May 24, 2014

Speak Swahili Dammit (Book Review)

James Penhaligon. Speak Swahili Dammit! Trevelyan Publishers. Falmouth, Cornwall, 2012.

James Penhaligon is a doctor who grew up on a remote gold mining town in colonial Tanganyika. The book is a memoir of childhood, told through a child's narration. The resulting narrative is rich in affect and Penhaligon exploits the hilarity of a child's point of view with great skill and relish. Penhaligon, whose father dies at the beginning of the book, grows up between two worlds--the white colonial world of the wazungus, whom he hates, and the African world of the watu.
Jim is gradually (and reluctantly) incorporated into wazungu society through his boarding school experience, though he hates every minute of it, and rebels by running away several times. He describes the sense of "double-consciousness" he feels as someone straddling both worlds, and how people around him call him a social chameleon. The book ends with the closing of the mine after Tanganyikan independence.

Penhaligon has a gift for vivid description, and succeeds in both skewering the provincial racism and insularity of the white colonials, while also showing some of its internal diversity--Germans, Italians, Greeks, Scots, and Austrian Jews, survivors of the Nazi death camps. He portrays a rich tapestry of life choices that bring people to Geita, the mining town. There are surprisingly perceptive observations on the elaborate internal social hierarchies that pervade the town.
The book is also rich with Swahili vocabulary, although it is obvious from the many oddly spelled Swahili words and strange grammatical constructions that the author is remembering a language he picked up orally and then likely stopped speaking for many years. As someone who learned Swahili in a formal setting, I cringed each time Penhaligon quoted people using the word kuja to command someone to come. (The imperative command for come in Swahili is, in fact, njoo; kuja is the infinitive form of the verb). But I am also not familiar with how Swahili was spoken in the 1950s around Lake Victoria; perhaps my "Kiunguja" snobbishness has got the better of me!

As a boy, Jim loves nothing more than running and playing in the bush, creating imaginary kingdoms with his best friend Lutoli, harassing the "night soil" man (who comes during the day and is called in Swahili, machula) and listening to war veterans from the first and second world wars recount their exploits.

As a historian, these stories were one of the most interesting parts of the book. I learned about General Paul Von Lettow Vorbek, the enterprising German general whose military genius during the first World War routed superior British forces time and time again, and who was only forced to surrender by the German declaration of surrender. I also learned about the local askaris, trained by Germans, who carried themselves with pride and dignity as members of an elite fighting force. Through Jim's inquisitiveness, we also learn snatches of the experience of the Africans who were brought to Burma to fight agains the Japanese, and the impact of this experience on their consciousness.

The other part of the book that particularly interested me was the author's recounting of the Zanzibar Revolution, through an Indian clerk who works with his mother at the store. Here is Amil Mistree, the Indian clerk's account, as described by Penhaligon:

"At Bagamoyo, Amil and his relatives are woken in the small hours by the distant sound of explosions and gunfire. Zanzibar is only four miles away. They're alarmed. Later that morning, towards noon, bodies began to float up onto the beach below his cousin's house. Many have chunks bitten off by sharks. Flies carpet the rest. Panic-stricken, Amil takes his wife and children and flees the coast. Three days later, exhausted, dusty and terrified,, he arrives back at the mine. His is the first news of the massacre to reach Geita. Until then all that's known is that the 'corrupt' sultan has been overthrown by 'valiant freedom forces' on Zanzibar."

The passage is remarkable. I do not believe that Bagamoyo and Unguja were close enough to actually hear gunfire from the island on the mainland. And certainly Unguja is further than four miles offshore from Zanzibar! This is the first account I have read of mainlanders actually seeing corpses from Zanzibar float to the mainland. Finally is the death toll, which Penhaligon quotes (without attribution) as 17,000, claiming this figure was only admitted to years later (by who, he does not say). This is almost double the traditionally cited figure of 10,000. (Although during field research in Muscat I heard people quote figures as high as 30,000). It made me wonder if perhaps there are other accounts that reproduce these stories, as a kind of rumor, expressing something of the bloody terror that overran Zanzibar in the wake of the revolution.
Overall, this is a great book to pass time with. I do not know how much pedagogical value it has, and I remain skeptical of some of the Swahili reconstructions, but it is filled with hilarious and poignant stories.


May 12, 2014

Comparative African Diasporas: Towards a Thematic Reading List

Dear readers,

Some time ago, I compiled a bibliography for my exams on comparing Atlantic and Indian Ocean diasporas from Africa. I present here the rough list, in case folks would like to build on this work or utilize it for teaching or an exam question. The problem of comparisons are many, but the rewards when done well are potentially great. One major problem is that there is far more information on Atlantic African diasporas, and the literature is much more voluminous. On top of this, movement and migration in the Indian Ocean predates that in the Atlantic by several millenia. There is also a question of the usefulness of the terms "African" and "diaspora" in an Indian Ocean context. The following is far from a comprehensive list, and is especially weak on the enormous literature on the black Atlantic. I am not sure that "littoral culture" and "African creoles" belong together, but I wanted to give some sense of the parallel processes of identity making and their contexts in each basin.

Lots to chew on here, so happy reading!

Framing piece:
Phillip Curtin. Why People Move: Migration in African History. Waco, TX: Markham Press Fund, 1995.

Manning, Patrick. Migration in world history. New York: Routledge 2005.

Some general studies on African Diaspora:
Joseph Harris.” The dynamics of the Global African Diaspora.” In Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1993.

Oliver Bakewell. “In Search of the Diasporas Within Africa.” African Diaspora 1 (2008).

Katharina Schramm. “Leaving Area Studies Behind: The Challenge of Diasporic Connections in the Field of African Studies.”African and Black Diaspora 1(1): 2008.

Patrick Manning. The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture. New York: Columbia University, 2009.

Dubois, Laurent & Julius Scott, eds.Origins of the Black Atlantic. New York: Routledge, 2010.
Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. New World Encounters. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Isidore Okpewho, Ali Mazrui and Carole Davies.The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999.

Michael Conniffand Thomas Davis. Africans in the Americas: A History of the Black Diaspora. New York: St. Martens Press, 1994.

Segal,Ronald. The Black Diaspora.New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1995.

Segal,Ronald. Islam’s Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2001.

Gilroy,Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.

Thornton,John. Africa and the Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800.New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Hamilton, Ruth Simms (ed.)Routes of Passage: Rethinking the African Diaspora. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2007.

Palmer,Colin. “Defining and Studying the Modern African Diaspora.” The Journal of Negro History 85, No. 1/2 (Winter -Spring, 2000), pp. 27-32.

The African Studies Review.No. 1, Special Issue on the Diaspora, Apr., 2000, pp. 1-202.

Thompson, Vincent Bakpetu. Africans of the Diaspora: The Evolution of African Consciousness and Leadership in the Americas (from Slavery to the 1920s). Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2000.

Atlantic and Indian Ocean in Historical Context
Egerton, Douglas, Alison Games, Kris Lane, and Donald R. Wright. The Atlantic World: A History, 1400-1888. Wheeling: Harlan Davidson, 2007.

Bernard Bailyn. Atlantic History: Concepts and Contours. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Greene, Jack and Phillip Morgan. Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Alison Games. “Atlantic History: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities.” AHR2006, Vol.111(3), pp.741-757. 

KärenWigen, Peregrine Horden, Nicholas Purcell, Alison Games, and Matt K. Matsuda,  “AHR  Forum:  Oceans  of  History,”  American Historical Review 111 (June 2006): 717-780.

K.N. Chaudhuri. Trade and Civilization in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History from the Rise of Islam to 1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Sugata Bose. A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006.

Peter Coclanis, “Atlantic World or Atlantic/World?”William and Mary Quarterly  63 (October 2006):725-742.

Gupta, Pamila, Isabel Hofmeyr and Michael Pearson, eds. Eyes across the Water : Navigating the Indian Ocean. Pretoria: Unisa Press, 2010.

Ray, Himanshu Prabha and Edward A. Alpers, eds. Cross Currents and Community Networks: The History of the Indian Ocean World. New York : Oxford University Press, 2007.

Alpers, Edward. East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Princeton, NJ: Markus Weiner Publishers, 2009.

Michael Pearson.The Indian Ocean. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Janet Abu-Lughod. Before European Hegemony: The World System 1250-1350 AD. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Jerry H. Bentley, “Sea and Ocean Basins as Frameworks of Historical Analysis,” Geographical Review 89, Special Issue: Oceans Connect (April 1999): 215-224.

Arasaratnam, S. “Recent Trends in the Historiography of the Indian Ocean, 1500 to 1800.”Journal of World History 1(2): Fall, 1990, 225-248.

Beaujard, PhilippeThe Indian Ocean in Eurasian and African World-Systems before the Sixteenth Century.”  Journal of World History 16(4): 2005, 411-465.

Regimes of labor/Labor Migration/Trade Migration
Marcus Rediker. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Marcus Rediker. The Many Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History the Revolutionary Atlantic. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000.

Byrd, Alexander X. Captives and Voyagers: Black Migrants across the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World. Baton Rouge: Lousisiana State University Press, 2008.

Eltis, David, Philip Morgan, and David Richardson. “Agency and Diaspora in Atlantic History: Reassessing the African Contribution to Rice Cultivation in the Americas.” American Historical Review 112.5 (December 2007): 1329–1358.

Simpson, Ed. Muslim Society and the Western Indian Ocean: The Seafarers of Kachchh.

Ewald, Jan, et. "Crossers of the Sea: Slaves and Migrants in the Western Indian Ocean, c. 1800-1900." AHR 105(1): 2000, 69-91.

Ewald, Janet. “Bondsmen, Freedmen, and Maritime Industrial Transportation, c. 1840-1900.” Slavery and Abolition 31(3): Sept 2010, 451-466.

Campbell, Gwynn. “The African-Asian Diaspora: Myth or Reality? AAS 5: 3-4, 2006.

Hugh R. Clark. “Maritime Diasporas in Asia before da Gama: An Introductory Commentary.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 49(4): 2006, 385-394.

Slavery/The Slave Trade
Walter Hawthorne. From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity and an Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600-1830. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Stephanie Smallwood. Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007.

W.G. Smith, ed.The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Tradein the Nineteenth Century. London: Frank Cass, 1989.

Sparks, Randy J. The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey. Cambridge, Mass., 2004.

Edda L. Fields-Black. Deep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2008.

Judith Carney. Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Janet Ewald. "Slave Trade: The Indian Ocean, c1750-1880." Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World, edited by Peter N. Stearns (Spring, 2008), Oxford University Press.

Gwyn Campbell, ed. The Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia.London: Frank Cass, 2004.

Alpers, Edward, Gwyn Campbell and Michael Salman, eds. Resisting Bondage in the Indian Ocean Africa and Asia. London: Routledge, 2006.
Campbell, Gwyn, ed. Abolition and Its Aftermath in Indian Ocean Africa andAsia. London: Routledge, 2005.
Allen, Richard B. “The Constant Demand Of The French: The Mascarene Slave Trade And The Worlds Of The Indian Ocean And Atlantic During The Eighteenth And Nineteenth Centuries.”Journal of African History, 49 (2008), 43–72.

Alpers, Edward A. “Flight to Freedom: Escape from Slavery among Bonded Africans in the Indian Ocean world, c.1750–1962.” Slavery &Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, 24(2): 2003, 51-68.
Pier Larson, "Horrid Journeying: Narratives of Enslavement and the Global African Diaspora," Journal of World History  19(4): 2008.

Kim Butler. “From Black History to Diasporan History: Brazilian Abolition in Afro-Atlantic Context.” African Studies Review 43(1): Special Issue on the Diaspora (Apr., 2000), 125-139.
Miller, Joseph C. “Retention, Reinvention, and Remembering: Restoring Identities  through Enslavement in Africa and under Slavery in Brazil.” In Enslaving Connections: Changing Cultures of Africa and Brazil during the Era of Slavery, eds. José C. Curto and Paul E. Lovejoy. Amherst, N.Y.: Humanity Books, 2004. 81–121.

Vernet, Thomas. "Slave trade and slavery on the Swahili coast (1500-1750)." In Slavery, Islam and Diaspora,edited by Paul Lovejoy, Behnaz A. Mirzai and Ismael M. Montana, 37-76. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. (Revised and expanded version of 2003 article.)

Vernet, Thomas. 2013 "East African Slave Migration." In Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, edited by I. Ness. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Littoral Culture/African Creoles
Michael N. Pearson. Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India and Portugal in the Early Modern Era. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

John K. Thornton.The Kongolese Saint Anthony : Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita and the Antonian movement, 1684-1706. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall. Africans in colonial Louisiana: the development of Afro-Creole culture in the eighteenth century.Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992.

Nancy Priscilla Naro, Roger Sansi-Roca, and David H. Treece, eds. Cultures of the Lusophone Black Atlantic. New York : Palgrave Macmillan 2007

Bennett, Herman. Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2003.

Franklin Knight and Peggy Liss. Atlantic Port Cities: Economy, Culture and Society in the Atlantic World, 1650-1850. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991.

Restall, Matthew. The Black Middle: Africans, Mayas, and Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009.

Shahan de Silva Jayasuriya.“Trading on a thalassic network: African migrations across the Indian Ocean.”International Social Science Journal 58(2): 2006, 215-225.

J. LorandMatory, “Introduction,” and “The English Professors of Brazil: Of the Diasporic Roots of the Yorùbá Nation,”Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2005.

Enseng Ho. The Graves of Tarim: Geneaology and Mobility Across the Indian Ocean. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

Ed. John Hawley. India in Africa, Africa in India: Indian Ocean Cosmopolitanisms. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2008.

Piers Larson.Ocean of Letters: Language and Creolization in an Indian Ocean Diaspora. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Paul C. Johnson. Diaspora Conversions: Black Carib Religion and the Recovery of Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

Erik Gilbert. “Coastal East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean: Long-Distance Trade, Empire, Migration,and Regional Unity, 1750-1970s.”The History Teacher 36(1): (Nov., 2002), 7-34.

Jane Landers.Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Linda Heywood and John Thornton.Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585-1660. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Jacqueline Nassy Brown. Dropping Anchor, Setting Sail: Geographies of Race in Black Liverpool. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Lee Haring.“African Folktales and Creolization in the Indian Ocean Islands.”Research in African Literatures 33(3): Autumn, 2002, 182-199.

Megan Vaughn. Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth Century Mauritius.Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Paul E. Lovejoy and David V. Trotman, eds.Trans-Atlantic dimensions of ethnicity in the African diaspora.London ; New York : Continuum 2003.

African Return/African culture in Diaspora
Melville Herskovitz. The Myth of the Negro Past.Boston: Beacon Press, 1990 (1958).

Robert Farris Thompson. Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy. New York: Random House, 1983.

Michael Gomez. Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Ehud Toledano, ed. African Communities In Asia And The Mediterranean: Identities betweenIntegration andConflict. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2012.

James Sweet. Domingos Alvares, African Healing and the Intellectual History the Atlantic World. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

James Sweet. Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441-1770. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Alpers, Edward.“Recollecting Africa in the Indian Ocean World.”African Studies Review 43(1): 2000, 83-99.

Alpers, Edward. “The African Diaspora in the Northwestern Indian Ocean: Reconsideration of an Old Problem, New Directions for Research.”Comparative Studies Of South Asia, Africa And Middle East Bulletinxv(2),1997.

Shihan de S. Jayasuriya and Richard Pankhurst, eds.The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2003.

J.A. Langley. Pan Africanism and Nationalism in West Africa, 1900-1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973.

Brent Edwards. The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation and the Rise of Black Internationalism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

McKnight, Kathryn J. and Leo J. Garafalo,  eds. Afro-Latin Voices: Narratives from the Early modern Ibero-Atlantic World, 1550-1812. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2009.

Johnson, Paul Christopher. “On Leaving and Joining Africanness Through Religion: The ‘BlackCaribs’ Across Multiple Diasporic Horizons,” Journal of Religion in Africa 37 (2007): 174-211.

Rucker, Walter C. The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006.

Sidbury James. Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

 Catlin-Jairazbhoy,Amyand Edward A. Alpers. Sidis and Scholars: Essays on African Indians. Noida, India: Rainbow Publishers, 2004.

Hanchard,Michael. “Afro-Modernity: Temporality, Politics, and the African Diaspora,” Public Culture, No. 27, 1999, pp. 245-268.

Eshun, Ekow.Black Gold of the Sun: Searching for Home in England and Africa. New York: Hamish Hamilton, 2005.

Meriwether, James H. “Ghana: African Independence, 1957-1958,” Proudly We Can Be Africans: Black Americans and Africa, 1935-1961. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Nelson, Gersham A., “Rastafarians and Ethiopianism,” in Imagining Home: Class, Culture and Nationalism in the African Diaspora, Sidney Lemelle and Robin D.G. Kelley, eds., pp. 66-84.

Lake,Obiagele.  “Toward a Pan-African Identity: Diaspora African Repatriates in Ghana.” Anthropological Quarterly 68(1): (Jan., 1995), 21-36.

Alpers,Edward and Vijaya lakshmi Teelock (eds.) History Memory and Identity. Mauritius: Nelson Mandela Centre for African Culture ; University of Mauritius 2001.

Johnson, Robert Jr. Returning home : a century of African-American repatriation. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press c2005

Kwasi Konadu. The Akan Diaspora in the Americas. New York: Oxford University Press 2010.

Jayasuriya Shihan de Silva and Jean-Pierre Angenot. (eds.) Uncovering the history of Africans in Asia. Leiden ; Boston : Brill 2008.

Jayasuriya, Shihan de Silva.The African Diaspora in Asian trade routes and cultural memories. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2010.

Young, Jason R. Rituals of Resistance: African Atlantic religion in Kongo and the lowcountry South in the era of slavery.Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007.

Esedebe,P. Olisanwuche. Pan-Africanism : the idea and movement, 1776-1991. Washington, D.C. : Howard University 1994.

Kelley, Robin and Patterson, Tiffany Ruby .“Unfinished Migrations: Reflections on the African Diaspora and the Making of the Modern World.”African Studies Review43(1): 2000, 11-45.

Zeleza, Tiyambe. "African Diasporas: Toward a Global History.African Studies Review 53(1): 2010, 1-19.

Zeleza, P.T. "Rewriting the African Diaspora Beyond the Black Atlantic." African Affairs 104(414): 2005, 35-68.


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