Analyses of humour often focus primarily on the Global North, with little consideration for examples and practices from elsewhere. This book provides a vital contribution to humour theory by developing a Global South perspective.
Taking a wide-ranging view across the whole of the continent, the book examines the relationship between humour and politics in Africa. It considers the context of the production and reception of humour in African contexts and argues that humour is more than just symbolic. Moving beyond the idea of humour as a mode of resistance, the book investigates the ‘political work’ that humour does and explores the complex entanglements in which the politics, practices and performances of humour are located.
This chapter turns to look at the role of silence within humour and humorous exchanges. While silence may seem like the antithesis of humour, it plays a powerful role both in the delivery of a joke as well as in the political work that humour can do. Silence, in other words, is its own form of agency that also enacts multiple roles and takes on a range of meanings. Again, we use empirical examples from the continent (particularly Nigeria and South Africa) to illustrate more precisely the role of humour in humour and political work.
The final chapter concludes with reflective discussions around the relationship between resistance, power, humour and agency in Africa emphasizing that in order to understand the complexities involved in humour and political work, it is necessary to recognize how humour enacts a particular type of agency. Finally, we explore what the implications of our findings are for more contemporary issues, like COVID-19, as well as for understanding what these power relations mean for notions such as decolonizing knowledge.
This chapter expands upon some of the theoretical points highlighted in . By framing humour as a mode of agency, this chapters uses extensive empirical material and examples from across the continent to illustrate more precisely how humour interweaves with politics across a range of different countries, political spheres and settings. It illustrates how humour does political work in a variety of ways using examples from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, among many others.
This first part of this chapter reviews the literature exploring the relationship(s) between humour, power and resistance in Africa, and considers how humour circulates in everyday life. The chapter then analyses other roles humour plays in African societies, namely as a coping mechanism as well as social commentary. By exploring these different, often intersecting roles, we begin illustrating the multiple types of political work humour does.
This chapter provides a comprehensive background of the both the history of and contemporary literature on humour and politics in Africa. Africa has rich humorous traditions that are frequently overlooked but which underpin many contemporary forms of humour. In addition, we explore many of the contemporary arguments related to humour and politics. Finally, we map out why it is important to highlight the agency of humour because it provides a more holistic view of the multiple and simultaneous political work humour actually does.