Former Post-doc Publishes Book on African Decolonization

Posted on August 29, 2023

Department of Historical and Heritage Studies Research Associate (and former post-doc) Brooks Marmon recently published Pan-Africanism Versus Partnership: African Decolonisation in Southern Rhodesian Politics, 1950-63 (Springer Publishing).

Pan-Africanism Versus Partnership is a revision of his University of Edinburgh doctoral thesis and draws on primary research in North America, Europe, and four southern African countries, including extended work in Zimbabwe, its primary geographic focus.

The book explores the impact of the peak of Africa’s decolonization boom in the wake of World War II on Southern Rhodesia (colonial Zimbabwe). Unlike most countries on the continent outside of southern Africa, Southern Rhodesia saw limited political reforms. Its minority white settlers resisted this ‘wind of change’, unilaterally declared independence from British colonial rule, and maintained de facto control until 1979.

Marmon states, “Africa’s decolonization was a seismic global shift; this book seeks to show how dynamic developments elsewhere on the continent heightened political conflict in Rhodesia and contributed to the consolidation of a culture of democratic intolerance that continues to plague Zimbabwe today.” 

Pan-Africanism Versus Partnership demonstrates how African decolonization writ-large re-aligned the colony’s politics. The book unfolds in two parts. The first broadly shows how major political developments in Rhodesia, such as the adoption of a new constitution or the formation of several new political parties, were shaped by African decolonization. The second is more targeted and examines transnational influences on Rhodesia from the decolonization of specific African countries, namely the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Malawi, and Nigeria.

Marmon began the work as a PhD student in 2016 and had just embarked upon an extended period of research in Zimbabwe in November 2017, when the country’s long-serving President, Robert Mugabe, who features prominently in the book, was forced out of office by military action.

As a post-doctoral scholar at DHHS under the mentorship of Prof Alois Mlambo, Marmon refined the volume while continuing to pursue new research on Zimbabwe, extending the chronological scope of his work into the 1970s and the collapse of minority white control.

He reflects, “My UP post-doc was instrumental in seeing this publication come to fruition. Without my time in Pretoria, I would not have been able to polish the work, conduct additional research in the region, or benefit from the guidance of an expanded network, particularly the counsel of my UP supervisor, Alois Mlambo.”

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