Africa: 60 Years of Independence

21 May 2020 - 12:30
Carolyn Hamilton Presenting at the 'Africa: 60 Years of Independence' Conference. Photo courtesy of Eelkje Colmjon


In 2020 the African Studies Centre in Leiden is celebrating the “Africa year” of 1960, the year in which 17 countries on the African continent celebrate 60 years of independence. Events kicked off with a conference 'Africa: 60 Years of Independence' in Leiden on 30th January. Four keynote addresses were delivered.

Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza (University of Cape Town) discussed the impact of the students' #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movement that started in South Africa in 2015. The discussant was Prof. Ton Dietz, former Director of the ASCL, Leiden University. Birgit Meyer, Professor of Religious Studies at Utrecht University considered religion as an entry point into the longstanding relational dynamics through which Africans and Europeans are entangled with each other. The discussant was Rijk van Dijk, Professor of Religion in Africa and its Diaspora, ASCL, Leiden University.

In her address, Carolyn Hamilton, National Research Foundation Chair in Archive and Public Culture at the University of Cape Town, made an argument for recognising the depth and extent of the available discursive archive in writing in the vernacular for enquiry into the history of the southern African past before the advent of writing. The discussant was Jan-Bart Gewald, Professor of African History, ASCL, Leiden University. Jan Abbink, Professor of Politics and Governance in Africa, African Studies Centre Leiden, Leiden University, zoomed in on the changes in Sudan and Ethiopia, and wondered whether real ‘system change’ was achieved. The discussant was Mohamed Salih, Emeritus Professor of Politics of Development, International Institute of Social Studies.

View the keynote speeches here:
For a report on the conference see:

Close on the heels of the conference, and as part of the celebrations, UCT's Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza was awarded an honorary doctorate during the Dies Natalis of Leiden University on 7 February in the Pieterskerk. Professor Ntsebeza is the holder of the AC Jordan Chair in African Studies and a National Research Foundation (NRF) Chair in Land Reform and Democracy in South Africa. (See