Against a willing amnesia

Against a willing amnesia The past five years have seen a flurry of activity around issues of restitution of African material heritage, resulting in new reports, new books and even, new returns. Along with this sudden surge in activity there has been an escalation in debate around these questions, where positions once thought to be entrenched, racist, conservative, and considered mainstream, seem to have shifted dramatically. In the frenzy, it can begin to feel as if things are changing and that society is progressing. But we’d do well to pause for deeper dives and more systematic remembering of what has come before.

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28.12.2021 | by

The Exhibition Europa Oxalá

The Exhibition Europa Oxalá The exhibition Europa Oxalá is also the ideal time to deconstruct the colonial myth and the post-colonial melancholy designated as “African art”. Attributed to all artistic production that originates in the African continent, the expression has been used to differentiate it in a coarse way from all the art included in the compendiums and narratives of the universal history of art founded in the Western matrix. So-called African art was seen as an art without authorship, disconnected from the diversity of its production contexts, be they a country of North Africa, of the South or the east or west coast, be it the 14th or 20th century.

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18.10.2021 | by António Pinto Ribeiro

No Breathing! Reflecting Achille Mbembe

No Breathing! Reflecting Achille Mbembe The article by Achille, I think, significantly points out the legitimacy of being limited from obtaining oxygen, by explicitly pointing out that for some parts of the world where healthcare is part of organized neglect, we are faced with more than just the need to physically breathe. There is a prohibition of breathing that is systemic in nature which is part of a larger need for the freedom to breathe (live). For example the violent killings of black civilians by the police in South Africa due to an unchecked implementation of COVID-19 laws and regulations left us questioning the relevance (need) for policing systems embedded in colonial rhetoric.

Face to face

08.04.2021 | by Marcos Jinguba

Anarchy / Autonomy / Utopia

Anarchy / Autonomy / Utopia There is a present-day tendency to retreat into the realms of dystopia, of catastrophe and disaster, of failed states and fascism, of environmental collapse and economic apocalypse. This tendency is neither wrong nor mistaken. Yet it is often suffocating, only adding to the pressurized dread of the era, offering no antidote to the plague of cynicism, the chokehold of hopelessness, the drift, or, perhaps, the plunge, into a miasma of pessimism and hopelessness. Of course, there are other tendencies, other possibilities, other ways forward. Here, we briefly mention five recent books, loosely grouped under the banners of anarchism, autonomy, and utopia, that propose better worlds to come – as better must come.

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18.03.2021 | by The Public Archive

Why Is Mainstream International Relations Blind to Racism?

Why Is Mainstream International Relations Blind to Racism? Ignoring the central role of race and colonialism in world affairs precludes an accurate understanding of the modern state system. Worldwide protests against police racism and brutality and the toppling of statues commemorating white supremacists have led to a public reckoning in the United States and many other countries—forcing citizens and governments to confront the historical legacy of systemic racism and the enduring inequalities it has created.

Games Without Borders

16.02.2021 | by Gurminder K. Bhambra, Yolande Bouka , Randolph B. Persaud, Olivia U. Rutazibwa, Vineet Thakur, Duncan Bell, Karen Smith, Toni Haastrup and Seifudein Adem

The untold liberation stories of Guinea Bissau

The untold liberation stories of Guinea Bissau It is February 1964—one year into the armed struggle for independence in Guinea Bissau against Portuguese colonial rule. Cabral, the independence struggle’s leader, had called a conference in Cassaca for his African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) fighters to re-organize and address inter-party grievances. The Cabral as seen in this and similar photographs, with his defiant stance, dark glasses, and signature knitted stocking cap in spite of the West African heat, would become the iconic image of the West African country. More than fifty years later, the image is still used to signify both Guinea Bissau’s victory in the 11-year independence struggle and the country’s continued hopes for the future. But what about the faces of the young women surrounding the independence hero? Directly to Cabral’s left in the image stands a round-faced, then 14-year old girl, Joana Gomes.

Games Without Borders

04.02.2021 | by Ricci Shryock

Patrice Lumumba, 60 Years Later

Patrice Lumumba, 60 Years Later On June 30, 1960, at the ceremony for the proclamation of independence of the Congo, there were three speeches: from King Baudouin of Belgium, the former colonizing power, the President of the Congo, Joseph Kasavubu, and Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister, the latter in an intervention not foreseen in the initial protocol. It was a short speech of about twelve minutes, written in an accessible and incisive language, performative and visual, a speech that, as the historian Jean Omasombo Tshonda defends, "founds the independent Congo". The first eight minutes are the clearest definition of what colonialism is from the point of view of a continent, a country, a community, a person.

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01.02.2021 | by Margarida Calafate Ribeiro

Works of art in the post memory condition (Conclusion)

Works of art in the post memory condition (Conclusion) In the face of this new narrative that acknowledges artistic production and an appreciation of it by African communities, how do secular cultural traditions of African countries interact today with artistic training and production, in the case of Afrodescendant artists, who were born and raised in European countries? How do events in the history of Africa and Africans combine with the artistic languages of the "European schools" and, in particular, with contemporary themes?

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28.12.2020 | by António Pinto Ribeiro

Fifty Years Later, The Caged Bird Still Sings

Fifty Years Later, The Caged Bird Still Sings My own difficult experience teaching literature bears this out. Students’ response to every African story is that “the white man stole our culture, we are ashamed of our identity and need to return to our cultures”. But even as they limit colonialism to an exclusively cultural enterprise, they are not able to connect with stories of the past to which they say we should return to.

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22.12.2020 | by Wandia Njoya

A hug that listens

A hug that listens Angolans have made themselves in- and outside Angola, in conversation with the world. In the departures and arrivals, they carry with them the intangible and immaterial: intuition, faith, dance, and the sad and deep look of permanent uncertainty. But they also take with them the smile of resistance that can hide sadness and misfortunes. Perhaps at arrivals and departures there isn’t much to say. Perhaps all that is needed is to listen in silence and with a hug. A hug that knows how to listen.


21.12.2020 | by André Castro Soares

Interview: Dr Natalia Kanem – Gender Equality is about fighting for the right things…

Interview: Dr Natalia Kanem – Gender Equality is about fighting for the right things… Today, tens of thousands of girls under the age of 18 were married off. Today, one in three women can expect to experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. This needs to change, and it needs to change now. Each of these numbers tells a personal story and each one of these women or girls could have been my friend, my sister, my mother, my daughter, or me. That is what motivates me to create a better world for women and girls, no matter where they may be.

Face to face

14.12.2020 | by Regina Jane Jere and Natalia Kanem

“What are you willing to die for?” The presence of contemporary African art in Poland. Geração 80 at the Malta Festival.

“What are you willing to die for?” The presence of contemporary African art in Poland. Geração 80 at the Malta Festival.  “If it hadn’t been for World War II, African countries wouldn’t have been able to liberate themselves from colonial empires”. This observation, made by Mamadou Diouf – a Senegal-born Pole, activist and legend of the Warsaw music scene, during a debate organized in June 2019 as part of the 30th Malta Festival in Poznań seems to be a provocation rather than an objective statement of facts. The average Pole is unable to imagine that this cruel conflict, which began in Poland, could bring anything positive for humanity. In a country so profoundly affected by this war, Diouf’s statement is surprising, almost shocking.


20.10.2020 | by Katarzyna Cytlak

The injustice of slavery is not over: the graves of the enslaved are still being desecrated

 The injustice of slavery is not over: the graves of the enslaved are still being desecrated The cumulative individual tragedies on slave trails to the coast, in the barracoons, and on the beaches: no one can even count. So the four centuries of African enslavement by Europeans remains an abstract story. The need to make it real, to find things that you can see, touch and feel is what most motivated me to participate in the ambitious documentary series Enslaved with Samuel L Jackson, to be broadcast on the BBC starting on Sunday. It’s an attempt to get away from the numbers and statistics and instead focus on the real people who endured this era – their flesh and bone, dreams and legacies.

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16.10.2020 | by Afua Hirsch

"Africa and the end of the black atlantic" - Paul Gilroy

"Africa and the end of the black atlantic" - Paul Gilroy My talk will discuss the altered ecology of belonging that has emerged into Africa’s diasporas during the decades since “Black Atlantic” was published. My discussion of the problems that this has raised will centre on several key themes. They include the fortification of the overdeveloped countries, the impact of new communicative technologies on conceptions of solidarity, relationality and mutuality, the resurgence of extractive capitalism, and the export of generic racial identities from the USA to the whole world.

I'll visit

08.07.2019 | by vários

“Africa is the last frontier of capitalism”, interview with Achille Mbembe

“Africa is the last frontier of capitalism”, interview with Achille Mbembe Movement is at the core of life, not necessarily space. If it is translated into space, this is done by means of space being perceived as movement. Therefore, we are facing two completely opposing philosophies. From this point of view, the African movement philosophy, the pre-colonial one, is similar to a rationale specific to the digital world, according to which, fundamentally, one seeks to create connectivity, using networks, instead of tracing categories, classifying, establishing hierarchies and limiting movement.

Face to face

21.01.2019 | by António Guerreiro

To be African in Cape Verde is a Taboo

To be African in Cape Verde is a Taboo Cape Verde is not Africa, Cape Verdeans are “special blacks” and the closest to Portugal. Cape Verde is the country of miscegenation, the “proof” of “racial harmony” of Luso-Tropicalism. For many years, this was the dominant narrative. To be or not to be African continues to be a question.

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04.12.2018 | by Joana Gorjão Henriques

From Africa to Buenos Aires – At the Forefront of a New Migratory Nexus?

From Africa to Buenos Aires – At the Forefront of a New Migratory Nexus? It’s Friday afternoon at the Al-Ahmad mosque in lower Buenos Aires. Despite gathering here with their multicultural brethren for prayer service, the small group of African men walking out the door is part of an inchoate community that has become a bit of a talking point in this vast and diverse metropolis.

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08.06.2012 | by Pedro F Marcelino

How to Write About Africa

How to Write About Africa In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.


15.07.2011 | by Binyavanga Wainaina

The moral economy of witchcraft: an essay in comparative history - III

The moral economy of witchcraft: an essay in comparative history - III Although most of the moral economy theorists discussed so far are critics of historical capitalism, few of them are Marxists. Indeed, whether stressing market rationalism or communal norms, they refuse (often explicitly) to discuss peasant society in class terms (see especially Magagna, forthcoming). Marxist analyses of the peasantry, along with "peasant studies" in general may indeed be out of fashion (Roseberry 1989); nonetheless it is Marxists who continue to search for the cultural components of Third World responses to capitalism-- including witchcraft beliefs. The results may be problematic, but they nonetheless point to paths of inquiry not opened by the individualist and functionalist approaches of other moral economy theories.

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11.07.2011 | by Ralph A. Austen

The moral economy of witchcraft: an essay in comparative history - I

The moral economy of witchcraft: an essay in comparative history - I Witchcraft, as used here, is also an abstraction, but one intended to represent directly the terms used by African and other societies to describe their own beliefs and practices. The introductory section of the essay will attempt to identify an African witchcraft idiom which gives broader meaning to texts such as the Beninois oral account of slave-cowry transactions. The concluding section will examine the early-modern European "witch craze" in order to consider how the elaboration of common elements in European and African culture both reflects and mediates differing trajectories into the modern world

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19.06.2011 | by Ralph A. Austen