Dreams Deferred: Conflict and Crisis in Postcolonial Africa

AHA Session 42
Thursday, January 7, 2016: 3:30 PM-5:30 PM
Room 201 (Hilton Atlanta, Second Floor)
Timothy Scarnecchia, Kent State University

Session Abstract

The exchange of people and ideas has shaped societies, economies, and environments around the globe throughout human history. This panel examines the impact that transnational networks had on state and non-state actors involved in three of the more violent and highly politicized conflicts in the history of African decolonization – the Biafran War, Katanga Secession (Congo Crisis), and Mozambican War of Independence. Utilizing oral histories and primary documents from Tanzania, Congo, Britain, and the United States, the three papers analyze how the exchange of conflicting ideologies within the colonial and Cold War context (including pan-Africanism, communism and socialism, anticommunism, and African nationalism) impacted the policies of new African nation-states. The papers argue that African leaders, such as Moise Tshombe and Colonel Ojuwku, were not mere puppets of foreign governments. They instead strategically adopted ideologies and negotiated alliances that would help fulfill their visions for Katanga and Biafra. Their decisions not only shaped the history of their respected nations, but also impacted the responses of other state actors (both African and foreign) involved in conflicts across the continent. The panel also examines how the attitudes and actions of non-state actors influenced African nationalist struggles and their outcomes. In the case of the Mozambican War of Independence, indigenous peoples along the Tanzania-Mozambique border utilized transnational networks to protect their livelihoods and retain their autonomy despite intensified state intervention during the war. Complex webs of local, regional, and transnational relationships ultimately shaped the history of decolonization in Africa as well as the lives and livelihoods of the individuals who lived through it.

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