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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

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, info.witspress@wits.ac.za

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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: info.witspress@wits.ac.za

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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

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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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Wits University Press pays tribute to Martin Legassick

Hamba Kahle Martin Legassick (1940 – 2016)

It is never pleasant to receive news of an author’s passing; the fact that his book is still in its final stages of completion makes it even less so. Hidden Histories of Gordonia: Land dispossession and resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800 – 1990 is without a doubt Martin Legassick’s “magnum opus”, to borrow the description used by historians Neil Parsons and Robert Ross.

The book will be published in May 2016. It is a great sadness that Martin will not get to hold a physical copy in his hands. He worked on it, between all the other writing, peer reviewing, activism and lectures, for close on 25 years, and we hope it’s a book he would have been proud of.

Martin 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.

While working with Wits University Press on this manuscript, he did not mention his illness. He cooperated with Karen Press on getting the manuscript polished and ready for publication. He remained committed throughout the process to ensure a work of profound quality, even when some of our queries tested his patience!

When we shared the book cover with him, his spirits lifted. He wrote: “It is fantastic, much superior to anything I could have expected”.

Covers always test the author/publisher relationship and his approval and delight are even more poignant in this moment. At least he could imagine the book as a tangible object and we’d like to think it brought him joy during a time of physical pain.

Martin contributed chapters to many Wits Press publications and peer reviewed a number of manuscripts. He was a tough but fair reviewer – much like he was in life. The scholarly community has lost a gem.

It is a great pity that he missed seeing the publication by two short months, but we believe it will stand as a testimony to the intellectual legacy he has left behind.

Rest in peace, Martin Legassick.

Hidden HistoriesHidden Histories of Gordonia: Land dispossession and resistance in the Northern Cape, 1800 – 1990 will be published in May 2016 by Wits University Press.


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