This omnibus edition brings together concise and up-to-date biographies of Amílcar Cabral, Samora Machel, Robert Mugabe, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. African Leaders of the Twentieth Century, Volume 2 complements courses in history and political science and is an informative collection for general readers.
Amílcar Cabral: A Nationalist and Pan-Africanist Revolutionary, by Peter Karibe Mendy
Amílcar Cabral’s charismatic and visionary leadership, his pan-Africanist solidarity and internationalist commitment to “every just cause in the world,” remain relevant to contemporary struggles for emancipation and self-determination. This concise biography is an ideal introduction to his life and legacy.
Mozambique’s Samora Machel: A Life Cut Short, by Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman
From his anti-colonial military leadership to the presidency of independent Mozambique, Samora Machel held a reputation as a revolutionary hero to the oppressed. Although killed in a 1987 plane crash, for many Mozambicans his memory lives on as a beacon of hope for the future.
Robert Mugabe, by Sue Onslow and Martin Plaut
For some, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was a liberation hero who confronted white rule and oversaw the radical redistribution of land. For others, he was a murderous dictator who drove his country to poverty. This concise biography reveals the complexity of the man who led Zimbabwe for its first decades of independence.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, by Pamela Scully
Nobel Peace Prize–winner and two-time Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks to many of the key themes of the twenty-first century. Among these are the growing power of women in the arenas of international politics and human rights; the ravaging civil wars of the post–Cold War era in which sexual violence is used as a weapon; and the challenges of transitional justice in building postconflict societies.
Confronting Historical Paradigms argues that confrontation with major paradigms of world history has marked the fields of African and Latin American history during the last quarter-century, and that the process has dramatically restructured historical and theoretical understanding of peasantries, labor, and the capitalist world system. Moreover, it maintains, the intellectual reverberations within and across the African and Latin American fields constitute a challenging and underappreciated counterpoint to laments that contemporary historical knowledge has suffered a splintering so extreme that it undermines larger dialogue and meaning.
The authors, in their substantive essays, synthesize, order, and evaluate the significance of the enormous resonating literatures that have come to exist for Africa and Latin America on the themes of the capitalist world system, labor, and peasantries. They historicize these literatures by analyzing an entire cycle of critical dialogue and confrontation with historical paradigms and the professional upheavals that accompanied them. They review the initial confrontations with frameworks of historical knowledge that erupted in the 1960s and the early 1970s; the emergence of new “dissident” paradigms; the outpouring of subsequent scholarship on peasants, labor, and capitalism that began to unravel the newly proposed paradigms by the 1980s and 1990s; and the outlines of the new interpretive frameworks that tended to displace both the “traditional” and “early dissident” paradigms. They also suggest possible outlines of a new cycle of “Third World” confrontations with paradigm, anchored in themes such as gender and ethnicity. Confronting Historical Paradigms employs a historicized awareness of intellectual networks, conversations, and history–theory dialogues. The result is a critical analysis and synthetic presentation of substantive advances that have preoccupied scholarship on Africa and Latin America in recent decades and a powerful challenge to notions that “new” fields of history have ended up destroying intellectual coherence and community.
Cahora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi River, built in the early 1970s during the final years of Portuguese rule, was the last major infrastructure project constructed in Africa during the turbulent era of decolonization. Engineers and hydrologists praised the dam for its technical complexity and the skills required to construct what was then the world’s fifth-largest mega-dam. Portuguese colonial officials cited benefits they expected from the dam—from expansion of irrigated farming and European settlement, to improved transportation throughout the Zambezi River Valley, to reduced flooding in this area of unpredictable rainfall. “The project, however, actually resulted in cascading layers of human displacement, violence, and environmental destruction. Its electricity benefited few Mozambicans, even after the former guerrillas of FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) came to power; instead, it fed industrialization in apartheid South Africa.” (Richard Roberts)
This in-depth study of the region examines the dominant developmentalist narrative that has surrounded the dam, chronicles the continual violence that has accompanied its existence, and gives voice to previously unheard narratives of forced labor, displacement, and historical and contemporary life in the dam’s shadow.
The precipitous rise and controversial fall of a formidable African leader.
Samora Machel (1933–1986), the son of small-town farmers, led his people through a war against their Portuguese colonists and became the first president of the People’s Republic of Mozambique.
Machel’s military successes against a colonial regime backed by South Africa, Rhodesia, the United States, and its NATO allies enhanced his reputation as a revolutionary hero to the oppressed people of Southern Africa. In 1986, during the country’s civil war, Machel died in a plane crash under circumstances that remain uncertain.
Allen and Barbara Isaacman lived through many of these changes in Mozambique and bring personal recollections together with archival research and interviews with others who knew Machel or participated in events of the revolutionary or post-revolutionary years.