Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality.


"Merry, jolly and gay?" Non-official expectations of independence (1950-1975) 
Ngozi Edeagu (Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies, University of Bayreuth)
Dmitri Van den Bersselaar (Universität Leipzig)
Send message to Convenors
Christi van der Westhuizen (Nelson Mandela University)
History (x) Futures (y)
Philosophikum, S65
Thursday 1 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

What future did ordinary Africans imagine during the decades of decolonisation? How can we uncover their thoughts on independence and reconstruct their expectations of the future? We invite papers on different African countries that address this theme through the lens of popular media.

Long Abstract:

What do we know about ordinary people's expectations of independence? According to the song "Birth of Ghana", which the Kwame Nkrumah government had commissioned from the Trinidadian Calypso artist Lord Kitchener (Cowley), the people were "Merry, Jolly and Gay". This catchy song, recorded in London, has remained a memorial to Ghana's achievement of independence, but the song's official enthusiasm possibly obscured the actual expectations and feelings of the majority non-elite. This question does not only apply in the case of Ghana. Nationalists across Africa had successfully challenged, through their newspapers and other means, the claims that colonial governments had been disseminating through radio, film and print media. Once in power, nationalists used the same technologies to assert an official narrative of independence (Lentz and Lowe), and suppress other voices.

This panel explores what future was being imagined by ordinary Africans during the decades of decolonisation (Cooper). What did different groups whose grievances were merged into one anti-colonial movement actually expect from independence? In several countries, within a decade following flag independence, populations showed some enthusiasm for the military coups that ended the reign of their nationalist leaders. This suggests expectations (perhaps unrealistic ones) of the future that were not being met. How, and using what sources, can we reconstruct these expectations of members of the non-homogenous non-elite masses? How can we uncover their thoughts on independence? We invite papers on different African countries that address this theme through the lens of, for example, radio, film, newspapers, songs or television.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -