African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships

Through fellowship competitions, regional workshops, and peer networking, the African Humanities Program provides support to the humanities in five African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The centerpiece of the program is the distribution of fellowships to African scholars in these countries for work on dissertations, research projects, and scholarly manuscripts. Postdoctoral awards are listed below; also see dissertation completion awards.The program is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 


Adeyemi Johnson Ademowo
Adeyemi Johnson Ademowo  |  Abstract
The motor park, also known as ‘garage’ in Nigerian parlance, is a terminus where journeys begin and end. It is a public space that shifts between public and private, but mostly an object, privatized sometimes at will, commoditized and a bait to negotiate all sorts of benefits, including socio-political visibility, selling spots ownership, rate collection, cheap/free drinks and sex, etc. Due to its nature, there are unending contestations between, and among, its statutory managers and groups seeking to control it for diverse pecuniary reasons. The study seeks to unpack the processes involved in the appropriation of purposely selected Ibadan urban motorparks, the cultivation of cultic followership by the ‘agberos’ that seek to represent it, the mindset underlying its commodification, as well as other discourses which all coalesce to form sets of values and identities that define the Ibadan motorpark, as a unique space with its culture.

Reader, Department of Sociology, Afe Babalola University, Nigeria  -  Spatial Appropriation, Representation and the Production of Ibadan Urban Motorpark Culture, Southwestern Nigeria

Nandera Ernest Mhando
Nandera Ernest Mhando  |  Abstract
This study interrogates the effort to eliminate female genital cutting (FGC) among the Kuria of North-Eastern Tanzania by the setting up of 'safe' houses by either international aid agencies or Christian organizations. Little is known about what happens later to such girls and how they are received when and if they return to their communities. Using a qualitative approach and multi-sited ethnography, the problem to be addressed is the relative success and failure of 'safe' houses. This study will analyze findings from participant-observation, life histories, narratives, and interviews with parents, community elders and leaders, and community members to elicit their views on such girls and the 'safe' houses. Moreover, girls will be interviewed about their experiences in the 'safe' house and the extent to which this has been useful or challenging when they return to their community. The analysis will discuss anthropological questions such as the anthropologist’s relationship to respondents and the usefulness of a social-cultural symbolic perspective, but it will also consider the importance of cultural relativism to activism and human rights in understanding discourses on FGC.

Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Dar es Salaam  -  Experience of Girls Who Leave 'Safe' Houses: After-Effects of Stopping Female Genital Cutting among Kuria of North-Eastern Tanzania

Yvonne Ami Dzigbodi Agbetsoamedo
Yvonne Ami Dzigbodi Agbetsoamedo  |  Abstract
This project seeks to provide a detailed description and analysis of the tense, aspect and modality (TAM) system in Sɛlɛɛ, a Ghana-Togo Mountains (GTM) language of the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo language family. Studies conducted on verbal morphology in languages of the Kwa group have shown that Aspect and Modality play a more central role in the grammar of verb than Tense. Tense on the other hand features more prominently in European languages. Sɛlɛɛ presents an exception to the discussion on Tense in Kwa. Preliminary investigation reveals that Sɛlɛɛ exhibits remoteness distinction in the past: hodiernal (today past) and prehodiernal (yesterday past). The project focuses on three inflectional categories of verb grammar; (a) Tense, (b) Aspect and (c) Modality, from a typologically perspective. This research will represent primary data for cross-linguistic studies as well as contribute to the on-going discussions on Tense, Aspect and Modality in the Niger-Congo language family.

Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana  -  Tense, Aspect and Mood/Modality (TAM) Systems of Sɛlɛɛ

Litheko Jeffrey Modisane
Litheko Jeffrey Modisane  |  Abstract
The black pioneer actor and sometimes director in South African films, Ken Gampu (1929-2003) is significantly absent in the archives and scholarship of South African cinema. I wish to write a cinematic biography of Gampu in order to provide a comprehensive archive of his work and its significance, inject a critical perspective into studies of South African cinema pertaining to the participation of black actors in the colonial or apartheid periods, and to contribute a decolonial perspective on it.

Senior Lecturer, Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa  -  Cinematic Biography of Ken Kissack Gampu

Joyce Onoromhenre Agofure
Joyce Onoromhenre Agofure  |  Abstract
A comparative ecocritical study of selected Nigerian and American Indian poetry provides critical perceptions on how issues of racial oppression, resistance, displacement, militancy, toxicity, extreme exploitation of natural resources and environmental annihilation intertwine. Consequently, the connection between repressive social structures and environmental contradictions within the Nigerian and American Indian communities illustrate how domestic and international enclaves are manipulated and exploited. To explicate cross-cultural ecological problems, post-colonial ecocriticism with ideas on trans-corporeality- “which decenters the human in preference of the non-human in relation to objects, bodies, geophysical systems and the environment” offers insights to appraise forms of eco-degradation in the quest for petroleum resources and precious minerals. This study highlights the specific ways the Nigerian poets Ogaga Ifowodo, Nnimmo Bassey, Tanure Ojaide as well as American Indian poets Linda Hogan, Simon Ortiz articulate contemporary socio-environmental disquiets of ecologically polluted regions in their poetic outputs.

Lecturer II, Department of English and Literary Studies, Ahmadu Bello University  -  An Ecocritical Study of Selected Nigerian and American Indian Poetry

Motsamai Molefe
Motsamai Molefe  |  Abstract
The normative notion of personhood is a salient concept in African philosophy. This book aims to investigate the concept of personhood with the purpose of elucidating on two under-explored questions in African philosophy: the nature of morality and politics. With regards to the nature of morality, I intend to examine whether personhood, meta-ethically, recommends partiality or impartiality; and, I will also consider other important moral questions like the place of options in African morality. Finally, I consider two political issues: (1) the place of rights and (2) the problem of historical injustices in African Political Philosophy. This book aims to give a systematic account of an Afro-communitarian moral-political philosophy in light of personhood.

Lecturer, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa  -  Personhood, Morality and Politics: A Contribution to African Philosophy

Temitope Michael Ajayi
Temitope Michael Ajayi  |  Abstract
Cyber scam, an on-trend subculture among Nigerian urban youth, has posed a major security and economic threat to the global community. As part of the strategies developed to ‘institutionalise’ their illicit business and evade the punitive hand of the Nigerian and international law enforcement agencies, cyber scammers in Nigeria have devised various strategies, including the deployment of anti-language and slangy expressions in their transactional and social interaction. Extant studies on cybercrime in the Nigerian context have addressed the phenomenon from the sociological, economical and information technological perspectives with little attention paid to it from a linguistic perspective. Therefore, this study, gathering data via participant, non participant observation, and key informant interviews and drawing inputs from Halliday’s (1976) theory of anti-language, investigates the linguistic strategies employed by cyber scammers in Southwestern Nigeria in their social and transactional interaction.

Lecturer II, Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan  -  Anti-Language and Cyber Scam Subculture among Urban Youth in Southwestern Nigeria

Admire Mseba
Admire Mseba  |  Abstract
In Zimbabwe the phrase “Inequalities in the Land” conjures up images of colonial dispossession and racial inequality. Indeed, Zimbabwean scholarship largely focuses on colonial land dispossession and postcolonial repossession. However, in doing so, this scholarship neglects the ways in which Africans’ access to land was influenced not only by colonial and state authority, but by structures of power rooted in the precolonial past. This research is about these structures of power, their interface with colonial policies and their impact on African livelihoods and social relations. It reframes the question of land inequality not only as a product of colonial land dispossession and agrarian change, but also in terms of older forms of inequality based on ideas of kinship, gender, generation and status. It stresses that if the quest for equity envisioned in land reforms is to be achieved, postcolonial scholarship and states should address these deeply rooted forms of inequality.

Postdoctoral Fellow, International Studies Group, University of the Free State  -  Inequalities in the Land: Society, Power and Land in Northeastern Zimbabwe, c.1560 to 1960.

Adeyemi Oluremi Akande
Adeyemi Oluremi Akande  |  Abstract
This study examines the ironical yet symbolic use of the female form as a visual representation of masculinity in traditional Yoruba art. The study will argue that the construction and interpretation of masculinity among the Yoruba finds its root in the psycho-religious idea that the female form possesses paranormal powers believed to override the will and strength of men, making the woman more central to the meaning of masculinity than the man himself. The study will rely on primary data gathered through interviews with tradition artists, religious priests and women society leaders while using selected religious sculpture as case study material. Drawing on frameworks of symbolism and visual Identity, this research will expand our understanding and appreciation of Yoruba masculinity while challenging central issues on gender identity and presentation.

Fellow, Department of Architecture, University of Lagos  -  The Female Form as Visual Metaphor for Masculinity in Traditional Yoruba Belief

Monsuru Olalekan Muritala
Monsuru Olalekan Muritala  |  Abstract
This research explores the nexus between the Second World War and the episode of communal riots that broke out in Ilesa, Western Nigeria in 1941. The town of Ilesa populated by the Ijesa, a sub-group of the Yoruba had been an extremely vibrant town and during the colonial period, had provided opportunities in commerce and industry for both natives and strangers. However, in 1941, in the face of dwindling resources and acute competition occasioned by the Second World War, the Ijesa people turned on the visitors and strangers in their midst. This work, using undocumented oral reconstruction of popular memory in Ilesa and other parts of western Nigeria, private papers, newsaper accounts and colonial official reports in the National Archives at Ibadan, and secondary sources provides extensive interpretation of the consequences of World War II on identity and intergroup relations in an urban milieu in colonial Nigeria.

Lecturer I, Department of History, University of Ibadan  -  The Second World War and Failure of Community in Colonial Ilesa Metropolis, Western Nigeria

Joseph Brookman Amissah-Arthur
Joseph Brookman Amissah-Arthur  |  Abstract
Ghana has had a long tradition of literary writing dating from the inception of formal colonisation in the nineteenth century. Commencing with A. Native’s Marita (1886), the early Ghanaian novel was born bearing the burden of colonisation. In spite of its multiplicity of forms and concerns – the angst of acculturation, geographical displacement, political and economic disempowerment, and agony of dealing with the English language – we suspect that at the deep structural level, the level of story, all early Ghanaian novels are organised according to the same set of functions, representing a fixed structural pattern. Our hypothesis is that all the early Ghanaian novelists tell the same story: one great story. It is our objective in this study to abstract the unconscious but permanent structural paradigms of the early Ghanaian novel, and interpret their psychological, social, political and economic implications, especially with regard to the authors’ attitude to colonialism.

Assistant Lecturer, Department of English, University of Ghana  -  A Structural Grammar of the Early Ghanaian Novel: Towards a Poetics of the Colonial Story

Eve Nabulya
Eve Nabulya  |  Abstract
This study investigates the environmental consciousness embodied in two dramas and two novels all committed to environmental issues in East Africa. It explores a kind of community based environmental ethic referred to in my study as 'eco-communitarianism', which emerges from human relations with the non-human in the texts. The study attends to setting, characterisation and figurative language devices employed in the representations of human-non-human relations in the works to explain how the notion eco-communitarianism emerges. I argue that this emerging concept of a community-based environmental ethic questions the binary of ecocentrism (eco-system-centred) and anthropocentrism (human-centred). Yet it is upon these two poles that the dominant strands of ecocriticism and also environmentalism are constructed. I comment on the significance of eco-communitarianism, as a socially inflected environmental ethos, basing on its projected potential in advancing environmental protection in the imaginary worlds of the literary works.

Assistant Lecturer, Department of Literature, Makerere University  -  Towards an Eco-Communitarianism: Human and Non-Human Relations in Selected East African Literature

Uchenna Bethrand Anih
Uchenna Bethrand Anih  |  Abstract
Disability is a relatively recent area of scholarship especially in relation to the physical and mental inadequacy. Literary scholars have also reflected on this subject by developing theories in the field (David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, 2001, Ato Quayson, 2003, 2007). In spite of all these literary interventions aimed at aesthetic representation of disability, not much seem to have been done in Francophone Africa unlike the Anglophone. Existing studies have focused largely on the physical and social dimensions of disability adopting essentially the medical and social approaches in their analyses. This study differs by engaging the literary discourse of disability from the legal perspective. Against this backdrop, this study engages the trope of disability through social and legal models. Purposively selected post-independence Francophone novels: Aminata Sow Fall's La grève des bàttu, Ken Bugul's La folie et la mort, Fatou Diome's Celle qui attendent, Sylvain Kean Zoh's La voie de ma rue and Alain Mabanckou's Le petits-fils nègres de Vercingétorix are closely read through the interdisciplinary perspectives on disability, law and liberation developed by Quayson, Oladitan and Fanon.

Lecturer II, Department of Foreign Languages, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  Towards a Theory of Disability in the Postindependence Francophone African Novel

Noel Ndumeya
Noel Ndumeya  |  Abstract
The focus of this proposal is on societies and natural resources in colonial and post-colonial eastern Zimbabwe, from the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, to the beginning of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme in 1999. Informed by my PhD experiences, I propose to make a more nuanced and empirical study on the nexus between people and the environment. I intend to examine patterns of ownership, contestations, control and use of natural resources: land, game, timber and water. Consistent with these contestations, I aim to explore the extent to which race, ethnicity and class influenced the nature and patterns of human struggles over these resources. While I propose to pursue a case study approach, this shall be within broader context of theories, debates and discourses about the linkages between societies and the environment in Africa more generally in the Sub-Sahara African region in particular.

Postdoctoral Fellow, International Studies Group, University of the Free State  -  Land, the Environment and Societies in Southern Africa

Felicia Asadu
Felicia Asadu  |  Abstract
This work proposes an anthropolinguistic investigation of lexical innovations in Igbo indigenous music, with the aim of explicating how cultural and linguistic resources are harnessed by the Igbo indigenous musicians in creating new expressions to convey new ideas, events or culturally sensitive meanings in the Igbo society, and how these expressions diffuse into the mainstream lexicon of the language. The study will espouse relevant linguistic and cultural anthropological apparatus to address the questions of (i) what linguistic mechanisms the artistes employ for lexical innovation and (ii) what linguo-cultural factors responsible for the rapid diffusion the terms/expressions into the lexicon of wider communicative domain of the language. The work will provide insights into the lexical innovation mechanisms in Igbo music and also highlight the strong nexus between the linguistic resources, societal events and the language users, in terms of successful vocabulary enrichment and language development.

Department Head, Department of Modern European Languages, Nnamdi Azikiwe University  -  Anthropolinguistics of Lexical Innovation in Igbo Indigenous Music

Philip Asura Nggada
Philip Asura Nggada  |  Abstract
The project would entail working with a very rare and important Torah scroll containing the first five books of the Hebrew Bible scroll format originally from Tbilisi, Georgia. It dates to the 16c.The codex is made up calf skin and contain 46 skins stitched together with 4-5 columns on each skin. It is unique both in its date and provenance. But what interests me most about this scroll is the way it has been edited over the centuries. It contains hundreds of careful edits, many called for by correctors with marks in the margins of the scroll. First, I propose to go through the scroll with great care and provide a detailed analysis of the scroll itself. Second, I have already identified three correctors in the first 20 columns. I propopse to analyze the remainder of the corrections and classify them into categories in order to gain a better understanding of this scroll and the editorial process.This analysis will help to understand how a biblical manuscript was composed, preserved, corrected and maintained over the centuries. Third and finally, I will organize my findings into manageably series of presentations for scholarly papers and publications.

Lecturer I, Department of Religion and Philosophy, University of Jos  -  Textual Examination of Sofer Marks of Sixteenth Century AD Scroll of the Hebrew Torah

Haydee Bangerezako
Haydee Bangerezako  |  Abstract
Using Kirundi-language catholic newspapers in the 1940s-1950s, colonial archives, colonial and postcolonial texts, oral stories, this project studies how new historical narratives contributed to inventing, defining and supporting the political institutions and relations in a colonial Burundi through indirect writing: the co-authorship and collaborative form of indirect writing in which the colonizer sets the framework and the questions while the colonized provided the flesh. The privileging of dynastic history combined with hamitic hypothesis, produced new oral sources pitting ‘native’ Hutu against ‘non-native’ Tutsi. “mwami” became king in the historiography despite oral sources showing to be a gender-neutral term. The project decolonizes the precolonial historiography by studying overlooked power centres or multiple power loci that crafted the precolonial polity to reveal the historical production and the nature of gender and the political in the precolonial and how power operates in the production of certain narratives while silencing others.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University  -  Indirect Writing and the Production of History in Burundi: Official History and Woman as Mwami

Chukwuemeka Nwigwe
Chukwuemeka Nwigwe  |  Abstract
How would a feminist view the tradition of the Igbo of southeast Nigeria which forbade women wearing of anything that could pass in-between their thighs (like pants) because such a style was men's sartorial prerogative? The sumptuary rule had been broken in the early part of the twentieth century. However, the historical facts surrounding the abolition and the cultural anxiety that marked early instances of female cross-dressing among the African group appear entangled. This study investigates the historical development of female cross-dressing and interrogates how the phenomenon is used to challenge and change gender stereotype among the Igbo. Analysis will explore how the use of panties and pants by the Igbo women disrupt(ed) indigenous social order of representation. Exploring how the female fashion marked a definitive move away from the once taken-for-granted idea of male dress will help us to grasp how power, knowledge and language underlie social construction.

Lecturer I, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka  -  Breaking the Code: Interrogating Female Cross-dressing in Southeastern Nigeria

Asanda Benya
Asanda Benya  |  Abstract
Popular culture and academic work on mining is overwhelmingly informed and shaped by a male bias. Mine culture has been understood as enabling particular formations of male solidarity and masculine subjectivities. The masculinism in mine culture has also dominated mining literature as if ‘pit people’ have always been and continue to only be men. In South Africa, since 2004, women have joined the underground mining workforce. Their entrance and their allocation into occupations that were exclusively reserved for men is a significant challenge and a disruption to masculine subjectivities and the mining occupational culture. This book, which inserts the experiences of women in mining literature, will contribute to our understandings of how women mineworkers make sense of themselves and how gender identities are constructed in mining. To collect this data I used ethnography (participant observation) where I worked in the Platinum mines and lived with mineworkers for eleven months.

Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town, South Africa  -  Women in Mining: Occupational Culture and Gendered Identities in the Making

Kenneth Chukwuemeka Nwoko
Kenneth Chukwuemeka Nwoko  |  Abstract
This study explores the conflicts between indigenous and colonial burial cultures in Lagos between 1861 and 1960. It examines the origins of mortuary, graveyards and epitaphs in the burial culture of colonial Lagos. It also investigates the various colonial influences and internal dynamics that shaped the burial culture of Lagos and the extent of these on the continuity and changes in burial practices in the post-colonial Lagos. In doing this, I will engage the following issues: (1) was the new trend a passing phase or one that stuck during the colonial period? (2) Did these changes become a permanent feature of the popular burial culture in post colonial Lagos or did they wane with colonialism? (3) And if they stuck, how, why and what internal and external dynamics were responsible for sustaining this transformation? In this study, I will adopt the historical method of data collection, interpretation, analysis and presentation.

Reader, Department of History & International Studies, McPherson University, Nigeria  -  Graveyard, Epitaphs and Burial Culture in Colonial Lagos, 1861 to 1960

Mercy Bobuafor
Mercy Bobuafor  |  Abstract
The project seeks to document and undertake a lexical cultural study of agricultural terms used in Tafi (tcd), a Southern Ghana-Togo Mountain language of West Africa, related to rice, yams, cassava, maize and cocoa. Due to a decrease in intergenerational transmission of the language and cultural practices of agriculture, knowledge of this domain is disappearing. The project will record words and texts, analyse their linguistic and cultural meanings using ethnographic and lexicographic methods and tools. Outcomes of the research include a multimedia lexical database of agricultural terms and specific publications on ways of talking about modes of planting, tending and harvesting various crops as well as the cultural semantics of ‘red-rice’ and yam. Thematic dictionaries for community use on the five crops will also be produced.

Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana  -  Documenting Fading Words: the Linguistic and Cultural Meanings of Agricultural Terms in Tafi (tcd)

Laury Lawrence Ocen
Laury Lawrence Ocen  |  Abstract
In postwar northern Uganda, one significant feature of “return” manifests in the forms of migration and counter-migrations in the former internally displaced people’s camps (IDPCs) and highway trading centers. First, whereas people were forced into the IDPCs against their will during the inter-war period, in the postwar period, different types of immigrants continually move into these former IDPCs. Why is this momentum? Second, a number of neighboring highway trading centers are developing into large towns following migrations from the former sites of war. This project interrogates the intellectual, political, socio-economic forces that have given momentum to such centrifugal and centripetal patterns of migration into, and away from the epicenters of war. Is this a process by which experiences of mass violence are being depoliticized, or a way in which economic processes of transition are constructing new imaginaries of transition? How war opens boundaries linguistically, culturally, economically, and politically will be examined through an ethnographic study of new urbanities of Attiak, Pabo, and other IDPCS, as well as Bweyale and Kiriandongo towns, all located within the political geography of postwar northern Uganda.

Lecturer, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University  -  War and Urbanization: an Ethnographic Study of Displacement and Urban Formation in Postwar Northern Uganda

Barbara Burger
Barbara Burger  |  Abstract
My project will involve a translation and reworking of my Afrikaans dissertation into an English monograph. The dissertation questioned the usefulness of existing South African literary theory for interpreting the ways in which Cape Town and Johannesburg are represented in Afrikaans and English novels published after 2000. In comparing six novels, I found that aspects that are not usually associated with the urban, such as embodiment, spirituality and non-human nature play prominent roles in all the novels. I therefore argue that theories related to Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) can fruitfully be used to understand the novels in ways that challenge anthropocentrism by foregrounding the relationships between humans and the non-human. In the monograph I will also critically interrogate the relevance and novelty of OOO for South African literature and theories by bringing it into dialogue with specifically South African theories and cosmologies.

Lecturer, Department of Afrikaans, University of Pretoria  -  Embodiment and the Non-Human in South African Afrikaans and English Urban Novels After 2000

Olarotimi Daniel Ogungbemi
Olarotimi Daniel Ogungbemi  |  Abstract
Studies on Nigerian novels, from linguistic perspectives, have investigated its stylistic and semantic components with little attention paid to how Nigerian novelists deploy linguistic resources to construct and negotiate identities. This study, thus, investigates the use of context-specific linguistic forms to facilitate access to sexuality in Africa. It attempts to reveal how homosexual identity is mediated through language in Nigerian novels. Jude Dibia's "Walking With Shadows," Chris Abani's "Graceland," Chinelo Okparanta's "Under the Udala Trees," Chimamanda Adichie's "The Thing Around Your Neck," John Elnathan's "Born on a Tuesday" and Lola Shoneyin's "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives" are sampled texts. Drawing upon the theoretical resources of Critical Discourse Analysis, Social Constructionism and Queer Linguistics that account for homosexual identity construction, these texts are read critically with a view to uncovering how language constructs identity in the selected novels. This investigation promises a clearer understanding of homosexuality in Nigerian novels.

Lecturer II, Department of English Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria  -  From the Margins to the Centre: Language and Homesexual Identity Construction in Contemporary Nigerian Fiction

Anthony Chima Diala
Anthony Chima Diala  |  Abstract
Mainstream literature tends to treat customary law and state law as antipodal social fields, thereby neglecting the dialogue occurring between them. However, empirical evidence indicates that socio-economic changes are inducing substantial normative adaptations in individuals who observe customary law. These adaptations have significance for the cultural spaces of marginalised voices, since they reveal intersectional forces that question assumptions about the suppression of women and younger male children. This research exposes the nuanced relationship between state law, customary law, and socio-economic forces in contemporary modernity. By revealing normative adaptations occurring in succession, bride wealth, matrimonial property, and commerce in south and western Nigeria, it argues that customary law is steadily being eroded by the intersectional nature of legal, religious, political, and economic changes in social fields.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Comparative Law in Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa  -  Hidden in Plain Sight: Normative Intersectionality in Southern and Western Nigeria

Kwabena Dankwa Opoku-Agyemang
Kwabena Dankwa Opoku-Agyemang  |  Abstract
This project explores the nature of different genres of African electronic literature in order to position oral tradition as integral to the evolution of Afican digital aesthetics. By examining concrete poetry, conceptual poetry, mobile video games, and flash fiction from Ghana, this project also looks at the importance of digital technology to African creative expression. There is therefore an analysis of the interplay between oral tradition and digital technology in the context of genre-making. While African literary scholarship has extensively investigated oral literature and print literature as categories of African literature, almost nothing exists on African electronic literature. This priject thus speaks to a massive dearth in African literary scholarship. By limiting the scope of work to examples of electronic literature from Ghana, there is the added layer of viewing Ghanaian electronic literature as a paradigm for African digital textuality.

Lecturer, Department of English, University of Ghana  -  African E-Lit: Oral Tradition and Genre-Making in Ghanaian Digital Creative Expression

John-Doe Yao Dordzro
John-Doe Yao Dordzro  |  Abstract
Remnants of European brass bands are widely distributed throughout Africa, India, Asia, Indonesia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. They derive from colonial bands, of both military and missionary origin, which were an important component of nineteenth and early twentieth century colonial expressive culture. The introduction of brass bands in Ghana and the subsequent "re-interpretation" or "Africanization" of the brass band style by the indigenous musicians provide a view into the complexity surrounding cultural change in the colonial context which is yet to be systematically investigated. Focusing on community bands, I intend to tell the story of brass bands in Ghana looking at the often competing influences of colonialism's inherent asymmetries: political and economic power; the aggressive strategies of Christian conversion against the tenacity of traditional expressive codes; and the ability of the indigenous people to both create and manipulate new expressive codes to their own ends.

Principal Research Assistant, Department of Music and Dance, University of Cape Coast  -  Brass Band Music in Ghana: History, Artistry and Social Change

Lauren Ela Paremoer
Lauren Ela Paremoer  |  Abstract
This project examines the contradictions inherent in using for-profit markets to realise a specific dimension of social citizenship: the right to health. I examine ethical and political ideas about the role of markets in realising health for all, and more broadly, advancing social citizenship, that emerged from efforts to ensure the right to HIV/AIDS treatment in the Global South. What is the historical trajectory of these ideas? How did the HIV/AIDS epidemic crystalise these ideas and aim to resolve the contradictions between them? Finally, how are these ideas now playing out in global and national governance reforms aimed at realising UHC, particularly in the Global South. I use the case study of South African citizens' struggles for HIV/AIDS and its legacies to explore these questions. Ultimately this project aims to map the assumptions about power, solidarity, and citizenship that define contemporary governance initiatives aimed at ensuring the right to health.

Lecturer, Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa  -  The Continued Importance of Social Citizenship in Realizing Health for All

Daniel Yaw Fiaveh
Daniel Yaw Fiaveh  |  Abstract
The proliferation of herbal alcoholic bitters as aphrodisiacs (substances that cause or arouse or increase sexual desire) across West Africa is a public safety issue. Yet, there is a dearth of knowledge on the subject and what it means to sexual practices. Using interviews, participant observations, and images from rural and urban areas in five regions in Ghana, I seek to understand the meanings women and men attach to sex and alcohol and herbal alcoholic bitters in Ghana. In this study, I provide narratives and observations with dealers and producers of local bitters/gins [licensed and unlicensed]) and their clients and local perceptions about these industries and their produce. The issues to be discussed will include perceptions about sex and knowledge of local aphrodisiacs (the types of aphrodisiacs used by men and women), perceptions and patronage of alcohol and herbal alcoholic bitters as sex enhancing medicines (the choice of herbal bitters [if ever used] and reasons, and experiences thereafter. The study is useful for understanding culture and notions of sex and medicine use in West Africa and Ghana in particular.

Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Cape Coast  -  Sex and Herbal Alcoholic Aphrodisiacs in Ghana

Mosa Martha Phadi
Mosa Martha Phadi  |  Abstract
W.E.B. Du Bois’ contribution to scholarship is often neglected in the academy. Morris echoes this sad reality in his book, "The Denied Scholar" (2015). This reality is also pervasive in the South African Academy: seldom academics rigorously use his work to understand the present context. This tragic reality is worth lamenting, especially since Du Bois’ work strongly informed some of the prominent intellectuals in the African National Congress (ANC). In tracing his legacy and reviving the important role he played in shaping South African politics, this project proposes to use Du Bois’ work as an entry point to delineating articulations of what it means to be Black that have emanated from some prominent South African intellectuals. Through archival material, the project will draw on the writing and correspondence he had with South African leaders to map out the alternative worlds imagined. Additionally, the project will consider how their shared vision of liberation links to the present realities of South Africa.

Researcher, Public Affairs Research Institute, South Africa  -  W.E.B. Du Bois in South Africa: Tracing What it Means to be Black

Eyitayo Tolulope Ijisakin
Eyitayo Tolulope Ijisakin  |  Abstract
Printmaking constitutes a social matrix as it often reflects cultural images and symbols. Despite the resourcefulness of the printmaking artists in Nigeria, the imperatives of their oeuvres remain undermined by poor documentation. Previous studies have been limited to exhibition catalogues, scanty newspaper reviews, and biographical sketches on very few printmakers. This study therefore investigates the development of printmaking in Nigeria with a view to chronicling its history and contributions to Nigerian art. It identifies and classifies the printmakers; tracks the trend in their audience; and also evaluates various printmaking events, workshops, and training. It further explores the forms and visual richness of printmaking in Nigeria; and examines how these artistic productions reflect socio-political realities of the society. Drawing on Narrative theory as argued by Bal 2009, and Puckett 2016; this study relies on field investigation which includes oral interviews and visual media sources. The study argues that printmaking artists in Nigeria appropriate cultural heritage, aesthetics, and socio-political thoughts from their environment to define new perspectives of national identity.

Senior Lecturer, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  Printmaking in Nigeria: Unveiling the Treasures of an Art Form

Uhuru Portia Phalafala
Uhuru Portia Phalafala  |  Abstract
There is to no date any substantial book published on South African national poet laureate and giant of African and diasporic letters, Keorapetse Kgositsile. My critical biography project uses primary themes in Kgositsile's life and work—revolutionary commitment, Setswana language, and jazz—as organising principles. Kgositsile’s literary oeuvre, published in black international periodicals, and by independent black diaspora publishing houses, tasks us to think through the imbrication of African linguistics, land, collective memory, roots and routes, and anti-colonial struggle. His poetry and political essays in exile confront the inadequacy of the English language in his production of self, resolved by his active cultivation of his native Setswana cultural reservoir. The reading of his English-language oeuvre through the baseline of Setswana enriches scholarship on Africa’s relationship with its diaspora, and polyglot internationalism. His exilic routes conjugate black radical traditions of South Africa, Caribbean, and Afro-America, while also placing them in locution with yellow and red radical traditions: those of Asia and Soviet bloc.

Lecturer, English Department, Stellenbosch University  -  Restless Natives, Indigenous Languages, and Revolution: Keorapetse Kgositsile's Critical Biography

Kabiru Haruna Isa
Kabiru Haruna Isa  |  Abstract
There is a growing trend of conflict and contestation over the ownership and possession of mosques in Kano. Mosque is, arguably, one of the most important material institutions in Islam, for it symbolizes the presence of Islam, the existence of Muslim ummah (community) in a place where it is located, and serves as a centre of unity where Muslims congregate to worship a monotheistic God. According to Islamic tradition, a mosque belongs to Muslim community and every Muslim has access to it regardless of ideological/doctrinal inclination, class, race or creed. From the 14th century, when Islam was introduced to Kano, to the first half of the 20th century, the Muslims in Kano prayed in the same mosques without any form of doctrinal discrimination. The three dominant Islamic groups in Kano, namely: Qadiriyya, Tijaniyya and Izala/Salafiyya locked themselves in a recurring conflict from the 1980s onwards over the control and possession of mosques in different parts of Kano.

Lecturer II, Department of History, Bayero University Kano, Nigeria  -  Islamic Groups and the Contestation for the Control of Mosques in Kano, Nigeria,1978 to 2015

Valence Valerian Silayo
Valence Valerian Silayo  |  Abstract
Eastern and much of central Africa was comprised of small-scale societies during pre-colonial times. Located outside or on the margins of major state systems such as the Luba-Lunda, the Marave, the Lozi, the Kongo, the Zimbabwe Culture and monumental Swahili city-states, these societies have not, until recently, been perceived as complex. However, an historical archaeological study of the Chagga on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro radically challenges this view. The Chagga constructed massive and complex bolt-holes, forts and a system of defensive ditches surrounding palaces, systematically managed water resources from the mountain, and managed trade networks for local and regional markets in a manner that suggests ancient complexity existed among small-scale societies in africa (Silayo 2017). The study hereby proposed seeks to further highlight this view through the use of archaeological survey, mapping, analyses of oral and written sources, and ethnographic enquiry into the pre-colonial Chagga.

Lecturer, Stella Maris Mtwara University College, Tanzania  -  Re-mapping Ancient Socio-political Complexity Among Small-scale Societies in Eastern Africa: a Historical Archaeological Approach

Tapiwa Madimu
Tapiwa Madimu  |  Abstract
This study explores the long and entangled relationship between farmers, miners and the state in colonial Zimbabwe. It does not start from any teleological assumptions about a static, synchronic state of relations; instead, it demonstrates a diachronic, shifting set of relationships, showing that these groups were heterogeneous, changeable and diverse. It thus engages the protean nature of colonial state policies, exploring how they influenced the interaction of settler farmers and miners from 1895 to 1961, highlighting their reaction and agency in resisting or complying with such policies. Using a chronological survey of miner-farmer relations in Southern Rhodesia, the study contributes to emerging studies of white settlers that emphasize differentiated settler interests. The project is therefore intended as a detailed and nuanced exploration of how Southern Rhodesia's mining law and taxation policies shaped the contours of conflict between these settler constituencies over time.

Postdoctoral Fellow, History Department, Rhodes University  -  Farmers, Miners and the State in Colonial Zimbabwe, c.1895 to 1961

Medadi Erisa Ssentanda
Medadi Erisa Ssentanda  |  Abstract
This study examines power and ideological relations between Luganda and English as they play out within the sociocultural and pedagogic space of the school environment in Uganda. The study draws on diverse perspectives in Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) brought into conversation with Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of language, symbolic power, capital and economy of social practices. The study argues that perspectives from ethnological experiences allow for an examination of the linguistic landscape (LL), embodied in the classrooms and school compounds in Uganda. The main premise taken by this study is that the school is a microcosmic spatiotemporal site through which it is possible to identify and consider the manner in which indigenous Ugandan languages interact with English, a language that is embedded with symbolic Imperial power. The study seeks to examine how learners and teachers relate to this metaphorical clash of linguistic repertoires. It also will investigate the ways language policies are factored into how languages are used within and outside of the pedagogic space of the school.

Lecturer, Department of African Languages, Makerere University  -  A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Linguistic Landscape in Pedagogical Spaces of Classrooms in Ugandan Primary Schools

Babalwa Magoqwana
Babalwa Magoqwana  |  Abstract
This project seeks to challenge some of the narrow conceptions that define uMakhulu (grandmother in isiXhosa language) purely in economic and seniority terms in African households. It goes beyond the narrative of uMakhulu (uGogo) as a “safety net” and “care-giver” under harsh socio-economic conditions in the rural households. The project seeks to position uMakhulu as an institution of knowledge that transfers not only ‘history’ through “iintsomi” (folktales) but also a body of indigenous knowledge that stores, transfer and disseminate knowledge on food, language and spirituality. The project makes use of Oyèrónk?? Oy?wùmí’s (1997, The Invention of Women) understanding of the bio-logic to argue for uMakhulu as productive body that shapes our spiritual awareness and provides survival wisdom in the African household. This project uses Xhosa oral traditions through amabali (stories), intsomi (folktales) songs and clan names (iziduko) from elderly women’s life histories to formulate a woman-centered vernacular framework in understanding Sociology of the Eastern Cape. These methodologies explore the links on intergenerational knowledge transfer methods within an increasing innovative global technological economies context. The project hopes to further develop the Sociology of the Eastern Cape through the eyes and experiences of uGogo/uMakhulu and challenge the patriarchal bias that has shaped the Eastern Cape history through isihelegu sika Nongqawuse (Nongqawuse’s catastrophe of 1856).

Senior Lecturer, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University  -  Building a Woman-Centered Vernacular Sociology of the Eastern Cape, South Africa: Re-centering uMakhulu as the Body Indigenous Knowledge

Cara Lebohang Stacey
Cara Lebohang Stacey  |  Abstract
The main objective is to transform the PhD dissertation into a book manuscript. My research investigates how the contemporary performers of the Swazi gourd-resonated bow, the makhweyane, create music. The makhweyane is played by a handful of people, each appearing to consider him or herself the last bearer of this tradition. This research explores how current makhweyane music can be read as oral testimony with regards to the lives of musicians, but also how diverse current praxis serves many functions: as “radio” for lone travelers, as comfort for broken hearts, and as individual acts of citizenry within the broader national environment of Swaziland. In transforming this dissertation into a book, I aim to: extend the reframing of ‘traditional’ musicians from elderly ‘culture-bearers’ to responsive, innovators and active contemporary musicians; and to explore more broadly theoretical literature relating to gender, performance, subjugated knowledge systems, embodiment, listening and landscape.

Lecturer, South African College of Music, University of Cape Town, South Africa  -  The Makhweyane Bow of Swaziland: Music, Poetics and Place

Rodwell Makombe
Rodwell Makombe  |  Abstract
Post-2000 Zimbabwe has been characterized by an unprecedented political and economic crisis which has brought untold suffering to ordinary citizens. The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has done everything in its power to block avenues of dissent through repressive laws and violent policing. While it is the objective of the ruling elite in Zimbabwe to have total hegemony over all spheres of life and deny ordinary people the agency to express their disgruntlement with the status quo, this study argues that Zimbabweans continue to resist political power through subversive songs, internet memes, political cartoons and/or caricatures. Through a critical analysis of selected songs, political cartoons and internet memes, and guided by insights from postcolonial theory of resistance, this book argues that popular cultural texts are weapons of the weak that can be mobilized to challenge political power, cope with difficult situations and imagine an alternative future.

Senior Lecturer, Department of English, University of the Free State  -  Cultural Texts of Resistance: Political Cartoons, Internet Memes and Subversive Songs in Post-2000 Zimbabwe

Emmanuel Aminu Uba
Emmanuel Aminu Uba  |  Abstract
Much of the research on traditional Hausa songs has concentrated on exploring the philosophical underpinnings, literary and cultural interface, and metricality of the popular Hausa verses and songs; largely neglecting their phonological properties. This study investigates the use of rhyme, tone and intonation by Gada singers in deciding thematic foci of parenthood, girlhood, leadership, identity and cultural mores of the Hausa girl. It examines how these semantic realities are decided between prosodic variables. The data comprised 31 spontaneously recorded Gada songs. These audio-visual recordings are subjected to qualitative discourse intonation analysis and the prosody-level annotation of the floating traces and tone tiers is carried out using Hausa Break and Tone Indices (a hybrid of ToBI, J-ToBi and ToDI). All perceptual effects signalling focal prominence are determined by Speech Analyser 3.1. The project promises a prosodic typology of Gada songs and new approach to analysing Hausa traditional songs in particular and other African folk songs, which is of interest to African humanities.

Lecturer II, Department of Languages and General Studies, Covenant University  -  Rhyme, Tone, Intonation and Focus in Hausa Gada Songs: An Endogenous Prosodic Pattern

Ivan Marowa
Ivan Marowa  |  Abstract
Colonialism left a number of historical scars on the African continent. Forced removal was one historic event that shaped and changed the geo-political landscape of what is now Zimbabwe. This project examines how forced removal is used as a prism to remember and debate historical change, to negotiate social belonging and contest ethnic identity. The objective is to explain the twin processes of state-making and place-making in northwestern Zimbabwe. It moves away from the discourse of victimhood to analyse how forced removal revolutionised the countryside and laid the foundations for local government reforms. Forced removal is examined as part of the broad state making policies and establishing state control in northwest. It argues that removals were also meant to control African social life which was negotiated between state infrastructures, agencies and rural citizens. Gravel roads led the revolution in the countryside turning them into vibrant sites of social interactions.

Research Fellow, Department of Development Studies, University of Venda  -  Forced Removals, Social Memories and the Making of the Colonial State in Northwestern Zimbabwe, c1940 to 2000

Evelyn Nwachukwu Urama
Evelyn Nwachukwu Urama  |  Abstract
Same-sex marriage among the females had been part of Igbo culture despite the fact that Nigeria is among the countries that have vehemently resisted all attempts by the Western governments to legalize same-sex marriage. In most parts of the Igboland, women in the form of 'female husbands' are permitted by Igbo custom and laws to marry fellow women either to raise children for their fathers, husbands or dead/infertile sons for continuity of linage or posterity. By using the queer theory and gender studies approach, this study critically explores the existence of the ‘female husband’ or ‘female man’ and incidences of same-sex marriages in Igbo culture. It analyses selected oral and written texts and in-depth interviews in order to reveal the nature/form of such marriages and the interconnection/interrelatedness of the ‘female husband’ and Igbo worldview as well as discuss the implications of same-sex marriage in the Igbo culture.

Lecturer II, Department of Languagues/Linguistics/Literary Studies/Theatre Arts, Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Nigeria  -  The ‘Female Husband’ and Same-sex Marriage in Igbo Culture: Queer and Gender Analyses of Some Selected Oral and Written Texts

Jacqueline Mgumia
Jacqueline Mgumia  |  Abstract
Why do business grants provided to Tanzanian youth to start businesses as a means out of poverty fail? The common reason given is the lack of an economic ethos. Drawing from my PhD thesis, this book project calls for economic rationality to be broadly interpreted to include social-cultural aspects and human desires for dignity, esteem and aspirations as key factors in shaping entrepreneurial incentives and outcomes. Using ethnographic data of young entrepreneurs and social media conversations, the book will show how economic practices cannot simply be abstracted from social-cultural life and categories that define it. Far from simply providing a context in which economic activities occur or are in constant tension with rational calculations in the market, it will show how social-cultural lives frame the motivations and meanings the youth attach to entrepreneurship projects

Assistant Lecturer, Sociology and Anthropology Department, University of Dar es Salaam  -  Producing the Entrepreneur: Subject and Choices in Local Moral Worlds in Urban Tanzania