Histories of African nationalism and decolonization have often assumed that political ideas such as freedom and democracy were imported into African colonies and helped motivate Africans to seek their independence. Through an insightful reading of Swahili language press, Dr. Emma Hunter
's new book Political Thought and the Public Sphere in Tanzania
(Cambridge University Press, 2017) documents the emergence of a public sphere in Tanzania, which predated the nationalist period and allowed for a wide range of voices to debate ideas about political authority and society. Without losing sight of the transnational arena where many of these ideas were vigorously discussed, the book examines the diverse meanings that notions such as progress, democracy, representation and freedom acquired in local contexts. By doing so Dr. Hunter offers a longer and more complex history of political thought in Tanzania from the early twentieth century to the first decade after independence.
Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia is Associate Professor of History at Montclair State University. She specializes in modern intellectual history of Africa, historiography, World history and Philosophy of History. She is the co-author of
African Histories: New Sources and New Techniques for Studying African Pasts(Pearson, 2011).