Lines of Dissent in Anglophone West Africa, 1950-1970


LAC Burkhardt


Art and Visual Culture


For residence at the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland, College Park during academic year 2019-2020


“Lines of Dissent” examines how the graphic medium of newspaper illustrations and cartoons functioned as tools of resistance against colonialism in Anglophone West Africa. The work focuses on images published in popular newspapers in Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone in the decades surrounding political independence, from 1950 to 1970. Both decades of uncertainty were defined by ethnic rivalries and turbulent anticolonial uprisings followed by waves of self-assertiveness in the national psyche of these countries. Despite its colonial origin, the newspaper was appropriated and weaponized by the new elites for anticolonial protests. While the visual artists documented social transformations and celebrated local heroism, they also demonized colonial power through illustrations. This study critically demonstrates the level of sustained opposition to British colonialism through analyses of newspaper images that bear storylines of development, personality cults, gender inequality, censorship, African diaspora connections, and other salient issues of social transformation and change.