Interviewed by an incredulous anthropologist in 1955, an elderly Paulo Lukongwa insisted that more than half a century of colonial development policies had brought almost nothing to his country. Writing was new and wonderful, he admitted, and he gave European colonizers credit for cars and bicycles that made travel faster. But otherwise, nothing was new. Martin Southwold, the young anthropologist, suggested that clocks were new, and Lukongwa pointed out that they’d had roosters to wake them up. Surely the gramophone was progress, Southwold asserted, and Lukongwa responded that when they had wanted music, they called people to play—and what was more, those people had danced. No gramophone—or radio—did that. Reaching, Southwold noted that the radio also brought news. Once, Lukongwa asserted, they had all had spirits living in their houses that passed on local gossip. Thus people then had plenty of news. In his fieldnotes, Southwold reported that he was merely able to respond with an “umph” as Lukongwa completed his explanation that “God … has given us all the things we need; and he gave the Europeans cleverness so that they could make things for themselves.... But you Europeans disobeyed him and came here to Africa to take away our land. You are … robbers! Look at that Governor [Andrew Cohen], what a bad man he is, always trying to take away the people’s land.”1

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Copyright © 2014 Board of Trustees of Boston University. This article first appeared in International Journal of African Historical Studies 47:1 (2014), 21-35

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