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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 35, Issue 2, 2009

Volume 35 Issue 2 2009


Kidnapping: An Underreported Aspect of African Agency During the Slave Trade Era (1440-1886)

This article addresses the issue of African agency—that is, the active involvement by some of continental Africa’s indigenous inhabitants, i.e., members of various ethnic, religious, and cultural communities—in aiding and abetting the European slave traders during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade era (1440-1886). They committed innumerable acts of kidnapping on their neighbors with whom they cohabited the sub-Saharan regions of the African continent: western, central, and to a lesser extent, eastern. There exist in some current societies memories of their past enslaving activities for which they have created various ceremonies to atone for their ancestors' predacious practices.

Many of the abducted unfortunates, besides being incorporated into the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, were sold into other slavery systems as well, i.e., the Trans-Saharan, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the ubiquitous internal networks for which there is a dearth of verifiable documentation translated into English.

This lack of written records reflecting the numbers of humans absorbed into these systems means that there will never be an accurate accounting; however the European slave-ship captains maintained fairly good ship -logs of their slave purchases for the duration of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade system era, deficient in some aspects, they nevertheless provide a general picture of the enterprise from the mid-fifteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century.

Artifacts as Social Conflict Resolution Mechanism in Traditional Urhobo Society of Nigeria's Niger Delta

Traditional Urhobo society attempts to achieve stability by resolving personal and public social conflicts. The mechanisms employed for this include using art objects in rituals. No detailed scholarly attention, however, seems to have been given to identifying and classifying these conflict-resolution devices in previous studies of the art and culture histories of the Urhobo. In this paper, the social conflict situations prevalent in Urhobo traditional society and their resolution mechanisms are examined. Three categories of social conflicts and two resolution mechanisms are identified and classified.

Alienation and Revolutionary Vision in East African Post-Colonial Dramatic Literature

This paper is a trans-disciplinary inquiry into the principles of alienation and revolutionary ethos in two East African plays of postcolonial society. It engages literary-textual exegesis and sociological theories to unravel the multi-dimensional forms of alienation as an interrogation of contemporary postcolonial history. The writers, though somewhat in throes and dilemma of exilic consciousness, ‘commodify’ and appropriate the literary enterprise as weapon of active physical revolt and textual indignation against the post-independent maladies and conditions of alienation. We discover a paradigm shift from obvious ironic strain of political, economic dissonance and use of prison as metaphor for psychic/physical and spatial dislocation in The Trial of Dedan Kimathi to religio-genic instrument of oppression, exploitation and revolutionary fervor in I Will Mary When I Want. While the latter play x-rays the combative struggle of the mau-mau warriors for an end to colonialism, the former deploys the resources of ‘reversed-alienation’ and nostalgia to enact a melodrama of psychic and intellectual rebellion against the African capitalists of post-colonial Kenya. Thus, African drama is an active participant in the critical, ideological and sociological transactions of historical materialism in post-colonial Kenya.