otieno, recounts her involvement in nearly 50 years of East African politics, including: her years in the Mau Mau movement; her role in women’s organizations; and the controversy surrounding her husband’s burial.
Articles and essays
Allman, Jean, “Phantoms of the Archive: Kwame Nkrumah, a Nazi Pilot Named Hanna, and the Contingencies of History-Writing,” American Historical Review 118, 1 (2013).
This article chronicles the personal and political relationship between Ghanian prime minster Kwame Nkrumah and ex-Nazi test pilot Hanna Reitsch. Jean Allman places the two contemporaries in a comparative, transnational context in an attempt to better understand the influence of flight technology, national interest, and political identity on Ghana’s early development.
Brennan, James, “The Cold War Battle Over Global News in East Africa: Decolonization, the Free Flow of Information, and the Media Business, 1960-1980,” Journal of Global History 10, 2 (2015).
This article examines the news business in Africa during decolonization. While UNESCO stimulated enormous discussion about creating independent ‘third world’ alternatives for news exchange, African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania sought to secure informational sovereignty by placing international news agencies within their control. Reuters and other international news agencies, in turn, adapted to decolonization by reinventing themselves as companies working to assist new nation-states.
Cooper, Frederick, “Possibility and Constraint: African Independence in Historical Perspective,” The Journal of African History 49, 2 (2008).
This article points to the alternative forms of political action which opened up at certain moments in African history and how, in other moments, some of those alternatives closed down. It assesses concepts and arguments used in writing the history of Africa, now that the recent African past – spanning the last years of colonial rule and the years of independence – has become a significant focus of historical inquiry.
Kanogo, Tabitha, “Kikuyu Women and the Politics of Protest: Mau Mau” in Sharon Macdonald, Pat Holden and Shirley Ardener (eds.) Images of Women in Peace and War: Cross- cultural and Historical Perspectives, Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan Education, 1987.
This study examines the roles and images of women in the Mau Mau war of liberation in Kenya. It depicts the prevailing male stereotypes of women; how men manipulated these; and the way in which women conformed to — and in some cases overcame — such stereotypes by creating new female images and by adopting new roles during the struggle.
Mackenzie, Fiona, “Political Economy of the Environment, Gender, and Resistance under Colonialism: Murang’a District, Kenya, 1910-1950,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 25, 1 (1991).
This article, centered on oral histories from the Murang’a District in Kenya’s Central Province, identifies the relationship between the economy, politics, environmental degradation, and emphasizes class and gender roles in colonial Kenya.
Moskowitz, Kara, “‘Are You Planting Trees or Are You Planting People?’ Squatter Resistance and International Development in the Making of a Kenyan Postcolonial Political Order (c. 1963–78),” The Journal of African History 56, 1 (2015): 99-118.
This article examines squatter resistance to a World Bank-funded forest and paper factory project. The article illustrates how diverse actors came together at the sites of rural development projects in early postcolonial Kenya. In negotiating development, rural actors and political elites decided how resources would be distributed and they entered into new patronage-based relationships, processes integral to the making of the postcolonial political order.
Nwaubani, Ebere, “Eisenhower, Nkrumah and the Congo Crisis,” Journal of Contemporary History 36, 4 (2001).
In this article, Nwaubani reassesses the relationship between the United States’ President Eisenhower and radical Ghanian revolutionary and prime minister Kwame Nkrumah. Nwaubani compares the two mid-century leaders’ responses to the Congo Crisis of the 1960s, weighing where their opinions coincided and where they clashed.
Presley, Cora Ann, “The Mau Mau Rebellion, Kikuyu Women, and Social Change,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 22, 3 (1988).
This article critiques current studies of Kikuyu nationalism, noting the hidden but powerful influence of independent women’s nationalism. It examines the importance of women’s role in militant nationalism and suggests that these activities gave rise to a fight for women’s leadership in post-Mau Mau Kenya.
Riley, Charlotte, “’Tropical Allsorts’: The Transnational Flavor of British Development Policies in Africa,” Journal of World History, 26, 4 (December 2015): 839-864.
This article explores how postwar British development in Africa was generated, transferred, and applied in the context of a series of wider networks. It examines the methods, pathways, and limits of this transnational approach to development.
Santoru, Marinu, “The Colonial Idea of Women and Direct Intervention: The Mau Mau Case,” African Affairs 95 (1996).
In this article, Santoru argues for Kenyan women’s political agency and colonial provocation, attempting to replace a patriarchal colonial regime with a gender- and class-egalitarian society. This article incorporates a variety of sources in order to demonstrate the progressive involvement of women in resistance and nation-building movements.
White, Aaronette, “All the Men are Fighting for Freedom, All the Women are Mourning their Men, but Some of us Carried Guns: A Raced-Gendered Analysis of Fanon’s Psychological Perspectives on War,” Signs 32, 4 (2007).
White applies a gendered critique to Fanon’s analysis of violent insurgency and its influence on the individual. In this dense yet informative essay, White argues that “Fanon was overly optimistic about the psychological potential of revolutionary violence,” a misperception rooted in his ignorance of the “gendered aspects of anticolonial war.”
White, Luise, “Separating the Men from the Boys: Constructions of Gender, Sexuality, and Terrorism in Central Kenya, 1939-1959,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 23, 1 (1990).
In this article focusing on gender in pre-Mau Man Kenya, White focuses not on Kenyan women, but Kenyan men, who, White argues, have been studied as “patriotic, zealous, enemies of imperialism.” White focuses instead on the nature of men’s domestic rights and how these private battles sometimes coincided but often conflicted with their role as warriors and revolutionaries.
Young, Alden and Michael Woldemariam, “After the Split: Partition, Successor States, and the Dynamics of War in the Horn of Africa,” Journal of Strategic Studies (2016).
Why do partitioned successor states engage one another in armed conflict? Young and Woldermariam explore the drivers of war between successor states by comparing two border crises that followed the partitions of Ethiopia (1993) and Sudan (2011). The authors argue that the politico-military struggles that give way to partition create important historical memories that shape what successor states think about the utility of military force.
Books and readers
Alhman, Jeffrey. Living With Nkrumahism: Nation, State, and Pan-Africanism in Ghana
This book reexamines the infrastructure that organized and consolidated Ghanaian statesman Kwame Nkrumah’s philosophy into a political program. The author portrays an organizational and cultural history of Nkrumahism, illuminating the range of Ghanaians’ relationships to their country’s position in the decolonization process.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony, In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Appiah, a Ghana-born philosopher who teaches in the United State, explores, in his words, “the possibilities and pitfalls of an African identity in the late twentieth century.” In the process he sheds new light on what it means to be an African-American, on the many preconceptions that have muddled discussions of race, Africa, and Afrocentrism since the end of the nineteenth century, and, in the end, to move beyond the idea of race.
Bamba, Abou, African Miracle, African Mirage: Transnational Politics and the Paradox of Modernization in Ivory Coast, Athens: Ohio University Press, 2016.
In this book, Bamba incorporates economics, political science, and history to craft a bold, transnational study of the development practices and intersecting colonial cultures that continue to shape Ivory Coast today. He considers French, American, and Ivorian development discourses in examining the roles of hydroelectric projects and the sugar, coffee, and cocoa industries in the country’s boom and bust. In so doing, he brings the agency of Ivorians themselves to the fore in a way not often seen in histories of development.
Bouwer, Karen, Gender and Decolonization in the Congo: The Legacy of Patrice Lumumba, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Patrice Lumumba’s legacy continues to fire the imagination of politicians, activists, and artists. But women have been missing from accounts of the Congo’s decolonization. Through analysis of Lumumba’s writings and speeches, the life stories of women activists, and literary and cinematic works, this book challenges male-centered interpretations of Congolese nationalism and illustrates how generic conventions both reinforced and undercut gender bias in representations of Lumumba and his female contemporaries.
Branch, Daniel, Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya: Counterinsurgency, Civil War and Decolonisation, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
This book details the devastating Mau Mau civil war fought in Kenya during the 1950s and the legacies of that conflict for the post-colonial state. It explores the instrumental use of violence, changes to allegiances, and the ways in which cleavages created by the war informed local politics for decades after the conflict’s conclusion.
Branch, Daniel, Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963-2011, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011.
In this authoritative and insightful account of Kenya’s history from 1963 to the present day, Branch sheds new light on the nation’s struggles and the complicated causes behind them. Branch describes how Kenya constructed itself as a state and how ethnicity has proved a powerful force in national politics from the start, as have disorder and violence. He explores such divisive political issues as the needs of the landless poor, international relations with Britain and with the Cold War superpowers, and the direction of economic development.
Chafer, Tony, The End of Empire in French West Africa: France’s Successful Decolonization? New York, NY: Berg, 2002.
Chafer argues that the rapid unfurling of events after the Second World War was a complex, piecemeal, and unpredictable process, resulting in a ‘successful decolonization’ that was achieved largely by accident. This important book challenges the traditional dichotomy between ‘imperial’ and ‘colonial’ history.
Cohen, Andrew, The Politics and Economics of Decolonization in Africa: The Failed Experiment of the Central African Federation, London, UK: I.B. Tauris, 2015.
Drawing on newly released archival material, this book offers a fresh examination of Britain’s central African territories in the late colonial period and provides a detailed assessment of how events in Britain, Africa and the UN shaped the process of decolonization. The author situates the Central African Federation – which consisted of modern day Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi – in its wider international context, shedding light on the Federation’s complex relationships with South Africa, with US Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and with the expanding United Nations.
Cooper, Frederick, Africa in the World: Capitalism, Empire, Nation-State, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014.
Frederick Cooper revisits a history in which Africans were both empire-builders and the objects of colonization, and participants in the events that gave rise to global capitalism. In a critique of W.E.B. DuBois’ The World and Africa, Cooper reflects on the vast body of research on Africa since Du Bois’s time, and corrects outdated perceptions of a continent often relegated to the margins of world history and integrates its experience into the mainstream of global affairs.
Cooper, Frederick, Decolonization and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa, Cambridge, UK Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Cooper gathers a vast range of archival sources in French and English to achieve a truly comparative study of colonial policy toward the recruitment, control, and institutionalization of African labor forces from the mid 1930s, when the labor question was first posed, to the late 1950s, when decolonization was well under way. Cooper explores colonial conceptions of the African worker and shows how African trade union and political leaders used the new language of social change to claim equality and a share of power.
Davila, Jerry, Hotel Tropico: Brazil and the Challenge of African Decolonization 1950-1980, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.
In the wake of African decolonization, Brazil attempted to forge connections with newly independent countries. In the early 1960s it launched an effort to establish diplomatic ties with Africa; in the 1970s it undertook trade campaigns to open African markets to Brazilian technology. This book reveals the perceptions, particularly regarding race, of the diplomats and intellectuals who traveled to Africa on Brazil’s behalf.
Ferguson, James, The Anti-Politics Machine: ‘Development’, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.
Ferguson analyzes the institutional framework within which “development” projects are crafted and the nature of “development discourse.” In a close examination of the attempted implementation of the Thaba-Tseka project in Lesotho, Ferguson shows how, instead, the “development” apparatus in Lesotho acts as an “anti-politics machine,” everywhere whisking political realities out of sight and all the while performing, almost unnoticed, its own pre-eminently political operation of strengthening the state presence in the local region.
Feingold, Ellen R., Colonial Justice and the Decolonization in the High Court of Tanzania, 1920-1971, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
This book is the first study of the development and decolonization of a British colonial high court in Africa. It traces the history of the High Court of Tanzania from its establishment in 1920 to the end of its institutional process of decolonization in 1971.
Ferguson, James, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.
Anthropologist James Ferguson moves beyond the traditional anthropological focus on local communities to explore more general questions about Africa and its place in the contemporary world. Ferguson develops his argument through a series of provocative essays which open—as he shows they must—into interrogations of globalization, modernity, worldwide inequality, and social justice.
Gerard, Emmanuel and Bruce Kuklick, Death in the Congo: Murdering Patrice Lumumba, Boston, MA: Harvard University Press 2015.
This book is a gripping account of a murder that became one of the defining events in postcolonial African history. Emmanuel Gerard and Bruce Kuklick pursue events through a web of international politics, revealing a tangled history in which many people—black and white, well-meaning and ruthless, African, European, and American—bear responsibility for this crime.
Glassman, Jonathan, War of Words, War of Stones: Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar, Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 2011.
This book explores how violently enforced racial boundaries arose from Zanzibar’s entangled history. Jonathan Glassman challenges explanations that assume racial thinking in the colonial world reflected only Western ideas. He shows how Africans crafted competing ways of categorizing race from local tradition and engagement with the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds.
Hamilton, Carolyn, Terrific Majesty: The Powers of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Intervention, Boston, MA: Harvard University Press 2009.
Since his assassination in 1828, King Shaka Zulu—founder of the powerful Zulu kingdom and leader of the army that nearly toppled British colonial rule in South Africa—has exerted power over popular imaginations throughout Africa and the West. This book explores the reasons for the potency of Shaka’s image, examining the ways it has changed over time—from colonial legend, through Africanist idealization, to modern cultural icon.
Heaton, Matthew M., Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2013.
This book is a history of psychiatry in Nigeria from the 1950s to the 1980s. Working in the contexts of decolonization and anticolonial nationalism, Nigerian psychiatrists sought to replace racist colonial psychiatric theories about the psychological inferiority of Africans with a universal and egalitarian model focusing on broad psychological similarities across cultural and racial boundaries.
Hodge, Joseph, with Gerald Hodl and Martina Kopf (eds.), Developing Africa: Concepts and Practices in Twentieth-Century Colonialism, Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2015.
This book investigates development in British, French and Portuguese colonial Africa during the last decades of colonial rule. During this period, development became the central concept underpinning the relationship between metropolitan Europe and colonial Africa. Combining historiographical accounts with analyses from other academic viewpoints, this book investigates a range of contexts, from agriculture to mass media.
Hodge, Joseph Morgan, Triumph of the Expert: Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2007.
This book is a history of British colonial doctrine and its contribution to the emergence of rural development and environmental policies in the late colonial and postcolonial period. Hodge examines the way that development as a framework of ideas and institutional practices emerged out of the strategic engagement between science and the state at the climax of the British Empire.
Horne, Gerald, Mau Mau in Harlem?: The U.S. and the Liberation of Kenya, London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
Based on archival research on three continents, this book addresses the interpenetration of two closely related movements: the struggle against white supremacy and Jim Crow in the U.S., and the struggle against similar forces and for national liberation in colonial Kenya.
Hunter, Emma, Political Thought and the Public Sphere in Tanzania: Freedom, Democracy, and Citizenship in the Era of Decolonization, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
This book is a study of the interplay of vernacular and global languages of politics in the era of decolonization in Africa. Decolonization is often understood as a moment when Western forms of political order were imposed on non-Western societies, but this book draws attention instead to debates over universal questions about the nature of politics, concept of freedom and the meaning of citizenship. These debates generated political narratives that were formed in dialogue with both global discourses and local political arguments.
Irwin, Ryan, Gordian Knot: Apartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012.
At the highpoint of decolonization, South Africa’s problems with race, territoriality, development, and more shaped a transnational conversation about nationhood. This book examines South Africa’s freedom struggle in the years surrounding African decolonization, using the global apartheid debate to explore the way new nation-states changed the international community during the mid-twentieth century.
Klose, Fabian, Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence: The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
Klose explores the relationship between the human rights movement emerging after 1945 and the increasing violence of decolonization. Based on material previously inaccessible in the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, this comparative study uses the Mau Mau War (1952-1956) and the Algerian War (1954-1962) to examine the policies of two major imperial powers, Britain and France.
Lee, Christopher, Unreasonable Histories: Nativism, Multiracial Lives, and the Genealogical Imagination in British Africa, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.
Lee unsettles the parameters and content of African studies as currently understood. At the book’s core are the experiences of multiracial Africans in British Central Africa—contemporary Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia—from the 1910s to the 1960s. Drawing on a spectrum of evidence, Lee traces the emergence of Anglo-African, Euro-African, and Eurafrican subjectivities which constituted a grassroots Afro-Britishness that defied colonial categories of native and non-native.
Lush, David, Last Steps to Uhuru: An Eyewitness Account of Namibia’s Transition to Independence, Windhoek, Namibia: New Namibia Books, 1993.
This book is an eyewitness account of the crucial years of transition in Namibia, from 1988-1992. It covers the last political protests and campaigns, the return of Exiles, the UN monitored elections, the adoption of a constitution, and the first years of independence.
MacArthur, Julie, Cartography and the Political Imagination: Mapping Community in Colonial Kenya, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2016.
In this book, which encompasses social history, geography, and political science, Julie MacArthur unpacks Luyia origins. In so doing, she calls for a shift to understanding geographic imagination and mapping not only as means of enforcing imperial power and constraining colonized populations, but as tools for articulating new political communities and dissent. Through cartography, Luyia ethnic patriots crafted an identity for themselves characterized by plurality, mobility, and cosmopolitan belonging.
Mann, Gregory, Native Sons: West African Veterans and France in the Twentieth Century, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.
Mann argues that this shared military experience between France and Africa was fundamental not only to their colonial relationship but also to the reconfiguration of that relationship in the postcolonial era. Mann explains that in the early twenty-first century, among Africans in France and Africa, and particularly in Mali—where Mann conducted his research—the belief that France has not adequately recognized and compensated the African veterans of its wars is widely held and frequently invoked.
Mazov, Sergey, A Distant Front in the Cold War: The USSR and the Congo, 1956-1964, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.
This book reveals the Congo as a significant site of Cold War conflict in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although the region avoided the extreme tensions of the standoff in Eastern Europe or in the Cuban missile crisis, it nevertheless offers a vivid example of political, economic, and propagandistic rivalry between the U.S. and USSR.
Mbembe, Achille, On the Postcolony, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001.
In a series of provocative essays, Mbembe contests diehard Africanist and nativist perspectives as well as some of the key assumptions of postcolonial theory. He works with the complex registers of bodily subjectivity — violence, wonder, and laughter — to contest categories of oppression and resistance, autonomy and subjection, and state and civil society that marked the social theory of the late twentieth century.
Pearce, Justin, Political Identity and Conflict in Central Angola, 1975-2002, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
This book examines the internal politics of the war that divided Angola for more than a quarter-century after independence. In contrast to earlier studies, its emphasis is on Angolan people’s relationship to the rival political forces that prevented the development of a united nation.
Presley, Cora Ann, Kikuyu Women, the Mau Mau Rebellion, and Social Change in Kenya, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992.
This book links labor activism, cultural nationalism, and the more overtly political issues of land alienation, judicial control, and character of the colonial administration in an analysis of the impact of colonial policy on Kikuyu society, and especially its negative consequences for women. Cora’s study of African peasant women and their involvement with a major liberation struggle is an important addition to the Mau Mau debate.
Robinson, David, Paths of Accommodation: Muslim Societies and French Colonial Authorities, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2000.
Between 1880 and 1920, Muslim Sufi orders became pillars of the colonial regimes and economies of Senegal and Mauritania. In his book, David Robinson examines the ways in which the leaders of the orders negotiated relations with the Federation of French West Africa in order to preserve autonomy within the religious, social, and economic realms while abandoning the political sphere to their non-Muslim rulers.
Schmidt, Elizabeth, Mobilizing the Masses: Gender, Ethnicity and Class in the Nationalist Movement in Guinea, 1939-1958, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2005.
The literature on anticolonial nationalism in Africa in the post-World War II era is largely a tale of notable men and the movements they led. In this book, Elizabeth Schmidt upends received wisdom in a political, gendered case study of Guinea during its last two decades within the French Empire.
Stockwell, S.E., The Business of Decolonization: British Business Strategies in the Gold Coast, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000.
This book provides a fresh perspective on the end of the British Empire in Africa. It examines the transfer of power in the Gold Coast (Ghana) from the viewpoint of British companies and businessmen, investigating their involvement in nationalist politics and their place in British imperial policy during decolonization.
Tilley, Helen, Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Tropical Africa was one of the last regions of the world to experience formal European colonialism, a process that coincided with the advent of a range of new scientific specialties and research methods. This book is a far-reaching study of the thorny relationship between imperialism and the role of scientific expertise—environmental, medical, racial, and anthropological—in the colonization of British Africa.
Wallerstein, Immanuel, Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.
This volume combines into one edition for the first time “Africa: The Politics of Independence” and “Africa: The Politics of Unity.” With a new introduction by the author, this edition provides some of the earliest and most valuable analysis of African politics during the period when the colonial system began to disintegrate.
Wa Thiong’o, Ngugi, Decolonising the Mind, London, UK: Heinemann, 1986.
In this classic reflective essay, one of Africa’s most distinguished novelists discusses some of the connections between language and culture.
White, Luise, The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo: Texts and Politics in Zimbabwe, Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 2003.
In a style that is as much murder mystery as it is history writing, Luise White uncovers why African nationalist Herbert Chitepo’s assassination continues to incite conflict and controversy in Zimbabwe’s national politics. White casts doubt on official accounts of the murder and addresses how and for whom history is written and how myths and ideas about civic culture were founded in war-torn Zimbabwe.
White, Luise, Stephen Miescher, and David W. Cohen, African Words, African Voices: Critical Practices in Oral History, Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001.
Until the advent of African independence, Africans were not considered fitting subjects for historical research and their words, voices, and experiences were largely absent from the continent’s history. In 13 lively and provocative essays focusing on all areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, oral sources are seen as a way to restore African expression to African history.