Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Term 2 Week 8: African Nationalism and Decolonisation

This week examines the emergence of African nationalist movements and organisations from the early C20th and the growth of nationalist sentiment and support in the post-WW2 period. We will consider the types of political thinking and ideologies which emerged in different contexts, the role of women in nationalist movements and the relationship between nationalism and decolonisation.

Core Reading

Alois S. Mlambo and Neil Parsons, A History of Southern Africa (London, 2019), chapter 9, pp. 176-199.

John McCracken, 'Democracy and Nationalism in Historical Perspective: The Case of Malawi', African Affairs, 97, 387 (1998), pp. 231-249.

Marcia Wright, 'An old nationalist in new nationalist times: Donald Siwale and the state in Zambia: 1948–1963', Journal of Southern African Studies, 23, 2 (1997), pp. 339-351.

Timothy Scarnecchia, 'Poor Women and Nationalist Politics: Alliances and Fissures in the Formation of a Nationalist Political Movement in Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1950–6', Journal of African History, 37, 2 (1996), pp. 283-310.

Seminar Questions

1. Were African nationalists conservatives or radicals?

2. What types of political thinking and ideas emerged within the nationalist movements of colonial Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe?

3. What role did women play in the nationalist movement in colonial Zimbabwe?

4. Did African nationalism significantly hasten the process of decolonisation? Discuss in reference to two or more case studies.

Primary Sources

Sol. T. Plaatje, Native Life in South Africa (1916).

K. Kaunda, Zambia Shall Be Free (London, 1962).

Further Reading

Jon Abbink, Mirjam de Bruikn, and Klaas van Walraven (eds), Rethinking Resistance: Revolt and Violence in African History (Leiden, 2003).

Jean Allman, 'Between the Present and History: African Nationalism and Decolonization', in John Parker and Richard Reid (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Modern African History (Oxford, 2013), pp. 224-240.

D. N. Beach, ‘”Chimurenga”: The Shona Rising of 1896-97’, Journal of African History, 20 (1979), 395-420.

Bruce J. Berman and John M. Lonsdale, 'Nationalism in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa', in John Breuilly (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism (Oxford, 2013), pp. 308-317.

Joyce M. Chadya, ‘Mother Politics: Anti-Colonial Nationalism and the Woman Question in Africa’, Journal of Women’s History, 15 (2003), 153-57.

J. S. Coleman, 'Nationalism in Colonial Africa', American Political Science Review, 68 (1954), 404-26.

F. Cooper, Decolonization and African Society: The Labour Question in French and British Africa (Cambridge, 1996).

J. Darwin, ‘Nationalism and Imperialism, c. 1880-1940’ in J. Breuilly (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism (Oxford, 2013), pp. 341- 358.

Gewald, J.B., M. Hinfelaar, G. Macola (eds), Living the End of Empire. Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia (Leiden, 2011).

Walima T. Kalusa, 'Kalonga Gawa Undi X, Nationalists and the quest for freedom in Northern Rhodesia in the 1950s', in J.B. Gewald, M. Hinfelaar, G. Macola (eds), Living the End of Empire. Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia (Leiden, 2011), pp. 65-85.

Kalinga, O. J. M., ‘The 1959 Nyasaland State of Emergency in Old Karonga District’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 36, (2010), pp. 743-763.

Macola, G, Liberal Nationalism in Central Africa. A Biography of Harry Nkumbula (New York, 2010).

McCracken, J., ‘In the Shadow of Mau Mau: Detainees and Detention Camps during Nyasaland's State of Emergency’, Journal of Southern African Studies 37, (2011), pp. 535-550.

Murphy, P., ‘A Police State? The Nyasaland Emergency and Colonial Intelligence’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 26, (2010), pp. 765-780.

Joey Power, Political Culture and Nationalism in Malawi: Building Kwacha (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2010)

Basil Davidson, The Black Man's Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State (London, 1992).

Susan Geiger, 'Women and African Nationalism', Journal of Women's History, 2 (1990), 227-44.

Thomas Hodgkin, Nationalism in Colonial Africa (New York, 1956).

A. G. Hopkins, ‘Rethinking Decolonization’, Past and Present, 200 (2008), pp. 211-47.

Allen Isaacman and Barbara Isaacman, 'Resistance and Collaboration in Southern and Central Africa, c. 1850-1920', International Journal of African Historical Studies, 10 (1977), 31-62.

Paul S. Landau, Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400-1948 (Cambridge, 2010).

John M. Lonsdale, 'Anti-Colonial Nationalism and Patriotism in Sub-Saharan Africa', in John Breuilly (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism (Oxford, ), pp. 318-337.

Duncan Money, ‘Aliens’ on the Copperbelt: Zambianisation, Nationalism and Non-Zambian Africans in the Mining Industry', Journal of Southern African Studies, 45, 5 (2019), pp. 859-875.

Terence O. Ranger, Revolt in Southern Rhodesia, 1896-7: A Study in African Resistance (London, 1967).

Terence O. Ranger, ‘The People in African Resistance: A Review', Journal of Southern African Studies, 4 (1977), 125-46.

Robert I. Rotberg, 'African Nationalism: Concept or Confusion?', Journal of Modern African Studies, 4 (1966), 33-46.

Sishuwa Sishuwa, ‘A White Man Will Never Be a Zambian’: Racialised Nationalism, the Rule of Law, and Competing Visions of Independent Zambia in the Case of Justice James Skinner, 1964–1969', Journal of Southern African Studies, 45, 3 (2019), pp. 503-523.

Megan Vaughan, ‘Mr. Mdala Writes to the Governor: Negotiating Colonial Rule in Nyasaland’, History Workshop Journal, 60 (2005), 171-88.