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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Join Achille Mbembe for a Public Dialogue on the Role of Parks in African Cities at the Joburg Zoo

Invitation to a Public Dialogue

On the PostcolonyWits University Press invites you to the JCPZ Public Dialogue with Achille Mbembe, author of On the Postcolony.

The conversation will centre around the theme, “Rethinking the role of parks as platforms for building a common African-ness”. Mbembe will be in conversation with Ayanda Roji and Nqobile Malaza on Wednesday, 5 August, from 6 to 8 PM. The event will take place at the Johannesburg Zoo in the Anglo Ashanti Conference Centre.

The speakers will discuss perspectives on the use, enjoyment and significance of public spaces in contemporary African cities.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

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Join Achille Mbembe for the Launch of On the Postcolony at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of On The Postcolony

On the PostcolonyWits Press and The Book Lounge take great pleasure in inviting you to the launch of the first African edition of Achille Mbembe’s ground-breaking book, On the Postcolony.

The author, who is a philosopher and political scientist based at WiSER, will be in conversation with cultural analyst Ashraf Jamal and Ntone Edjabe, founding editor of Chimurenga, on Thursday, 6 August. The event starts at 5:30 for 6 PM.

In On the Postcolony Mbembe presents a series of provocative essays in which he contests die-hard Africanist and nativist perspectives as well as some of the key assumptions of postcolonial theory.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 6 August 2015
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge,
    71 Roeland Street
    Corner of Buitenkant and Roeland Streets
    Cape Town | Map
  • Speakers: Ashraf Jamal and Ntone Edjabe
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2425


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“In the Hands of Lewis Gordon, What Fanon Said Becomes what Frantz Fanon Says to Us Today” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o

What Fanon SaidWits Press is proud to present an important new book by Lewis Gordon, What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to his Life and Thought:

Antiblack racism avows reason is white while emotion, and thus supposedly unreason, is black. Challenging academic adherence to this notion, Lewis R Gordon offers a portrait of Martinican-turned-Algerian revolutionary psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon as an exemplar of “living thought” against forms of reason marked by colonialism and racism.

Fanon was a political radical concerned with the human, social, and cultural consequences of decolonization. He is best known for his books The Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks. Working from his own translations of the original French texts, Gordon critically engages everything in Fanon from dialectics, ethics, existentialism, and humanism to philosophical anthropology, phenomenology, and political theory as well as psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

Gordon takes into account scholars from across the Global South to address controversies around Fanon’s writings on gender and sexuality as well as political violence and the social underclass. In doing so, he confronts the replication of a colonial and racist geography of reason, allowing theorists from the Global South to emerge as interlocutors alongside northern ones in a move that exemplifies what, Gordon argues, Fanon represented in his plea to establish newer and healthier human relationships beyond colonial paradigms.

“In the hands of Lewis Gordon, What Fanon Said becomes what Frantz Fanon says to us today. The book brings alive the revolutionary thought and practice of Fanon into the continuing struggles for structural economic, political, social and psychic transformations of our world. The struggle against anti-black racism is an integral part of it and Gordon’s Fanon is the many-sided thinker who saw it all and gave it words of fire.” — Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Author of Wizard of the Crow

“Gordon allows us to read Fanon in new and different ways, contextualizing his thought in a wide arc of knowledge—from St. Augustine and traditional Akan philosophy to contemporaries such as De Beauvoir, Sartre, and Senghor, to more recent continental philosophers. Along the way, Gordon incorporates relevant debates from contemporary theoretical movements such as critical race theory. What Fanon Said is a provocative and illuminating study.” — Abdul R Jan Mohamed, University of California


Preface, with Acknowledgments
Foreword by Sonia Dayan-Hezbrun
Introduction On What a Great Thinker Said
Chapter 1 “I Am from Martinique”
Chapter 2 Writing through the Zone of Nonbeing
Chapter 3 Living Experience
Chapter 4 Revolutionary Therapy
Chapter 5 Counseling the Damned
Conclusion Requiem for the Messenger
Afterword by Drucilla Cornell

About the author

Lewis R Gordon is Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut, Storrs; European Union Visiting Chair in Philosophy at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France; and Nelson Mandela Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rhodes University, South Africa. His books include Existentia Africana; Disciplinary Decadence; An Introduction to Africana Philosophy; and, with Jane Anna Gordon, Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age.

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Meet the Wits University Press Authors at the 2015 South African Book Fair

Wits University Press is taking part in the 2015 South African Book Fair, this year taking place for the first time in Johannesburg at Turbine Hall in Newtown.

Starting today (Friday, 31 July) and running until Sunday, 2 August, the fair is open to the general public.

This is the Fair for Readers! Don’t miss it!!

With a programme of more than 100 authors participating, 44 new small publishers, seven publishers from across the continent, a dedicated Kid’s Zone, and a whole day devoted to learners, teachers and librarians, this Fair promises to offer something for everyone.

What is on the programme?

How much?

SA Book Fair entry tickets are R50 each and R30 for students and pensioners. Author events are separately priced.

How to book?

To book tickets please visit Tickets also available at the door.

Where is Turbine Hall?

  • Venue: 65 Ntemi Piliso Street
    Johannesburg | Map


Parking is FREE and can be accessed from Ntemi Piliso Street, Newtown.

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The Arrogance of PowerOn the PostcolonyWhat Fanon SaidMagema FuzeSouth Africa's Suspended Revolution

Changing Space, Changing CityThe Origins of Non-racialismChanging Space, Changing CityRace, Class and PowerSouth Africa: The Present as HistoryThe ANC Women's League

Meet our Authors event

Join Wits University Press authors for a coffee on Saturday 1 August 2015 at 11:30-13:00 at Stand GH 3 (Glass House –The Forum, Turbine Hall).

Some of the Wits University Press authors taking part in the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival programme are: Xolela Mangcu, Achille Mbembe, Hlonipha Mokoena, Lewis R Gordon, Adam Habib, Rashid Seedat, David Everatt, Philip Harrison, Steven Friedman, Patrick Bond, Shireen Hassim, John Saul.

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Does Mcebo Dlamini Have a Point About Transformation at Wits? Yes and No – Adam Habib (Podcast)

South Africa's Suspended RevolutionRewolusie op ysNtwa ya Boitseko e Fanyehuweng ya Afrika BorwaInguqukombuso YeNingizimu Afrika Eyabondwa Yashiywa

Does Mcebo Dlamini, the former SRC President at Wits University who expressed his love for German leader Adolf Hitler on social media, have a point?

This question was put to the Vice-Chancellor of Wits, Professor Adam Habib, on Power FM, shortly after the news broke that no action would be taken against Dlamini for his views, which were ruled to constitute freedom of speech.

In the podcast, Habib says the answer depends on what Dlamini is talking about. If the issue that is being raised is that transformation hasn’t happened yet, Habib is happy to respond to that. “I think that part of what he says is accurate, what he’s saying is that we haven’t done enough on transformation, I think that that’s true.”

However if Dlamini is saying that “Wits is anti-black”, that is not a statement Habib can agree with. Habib tells an anecdote of when he was a student at Wits and his experience of racism in 1987. A lecturer told him that Wits was not the place for him, and he should rather join a university in Durban. “That was 35 years ago. Now, that no longer happens,” Habib says.

“Has Wits been racist in its past? Absolutely! Do we need to do more? Absolutely. But let’s talk about real issues.”

Listen to the podcast:

Related links:


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Join Ilana van Wyk for the Launch of A Church of Strangers at UCT

A Church of Strangers: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South AfricaIlana van Wyk will be launching her book A Church of Strangers: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa at the University of Cape Town in August.

The launch, which is being hosted by HUMA, will be on Wednesday, 19 August, from 1 to 2:30 PM. Van Wyk will be speaking about her book, which is the culmination of her anthropological research on new forms of Christianity and the intersection of money and religion.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 19 August 2015
  • Time: 1 PM to 2:30 PM
  • Venue: HUMA Seminar Room
    4th Floor, The Neville Alexander Building (formerly known as the Humanities Building)
    University Avenue South
    UCT Upper Campus | Map
  • More information: HUMA,, 021 650 4592

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Drums, Rattles and Mbiras at the Launch of Musical Instruments of the Indigenous People of South Africa

Mbiras from the Kirby CollectionPercussion instruments from the Kirby Collection

The launch of the third edition of the iconic Musical Instruments of the Indigenous People of South Africa by Percival Kirby was a tremendous celebration. Leading academics and performing musicians gathered in in the foyer of the Strubenholm Building at the South African College of Music last Friday to discuss the importance of this new edition. Guests were invited to browse through The Kirby Collection, which houses 600 of the utterly remarkable instruments featured in revised edition of this classic text.

Sakhela Buhlungu and Michael NixonMusical Instruments of the Native People of South AfricaThe event formed part of the ninth annual congress of the South African Society for Research in Music, which was attended by students and academics from around the country and abroad.

University of Cape Town Dean of Humanities Sakhela Buhlungu said it was a privilege to celebrate the arrival of the third edition at UCT. He recalled growing up in the Eastern Cape, long after Percival Kirby’s magnum opus, The Musical Instruments of the Native Races of South Africa, was published by Oxford University Press in 1934.

“Already many of the instruments Kirby described had disappeared from sight and use,” he said. By the time of Buhlungu’s birth, industrialisation and urbanisation had lead to the loss of traditional instruments. He recalled the neighbour who played the harp and another who played a guitar made from an oil drum. His uncle was an accordion player, the village entertainer. “We congregated around them, running after them as children.”

He said it was a great honour to be able to see and experience the instruments he had heard of from the old people in his village, to read about them and to acknowledge the timelessness of music. Director of the College of Music Rebekka Sandmeier welcomed the relatives of Percival Kirby, his cousins, grand children and great-grandchildren present in the audience. In particular, she paid tribute to Anthea van Wieringen, Kirby’s granddaughter, who had been instrumental in the ongoing care of his legacy of instruments and archives, as well as in the book’s publication.

Anthea van WieringenAnthea van Wieringen paid tribute to her grandfather who died 45 years ago and shared her recollections. She qualified it by saying that although she remembered him very well her memories were those of a child. “He was short and rotund with a shock of white hair, a very funny man with a tremendous sense of humour and a love of jokes, wordplay and limericks. I remember him as a kindly grandfather who loved to talk,” she said.

She shared the fascinating story of his life and studies, his rich musical life as a flautist and professional timpanist, composer and conductor, and later as a collector. She spoke of the endeavours that drove him to travel around the southern African region in a Model T Ford. Van Wieringen paid tribute to the work done by her mother initially and more recently, those who had been involved in bring the book to life. In particular, she acknowledged Michael Nixon for his “meticulous curation” of the precious and irreplaceable collection of instruments which is now available to researchers.

Michael NixonNixon who serves as the curator of the collection thanked Wits University Press for the vision that enabled the publication. He praised the attractiveness and usefulness of the book in its new format, where the photos now appear right next to the text instead of as images at the back of the book. He also praised the efforts and editorial imagination of Anthea van Wieringen, who wrote the introduction to the book. Nixon wrote a brief foreword.

He noted that people raise questions about the book which required to think of how best to consider it, as an object “of its time” which needed to be read in context. He reflected on the words spoken at the opening of the SASRIM conference by Buhlungu, when he had reflected on the “tricky time” all were experiencing on campus, look at statues and curricula with a tendentious eye.

“Professor Buhlungu was saying that probably the right thing to do with regard to music performance, was to embrace the widest possible range of musics and then to excel. I think we can extend that to intellectual enquiry too, take it all on and do the very best we can,” he said.

Nixon reflected on the challenge of accessing precolonial times, which requires one to pass through the colonial archive. “Studying the heritage laid down in the South African colonial period present a panoply of issues. The colonial archive – and the Kirby Collection and this book form part of this – is marked by a strong taint that for many precludes any engagement with it. In order to work with the content of the colonial archive, it’s necessary to come to terms with this by examining things with a discriminating, critical eye,” said Nixon.

The launch ended with a dazzling performance by musicians from the College of Music’s African Music Unit, Dizu Plaatjies, Esperrinho, Joseph Weinberg and Sibahle Dladla. A series of images from the archives were projected onto a screen behind the artists while they performed, enhancing a sense of the journey taken by African music from pre-urban cultures to the contemporary encounter where pan-African and cross-cultural influences blend and merge in a vibrant, life-affirming and thoroughly entertaining manner.

The rhythm of the drums, the spontaneity and subtlety of the improvisation, the energy of each performer made the contents of this book, which is a national treasure in its own right, come to life in a real, visceral, and deeply felt way.

Rebekka Sandmeier, June Hosford, Andrew Tracey, Anthea van Wieringen, Michael Nixon and Sakhela Buhlungu


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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


Facebook album

by Percival Kirby

Posted by Wits University Press on Monday, 27 July 2015


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Don’t Miss Jyoti Mistry’s Impunity at the Durban International Film Festival

Gaze Regimes: Film and Feminisms in Africa Jyoti Mistry’s film Impunity will be showing at the Durban International Film Festival this weekend.

Mistry is the co-editor of the important new book on African cinema Gaze Regimes: Film and Feminisms in Africa.

Impunity is “a post-apartheid noir thriller, an incisive critique of a “rainbow nation” with a moral compass gone awry” and stars Vaneshran Arumugam, Francis Chouler and Desmond Dube in the leading roles.

Don’t miss it!

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Read the articles for more about the film:

THERE’S a lot of sex, violence and, well, boobs, in Durban-born writer and director Jyoti Mistry’s Impunity.

However, it is the brutal behaviour of the protagonists that powers the story, offering a fly-on-the-wall perspective of life in South Africa. The movie explores the actions of a couple who embark on a sort of Bonnie and Clyde-type killing spree.

After making noise in the Contemporary World Cinema section at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Impunity has found its way to SA… at the 36th Durban International Film Festival.

Shedding light on her very avant-garde approach to storytelling, Mistry shed some light on her vision for this movie.

“This is the South African premiere, and I’m quite excited to be showing it here. I think the audiences’ responses are the ones I am most curious about,” she says.

An exclusive safari lodge, the who’s who of South Africa’s new politically connected elite is gathering to celebrate the engagement party of Zanele Majola, a minister’s daughter, to Lifa Mapufo, a rising political star. An open truck of delighted tourists; the morning game drive makes a grisly discovery. The mauled remains of Zanele’s ravaged corpse in the pristine beauty of the African wilderness. Two young lovers, Derren and Echo, waiters at the safari lodge are brought in for questioning. Their complicity in the Zanele’s murder seems obvious and Dingane Fakude, Special Crimes Unit, arrives to investigate the murder hoping for a swift conviction in order to protect his politically powerful masters. Aiding him in the investigation is the small town cop, Naveed Khan, a self-styled outcast and trained psychologist. But things are not as they appear. What looks like an open and shut case soon leads to a maze of deceit and revenge. In a dramatic standoff which tests the limits of his partnership with Naveed, Dingane must make a choice whether to put aside his political affiliations and save the life of an innocent child, or satisfy his obligations to the puppet masters.


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The “Positively Meteoric Rise” of a Young Black Professional: An Excerpt from Money from Nothing by Deborah James

Money from NothingIn Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and Aspiration in South Africa, Deborah James presents her in-depth investigation of indebtedness in South Africa since 1994.

In the excerpt below, featured in City Press, James writes about her interview with Abigail Mlate. Although the success Mlate has achieved can be attributed in part to the opportunities availed to young black South Africans after the end of apartheid, her family background also played a big role in the senior government worker’s upward mobility.

“Compared to the career trajectory of her own mother,” James says of Mlate, “her own rise was positively meteoric”. But Mlate’s successful career is also in many ways a mirror of her mother’s striving for a better life, and Mlate’s attitude towards wealth and “delayed gratification” is in turn setting her daughter up to make wise decisions.

Read the excerpt:

The new professionals: frugal or fragile?

In the course of my search for those who might be considered as representatives of the new middle class, I find myself sitting in the smartly-apportioned and air-conditioned office of Abigail Mlate, on the 5th floor of an office block in central Pretoria. Our conversation ranges across a variety of topics: her upbringing and education, her family, her plans for her daughter’s future. We also talk about the differences between her mother’s generation and her own. The daughter of a policeman and a schoolteacher, she was raised in a single-parent family by her mother who paid for her education in its entirety. The private school she attended, in one of South Africa’s former bantustans, Bophutatswana, a little way to the north, gave her a good educational grounding and paved the way for her to attend university. For a while she worked in a middle-range job in social welfare, but soon afterwards she did a post-graduate degree, and shortly after that was appointed to a senior position in a government department in Pretoria.

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Gabeba Baderoon: The Legacy of Slavery in South Africa Shapes Our Present

Regarding MuslimsIn an article for The Journalist, titled “Remembering Slavery in South Africa”, Gabeba Baderoon considers the horrendous practice of slavery, which lasted for 176 years in South Africa, and how it is remembered today.

Slavery was implemented violently throughout the country for 176 years, and Baderoon stresses that its legacy still permeates our society.

“As in other parts of the world,” she writes, “South Africa’s history of slavery continues to shape the present in profound ways.”

This subject is central to Baderoon’s book, Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid. She herself is descended from slaves, and the work derives from her PhD thesis, “Oblique Figures: Representations of Islam in South African Media and Culture”.

Read the article:

In fact, for 176 years, slavery was the central form of social and economic organisation in the territories that would form South Africa. People were captured in Mozambique, Madagascar, India and South-East Asia to be brought as slaves to the Cape, the first and largest of the colonies that would form South Africa. Though the Dutch East India Company was forbidden from enslaving indigenous people at the Cape, the latter were subjected to genocide and conditions as brutal as slavery. Over the course of almost two centuries of slave-holding, enslaved people came to constitute the majority of the population of the Cape Colony, numbering more than 60,000 people (Ross, 1999, 6).

Slavery generated foundational notions of race and sex in South Africa, yet we have largely forgotten its role in our history. Our forgetting has now lasted longer than slavery itself.

When will we remember? And what does it mean to remember 176 years of pain and survival.

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