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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

A lively and wide-ranging analysis of postapartheid South African writing: Losing the Plot by Leon de Kock

De Kock has a strong story to tell about writing in the postapartheid era and, more especially, the ‘post-postapartheid’ era, the period in which the high expectations of 1994 and the golden era of the Mandela presidency turned sour. It is detailed, lively, and full of sharp observation.

– Derek Attrridge, professor of English, University of York and co-editor of the Cambridge History of South African Literature

De Kock is concerned both with drawing lines of continuity and mapping trajectories of difference between apartheid and postapartheid fiction … the intervention Losing the Plot makes in the field of South African literary and cultural studies is substantial.

– Harry Garuba, author, poet and Associate Professor at the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town

Losing the PlotIn Losing the Plot: Crime, Reality and Fiction in Postapartheid Writing, well-known scholar and writer Leon de Kock offers a lively and wide-ranging analysis of postapartheid South African writing which, he contends, has morphed into a far more flexible and multifaceted entity than its predecessor:

If postapartheid literature’s founding moment was the “transition” to democracy, writing over the ensuing years has viewed the Mandelan project with increasing doubt. Instead, authors from all quarters are seen to be reporting, in different ways and from divergent points of view, on what is perceived to be a pathological public sphere in which the plot – the mapping and making of social betterment – appears to have been lost.

The compulsion to forensically detect the actual causes of such loss of direction has resulted in the prominence of creative nonfiction. A significant adjunct in the rise of this is the new media, which sets up a “wounded” space within which a “cult of commiseration” compulsively and repeatedly plays out the facts of the day on people’s screens; this, De Kock argues, is reproduced in much postapartheid writing. And, although fictional forms persist in genres such as crime fiction, with their tendency to overplot, more serious fiction underplots, yielding to the imprint of real conditions to determine the narrative construction.

About the author

Leon de Kock is senior research associate in the Department of English at the University of Johannesburg. He is a poet, translator, essayist and occasional writer of fiction. His writing includes the novel Bad Sex (2011); three volumes of poetry: Bloodsong (1997), gone to the edges (2006) and Bodyhood (2010); several works of literary translation; and academic books.

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Don’t miss Thiven Reddy discussing nationalism and the geography of power after apartheid at WiSER

Invitation to the launch of South Africa, Settler Colonialism and the Failures of Liberal Democracy

 
South Africa, Settler Colonialism and the Failures of Liberal DemocracyWiSER and Wits University Press invite you to a book launch and discussion of nationalism and the geography of power after apartheid.

In 2000, Thiven Reddy published Hegemony and Resistance: Contesting Identities in South Africa. His new book, South Africa, Settler Colonialism and the Failures of Liberal Democracy, deepens his earlier critique of conventional approaches to democratisation. In particular, he reinterprets South African political dynamics in reference to two “publics” – the formal constitutional arena of modernist institutions, regular elections, political parties and social rights; and the domains of what he terms “the extraordinary”, that is, the infatuation with threats and actual use of violence, the re-racialisation of identities and the proliferation of various forms of protest.

To debate his hypothesis and to assess the pertinence of his findings in the context of the ongoing shifts and realignment within the South African polity, the author will be in conversation with Achille Mbembe, Research Professor in History and Politics (WiSER), and Zimitri Erasmus, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand. Chaired by Shireen Ally, Associate Professor, Wits Department of Sociology.

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Thiven Reddy examines post-apartheid politics in South Africa, Settler Colonialism and the Failures of Liberal Democracy

South Africa, Settler Colonialism and the Failures of Liberal DemocracyWits University Press is proud to present South Africa, Settler Colonialism and the Failures of Liberal Democracy by Thiven Reddy:

In South Africa, two unmistakable features describe post-apartheid politics. The first is the formal framework of liberal democracy, including regular elections, multiple political parties and a range of progressive social rights. The second is the politics of the “extraordinary”, which includes a political discourse that relies on threats and the use of violence, the crude re-racialisation of numerous conflicts, and protests over various popular grievances.

In this highly original work, Thiven Reddy shows how conventional approaches to understanding democratisation have failed to capture the complexities of South Africa’s post-apartheid transition. Rather, as a product of imperial expansion, the South African state, capitalism and citizen identities have been uniquely shaped by a particular mode of domination, namely settler colonialism.

South Africa, Settler Colonialism and the Failures of Liberal Democracy is an important work that sheds light on the nature of modernity, democracy and the complex politics of contemporary South Africa.

Offers a radical, dissenting and original analysis of contemporary South Africa.

- Colin Bundy, Oxford University (Emeritus)

With impressive theoretical sophistication, Reddy draws upon ideas from a range of theorists and scholars to create a conceptual toolkit for an empirically grounded analysis of contemporary South African politics. This is a book that South African political studies has been waiting for.”

- Harry Garuba, University of Cape Town

Reddy’s book is an important attempt to provide us with a framework for understanding present-day South African politics. Working critically and productively against conventional political science paradigms, this work comes at a crucial junction in the afterlife of apartheid.”

- Anthony Bogues, Brown University

About the author

Thiven Reddy is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town. His previous publications include Hegemony and Resistance: Contesting Identities in South Africa.

Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1. Modernity: Civil Society, Political Society and the Vulnerable
Chapter 2. The Limits of the Conventional Paradigm, Modernity and South African Democracy
Chapter 3. The Fanonian Paradigm, Settler Colonialism and South African Democracy
Chapter 4. The Colonial State and Settler-Colonial Modernism
Chapter 5. Nationalism, ANC and Domination Without Hegemony
Chapter 6. Elites, Masses and Democratic Change
Chapter 7. Crisis of the National Modern: Democracy, the State and ANC Dominance

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Mineworkers gather at Marikana koppie to remember the massacre

The Spirit of MarikanaHundreds of mineworkers and supporters began gathering in Marikana on Tuesday‚ ahead of the fourth commemoration of those who died when a labour protest turned violent on August 16, 2012.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has erected a stage below a koppie near Lonmin’s Marikana mine‚ where 34 people died when police opened fire. 10 others‚ including police officers‚ also died during the labour dispute over a R12 500 minimum wage‚ precipitating events that led to soul-searching over labour laws‚ inequality and the conduct of the police.

Small groups of mineworkers sang as people continued to gather at the site‚ with AMCU arranging music and entertainment ahead of commemorative addresses and messages of support later on Thursday.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa are expected to address the crowd.

The messages are expected to focus on the impact of the event on the lives of mineworkers and their families after they occupied the koppie during the dispute‚ as well as outstanding questions and lack of closure. Criminal and civil proceedings are still pending.

An inquiry chaired by Judge Neels Claassen is investigating suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega’s fitness to hold office and is expected to deliver its findings in August. Phiyega has, meanwhile, approached the North Gauteng High Court to challenge the findings of the Farlam commission of inquiry.

TMG Digital

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Don’t miss the launch of The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa in Sophiatown

Invitation to the launch of The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa

 

The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South AfricaYou are invited to join Wits University Press at Sophiatown The Mix (Trevor Huddleston Centre) for the launch of The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa by Luke Sinwell and Siphiwe Mbatha.

On 16 August 2012, 34 black mineworkers were gunned down by the police in what has become known as the Marikana massacre.

The Spirit of Marikana tells the story of the union leaders at the three largest platinum mining companies who survived the barrage of state violence, intimidation and murder which was being perpetrated during this tumultuous period. What began as a discussion about wage increases between two workers in the changing room at one mine became a rallying cry for economic freedom and basic dignity.

Have the lives of mineworkers been transformed since then?

Grassroots leaders Alfonse Mofokeng and SK Makhanya, who formulated and lobbied a living wage for R12 500 for mineworkers, will be in conversation with Luke Sinwell about their experiences.

Also contributing will be Trevor Ngwane, scholar-activist and leader of the Marikana Support Campaign, and Primrose Sonti, Marikana community leader and member of Sikhala Sonke.

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New: The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa

Luke Sinwell and Siphiwe Mbatha open a window on the struggles of South African miners to overcome not only the opposition of the plutocratic mine owners, but also the opposition of the entrenched union establishment created in an earlier era of upheaval. – Frances Fox Piven, political scientist and sociologist, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

The Spirit of Marikana highlights the crucial role of ordinary workers in changing history. A richly textured, path-breaking history of the labour movement. – Trevor Ngwane, South African socialist and anti-apartheid activist

The Spirit of MarikanaWits University Press is proud to present The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa by Luke Sinwell and Siphiwe Mbatha:

On 16th August 2012, 34 black mineworkers were gunned down by the police under the auspices of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) in what has become known as the Marikana massacre. This attempt to drown independent working class power in blood backfired and is now recognised as a turning point in the country’s history.

The Spirit of Marikana tells the story of the uncelebrated leaders at the world’s three largest platinum mining companies who survived the barrage of state violence, intimidation, torture and murder which was being perpetrated during this tumultuous period.

What began as a discussion about wage increases between two workers in the changing rooms at one mine became a rallying cry for economic freedom and basic dignity.

This gripping ethnographic account is the first comprehensive study of this movement, revealing how seemingly ordinary people became heroic figures who transformed their workplace and their country.

About the authors

Luke Sinwell is a Senior Researcher at the University of Johannesburg. He is co-author of Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer, co-editor of Contesting Transformation: Popular Resistance in Twenty-First-Century South Africa and the author of numerous articles on participatory democracy and contentious politics in South Africa. He is the General Secretary of the South African Sociological Association (SASA).

Siphiwe Mbatha is a co-ordinator of the Thembelihle Crisis Committee (TCC), a socialist civic organisation in South Africa which fights for basic services for all. Siphiwe is also an assistant researcher at the University of Johannesburg. He first visited Marikana the day after the massacre to provide solidarity to the striking mineworkers.

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How I became South Africa’s first African clinical psychologist: Excerpt from N Chabani Manganyi’s new memoir

Apartheid and the Making of a Black PsychologistRead an excerpt from Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist: A Memoir, the new book by N Chabani Manganyi, published by Wits Press.

About the book

This intriguing memoir details in a quiet and restrained manner what it meant to be a committed black intellectual activist during the apartheid years and beyond. Few autobiographies exploring the “life of the mind” and the “history of ideas” have come out of South Africa, and N Chabani Manganyi’s reflections on a life engaged with ideas, the psychological and philosophical workings of the mind and the act of writing are a refreshing addition to the genre of life writing.

Starting with his rural upbringing in Mavambe in Limpopo province in the 1940s, Manganyi’s life story unfolds at a gentle pace, tracing the twists and turns of his journey from humble beginnings to Yale University in the USA. The author details his work as a clinical practitioner and researcher, as a biographer, as an expert witness in defence of opponents of the apartheid regime and, finally, as a leading educationist in Mandela’s Cabinet and in the South African academy.

Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist is a book about relationships and the fruits of intellectual and creative labour. In it, Manganyi describes how he used his skills as a clinical psychologist to explore lives – both those of the subjects of his biographies and those of the accused for whom he testified in mitigation; his aim always to find a higher purpose and a higher self.

Prof Manganyi’s thoughtful and meticulous account of what it has meant to become South Africa’s first black psychologist is particularly relevant for our times. Sadly, the issues of violence, injustice and trauma are still with us. Manganyi’s work offers the possibility that a different legacy could prevail – that of a commitment to truth, and a clear vision of what it means to value the humanity of others, as well as of oneself.

- Shayleen Peekes, psychologist

Chabani Manganyi is that rare thing in South Africa – a genuine and independent intellectual.

- Tim Couzens, author

Wits Press has shared an excerpt from the book:

Prelims for Apartheid and the Making of a black psychologist by WitsPress on Scribd

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An excerpt from Students Must Rise – “The plan was simple, the march disciplined”

Students Must Rise2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the 1976 uprisings. It’s also a year in which we’ve seen a surge in student activism, from the #FeesMustFall movement that ignited last year to the more recent #RUReferenceList protest against rape culture on campus and in society as a whole.

Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76 edited by Anne Heffernan and Noor Nieftagodien rethinks the conventional narrative of youth and student activism in South Africa by placing that most famous of moments – the 1976 students’ uprising in Soweto – in a deeper historical and geographic context.

Leading up to Youth Day, 16 June, Bhekizizwe Peterson wrote an essay for Mail & Guardian about the role artists played and continue to play in reshaping our country.

Peterson, Professor and Head of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, writes: “It is a truism that major social upheavals and changes are often preceded by a flourishing of the arts. This is also true about South Africa and the years before June 1976.”

In the article, Peterson reflects on the role art magazines like S’ketsh and Staffrider played in reinvigorating arts, culture and politics. In conclusion, he shares an extract from Chapter 6 of Students Must Rise, written by Sibongile Mkhabela.

Read the excerpt from “Action and fire in Soweto, June 1976”:

The plan was simple, the march disciplined

The events of the cold morning of June 16 1976 are written in blood, ash and tears.

I met other student leaders to review plans before the march was scheduled to begin at 6.30am.

The direction the march was to follow was clear. Those coming from the west would meet other students at central, designated points. The Naledi group would proceed northwards via Zola, Emdeni, Jabulani, Zondi, Mofolo North, Mofolo Central, Dube and Orlando West townships, and finally all schoolchildren would meet at the Orlando stadium where the student representatives would lead discussions about Afrikaans, and draw up a petition for the department of education. After this act of solidarity, the students would disperse.

Related stories:

 

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Don’t miss the launch of Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist: A Memoir by N Chabani Manganyi

Invitation to the launch of Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist

 
Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist: A MemoirYou are invited to join Wits University Press at the CIRCA Gallery, Rosebank, Johannesburg for the launch of Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist: A Memoir by N Chabani Manganyi.

The event will take place tomorrow (Saturday, 25 June). The author and book will be introduced by Grahame Hayes, founding editor of the journal PINS (Psychology in Society) and retired academic.

Don’t miss it!

Prof Manganyi’s thoughtful and meticulous account of what it has meant to become South Africa’s first black psychologist is particularly relevant for our times. Sadly, the issues of violence, injustice and trauma are still with us. Manganyi’s work offers the possibility that a different legacy could prevail – that of a commitment to truth, and a clear vision of what it means to value the humanity of others, as well as of oneself.

- Shayleen Peekes, psychologist

Chabani Manganyi is that rare thing in South Africa – a genuine and independent intellectual.

- Tim Couzens, author

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Strategic lessons South Africa’s students can learn from the leaders of 1976

Anne Heffernan, University of the Witwatersrand

Students Must Rise

The author is co-editor of Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76 published by Wits University Press.

This month forty years ago, thousands of Soweto school children took to the streets to protest the racism and inadequacy of Bantu Education. That moment has come to symbolise the role that young people have played and can play in shaping South Africa’s political discourse. It remains a touch point for student activists today.

The marches in June 1976 took shape around a unifying issue of immediate importance to the students: the imposition of Afrikaans as a teaching medium in black classrooms, whose curriculum was dictated by the then Department of Bantu Education.

Images from the march are filled with posters proclaiming “To Hell With Afrikaans” and “Vorster and Kruger are rubbish”. This refers to John Vorster, the prime minister of South Africa and one of apartheid’s architects, and his police minister Jimmy Kruger.

The juxtaposition of these claims is an important one. It speaks to how Soweto children began to straddle the space between local and immediate concerns and a national political agenda. This enabled them to transcend the issues of their classrooms and rejuvenate the struggle against apartheid on a national, and indeed international, scale.

Forty years later South Africa is again in the midst of a political movement led by students – this time on university campuses across the country. Today’s student activists are often compared to the generation of 1976. In mass marches through Johannesburg and Pretoria the form of their protest has prompted the comparison.

In their articulation of ideologies like Black Consciousness they echo some of the key thinkers of that period. But their protests remain largely constrained by the campuses on which they happen. In light of these struggles, it is useful to consider how the students of 1976 tackled similar problems.

The Afrikaans issue

The Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974 declared that in black schools across South Africa Afrikaans must be used equally with English as a medium for teaching non-language subjects like mathematics and social sciences.

Students and teachers alike struggled to teach and learn in a language for which they were ill-trained and ill-equipped with textbooks and other materials.

Historian Helena Pohlandt-McCormick has written that the Afrikaans medium policy “embodied everything that was wrong with Bantu Education”. She points to its disregard of sound pedagogy, and, more importantly, of the voices of the parents, teachers, and learners on whom it was imposed.

By the middle of the 1976 school year, students had organised themselves in individual protests. Many focused on the imposition of Afrikaans, others addressed student-teacher relations and corporal punishment at individual schools.

They were inspired and encouraged to connect these issues to the broader political system by a range of influences in their homes, communities, and classrooms. Among these were university students who had been “conscientised” through the Black Consciousness Movement and expelled from rural “bush” universities during waves of protest in 1972 and 1974. The most prominent of these was Ongkopotse Tiro.

After Tiro was expelled from the University of the North (today the University of Limpopo, outside Polokwane), where he was a prominent student leader and Black Consciousness proponent, he took up a job teaching history at Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto.

Though he was fired in 1973 and killed in exile in Botswana in 1974, some of his students, including Tsietsi Mashinini, became key leaders in the 1976 uprising.

Addressing structural oppression

Tiro and other young teachers encouraged their students to connect the particular grievances of their own situation – the inequities and injustices of Bantu Education – to the structural oppression meted out by the apartheid state.

This was a lesson students brought to their organisation of the protests on 16 June, and one that played an increasingly important role in the weeks and months that followed. Students in the Soweto Students Representative Council (which compromised many of the student leaders who had organised the June 16 march) called for their parents to stay away from work, and to boycott white-owned shops and products. By August the committee focused its energies on organising a student and worker stay away for the end of the month. According to Sibongile Mkhabela, a member of the SSRC, this was intended to achieve

more than only a march. […] This was the day to hit the white economy.

A few months later students rallied their families to participate in a Black Christmas to mourn those who had been killed by police since June.

June 16 forty years later

University students of 2015-16 have some key things in common with their 1976 predecessors. They have changed the tenor and shape of political discussion around education in South Africa, more effectively than any other single movement since 1994.

They have re-interrogated the ideologies that animated students in 1976. Their engagement with Black Consciousness and Biko, with Fanon and with pan-Africanism has led to a movement to decolonise universities’ faculty and curricula.

But today’s students have struggled to move their activism beyond universities. Not withstanding significant gains in the movement to end the exploitative practice of outsourcing jobs on campuses, for which the Fallist movements of 2015-16 deserve a great deal of credit, student movements today have yet to create enduring alliances with workers outside the university, or with school students.

Beyond shared ideology, the 1976 generation, and, perhaps even more so, the university students of the early 1970s who taught and inspired them, may offer some strategic lessons.

The author is co-editor of Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ‘76 published by Wits University Press.

The Conversation

Anne Heffernan, Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow NRF Chair: Local Histories, Present Realties., University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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