2009, Sat, Feb 21

Angola, Namibia, South Africa: The Dawning of Independence and Democracy

Andreas Eckert, African history at Humboldt University Berlin, Mueni wa Muiu, Winston Salem State University (North Carolina) and Jihan El-Tahri, filmmaker (Paris), talk with Manthia Diawara, Africana Studies (New York).

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Communist Block in 1989 had a direct impact on Africa: In the competition for zones of influence and alliance partners, the brutality of South Africa’s regime was ignored along with human rights violations in other regions. That situation is now changed. The apartheid regime lost its supporters, the following year the African National Congress ANC was legalized, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and Nambia gained its independence. The single party system was weakened; and "strongmen" such as Mobutu Sese Seko, Mengistu Haile Mariam and Moussa Traoré lost power. The Angolan Liberation Organization MPLA, sponsored by Cuba, came under pressure and Fidel Castro commanded the withdrawal of his troops from Africa. After 1989, "civil society" "modernization", and "democratization" become fashionable words. But the revolt of 1989, according to Manthia Diawara, was also the transition into a phase of ignorance by the United States and Europe towards Africa, seeing it as merely a source of raw materials. Using films such as "Cuba: An African Odyssey," "Blood Diamonds" or Aduaka’s "Ezra," he traces the ways in which Africa has been re-presented up to the present day: Africa-pessimism and religious fundamentalism on the one hand, Africa-optimism through modernization and a new self-confidence on the other.

Andreas Eckert will speak about the importance of the struggle against apartheid and Mueni Wa Muiu on developments in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

See also:

Cuba, an African Odyssey (Film) Sat 21.2., 21:00 h, repeat: Fri 27.2. 20:00 h More ...

The participants

Manthia Diawara, Professor of Comparative Literature and Film, New York, and director of Afro-American Affairs at New York University. He has written pioneering works on Black Cultural Studies such as, "African Cinema: Politics and Culture" (1985/1992), "Black American Cinema" (1993) and "In Search of Africa" (1998). Diawara founded the bilingual magazine Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, for which he still works as an editor. He has directed numerous films, including the documentary film "Ousmane Sembene: The Making of African Cinema" (1993) on which he collaborated with Ngugi wa Thiong'o. His film "Conakry Kas” (2003) won the Grand Prix for Documentary at FESPACO in 2005 as well as the Golden Dhow of the Zanzibar International Film Festival in 2005.

Andreas Eckert, Professor of Asian and African Studies, Berlin, studied history, French and journalism in Hamburg, Yaoundé/Cameroon, Aix-en-Provence from 1985 to 1990; in 1995, he earned his PhD from the University of Hamburg. He has been professor of African History at Humboldt University in Berlin since 2007, since 2008 he has been Managing Director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies. Eckert teaches and researches on the history of Africa in the 19th and 20th century and on issues of colonialism, and historiography of labor and globalization. He is author and editor of numerous books. His most recent publication is "From Imperialism to Empire - Non-Western Perspectives on Globalization" (ed. with Shalini Randeria, 2009).

Mueni wa Muiu, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Winston-Salem, studied Political Science and African Studies at Howard University, Washington, DC, and is now professor of political science at the Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina/USA. Her articles have been published in African & Asian Studies, the African Studies Review and the Journal of Third World Studies. She is the author of "The Pitfalls of Liberal Democracy” and “Late Nationalism in South Africa" (2008). Together with Guy Martin, she published in January 2009 "A New Paradigm of the African State: Fundi wa Africa."

Jihan El-Tahri, Author and Film Director, France, was born in 1963 in Beirut/ Lebanon. From 1984 to 1990 she worked as a correspondent on politics in the Middle East. Since 1990, she has made documentaries on political and social issues for ARTE, BBC and many others. El-Tahri has directed over a dozen films, including in the Emmy-nominated film "The House of Saud." Her film "The Price of Aid" won the 2004 European Media Prize, "Cuba: An African Odyssey" won awards in France, Canada, Angola and Venezuela. For her work she won the British Television Award. El-Tahri also published a biography of Yasser Arafat ("The Nine Lives of Yasser Arafat, 1997) and a book on the Israel-Palestine conflict ("Israel and the Arabs", 1998).