Living the End of Empire: Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia

Article excerpt

Living the End of Empire: Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia. Edited by Jan-Bart Gewald, Marja Hinfelaar, and Giacomo Macola. AfrikaStudiencentrum Series, vol. 21. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Pp xii, 333; photographs, bibliography, index. $60.00 paper.

Living the End of Empire continues the project the editors launched in One Zambia, Many Histories (Brill 2008) to revise the historiography of postcolonial Zambia, in this publication by challenging the United National Independence Party (UNIP) centered scholarship on nationalism and revealing some of the many lines of conflict that have received little attention in the established work on the late colonial period. Dedicated to Andrew Roberts, the book contains a brief but stimulating chapter by him on the post-war background (1945-1953), pointing to 1949 as an economic and labor milestone. That year, after nearly thirty years, mining was beginning to pay off, and trade unions became colorblind. Roberts calls for "a synoptic study of colonial management encompassing the governments in London and Lusaka, the mine companies, the local white settlers and the emergent organs of African opinion" (p. 24).

The beginnings of the kind of study Roberts advocated are contained within the eleven chapters comprising the book. Part 2, "The Polyphony of African Nationalism," offers insights into the political agendas of Harry Nkumbula (Giacomo Macola), Dixon Konkola (Kenneth Vickery), traditional rulers (Walima Kalusa), and the Catholic Church (Marja Hinfelaar). I found the chapter on Konkola, first president of UNIP- if only for a few weeks- particularly engaging perhaps because he was a bit of a maverick. Part 3, "The Unsettled World of Settlers," casts new light on some of the territory's diverse groupings, including white settlers on the Copperbelt (Ian Phimister), white residents of Livingstone (Joanna Lewis), Indian traders and political activism in Livingstone (Friday Mufuzi), recollections of Hindu social and cultural life (Joan Haig), and fears and phantasies of Africans and colonial authorities (Jan-Bart Gewald). …


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