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Podcasting and "Africa Past and Present"

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It’s always nice to discover a new digital resource and an article which gives some context to it. Such is the case with an article on Africa Past and Present in South African Historical Journal [1] entitled Podcasting the Past: Africa Past and Present and (South) African History in the Digital Age. The author, Peter Alegi (one of the instigators of the site), describes the technical aspects of creating the podcasts, followed by an assessment of the audience. As would be expected of a resources based at Michigan State University, the majority of listeners/downloaders are based in the USA. However by the end of 2008 users from 44 countries had downloaded episodes about 20,000 times and the website had received 52,725 visits. Alegi also discusses podcasts and scholarly publishing, their differences and complementary aspects, as well as using the site in teaching.

Africa Past and Present began in 2008 and contains podcasts about history, culture, and politics in Africa and the diaspora. The stated mission is, “…to broaden the availability and accessibility of cutting-edge knowledge relating to African experiences and to do so in a down-to-earth and informed manner.” The site contains feature interviews with eminent scholars, commentary on current events, and issues and debates of relevance to Africans at home and abroad.

Some highlights from the site includes, Episode 65: A Female King: Gender and Oral History in Eastern Nigeria in which Nwando Achebe discusses her recent book The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe. Achebe describes key aspects of King (or Eze) Ahebi’s life; reflects on the value of oral history and multidisciplinary methods; and discusses Igbo gender, culture, and power during British colonial rule.

Hlonipha Mokoena’s Episode 52: Zulu Intellectual History considers her book, Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual, and explains the rise of a black intelligentsia in 19th- and early 20th-century South Africa through the remarkable life of Fuze.

And Episode 33: The African Diaspora in Britain in which Marika Sherwood examines the history of the African diaspora in Britain and notes the inadequate treatment of Black history in the UK school curriculum.

For those interested in podcasting the IHR offers a free, short course – Podcasts for historians – which takes a snapshot view of podcasting for educational and academic study looking into the pedagogical issues surrounding podcasts and asks what the benefits of podcasting might be in a Higher Education setting or as an aid for scholarly research.

[1] South African Historical Journal Volume 64, Issue 2, 2012 206-220