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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Don’t miss the launch of Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist: A Memoir by N Chabani Manganyi

Invitation to the launch of Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist

Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist: A MemoirYou are invited to join Wits University Press at the CIRCA Gallery, Rosebank, Johannesburg for the launch of Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist: A Memoir by N Chabani Manganyi.

The event will take place tomorrow (Saturday, 25 June). The author and book will be introduced by Grahame Hayes, founding editor of the journal PINS (Psychology in Society) and retired academic.

Don’t miss it!

Prof Manganyi’s thoughtful and meticulous account of what it has meant to become South Africa’s first black psychologist is particularly relevant for our times. Sadly, the issues of violence, injustice and trauma are still with us. Manganyi’s work offers the possibility that a different legacy could prevail – that of a commitment to truth, and a clear vision of what it means to value the humanity of others, as well as of oneself.

- Shayleen Peekes, psychologist

Chabani Manganyi is that rare thing in South Africa – a genuine and independent intellectual.

- Tim Couzens, author

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Strategic lessons South Africa’s students can learn from the leaders of 1976

Anne Heffernan, University of the Witwatersrand

Students Must Rise

The author is co-editor of Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76 published by Wits University Press.

This month forty years ago, thousands of Soweto school children took to the streets to protest the racism and inadequacy of Bantu Education. That moment has come to symbolise the role that young people have played and can play in shaping South Africa’s political discourse. It remains a touch point for student activists today.

The marches in June 1976 took shape around a unifying issue of immediate importance to the students: the imposition of Afrikaans as a teaching medium in black classrooms, whose curriculum was dictated by the then Department of Bantu Education.

Images from the march are filled with posters proclaiming “To Hell With Afrikaans” and “Vorster and Kruger are rubbish”. This refers to John Vorster, the prime minister of South Africa and one of apartheid’s architects, and his police minister Jimmy Kruger.

The juxtaposition of these claims is an important one. It speaks to how Soweto children began to straddle the space between local and immediate concerns and a national political agenda. This enabled them to transcend the issues of their classrooms and rejuvenate the struggle against apartheid on a national, and indeed international, scale.

Forty years later South Africa is again in the midst of a political movement led by students – this time on university campuses across the country. Today’s student activists are often compared to the generation of 1976. In mass marches through Johannesburg and Pretoria the form of their protest has prompted the comparison.

In their articulation of ideologies like Black Consciousness they echo some of the key thinkers of that period. But their protests remain largely constrained by the campuses on which they happen. In light of these struggles, it is useful to consider how the students of 1976 tackled similar problems.

The Afrikaans issue

The Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974 declared that in black schools across South Africa Afrikaans must be used equally with English as a medium for teaching non-language subjects like mathematics and social sciences.

Students and teachers alike struggled to teach and learn in a language for which they were ill-trained and ill-equipped with textbooks and other materials.

Historian Helena Pohlandt-McCormick has written that the Afrikaans medium policy “embodied everything that was wrong with Bantu Education”. She points to its disregard of sound pedagogy, and, more importantly, of the voices of the parents, teachers, and learners on whom it was imposed.

By the middle of the 1976 school year, students had organised themselves in individual protests. Many focused on the imposition of Afrikaans, others addressed student-teacher relations and corporal punishment at individual schools.

They were inspired and encouraged to connect these issues to the broader political system by a range of influences in their homes, communities, and classrooms. Among these were university students who had been “conscientised” through the Black Consciousness Movement and expelled from rural “bush” universities during waves of protest in 1972 and 1974. The most prominent of these was Ongkopotse Tiro.

After Tiro was expelled from the University of the North (today the University of Limpopo, outside Polokwane), where he was a prominent student leader and Black Consciousness proponent, he took up a job teaching history at Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto.

Though he was fired in 1973 and killed in exile in Botswana in 1974, some of his students, including Tsietsi Mashinini, became key leaders in the 1976 uprising.

Addressing structural oppression

Tiro and other young teachers encouraged their students to connect the particular grievances of their own situation – the inequities and injustices of Bantu Education – to the structural oppression meted out by the apartheid state.

This was a lesson students brought to their organisation of the protests on 16 June, and one that played an increasingly important role in the weeks and months that followed. Students in the Soweto Students Representative Council (which compromised many of the student leaders who had organised the June 16 march) called for their parents to stay away from work, and to boycott white-owned shops and products. By August the committee focused its energies on organising a student and worker stay away for the end of the month. According to Sibongile Mkhabela, a member of the SSRC, this was intended to achieve

more than only a march. […] This was the day to hit the white economy.

A few months later students rallied their families to participate in a Black Christmas to mourn those who had been killed by police since June.

June 16 forty years later

University students of 2015-16 have some key things in common with their 1976 predecessors. They have changed the tenor and shape of political discussion around education in South Africa, more effectively than any other single movement since 1994.

They have re-interrogated the ideologies that animated students in 1976. Their engagement with Black Consciousness and Biko, with Fanon and with pan-Africanism has led to a movement to decolonise universities’ faculty and curricula.

But today’s students have struggled to move their activism beyond universities. Not withstanding significant gains in the movement to end the exploitative practice of outsourcing jobs on campuses, for which the Fallist movements of 2015-16 deserve a great deal of credit, student movements today have yet to create enduring alliances with workers outside the university, or with school students.

Beyond shared ideology, the 1976 generation, and, perhaps even more so, the university students of the early 1970s who taught and inspired them, may offer some strategic lessons.

The author is co-editor of Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ‘76 published by Wits University Press.

The Conversation

Anne Heffernan, Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow NRF Chair: Local Histories, Present Realties., University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Don’t miss the launch of Hidden Histories of Gordonia by Martin Legassick at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Hidden Histories of Gordonia by Martin Legassick

Hidden Histories of Gordonia: Land Dispossession and Resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800-1990Wits University Press, UWC’s Centre for Humanities Research and The Book Lounge invite you to pay tribute to the memory of eminent historian and activist Martin Legassick at the launch of his posthumously published book Hidden Histories of Gordonia: Land Dispossession and Resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800-1990.

There are few areas in South Africa like the Gordonia region of the Northern Cape Province. Hidden Histories of Gordonia is Legassick’s magnum opus, summing up a quarter century of research by one of the most important South African historians.

Sadly he did not live to see the publication of this book, passing away a mere two months before its publication. Legassick had a remarkable gift for storytelling and in this final work he brings to life the craggy, desert-like landscape of the Northern Cape and its histories of the “black” and “brown” people, who are often rendered mute or to mere footnotes in mainstream narratives. It is a fascinating and deeply moving work with a historian’s eye for detail and the long view.

The launch will take place in Cape Town on Thursday, 30 June.

Celebrating the book and remembering the life of Legassick will be Karen Press (the editor of the book), Mervin Gilbert (from the Abraham Holbors September Foundation who introduced Legassick to the region and its history), Noor Nieftagodien (activist and historian) and Thozama April (fellow and next generation scholar at UWC’s Centre for Humanities Research, who worked with Legassick).

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 30 June 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Guests: Karen Press, Mervin Gilbert, Noor Nieftagodien and Thozama April
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge,, 021 462 2425

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Presenting Martin Legassick’s magnum opus: Hidden Histories of Gordonia

Hidden Histories of GordoniaNew from Wits University Press: Hidden Histories of Gordonia: Land Dispossession and Resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800-1990 by Martin Legassick:

The Gordonia region of the Northern Cape Province has received relatively little attention from historians. In Hidden Histories of Gordonia: Land dispossession and resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800-1990, Martin Legassick explores aspects of the generally unknown “brown” and “black” history of the region. Emphasising the lives of ordinary people, his writing is also in part an exercise in “applied history” – historical writing with a direct application to people’s lives in the present.

Tracing the indigenous history of Gordonia as well as the northward movement of Basters and whites from the western Cape through Bushmanland to the Orange River, the book presents accounts of family histories, episodes of indigenous resistance to colonisation, and studies of the ultimate imposition of racial segregation and land dispossession on the inhabitants of the region.

A recurrent theme is the question of identity and how the extreme ethnic fluidity and social mixing apparent in earlier times crystallised in the colonial period into racial identities, until with final conquest came imposed racial classification.

This is a magnum opus, summing up a quarter century of research by one of the most senior and important South African historians.

- Neil Parsons, former professor of history, University of Botswana

There are few areas in South Africa that are like Gordonia. It is to Legassick’s great credit that he recognised this, but nevertheless makes the history of the country’s major area of desert part of South Africa’s totality. It is a major achievement and an important book.

- Robert Ross, historian and author of The Borders of Race in Colonial South Africa: The Kat River Settlement, 1829-1856

About the author

Martin Legassick (1940-2016) was Emeritus Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape. A historian, activist and author, his publications include The Struggle for the Eastern Cape, 1800–1854: Subjugation and the Roots of South African Democracy (2011) and The Politics of a South African Frontier: The Griqua, the Sotho-Tswana and the Missionaries, 1780-1840 (2010).

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Don’t miss the launch of Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76 at Wits

Invitation to the launch of Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76 edited by Anne Heffernan and Noor Nieftagodien

Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto '76Wits University Press and the History Workshop invite you to the launch of Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76 edited by Anne Heffernan and Noor Nieftagodien.

Students Must Rise marks the 40th anniversary of the June 16th uprisings. This book places that most famous of moments, the 1976 student uprising in Soweto, in a deeper historical and geographic context and also considers contemporary student-based political movements, including Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall.

Khwezi Gule, curator of the Hector Pieterson Museum, will be the guest speaker at the event.

The launch will be preceded by a colloquium, “Students Rising: Reflections on youth struggles in South Africa 40 years after.”

Don’t miss this important event!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 8 June 2016
  • Time: 5 PM
  • Venue: The Atrium
    South West Engineering Building
    East Campus
    University of the Witwatersrand | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Khwezi Gule
  • RSVP: Wits Press,

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Students Must Rise: Youth struggle from before the Soweto Uprising to Fees Must Fall

Students Must RiseComing soon from Wits University Press – Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76, edited by Anne Heffernan and Noor Nieftagodien:

The Soweto Student Uprising of 1976 was a decisive moment in the struggle against apartheid. It marked the expansion of political activism to a new generation of young activists, but beyond that it inscribed the role that young people of subsequent generations could play in their country’s future. Since that momentous time students have held a special place in the collective imaginary of South African history.

Drawing on research and writing by leading scholars and prominent activists, Students Must Rise takes Soweto ’76 as its pivot point, but looks at student and youth activism in South Africa more broadly by considering what happened before and beyond the Soweto moment. Early chapters assess the impact of the anti-pass campaigns of the 1950s, of political ideologies like Black Consciousness as well as of religion and culture in fostering political consciousness and organisation among youth and students in townships and rural areas.

Later chapters explore the wide-reaching impact of June 16th itself for student organisation over the next two decades across the country. Two final chapters consider contemporary student-based political movements, including #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall, and historically root these in the long and rich tradition of student activism in South Africa.

2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the 1976 June 16th uprisings. This book rethinks the conventional narrative of youth and student activism in South Africa by placing that most famous of moments – the 1976 students’ uprising in Soweto – in a deeper historical and geographic context.

About the editors

Anne Heffernan is a post-doctoral researcher in the History Workshop at Wits and has a particular interest in the history of political activism among students in South Africa.

Noor Nieftagodien is the South African Research Chair in Local Histories, Present Realities, and is the Head of the History Workshop at Wits. He has published widely on popular insurgent struggles, public history, and youth politics. With Philip Bonner he has published books on the history of Alexandra (Wits Press: 2008) and Kathorus, and with Sally Gaule he published a history of Orlando West (Wits Press: 2012)


Introduction by Anne Heffernan and Noor Nieftagodien
Chapter 1: A brief history of the African Student Association by Sifiso Mxolisi Ndlovu
Chapter 2: Youth and student culture: Riding resistance and Imagining the future by Bhekizizwe Peterson
Chapter 3: The role of religion and theology in the organisation of student activists by Ian Macqueen
Chapter 4: Student organisation in Lehurutshe and the impact of Ongkopotse Tiro by Arianna Lissoni
Chapter 5: The University of the North, a regional and national centre of activism by Anne Heffernan
Chapter 6: Action and fire in Soweto, June 1976 by Sibongile Mkhabela
Chapter 7: What they shot in Alex by Steve Kwena Mokwena
Chapter 8: SASO and Black Consciousness, and the shift to Congress politics by Saleem Badat
Chapter 9: Youth politics and rural rebellion in Zebediela and other parts of the “homeland” of Lebowa, 1976-1977
by Sekibakiba Lekgoathi
Chapter 10: My journey, our journey: Activism at Ongoye University by Makhosazana Xaba
Chapter 11: “Let’s begin to participate fully in politics”: Student politics in Mhluzi Township, Mpumalanga by Tshepo Moloi
Chapter 12: “They would remind you of 1960″: The emergence of radical student politics in the Vaal triangle 1972-1985
by Franziska Rueedi
Chapter 13: The ends of boycott by Premesh Lalu
Chapter 14: Fighting for “our little freedoms”: The evolution of student and youth politics in Phomolong Township, Free State
by Phindile Kunene
Chapter 15: “Every generation has its struggle”: A brief history of Equal Education (2008-15) by Brad Brockman
Chapter 16: The rise of the black-led student movements of #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall in 2015 by Leigh-Ann Naidoo

Selected Bibliography

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Don’t miss the launch of A Church of Strangers: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa at WiSER

A Church of Strangers: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South AfricaWiSER and Wits University Press invite you to the launch of Ilana van Wyk’s new book A Church of Strangers: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa.

Van Wyk will be in discussion with Christa Kuljian, author of Sanctuary: How an Inner-City Church Spilled onto a Sidewalk and David Coplan, author of In Township Tonight!

The conversation will be chaired by Hlonipha Mokoena, Associate Professor at WiSER and the author of Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), a church of Brazilian origin, has been enormously successful in establishing branches and attracting followers in post-apartheid South Africa. Unlike other Pentecostal Charismatic Churches (PCC), the UCKG insists that relationships with God be devoid of “emotions”, that socialisation between members be kept to a minimum and that charity and fellowship are “useless” in materialising God’s blessings. Instead, the UCKG urges members to sacrifice large sums of money to God for delivering wealth, health, social harmony and happiness. While outsiders condemn these rituals as empty or manipulative, this book shows that they are locally meaningful, demand sincerity to work, have limits and are informed by local ideas about human bodies, agency and ontological balance. As an ethnography of people rather than of institutions, this book offers fresh insights into the mass PCC movement that has swept across Africa since the early 1990s.

Van Wyk is an anthropologist and a researcher at the Institute for Humanities in Africa at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 18 May 2016
  • Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Venue: WiSER Seminar Room
    6th Floor, Richard Ward Building
    East Campus, Wits University | Map
  • Refreshments: Wine and juices will be served
  • RSVP: Wits Press,

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Facets of Power: Examining the politics, profits and people in the making of Zimbabwe’s blood diamonds

Facets of PowerNew from Wits Press – Facets of Power: Politics, Profits and People in the Making of Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds, edited by Richard Saunders and Tinashe Nyamunda:

The diamond fields of Chiadzwa in the Marange District, among the world’s largest sources of rough diamonds, have been at the centre of struggles for power in Zimbabwe since their discovery in 2006. Against the backdrop of a turbulent political economy, control of Chiadzwa’s diamonds was hotly contested.

By 2007, a new case of “blood diamonds” had emerged, in which the country’s security forces engaged with informal miners and black market dealers in the exploitation of rough diamonds, violently disrupting local communities and looting a key national resource. The formalisation of diamond mining in 2010 introduced new forms of large-scale theft, displacement and rights abuses, with as much as $13 billion now estimated by government to have gone missing.

Facets of Power is the first comprehensive account of the emergence, meaning and profound impact of Chiadzwa’s diamonds. Drawing on new fieldwork and published sources, the contributors present a graphic and accessibly written narrative of corruption and greed, as well as resistance by those who have suffered at the hands of the mineral’s secretive and violent beneficiaries.

If the lessons of resistance have been mostly disheartening, they also point towards more effective strategies for managing public resources, and mounting democratic challenges to elites whose power is sustained by preying on them.

A shocking account of the Marange diamond tragedy which, instead of uplifting the lives of the poverty-stricken local people living in one of the most arid regions of Zimbabwe, dashed their hopes and exposed the ruthless and inhuman nature of a corrupt, selfish and shameless regime. This well-researched book is a must read, not only for this our present generation but for posterity – with a view to saying “never again”.

The Rt Rev. Dr S Bakare – Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Harare

London and Antwerp are famous for major diamond robberies. These are nothing compared with what happened in Zimbabwe. Facets of Power is an insider’s look at one of the greatest and most disgraceful diamond heists of all time. It will help to ensure that Marange crimes and the criminals who committed them are not forgotten.

- Ian Smillie, author of Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade, and Diamonds

About the editors

Richard Saunders is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada.

Tinashe Nyamunda is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

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Preserving South Africa’s priceless ancient culture: Dorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship by Jill Weintroub

Dorothea BleekThe Weekend Argus recently featured the new book by Jill Weintroub: Dorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship.

Dorothea Bleek (1873 to 1948) devoted her life to completing the “bushman researches” her father and aunt had begun in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Weintroub examines Bleek’s life story and family legacy, her rock art research and her fieldwork in southern Africa, and, in light of these, evaluates her scholarship and contribution to the history of ideas in South Africa.

It is a compelling and surprising narrative, which reveals an intellectual inheritance intertwined with the story of a woman’s life, and argues that Dorothea’s life work – her study of the bushmen – was also a sometimes surprising emotional quest.

Read the feature:

Bleek’s scholarly life far from bleak – Weekend Argus April 30, 2016 by Books LIVE

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Don’t miss the launch of Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms by Maxim Bolt at Wits

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border Farms: The Roots of ImpermanenceWits University Press and WiSER invite you to the launch of Maxim Bolt’s award-winning book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.

How do people create homes and stability in times of mass unemployment and uncertainty?

During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the border fence to South Africa, searching for work as farm labourers. In a time of intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalisation and post-apartheid land reform, Bolt explores the lives of migrant labourers and settled black farm workers and their dependants as they intersect with those of white farmers and managers on the Zimbabwean-South African border.

Join us for a conversation with Bolt as he discusses, with Tara Polzer (research director at Social Surveys Africa) and Eric Worby (Professor of Anthropology at Wits), the role of wage labour in a place of crisis.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 11 May 2016
  • Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Venue: WiSER Seminar Room
    6th Floor Richard Ward Building
    East Campus, Wits University | Map
  • Panel: Tara Polzer and Eric Worby
  • Refreshments: Wine and juices will be served
  • RSVP:

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