African History delights

Posted on July 28, 2023

Students enrolled for the "Trends in African History" module (GES 705) in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies were treated to a special introductory lecture when they commenced their module in the afternoon of Wednesday, 26 July. Former Head of Department and current Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria and world-renowned African historian Emeritus Prof Alois S. Mlambo lead the students in a discussion of the trends, challenges, inclinations and dynamics of African history to kick off their semester in spectacular style, flair, and finesse.

Prof Mlambo studied in Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, where he earned his PhD from Duke University. Among other things, Mlambo is the author of academic history books, including books he wrote or edited with other leading African history scholars, such as Zimbabwe: A History of Manufacturing 1890-1995, which he wrote with E.S. Pangeti and I. Phimister and published in 2000; White Immigration into Rhodesia: From Occupation to Federation (2002); African Scholarly Publishing: Essays (2006); Becoming Zimbabwe: A History from the Pre-colonial Period to 2008, which he edited with Brian Raftopoulos and published in 2009; A History of Zimbabwe  (2014); A History of Southern Africa, which he wrote with Niel Parsons and published in 2019, and a Grade 10 school history textbook on Namibia. These titles were discussed with the students as part of his survey discourse of African history's emergence, development and current character from after World War II to the present. Mlambo also shared a copy of "African Economic History and Historiography", his contribution to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (2016), with the students for further reading.

The students enrolled in the GES 705 module were treated to the expansive insight and engagement with African history that Prof Mlambo's extensive study and writing about the subject encompassed. Leading the maiden seminar for the GES 705 students, Mlambo continued his remarkable passion for teaching history.

Prof Mlambo is currently occupied with historicizing "xenophobia" as not merely an exceptionally South African phenomenon. Regardless of how much public discourse seeks to suggest, for Mlambo, this scourge is both unfortunate and pervasive on the continent and world.

As part of the inaugural seminar, the students were also joined by the current Head of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, Prof Karen Harris, History Lecturer Dr Abraham Mlombo, as well as Extraordinary Lecturer in the department, Mr Edwin Smith, who is facilitating the module in collaboration with Prof Tinashe Nyamunda.

- Author Edwin Smith

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