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#RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa

Tuesday 26 April 2016, author(s)-editor(s) Francis B. Nyamnjoh

This book on rights, entitlements and citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa shows how the playing field has not been as levelled as presumed by some and how racism and its benefits persist. Through everyday interactions and experiences of university students and professors, it explores the question of race in a context still plagued by remnants of apartheid, inequality and perceptions of inferiority and inadequacy among the majority black population.

In education, black voices and concerns go largely unheard, as circles of privilege are continually regenerated and added onto a layered and deep history of cultivation of black pain. These issues are examined against the backdrop of organised student protests sweeping through the country’s universities with a renewed clamour for transformation around a rallying cry of ’Black Lives Matter’.

The nuanced complexity of this insightful analysis of the Rhodes Must Fall movement elicits compelling questions about the attractions and dangers of exclusionary articulations of belonging. What could a grand imperialist like the stripling Uitlander or foreigner of yesteryear, Sir Cecil John Rhodes, possibly have in common with the present-day nimble-footed makwerekwere from Africa north of the Limpopo? The answer, Nyamnjoh suggests, is to be found in how human mobility relentlessly tests the boundaries of citizenship.

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ISBN 9789956763160
Pages 310
Dimensions 229 x 152mm
Published 2016
Publisher Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon
Format Paperback

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9 Book Reviews

  • #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa 26 April 2016 12:10, author(s)-editor(s) Michael Rowlands

    “Cobbling identities may be our way of preserving ourselves in new conditions of modernity. And this is the crux of the argument that Francis Nyamnjoh presents to us here”

    Michael Rowlands, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University College London

  • #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa 26 April 2016 12:11, author(s)-editor(s) Sanya Osha

    “Francis Nyamnjoh’s book couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time; it has the prerequisite levels of urgency, immediacy and directness. But it is also imbued with a deep knowledge of the histories of decolonization in Africa… A tour de force that seamlessly blends activist scholarship, theory and memoir in one long arresting breath and significantly raises the bar on contemporary African thought and writing”

    Sanya Osha, author of Postethnophilosophy

  • #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa 26 April 2016 12:11, author(s)-editor(s) Moshumee Teena Dewoo

    “However detached I am (or think that I am) with regard to the South African ‘Rhodes issue’, even if my vantage point is unique and (seemingly) unconnected to South Africa, Nyamnjoh’s broad, fluid, and yet systematic and structured exposé on Rhodes as a makwerekwere, the #RhodesMustFall movement, and the shaping of identities in Africa is an ingenious reminder that our fields of reference are constantly rewriting themselves, expanding.”

    Moshumee Teena Dewoo, Indo-Mauritian, Doctoral Student in African Studies, University of Cape Town

  • #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa 1 September 2016 12:28, author(s)-editor(s) Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography

    With his valuable book #RhodesMustFall, Francis Nyamnjoh mobilizes many years of work on identity, mobility and epistemological transformation in situating Rhodes as a makwerekwere (“stranger”) and subsequently seeking to understand the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement in the context of resilient colonialism as well as the long and enduring presence of amakwerekwere (“strangers”) such as Nyamnjoh himself who make up the contested space that is South Africa, where people respond to one another according to whether or not “the other belongs” (Geschiere and Nyamnjoh 2000). For more, see https://radicalantipode.files.wordp...

  • #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa 9 September 2016 11:28, author(s)-editor(s) Simukai Chigudu, DPhil (PhD) candidate in International Development at the (...)

    Book Review: #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa by Francis B Nyamnjoh

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    #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa is timely, balanced and informative, but aspects of the book will leave the reader craving more says Simukai Chigudu.

    In 2015, a wave of student protests erupted across South African universities. They overwhelmingly expressed discontent at the failure to ‘decolonise’ tertiary education 21 years after the dawn of the democratic era. Beginning at the University of Cape Town (UCT) under the moniker Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) and then succeeded by cognate movements at different universities, these protests ignited some of the most heated and pertinent public debates in the country about history, race, entitlement and citizenship.

    In this account of RMF, Francis B. Nyamnjoh offers an urgent and important analysis of the drivers, logics, historical bases, future prospects and potential pitfalls of student activism premised on the idea of ‘decolonising’ education. As a professor of anthropology at the University of Cape Town and an accomplished writer on the politics of education in Africa, Nyamnjoh is well placed to offer an incisive take on the movement.

    RhodesMust Fallcover_previewHe leads with a portrait of Cecil John Rhodes whose dubious legacy is etched in UCT’s history and institutional memory. As he argues, ‘Rhodes took over, ruled, developed and exploited for his personal profit and that of Britain the lands and bodies of those he conquered, turning them into amakwerekwere [a pejorative term for outsiders] on their own native soil, their homeland’ (p28). The comprehensive view Nyamnjoh provides of Rhodes’ imperialism and its attendant history of racialised alienation, exploitation and dispossession offers a powerful context for enduring black pain and trauma that the memorialisation of Rhodes evokes. This is why a statue of Rhodes, at the heart of UCT’s campus, was such a cogent signifier of white privilege and black oppression.

    Nyamnjoh thoughtfully makes the case for a movement to decolonise education noting that education in Africa ‘is still the victim of a resilient colonial and colonising epistemology’ (p69). He points out that tertiary education on the continent tends to dismiss local histories as parochial; local struggles as subordinate to global concerns; and local languages, customs, and knowledge systems as backward and unworthy of serious intellectual inquiry. Such an orientation is antithetical to fostering the conviviality – ‘the spirit of togetherness, interpenetration, interdependence and intersubjectivity’ (p69) – so desperately needed to heal and unify South Africa’s wounded and divided society. It is here that the demands of RMF resonate most powerfully.

    However, Nyamnjoh does not subscribe to a romanticised view of protest. He is at pains to give attention to the personal and political conflicts that occurred within and as a result of the RMF movement. For instance, he offers an even-handed appraisal of the leadership of Chumani Maxwele. He praises Maxwele for his courage and political acumen, especially in using human faeces to desecrate the Rhodes statue and therefore underscore the depth of poverty, injustice and inequality that the statue belies. In Maxwele’s own words: ‘We want white people to know how we live. We live in poo. I am from a poor family; we are using portaloos. Are you happy with that?’ (p77). At the same time, Nyamnjoh brings forth the charges of rape levelled against Maxwele and gives space to discuss the dynamics of patriarchy and transphobia that permeated RMF.

    Importantly, Nyamnjoh argues that movements like RMF risk propagating a zero-sum mentality in which further divisions are created in the battle for decolonisation and in claims to restitution: between black and white, the middle and working classes, South Africans and foreign nationals. The speed and reach of RMF and then Fees Must Fall may have compromised the depth of the movements. For Nyamnjoh this is evident in their relative inattention to a ‘disposition of mutual accommodation’ (p205) for all who inhabit South Africa. Therefore he concludes that ‘for existing colonial statues and monument to signify anything but oppression and dispossession, they would have to be re-articulated, recalibrated and reconfigured into multi-cultural symbols of reconciliation’ (p207). This calls for greater humility and awareness of the sensibilities and concerns of ‘the various shades of the rainbow nation’ (p207).

    Nyamnjoh’s book is written with clarity and panache. His account is timely and informative. In an impressively short time, he has assimilated a vast amount of material on RMF and provided a clear chronology and analysis of its emergence and trajectory. His critique is balanced throughout and his claims are, for the most part, substantiated. Nevertheless, aspects of the book will leave the reader craving more. For a work by an anthropologist, the book is thin where it comes to a more ethnographic account of RMF. One wants an insider’s view: a greater understanding of RMF’s participants, their modes of engagement, practices of agenda setting and reflections on the movement. Furthermore, the theoretical observations made by Nymanjoh could have been even more effective if linked to the writing and perspectives of other scholars who have been documenting the RMF movement. The work of Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni comes to mind. His presentation on RMF at the London School of Economics, for example, placed the movement with a genealogy of student protest in South Africa and went further in theorising the politics of decolonisation. These insights would add richly to Nyamnjoh’s account.

    In summary, this is a compelling first monograph on RMF. It is highly readable and engaging and will easily be of interest to a wide range of observers interested in RMF and the politics of student protest in South Africa. For scholars, this book will be foundational to further work on RMF and it provides a compendious list of references and sources for deeper research. As a participant in the Rhodes Must Fall movement in Oxford and as a scholar researching African history and politics, I recommend this book without hesitation.

    The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and in no way reflect those of the Africa at LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science.

    Simukai Chigudu is a DPhil (PhD) candidate in International Development at the University of Oxford where he is a Hoffman-Weidenfeld scholar. Follow him on Twitter @SimuChigudu.

  • #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa 1 December 2016 12:16, author(s)-editor(s) Sanya Osha

    Francis B. Nyamnjoh’s latest book, #Rhodes Must Fall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa explores and contextualises the notions of makwerekwere, imperialism and the boundaries of citizenship.

    Social and professional mobility by immigrants, as in many other places, is viewed with suspicion and sometimes elicits violent reactions on the part of so-called insiders. However, in South Africa, whiteness and its numerous privileges are often exempt from the stigma and violence that otherness historically attracts. In the popular imagination, (black African) otherness apart from its ontological stigma is also equated with vulgarity.

    Francis B. Nyamnjoh considers the term makwerekwere and explains that it connotes difference as explicit threat and is therefore sometimes deserving of counteractive violence and invites a xenophobic reaction. In this context, homogeneity and “tradition” become crucial markers of racial, ethnic and political belonging.

    The writer inserts himself into this account of Cecil Rhodes as a makwerekwere to broaden the South African understanding of freedom, to question its more contestable limits so as to underscore that the fight for freedom is far from over.

    Nyamnjoh’s categorisation of the British Rhodes as amakwerekwere is intriguing and baffling. It probably stems from the very real anxieties of being an amakwerekwere in present-day South Africa. To be labeled as one is to be plagued with challenges and violence. For many, it has meant death, or a vegetative existence in the criminalised shadows of South African society.

    The condition of the amakwerekwere is marked by chronic anxiety, psychological unease and physical menace. Rhodes, on the other hand, was an incorrigible territorial predator who dreamed of colonising the African continent. But even more than that, he had fantasised about total world domination by the British Empire.

    He had absolutely no respect for the indigenes of the territories he subdued and assailed their dignity and humanity at every turn. So even if we grant that Rhodes was an amakwerekwere, he was one with a profound difference, a difference defined by unbridled power, excessive material acquisitiveness, utter disdain for local hosts and elemental forms of violence and dispossession.

    When the first Dutch arrived in the Cape in 1652 labeling the locals “Hottentots”, meaning “stutterers” and speakers of a barbaric dialect, it was the beginning of a history of relations characterised by greed, capitalism, violence and hyper-exploitation. By Rhodes’s era, this unequal order of relations had culminated in the systemic seizure and plunder of indigenous lands. Such was the case that after the quelling of the Matabele rebellion by Rhodes, the chief of the natives in the area was distressed to find out that he and his people had been dispossessed of their land and would be forced to exist henceforth at the mercy of the colonial overlord on minutely parceled out tracts of land. The effects of this systematic dispossession are still felt all across South Africa in discourses, social movements and grassroots protests calling for the equitable re-distribution of land at national, provincial and municipal levels. These calls are part of ongoing collective exercises pertaining to decolonisation and are also a contestation of the native/settler divide as established by the colonial/apartheid scheme of things.
    It is doubtful if the black amakwerekwere could ever transform the South African physical space or its natural character with the same predatory intent of Rhodes because his presence in the country reduces him/her to outsider status, one marked by an almost permanent sense of transition. In other words, he/she is not necessarily in a position to demarcate physical space with the same air of authority, menace or permanence that Rhodes displayed and has to relate to the terrain in fluctuating states of withdrawal and agitated movement.

    Nyamnjoh’s conceptual prankishness serves to underscore the absurdity as well as theorerical/existential impossibility of xenophobia in a context of hyperglobalisation. In such a context, xenophobia would undoubtedly be a sign of regression, a terminal malaise of insularity, a collapse into an anti-culture enclave, an anti-cosmopolitan retreat stamped by the death of language itself.

    What the constant reference to amakwerekwere also achieves is to re-cast the Rhodesian era within the South African present while at the same time drawing attention to a violent South African past that is continually being re-enacted in the present. Thus a violent dialectic links the past to the present and vice versa.

    Embedded in Rhodes quest for the total subjugation of Southern African natives was a concomitant drive to entrench the racial and cultural order of whiteness; a quest most evident in the elaborate effort to re-populate the region with white folk. And by this concerted effort at re-population based on white supremacy, Rhodes had intended to overturn the original native/settler equation through inordinate force. The native would in turn become a settler on his/her own land while the settler became native.

    Ultimately, Nyamnjoh unearths the oddities lodged in the meaning(s) of amakwerekwere which through the onslaught of capitalism create divisions in South African society; divisions that are largely informed by the native/settler dichotomy or the insider/outsider distinction. Perhaps more importantly, these societal schisms are meditated by shifting technologies of power, which could all of a sudden alter what it means to be native or settler in really drastic and often confusing ways.

    It also means as long as the notion of amakwerekwere continues to be politically active, the democratic project remains at risk and the discourse on human rights faces severe ethical and practical challenges.

    More than just an analysis of the student movement within UCT and beyond, Nyamnjoh’s narrative includes an interrogation of the ways in which conceptions of “outsider” and “insider” are never fixed categories but instead are subject to power, positionality, capital and contingency.

    By Sanya Osha

  • #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa 1 January 19:20, author(s)-editor(s) Quraysha Ismail Sooliman

    Nyamnjoh’s #RhodesMustFall is a timely release that unapologetically incorporates through a critical discourse analysis, the nuances and debates buried in the mainstream analysis of the various Fallist Movements. Nyamnjoh follows pertinent narratives about the #RhodesMustFall protests and of the need to re-evaluate transformation beyond the obsession of symbols (pp 84-85).

    For more information, click here

  • Cecil Rhodes through the Lens of Xenophobia: A Review 4 May 19:40, author(s)-editor(s) Sanya Osha

    South African university campuses are in a state of crisis and have perhaps reached a point of no return. There are fervent calls for the abolition of tuition fees which may be perceived as a possible measure for the re-distribution of South Africa’s very uneven wealth. The #Fees Must Fall movement is also a call for the decolonisation of South African educational mind-set which is seen as being primarily Eurocentric and unreflective of the country’s ideological needs and developmental aspirations.
    Francis B. Nyamnjoh’s #Rhodes Must Fall addresses the issues raised above in a somewhat quirky style. Due to colonialism, we are informed, whiteness in many parts of black Africa is associated with power, privilege and excessive comfort. In this sense, whiteness does not directly refer to skin colour but to privilege as a condition of existence associated with authority and luxury. Here, racism is enacted by the racialised black victim unconsciously; and this form of racism, just as voluntary self-censure, is perhaps the most effective and most cost efficient kind as it does not need the enforcement of the oppressor.

    Nyamnjoh’s exploration and contextualisation of the notion of makwerekwere problematises whiteness, blackness, insiderness, outsiderness and South African post-apartheid freedom. As Nyamnjoh explains, the term makwerekwere connotes difference as explicit threat and is therefore sometimes deserving of counteractive violence. Otherness then becomes a source of danger, or at least perplexity, which necessarily invites a xenophobic reaction. In this context, diversity is unwelcome and homogeneity and “tradition” become crucial markers of racial, ethnic and political belonging.

    This inserts an ironic twist within the common understanding of freedom that produces an increasingly familiar pang of bitterness. In this case, freedom will not merely entail the entombment of Rhodes’s ghost since blackness in contemporary South Africa narcissistically questions and otherises itself. However, true freedom can only be attained only when the self-abuse, the negative self-questionings of blackness by itself cease.

    The ultimate effect of this self-marginalisation is to situate blackness on a perpetual unequal footing with whiteness. Whitenesss becomes absolved of the stresses
    of makwerekwereness due to its presumed superiority and thus another terminology, a different conceptual category has to be found for it; one that is devoid of stigma and taint of inferiority that the meaning of makwerekwere ordinarily carries. In relation to whiteness, the notion of makwerekwere constrains the possibilities of freedom with regards to the reality of blackness.

    Nyamnjoh inserts himself into this account of Cecil Rhodes as a makwerekwere probably to broaden the South African understanding of freedom, to question its more contestable limits so as to underscore the fact that the work of attaining its most ideal realisation is far from complete.

    Social and professional mobility by immigrants, as in many other places, is viewed with suspicion and sometimes elicits violent reactions on the part of so-called insiders. However, in South Africa, whiteness and its numerous privileges are often exempt from the stigma and violence that otherness historically attracts. In the popular imagination, (black African) otherness apart from its ontological stigma is also equated with vulgarity.

    Nyamnjoh’s categorisation of the British Rhodes as amakwerekwere is both intriguing and baffling at the same time. It probably stems from the usual and very real anxieties of being amakwerekwere in present-day South Africa. To be one is to be plagued with obstacles, challenges and outright violence. For quite a few, it has meant death, or even another kind of death, a vegetative existence eked out in the criminalised shadows of South African society.

    So indeed, the condition of the amakwerekwere is marked by chronic anxiety, psychological unease and physical menace. Rhodes, on the other hand, was an incorrigible territorial predator whose deepest apprehensions were only coloured by qualms pertaining to personal and economic failure. And so to counteract these almost crippling fears he ventured out of England in his late teens for what is now known as Southern Africa in the nineteenth century.

    Rhodes through his unusual drive, calculation and good fortune became a mining magnate. And rather than sit back and enjoy his stupendous wealth, he dreamed of colonising the whole of Africa from the Cape to Cairo. But even more than that, he had fantasised about total world domination by the British Empire. His dreams included the conquest of the Holy Land, the Valley of the Euphrates, the islands of Cyprus and Candia, South America, the Malay Archipelago and the Islands of the Pacific amongst others. He had absolutely no respect for the indigenes of the territories he subdued and assailed their dignity and humanity at every turn. So even if we grant that Rhodes was amakwerekwere, he was one with a profound difference, a difference defined by unbridled power, excessive material acquisitiveness, utter disdain for local hosts and elemental forms of violence and dispossession.

    When the first Dutch arrived in the Cape in 1652 labeling the locals “Hottentots”, meaning “stutterers” and speakers of a barbaric dialect, it was the beginning of a history of relations characterised by greed, capitalism, violence and hyper-exploitation. By Rhodes’s era, this unequal order of relations had culminated in the systemic seizure and plunder of indigenous lands. Such was the case that after the quelling of the Matabele rebellion by Rhodes, the chief of the natives in the area was distressed to find out that he and his people had been dispossessed of their land and would be forced to exist henceforth at the mercy of the colonial overlord on minutely parceled out tracts of land. The effects of this systematic dispossession are still felt all across South Africa in discourses, social movements and grassroots protests calling for the equitable re-distribution of land at national, provincial and municipal levels. These calls are part of ongoing collective exercises pertaining to decolonisation and are also a contestation of the native/settler divide as established by the colonial/apartheid scheme of things.

    It is doubtful if the black amakwerekwere could ever transform South African physical space or its natural character with the same predatory intent of Rhodes because his presence in the country reduces him/her to outsider status, one marked by an almost permanent sense of transition. In other words, he/she is not necessarily in a position to demarcate physical space with the same air of authority, menace or permanence that Rhodes displayed and has to relate to the terrain in fluctuating states of withdrawal and agitated movement.

    Evidently, Nyamnjoh’s portrait of Rhodes is accompanied by considerable historical research and his constant evocation of the dastardly notion of the amakwerekwere acts as a relentless poke at the rib of exclusive and excessive South African nationalism. Unquestionably, for many a rabid South African nationalist, these incessant digs would seem insufferable. Nyamnjoh’s conceptual prankishness serves to underscore the absurdity as well as theorerical/existential impossibility of xenophobia in a context of hyperglobalisation. In such a context, xenophobia would undoubtedly be a sign of regression, a terminal malaise of insularity, a collapse into an anti-culture enclave, an anti-cosmopolitan retreat stamped by the death of language itself.

    What the constant reference to amakwerekwere also achieves is to re-cast the Rhodesian era within the South African present while at the same time drawing attention to a violent South African past that is continually being re-enacted in the present. Thus a violent dialectic links the past to the present and vice versa.

    As stressed, analysts argue that the effects of Rhodes’s massive economic and psychological pillage are still to be felt in the lives of millions of the dispossessed blacks who remain perennially locked out of South Africa’s formal economic system; holed up, as it were, in collapsing and violent shantytowns without jobs, basic amenities and most of all, hope.

    And as noted, embedded in Rhodes’s quest for the total subjugation of Southern African natives was a concomitant drive to entrench the racial and cultural order of whiteness; a quest most evident in the elaborate effort to re-populate the region with white folk. And by this concerted effort at re-population based on white supremacy, Rhodes had intended to overturn the original native/settler equation through inordinate force. The native would in turn become a settler on his/her own land while the settler became native.

    Ultimately, Nyamnjoh unearths the oddities lodged in the meaning(s) of amakwerekwere which through the onslaught of capitalism create divisions in South African society; divisions that are largely informed by the native/settler dichotomy or the insider/outsider distinction. Perhaps more importantly, these societal schisms are meditated by shifting technologies of power which could all of a sudden alter what it means to be native or settler in really drastic and often confusing ways.
    It also means as long as the notion of amakwerekwere continues to be politically active, the democratic project remains at risk and the discourse on human rights faces severe ethical and practical challenges.

    Nyamnjoh’s perspectives are also inflected by shifting terrains of marginality and privileged access. Being a Cameroonian, he is an outsider but albeit, a most distinguished one as a professor of social anthropology at the University of Cape Town (UCT), home of the #Rhodes Must Fall protests. As such, he is able to observe at intimate quarters, agitations for intellectual decolonisation which emerged in the wake of the successful drive to have the looming Rhodes statue removed from the campus. Finally, as highlighted here, more than just an analysis of the student movement within UCT and beyond, Nyamnjoh’s narrative includes an interrogation of the ways in which conceptions of “outsider” and “insider” are never fixed categories but instead are subject to power, positionality, capital and contingency.
     

  • #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa 9 October 05:33, author(s)-editor(s) George Hull, University of Cape Town

    On 9 March 2015, politics student Chumani Maxwele threw human excrement over a statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes on the University of Cape Town’s Rondebosch campus. This act of protest sparked campaigns against colonial and apartheid-era statues both nationwide and abroad. In Cape Town it marked the beginning of the Rhodes Must Fall movement, which demanded more thoroughgoing “transformation” of UCT’s teaching staff and “decolonisation” of its curriculum.

    During the same period South Africans inflicted another spate of violent attacks on resident foreigners from other African countries. As in 2008 and 2010, immigrant shop-owners in townships were favoured targets. This time the attacks began in KwaZulu-Natal and spread into Gauteng, where the army was required to restore order. By early May attacks had also broken out in Mbekweni, Western Cape (see Petersen and African News Agency 2015 Petersen, C., and African News Agency. 2015. “ Xeno Tension Erupts in Paarl.” Cape Times, May 4. [Google Scholar]).

    Over the first half of 2015 Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) and the xenophobic violence unfolded in parallel, featuring in the media as two unconnected stories. But in the eyes of social anthropologist Francis B. Nyamnjoh, who has researched migration and attitudes to foreigners in various southern African countries (see e.g. Nyamnjoh 2006 Nyamnjoh, F. 2006. Insiders and Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa. Dakar, London & New York: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa Books & Zed Books. [Google Scholar]), they were intimately related. In #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa – a book not afraid to go against the grain – he juxtaposes the phenomena, explaining why he believes they are interconnected symptoms of a South African social malaise.

    Makwerekwereness and whitening up are the key concepts in Nyamnjoh’s analysis. A makwerekwere (coarse slang for foreigner) is “an outsider … who crosses borders” (22), a suspect figure and favourite for scapegoating who, however much he or she may contribute, remains “undeserving” of the good things which “deserving citizens” can expect (1). Makwerekwereness is a position in a “zero-sum game” (32), by whose rules inclusion and benefits for some come at the cost of exclusion and deprivation of others.

    To whiten up is to increase one’s status and “social visibility” (65) by complying with the standards and norms imposed by Africa’s erstwhile European colonisers and settlers. In the postcolonial era African elites have continued to uphold norms of whiteness, endeavouring to conform to them in their dress, religion and “ostentatious consumption” (68), or by such acts of “self-cultivation” (59) as “graduat[ing]” from “Taal” to “Suiwer Afrikaans” (151).

    “[E]ducation is,” according to Nyamnjoh, “one of the core areas where whitening up takes place in Africa” (66). But the pursuit of whiteness through education can lead to frustration, as “white gatekeepers” have a habit of shifting the goalposts according to “skin pigmentation,” keeping “this prized commodity” tantalisingly out of reach (61). It can also lead to estrangement, because, “whatever its justifications in terms of whitening up credentials, the resilience of colonial education in Africa sacrifices local relevance for international recognition” (67). Africans nourished on “imported thinking and things” in “European greenhouses under African skies” (68) may find themselves “despising their very own ancestral customs and worldviews, in favour of foreign customs little understood, admired or desired locally” (67, 68).

    Read more here : http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/KaKnWeSGVs5sPG3N9zUq/full