AFROFILESMay 27, 2022
Are Coups Contagious?
Thanks for listening to Afrofiles! In this episode, Dr. Miles Tendi, professor of Politics and African Studies at Oxford University, talks with Luke St. Pierre and Sarah Daly about recent coups in north and west Africa.
Find Miles on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MilesTendi and check out his most recent book, The Army and Politics in Zimbabwe: Solomon Mujuru, the Liberation Fighter and Kingmaker (2020)
See references discussed in the interview:
· Ruth First, Barrel of a Gun: Political Power in Africa and the Coup d’État(1970) https://www.ruthfirstpapers.org.uk/term/cluster/barrel-gun
· The famous picture of Condé on his couch during the coup, when he was detained in his office: https://news365.co.ke/2021/09/06/president-conde/
· Kevin Koehler and Holger Albrecht, “Revolutions and the Military: Endgame Coups, Instability, and Prospects for Democracy,” Armed Forces and Society (November 4, 2019).
· Holger Albrecht, Kevin Koehler, and Austin Shutz, “Coup Agency and Prospects for Democracy,” International Studies Quarterly 65, no. 4 (December 2021).
· Samuel Decalo, Coups & Army Rule in Africa, 1990, https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Samuel-Decalo/Coups-and-Army-Rule-in-Africa--Motivations-and-Constraints-Second-Edition/12827694
· Elizabeth Schmidt, Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (2013); and Foreign Intervention in Africa After the Cold War: Sovereignty, Responsibility, and the War on Terror (2018); https://www.loyola.edu/academics/history/faculty/schmidt
· Boubacar N’Diaye, various publications, https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/Boubacar-NDiaye-2002747900
· Larry Diamond, “Democratic Regression in Comparative Perspective: Scope, Methods, and Causes,” Democratization 28, no. 1 (2021), https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13510347.2020.1807517
This episode was produced by Luke St. Pierre and Sarah Daly, with help from Ed Hendrickson. This episode was edited by Sarah, which explains any and all listening woes.
Transportation Infrastructure in Ghana
On today’s episode, we discuss transportation infrastructure in Ghana. Who goes where, when, and how in Accra is political, informed by urban geography, colonial history, culture, and technology. What ideas of progress and nation are embedded in roads, and how do ordinary citizens navigate the political economy of transportation infrastructure?
To find out more, Enoch Osei Koduah sat down with Jennifer Hart, associate professor of African history at Wayne State University. Her research challenges modernist visions of technology and infrastructure in Ghanaian history, emphasizing instead, how Africans imagined alternative futures for themselves, and appropriated technologies for indigenous use. Her 2016 book, Ghana on the Go: African Mobility in the Age of Motor Transportation, details the development of Ghana’s cultures of automobility, throughout the 20th century. Her current work on DIY urbanism in Africa attends to vernacular uses of infrastructure, in order to explore decolonial models for urban planning.
On this week's episode, AFROFILES sits down with Dr. Shobana Shankar, professor of African History at Stony Brook University and author of the An Uneasy Embrace: Africa, India and the Spectre of Race. For generations, Africans and South Asians have sustained networks of trade, migration, politics, intellectual exchange, cultural production, and religious thinking. Afro-Asian connections have been, at times, the source of generative cross-pollination and solidarity, but the relationship has also been tense, ambivalent, and multiple. Centering the discussion on South Asia’s influence in West Africa, Dr. Shankar details the entangled histories of missionaries and converts, scientists and academics, linguists, filmmakers, and Pan African politicians.
Nelson and Winnie Mandela
On this week’s episode, AFROFILES takes a deep dive into apartheid-era South Africa. Two of the most famous figures in the freedom struggle, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, embodied distinct and contrasting visions of a post-apartheid future. To learn more about their marriage, Charlotte Bednarski sat down with South African scholar and writer Jonny Steinberg. He has written extensively on post-apartheid South Africa and the transition to democracy, and his prize-winning literature offers insight into the everyday lives of people navigating changing institutions and seeking justice. Dr. Steinberg’s next book, entitled Nelson and Winnie: A Portrait of a Marriage, will be published in 2023.
Misinformation and Disinformation
The proliferation of misinformation and disinformation in Africa has impacted countless lives, weakened democracies, and undermined efforts to defend human rights. The problem stands to worsen as new technologies render information and media increasingly vulnerable to manipulation. What does this challenge look like on the ground, and how are journalists and activists preparing?
AFROFILES spoke with Nkem Agunwa, the Africa Project Coordinator at WITNESS, an international human rights organization that provides research, resources and training to human rights advocates using video and technology. We discuss the state of misinformation and disinformation in Africa, as well as some findings from the recent West Africa Cross-Disciplinary Convening on Misinformation and Disinformation hosted by WITNESS in Abuja.
The report from the West Africa Convening can be found here.
Rethinking the Conflict Minerals Paradigm
On this week's episode, Sarah sits down with two members of the University of Ghent's Conflict Research Group, Josaphat Musamba and Christoph Vogel, to discuss 'conflict minerals' in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The phrase ‘conflict minerals’ arose from well-intentioned Western organizations aiming to alleviate conflict and conflict financing in the Global South. But in the past two decades, conflict has continued, and new issues have arisen from the adoption of so-called 'clean' mining policies.
For more information, check out Josaphat and Christoph's article in Dissent. Information on Christoph's forthcoming book Conflict Minerals, Inc.: War, Profit and White Saviourism in Eastern Congo, is available here.
The African Diaspora in China
Migrants from across Africa live in China, from Beijing to Macau to Hong Kong and most notably Guangzhou, and the total population is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. What, if anything, unites this diverse group, which includes entrepreneurs, artists, traders, scholars, and diplomats? And how do they navigate life in China?
AFROFILES sat down with Dr. Adams Bodomo, professor of African Linguistics and Literatures at the University of Vienna and author of Africans in China: A Sociocultural Study and Its Implications on Africa-China Relations. We break down how African migrants interact with their Chinese hosts, and explore the social dynamics that help build cultural and economic bridges between communities.
LGBTQ+ Rights in Ghana
In today’s episode, Enoch Osei Koduah discusses the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Ghana with Abdul-wadud Mohamed, a community activist and communications director at LGBT+ Rights Ghana. They discuss the contributions of queer people to Ghanaian society and address the new anti-LGBTQ legislation in Parliament.
Note: We had some challenges recording, so the audio quality is a little rough.
Africa and Outer Space, Part 2: Africa's Space and Satellite Industry
Africa's activities in space are reaching new heights, from national space programs to private ventures to international initiatives. In this week's episode, Leslie and Ed sit down with Temidayo Oniosun, managing director of Space in Africa, a consulting and analytics company with news, data and market analysis for the African space and satellite industry. We discuss the future of Africa in space, addressing challenges and opportunities for growth.
Africa and Outer Space, Part 1: Zambia's Afronauts on Film
AFROFILES is back! On this week's episode, we interview Nuotama Frances Bodomo, an accomplished filmmaker whose short film “Afronauts” retells the story of the Zambian Space Program. We talk about the strange and zany story of Edward Makuka Nkoloso and his plans for space travel, and along the way, we talk about African Independence, Afro-futurism, and the role of film in bringing history to audiences.
This week’s episode is part one of a two-part series about outer space and Africa produced by Ed and Leslie. Our theme music is from RYYZN.
Africa has fostered the development of numerous writing systems across history, but European colonialism installed Roman script as a near universal while propagating the myth of a continent without letters. What’s the significance of African typography? And what worlds are embedded in the design of alphabetic characters? Charlotte discusses with Saki Mafundikwa, founder and director of the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts and author of Afrikan Alphabets: The Story of Writing in Afrika.
Music in this episode from RYYZN and Chistoffer Moe Ditlevsen
Israel in Africa
Our theme music is from RYYZN.
The Commemorative Cloth Archive
His collection is available for viewing on his blog, Pagnes (http://www.tomathon.com/mphp/category/pagnes/), or on Instagram @the_tomathon. Follow him on Twitter @tommymiles.
Music by RYYZN.
The Amistad Rebellion
In this week’s episode, AFROFILES’ Leslie Rose talks with Dr. Marcus Rediker about the history of the Amistad Rebellion, a mutiny staged by enslaved Africans aboard the Spanish ship La Amistad in 1839. The vessel was ultimately taken into custody by the US Navy, and the 53 enslaved people were charged with piracy and murder. Their trial in New Haven, Connecticut became a lightning rod for US abolitionists, and the eventual repatriation of the defendants to Sierra Leone stands as a rare triumph in the story of resistance to the slave trade.
Dr. Rediker has written extensively about the Amistad Rebellion and produced the documentary, Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels, available here: https://www.ghostsofamistad.com/
Our theme music is from RYYZN, audio clips from Charlie Haffner’s “Amistad Kata Kata.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the Amistad Rebellion, sharing this story in the classroom, or seeing a replica of the infamous shop, check out the organization Discovering Amistad here: https://www.discoveringamistad.org/
The Epic of Sundiata
This week’s episode honors the late historian of Mande people and culture, Djibril Tamsir Niane, whose 1960 publication The Epic of Sundiata introduced the West to the legend of 13th-century Mali’s heroic king, Sundiata Keita. AFROFILES' Charlotte Bednarski interviews Dr. David Conrad, Emeritus Professor of History at State University of New York at Oswego and an expert in Mande oral tradition and history. They discuss episodes from the epic, as well as its historical and social significance.
Music is this episode from Sillaba and Maher Cissoko, Bassidi and Khalifa Koné, and Mory Kanté. Our theme is from RYYZN.
Follow us on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM @afrophiles for more content from the AFROFILES team!
The Cradle Paradox
Music by: RYYZN Michael Rothery, Nihoni, and Magnus Ringblom
Inside the African Collections
For this episode, Leslie and Gerardo interview two experts on the history of Yale University Library’s own African Collections: Roberta Doherty, current African Studies and Middle East Studies Librarian; and her predecessor, Dorothy Woodson, who has written on Yale’s collection history.
Music from RYYZN and Cody High
Migrants in Morocco
Music from RYYZN, Andrés Cantú, and José Barrios.
The Italian Occupation of Ethiopia
In this episode, we illustrate the importance of a global and connected approach to African Studies by digging into a key moment in both African and American history: the Italian Occupation of Ethiopia. In October 1935, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini launched an invasion of Ethiopia that would last until 1941. Although this action violated international law and global opinion, Western powers, including the US, refused to become directly involved in the conflict. We approach this tumultuous period from a unique vantage point by asking ourselves: What were the connections between black Americans and Ethiopians in the 1930s?
To answer this question, Charlotte sat down with Ms. Amy Alemu, a Ph.D. Candidate in African and African American Studies at Harvard. Ms. Alemu earned her master’s in History from Harvard University and her BA honors degree in History and Economics from Harvard College. Her research focuses are Black transnationalism, history of political thought, integrative approaches to African and African American studies, and digital and multimedia scholarship.
The Racial Politics in African Studies
In this episode, we discuss the racial politics in African Studies. What are the ramifications of a western dominated field of African Studies, specifically one that is skewed towards the white scholar, and an organizational stronghold, the African Studies Association or the ASA, that reflects and often times shepherds this racially disparate phenomenon?
Akua speaks with Dr. William Martin and Dr. Michael West, co-editors of the 1999 volume Out of One, Many Africas: Reconstructing the Study and Meaning of Africa, a book that critically “assesses the rising tide of discontent that has destabilized the conceptions, institutions, and communities dedicated to African studies.”
What is Afrofiles? Who is on the team? Find out in this rather short episode of Afrofiles!
Music by: RYYZN