DYNAMIC AFRICA

Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is diverse multi-media curated blog with a Pan-African outlook that seeks to create an expressive platform for African experiences, stories and African cultures.



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In his Discourse on Colonialism (1951), Aimé Césaire wrote that Hitler slumbers within ‘the very distinguished, very humanistic and very Christian bourgeois of the Twentieth century,’ and yet the European bourgeois cannot forgive Hitler for ‘the fact that he applied to Europe the colonial practices that had previously been applied only to the Arabs of Algeria, the coolies of India and the Negroes of Africa.’

Mahmood Mamdani, from “Modernity and Violence” in Good Muslim, Bad Muslim  (via tzunuun)

It bears repeating that the reason Hitler is a Western symbol for the darkest depth of all evil, is that he broke the pact of whiteness and did things within Europe that white people agree should only be done to non-Europeans in Africa, Asia, America. Genocide in those places is acceptable, even natural, to Europeans; but Hitler brought genocidal brutality to Europe, and for that he’s the epitome of evil.

(via zuky)

(via africansunset)

Watching the “The Last Battle” was not easy. Not simply because it is the telling of actual events, that are still ongoing, that were horrific in nature, but because this gross miscarriage in justice reveals the brutal extent that man’s inhumanity to man can - and has - manifested itself through the that is coloniliasm.

This fight for justice in the ways in which the victims define it lays out a fact that so many of us are aware of - colonialism never really ended, and for as long as we stay silent about our pain, or silence those who still bear the marks of this gruesome period in our history, we malignantly assist those who are responsible for this in leaving the scars of the victims forcibly open and lacing them with the salt of inhumanity and immorality.

Filmed on two continents over four years, The Last Battle traces the story of a small group of elderly Kenyans in their successful fight to win acknowledgement of the abuses suffered at the hands of the British colonial authorities at the height of the 1950s Mau Mau emergency. 
With intimate and disturbing interviews, observational footage, photographs and archive, this revelatory and compelling documentary follows the legal case in London and lays bare a history that was deliberately hidden, allowing the central protagonists to tell the world, for the first time, their stories and what happened to them.
- Kevin Kriedemann

tw: mentions of torture, violence.

The final episode in Al Jazeera’s 3-part documentary series, ‘Black France’, that explores the history and relationship between France and its black citizens and colonial territories focuses on the ‘extreme racism and discrimination black immigrants faced during times of economic hardship and through political shifts in post-World War II France’.

Catch up on the series by watching episode 1 and 2.

Event: In this exhibition the artists Sammy Baloji and Patrick Mudekereza present us with a contemporary take on the colonial past.
 
As artists in residence in the museum they got carte blanche in the museum collections. In dialogue with scientists from the museum they have started working with a few collection pieces dating from the beginning of Congo’s colonial history.
 
These collection pieces exhale the atmosphere of the conquest of Congolese territory by the West. The leitmotif of the exhibition ‘Congo Far West’ refers not only to this territorial conquest, but also to the contemporary Congolese artists who artistically and intellectually recapture the collection pieces conserved in the West.

Patrick Mudekereza is a writer and poet but he also writes texts for comic strips, exhibitions and audiovisual art.    

During his time in the museum he is working on a hybrid sculpture entitled L’art au Congo which raises a whole host of questions, and treaties signed with a cross which sealed the transfer of land from the local chefs to Leopold II.
 
Photographer Sammy Baloji is working on a series of photographs and watercolours from a colonial exhibition led by Charles Lemaire.            

He has already exhibited in cities such as Paris, Bamako, Brussels, Cape Town and Bilbao. 

Unfortunately, due to bandwidth limitations (and because I do not have access to Al Jazeera’s televised station) I am unable to watch this video and therefore make any comments about it.

But judging from how in-depth and informative the first episode in this 3-part documentary series by Al Jazeera was, I suspect that episode 2 of ‘Black France’, that deals with the ‘ongoing struggles of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean to achieve rights, form communities and have their contributions to French society recognised’, is just as good.

Starting with the second World War in which African troops from French colonies on the continent, mostly in North and West Africa, were enlisted to fight on behalf of their ‘mother country’, and ending with the wave of immigration that started in the mid-20th century, the continuation of the struggles of black people in France is once again brought to light through this documentary.

Enjoy!

In Al Jazeera’s newly launched 3-part documentary series ‘Black France’, the relationship between one of the most dominant European colonial forces in Africa and the Caribbean, and the political and social dynamics of its former colonies and their citizens is explored to tell the story of black people in France and the country’s history of ‘segregation, racism, protest, violence, culture and community building - from the turn of the 20th century until the present day’.

Beginning in the mid-1500s, and following in the footsteps of the larger and more dominant British Empire, France began to colonize foreign territories starting with North America’s Gaspe Bay in what is today Canada. For centuries France would continue to expand its colonial reach building an empire that spanned across various regions in North America, the Carribbean, South America, Africa and Asia. It would not be until 1980 with the independence of Vanuatu that the French Empire would officially be disbanded worldwide.

Today, France is home to one of Europe’s black communities, mostly of African and/or Caribbean descent - a direct result of the country’s relationship with its colonial territories in these regions.

'Conflicting Identities', the first episode in the trilogy, explores the duality and complexes of what it means to be 'both black and French in the decades before France’s African colonies achieved independence' during the latter part of the 18th century, beginning with the fight for equality for France's black community to the experiences of black people in early 20th century France including both World Wars and the Great Depression.

Interestingly, the particularities of France’s differing and hierarchical relationship between it’s ‘colonial subjects’, with Africans being treated as the most inferior, are also brought to light. Where African-American individuals and culture were celebrated and marveled at with great interest - a perverse fascination of sorts, and where individuals of Caribbean territories were given French citizenship - but not full equality, Africans were mostly denied such privileges and were dehumanized and stigmatized as backward black savages.

Regardless of the differing treatment of black people from various parts of the world, racism was always the underlying factor in France’s social and political approach to black people, seeing them as inferior and ‘the other’ - a view that in some ways still has not changed.

[English & French w/ French subtitles]

Asker Anonymous Asks:
no, i mean, why do you think it is bullshit? it is not bullshit arabs have a right to be proud of who they are as much as anyone else! I am from nigeria and i love my arab brothers and friends from algeria and kuwait.
dynamicafrica dynamicafrica Said:

thecouscousqueen:

yogi-bare:

thisisnotafrica:

It’s bullshit they’re labelling African countries as Arab.

Unless I’m wrong, Arab simply means that they speak Arabic. They’re Arab countries because they speak Arabic. That doesn’t change the fact that they’re also African.

Right. Africans who speak “Arabic” due to Arabization.

There are African countries who’s inhabitants widely speak English and French. Does that make them English and French countries?

Labelling African countries as Arab simply for that reason is harmful for a lot of reasons. As a Moroccan, in Morocco’s case I can tell you that by labelling our country as Arab and our culture as Arab you’re contributing to erasing the Amazigh/Indigenous identities.

ICONIC WOMEN: The Mino of Dahomey or the Dahomey ‘Amazon’ Warriors/Dahomey Amazons

From the late 17th century until the end of the 19th century, the Kingdom of Dahomey in the what is today the West African nation of Benin (sandwiched between Nigeria on the east and Togo to their west) an incredible regiment made up of only women, from within the Fon community, challenged and refuted gender norms by occupying spaces usually reserved for men. 

This all-women Fon army was originally established by Dahomian king King Houegbadja, the third king of Dahomeny, who ruled from 1645 to 1685, with the intention of having these women serve as elephant hunters known as ‘gbeto’. Later, during Houegbadja’s son King Agadja reign during the early 1700s he developed the gbeto into an established bodyguard and warrior unit who became known as the Mino meaning ‘our mothers’ in Fon - a name given to them by the men’s army of Dahomey. During this time, the Mino gained one of their first major successes in being part of the Dahomey army that defeated the neighbouring kingdom of Savi in 1727. Their incorporation into the army was done to increase the size of the Dahomey military, thus appearing larger and more intimidating to their opponents.

In King Ghezo’s time, between 1818 to 1858, great emphasis was put on Dahomey’s army and military units, perhaps due to the growing threat of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the threat that neighbouring ethnic groups may have posed as a result of it. As a result, King Ghezo poured much of his resources into developing the Dahomian army, including the Mino, increasing their budget, formalizing their structure and training, and arming them with guns obtained from the Dutch through trade.

It is said that by the mid-19th century there were between 1,000-6,000 women in the Mino unit which comprised of both free Dahomian women and women who may have been taken as captives during war. Women in the Mino, sometimes referred to as ahosi (the king’s wives) were not permitted to marry or have children as the were considered wives of the king. This allowed the women to obtain positions of great power and influence as they were highly revered in Dahomian within the army - especially for their braver, and within society as well.

As European colonial forces began to move more aggressively throughout Africa in the 1800s, French forces on colonial campaigns in West Africa placed increasing pressure on the Dahomian Kingdom leading to an outbreak of war between French and Dahomian forces in 1890. The first Franco-Dahomian War broke out in that year with the Dahomey Army led by anti-colonialist King Behanzin. Part of the French forces consisted of Tirailleurs - French-trained Senegalese and Gabonese soldiers who had been recruited due to their countries being colonized by France. Despite the Dahomian army being greater in number, they were ill-equipped in comparison to the French and lost the war resulting in Dahomey being added to France’s colonial territories in West Africa.

This defeat also signified the disintegration of the Dahomian army and thus the women who the Europeans had referred to as the ‘Dahomey Amazons’. The last surviving Mino is thought to have been a woman named Nawi who died in 1979.

Someone needs to make a sci-fi animated fantasy or make a comic about or inspired by these women.

(sources 1, 2, 3)

 AUGUST: Highlighting African Women

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Chad gains independence from France

August 11th, 1960 was the date that the Central African landlocked country of Chad, currently home to a large number of various ethnic groups - such as the Fulbe, Moundang, Zaghawa, Kotoko, Toubou and Massa, collectively speaking over 100 different languages both outside of and within the same ethnic groups, gained independence from French colonial authority.

Before French colonization of the area, the Sao and Kanem Empires each flourished in the region.

Beginning in the 7th millennium BC, human populations moved into the Chadian basin in great numbers. By the end of the 1st millennium BC, a series of states and empires rose and fell in Chad’s Sahelian strip, each focused on controlling the trans-Saharan trade routes that passed through the region.

France conquered the territory by 1920 and incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa.

In 1960, Chad obtained independence under the leadership of François Tombalbaye. Resentment towards his policies in the Muslim north culminated in the eruption of a long-lasting civil war in 1965. In 1978, the rebels conquered the capital and put an end to the south’s hegemony. However, the rebel commanders fought amongst themselves until Hissène Habré defeated his rivals. He was overthrown in 1990 by his general Idriss Déby. Since 2003, the Darfur crisis in Sudan has spilt over the border and destabilised the nation, with hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees living in and around camps in eastern Chad.

(source)

August 7th, 2013, marks the 53rd independence day of Cote D’Ivoire from France. The West African nation became a French colony in 1893, after treaties between the kings of Grand Bassam and France had been signed between 1843-1844 leading to the expansion of French control over the area. However, Europeans had been present on that part of the continent since the days of the transatlantic slave trade, with Portuguese explorers arriving in 1482.

Prior to European colonialism, the region that is modern-day Cote D’Ivoire was home to various empires and kingdoms such as the 17th century-founded kingdom of Gyaaman established by the Abon who were an Akan group, the Muslim Kong Empire established by the Juula in the 18th century, the Baoulé, Senuofo and Bouna kingdoms, and the Ghana, Songhai and Sudanic empires that extended into the area during their reigns in West Africa.

French rule in the area was not met without resistance. To many, the treaties signed with Grand Bassam leaders meant little, if anything, and Madinka forces, mostly from Gambia, fought a long war with the French in the 1890s. The Baoulé and other eastern groups continued opposing French colonial influence using guerrilla warfare until 1917, and it wasn’t until 1918 that local forces were defeated by the French. Samori Ture, leader and founder of the Wassoulou Empire, is a legendary figure known for his continuous resistance against France’s colonial presence in West Africa and fought against French forces from 1882 until his capture in 1898.

In 1960, Cote D’Ivoire gained independence under President Felix Houphouet-Boigny who held power until his death in 1993.

All I ask
Is that my husband should stop the insults,
My husband should refrain
From heaping abuses on my head.
He should stop being half-crazy,
And saying terrible things about my mother
Listen Ocol, my old friend,
The ways of your ancestors
Are good,
Their customs are solid
And not hollow
They are not thin, not easily breakable
They cannot be blown away
By the winds
Because their roots reach deep into the soil.

I do not understand
The ways of foreigners
But I do not despise their customs.
Why should you despise yours?

Excerpt from The Song of Lawino: 1. I Am Not Unfair to My Husband by Ugandan writer Okot P’Bitek.

The iconic poem was first published in Acholi in 1966, before being translated into English (something Ngugi Wa Thiong’o would be proud of and continue to advocate for) and, through the souring relationship of a once close husband and wife, deals with the destruction, erasure and debasing of African traditions brought about through European colonisation.

Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thiong’o discusses the problematic elements of colonial languages and the hierarchical tendencies, and power dynamics, they encourage in countries that, through colonization, have adopted them as their lingua franca.

Wa Thiong’o firmly states that, “English is not an African language, period”, and that in using English as a default tongue, we are simply contributing to the expansion of this dangerous form of cultural suppression, still submitting to the hierarchy of colonial languages.

HARDTAlk host Gavin Esler notes that his form of decolonizing African minds and tongues is in stark contrast to writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who says that, “English is mine, I have taken ownership of English”.

Wa Thiong’o then goes on to say that claims made in the same vein of Adichie are related to the ‘metaphysical empire’, a sort of abstract reclaiming of ones own identity in relation to history and the power dynamics of language in the world, as opposed to penetrating the systematic structures of language as a tool of oppression.

I must agree with the stress Wa Thiong’o puts on first writing in ones mother tongue, and then translating it into other languages, as not only does it promote the importance of African languages, it also creates and stressed a need for not only Africans but people around the world to pay attention to African languages, perhaps learning them in the process, countering the idea that writing in African languages somehow limits the reach of ones work.

It’s a cultural shift that won’t happen overnight, but a transition that is very necessary and ultimately holds a great deal of weight in global cultural power systems and structures.

Watch the discussion here.

Related post.

Happy Independence Day Malawi!

The southern African landlocked Republic of Malawi was colonised by the British in 1891 and up until July 6th, 1964, was known as ‘Nyasaland’.

The country’s independence was achieved largely through the efforts of the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) formed in 1944. Headed by Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, in 1958, who left his position as a medical practitioner in Ghana to dedicate himself to the cause of Malawi’s independence, Banda was elected president of the party. The NAC was banned by colonial authorities in 1959 and Banda was subsequently jailed for his political activities.

After his release in 1960, Banda formed the NAC’s successor, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), and became it’s first president. At this stage, Nyasaland had been merged with Northern and Southern Rhodesia by the British to form the semi-independent region known as the Central African Federation (CAF) - an entity that was still ruled largely by the dominant white European minority.

Opposing this fusion of separate states, Malawian nationalists began to gather local support and in 1961, Nyasaland held a Legislative Council Election that saw the MCP win the majority of the seats, above other local parties. As a result, the CAF was dissolved in 1963 with Banda becoming Prime Minister of Nyasaland, and in 1964, he became President of Malawi.

Banda turned Malawi into a one-party state and remained President of the country until 1994 - almost 30 years - giving himself the title of ‘President for Life’ of MCP in 1970, and of Malawi in the following year. Despite his nationalist efforts towards Malawi’s independence, Banda was seen as a pro-Western leader, receiving aid from several Western states, and also maintained relations with South Africa’s Apartheid government. However, he also credited by some as being supportive of women’s rights, reforming Malawi’s education system, and improving the country’s economy and infrastructure. Malawi became a multi-party democratic state following a referendum in 1993.

The current President of the country and Africa’s second woman head of state, Joyce Banda (née Mtila), is of no relation to Dr. Banda.

"African chiefs sentenced to death by the Germans for their role in the Maji Maji rebellion"

The Maji Maji Rebellion, lasting from 1905 to 1907, was an organized uprising initiated by several groups of African communities in the colonized territory of German East Africa against German colonial rule and German policy that forced them to grow cotton for export, profiting the German colonists.

German colonial efforts in east Africa were initiated by the German Colonization Society (yes, they actually had an organization dedicated to colonialist missions) led by an extremely violent and racist man named Karl Peters. In the book “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, it is said that, "[The] African colonial possessions became the most fertile soil for the flowering of what was later to become the Nazi elite". Testimony to the extremely violent nature of German colonialism in parts of Africa.

Peters, who believed Germans to be a superior race and a believer of Social Darwinism, used ideologies relating to völkisch to fuel his ruthless ambitions in German East Africa which included him murdering large segments of local populations who opposed German occupation. This led to him being labelled “Mkono wa Damu,” meaning “Man with Blood on His Hands”, by the local Tanganyika population, where he was governor.

The series of events that led to the Maji Maji uprising stemmed from a system where the Germans began levying head taxes and charging each village with a quota of cotton production through the use of slave labor.

Following a drought in 1905 that threatened the region and the quota imposed against various villages set by the Germans, several communities banded together under the command of a medium named Kinjikitile Ngwale to oppose and resist German colonial policies. Ngwale claimed to be possessed by a snake spirit called Hongo and had communicated with the deity Bokera (no substantial information found on Bokera). Through this encouner, Ngwale had put together a concoction - the maji - consisting of castor oil and millet seed, that was said to be able to turn German bullets into water.

Armed with this liquid and their traditional war tools, the united local communities, empowered by Ngwale, went about destroying German-run cotton plants. These communities included various ethnic groups such as the Ngoni, Matumbi, and Ngindo people.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of artillery and firepower in the form of machine guns and canons, the Maji Maji rebels were terribly defeated. Furthermore, German reinforcements were sent from Germany to assist the colonists in their attacks on the anti-colonial fighters.

The German governor of East Africa at the time, Gustav Adolf von Götzen, used famine as a weapon of war, destroying entire villages, burning crops and killing livestock. One of the leaders of the German troops, Captain Wangenheim, wrote to von Götzen saying, “Only hunger and want can bring about a final submission. Military actions alone will remain more or less a drop in the ocean.”

It is estimated that at least 10, 000 casualties and losses were suffered by the Maji Maji rebels, and 15 Europeans and almost 400 Askari’s (local guards employed by the Germans) were the estimated casualties on the colonist’s side.

Happy Independence Day Somalia!

On July 1st, 1960, the British and Italian parts of Somalia become independent and merged to form the United Republic of Somalia with Aden Abdullah Osman Daar elected as president.

The Horn of Africa has been home to Somalis, who make up around 85% of Somalia’s population, for centuries. For many years, Mogadishu stood as the pre-eminent city in the بلاد البربر, Bilad-al-Barbar (“Land of the Berbers”), which was the medieval Arabic term for the Horn of Africa. During the age of the Ajuuraans, the sultanates and republics of Merca, Mogadishu, Barawa, Hobyo and their respective ports flourished and had a lucrative foreign commerce with ships sailing to and coming from Arabia, India, Venetia, Persia, Egypt, Portugal and as far away as China. Vasco da Gama, who passed by Mogadishu in the 15th century, noted that it was a large city with houses of four or five storeys high and big palaces in its centre and many mosques with cylindrical minarets.

From the 7th to the 10th century, Arab and Persian trading posts were established along the coast of present-day Somalia. Nomadic tribes occupied the interior, occasionally pushing into Ethiopian territory. In the 16th century, Turkish rule extended to the northern coast, and the sultans of Zanzibar gained control in the south.

After British occupation of Aden in 1839, the Somali coast became its source of food. The French established a coal-mining station in 1862 at the site of Djibouti, and the Italians planted a settlement in Eritrea. Egypt, which for a time claimed Turkish rights in the area, was succeeded by Britain. By 1920, a British and an Italian protectorate occupied what is now Somalia. The British ruled the entire area after 1941, with Italy returning in 1950 to serve as United Nations trustee for its former territory.

By 1960, Britain and Italy granted independence to their respective sectors, enabling the two to join as the Republic of Somalia on July 1, 1960. Somalia broke diplomatic relations with Britain in 1963 when the British granted the Somali-populated Northern Frontier District of Kenya to the Republic of Kenya.

On Oct. 15, 1969, President Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke was assassinated and the army seized power. Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre, as president of a renamed Somali Democratic Republic, leaned heavily toward the USSR. In 1977, Somalia openly backed rebels in the easternmost area of Ethiopia, the Ogaden Desert, which had been seized by Ethiopia at the turn of the century. Somalia acknowledged defeat in an eight-month war against the Ethiopians that year, having lost much of its 32,000-man army and most of its tanks and planes. President Siad Barre fled the country in late Jan. 1991. His departure left Somalia in the hands of a number of clan-based guerrilla groups, none of which trusted each other.

(sources 1; 2)