Monday, May 26th, 2014

The complicated politics of conversion in Northern Nigeria

In Boko Haram’s video released earlier this month, a member of the group (presumed to be Abubakar Shekau, the group’s leader and spokesperson) claimed that the kidnapped girls in northeastern Nigeria, many of them born to Christian families, have been “liberated” by conversion to Islam. Predictably, Christian media outlets in the United States and “anti-jihadi”

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Know your Dutch history

Twenty years ago, Teun van Dijk published the book Elite Discourse and Racism, in which he discusses the subtle ways that racial discrimination pervaded Dutch society at the time. To van Dijk it appeared that, as pivotal socializing agents,...

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

What it is to be Winnie Mandela

I just finished reading a fascinating appetizer to John Carlin’s new book on Nelson Mandela, Knowing Mandela, and it set me wondering what might be the place of solitude in the narration of South African history. Some of...

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The politics of selling African art mostly collected during colonial era to private collectors (in the Netherlands)

The proposed sale of the Africa Collection at The World Museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands has sparked some interesting debates in Dutch media lately. Unfortunately some important questions and issues around this sale are not being discussed....

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

A Very Short History of the Africa Cup of Nations

The big kick-off is nearly upon us. Just 11 months after that extraordinary Zambian triumph in Libreville, starting Saturday we have another month of football ahead as Africa’s top teams (and South Africa, there as hosts) fight...

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Found Objects No.18

First released in 2003, Rappin’ Hood’s (real name: Antônio Luiz Junior) ‘Sou Negrão’ is one long tribute to the black Brazilian musicians who have contributed to the country’s 20th century music scene. The list of artists reads...

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Holland is Kaaps

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Manning Marable

On Monday a new book on Malcolm X by the American intellectual and historian Manning Marable will come out. On Friday night Marable passed away. Though Marable, based until his passing at Columbia University, is less well-known...

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

White History Month

… So much of Black History Month takes place in the passive voice. Leaders “get assassinated,” patrons “are refused” service, women “are ejected” from public transport. So the objects of racism are many but the subjects few....

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Basil Davidson, R.I.P.

The great activist historian of Africa, Basil Davidson, passed away last week in the UK. BTW, if you’re wondering about his wider impact, most college students of introductory African history or African Studies courses in the West–particularly...

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Congo 50

Guest post by Brussels-based anthropologist and, more importantly, Africa is a Country reader Tom Devriendt on a new graphic novel written and illustrated by a group of Congolese graphic artists taking stock of the half-century of DRC...

Thursday, April 29th, 2010


Striking series (via Herman Wasserman) of “… painted portraits of some of the prominent captains and leaders of the Griquas, the Orlam groups such as the Afrikaners, and other so-called bastard and Nama groups of the 18th...

Monday, March 8th, 2010

The Public Archive

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

The Third World Cup

I don’t think my man Vijay Prashad would mind me reposting his first in a series of World Cup posts put on Facebook:  “… Herein starts my backgrounder, on football, third worldism and history. This first one is on...

Monday, March 1st, 2010

God was Afrikaans

Satirist Evita Bezuidenhout breaking down the declining significance of the famous war between the Zulus and the Boers in mid-19th century “as God was looking the other way.”  The Boer victory became part of the...

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Graphic Art / Superheroes in History

The latest issue of Wired features the art of Aran Harahap, a photographer and illustrator, who inserts superheroes into actual historical events. Like the photographer where Batman watches Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro addressing US media in a...

Friday, September 11th, 2009

My love affair with football

I contributed a chapter to a new book, “South Africa and the Global Game: Football, Apartheid and Beyond” edited by football historians Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann. (It will also come out as an issue of the...