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I Want To Go Home Forever: a powerfully original collection of raw and honest personal stories about xenophobia and belonging in Gauteng

Like all excellent ideas the one that animates this book is both disarmingly simple and powerfully original. So much has been written on xenophobia in South Africa, and yet so few have listened with care and precision to the voices of the ordinary people at the coalface. This book unsettles so many old assumptions, like who is host and who visitor, who belongs and what indeed it might mean to belong at all. It does this simply by creating a space in which people bare witness to their lives.
- Jonny Steinberg, South African writer and scholar and author of A Man of Good Hope (2015)

These are raw, honest personal stories – some heartbreaking, some uplifting. Beautifully told, each story is a study of journey-making. No matter where we may have been born, each of us seeks a place where we will be safe and respected for who we are. The stories in this collection illustrate that no journey is easy – each act of leaving and each attempt to begin again is tough. At their core however, these stories grapple with the making of a nation. Taken together, these narratives illustrate the quest for dignity and so they tell the story of humanity and striving, and ambition in the midst of profound difficulty. This book speaks to South African and African concerns but at its heart, it documents a set of global phenomena that are important to anyone who cares about the state of the world today.
- Sisonke Msimang, activist and author of Always Another Country

Generations of people from across Africa, Europe and Asia have turned metal from the depths of the earth into Africa’s wealthiest, most dynamic and most diverse urban centre, a mega-city where post-apartheid South Africa is being made. Yet for newcomers as well as locals, the golden possibilities of Gauteng are tinged with dangers and difficulties.

Chichi is a hairdresser from Nigeria who left for South Africa after a love affair went bad.

Azam arrived from Pakistan with a modest wad of cash and a dream.

Estiphanos trekked the continent escaping political persecution in Ethiopia, only to become the target of the May 2008 xenophobic attacks.

Nombuyiselo is the mother of 14-year-old Simphiwe Mahori, shot dead in 2015 by a Somalian shopkeeper in Snake Park, sparking a further wave of anti-foreigner violence.

After fighting white oppression for decades, Ntombi has turned her anger towards African foreigners, who, she says are taking jobs away from South Africans and fuelling crime.

Papi, a freedom fighter and activist in Katlehong, now dedicates his life to teaching the youth in his community that tolerance is the only way forward.

These are some of the thirteen stories that make up this collection. They are the stories of South Africans, some Gauteng-born, others from neighbouring provinces, striving to realise the promises of democracy. They are also the stories of newcomers from neighbouring countries and from as far afield as Pakistan and Rwanda, seeking a secure future in those very promises.

The narratives, collected by researchers, journalists and writers, reflect the many facets of South Africa’s post-apartheid decades. Taken together they give voice to the emotions and relations emanating from a paradoxical place of outrage and hope, violence and solidarity. They speak of intersections between people and their pasts, and of how, in the making of selves and the other they are also shaping South Africa. Underlying these accounts is a nostalgia for an imagined future that can never be realised. These are stories of forever seeking a place called ‘home’.

Loren B. Landau is the South African Research Chair in Human Mobility and the Politics of Difference at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Some of his books include The Humanitarian Hangover: Displacement, Aid, and Transformation in Western Tanzania (Wits Press); editor of Exorcising the Demons Within: Xenophobia, Violence and Statecraft in Contemporary South Africa (Wits Press), and contributor to the Wits Press book, Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa.

Tanya Pampalone is the managing editor of the Global Investigative Journalism Network. The former executive editor of Mail & Guardian, has won the prestigious journalism award for creative writing, the Standard Bank Sikuvile, in 2012.

Book details

  • I Want to go Home Forever: Stories of Becoming and Belonging in South Africa’s Great Metropolis edited by Loren Landau, Tanya Pampalone
    EAN: 9781776142217
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Yes, we should be worried about state surveillance in South Africa – a Q&A with Jane Duncan, author of Stopping the Spies

In 2013, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked secret documents revealing that state agencies like the NSA had spied on the communications of millions of innocent citizens.

International outrage resulted, but the Snowden documents revealed only the tip of the surveillance iceberg.

Apart from insisting on their rights to tap into communications, more and more states are placing citizens under surveillance, tracking their movements and transactions with public and private institutions.

The state is becoming like a one-way mirror, where it can see more of what its citizens do and say, while citizens see less and less of what the state does, owing to high levels of secrecy around surveillance. In this book, Jane Duncan assesses the relevance of Snowden’s revelations for South Africa.

In doing so she questions the extent to which South Africa is becoming a surveillance society governed by a surveillance state.

Duncan challenges members of civil society to be concerned about and to act on the ever-expanding surveillance capacities of the South African state.

Is surveillance used for the democratic purpose of making people safer, or is it being used for the repressive purpose of social control, especially of those considered to be politically threatening to ruling interests? She explores the forms of collective action needed to ensure that unaccountable surveillance does not take place and examines what does and does not work when it comes to developing organised responses.

This book is aimed at South African citizens, academics as well as the general reader, who care about our democracy and the direction it is taking.

Jane Duncan is a professor in the Department of Journalism, Film and Television, at the University of Johannesburg. Before that, she held a chair in Media and the Information Society at Rhodes University, and was the Executive Director of the Freedom of Expression Institute. She is author of The Rise of the Securocrats: The Case of South Africa (2014) and Protest Nation: The Right to Protest in South Africa (2016).

Nick Mulgrew recently conducted a Q&A with Duncan for PEN SA. Read their intriguing conversation here:

Play it to us straight: should we be worried about state surveillance in South Africa? And if so, what’s the most worrying, or potentially worrying, thing we should be worried about?

Yes, we should be. We should be most worried about the fact that state and private surveillance capabilities are expanding all the time. However, there are few controls on these capabilities, which makes abuse almost inevitable. The technology has run far, far ahead of the law and policy, leaving ordinary citizens with rights such as privacy on paper only. In reality this right is being violated on a daily basis.

There’s a comforting lie that many of us tell ourselves – and perhaps this is more a delusion of the 90s-born generation – that, with the end of apartheid, the kind of invasive surveillance that was once trained on activists, organisers and artists went away and the state occupied itself with other things. We think that invasive surveillance is now predominantly the purview of overseas intelligence agencies and, increasingly, companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, which facilitate much of our speech and work. But instead of being turned off, has the gaze of surveillance morphed and been turned onto the South African population-at-large?

Well, there’s no doubt that we’re light years away from those days when surveillance was used to repress the liberation movements with impunity. We have a law (Rica) that makes it illegal to spy on anyone’s communications, with limited exceptions. Any state agency wishing to tap someone’s cellphone or obtain their metadata, for instance, requires a warrant.

But there’s certainly evidence suggesting that South Africa’s state spy agencies are often sticking their noses where they don’t belong, into the communications of journalists, for instance, in order to uncover their sources.

The Right 2 Know Campaign, which I am part of, has documented many cases of trade unionists and political activists being targeted by these agencies in the course of their activism. State spy agencies have accused civil society organizations and social movements of fomenting regime change, to justify infiltration and surveillance of their activities.

These practices contain eerie reminders of a past we thought we’d put behind us.

Counterintelligence is particularly susceptible to abuses, as it focuses on measures to impede threats to national security.

Intelligence abuses are not peculiar to South Africa, though. In the UK at the moment, there’s an enquiry into ‘spycops’ or members of an elite police unit tasked with infiltrating social movements there. Some of these spycops have been so undercover that they’ve formed relationships with women in these movements, and even had children with them.

After discovering how she’d been lied to by her supposed partner, one women complained, triggering the enquiry.

That is what spy agencies the world over do; they spy, and not just on those who are genuine threats to public safety, but on those who the ruling elite consider to be politically threatening and inconvenient.

Continue reading here.

 

Book details

Launch – Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture by Ivor Chipkin & Mark Swilling (28 August)

The 2017 publication of Betrayal of the Promise, the report that detailed the systematic nature of state capture, marked a key moment in South Africa’s most recent struggle for democracy.

In the face of growing evidence of corruption and of the weakening of state and democratic institutions, it provided, for the first time, a powerful analysis of events that helped galvanise resistance within the Tripartite Alliance and across civil society.

Working often secretly, the authors consolidated, for the first time, large amounts of evidence from a variety of sources.

They showed that the Jacob Zuma administration was not simply a criminal network but part of an audacious political project to break the hold of whites and white business on the economy and to create a new class of black industrialists. State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) such as Eskom and Transnet were central to these plans.

The report introduced a whole new language to discuss state capture, showing how SOEs were ‘repurposed’, how political power was shifting away from constitutional bodies to ‘kitchen cabinets’, and how a ‘shadow state’ at odds with the country’s constitutional framework was being built.

Shadow State is an updated version of the original, explosive report that changed South Africa’s recent history.

Event Details

Read an excerpt from Ivor Chipkin and Mark Swilling’s Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture

The 2017 publication of Betrayal of the Promise, the report that detailed the systematic nature of state capture, marked a key moment in South Africa’s most recent struggle for democracy.

In the face of growing evidence of corruption and of the weakening of state and democratic institutions, it provided, for the first time, a powerful analysis of events that helped galvanise resistance within the Tripartite Alliance and across civil society.

Working often secretly, the authors consolidated, for the first time, large amounts of evidence from a variety of sources.

They showed that the Jacob Zuma administration was not simply a criminal network but part of an audacious political project to break the hold of whites and white business on the economy and to create a new class of black industrialists. State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) such as Eskom and Transnet were central to these plans.

The report introduced a whole new language to discuss state capture, showing how SOEs were ‘repurposed’, how political power was shifting away from constitutional bodies to ‘kitchen cabinets’, and how a ‘shadow state’ at odds with the country’s constitutional framework was being built.

Shadow State is an updated version of the original, explosive report that changed South Africa’s recent history.

An extract from this definitive book on state capture was recently featured on the Daily Maverick:

In the classical texts, tyranny, as opposed to despotism, refers to a form of government that breaks its own rules.

This is a useful starting point for discussing political developments in South Africa in the past ten years and the civil society response to it. The ANC government under Jacob Zuma became more and more tyrannical as it set itself up against the Constitution and the rule of law in an effort to capture the state.

In moves reminiscent of events in the 1980s, independent journalists, social movements, trade unions, legal aid centres, NGOs, the churches and some academics have helped mobilise South African society against state capture. A new and varied movement has arisen, bringing together awkward partnerships between ideologically disparate groups and people.

What they have nonetheless shared is a broad support for the Constitution, for democracy and for a modern, professional administration, and they are all, broadly speaking, social democratic in orientation.

The publication of the Betrayal of the Promise report, on which this book is based, constituted a key moment, helping to provide this movement with a narrative and concepts for expressing a systemic perspective on state capture that helped its readers to, in the words of former Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, ‘join the dots’.

The particular instance of so-called ‘state capture’ that we discuss in this book is part of a familiar and recurring pattern in the history of state formation in South Africa. It is, in fact, impossible to understand the evolution of South African politics and statecraft without understanding the deeper dynamics of what we refer to today as state capture.

There is a clear and direct line of sight from the origins of the state in the Cape Colony, when it was ‘captured’ by the Dutch East India Company, through to the era of Cecil Rhodes and ‘Milner’s Kindergarten’ – the name popularly given to the young British civil servants who served under High Commissioner Alfred, Lord Milner – in post-Boer War South Africa.

The world that the first generations of mining magnates, the so-called Randlords, built on the Witwatersrand provided the foundation for the election victory of the National Party in 1948.

The post-1948 state actively supported the build-up of Afrikaner capital in a process which effectively captured the state for decades, with the Electricity Supply Commission (Escom, now renamed Eskom) and the South African Railways (now renamed Transnet) at the very centre of that political project.

The corporate capture of the apartheid war- and sanctions-busting machine has been well documented, with arms manufacturer Armscor (renamed Denel after 1994) at its centre.

Also well documented is the powerful role played by corporate South Africa during the transition, to ensure that a democratic state could do little to change the basic structure of the economy.

This was a form of capture in that powerful elite interests subverted the broad vision of transformation that inspired the mass democratic movement that had brought down the apartheid state.

The most recent instance of state capture has galvanised a broad-based coalition of forces that share a commitment to building an uncaptured South African state.

This is what our Constitution envisages.

The choice must not be between different forms of capture, it must be between capture and no capture. In taking this stand we are going up against the defeatist view on both the left and right that ‘the state is always captured, so why the fuss?’

Continue reading here.
 

Book details

Launch – Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture by Ivor Chipkin and Mark Swiling (21 August)

The 2017 publication of Betrayal of the Promise, the report that detailed the systematic nature of state capture, marked a key moment in South Africa’s most recent struggle for democracy.

In the face of growing evidence of corruption and of the weakening of state and democratic institutions, it provided, for the first time, a powerful analysis of events that helped galvanise resistance within the Tripartite Alliance and across civil society.

Working often secretly, the authors consolidated, for the first time, large amounts of evidence from a variety of sources.

They showed that the Jacob Zuma administration was not simply a criminal network but part of an audacious political project to break the hold of whites and white business on the economy and to create a new class of black industrialists. State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) such as Eskom and Transnet were central to these plans.

The report introduced a whole new language to discuss state capture, showing how SOEs were ‘repurposed’, how political power was shifting away from constitutional bodies to ‘kitchen cabinets’, and how a ‘shadow state’ at odds with the country’s constitutional framework was being built.

Shadow State is an updated version of the original, explosive report that changed South Africa’s recent history.

Event Details

In Dress as Social Relations Vibeke Maria Viestad challenges the myth of the nearly naked Bushman

To dress is a uniquely human experience, but practices and meanings of dress vary greatly among people.

In a Western cultural tradition, the practice of dressing ‘properly’ has for centuries distinguished ‘civilised’ people from ‘savages’.

Through travel literature and historical ethnographic descriptions of the Bushmen of southern Africa, such perceptions and prejudices have made their mark also on the modern research tradition. Because Bushmen were widely considered to be ‘nearly naked’ the study of dress has played a limited part in academic writings on Bushman culture.

In Dress as Social Relations Vibeke Maria Viestad challenges this myth of the nearly naked Bushman and provides an interdisciplinary study of Bushman dress, as it is represented in the archives and material culture of historical Bushman communities.

Maintaining a critical perspective, Viestad provides an interpretation of the significance of dress for historical Bushman people.

Dress, she argues, formed an embodied practice of social relations between humans, animals and other powerful beings of the Bushman world; moreover, this complex and meaningful practice was intimately related to subsistence strategies and social identity.

The historical collections under scrutiny present a wide variety of research material representing different aspects of the bodily practice of dress. Whereas the Bleek & Lloyd archive of oral myths and narratives has become renowned for its great research potential, the artefact collections of Dorothea Bleek and Louis Fourie are much less known and have not earlier been published in a richly illustrated and comprehensive way.

Dress as Social Relations is aimed at scholars and students of archaeology, anthropology, material culture studies, dress studies, ethnographic studies, museology, culture historical studies and African studies, but will also be of interest to people of descendant communities.

Vibeke Maria Viestad is a Norwegian archaeologist and Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History at the University of Oslo. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Book details

Launch: The Politics of Custom edited by John and Jean Comaroff (15 August)

These compelling and wide-ranging studies explore the staying power and apparently counter-intuitive resurgence of chiefship in Africa … Chiefs have clout because their role draws on sources of sovereignty that go beyond the conventional realm of politics to encompass kinship networks, ritual, business, and the global economy. This book shines new light on the interplay of tradition and modernity, showing that chiefship is neither wholly of the state nor of the customary, but always entangled with both. Deborah James, London School of Economics

How are we to explain the resurgence of customary chiefs in contemporary Africa? Rather than disappearing with the tide of modernity, as many expected, indigenous sovereigns are instead a rising force, often wielding substantial power and legitimacy despite major changes in the workings of the global political economy in the post-Cold War era – changes in which they are themselves deeply implicated.

This pathbreaking volume, edited by anthropologists John L. Comaroff and Jean Comaroff, explores the reasons behind the increasingly assertive politics of custom in many corners of Africa. Chiefs come in countless guises – from university professors through cosmopolitan businessmen to subsistence farmers – but, whatever else they do, they are a critical key to understanding the tenacious hold that ‘traditional’ authority enjoys in the late modern world. Together the contributors explore this counterintuitive chapter in Africa’s history and, in so doing, place it within the broader world-making processes of the twenty-first century.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 15 August 2018
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research, WiSER seminar room, 6th floor, Richard Ward Building, University of the Witwatersrand
     
    It is generally easiest to Uber onto campus because parking is often difficult. Ask to be dropped at the Origins Museum at the top of Yale Road. WiSER is about 100 metres east in the Richard Ward building.
     
    | Map
  • Guest Speakers: Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Dineo Skosana, Rogers Orock
  • RSVP: info.witspress@wits.ac.za
     

    Book Details

    • The Politics of Custom: Chiefship, Capital, and the State in Contemporary Africa edited by Jean Comaroff, John Comaroff
      EAN: 9781776143207
      Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Launch: Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics by Nigel C. Gibson & Roberto Beneduce (30 July)

The revolutionary and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon was a foundational figure in postcolonial and decolonial thought and practice, yet his psychiatric work still has only been studied peripherally. That is in part because most of his psychiatric writings have remained untranslated.

With a focus on Fanon’s key psychiatry texts, Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics considers Fanon’s psychiatric writings as materials anticipating as well as accompanying Fanon’s better known works, written between 1952 and 1961 (Black Skin, White Masks; A Dying Colonialism, Toward the African Revolution, The Wretched of the Earth).

Both clinical and political, they draw on another notion of psychiatry that intersects history, ethnology, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. The authors argue that Fanon’s work inaugurates a critical ethnopsychiatry based on a new concept of culture (anchored to historical events, particular situations, and lived experience) and on the relationship between the psychological and the cultural. Thus, Gibson and Beneduce contend that Fanon’s psychiatric writings also express Fanon’s wish, as he puts it in The Wretched of the Earth, to “develop a new way of thinking, not only for us but for humanity.”

Nigel C. Gibson is Associate Professor of Postcolonial Studies at Emerson College. He is author of Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003) and Fanonian Practices in South Africa (2014), and the editor of Rethinking Fanon (1999) and Living Fanon (2011). He is the editor of the Journal of Asian and African Studies.

Roberto Beneduce is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Turin. He is the founding director of the Frantz Fanon Center in Turin. His recent publications include a collection of Fanon’s psychiatric writings in Italian, Decolonizzare la follia, Scritti sulla psichiatria coloniale (2011), and L’histoire au corps (Embodying History) (2016).

Event Details

Watch: Vishwas Satgar discusses The Climate Crisis

Capitalism’s addiction to fossil fuels is heating our planet at a pace and scale never before experienced.

Extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels and accelerating feedback loops are a commonplace feature of our lives. The number of environmental refugees is increasing and several island states and low-lying countries are becoming vulnerable.

Corporate-induced climate change has set us on an ecocidal path of species extinction. Governments and their international platforms such as the Paris Climate Agreement deliver too little, too late.

Most states, including South Africa, continue on their carbon-intensive energy paths, with devastating results. Political leaders across the world are failing to provide systemic solutions to the climate crisis.

This is the context in which we must ask ourselves: how can people and class agency change this destructive course of history?
 

Volume three in the Democratic Marxism series, The Climate Crisis investigates ecosocialist alternatives that are emerging. It presents the thinking of leading climate justice activists, campaigners and social movements advancing systemic alternatives and developing bottom-up, just transitions to sustain life.

Through a combination of theoretical and empirical work, the authors collectively examine the challenges and opportunities inherent in the current moment. This volume builds on the class-struggle focus of Volume 2 by placing ecological issues at the center of democratic Marxism. Most importantly, it explores ways to renew historical socialism with democratic, ecosocialist alternatives to meet current challenges in South Africa and the world.

Vishwas Satgar is a democratic ecosocialist and has been an activist for over three decades. He is an associate professor of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He edits the Democratic Marxism series for which he received the distinguished contribution award from the World Association of Political Economy.

Satgar recently discussed the impact capitalist industrialisation, among others, has on the planet’s ecosystem during an evening hosted by Tshisimani. Watch in full:

Vishwas Satgar: The climate crisis and democratic eco-socialist alternatives from Tshisimani on Vimeo.

The Climate Crisis

Book details

  • The Climate Crisis: South African and Global Democratic Eco-Socialist Alternatives edited by Vishwas Satgar
    EAN: 978-1-77614-054-1
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Anna Dahlqvist’s It’s Only Blood shatters enduring taboos surrounding menstruation


‘Only when we call out the unnecessary shame and stigma that surrounds periods can we demand meaningful change. Dahlqvist’s deft, compassionate storytelling, and her critical global perspective, are a tremendous contribution to the movement for menstrual equity.’
Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, author of Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity

‘A lushly detailed and often intimate portrait of a global social movement. What’s more, Dahlqvist’s perceptive account reveals the insidious power of stigma to limit lives.’
Chris Bobel, author of New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation

‘A wide-ranging exploration of the enduring taboos surrounding menstruation, taking the author around the globe. What she uncovers in this provocative and insightful book will make us forever rethink our “first world problems” by putting periods in a global context.’
Karen Houppert, author of The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo

Across the world, 2 billion experience menstruation, yet menstruation is seen as a mark of shame. We are told not to discuss it in public, that tampons and sanitary pads should be hidden away, the blood rendered invisible. In many parts of the world, poverty, culture and religion collide causing the taboo around menstruation to have grave consequences.

Younger people who menstruate are deterred from going to school, adults from work, infections are left untreated. The shame is universal and the silence a global rule.

In It’s Only Blood Anna Dahlqvist tells the shocking but always moving stories of why and how people from Sweden to Bangladesh, from the United States to Uganda, are fighting back against the shame.

Anna Dahlqvist is a journalist specialising in gender, sexuality and human rights. She is editor-in-chief of Ottar, a Swedish magazine focusing on sexual politics and has previously published a book on illegal abortion and abortion rights in Europe.

Book details