FISH Seminar 15 November – A Pan-African Space in Cape Town? by A. Aterianus-Owanga

A Pan-African space in Cape Town?
The Chimurenga archive of Pan-African festivals

Tuesday 15 November 2016, 11:00

IFAS-Research Conference Room, 62 Juta Street, 1st floor, Braamfontein, Johannesburg


Alice Aterianus-Owanga (FMSH/IFAS/LAHIC)

Discussant : Chris Saunders (UCT)

This presentation deals with the collection, production and creation of an archive that has been developed since several years by Chimurenga, a multidimensional project based in Cape Town, which includes a print magazine, a workspace, a platform for editorial and curatorial activities, an online library, and a radio (the Pan-African Space Station). Based on a collaborative ethnographic research with Chimurenga, this presentation will get back to the history of these festivals, and mainly with the history of FESTAC 1977, but it will also analyse what reading and what use of these archives are created by Chimurenga through their cultural activities and through the website they are currently developing.

I will question how their archival practice is linked with the creation of an alternative pan-African space in the context of Cape Town, and what vision of postcolonial history and memory of Pan-Africanism is raised by their archival practices.

Alice Aterianus-Owanga is an anthropologist and a documentary maker, who has worked for many years about hip-hop, politics and identity in Gabon, and who is now studying the memory of Pan-African festivals. Author of many papers, she has co-edited a special issue of the French journal Cahiers d’études africaines about the “Music of the Black Atlantic” (2014), as well as a special issue of the journal Politique Africaine about rap and politics in Africa (2016). Her last book, co-edited with Joseph Tonda and Maixant Mebiame-Zomo, is entitled The violence of daily life in Libreville (2016).

Chris Saunders is an historian  who made his PhD on the Transkei in the late 19th century. In the 1970s, after beginning to teach at UCT, he turned his attention to Africans in Cape Town, then to questions of historiography, which required relatively little archival research but began to lead him to a broader understanding of the sources of historical enquiry. More recently, he has been mainly working on the transition from apartheid to democracy in Namibia and South Africa, and was for many years involved in two digital projects (DISA and Aluka). Recent publications include Southern African Liberation Struggles: New Local, Regional and Global Perspectives, ed. Hilary Sapire and Chris Saunders (UCT Press, 2013).

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