New oral histories from Black Namibian and Angolan troops who fought in apartheid South Africa’s security forces reveal their involvement, and its impact on their lives, to be far more complicated than most historical scholarship has acknowledged.
In anticolonial struggles across the African continent, tens of thousands of African soldiers served in the militaries of colonial and settler states. In southern Africa, they often made up the bulk of these militaries and, in some contexts, far outnumbered those who fought in the liberation movements’ armed wings. Despite these soldiers' significant impact on the region’s military and political history, this dimension of southern Africa’s anticolonial struggles has been almost entirely ignored in previous scholarship.
Black troops from Namibia and Angola spearheaded apartheid South Africa’s military intervention in their countries’ respective anticolonial war and postindependence civil war. Drawing from oral history interviews and archival sources, Lennart Bolliger challenges the common framing of these wars as struggles of national liberation fought by and for Africans against White colonial and settler-state armies.
Focusing on three case studies of predominantly Black units commanded by White officers, Bolliger investigates how and why these soldiers participated in South Africa’s security forces and considers the legacies of that involvement. In tackling these questions, he rejects the common tendency to categorize the soldiers as “collaborators” and “traitors” and reveals the un-national facets of anticolonial struggles.
Finally, the book’s unique analysis of apartheid military culture shows how South Africa’s military units were far from monolithic and instead developed distinctive institutional practices, mythologies, and concepts of militarized masculinity.
When World War I brought an end to German colonial rule in Namibia, much of the German population stayed on. The German community, which had managed to deal with colonial administration, faced new challenges when the region became a South African mandate under the League of Nations in 1919. One of these was the issue of Germanness, which ultimately resulted in public conversations and expressions of identity.
In Creating Germans Abroad, Daniel Walther examines this discourse and provides striking new insights into the character of the German populace in both Germany and its former colony, Southwest Africa, known today as Namibia. In addition to German colonialism, Walther considers issues of race, class, and gender and the activities of minority groups. He offers new perspectives on German cultural and national identity during the Empire, the Weimar Republic, and the Third Reich.
In a larger context, Creating Germans Abroad acts as a model for investigating the strategies and motivations of groups and individuals engaged in national or ethnic engineering and demonstrates how unforeseen circumstances can affect the nature and outcome of these endeavors.
Germany’s overseas colonial empire was relatively short lived, lasting from 1884 to 1918. During this period, dramatically different policies were enacted in the colonies: in Southwest Africa, German troops carried out a brutal slaughter of the Herero people; in Samoa, authorities pursued a paternalistic defense of native culture; in Qingdao, China, policy veered between harsh racism and cultural exchange.
Why did the same colonizing power act in such differing ways? In The Devil’s Handwriting, George Steinmetz tackles this question through a brilliant cross-cultural analysis of German colonialism, leading to a new conceptualization of the colonial state and postcolonial theory. Steinmetz uncovers the roots of colonial behavior in precolonial European ethnographies, where the Hereros were portrayed as cruel and inhuman, the Samoans were idealized as “noble savages,” and depictions of Chinese culture were mixed. The effects of status competition among colonial officials, colonizers’ identification with their subjects, and the different strategies of cooperation and resistance offered by the colonized are also scrutinized in this deeply nuanced and ambitious comparative history.
Meet Greg. He’s a stocky guy with an outsized swagger. He’s been the intimidating yet sociable don of his posse of friends—including Abe, Keith, Mike, Kevin, Torn Trunk, and Willie. But one arid summer the tide begins to shift and the third-ranking Kevin starts to get ambitious, seeking a higher position within this social club. But this is no ordinary tale of gangland betrayal—Greg and his entourage are bull elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia, where, for the last twenty-three years, Caitlin O’Connell has been a keen observer of their complicated friendships.
In Elephant Don, O’Connell, one of the leading experts on elephant communication and social behavior, offers a rare inside look at the social world of African male elephants. Elephant Don tracks Greg and his group of bulls as O’Connell tries to understand the vicissitudes of male friendship, power struggles, and play. A frequently heart-wrenching portrayal of commitment, loyalty, and affection between individuals yearning for companionship, it vividly captures an incredible repertoire of elephant behavior and communication. Greg, O’Connell shows, is sometimes a tyrant and other times a benevolent dictator as he attempts to hold onto his position at the top. Though Elephant Don is Greg’s story, it is also the story of O’Connell and the challenges and triumphs of field research in environs more hospitable to lions and snakes than scientists.
Readers will be drawn into dramatic tales of an elephant society at once exotic and surprisingly familiar, as O’Connell’s decades of close research reveal extraordinary discoveries about a male society not wholly unlike our own. Surely we’ve all known a Greg or two, and through this book we may come to know them in a whole new light.
While observing a family of elephants in the wild, Caitlin O’Connell noticed a peculiar listening behavior—the matriarch lifted her foot and scanned the horizon, causing the other elephants to follow suit, as if they could “hear” the ground. The Elephant’s Secret Sense is O’Connell’s account of her groundbreaking research into seismic listening and communication, chronicling the extraordinary social lives of elephants over the course of fourteen years in the Namibian wilderness.
This compelling odyssey of scientific discovery is also a frank account of fieldwork in a poverty-stricken, war-ravaged country. In her attempts to study an elephant community, O’Connell encounters corrupt government bureaucrats, deadly lions and rhinos, poachers, farmers fighting for arable land, and profoundly ineffective approaches to wildlife conservation. The Elephant’s Secret Sense is ultimately a story of intellectual courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
“I was transported by the author’s superbly sensuous descriptions of her years spent studying the animals. . . . Conjures a high-class nature documentary film in prose.”—Steven Poole, Guardian
“A ride as rough and astonishing as the roads of the African floodplain.”—Joan Keener, Entertainment Weekly
“A successful combination of science and soulfulness, explaining her groundbreaking theory of how elephants use seismic communication. . . . O’Connell’s account is studded with sympathetic insights and well-turned phrases.”—Publishers Weekly
“This fascinating book reads like a fast-paced detective story of a scientific discovery and adventure set in contemporary Africa. . . . By the end, O’Connell takes her rightful place among the leading biographers of the African elephant.”—Iain Douglas-Hamilton, author of Among the Elephants
Some historians have traced a line from Germany’s atrocities in its colonial wars to those committed by the Nazis during WWII. Susanne Kuss dismantles these claims, rejecting the notion that a distinctive military ethos or policy of genocide guided Germany’s conduct of operations in Africa and China, despite acts of unquestionable brutality.
The Herero-German war led to the destruction of Herero society. Yet Herero society reemerged, reorganizing itself around the structures and beliefs of the German colonial army and Rhenish missionary activity.
This book describes the manner in which the Herero of Namibia struggled to maintain control over their own freedom in the face of advancing German colonialism. Taking advantage of the South AFrican invasion in of Namibia in World War One the Herero established themselves in areas of their own choosing. The effective reoccupation of land by the Herero forced the new colonial state, anxious to maintain peace and cut costs, to come to terms with the existence of Herero society.
The study ends in 1923 when the death and funeral of Samuel Maherero — first paramount of the Herero and then resistance leader — was the catalyst that brought the disparate groups of Herero together to establish a single unitary Herero identity.
Katutura, located in Namibia’s major urban center and capital, Windhoek, was a township created by apartheid, and administered in the past by the most rigid machinery of the apartheid era. Namibia became a sovereign state in 1990, and Katutura reflects many of the changes that have taken place. No longer part of a rigidly bounded social system, people in Katutura today have the opportunity to enter and leave as their personal circumstances dictate. Influenced in recent years by significant urban migration and the changing political and economic situation in the new South Africa, as well as a myriad of other factors, this diverse community has held special interest for the author who did fieldwork there for several years prior to 1975. Pendleton’s recent visits provide a rich comparison of life in Katutura township during the peak of the apartheid years and in the post-independence period. In his systematic look at urbanization, poverty, stratification, ethnicity, social structure, and social history, he provides a compassionate view of the survivors of the unstable years of apartheid.
In this compelling study of labor and nationalism during and after Namibia's struggle for liberation, Gretchen Bauer addresses the very difficult task of consolidating democracy in an independent Namibia. Labor and Democracy in Namibia, 1971-1996 argues that a vibrant and autonomous civil society is crucial to the consolidation of new democracies, and it identifies trade unions, in particular, as especially important organizations of civil society. In Namibia, however, trade unions have emerged from the liberation struggle and the first years of independence in a weakened state. Dr. Bauer gives a lucid explanation for this phenomenon by tracing the origins and evolution of the trade unions in Namibia and discusses the implications thereof for the future of democracy in Namibia.
Based on material not widely available before independence in 1990, this study takes a critical look at the nationalist movement in Namibia. Through the use of dozens of interviews with political leaders, trade unionists, community activists, and others, Bauer offers the controversial suggestion that there are many within the nationalist movement (now the ruling party in government) who would rather not see a strong trade union movement (or any other potential rival) emerge in independent Namibia.
The peoples of Namibia have been on the move throughout history. The South Africans in 1915 took over from the Germans in trying to fit Namibia into a colonial landscape. This book is about the clashes and stresses which resulted from the first three decades of South African colonial rule.
Namibia under South African Rule is a major contribution to Namibian historiography, exploring, in particular, many new themes in twentieth-century Namibian history. Here is exciting new work from a host of scholars and writers on a heretofore under-researched subject.
With style and depth, Lorna Marshall leads the reader through the intricacies, ambiguities, and silences of !Kung beliefs. Her narrative, based on fieldwork among the Bushmen of the Kalahari in the early 1950s, brings into focus a way of life that appears to have existed for millennia. She presents the culture, beliefs, and spirituality of one of the last true hunting-and-gathering peoples by focusing on members of different bands as they reveal their own views. This account, with photography by John Marshall, presents a system of beliefs, one in which personified deities and unpersonifled supernatural forces (n!ow and n/um) interact with man and the natural world. The !Kung believe that this interaction accounts for much of the mystery of life and the vicissitudes of the good and evil that befall mankind. The book also depicts an egalitarian lifestyle based on sharing and group awareness, a lifestyle that has not survived intact the increasing integration of the Bushmen into the modern world.
Visibility matters to activists—to their social and political relevance, their credibility, their influence. But invisibility matters, too, in times of political hostility or internal crisis. Out in Africa is the first to present an intimate look at how Namibian and South African lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations have cultivated visibility and invisibility as strategies over time. As such, it reveals the complexities of the LGBT movements in both countries as these organizations make use of Western terminology and notions of identity to gain funding even as they work to counter the perception that they are “un-African.”
Different sociopolitical conditions in Namibia and South Africa affected how activists in each country campaigned for LGBT rights between 1995 and 2006. Focusing on this period, Ashley Currier shows how, in Namibia, LGBT activists struggled against ruling party leaders’ homophobic rhetoric and how, at the same time, black LGBT citizens of South Africa, though enjoying constitutional protections, greater visibility, and heightened activism, nonetheless confronted homophobic violence because of their gender and sexual nonconformity.
As it tells the story of the evolving political landscape in postapartheid Namibia and South Africa, Out in Africa situates these countries’ movements in relation to developments in pan-African LGBT organizing and offers broader insights into visibility as a social movement strategy rather than simply as a static accomplishment or outcome of political organizing.
Sovereigns, Quasi Sovereigns, and Africans was first published in 1996. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In this trenchant critique, Siba N'Zatioula Grovogui demonstrates the failure of international law to address adequately the issues surrounding African self-determination during decolonization. Challenging the view that the only requirement for decolonization is the elimination of the legal instruments that provided for direct foreign rule, Sovereigns, Quasi Sovereigns, and Africans probes the universal claims of international law.
Grovogui begins by documenting the creation of the "image of Africa" in European popular culture, examining its construction by conquerors and explorers, scientists and social scientists, and the Catholic Church. Using the case of Namibia to illuminate the general context of Africa, he demonstrates that the principles and rules recognized in international law today are not universal, but instead reflect relations of power and the historical dominance of specific European states.
Grovogui argues that two important factors have undermined the universal applicability of international law: its dependence on Western culture and the way that international law has been structured to preserve Western hegemony in the international order. This dependence on Europeandominated models and legal apparatus has resulted in the paradox that only rights sanctioned by the former colonial powers have been accorded to the colonized, regardless of the latter's needs. In the case of Namibia, Grovogui focuses on the discursive strategies used by the West and their southern African allies to control the legal debate, as well as the tactics used by the colonized to recast the terms of the discussion.
Grovogui blends critical legal theory, historical research, political economy, and cultural studies with profound knowledge of contemporary Africa in general and Namibia in particular. Sovereigns, Quasi Sovereigns, and Africans represents the very best of the new scholarship, moving beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries to illuminate issues of decolonization in Africa.
Siba N'Zatioula Grovogui is assistant professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University. He previously practiced law in his native Guinea.