Odhiambo, E.S. Atieno 1946–

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Odhiambo, E.S. Atieno 1946–

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PERSONAL:

Born September 11, 1946 (some sources say 1945), in Kisumu, Nyanza, Kenya; immigrated to United States, 1988; son of Zablon and Rosbella Ogwamor; married Jane Erose Audi, March 15, 1968; children: Susan, Caroline, Michael, Samson. Education: Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda), B.A., 1970; Nairobi University (Nairobi, Kenya), Ph.D., 1973.

ADDRESSES:

Office—History Department, MS 42, Rice University, P.O. Box 1892, 6100 S. Main St., Houston, TX 77251. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Nairobi University, department of history, Nairobi, Kenya, special assistant, 1970-71, tutorial fellow, 1971-73, lecturer, 1973-78, senior lecturer, 1978-87, associate professor, 1987; Rice University, Houston, TX, professor of history, 1989—. St. Anthony's College, Oxford, England, junior research associate, 1971-72; Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA, visiting research scholar, 1979-80; Cologne University, Cologne, Germany, research scholar, 1980; Stanford University, Stanford, visiting lecturer, 1980; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, visiting professor, 1985, 1986; Hebrew University Institute for Peace, Jerusalem, Israel, Harry S. Truman senior fellow, 1990-91; Witwatersand University, Johannesburg, South Africa, senior researcher, 1990, visiting professor, 1992. Member of various committees and boards, including the editorial board of Africa Zamani: Revue d'Histoire Africaine.

MEMBER:

Historical Association of Kenya (vice president, 1979-85), African Studies Association.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Graduate fellow, Rockefeller Foundation, 1971-72; Fulbright traveling fellowship, 1972; senior fellowship, Truman Institute, Hebrew University, 1987; Rockefeller fellow, Center for Cultural Studies, Rice University, 1989; National Endowment for the Humanities grant, 1988; senior research fellowship, African Studies Center, University of Witwatersand, 1990; overseas research fellow, Center for Science Development, Human Science Research Council (South Africa), 1999.

WRITINGS:

The Paradox of Collaboration and Other Essays, East African Literature Bureau (Nairobi, Kenya), 1974.

(With T.I. Ouso and J.F.M. Williams) A History of East Africa, Longman (London, England), 1977.

Siasa: Politics and Nationalism in E.A., 1905-1939, Kenya Literature Bureau (Nairobi, Kenya), 1981.

(With Peter Wanyande) History and Government of Kenya, Longman (London, England), 1988, revised edition, 1996.

(Editor, with W.O. Oyugi, and others) Democratic Theory and Practice in Africa, Heinemann (Portsmouth, NH), 1988.

(With David William Cohen) Siaya: The Historical Anthropology of an African Landscape, J. Currey (London, England), 1989.

(With David William Cohen) Burying SM: The Politics of Knowledge and the Sociology of Power in Africa, Heinemann (Portsmouth, NH), 1992.

Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga: A Biography, East African Educational Publishers (Nairobi, Kenya), 1997.

(Editor) African Historians and African Voices: Essays Presented to Professor Bethwell Allan Ogot on His Seventieth Birthday, P. Schlettwein (Basel, Switzerland), 2001.

(Editor, with Toyin Falola) The Challenges of History and Leadership in Africa: The Essays of Bethwell Allan Ogot, Africa World Press (Trenton, NJ), 2002.

(Editor, with John Lonsdale) Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 2003.

(With David William Cohen) The Risks of Knowledge: Investigations into the Death of the Hon. Minister John Robert Ouko in Kenya, 1990, Ohio University Press (Athens, Ohio), 2004.

Contributor to works by others, including Leisure in Urban Africa, edited by P.T. Zeleza and Chandra Rachel Venet, Africa World Press (Trenton, NJ), 2003; and Historical Studies and Social Changes in Western Kenya, edited by W.R. Ochieng, East African Educational Publishers (Nairobi, Kenya), 2003. Contributor to periodicals, including African Studies Review, Journal of Asian and African Studies, Journal of the Association of African Historians, Journal of Eastern African Research and Development, Kenya Historical Review, Trans African Journal of History, and East Africa Journal. Book reviewer for periodicals, including the Journal of African History, International Journal of African Historical Studies, Canadian Journal of African Studies, American Historical Review, African Studies Quarterly, Weekly Review, American Anthropologist, and African Economic History. Deputy editor of the Journal of Eastern African Research and Development, 1976-95.

SIDELIGHTS:

E.S. Atieno Odhiambo was born in Kisumu, Nyanza, Kenya. He received his B.A. from Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda, in 1970, and his Ph.D. from Nairobi University, in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1973. Odhiambo joined the department of history of Nairobi University as a special assistant in 1970, and left as an associate professor in 1987. He immigrated to the United States in 1988, and became a professor of history at Rice University in Houston, Texas, in 1989.

The historian's early books include The Paradox of Collaboration and Other Essays, A History of East Africa, Siasa: Politics and Nationalism in E.A., 1905-1939, and, with Peter Wanyande, History and Government of Kenya. He is also an editor, with others, of Democratic Theory and Practice in Africa.

Odhiambo is the author of a number of volumes written with David William Cohen. The first of these is Siaya: The Historical Anthropology of an African Landscape. The second book written with Cohen is Burying SM: The Politics of Knowledge and the Sociology of Power in Africa, a history of a highly publicized legal fight after the death of S.M. Otieno, a Kenyan lawyer who died without a will in 1986. The six-month struggle between his Kikuyu wife and his Luo clan that was fought over how and where he would be buried raised a number of questions, including the rights of a spouse, ethnic identity, tradition, and modernity. The case became a national obsession as the wife insisted on a modern burial, while the family wanted him buried with traditional rites.

Gail Gerhart, who reviewed Burying SM in Foreign Affairs, concluded by writing: "The authors of this intriguing account offer a chorus of conflicting voices and invite readers to draw their own conclusions." Reviewing the volume in the Journal of African History, Margaret Jean Hay noted the "exceptional talent" of Odhiambo and Cohen, but she felt that instead of "posing questions," they could have offered more satisfactory answers, using the evidence and their experience to better reconstruct this history. She felt that they could have incorporated the various issues, including the voices of the people and the struggles involved "without abandoning the scholar's responsibility to construct as well as deconstruct." Hay also wrote: "Much of what Cohen and Odhiambo attempt is brave and worthy of praise: they recognize, even celebrate, the complexity of history and of the issues involved and refuse to provide a simplistic account; perhaps even more striking, the people whose stories they present emerge as flesh-and-blood individuals and not one-dimensional subjects."

Odhiambo is the editor, with Toyin Falola, of The Challenges of History and Leadership in Africa: The Essays of Bethwell Allan Ogot. Ogot is an intellectual and historian who began teaching at Makerere University in 1959, at which time African history was barely represented. He expanded courses at Makerere, Kenyatta, Nairobi, and Maseno Universities, designing courses, writing textbooks, teaching, and establishing departments that have brought Kenyan history to students ever since. Reproduced in this volume are many of Ogot's articles on Luo history, including his 1962 "Kingship and Statelessness among the Nilotes." He expressed his opinion of the Luo worldview in such writings as "The Concept of Jok" (1961) and wrote of the dynamics of Christian and African religions in "Reverend Alfayo Odongo Mango" (1971), "On the Making of a Sanctuary" (1972), and "A Community of Their Own" (1976). He has studied the ways in which Christianity and African religions have affected each other as well as the oral traditions of the latter. Ogot's essays warn of the dangers to be found in politics, the role of education in developing national pride, unity, and international interaction, and of the World Bank's neoliberal stance on education. Ogot has criticized the way African history has been documented in a number of studies and articles, including "Historians and East Africa" (1970), "Three Decades of Historical Studies in East Africa" (1978), and "The Construction of Luo Identity and History" (1997). He has also impacted the direction of African history through his presentations to the Historical Society of Kenya, and many of these are included in the book. Thomas Spear reviewed the collection in the Journal of African History, writing: "It is a pleasure to peruse again these collected articles and essays."

Odhiambo is the editor, with John Lonsdale, of Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration, a collection of articles that focuses on the Mau Mau Uprising by Kenyan rebels against the British that lasted from 1952 to 1960. Although it failed militarily, the rebellion may have been instrumental in securing Kenyan independence. The volume was published approximately fifty years after the Declaration of Emergency in Kenya. As Richard Waller noted in the Journal of African History, the selections are neither retrospectives, celebrations, nor explanations of the event, but rather go "in new directions, giving weight to what happened during and after the struggle, to the intense debates which were an essential part of the war not only in the forest but ‘behind the wire’ in the detention camps and Emergency villages and in the British press and to how Mau Mau has been constructed and given meaning, both on the ground and later in print and memory."

With Cohen, Odhiambo is the author of The Risks of Knowledge: Investigations into the Death of the Hon. Minister John Robert Ouko in Kenya, 1990, a history of the 1990 murder for political reasons of Ouko, a Kenyan leader who worked to preserve the East African community before the economic crises of the 1970s that caused its collapse. During the 1980s Ouko was an outstanding foreign secretary and was well regarded in the West for his work on behalf of his region's development. As the 1980s progressed, Ouko discovered the extent to which his government was plundering the local economy. Odhiambo and Cohen imply that his criticism of the president and others may have been the cause of his death.

President Moi was in power at the time. In January 1990, and against the advice of Ouko, Moi and nearly one hundred Kenyan officials came to Washington to attend a National Prayer Breakfast meeting with President George H.W. Bush, but the White House refused to officially recognize the visit because of opposition to human rights abuses and the way in which the Kenyan economy was being managed. Moi was not treated well by the Washington press, and Ouko attempted to smooth over the situation, but Bush then refused to meet with Moi, instead sending in his place Secretary of State James Baker, who criticized Moi to his face for the corruption within his administration. The United States would not deal with Moi, but they would deal with Ouko. When the Kenyan party returned, Ouko's passport was taken from him, and two years later he was dead.

In reviewing The Risks of Knowledge in the Journal of African History, David M. Anderson wrote: "In telling the story of his death, Cohen and Odhiambo draw upon a rich array of official reports and journalistic investigations into the crime. With careful research and insightful presentation, Cohen and Odhiambo do not explicitly solve this ‘who-dunnit,’ but they do tease out a multiplicity of themes about Kenya's recent political past." Anderson continued, commenting that "Cohen and Odhiambo's ruminations on the power of meaning and public imagination in the shaping of history are informative, scholarly and entertaining, and should give us all pause for thought."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

African Affairs, October, 1989, Gwyn Prins, review of Siaya: The Historical Anthropology of an African Landscape, p. 588.

African Studies Review, April, 1995, Edward I. Steinhart, review of Burying SM: The Politics of Knowledge and the Sociology of Power in Africa, p. 171.

American Anthropologist, December, 1990, Ben G. Blount, review of Siaya, p. 1053.

American Historical Review, October, 1993, Bruce J. Berman, review of Burying SM, p. 1202; June, 2004, Cynthia Brantley, review of Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority and Narration, p. 1024.

Choice, September, 2003, R.I. Rotberg, review of Mau Mau and Nationhood, p. 210; September, 2005, T. Natsoulas, review of The Risks of Knowledge: Investigations into the Death of the Hon. Minister John Robert Ouko in Kenya, 1990, p. 162.

English Historical Review, December, 2005, Oliver Furley, review of Mau Mau and Nationhood, p. 1468.

Foreign Affairs, November 1, 1993, Gail Gerhart, review of Burying SM, p. 184; September, 2003, review of Mau Mau and Nationhood, p. 191.

International Journal of African Historical Studies, fall, 1990, Nancy Schwartz, review of Siaya; summer, 2001, Charles Ambler, review of African Historians and African Voices: Essays Presented to Professor Bethwell Allan Ogot on His Seventieth Birthday; summer, 2005, Bruce J. Berman, review of Mau Mau and Nationhood.

Journal of African History, May, 1993, Margaret Jean Hay, review of Burying SM, p. 335; January, 2004, Thomas Spear, review of The Challenges of History and Leadership in Africa: The Essays of Bethwell Allan Ogot, p. 125; January, 2004, Richard Waller, review of Mau Mau and Nationhood, p. 162; March, 2007, David M. Anderson, review of The Risks of Knowledge, p. 165.

Journal of Modern African Studies, June, 1990, Jan Kees van Donge, review of Democratic Theory and Practice in Africa, p. 327; December, 1993, April Gordon, review of Burying SM, p. 704.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2003, review of Mau Mau and Nationhood, p. 48.

ONLINE

Rice University Web site,http://www.rice.edu/ (March 11, 2008), curriculum vitae.