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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

New: Ordered States: Welfare, Power and Maternalism on Zimbabwe’s (Once White) Highveld by Andrew MC Hartnack

Ordered Estates offers a sophisticated and nuanced portrait of Zimbabwe’s contemporary agrarian landscape, providing a valuable contribution to the growing body of work about changes in different social, political, structural and cultural spheres generated in the post-2000 “Fast Track” era.

- Amanda Hammar, MSO Professor of African Studies, University of Copenhagen

Ordered StatesUKZN Press is proud to present Ordered States: Welfare, Power and Maternalism on Zimbabwe’s (Once White) Highveld by Andrew MC Hartnack:

There is a growing body of work on white farmers in Zimbabwe. Yet the role played by white women – so-called “farmers’ wives” – on commercial farms has been almost completely ignored, if not forgotten.

For all the public role and overt power ascribed to white male farmers, their wives played an equally important, although often more subtle, role in power and labour relations on white commercial farms. This “soft power” took the form of maternalistic welfare initiatives such as clinics, schools, orphan programmes and women’s clubs, most overseen by a “farmer’s wife”. Before and after Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence these played an important role in attracting and keeping farm labourers, and governing their behaviour. After independence they also became crucial to the way white farmers justified their continued ownership of most of Zimbabwe’s prime farmland.

This book provides the first comprehensive analysis of the role that farm welfare initiatives played in Zimbabwe’s agrarian history. Having assessed what implications such endeavours had for the position and well-being of farmworkers before the onset of “fast-track” land reform in the year 2000, Hartnack examines in vivid ethnographic detail the impact that the farm seizures had on the lives of farmworkers and the welfare programmes which had previously attempted to improve their lot.

About the author

Andrew Hartnack holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town. He is a Director at the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, a leading South African research and advocacy organisation.

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University of KwaZulu-Natal Press at the 2016 Hilton Arts Festival

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University of KwaZulu-Natal Press will be strongly represented at the Hilton Arts Festival this year.

The Hilton Arts Festival takes place from 16-18 September at Hilton College in KwaZulu-Natal.

Cash only tickets can be purchased at the venue door from 30 minutes before each performance.

For more information visit www.hiltonfestival.co.za!

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Zulu Plant Names by Adrian Koopman

17 SEPTEMBER • 12 noon – 1pm • CFI Lecture Theatre

Zulu Plant NamesIn this book Adrian Koopman details the complex relationship between plants, the Zulu language and Zulu culture. Zulu plant names do not just identify plants, they tell us a lot more about the plant, or how it is perceived or used in Zulu culture. For example, the plant name umhlulambazo (what defeats the axe’ tells us that this is a tree with hard, dense wood, and that usondelangange (come closer so I can embrace you) is a tree with large thorns that snag the passer-by. In a similar vein, both umakuphole (let it cool down) and icishamlilo (put out the fire) refer to plants that are used medicinally to treat fevers and inflammations. Plants used as the base of love-charms have names that are particularly colourful, such as unginakile (she has noticed me), uvelabahleke (appear and they smile) and the wonderfully named ungcingci-wafika-umntakwethu (how happy I am that you have arrived, my sweetheart!). And then there are those plant names that are just plain intriguing, if not mystifying: umakhandakansele (the heads of Mr Ratel), isandlasonwabu (hand of a chameleon), intombikayibhinci (the girl does not wear clothes) and ukhuningomile (piece of firewood, I am thirsty).

Adrian Koopman is an Emeritus Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He retired as Professor of isiZulu Studies after 37 years of teaching Zulu language and literature.

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Writing Home: Lewis Nkosi on South African Writing edited by Lindy Stiebel and Michael Chapman

17 SEPTEMBER • 1.30pm – 2.30pm • CFI Lecture Theatre

Writing HomeLewis Nkosi’s insights into South African literature, culture and society first appeared in the 1950s, when the ‘new’ urban African in Sophiatown and on Drum magazine mockingly opposed then Prime Minister HF Verwoerd’s Bantu retribalisation policies. Before his death in 2010, Nkosi focused on the literary-cultural challenges of post-Mandela times. Having lived for 40 years in exile, he returned to South Africa, intermittently, after the unbannings of 1990. His critical eye, however, never for long left the home scene. Hence, the title of this selection of his articles, essays and reviews, Writing Home. Combining the journalist’s penchant for the human-interest story with astute analysis, Nkosi’s ideas, observations and insights are as fresh today as when he began his 60-year career as a writer and critic.

Lindy Stiebel is a professor of English Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and visiting professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Michael Chapman is affiliated as a senior researcher to the Durban University of Technology. He is also an emeritus professor and fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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Diaspora and Identity in South African Fiction by JU Jacobs

17 SEPTEMBER • 3pm – 4pm • CFI Lecture Theatre

Diaspora and Identity in South African FictionSouth African identities, as they are represented in the contemporary South African novel, are not homogeneous but fractured and often conflicted: African, Afrikaner, ‘coloured’, English, and Indian – none can be regarded as rooted or pure, whatever essentialist claims members of these various ethnic and cultural communities might want to make for them.All of them, this book argues, are deeply divided and have arisen, directly or indirectly, out of the experience of diasporic displacement, migration and relocation, from the colonial, African and Indian diasporas to present-day migrations into and out of South Africa and diasporic dislocations within Africa. This study of twenty works by twelve contemporary South African novelists – Breyten Breytenbach, J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Aziz Hassim, Michiel Heyns, Elsa Joubert, Zakes Mda, Njabulo S. Ndebele, Karel Schoeman, Patricia Schonstein Pinnock, Ivan Vladislaviç and Zoë Wicomb – shows how diaspora is a dominant theme in contemporary South African fiction, and the diasporic subject its most recognisable figure.

JU Jacobs is Emeritus Professor of English, Senior Research Associate and Fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. He has published extensively on South African and postcolonial fiction and autobiography.

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Don’t miss the launch of John Solilo: Umoya wembongi: Collected poems (1922–1935) in Grahamstown

Invitation to the launch of John Solilo: Umoya wembongi: Collected poems (1922–1935)

 
John Solilo: Umoya wembongi: Collected poems (1922–1935)UKZN Press and the Rhodes University School of Languages: African Language Studies would like to invite you to the launch of John Solilo: Umoya wembongi: Collected poems (1922–1935) edited by Jeff Opland and Peter T Mtuze.

Come and celebrate the publication of the third volume in the Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature at the National Arts Festival on Tuesday, 5 July. The launch will start at 2:30 PM, with an introduction to the series by Pamela Maseko.

Entrance is free and refreshments will be served.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

 
About the book

Publication of the Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature Volume 3

John Solilo (1864–1940) was a prolific contributor to Xhosa-language newspapers. He submitted letters and articles on a variety of issues, local news reports from Cradock and Uitenhage, and a considerable body of poetry. His major literary contribution was his collection of poems entitled Izala (A Rubbish Dump), published in 1925, the earliest volume of poetry by a single author in the history of Xhosa literature.

Solilo’s literary reputation today, however, is at variance with his prominence as a major author in the first four decades of the twentieth century: he is hardly mentioned, if at all, by literary historians, Izala has long been out of print, and copies can no longer be located. In restoring to the public domain the 65 poems that made up Izala and adding an additional 28 that were published in newspapers both before and after the appearance of Izala, the editors hope to revive Solilo’s reputation as a poet, and to establish his status as a preeminent Xhosa author.

In his poetry, Solilo urged passivity and opposed political revolt, but he could also be scathing in his denunciation of black indignities suffered under white control, inspired as he was by umoya wembongi, the spirit of the imbongi, the praise poet whose stirring declamations roused his audiences to action or contemplation.

About the editors

Jeff Opland has devoted himself to defining and restoring the heritage of literature in the Xhosa language. Among other works, with Peter Mtuze he edited two anthologies of Xhosa literature, Isigodlo sikaPhalo (1983) and Izwi labantu (1994). Opland is currently Visiting Professor in the School of Languages: African Language Studies at Rhodes University.

Peter T Mtuze is the most prolific living isiXhosa writer: he has produced novels, short stories, essays, drama, poetry, autobiography and language books. Mtuze’s first book, UDingezweni (1966), is regarded as a classic novel. One of his singular achievements was his translation of former President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, into isiXhosa. He worked on the University of Fort Hare Xhosa Dictionary Project, at the University of South Africa and at Rhodes University, where he retired as Professor Emeritus.

 
Related links:

 

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Find out more about Impundulu, the Lightning Bird


 
Zulu Plant NamesRead an excerpt from Adrian Koopman’s paper “Lightning Birds and Thunder Trees” exploring the Impundulu of Zulu culture.

Koopman is the author of Zulu Plant Names, published late last year by UKZN Press.

This paper was published in Natalia in 2011, and is available to download for free.

 
Related links:

 

Read an excerpt:

The “lightning bird”, in Zulu both impundulu and inyoni yezulu (“bird of the heavens”) appears to manifest in two distinct ways in Nguni culture. On the one hand, it manifests specifically as a bird associated with lightning; on the other hand as the familiar of a female witch, in which case it may change its shape frequently (often to that of a handsome young man), and is associated with evil and malice rather than lightning.

Let us look first at the association of the impundulu with lightning. Callaway (1970:119) presents us with some interesting detail:

“The bird of heaven” is a bird which is said to descend from the sky when it thunders, and to be found in the neighbourhood of the place where the lightning has struck. The heavendoctors place a large vessel of amasi mixed with various medicines near a pool such as is frequently met with at the top of hills; this is done to attract the lightning, that it might strike in that place. The doctor remains at hand watching, and when the lightning strikes the bird descends, and he rushes forward and kills it. It is said to have a red bill, red legs, and a short red tail like fire; its feathers are bright and dazzling, and it is very fat. The bird is boiled for the sake of the fat, which is mixed with other medicines and used by the heaven-doctors to puff on their bodies (pepeta) and to anoint their lightning rods, that they be able to act on the heavens without injury to themselves. The body is used for other purposes as medicine. A few years ago some peacocks’ feathers were sold at a great price among the natives of Natal, being supposed to be the feathers of this bird.

We have already seen earlier in this article that the fat of a lightning bird is an essential element in making the medicinal mixture used to doctor pegs used for lightning protection. Of interest is the symbolism of the pot of amasi (sour milk) used to attract the lightning to a distant hill-top, presumably well away from human habitation. This would of course appear to work very well, given that lightning is naturally attracted to high hill-tops. Hammond-Tooke points out (1962:273) that in the homestead itself calabashes of amasi and milk must be hidden.

Berglund (1976:39) tells of a young man who was present when lightning came into a hut and killed an old woman and two children. His perceptions of the strike were as follows:

Looking, I saw the thing. It was fearful to see and moved very quickly. But I saw it clearly. It was a bird. The feathers were white, burning. The beak and the legs were red with fire, and the tail was something else, like burning green or the colour of the sky. It ran quickly, saying nothing, simply snatching those whom it took. Then it touched the grass with fire.

According to a number of Berglund’s heaven-herd sources, the lightning-bird is sent by the “Lord-of-the-Sky” when he “wishes to have a human” (op.cit., 40). His sources go on to say that there is no mourning for someone killed by lightning, as this would be regarded “as an arrogant act of rebellion against the Lord-of-the-Sky”. Nor, apparently, is there an ukubuyisa ritual for one struck by lightning.

The “lightning-strike-as-bird” metaphor is continued in the belief that when lightning strikes, the bird is alighting to lay its eggs. This idea has an extra spin to it in the Bhaca belief

… that electricity is the excreta of the lightning bird and that White people chase the bird until it excretes an oillike fat. This is electricity. The excreta is very fluid and everything it touches is burnt. (Hammond-Tooke, 1960:282fn)

Hammond-Tooke agrees that for the Xhosa and Bhaca the lightning-bird (impundulu) is associated with lightning (1960:382):

The spectacular and dangerous properties of lightning have formed the basis of another Bhaca belief, that in the intsaka yetulu, 13 the “bird of heaven”, called in Xhosa, impundulu. The impundulu is identified with the lightning; thunder is the beating of its wings, while the flash indicates the laying of its eggs that will hatch the following summer.

He goes a little further, though, on the relationship between lightning and evil, saying that the flicking of “muthi” around the borders of the homestead is “to drive away imishologu (evil influences, including the lightning) that encompass the kraal” (1960:272). This apparent relationship between lightning and evil leads us to the second manifestation of the lightning-bird, as a familiar, and Bhaca beliefs here clearly go way beyond what Berglund records about the impundulu in Zulu society. Hammond-Tooke begins (op. cit., 279) by saying that “no one knows for certain who is a witch” and that “the submissive young bride, outwardly demure and obedient, might be the possessor of the dreaded lightning bird, whose kick can cause sickness and death.” He continues
(op.cit., 282-283):

The bird may also be possessed by women as a familiar … [It] comes to its mistress in the form of a beautiful young man, often white and dressed in a grey suit, who has sexual connexion with her.

Clearly members of the Bhaca society must be very careful about how they deal with people even if they are “outwardly demure and obedient” for

The intsaka yetulu appears to a person in the form of a young man in a grey suit who asks why he is annoying its owner. There and then it turns into that old bird and kicks him until he dies.

It is worth noting that an intsaka yetulu may be sent to someone by letter. If you should open that letter, soon you will be visited by the same young man in a grey suit who will turn into a bird and kick you until you die.

Although there is no indication in the anthropological literature on the Zulus of this Protean bird which shifts easily between the personable young man in the grey suit and the bird with a fatal kick, it is worth noting that Doke and Vilakazi (1957:513) say for the entry impundulu that this is a “bird supposed to be used by women in witchcraft”.

They do not mention the link with lightning strikes. Bryant’s 1906 dictionary does not record the word impundulu, which makes me wonder if this is not a comparatively late adoptive into Zulu from Xhosa. There is a possible link between the word impundulu and the similar word impundu in Zulu. Doke and Vilakazi (1957:677) give three meaning for this word: “1) gate-post; 2) smaller lobe of beast’s liver; 3) species of plant, Gasteria glabra, whose bulbous roots are placed at the kraal-entrance to cause forgetfulness in would-be evil-doers”, and say it is derived from the verb phundula (“lead astray, mislead, puzzle, confuse, frustrate”). Bryant (1906:516) says the same, but in more detail:

impundu: one of the posts standing on either side of the entrance to the isibaya (not kraal); the smaller lobe of a beast’s liver, said to make a man forgetful if he eats it, therefore the perquisite of the old women; a certain plant whose bulbous root is stuck at the entrance to kraals in order to make the abatakati forgetful of their evil practices.

Both Hutchings (1996:35) and Pooley (1998:342,430) recognise impundu as a Zulu name for various species of Gasteria, with Hutchings saying of Gasteria croucheri that the leaf infusions are used as protective sprinkling charms and that the plant is cultivated on hut roofs as protective charms against lightning.

Before we move on to the “thunder tree”, it is interesting to note other bird species linked to lightning and other forms of weather. Hammond-Tooke (1960:288) tells us that

… if the uthekwane [Hamerkop] or indlazanyoni [Speckled Mousebird] flies over a kraal or alights on it, it is said that lightning will strike the homestead, but if the bird is killed or driven away the evil will be averted

and that

The owl (isikhova) is also considered a bird of ill-omen, for if it hoots round a kraal someone will become sick, or lightning will strike the stock.

Krige (1950:315) tells us that

The commonest fat used as an ingredient in this [anti-lightning] pegmedicine is that of the Ngqungqulu bird (Helotarsus ecaudatus) [Bateleur Eagle] which, when flying quickly, makes a noise like thunder, and to this is sometime added fat of a “peacock” which is said to cry and ruffle its feathers before thunder.

Krige also associates the Bateleur Eagle, as well as the Ground Hornbill, with rain (op.cit., 321):

The insingizi bird [Ground Hornbill] is closely associated with heaven and the rain, for if many izinsingizi walk in the open country and cry, it is an omen that it will rain. Another heaven-bird, for the death of which the heavens will mourn, is the iNgqungqulu [Bateleur] … it, too, is killed for rain. If this bird cries while flying it foretells rain.

Woodward and Woodward (1899:97) noted much earlier of the Ground Hornbill, “It is generally heard crying before rain, from which the natives think it has the power of bringing rain …”, and although they do not mention it, Burchell’s Coucal (Z. ufukwe) is also known by the colloquial name “the Rain Bird”.

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Image: Kat Houseman


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Presenting Power Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton – the preeminent book on Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF

Power Politics in ZimbabweUKZN Press is proud to announce that Power Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton is now available:

Zimbabwe’s July 2013 election brought the country’s “inclusive” power-sharing interlude to an end and installed Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF for yet another – its seventh – term. Why? What explains the resilience of authoritarian rule in Zimbabwe?

Tracing the country’s elusive search for a legitimate political settlement across the decades, Bratton offers a careful analysis of the failed power-sharing experiment, an account of its institutional origins and an explanation of its demise. In the process, he explores key challenges of political transition: constitution making, elections, security-sector reform and transitional justice.

Compelling, thoroughly researched, and immensely informative … Power Politics will also generate a great deal of discussion among Zimbabwe specialists as they confront the lessons and implications of Bratton’s provocative analysis.

- Ngonidzashe Munemo, Perspectives on Politics

A powerful and deeply personal book about Zimbabwean politics that also yields considerable comparative insights for students of democracy in other parts of Africa … Bratton has offered us an instant classic of Zimbabwe studies, with implications reaching well beyond the borders of that troubled place.

- Pierre Englebert, Journal of Democracy

Thoughtful, well written and persuasive, this has to be the preeminent book on contemporary Zimbabwe. Highly recommended.

Choice

About the author

Michael Bratton is University Distinguished Professor of political science and African studies at Michigan State University. His numerous publications include, most recently, Voting and Democratic Citizenship in Africa and Public Opinion, Democracy, and Market Reform in Africa (with Robert Mattes and E Gyimah-Boadi).

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Read ‘The Room of Family Holidays’ from Kobus Moolman’s Glenna Luschei Prize-winning anthology

Read “The Room of Family Holidays” from Kobus Moolman’s Glenna Luschei Prize-winning anthology

 
A Book of RoomsUKZN Press and Deep South Publishing have shared an excerpt from Kobus Moolman’s poetry anthology A Book of Rooms, which was announced as the winner of the 2015 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry this week.

The Glenna Luschei Prize is a pan-African poetry award worth $5 000 (about R84 000), overseen by the African Poetry Book Fund in partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s literary journal Prairie Schooner.

In her comments, Judge Gabeba Baderoon called A Book of Rooms “electric, visceral, brilliantly experimental, and profoundly moving”.

Moolman was a guest of the Winter Warmer Festival in Cork, Ireland, last year, and his reading of “The Room of Family Holidays” is available to view on YouTube:

YouTube Preview Image

 

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Read the poem:

 

The Room of Family Holidays
Bright sunlight. Fat smell of frying.

 
There is a long

window with thick metal burglar bars painted white The window
runs the length

of the room and looks out across the deep blue Indian ocean on
the south coast of

Natal It is a long narrow room with three single beds One bed is
perpendicular to the

room, in the middle, with its head against the back wall facing
the ocean (This bed is

reserved for his sister) A second bed is directly underneath the
window, and horizontal

to it, at the far end of the room The third bed is in the same
position but up against

the back wall The second bed is a source of continual dispute
between himself and

his brother Because both boys always want to sleep right by the
window so they can

be the first to see the ocean and to see the sun come up This
dispute is finally solved

by their father (with the help of his strap) who decides that they
must take turns to be

at the window on their annual Christmas holidays Although this
still does not prevent

them arguing over who slept there last and whose turn it is this
time About to go

into his final year at high school he feels that such squabbles are
below him, and he

magnanimously allows his brother access to the bed by the
window without any

argument, and with only a superior smile He feels that he is on
the brink of something

very significant in his life, something almost adult And though he
will perhaps feel

this same overwhelming power again For example when he buys
his first car, a 1982

white VW Jetta Mk1, or when he publishes his first – and only –
piece of writing, a

rhyming poem on Mother’s Day in a consumer tabloid distributed
free from local Spar

supermarkets It will never be with the same absolute confidence
in his ability to get

what he wants And what he wants now is to find a way to talk to
the long-legged blonde

girl who stays in the big cottage at the top of the road, with its
own private access

to the beach via a long flight of steps made from old railway
sleepers And so he

doubles up on the arm and chest and leg exercises he does with
his expander springs

(the thick ones with the blue handles, not the red ones which are
too easy) Even

though his mother warns him not to strain himself And he swims
in the surf directly

in front of her house even at high tide (when his mother warns
him not to because of

his weak legs and the strong undertow) And he tans himself at
low tide on the flat

black rocks in full view of her pathway So that she has no choice
but to notice him

And when she smiles at him on the third day and says hello how
are you on the fourth

he knows with a certainty as firm as the black rocks that he is
chosen And that

he will always get what he wants Just by willing it And on the fifth
day she invites

him to her house and into her small bedroom (with a big blue
teddy bear on the bed)

and together they listen to a stretched tape of the Beatles’
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely

Hearts Club Band (I’d love to turn you on) And on New Year’s Eve
they walk hand

in hand as the white sun sets behind them, along the beach to a
party on the wet sand

where he drinks Spook en Diesel (just like his father’s policemen
friends) out of a

polystyrene cup and the blonde girl is asked to dance by an older
boy, a university student

he assumes, because of his long hair, who comes to the party in
a red beach buggy

with a surf board tied to the top, and who makes the girl laugh by
whispering something

in her ear And he (the boy with a hole in his heart, at the heart of
this story) feels everything

crumble and slide away beneath his small feet in their differently sized
orthopaedic boots

And he leaves without saying anything to the girl And stumbles
home along the cold

moonless beach He knows that if he goes home now his mother
will want to know

What’s wrong? What happened? Are you alright? And she will
want to kiss it all

better (As she always does) But he is much too old for all of that
stuff now So he

hunches behind a dune smelling of damp vegetation and rotten
fish-bait and dog turds

and he sniffs his right hand repeatedly, the hand that held onto
hers (and smells of

coconut oil and Simba Puffs) and he licks it and puts it inside his
trousers and he waits

until it is midnight and the fire-crackers have died down and he
can open their back

door and creep into the sleeping house And in the morning his
mother spoils their

whole family by frying bacon and eggs for breakfast (sunny-side
up) with white toast

This is a special treat Just for holidays she says smiling at him
Because apart from

his father who eats mielie pap every morning for breakfast
everyone else always

has Pronutro, regular or chocolate flavoured, with milk and no
sugar And that is

that Finish en klaar That is the morning when he learns how
much easier it always is to pretend than to admit a painful truth.
 

* * * * *

 

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Afrikaans is one of the fastest growing languages in South Africa: Linguist Kerry Jones explains

Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture DictionaryKerry Jones, co-author of the award-winning Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture Dictionary, spoke to News24 recently, dispelling the notion that Afrikaans is an endangered language.

When asked, “Would you consider Afrikaans an endangered language?”, Jones has a firm answer at the ready:

Absolutely not. Absolutely not. If you look at the national census data you will will see that Afrikaans is one of the fastest growing languages in South Africa. It is one of our youngest, it’s around 300 years old, but it is one of the fastest growing languages. Not only as a mother tongue, but as an additional language. People are speaking Afrikaans as a lingua franca; it is used as a second, third and fourth language; it’s a language of employment; it’s a language of education; it’s also a language of media and literacy.

So it is by no stretch of the imagination disappearing and it spreads well beyond our borders. There are even large Afrikaans-speaking communities in Argentina and New Zeeland, so it’s definitely not only a South African flavour.

Jones, a linguistics specialist from African Tongue Professional Linguistic Consultancy, which specialises in minority African languages – especially Khoe and San – is currently working on a PHD in intergenerational language transfer. Watch the interview to see how she became interested in this topic and how she came to write Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture Dictionary:

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Adrian Koopman Shares His Light-bulb Moments of Discovery at the Launch of Zulu Plant Names

 
What started out as a chapter for his book Zulu Names, published by the University of Natal Press (now UKZN Press) in 2002, soon became a project in and of itself and finally culminated in the publication of Zulu Plant Names earlier this year.

Zulu Plant NamesThese were the words of Adrian Koopman at the launch of Zulu Plant Names, which was held at his house in Lincoln Meade, Pietermaritzburg, earlier this year.

Koopman invited friends, academics and family to his home where many of the plants explored in the book can be found in his indigenous garden. To illustrate the complex relationship between plants, the Zulu language and Zulu culture, Koopman shared some of his “serendipitous moments” during the research of this book.

In Zulu Plant Names, Koopman not only teaches the reader how to identify plants but tells us more about Zulu plants and how they perceived or used in Zulu culture.

At the launch, the author first thanked all the people who helped him put the book together, and shared interesting anecdotes about his discovery of the clear links between plant, language and culture.

Read Koopman’s speech from the launch:

This book was originally meant to be a chapter in my earlier book Zulu Names which the University of Natal Press published in 2002. The reviewers, however, suggested at the time that the chapter was too long, and that I should think about expanding the chapter as a separate book. Well, 13 years have passed since then, and it has been a long haul between that earlier suggestion, and the launch of Zulu Plant Names today. In that long haul, many people have helped in both the writing and the publication of this book and it is important that I thank them publicly today.

Thanks to various people:

Ndela kaBhekifa – also known as Nelson Ntshangase – has been an absolute fount of indigenous knowledge about plants and how they are used and perceived in Zulu culture. Many were the hours, nearly 10 years ago now that we sat together and you shared you knowledge with me.

Hhayi-ke Wena kaBhekifa: Wangivumela ngitape inyosi engqondweni yakho, wangivumela ngilime ngikhe ngivune emasimini akho. Manje, namhlanje, inqolobane igcwele, ngenxa yosizo lwakho.

Mgazi, Somlomo, Biyela – Ngiyabonga kakhulu.

I thank Mkhipheni Ngwenya for his helpful suggestions on the first draft of my manuscript. Mtimande! Bambo lunye! Zingaba zimbili weza nonima! Mkhipheni and I share other things related to the interface between botany and the Zulu language. He and I together with Rosemary Williams were joint authors of Zulu Botanical Knowledge and were together with Noleen Turner, Elsa Pooley, Nelson Ntshangase and a number of others participants in the Zulu Botanical Knowledge Project. But there is something else which links Mkhipheni and I, and that is that both of us are named after plants: My adopted Zulu clan name is Khumalo, derived from the noun ikhumalo, the tree Cassinopsis ilicifolia or Lemon-Thorn, while Mkhipheni’s clan name [u]Ngwenya shares the same word root as ingwenya “crocodile” and umgwenya (Harpephyllum caffrum). You’ll find the link between the crocodile and the tree on page 235 of my book.

Noleen Turner also made useful comments on the first draft of the manuscripts, and has been the first to write a review – before the book has even been launched – which will be published in this year’s issue of the journal Natalia. Noleen has been inviting me over the last two years to join her Zulu bird names workshops (which I have done), and a book on bird names and birds in Zulu culture might well be my next project.

And then I must thank Elsa Pooley: Elsa has played a double role in this book on Zulu Plant Names: First, when I was researching and writing the book I relied enormously on her wonderful publications Trees of Natal and Wildflowers of KwaZulu-Natal. And then secondly I must thank her for her extremely useful suggestions when she read a draft of the manuscript.

I am glad to see Louis Gaigher here: He was much involved in the earlier review and consultation stage of the book. Thank you for that, Louis.

I owe a great debt to Angela Beaumont. She was responsible for going through the manuscript from the first page to the last, checking and correcting botanical errors (I am in no ways whatsoever a botanist!) and especially in checking whether scientific botanical names were still current. Much of my Zulu name material came from books published over 50 years ago, and in one case 110 years ago, and over this period of time botanists have made a lot of taxonomical changes, which means that the scientific names frequently change. We decided in the editing of the book to leave the earlier names in place, but mark them with an asterisk, so the later, current names could be looked up in a list of synonyms. You’ll see her annotated copy of the manuscript on the table inside.

But I must also thank Angela for the superb colour painting of the Snake Lily in the book, and her equally wonderful drawings thoughout. The black mamba merged into the umdlebe tree on page 196 is stunning. We were lucky to have such a gifted botanical artist to illustrate the book.

And then my thanks to the UKZN “team”: UKZN Publisher Debra Primo, Adele Branch, who has organised this launch here today, Christopher Merrett for his usual meticulous text-editing, Trish Comrie for typesetting, and Catherine Munro for proofreading. But particularly I must thank Sally Hines for managing the entire production process. Many were the long hours we worked together, Sally. I bet you are pleased to see it’s all over!

And then last but not least (as they say) I come to my wife Jewel: Jewel, thank you first for allowing this launch to be held here today. Many of us here will know how much work this entails, and Jewel didn’t hesitate to take it on. And then I must thank her for doing most of the General Index of the book, a task that required hours of the most boring kind of work. But mostly I must thank Jewel for a different type of contribution. I don’t know if this is true for all writers, but I find that when I am researching and writing (and I seem to be spending 100 percent of my time since I retired doing just that) that it is enormously rewarding, if not essential, to have someone to share exciting discoveries with – to have someone you can run to and say, “Hey! Look what I’ve just discovered!” Jewel has always played that role to perfection.

And now to a few remarks about writing the book and the book itself:

I have to say that researching and writing a book like this one can in no ways be considered work: It is rather a wonderful and intriguing voyage of discovery, marked at regular intervals by instances of pure serendipity.

I don’t want to spend the next two hours talking to you about the book, so let me rather give you just three serendipitous moments:

I mentioned earlier the connection between umgenya the tree and ingwenya the crocodile. I had been puzzling for years trying to see if there was a link between animal and tree, and then I came across a statement in Peoples Plants by Ben-Erik van Wyk and Nigel Gericke about how muti from the tree was used to cure warts and pimples. Bingo! Light-bulb moment! At once I saw how the crocodile and the tree could be linked. You’ll find the story on 235 of Zulu Plant Names, together with a drawing of a crocodile, a half-eaten mealie cob, and a pimply face.

And then I must mention my puzzlement when I first read in Pooley’s Wild Flowers that the Zulu name for Scadoxis puniceus or Snake Lily was idumbe kaNhloyile. I knew the word idumbe to be the singular of what Natal English calls “madoombies”, and I knew that unhloyile was one of a number of names for the Yellow-Billed Kite. It was only last year, at the beginning of August when I saw the Snake Lilies in this garden starting to poke their snouts above the soil, and at the same time heard the Yellow-Billed Kite calling above that my mind once again went ‘Bingo!’ – another moment of serendipity.

I was likewise puzzled when I read in Pooley that the Caterpillar Bean or Zornia capensis had the Zulu name umkhondo. I only knew the word umkhondo to mean the track or spoor of a person or animal. Here it was my old friend Doke and Vilakazi’s Zulu-English Dictionary that provided the link. They give three meanings for the word umkhondo, all linked to each other. The first meaning is the one I was familiar with: “track, trail or spoor of passing animals or persons”. The second meaning is “disease of new-born baby, entailing a sinking of the fontanelle, believed to be caused by the mother crossing the track of an ill-omened animal such as the eland”. And then the third meaning of umkhondo is “species of spreading weed, Zornia capensis, used by pregnant women, tied around the ankle as protection against the umkhondo disease”. Another light-bulb moment! Here we see the link between umkhondo as spoor and umkhondo as plant name. When I read this I learnt about three distinct Zulu cultural beliefs that I had never known before: One, that the eland is an unlucky animal; two, that the bad luck inherent in an animal can pass up through the feet and the body of a woman carrying a baby, and cause its fontanelle to sink; and three, that an anklet made from the plant Zornia capensis can prevent such bad luck passing into a person.

Here in this last example we see clearly the link between plant, language and culture; a single space where the distinct worlds of botany, linguistics and belief systems come together. Such linking is the major theme of this book on Zulu plant names and there are many, many more such examples. I hope you enjoy reading it.

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Dan Moshenberg Salutes Lauretta Ngcobo: “A Fierce and Ferocious (and Often Very Funny) Feminist”

Let it be ToldAnd They Didn't DieProdigal DaughtersFiki Learns to Like Other People

 

Dan Moshenberg, co-editor of Searching for South Africa: The New Calculus of Dignity, has written an article commemorating the life of Lauretta Ngcobo.

Ngcobo passed away on Tuesday, 3 November, 2015, and Moshenberg remembers her as a “writer, novelist, essayist, teacher, activist, mentor, fierce and ferocious (and often very funny) feminist”.

He adds that he has “always directed those seeking insight into the years of anti-apartheid struggle” to Govan Mbeki’s The Peasants’ Revolt and Ngcobo’s And They Didn’t Die.

He also mentions the fact that Africa Is a Country’s Neelika Jayawardane named Prodigal Daughters: Stories of South African Women in Exile as a favourite book of the year in December 2012.

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Lauretta Ngcobo’s writings and life history teach, and she was always teaching, that women’s solidarity is a tangible, material good, and that it is deep and powerful. She was not sanguine about the past or the future. In 2005, Ngcobo noted, “No matter what African women have done to fight side by side with African men in the liberation struggle, the tension between men and women remains the same, if not worse.” In her non-fiction prose as in her novels, Lauretta Ngcobo showed how “Black women’s associations made … collective rebellion possible.”

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Erik Melander and Grace Maina Present 8 In-depth Case Studies in Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in Africa

Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in AfricaUKZN Press is proud to present Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in Africa edited by Erik Melander and Grace Maina:

Peace agreements have become necessary and legitimate tools for resolving conflicts and bringing about durable peace. This book adds to the already existing knowledge of peace agreements by carefully analysing African experiences of peace processes to identify how these can be enhanced in order to ensure positive and sustainable peace in strife-ridden areas. Case studies in eight African countries provide readers with a unique opportunity to study conflicts on the continent and to understand the factors that promote or undermine the success of peace agreements.

The agreements under study in this volume include those of Angola, Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. The selection is based on the fact that they were finalised prior to 2005 and therefore allow for a richer analysis of their successes and shortfalls.

The eight case studies by both academics and practitioners – Osita Agbu, Kasaija Phillip Apuuli, Lesley Connolly, Gregory Mthembu-Salter, Charles Nyuykonge, Justin Pearce, Anyway Sithole, Germain Ngoie Tshibambe and Siphamandla Zondi – offer in-depth insight on peacemaking in order to identify lessons and inform better practice in articulating and implementing peace agreements in Africa.

About the Editors

Grace Maina is currently serving as a political officer in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. At the time of writing this book she was the head of the Knowledge Production Department at ACCORD.

Erik Melander is a professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden.

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