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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 43, Issue 2, 2023

Issue cover
Cover Caption: Cover Photo Artwork: Nehemiah Cisneros, “Give Them Their Flowers.” 2021.

Front Matter

Front Matter

Front Matter, Table of Contents, Contributors

Part I— Interviews

UFAHAMU Interviews Dr. Sondra Hale

For this special retrospective issue commemorating 52 years of Ufahamu, the editors had the unique opportunity to interview the journal’s co-founder Dr. Sondra Hale, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Gender Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Ufahamu republished Dr. Hale’s powerful 1972 article “Radical Africanism” in this issue—here Hale explains the context of the piece and the political climate in which it was originally published. As a dedicated educator and accomplished academic, Professor Hale’s wide-reaching research includes investigating conflict, gender, citizenship, political movements, diaspora studies, and feminist art across Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Hale’s career is marked by a life-long commitment to both local and international feminist, anti-imperialist, and anti-racist organizing, making her a scholar-activist in the truest sense. In this interview, Hale takes us on a personal journey from Los Angeles to Sudan, guiding us through the history of Ufahamu, beginning with its contentious origins in 1970.

UFAHAMU Interviews Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley

For this special retrospective issue commemorating 52 years of Ufahamu, the editors had the unique opportunity to interview former editor, and current Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley. Dr. Kelley is a renowned historian of social movements, culture, labor struggle, and Black intellectualism in the U.S., African Diaspora and African continent himself. Known for such acclaimed publications as Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, and Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, Many are less familiar with Dr. Kelley’s background and academic training in African history. Dr. Kelley walks us through his time as a graduate student trying to study South African communists, and how Africa remained central in his work despite its shifting focus (in large part due to the political constraints of Apartheid) over the course of his time as a UCLA student. Becoming part of Ufahamu was amongst Dr. Kelley’s first endeavors on campus and, as he tells it, remained a hub of radical intellectualism throughout the 1980s. The conversation below spans a wide variety of topics, from his biographical experiences with the journal, and Dr. Kelley’s thoughts on shifting intellectual and political dynamics regarding Africa. The interview published below begins in the midst of our conversation on a discussion of a 1984 conference flyer and program handed to us and organized by Dr. Kelley titled “Imperialism: Real or Imagined . . . ”

Part II—Essays

Radical Africanism

Republished from Ufahamu 1972: Volume 3, Issue 2

“Not Yet Uhuru” and “Aborted Voyage”: A Comparative Study of Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood and George Lamming’s Natives of My Person

The essay explores Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s and George Lamming’s disenchantment with the political dispensation of their countries with flag independence as opposed to actual liberation. The paper adopts a comparative approach to analyze the neocolonial predicament in Kenya and the legacies of the slave trade in the Caribbean through their respective novels Petals of Blood and Natives of My Person. A close examination of both novels reveals that the writers focused on the histories of Kenya and the Caribbean, attributing the predicament of the modern period to the past. The two writers, the essay will reveal, offer diagnoses of the problems of society and of human beings with Ngugi attributing malignancy to the political structures in Kenya, and Lamming arguing that malignancy is embedded in the human personality. While Ngugi’s radicalism sees hope for social change through a political revolution, Lamming’s psychological orientation as a novelist upholds internal change as a panacea for the Caribbean post–colonial predicament. In Kenya, the journey to Uhuru failed to materialize in the same way that the voyage to San Cristobal was aborted. Despite the author’s differences in political orientation, both novels draw upon historical and cultural experiences between Africa and the Caribbean providing a powerful assessment of the shared neocolonial condition.