Reimagining Pan-Africanism: Distinguished Mwalimu Nyerere Lecture Series 2009-2013
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In the nineteen 60s and 70s, the University of Dar es Salaam was recognised internationally as a great academic institution, and the site of anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist, socialist studies and activism. With the onslaught of neo-liberalism beginning with Structural Adjustment Programmes in Tanzania in the mid 80s, the university was one of its prime targets; subjected to numerous pressures designed to extinguish the flames of revolutionary scholarship and activism.
The establishment in 2008 of the Mwalimu Nyerere Chair on Pan-Africanism with Professor Issa Shivji as its first Chairman, and the annual Distinguished Nyerere Lectures Series inaugurating annual intellectual festivals was, in Professor Shivji’s introduction to this volume of collected lectures, “the resurrection of radical Pan-Africanism at the University of Dar es salaam.”
The impact of the festivals and the lectures went well beyond the university community, as substantial number of the participants at these lectures and debates were citizen intellectuals, not part of the university community. The calibre of the distinguished lecturers speaks for itself; there could be no better representation of progressive African intellectuals honouring the legacy of Mwalimu Nyerere, than Professors Wole Soyinka, Samir Amin, Bereket Habte Selassie, Micere Githae Mugo and Thandika Mkandawire whose lectures are published in this book.
Bereket Habte Selassie is an award-winning distinguished academic who teaches African Studies and Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has written over ten books and scores of articles on law, history and politics, including two memoirs. His first major work of fiction is a novel, Riding the Whirlwind (1993). He is gathering material for another novel, which he plans to finish by 2013.
A committed Pan-Africanist, he was invited to deliver the Nyerere Distinguished Lecture for 2011 at the University of Dar es-Salaam.
Issa G. Shivji is one of Africa's leading experts on law and development issues. Shivji has served as advocate of the high court and the Court of Appeal of Tanzania since 1977 and advocate of the high court in Zanzibar since 1989. He has taught and worked in universities all over the world, including the University of Zimbabwe, the University of Warwick, the University of Hong Kong and El Colegio De Mexico.
He is a retired Professor of Public Law and first holder of the Julius Nyerere Professorial Chair in Pan-African Studies of the University of Dar es Salaam. He has published over a dozen books, including “Class Struggles in Tanzania” (1976), “The Concept of Human Rights in Africa” (1989) and “Pan-Africanism or Pragmatism: Lessons of Tanganyika-Zanzibar Union” (2008).
Professor Thandika Mkandawire is the first to hold the Chair in African Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He is also the Olof Palme Professor for Peace with the Institute for Future Studies in Stockholm. He has been the Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and Director of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). He was a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Development Research in Copenhagen and has taught at the Universities of Stockholm and Zimbabwe.
His research interests include development theory, economic policy, development and social policy in developing countries, and the political economy of development in Africa.
Wole Soyinka was born on 13 July 1934 at Abeokuta, near Ibadan in western Nigeria. After preparatory university studies in 1954 at Government College in Ibadan, he continued at the University of Leeds, where, later, in 1973, he took his doctorate. During the six years spent in England, he was a dramaturgist at the Royal Court Theatre in London 1958-1959. In 1960, he was awarded a Rockefeller bursary and returned to Nigeria to study African drama. At the same time, he taught drama and literature at various universities in Ibadan, Lagos, and Ife, where, since 1975, he has been professor of comparative literature. In 1960, he founded the theatre group, “The 1960 Masks” and in 1964, the “Orisun Theatre Company”, in which he has produced his own plays and taken part as actor. He has periodically been visiting professor at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Yale.
During the civil war in Nigeria, Soyinka appealed in an article for cease-fire. For this he was arrested in 1967, accused of conspiring with the Biafra rebels, and was held as a political prisoner for 22 months until 1969. Soyinka has published about 20 works: drama, novels and poetry. He writes in English and his literary language is marked by great scope and richness of words.
As dramatist, Soyinka has been influenced by, among others, the Irish writer, J.M. Synge, but links up with the traditional popular African theatre with its combination of dance, music, and action. He bases his writing on the mythology of his own tribe-the Yoruba-with Ogun, the god of iron and war, at the centre. He wrote his first plays during his time in London, The Swamp Dwellers and The Lion and the Jewel (a light comedy), which were performed at Ibadan in 1958 and 1959 and were published in 1963. Later, satirical comedies are The Trial of Brother Jero (performed in 1960, publ. 1963) with its sequel, Jero’s Metamorphosis (performed 1974, publ. 1973), A Dance of the Forests (performed 1960, publ.1963), Kongi’s Harvest (performed 1965, publ. 1967) and Madmen and Specialists (performed 1970, publ. 1971). Among Soyinka’s serious philosophic plays are (apart from “The Swamp Dwellers“) The Strong Breed (performed 1966, publ. 1963), The Road ( 1965) and Death and the King’s Horseman (performed 1976, publ. 1975). In The Bacchae of Euripides (1973), he has rewritten the Bacchae for the African stage and in Opera Wonyosi (performed 1977, publ. 1981), bases himself on John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera and Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. Soyinka’s latest dramatic works are A Play of Giants (1984) and Requiem for a Futurologist (1985).
Soyinka has written two novels, The Interpreters (1965), narratively, a complicated work which has been compared to Joyce’s and Faulkner’s, in which six Nigerian intellectuals discuss and interpret their African experiences, and Season of Anomy (1973) which is based on the writer’s thoughts during his imprisonment and confronts the Orpheus and Euridice myth with the mythology of the Yoruba. Purely autobiographical are The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972) and the account of his childhood, Aké ( 1981), in which the parents’ warmth and interest in their son are prominent. Literary essays are collected in, among others, Myth, Literature and the African World (1975).
Soyinka’s poems, which show a close connection to his plays, are collected in Idanre, and Other Poems (1967), Poems from Prison (1969), A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) the long poem Ogun Abibiman (1976) and Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988).