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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Presenting Fiona Moolla’s Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms

Natures of AfricaComing soon from Wits University Press, Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms edited by Fiona Moolla:

Foreword by Byron Caminero-Santangelo:

Environmental and animal studies are rapidly growing areas of interest across a number of disciplines. Natures of Africa is one of the first edited volumes which encompasses transdisciplinary approaches to a number of cultural forms, including fiction, non-fiction, oral expression and digital media. The volume features new research from East Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the ecocritical and eco-activist “powerhouses” of Nigeria and South Africa.
The chapters engage one another conceptually and epistemologically without an enforced consensus of approach. In their conversation with dominant ideas about nature and animals, they reveal unexpected insights into forms of cultural expression of local communities in Africa. The analyses explore different apprehensions of the connections between humans, animals and the environment, and suggest alternative ways of addressing the challenges facing the continent. These include the problems of global warming, desertification, floods, animal extinctions and environmental destruction attendant upon fossil fuel extraction.

There are few books that show how nature in Africa is represented, celebrated, mourned or commoditised. Natures of Africa weaves together studies of narratives – from folklore, travel writing, novels and popular songs – with the insights of poetry and contemporary reflections of Africa on the worldwide web. The chapters test disciplinary and conceptual boundaries, highlighting the ways in which the environmental concerns of African communities cannot be disentangled from social, cultural and political questions.

This volume draws on and will appeal to scholars and teachers of oral tradition and indigenous cultures, literature, religion, sociology and anthropology, environmental and animal studies, as well as media and digital cultures in an African context.

About the editor

Fiona Moolla teaches African Literature at the University of the Western Cape. Her work focuses on the nexus between oral, print and digital cultures, highlighting human, animal, environmental and cosmic relationships.She is the author of Reading Nuruddin Farah: The Individual, the Novel and the Idea of Home.

Foreword Byron Caminero-Santangelo

Chapter 1: “Here is some baobab leaf!”: Sunjata, foodways and biopiracy Jonathan Bishop Highfield

Chapter 2: Shona as a land-based nature-culture: A study of the (re)construction of Shona land mythology in popular songs Mickias Musiyiwa

Chapter 3: The environment as signifi cant Other: The green nature of Shona indigenous religion Jacob Mapara

Chapter 4: Animal praise poetry and the Samburu desire to survive James Maina Wachira

Chapter 5: Voluntourism paradoxes: Strategic visual tropes of the natural on South African voluntourism websites Reinier JM Vriend

Chapter 6: Toward ecocriticism in Africa: Literary aesthetics in African environmental literature Chengyi Coral Wu

Chapter 7: Critical intersections: Ecocriticism, globalised cities and African narrative, with a focus on K Sello Duiker’s Thirteen Cents Antony Vital

Chapter 8: Navigating Gariep country: Writing nature and culture in Borderline by William Dicey Mathilda Slabbert

Chapter 9: Negotiating identity in a vanishing geography: Home, environment and displacement in Helon Habila’s Oil on Water Ogaga Okuyade

Chapter 10: Animal narrators in Patrice Nganang’s Dog Days: An Animal Chronicle and Alain Mabanckou’s Memoirs of a Porcupine Wendy Woodward

Chapter 11: Nature, animism and humanity in Anglophone Nigerian poetry Sule Egya

Chapter 12: Animals, nostalgia, and Zimbabwe’s rural landscape in the poetry of Chenjerai Hove and Musaemura Zimunya Syned Mthatiwa

About the authors
Acknowledgements
Notes

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Benedict Wallet Vilakazi – the ‘Father of Nguni Literature’ – honoured with Order of Ikhamanga

The late Zulu poet, novelist and linguist Benedict Wallet Vilakazi will be honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga today.

The National Orders Awards are awarded annually to those who have “played a momentous role towards building a free democratic South Africa and who also have made a significant impact on improving the lives of South Africans in various ways”.

Vilakazi and Marguerite Poland are the two writers who will be receiving the Order of Ikhamanga this year, an award that recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.

Wits University Press published Vilakazi’s first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (Zulu Horizons) – the poetry ever published in isiZulu – and a subsequent volume Amal’eZulu, as well as the first Zulu-English Dictionary, which Vilakazi compiled in collaboration with CM Doke.

Find out more, from Wits Press:

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi has been called the “Father of Nguni Literature”. He was born on 6 January, 1906 at Groutville Mission Station near Stanger in KwaZulu-Natal. The poet grew up in the neighbourhood of the mission station and in 1912 entered the primary school at Groutville, remaining there until he reached Standard 4. He continued his schooling at Marianhill, the Roman Catholic Monastery outside Durban, and after reaching standard 6, took a teacher’s training course.

Vilakazi’s gifts and ambitions came to the fore when he attended the Catholic Seminary at Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, where he devoted much of his spare time to distance education. He succeeded in matriculating, after which he taught at the Ohlange Institute in Phoenix near Durban. In 1934 he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in African Studies. At the time, Vilakazi was already known to academics at the University of the Witwatersrand, which was in the process of publishing his first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (tr: Zulu Horizons). This was the first book of poems ever published in isiZulu; it also marked the launch of the newly established Bantu (later: African) Treasury Series (published by Wits University Press), a collection of 20 classic works written between 1935 and the 1987 in African indigenous languages.

Coincidentally, the University was looking for an assistant in its Bantu Studies Department (now the Department of African Languages). At the insistence of CM Doke, at the time Head of Department, Vilakazi was appointed as Language Assistant in 1935. This appointment made him the first black African in the then Union of South Africa to teach at a white university, and it sparked a controversy: treated with suspicion by conservative whites, it was also seen as a “collaborationist appointment” (1) by some in the black political elite.

Vilakazi continued his own studies and, in 1938, was awarded a Master of Arts degree. In 1946 he reached another milestone by becoming the first black African in South Africa to receive a Doctorate in Literature (D Litt.) from Wits for his thesis The Oral and Written Literature in Nguni.

When Vilakazi entered the literary field, there were no published books of plays or poems written in isiZulu, and from 1930 onwards for 10 years, Vilakazi, HIE and RRR Dhlomo dominated the literary scene. Amal’eZulu (Wits University Press), published in 1945, was later recognized as one the best 100 African books of the twentieth century. Vilakazi also published three novels, Noma Nini! (Marianhill Mission Press), Udingiswayo KaJobe (Sheldon Press) and Nje Nempela (Marianhill Mission Press). In collaboration with Doke, he compiled the first Zulu-English Dictionary (Wits University Press). Writing in 1995, Dumisani Ntshangase asserted that Vilakazi and Doke:

produced the first major lexicographical work in an African language and this dictionary even today stands as the most successful and comprehensive project in African Languages lexicography in South Africa. (2)

In his writings, Vilakazi thought of himself as a spokesperson for his people and he identified with the struggles, fears, sacrifices and aspirations of his people. However, because of the bias towards African literature written in English – a bias that dominated academic discourse as well as debates within the resistance movement of the time – “his works have always been put in the periphery of the African intellectual history.” (3)

Vilakazi died suddenly of meningitis at Coronation Hospital at the age of 41 on 26 October, 1947, survived by five children. He was undoubtedly the most outstanding figure in Zulu literature of his time, and his funeral in Marianhill was attended by thousands of people.

References:

1. Dumisani Kruschchev Ntshangase, Between the Lion and the Devil: The Life and Works of BW Vilakazi, 1906-1947. Paper presented for the Institute for Advanced Social Research, University of Witwatersrand 1995. Page 3.
2. Ntshangase 1995, page 2.
3. Ntshangase 1995, page 1.


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Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt wins British Sociological Association Ethnography Award

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border FarmsCongratulations to Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt, winner of the 2016 BBC Thinking Allowed/British Sociological Association Ethnography Award for his book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.

Thinking Allowed in association with the British Sociological Association offers the annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography: the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or sub-culture.

Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms, explores uncertainty in a post-apartheid South Africa. During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for work as farm labourers. Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependents, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa’s agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform.

Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope, said about Bolt’s book: “In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. Ever alert to the counterintuitive, he shows how stability is fashioned in the midst of the unstable, and how work organises life in a time of mass unemployment. The monograph sheds light on new and important social processes. It is a significant achievement.”

Bolt is a Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham and a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand. His doctoral thesis, on whose research this monograph draws, was awarded runner-up in the biennial Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK.

Listen to an interview with Bolt talking to Laurie Taylor on the BBC (The interview starts at 10:36 minutes in):

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Don’t miss the launch of Dorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship by Jill Weintroub at Kalk Bay Books

Dorothea Bleek: A Life of ScholarshipWits University Press and Kalk Bay Books invite you to the launch of Jill Weintroub’s new book Dorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship.

Dorothea Bleek was an adventurer and researcher travelling across southern Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Driven by intellectual curiosity she was a rock art researcher of note who continued and affirmed the legacy of her father and aunt’s research, known as the Bleek and Lloyd Collection, on the ǀXam bushmen.

When she started her research, biographer Jill Weintroub found a great silence around Dorothea. Why had so little been said or written about her? Why was she the one labelled as “racist” while Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek were celebrated as liberal thinkers ahead of their time? Was there nothing more that could be said about Dorothea’s life?

Join Weintroub and Michael Wessels, author of Bushman Letters and Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of the Western Cape, at Kalk Bay Books where they will discuss how researchers navigate the complex legacies of their subjects.

Miss Bleek has been engaged for some time in compiling a dictionary in five languages, all Khoi-San dialects. When she speaks in these tongues it sounds like high-powered knitting needles on low throttle, just clicking over.

- Dorothea Bleek being introduced in a column in the Cape Times, 26, April 1946, announcing a talk on rock art reproductions she was to present

Event Details

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Don’t miss a panel discussion on student politics and the reconfiguration of the Left with Mbuyiseni Ndlozi

Invitation to the launch of New South African Review 5: Beyond Marikana

 
New South African Review 5: Beyond MarikanaWits University Press invites you to a panel discussion around the new publication New South African Review 5 – Beyond Marikana: Student politics and the reconfiguration of the Left edited by Devan Pillay, Gilbert M Khadiagala, Prishani Naidoo and Roger Southall.

Contributors Prishani Naidoo (Sociology, Wits) and Noor Nieftagodien (History Workshop, Wits) will be in discussion with EFF National Spokesperson and Member of Parliament Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

Not to be missed!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 10 March 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Graduate Seminar Room
    South West Engineering Building
    East Campus
    Wits University
    Braamfontein
    Johannesburg (Parking at Origins Centre, Yale Road) | Map
  • Discussant: Mbuyiseni Ndlozi
  • RSVP: Wits Press, info.witspress@wits.ac.za

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The sound of traditional African music bows kept alive in the Dave Dargie Collection at Rhodes

Musical Instruments of the Indigenous People of South AfricaSouthern Africa is famed for its proliferation of historical musical instruments, with one of the most significant being the music bow, a single-string instruments most likely adapted from the hunting bow.

Playing these instruments is a dying art. One of the last people to master such a bow – specifically the Zulu ugubhu bow – was Princess Magogo, the mother of Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

And the man responsible for recording the very last recording of the ugubhu bow was Dave Dargie.

 

Dargie is now professor of music at the University of Fort Hare, but he began collecting, recording and documenting African musical instruments at Rhodes University in the 1970s.

The following video was recorded by Dargie:

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Dargie’s collection is now housed at the International Library of African Music at Rhodes, which was created by Hugh Tracey in 1954.

For more information on the subject, see the new edition of Percival Kirby’s definitive work, Musical Instruments of the Indigenous People of South Africa, with an introduction by Mike Nixon:

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‘From the age of iron to the digital age’ – Achille Mbembe chats about African Futures

 

On the PostcolonyAchille Mbembe chatted to Okayafrica ahead of his appearance at the Goethe-Institut’s African Futures festival in Johannesburg.

Mbembe is a philosopher, political scientist and public intellectual based at WiSER, and the author of On the Postcolonyrecently rereleased in a new edition by Wits University Press.

Mbembe spoke about the digital revolution that is taking place in Africa, especially among young people.

Read the interview:

Damola Durosomo for Okayafrica: What excites you about the future of the continent?

Achille Mbembe: Okay, first of all, one thing that excites me about the state of the continent today is the extent to which it has leapfrogged a series of steps other societies have had to follow in terms of their technological development. Most regions of the continent today – with the rapid expansion of mobile telephony- are moving free from the age of iron to the digital age.

This goes hand in hand with an explosion of forms of knowledge, some of which borrow from traditional knowledges, and others, from high-end technologies found in the rest of the world. That acceleration seems to me to be the main philosophical and political question, as well as economic question, that we have to put at the center of any discussion on knowledge production today.

Related links:

 

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An important new book on the political, economic and social effects of Marikana: New South African Review 5

The latest volume of the New South Africa Review is a testimony to how this series has established itself as an important touchstone for informed debate about South Africa’s volatile present; poised between the country’s full-fledged recolonisation by global capital, on the one hand, and attempts to revitalise resistance and a fresh struggle for a more meaningful liberation, on the other.

- John S Saul, author of A Flawed Freedom: Rethinking Southern African Liberation

New South African Review 5New South African Review 5: Beyond Marikana, edited by Devan Pillay, Gilbert M Khadiagala, Prishani Naidoo and Roger Southall, takes as its starting point the shockwave emanating from the events at Marikana on 16 August 2012 and how it has reverberated throughout politics and society:

Some of the chapters in the volume refer directly to Marikana. In others, the influence of that fateful day is pervasive if not direct. Marikana has, for instance, made us look differently at the police and at how order is imposed on society. Monique Marks and David Bruce write that the massacre “has come to hold a central place in the analysis of policing, and broader political events since 2012 …”

The chapters highlight a range of current concerns – political, economic and social. David Dickinson’s chapter looks at the life of the poor in a township from within. In contrast, the chapter on foreign policy by Garth le Pere analyses South Africa’s approach to international relations in the Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma eras. Anthony Turton’s account, “When gold mining ends”, is a chilling forecast of an impending environmental catastrophe. Both Devan Pillay and Noor Nieftagodien focus attention on the left and, in different ways, ascribe its rise to a new politics in the wake of Marikana.

The essays in Beyond Marikana present a range of topics and perspectives of interest to general readers, but the book will also be a useful work of reference for students and researchers.

CONTENTS
Introduction by Prishani Naidoo
PART 1: NEW POLITICAL DIRECTIONS?

1 Post-Marikana Reconstituting and Re-imagining the Left: Prospects and Challenges by Noor Nieftagodien
2 Labour and Community Struggles in Post-apartheid South Africa by Marcel Paret
3 The Numsa Moments and the Prospects of Left Re-vitalisation in South Africa by Devan Pillay
PART 2: ECONOMY, ECOLOGY AND LABOUR
4 The South African Economy by Samantha Ashman
5 Between a Rock and a Hard Place: State-business Relations in the South African Mining Sector by Ross Harvey
6 From Wiehahn to Marikana: The Platinum Belt Strike Wave and the Breakdown in Institutionalisation of
Industrial Conflict by Crispen Chinguno
7 Pulling a Rabbit from the Proverbial Hat: Dealing with Johannesburg’s Slow Onset Uranium Disaster
by Anthony Turton
PART 3: THE STATE AND SOCIETY
8 Constitutionalism in South Africa: An ‘Unqualified Human Good’? by Pierre de Vos
9 People’s Parliament? Do Citizens Influence South Africa’s Legislatures? by Samantha Waterhouse
10 Corruption in South Africa: Perceptions and Trends by Ivor Sarakinsky
11 Groundhog Day? Public Order Policing Twenty Years into Democracy by Monique Marks and David Bruce
12 ‘In December We Are Rich, in January We Are Poor’: Consumption, Saving, Stealing and Insecurity in the Kasi by David Dickinson
PART 4: SA IN THE INTERNATIONAL ARENA
13 The Evolution of South Africa’s Foreign Policy: A Thematic Essay by Garth le Pere
14 South Africa, the BRICS and Human Rights: In Bad Company? by Karen Smith
15 Trading with the Frienemy: How South Africa Depends on African Trade by Rod Alence

Book details

New South African ReviewNew South African Review 2New South African Review 3New South African Review 4
  • New South African Review: 2010: Development or Decline? edited by John Daniel, Prishani Naidoo, Devan Pillay, Roger Southall
    EAN: 9781868145164
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A fascinating new insight into the Bleek and Lloyd archive in Dorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship

Dorothea BleekWits Press is proud to present Jill Weintroub’s investigative biography of an important South African researcher and scholar, Dorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship:

Dorothea Bleek (1873 to 1948) devoted her life to completing the ‘bushman researches’ that her father and aunt had begun in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. This research was partly a labour of familial loyalty to Wilhelm, the acclaimed linguist and language scholar of nineteenth-century Germany and later of the Cape Colony, and to Lucy Lloyd, a self-taught linguist and scholar of bushman languages and folklore; but it was also an expression of Dorothea’s commitment to a particular kind of scholarship and an intellectual milieu that saw her spending her entire adult life in the study of the people she called ‘bushmen’.

How has history treated Dorothea Bleek? Has she been recognised as a scholar in her own right, or as someone who merely followed in the footsteps of her famous father and aunt? Was she an adventurer, a woman who travelled across southern Africa driven by intellectual curiosity to learn all she could about the bushmen? Or was she conservative, a researcher who belittled the people she studied and
dismissed them as lazy and improvident? These are some of the questions with which Jill Weintroub starts her thoughtful biography of Dorothea Bleek.

The book examines Dorothea 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. The compelling and surprising narrative 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.

The book makes for fascinating reading. It eschews academic jargon, reads well and will be of interest to a general educated readership. – Michael Wessels, author of Bushman Letters: Interpreting /Xam Narratives (2010)

A magnificent contribution to the broader understanding of the Bleek and Lloyd archive, both in so far as Dorothea’s own work is a part of it, and as she shepherded her father and her aunt’s work into the future in which it has become so valued. – Pippa Skotnes, artist, curator and author of Claim to the Country: The archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek (2007)

About the author

Dr Jill Weintroub has spent the past decade focusing on the biography and scholarship of Dorothea Bleek. She is Research Fellow at the Rock Art Research Institute at Wits University.

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Don’t miss the Wits Origins Centre talk on Climate Change by Mary Scholes, Mike Lucas and Robert Scholes

Climate Change: Briefings from Southern AfricaWits University Press and the Origins Centre invite you to a public lecture on climate change with Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa co-authors Mary Scholes, Mike Lucas and Robert Scholes.

The lecture will focus on the projected impacts of human-caused climate change on South Africa, and how we may be affected by the greenhouse gas reduction agreement reached in Paris in December 2015.

This lecture accompanies the book, published by Wits University Press, and the current exhibition at the Origins Centre.

The lecture takes place on Tuesday, 2 February at 6 for 6:30 PM. Tickets cost R60 for adults, R48 for Wits staff and R30 for students and can be purchased on Webtickets.

Question you can expect to be answered include:

How hot will it get?
Will South Africa run out of water?
Are South Africa’s birds taking flight?
Do cow-farts really cause global warming?
Can solar and wind power meet our energy needs?
How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

See you there!
 

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