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Africa: New Books 2010

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Dec 10, 2010 (101210)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

There's never enough time to read all the books one would like to, or even to make sure one hears of those books that one would put highest on one's personal list. This week AfricaFocus highlights 12 new books published this year that I have noted as likely to be of interest to many AfricaFocus readers. They are listed below with brief descriptions.

And, of course, there are also links to other related AfricaFocus pages for you to browse for books or CDs for yourself or for gifts.

AfricaFocus subscribers include more than 200 published authors. If you are one of those, or are just interested in who is, check out the updated page with links to books by subscribers. It's at for links to; alternate pages links to Powells, to Amazon UK, and to Amazon Canada. At some future point, I'll also be linking to Google E-Books, once a higher proportion of books are available there.

If your name is not on this subscribers book page, and should be, please let me know at

For a much wider selection of books, see the AfricaFocus Bookshop home page at or The bookshop pages include select pages on many African countries and topics, as well as on African publishers, and a list of the 100 best African books of the 20th century.

If you are looking for good gift ideas for the holidays, or for your own browsing pleasure, also check out these Bulletins from 2008 to 2010, featuring recent books or CDs:

E-Books Poised to Take Off

Book Notes

New Books from AfricaFocus Subscribers

New Books on South Africa

Gift Music CDs

New Books 2009

Gift Books Issue 2008

Gift Music CDs Issue 2008

And, on a personal note, several of my books are now available as e-books on Google E-Books (although they don't yet show up in the search!) None is priced at more than $4.

Apartheid's Contras: An Inquiry into the Roots of War in Angola and Mozambique (1994)

King Solomon's Mines Revisited: Western Interests and the Burdened History of Southern Africa (1986)

Operation Timber: Pages from the Savimbi Dossier

Portuguese Africa and the West (1972)

Imperial Network and External Dependency: The Case of Angola (1972)

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note++++++++++++++++++++

New and Notable: A Sampling of Recent Non-Fiction Books

[Descriptions below are taken from the publisher's description, unless otherwise noted.]

Stephanie Beswick and Jay Spaulding, eds., African Systems of Slavery.
Africa World Press, 2010.

African Systems of Slavery continues a discussion opened by Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff in 1977 with their seminal collection Slavery in Africa. African slavery, in the first instance, should be approached on its own terms. The contributors address a variety of historical settings both old and new, from large kingdoms and decentralized small-scale communities, widely distributed across the reaches of an admittedly vast and complex continent.

Donald Martin Carter, Navigating the African Diaspora: The Anthropology of Invisibility
University of Minnesota, 2010.

Investigating how the fraught political economy of migration impacts people around the world, Donald Martin Carter raises important issues about contemporary African diasporic movements. Developing the notion of the anthropology of invisibility, he examines invisibility in its various forms, from social rejection and residential segregation to war memorials and the inability of some groups to represent themselves through popular culture, scholarship, or art. The geographic span of his analysis is global, encompassing Senegalese Muslims in Italy and the United States and concluding with practical questions about the future of European societies.

General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe, If something is wrong: The invisible suffering of commercial farm workers and their families due to 'Land Reform'
Weaver Press, 2010

If Something is Wrong examines the preliminary results of a study conducted by field officers of the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers, Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ). This publication presents statistical evidence alongside first-person testimony to provide a chilling account of the physical and psychological violence perpetrated against Zimbabwe's farm workers. They number some 1.8 million people, and have been the principal victims of Zimbabwe's 'land-reform' programme.

Karim Hirji, Cheche: Reminiscences of a Radical Magazine.
Mkuki na Nyota, 2010.

Cheche was a radical, socialist student magazine that was started at the University of Dar es Salaam in 1969. Among its contributors were Walter Rodney, John Saul, and Issa Shivji. Because it was independent of authority and spoke without fear or favor, it was banned by the government after one year of existence. This books narrates the life and times of Cheche and reflects on the student radicalism of that era. It has been written by its former editors and associates.

Mark Hunter, Love in the Time of AIDS: Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa
Indiana University Press, 2010

"Beautifully, powerfully, and movingly written. The best analysis I have seen not only of the reasons for the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa, but of its wider socioeconomic, cultural, and political dynamics." -- Shula Marks, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Sarah Kitakule and Margaret Snyder, Above the Odds: A Decade of Change for African Women Entrepreneurs
Africa World Press, 2010

In her new book, Margaret Snyder revisits many of the 74 women she interviewed for her book Women in African Economies, and, with her co-author Sarah Kitakule, gives a unique account of how they have coped over the past decade. Covering women who belong to both the informal and formal sector, farmers and traders as well as owners of small businesses, the book gives a feel for how women have been and remain the economic backbone of their communities and country.

John Liebenberg and Patricia Hayes, Bush of Ghosts: Life and War in Namibia, 1986-1990
Struik, 2010

"A magisterial book: 270 pages, dominated with the intense, startling, mundane and provocative images - the raw histories - of life and war in Namibia from more-or-less 1986 to 1990. Liebenberg, through various periods photographed and interacted with the SADF (and its various components like Koevoet); with SWAPO and PLAN; with ordinary people in the everyday of war, cuca shops, herders and homes; with migrant workers and their personal portraits; with the struggle and protests inside Namibia, and overwhelmingly with the landscapes of war, its aftermath (the 'end of war') and with the bush of ghosts, and its atrocious consequences of violence (amongst others). But this is not a book about both, or opposing sides, or even multiple sides, so much as it is a collection of photographs of the mutuality of life and war, of how, all are simultaneously in and out of it, and within each other's constructions of the bush of ghosts." - Gary Minkley, University of Fort Hare

Hein Marais, South Africa Pushed to the Limit: The Political Economy of Change
UCT Press, Zed Books, 2010.

Since 1994, the democratic government in South Africa has worked hard at improving the lives of the black majority, yet half the population still lives in poverty, jobs are scarce, and the country is more unequal than ever. For millions, the color of a person's skin still decides their destiny. In its wide-ranging, in-depth and provocative analysis, South Africa Pushed to the Limit shows that although the legacies of apartheid and colonialism weigh heavy, many of the strategic choices made since 1994 have compounded those handicaps. The economy remains dominated by a handful of large conglomerates that are now entwined in the circuitry of the global economy. The government, meanwhile, has squandered its leverage over their decisions. The social costs have been punishing. Marais explains why those choices were made, where they went awry, and why South Africa's vaunted formations of the left failed to prevent or alter them.

Adele Newson-Hurst, ed., The Essential Nawal El Saadawi
Zed Books, 2010

This book, the first volume in "Zed's Essential Feminists" series, gathers a selection of the whole range of Saadawi's writing together in one volume for the first time. From fiction -- novellas and short stories -- to essays on politics, culture, religion and sex, from extensive interviews to her work as a dramatist, from poetry to selections of her travel writing, this book will be essential to anyone wishing to gain a sense of the total range of Saadawi's work.

Michael Peel, A Swamp Full of Dollars: Pipelines and Paramilitaries at Nigeria's Oil Frontier
Lawrence Hill Books, 2010

"The premise of Michael Peel's illuminating investigation into the Nigerian condition - longlisted for the Guardian first book award - is that this vast and complex land is not just the creature of the west in the old colonial sense, but is fatally cursed by our dependence on its oil to grease the wheels of our society and financial institutions. Nigeria, he argues, offers a terrifying vision of the consequences of tolerating gross inequality, profligate energy use and environmental abuse. Peel is clear. Nigeria's two main client states, the US and Britain, have profited vastly from the systematic plunder of the country's assets by dictators, governors and businessmen." - John Vidal, The Guardian

Bereket Habte Selassie, Wounded Nation: How a Once Promising Eritrea Was Betrayed and Its Future Compromised
Red Sea Press, 2010

The second volume of Bereket Selassie's unforgettable memoirs, The Crown and the Pen, is an outstanding analysis of the descent of Eritrea into personal rule and dictatorship. This beautiful land along the Red Sea is aptly described as a wounded nation, for its once promising quest for freedom, lasting peace and material prosperity has been betrayed by the denial of democratic rights and liberties, the destruction of constitutional government, and the lack of an aggressive pursuit of regional integration and development in the Horn of Africa through pan-African solidarity.

Ian Smillie, Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade
Anthem Press, 2010.

"Ian Smillie's new book on conflict diamonds in Africa tells the story of a small group of international actors taking on the most powerful forces and institutions on the planet. The story and Smillie's telling of it exposes the dilemmas and fault lines of international social justice action, in a deeply intimate and detailed fashion. And in its unfolding we glimpse the limits of the prevailing paradigms of international institutional social justice advocacy. It can be read as an inspirational story of trial and triumph, or as a cautionary tale; in fact it is both, and worth studying on both counts." - Brian Murphy
[see full review in Pambazuka News at]

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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