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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Gabeba Baderoon: Slavery is the Root Cause of South Africa’s Sexual Violence

Regarding MuslimsGabeba Baderoon elucidated the complex questions tackled in her book, Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid.

The book developed from Baderoon’s doctoral thesis, and she says the ideas “percolated” in her mind for a long while. She says Regarding Muslims emphasises and explores the centrality of slavery and slave culture in the formation of South Africa, an area she believes is neglected in academia, as well as the origins and developement of the “Cape Malay” people.

“What I argue is that our sense of our national beginnings and what counts as national can’t be provincial, so it can’t only be about Gauteng. We must be able to, for instance, think about how our longer colonial history included KZN and the Eastern Cape and also the Western Cape, which is profoundly influenced by slavery.

“So, part of what this book is trying to say is, ‘we can’t underplay that part of history in thinking of ourselves generally as South Africans because unless we understand that history better we won’t know why someone for instance thinks of coloured people in terms of a particular tone of pathos’.

“Where does that come from? It comes from the lens of slavery,” is her theory. “If you’re thinking about the epidemic of sexual violence we’re experiencing today (in the country), it goes back to slavery,” is another contention.

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Podcast: Ben Cousins Says Land Reform Policies Should Improve People’s Lives

In the Shadow of PolicyEditor of In the Shadow of Policy and director of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape Professor Ben Cousins speaks about the issues surrounding land reform policies in South Africa.

In an conversation with SAfm’s The Forum@Eight presenter Sakina Kamwendo, Cousins talks about how the 1913 Land Act prohibited black people from owning land, adding that it is important for South Africans to understand how we got to where we are today.

However, he says, the past doesn’t help resolve the question of how we can use land to reduce poverty in this country, to create jobs and wealth, while at the same time not jeopardising food security.

Listen to the podcast:

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Join the Editors of the New South African Review 4 for the Launch at Wits

New South African Review 4 Launch


New South African Review 4Wits University Press invites you to the book launch of New South African Review 4 edited by Devan Pillay, Gilbert M Khadiagala, Prishani Naidoo and Roger Southall.

The launch will take place in the Graduate Seminar Room on the East Campus at Witwatersrand University on Wednesday, 27 August at 5:30 for 6:00 PM.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 27 August 2014
  • Time: 5:30 for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Graduate Seminar Room,
    South West Engineering Building,
    East Campus,
    Wits University,
    1 Jan Smuts Avenue,
    Braamfontein | Map
  • RSVP:

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Adekeye Adebajo Asks: Why Do South Africans Still Honour Cecil John Rhodes?

The EU and AfricaAdekeye Adebajo, editor of The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europa and executive director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, says despite Cecil John Rhodes’s bloody legacy he is still honoured across South Africa.

In a column for Business Day entitled “Land-grabber Rhodes still honoured all over SA”, Adebayo recounts the atrocities done by Rhodes and his lieutenant, Leander Jameson, in the pursuit of wealth and power.

He interrogates the connection between Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town, and the way these institutions navigate their role in modern society in light of their problematic beginnings.

Adebayo questions his own connection to Rhodes:

After I won Nigeria’s single Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in 1990, an alarmed uncle exclaimed: “That thing is dripping with blood!” My thoughts at the time were more practical: to get a world-class education, and if the money of a robber baron was used, then at least a slice of the treasure was returning to the continent. I would accept even the crumbs from the imperialist’s feast.

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Caroline Wanjiku Kihato Describes the Challenges of Autobiographical Social Studies

Migrant Women of JohannesburgIn an article for Cityscapes, Caroline Wanjiku Kihato writes about the questions and challenges she faced in writing her debut book, Migrant Women of Johannesburg: Life in an in-between city.

The work began as Kihato’s PhD thesis, but developed into a book in what became a nine-year project. Kihato, who came to South Africa as a migrant woman herself in 1994, after searching for a job on the streets of Nairobi for over a year, says her proximity to the project of Migrant Women of Johannesburg caused her to address some complex issues:

In many ways my new book, Migrant Women of Johannesburg: Life in an in-between city, bears echoes of my own journey to South Africa from Kenya. The book follows the lives of various women from Rwanda, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Burundi, who now live in Johannesburg. Drawing on their stories of love, illness, fear, children, violence, family and money, the book explores these women’s relationships with their host and home communities. It unavoidably includes thoughts on the South African state, economy and the country’s largest city, Johannesburg. Some social scientists will tell you that their first major work was “kind of” autobiographical, that it was on a subject that they could own, knew something about and felt confident in telling the story. But a researcher’s close biographical proximity to written work does raise questions around its “truth”, its capacity to reveal what is really going on, unencumbered by personal feelings and experiences. Is it good social science if the author is so close to the subject matter? How “objective” is the research if the author forms personal bonds with her informants? How useful is the work in providing “scientific” insights?

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Caroline Wanjiku Kihato Explores the Inner Lives of Migrant Women of Johannesburg

Migrant Women of JohannesburgCaroline Wanjiku Kihato, author of Migrant Women of Johannesburg: Life in an In-between City, spoke to The Mail & Guardian about the stories of the African migrant women she observed to explore “the experience of living between geographies”.

Louise Ferreira visited Kihato at her Killarney apartment where they chatted about the strangeness of the city of Johannesburg, and the everyday experiences as lived by women in the “betwixt and between”.

Despite her 20 years in Jozi, Kihato’s voice still carries the lilt of her Kenyan upbringing. “Where do you come from?” is a central question of her work and the opening line of the book’s preface. A first-generation urbanite, she was born in Nairobi in 1971 but, at large get-togethers, the only right answer for her would be the name of her paternal grandparents’ village. The name of her maternal grandparents’ village would be gently corrected.

So not Nairobi? No.

For Kihato, this notion of erasure, particularly of urban life, is crucial.

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Excerpt: Jacob Dlamini on the Migrant Labour System in A Long Way Home

A Long Way HomeA Long Way Home: Migrant Worker Worlds 1800 – 2014, edited by Peter Delius, Fiona Rankin-Smith and Laura Phillips, captures essays and visual material reflecting the hardships and realities of migrant labour in Southern Africa.

The Con has shared Jacob Dlamini’s contribution to this book in which he explores the case of an unnamed African
 man from Mozambique who was killed, and eaten by hyenas, in the Sabi Game Reserve in September 1920, as a way of commenting on the migrant labour system.

Read Dlamini’s contribution:

Sometime in September 1920, an unnamed African
 from Mozambique was killed and his corpse eaten by hyenas inside the Sabi Game Reserve. According to the findings of a government investigation launched by CL Harries, the Sub-Native Commissioner for Sibasa, the African was part of a group of labour recruits travelling from a place called Mpafula on the Portuguese side
of the border to Punda Maria, in the northern section
of the reserve. The group, which included the man’s
son, was led by Mafuta Sitoye and Longone Makuleke, ‘native runners’ for the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association. Popularly known as Wenela, the association was a labour recruitment agency founded in 1900 by the Chamber of Mines to help the mining industry meet its needs. The runners’ job was to accompany recruits from the Portuguese territory through the reserve to a pick- up point in the northern section of the sanctuary, from where the workers would be sent by donkey wagons, trucks and trains to mines in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

Book details

  • A Long Way Home: Migrant Worker Worlds 1800 – 2014 edited by Peter Delius, Fiona Rankin-Smith and Laura Phillips
    EAN: 9871868147670
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Join Gabeba Baderoon for the Launch of Regarding Muslims at Kalk Bay Books

Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheidWits University Press and Kalk Bay Books invite you to the launch of Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid by Gabeba Baderoon.

Gabeba will be in conversation with Imraan Coovadia.

There will be juice and snacks, but please note that no alcohol will be served at this event.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 12 August 2014
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Kalk Bay Books
    124 Main Road
    Kalk Bay | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Imraan Coovadia
  • Refreshments: Refreshments will be served
  • RSVP:, 021 788 2266

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Gabeba Baderoon’s Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post Apartheid Launched at The Book Lounge

Launch of Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post Apartheid

Regarding MuslimsA chilly Monday evening did not affect the turn out at The Book Lounge for the launch of Gabeba Baderoon’s book, Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid. The room was filled with people eagerly anticipating the talk.

The Book Lounge owner Mervyn Sloman introduced the author, poet and academic and recounted his fond memory of their first meeting, “I met Gabeba in Kalk Bay and I was struck by her intelligence.” She was joined by poet Rustum Kozain and Desiree Lewis, head of Women and Gender Studies at the University of the Western Cape. Although there were many attendees, it felt as if you were sitting around with old friends, sharing ideas and experiences.

Baderoon shared her motivation for her book by demonstrating that Muslims and Islam were part of the history of slavery. “The book looks at the way that Islam in the bodies of Muslims entered South Africa and that happened during the period of colonialism and particularly during the period of slavery. The fact that 176 years of slavery has receded in our imagination as part of the national story is something that this book tries to address.”

While working on this book, which she explained took her many years to do, Baderoon had to address many matters commonly associated with being Muslim or Cape Malay. “For me it has been necessary to attend to those histories that recede behind the over-familiar but under-discussed images.” The motif of this book is her willingness to explore, analyse and almost disrupt the archive of images we have become so familiar with – images of race, slavery and sexual violence.

Lewis had many attendees nodding in agreement as she commented that “The power of this book is just the way you [Baderoon] unravel the complexity of the language of race.”

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Muneeba Boltman tweeted from the event using #livebooks


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Adam Habib: South Africa is Reaching a Moment of Reckoning (Podcast)

South Africa's Suspended RevolutionRewolusie op ysInguqukombuso YeNingizimu Afrika Eyabondwa YashiywaNtwa ya Boitseko e Fanyehuweng ya Afrika Borwa

During this year’s Grahamstown Think!Fest Adam Habib took stock of “20 years of democracy and the skewed relationship between economic growth and inequality in South Africa”, writes Anthea Garman, who shared a podcast of Habib’s discussion.

Habib stresses that South Africa is reaching a moment of reckoning and asks, “What is this reckoning about? What do we do to get out of the mess we are in?” He notes that he elaborates on this issue in his latest book, South Africa’s Suspended Revolution.

Listen to the podcast for Habib’s proposal on how to address inequality, rising anger and protests and the problematic state of education in this country:

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