2015 began with the sad news of the passing of Terence Ranger (85) – one of the most reputed scholars of Zimbabwean and African history.
Ranger’s is perhaps best-known for the volume on «The Invention of Tradition» (1983) which he co-edited with Eric Hobsbawn (another towering figure in academia). Ranger’s essay in the book: «The Invention of tradition in colonial Africa» generated and intense academic debate – and Ranger himself revisited these arguments a decade later.
Ranger began his career as lecturer of Medieval and Modern History in the University College of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (now Malawi) in 1957. In 1962, following the country’s unilateral declaration of independence, Ranger was deported from Rhodesia and he established himself in newly independent Tanzania, where he directed the University of Dar es Salaam’s History Department. There he assembled a stellar academic line-up that included John Iliffe and Walter Rodney.
In many ways, the origins of the modern African history scolarship can be traced back to those ‘Dar es Salaam school’ days and to Terence Ranger.
One of the many things for which he will be remembered.
PS You can read a very extensive and extremely interesting inverview with Ranger done by Diana Jeater in 2009 here.