Anti-Colonial Nationalism and Patriotism in Sub-Saharan Africa

John M. Lonsdale

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199209194
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Anti-Colonial             Nationalism and Patriotism in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • African History
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Following on from the argument of the joint introduction to African nationalism, this chapter emphasizes Africa’s place in a global history of nationalism by emphasizing what seems to be a universal instinct to search out instructive history in order either to ride modernity’s adventure or to face up to its ordeal. The early scholarly analysis of African nationalism assumed that colonialism’s allegedly modernizing history was the past that counted, with nationalist elites riding the tide of social change that consigned ‘tribal loyalty’ to the past. Scholars are now more aware of deeper African pasts that made Africans see colonialism as less of an adventure, more of an ordeal, especially for deep-rooted ideas of household self-mastery as the basis of African citizenships. This archive of political thought encouraged local ethnic patriotisms in which the lively constitutional histories of African kingdoms, and the sense of ethnic moral economies outraged by class formation. Territorial nationalisms were shaped as much by such local energies as by demands for unity against colonial rule. Such contradictions could be at their most severe in southern Africa, as liberation movements had to take up arms against entrenched white minorities. African nationalisms, in short, have been shaped as much by African history as by imported ideas.

Keywords: Constitutional history; household self-mastery; instructive history; liberation movements; modernity; moral ethnicity; nationalism; patriotism; political thought; political tribalism

Article.  9366 words. 

Subjects: History ; African History ; Colonialism and Imperialism

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