African Words, African Voices

African Words, African Voices

Critical Practices in Oral History
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/05/2001
Format: Paperback 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21468-3
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Until the advent of African independence, Africans were not considered fitting subjects for historical research and their words, voices, and experiences were largely absent from the continent’s history.

In 13 lively and provocative essays focusing on all areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, oral sources are seen as a way to restore African expression to African history. African Words, African Voices evokes the richness and relevance of oral sources for understanding a complex past for readers at all levels.

Contributors include E. J. Alagoa, David William Cohen, Laura Fair, Babacar Fall, Tamara Giles-Vernick, Isabel Hofmeyr, Abdullahi A. Ibrahim, Corinne A. Kratz, Stephan F. Miescher, Bethwell Allan Ogot, Megan Vaughan, Luise White, and Kwesi Yankah.

Author Bio

Luise White teaches African history at the University of Florida. She is author of The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi (for which she won the Herskovits Prize) and Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa.
Stephan F. Miescher Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is co-editor (with Lisa Lindsay) of Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa and is preparing a book on the construction of masculinities in twentieth-century Ghana.
David William Cohen is Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is author of The Historical Tradition of Busoga, Uganda: Mukama and Kintu; Womunafu’s Bunafu; and Towards a Reconstructed Past: Historical Texts from Busoga, Uganda. He is co-author of Siaya: A Historical Anthropology of an African Landscape; Burying SM: The Politics of Knowledge and the Sociology of Power in Africa; and The Combing of History (all with E. S. Atieno Odhiambo). With E. S. Atieno Odhiambo, he is writing on the multiple investigations into the disappearance and death of Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Robert Ouko.


“Efforts to restore African expression to African history have characterized much of postcolonial historical research and writing on Africa, but questions about the use of oral sources continue to plague interpreters and interpretations of the African past. AFRICAN WORDS, AFRICAN VOICES shows African historians involved with and committed to developing unique methodologies for dealing with history on African terms. For readers at all levels, these lively and provocative essays evoke the richness and relevance of oral sources for understanding a complex past.”

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:<br />

Introduction: Voices, Words, and African History David William Cohen, Stephan F. Miescher, and Luise White<br />

Part 1. Giving Africa a History<br />
1. The Construction of Luo Identity and History Bethwell Allan Ogot<br />
2. Reported Speech and Other Kinds of Testimony Megan Vaughan<br />
3. John Bunyan, His Chair, and a Few Other Relics: Orality, Literacy, and the Limits of Area Studies Isabel Hofmeyr<br />
4. The Dialogue Between Academic and Community History in Nigeria E. J. Alagoa<br />
5. The Birth of the Interview: The Thin and the Fat of It Abdullahi A. Ibrahim<br />

Part 2. African Lives<br />
6. Conversations and Lives Corinne A. Kratz<br />
7. The Life Histories of Boakye Yiadom (Akasease Kofi of Abetifi, Kwawu): Exploring the Subjectivity and "Voices" of a Teacher-Catechist in Colonial Ghana Stephan F. Miescher<br />
8. Lives, Histories, and Sites of Recollection Tamara Giles-Vernick<br />
9. Senegalese Women in Politics: A Portrait of Two Female Leaders, Arame Diène and Thioumbé Samb, 1945-1996 Babacar Fall<br />

Part 3. African Imaginations<br />
10. Nana Ampadu, the Sung-Tale Metaphor, and Protest Discourse in Contemporary Ghana Kwesi Yankah<br />
11. Voice, Authority, and Memory: The Kiswahili Recordings of Siti binti Saadi Laura Fair<br />
12. In a Nation of White Cars... One White Car, or "A White Car," Becomes a Truth David William Cohen<br />
13. True Stories: Narrative, Event, History, and Blood in the Lake Victoria Basin Luise White<br />

Names of Conference Participants