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Public Lecture: Katharina Wilkens on ''Africanisation: An Example of Material Secularity''

16 June 2022
5 pm

Seminargebäude, Room S 403

In the years following independence, most newly minted nations on the continent of Africa pursued a policy of Africanisation touching upon economics, performative arts, literature, philosophy, architecture and many other spheres of life. The new nation states were contending with two major problems that were countered with Africanisation: one, the exchange of white colonial personnel in political, economic, educational and missionary institutions with African personnel; and two, the creation of a new and united national identity that should supersede the multitude of ethnic and religious affiliations of people who had been thrown together vicariously by colonial border making. In the spirit of Pan Africanism, the policy makers created new geographical names, clothing styles, literary genres and art festivals that were abstractions of local traditions. The aim was to create a public space for the nation state which was clearly separated from local chieftaincies, Christian and Islamic institutions as well as spaces of colonial exploitation. Africanisation can perhaps be described as a form of civil religion, an ideology that was taught in schools and reinforced through highly visible symbols of material culture. In this presentation, I will give examples ranging from négritude in Senegal to the campaign for authenticité in Zaire/Congo, from ujamaa socialism in Tanzania to the Pan African art festivals in Nigeria and elsewhere.