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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Adam Habib and Shaun Viljoen at the Franschhoek Literary Festival (16 – 18 May)

South Africa's Suspended RevolutionRichard RiveAdam Habib, author of South Africa’s Suspended Revolution, and Shaun Viljoen, author of Richard Rive: A Partial Biography, will be at the 2014 Franschhoek Literary Festival, which is taking place from 16 to 18 May.

Habib will be discussing South Africa’s political leadership and tertiary education and Viljoen will be talking about researching biographies in a digital age.

Saturday 17 May

SA’s Political Leadership Quagmire
10 AM – 11 AM (New School Hall)
Ray Hartley asks Adam Habib (SA’s Suspended Revolution), Rhoda Kadalie (In Your Face) and Prince Mashele (The Fall of the ANC) if, in their opinion, our leaders are sinking or treading water to stay afloat.

What’s to Become of Biography?
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Congregational Church)
Now that letters are becoming extinct and handwritten records rare, where will biographers find their hard
material? Henrietta Rose-Innes asks of poet/novelist Finuala Dowling, Mark Gevisser and Shaun Viljoen (Richard Rive: A partial biography).

The University Business
4 PM – 5 PM (Church Hall)
Francis Wilson talks candidly to vice-chancellors Saleem Badat, recently resigned from Rhodes, Adam Habib of Wits, and Max Price of UCT about the often contentious issues they face and ways to make university education more flexible and attuned to future employment.

Sunday 18 May

Does Democracy Work?
1 PM – 2 PM (New School Hall)
In the aftermath of the election and tumultuous ongoing ‘Arab Springs’, Peter Harris (Birth) gives the floor alternately to Adam Habib, Eusebius McKaiser, Pieter-Dirk Uys and Mike van Graan.

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Adekeye Adebajo Laments the International Community’s Slow Reaction to the Rwandan Genocide

The EU and AfricaAdekeye Adebajo, co-editor of The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europa and executive director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, looks back at the international community’s reaction to the Rwandan genocide, 20 years on.

Writing for Business Day, Adebajo recalls how the UN peacekeeping force arrived in Rwanda two months behind schedule, woefully undermanned and under-equipped, and condemns the Clinton administration’s seeming lack of concern:

Led by strong American and British demands, the Security Council, however, withdrew most of its peacekeepers from Rwanda, leaving a token force of 270. A machismo-fuelled US was determined to prove that it could “shut down” a UN mission after the death of 18 American soldiers in Somalia six months earlier. The Clinton administration refused for weeks to call genocide by its proper name for fear of being pressured to act. The representative of the Rwandan regime, Jean-Damascène Bizimana, sat on the UN Security Council throughout the genocide, reporting back on the unwillingness of the council to act.

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Luli Callinicos Named the Inaugural Jozi Book Fair Reading Ambassador

Who built Jozi?During last year’s Jozi Book Fair, Luli Callinicos, author of Who built Jozi?, was selected to be the inaugural Jozi Book Fair Reading Ambassador, “to promote reading and writing in urban and rural areas, in all communities and in all languages.”

Callinicos says she was overwhelmed by the honour and spoke about the importance of creating thousands of reading ambassadors: “They would be speaking about books, getting people excited about reading books, recommending books and writing books. I hope we can all work together to create a reading culture because, Reading the word enables us to Read the world.”

During 5th Jozi Book Fair in 2013 we chose the first Jozi Book Fair Reading Ambassador, Luli Callinicos, to promote reading and writing in urban and rural areas, in all communities and in all languages.

This is the first time that the concept, the Reading Ambassador, is used in South Africa. This is consistent with the JBF’s approach to purposefully intervene in the building of a readers movement. This year the first Jozi Book Fair Reading Ambassador in South Africa, Luli Callinicos was elected. Luli Callinicos is an author, historian and an activist.

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Adam Habib Comments on Zweli Mkhize as a Possible Successor to Jacob Zuma

South Africa's Suspended RevolutionAdam Habib, author of South Africa’s Suspended Revolution, spoke to Amogelang Mbatha and Franz Wild about the ANC’s Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize as a potential successor to President Jacob Zuma.

“He’s very influential in the fact that he is in the top six and he is also known to go way back with President Jacob Zuma,” Habib says, explaining that while Mkhize has been brought up as a possible successor, it remains to be seen if this will happen.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress faces its toughest-ever election on May 7 as some voters expected quicker improvement in their lives 20 years after the end of apartheid, party Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize said.

The 102-year-old movement that took power in the country’s first all-race elections in 1994 faces the “challenges of incumbency,” Mkhize, 58, said in an April 3 interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office. He also cited voter concern about corruption among public officials.

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Adekeye Adebajo Believes Lakhdar Brahimi May find a Solution to Syrian Crisis

The EU and AfricaAdekeye Adebajo, co-editor of The EU and Africa, believes the UN/Arab League mediator in Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, may be the man to find a resolution to the conflict.

Brahimi oversaw recent peace talks in Geneva, which failed to reach an agreement to end the three-year conflict. According to Adebajo, more than 100,000 Syrians have died in the war, 4.25-million have been displaced in the country, and 2-million have become refugees. Despite this, Adebajo believes 80-year old Algerian Brahimi, “a man of great experience and diplomatic acumen”, is one of the few diplomats in a position to “craft a solution to Syria’s bloody conflict”.

Adebajo is the executive director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution.

Brahimi replaced Ghanaian former United Nations (UN) secretary-general, Kofi Annan, as the joint UN/Arab League mediator in Syria in September 2012. In throwing in the towel, Annan described the situation as a “brick wall”. Brahimi took up this metaphor, noting that, standing in front of a brick wall, he would look for cracks in it, or else try to go around it. As he noted: “I’m coming to this job with my eyes open, and no illusions.”

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Adekeye Adebajo Traces the Interlocking Histories of Africa’s 13 Peace Prize Laureates

The EU and AfricaAdekeye Adebajo, co-editor of The EU and Africa, traces the interweaving histories of Nobel Peace Prize winners of African descent.

In a recent column for Business Day, Adebajo unpacks the relationships between the 13 people of African descent who have won the Nobel Peace Prize since 1950, and says lessons can be learnt from their endeavours and experiences.

Among the Nobel Laureates Adebajo mentions are African Americans Ralph Bunche and Martin Luther King, South Africans Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, as well as Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Mohamed ElBaradei.

THIRTEEN people of African descent have won the Nobel Peace Prize since 1950. We should draw lessons for peacemaking, civil rights, socioeconomic justice, environmental protection, nuclear disarmament and women’s rights in the contemporary era from the rich experiences of these laureates.

African Americans, Ralph Bunche (who won the Nobel prize in 1950) and Martin Luther King (1964), played an important role in the pan-African struggle, with Bunche leading the creation of the United Nations (UN) Trusteeship Council by 1947, and King championing decolonisation efforts.

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Caroline Kihato’s Migrant Women of Johannesburg Launched with Christa Kuljian at WiSER

Migrant Women of JohannesburgWednesday 26 March saw the launch of Caroline Wanjiku Kihato’s Migrant Women of Johannesburg: Life in an in-between city. In front of a packed seminar room at WiSER (the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research), Kihato spent an intriguing hour in conversation with WiSER Writing Fellow and author Christa Kuljian. WiSER’s Catherine Burns chaired the session.

Kihato, who is from Kenya and who worked as a street trader on her arrival in South Africa, conducted most of her research between 2004 and 2008. In her book, she looks at the experiences of migrant women in the inner city – women who came from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe to make a life in Johannesburg.

The discussion between Kihato and Kuljian, whose book Sanctuary: How an Inner-City Church Spilled onto a Sidewalk was published last year, centred on Kihato’s research methods, which had a strong ethnographic component, as well as the image of Johannesburg as a city in the liminal space.

She spent time just “hanging out” with a group of migrant women, Kihato explained, and also gave them disposable cameras to document their lives. The result is a book shaped by personal narratives and visual material. The use of photographs presents the reader with the domestic spaces – women’s homes – that are rarely seen.

Kihato’s research includes findings on the dynamic between hawkers and police – as she calls it, an “elaborate performance” – experiences of xenophobia and the brutal realities of domestic violence.

A slideshow was also presented at the event and included photographs of a woman doing her young daughter’s hair before school, a bathtub spattered with blood, and a notice to appear in court, given to Kihato by a street trader who had summarily ignored a fine from the metro police.

Facebook gallery

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Video and Tweets from the Woordfees 2014 Discussion on Richard Rive

Richard RiveRichard Rive, best-known for his excellent play ‘Buckingham Palace’, District Six, was murdered in 1989 – an act that robbed the South African literary community of a strong, talented voice.

At the recent discussion on Rive and Shaun Viljoen’s book Richard Rive: A Partial Biography at the SU Woordfees 2014, veteran journalist Amanda Botha and actor Basil Appollis lamented the fact that Rive had not received the recognition that he deserved. Most of his writing had been banned during apartheid.

It was specifically the recognition of his own community that Rive sought, Appollis said. But instead he faced prejudice within his own family because his skin was darker than his siblings’.

Botha spoke about Rive’s friendship with many Afrikaans writers such as Jan Rabie, Elsa Joubert and Ingrid Jonker. She said she is glad that some of Rive’s works are now begin republished.

Appollis, who used to play the lead role in ‘Buckingham Palace’, District Six, performed powerful scenes from the drama at the event:

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Carolyn Meads tweeted live from the event using #Woordfees2014:

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Cold War Role in Namibia’s Independence from South Africa Explored in Visions of Freedom

Visions of FreedomNew from Wits Press, Visions of Freedom: Havanna, Washington, Pretoria and the Struggle for Southern Africa 1976-1991, by Piero Gleijeses:

During the final 15 years of the Cold War, southern Africa underwent a period of upheaval, with dramatic twists and turns in relations between the superpowers. Americans, Cubans, Soviets and Africans fought over the future of Angola, where tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers were stationed, ready to decolonise Namibia, Africa’s last colony. Beyond lay the great prize: South Africa. Piero Gleijeses uses archival sources, particularly from the United States, South Africa, and the closed Cuban archive, to provide an unprecedented international history of this important theatre of the late Cold War.

These sources all point to one conclusion: by humiliating the United States and defying the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro changed the course of history in southern Africa. It was Cuba’s victory in Angola in 1988 that forced Pretoria to give Namibia its independence and helped break the back of apartheid South Africa. In the words of Nelson Mandela, the Cubans “destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor … [and] inspired the fighting masses of South Africa.”

Visions of Freedom tells a remarkable and sweeping history of Cuba’s role in assisting the so-called Third World from the clutches of white domination. Written with intrigue and insight, it will appeal to scholars of international politics, historians and the general reader interested in Southern African history.

About the author

Piero Gleijeses, born 1944 in Venice, Italy, is a professor of United States foreign policy at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. He is best known for his scholarly studies of Cuban foreign policy under Fidel Castro, which earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, and has also published several works on US intervention in Latin America. He is the only foreign scholar to have been allowed access to the Cuba’s Castro-era government archives.

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Post-apartheid Life in Chatsworth Examined in Melancholia of Freedom by Thomas Blom Hansen

Melancholia of FreedomNew from Wits Press, Melancholia of Freedom: Social Life in an Indian Township in South Africa by Thomas Blom Hansen:

The end of apartheid in 1994 signaled a moment of freedom and a promise of a non-racial future. With this promise came an injunction: define yourself as you truly are, as an individual, and as a community. Almost two decades later it is clear that it was less the prospect of that future than the habits and horizons of anxious life in racially defined enclaves that determined post-apartheid freedom. In this book, Thomas Blom Hansen offers an in-depth analysis of the uncertainties, dreams, and anxieties that have accompanied post-apartheid freedoms in Chatsworth, a formerly Indian township in Durban. Exploring five decades of township life, Hansen tells the stories of ordinary Indians whose lives were radicalised and framed by the township, and how these residents domesticated and inhabited this urban space and its institutions, during apartheid and after.

Hansen demonstrates the complex and ambivalent nature of ordinary township life. While the ideology of apartheid was widely rejected, its practical institutions, from urban planning to houses, schools, and religious spaces, were embraced in order to remake the community. Hansen describes how the racial segmentation of South African society still informs daily life, notions of race, personhood, morality, and religious ethics. He also demonstrates the force of global religious imaginings that promise a universal and inclusive community amid uncertain lives and futures in the post-apartheid nation-state.



Chapter 1. Ethnicity by Fiat: The Remaking of Indian Life in South Africa

Chapter 2. Domesticity and Cultural Intimacy

Chapter 3. Charous and Ravans: A Story of Mutual Nonrecognition

Chapter 4. Autonomy, Freedom, and Political Speech

Chapter 5. Movement, Sound, and Body in the Post-apartheid City

Chapter 6. The Unwieldy Fetish: Desi Fantasies, Roots Tourism, and Diasporic Desires

Chapter 7 Global Hindus and Pure Muslims: Universalist Aspirations and Territorialised Lives

Chapter 8. The Saved and the Backsliders: The Charou Soul and the Instability of Belief

Postscript. Melancholia in the Time of the ‘African Personality’

About the Author

Thomas Blom Hansen is professor of anthropology and the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of South Asian Studies at Stanford University, where he also directs the Center for South Asia. His books include The Saffron Wave and Wages of Violence (both Princeton).

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