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Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Read an interview with Larry Swatuk, author of Water in Southern Africa

The University of Waterloo’s Water Institute conducted an interview with Larry Swatuk who recently published his ninth book, Water in Southern Africa.

Here, Swatuk discusses the book, how water professionals and policy makers can be better educated on matters related to water, and the socio-political and socio-economic limitations which challenge water preservation:

Water Institute member and professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, Larry Swatuk, is the author of a new book titled Water in Southern Africa.

Larry lived for 14 years in Africa, primarily in Botswana, where he was a lecturer at the University of Botswana and associate professor of Resource Governance at the Okavango Research Institute. He has published extensively on issues pertaining to the ‘wise use’ of the resources of the Okavango River basin.

Partly due to his training in political science and international relations, Larry specializes not only in decision-making around the use of water resources, but in the training of decision makers for dispute resolution and negotiation on these same resources.

His current research interests focus on the unintended negative consequences of climate change adaptation and mitigation interventions, a concept he labels ‘the boomerang effect.’

In his new book – the first volume in the Off-Centre series which focuses on the social, political and cultural life of South Africa and the southern African region – he argues that we must learn to see water and the region differently if we are to meet present challenges and better prepare for an uncertain, climate-changing future.

We had the opportunity to ask Larry questions about his new book, challenges facing the world water resources, and why interdisciplinary collaboration is important when it comes to tackling complex water problems.

In your publication, “Seeing Invisible Water Challenges,” you talk about a ‘blue water bias’ that exists that makes a “majority of water professionals and policy makers blind to the significant amounts of green water available for human needs.” How can we better educate water professionals and policy makers on the concepts and applications of green water and virtual water?

There is a great deal of path dependence in science – and in life. We are all creatures of habit who grow comfortable trodding along the same path. Every once in a while there is a break from the routine, an idea or an insight emerges to shake us up. It is interesting to note that virtual water – a concept first articulated by Tony Allan for which he was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize some years back – has had greater purchase across the water world than has the idea of green water. Irrigation engineers, however, are well-versed in green water analysis, and rightly so, for most of the world’s food production depends on rainfall or, in Malin Falkenmark’s and Johan Rockstrom’s words: where the rain drop hits the soil. But policy makers and the private sector remain enamored of blue water perhaps because there is more immediate political and economic pay-off to damming, diverting and draining available blue water. Perhaps also, the systems in place have been designed by powerful actors interested in capturing the available resource which, historically, was the water we could see. Beyond the well-watered parts of the world, ‘developing’ states aimed to mimic their ‘developed’ counterparts by capturing water.

Water, in this context, is power: political, economic and social. In my view, powerful actors will continue to be blind to the benefits of green water, and to the potential hazards of living beyond their own water barriers because of current capabilities to import cheap food (i.e. virtual water). But their blindness need not lead us down the same dark path.It also reveals to us the fallacy of many claims pertaining to the state of the world’s water resources: that we are running out, that we are facing a water war, and so on.

In your new book, Water in Southern Africa, you do not shy away from the fact that the challenges for sustainable water management are immense. Drawing on the southern African experience, you argue that we must learn to “see water and the region differently if we are to meet present challenges and better prepare for an uncertain, climate-changing future.” Can you expand on this thought?

It is fitting that a pool of water acts as a mirror. For, in my view, the state of the world’s water resources reflects very accurately the state of our societies. How water is accessed, used and managed clearly shows us the problems and possibilities not only for resource sustainability, but for social inclusion, social justice, and sustainable development broadly defined.

Too much water use research commences from an ahistorical, asocial largely technical and economic perspective. Put differently, whoever has the money and the power gets the water. So, ‘shortages’ are not biophysical, but socio-economic and socio-political. Let me give you an example from Southern Africa, though it is hardly unique in this regard: the region is often portrayed as a ‘success story’ of inter-state cooperation on transboundary waters. At the same time, all countries in the region ‘struggle’ to provide adequate water for the needs of all of their citizens. Are these two separate phenomena? No, they are not, though they are often presented as such. In the case of the former, there is said to be ‘progress’ deriving from human resource capability, adequate finance and so on. In the case of the latter, there is said to be ‘limited or uneven progress’ deriving from the absence of the same. But, in my view, if we see where the water flows, how, to whom and for what purpose, we can clearly see that these conditions are two sides of the same coin. As the saying goes, the first law of hydrology is that water flows toward money. Without doubt, many water challenges may be met with the application of good science supported by adequate finance and appropriate forms of governance and management. But, as a cursory view of the water world shows us, too few people are served by our current approaches and practices.

Continue reading the interview here.
 
About the book:

When it comes to water, we are fed a daily diet of doom and gloom, of a looming crisis: wars of the future will be over water; nearly one-billion people lack access to clean water; river basins are closed so there is no more water to be allocated despite ever-growing demand; aquifers are overdrawn to such an extent that a global food crisis is just around the corner and major cities, such as Bangkok and Mexico, are sinking. And let us not forget about pollution or vector-borne diseases.

The challenges for sustainable water management are massive. Yet, as shown in this book, there are many positives to be drawn from the southern African experience. Despite abiding conditions of economic underdevelopment and social inequality, people rise to the challenge, oftentimes out of necessity and through self-help, but sometimes through creative coalitions operating at different scales – from the local to the global – and across issue areas – from transboundary governance to urban water supply. This first volume in the Off-Centre series argues that we must learn to see water and the region differently if we are to meet present challenges and better prepare for an uncertain, climate-changing future.

Water in Southern Africa

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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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Mugabe does not rule alone – Read an excerpt from Power Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton

Power Politics in ZimbabwePower Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton is a careful analysis of one of the most controversial presidencies in the world.

In this preeminent book on Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF, the author looks at the political settlements, roots of repression, colonial political settlements, the Zimbabwean period of crisis (2000-2008), the power-sharing experiment (2008-2013), and the power politics at play in the country.

Bratton, a distinguished professor of of political science and African studies at Michigan State University, also reflects on the rewriting of the constitution, improving the electoral conduct, a security-sector reform and tackling transitional justice.

The first chapter takes a look at the power politics in Zimbabwe and gives an outline of the book. US publishers Lynne Rienner, who first released this book in 2014, have made an excerpt available; giving readers the opportunity to sample the first chapter in its entirety.

Read the excerpt:

Power Politics in Zimbabwe – Excerpt

 
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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.

Read the article:

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.”

See also:

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Gracious, Witty and Persuasive: UKZN Press Mourns the Passing of Lauretta Ngcobo

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

 

We learnt on Wednesday morning of Lauretta Ngcobo’s death. Although she has struggled with her health ever since suffering a stroke, the news still came as a shock.

Ngcobo was born at Cabazi, a village in the Ixopo district, in 1931 and after her schooling at Inanda Seminary near Durban studied at Fort Hare University to become a teacher.

During the 1950s and 1960s she was active in the women’s anti-pass campaign and well known for her feminist stance against both apartheid and Zulu traditions that limited women’s freedom and reinforced their oppression under apartheid. Ngcobo followed her husband, Abednego Bhekabantu (AB) Ngcobo, into exile in 1963. In her contribution in Prodigal Daughters: Stories of Women in Exile, edited by Ngcobo and published by UKZN Press in 2012, she recounts and reflects upon her life in exile. In 1994 she returned to South Africa where, between 2000 and 2009, she would serve as a member of the KZN legislature, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and chairperson of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus in the KZN legislature.

Other published works by Ngcobo include Cross of Gold (1981), Let It Be Told: Black Women Writers in Britain (1987), And They Didnt Die (1990) and Fiki Learns to Like Other People (1994). And They Didn’t Die has been described as “the most enlightened and balanced book” about the history and personal anguish of the African woman.

In 2006 she received a Lifetime Achievement Literary Award from the South African Literary Awards; in 2008 the Presidency awarded her the Order of Ikhamanga for her excellent achievement in the field of literature and for her literary work championing gender equality; in 2014 the Durban University of Technology conferred on her an Honorary Doctorate of Technology in Arts and Design “in recognition of her outstanding contribution as a literary figure, her exceptional involvement during her political tenure, her inspirational leadership … as well as her significant ongoing community engagement efforts focusing on education, literary and rural development”.

UKZN Press remembers her as gracious, witty and persuasive; a determined hard worker who often put us to shame with her energy. We are honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity to work with her and to have published her last book.

A memorial service will be held in Durban on Thursday, 12 November 2015. Details will be released in due course.

The funeral service will be held in Mzimkhulu, KwaZulu Natal, on Saturday 14 November 2015.

Condolences to all who were close to her: family, friends, colleagues and comrades.

Mrs Lauretta Gladys Ngcobo is survived by her children, Luyanda, Zabantu, Nomkhosi, Sobantu and Zikethiwe, her sister Thandekile, her grandchildren, great grandchildren and close family. She will be missed by many, many more.

See also:

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Image courtesy of eThekwini Living Legends


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Sindiwe Magona’s isiXhosa Translation of Stories of Africa by Gcina Mhlophe Included on 2015 IBBY SA Honour Roll

Sindiwe Magona

 
Alert! Sindiwe Magona’s translation of Stories of Africa by Gcina Mhlophe has been included on the 2015 International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) SA honour roll.

During an event held in Pinelands last week, the South African section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY SA) announced their honour roll, which will all be presented at the IBBY World Congress in New Zealand next year. During the run-up to this event these books, six in total, will all be exhibited around the world at conferences and book fairs, and form part of permanent collections in some of the biggest international youth libraries.

Magona is recognised in the category “Translator: into isiXhosa” for her formidable translation of Mhlophe’s folk tales to Umcelo Neentsomi Zase-Afrika.

Stories of AfricaUmcelo Neentsomi Zase-Afrika

 
Books LIVE was present at the announcement of Magona’s inclusion on the IBBY SA honour roll and have transcribed her acceptance speech:

To say that I am ecstatic would be an understatement.

I bitch a lot about translation, especially of children’s books that are sometimes totally and completely ignored. I remember a book I found in IBBY some years ago when I first retired and returned to South Africa. I found a book published in the states, and that book didn’t make it in Xhosa. I saw the book, I read the book and it had been shredded, or whatever.

Translation is important, and especially I think now in this country. I feel that the translation of children’s books could be part of our nation-building. It shouldn’t be that 20 years and more into the new dispensation children are still divided according to linguistic affiliations. I feel that Gcina Mhlophe’s book – which I translated from English to isiXhosa – those folktales should be available to all the children of South Africa. I grew up with Xhosa folktales, which I enjoyed. But I feel that English speaking children, children who speak Afrikaans as a mother tongue, Sesotho, Tswane, should all enjoy those folktales. I enjoyed Gcina’s tales in isiZulu when I could understand them translated into English.

I feel this is something that we – it is just a wish and a hope and a prayer – that we should be knitting a South African literature, especially for the young.

The previous translator who was here, who translates into Afrikaans [Kobus Geldenhuys], said something: What do you translate, and how do you translate it? Obviously you have the text in the original language, which you must then transport to the target language. You need to translate the story. You need to translate the sentiments, the joy, whatever is there, even the grief. Do you do it literarily, or do you do it poetically, or is it a marriage of the two? These are some of the decisions you have to make as a translator.

I love language, and for the benefit and for the pleasure of being reasonably steeped in both languages, isiXhosa and English. I am not a mother tongue English speaker, I don’t fool myself, but I have enough understanding and have used it enough, have studied it enough that I more or less control it, as much as one can be almost mother tongue. But know that there are things that one cannot translate … and you have to be respectful in dealing with someone else’s work. That you honour them, so that the person who reads the book in Xhosa does not begin by understanding that this is a translation. Translation should be hidden! You shouldn’t leave a big footprint a translator! It should read as an original for the person who is going to read the new work.

I would hate for anybody reading a book I translated to say, “Oh, this is what is must have said in English”. No. No. If your works looks like “this is what it must have been” then it is literal, and the person who is reading it in the target language should derive as much pleasure and respect for the person who created the original work. That shouldn’t be lost! You are serving not just the audience, you also serving the creator of the work. I think for me this is both a burden and an honour, and that is what I try to do.

I am very happy to get this recognition. I did not even know that such things existed, but I am happy to receive it.

2015 IBBY SA Honour Roll announcement
IBBY SA Honour List 2015-2016

 

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Helené Prinsloo tweeted live from the announcement:


 

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Press release

IBBY SA is the South African national section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), an international body with 74 national sections around the world.

IBBY SA is pleased to announce that the following books have been selected for the IBBY Honour List to be presented at the IBBY World Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2016 as having made a special contribution to recent South African literature for children and young people:

Author: Afrikaans
Fanie Viljoen: Uit (LAPA Uitgewers, Pretoria) – for making it easy for all teenagers to experience and emphathise with a young man’s growing realisation of his sexual orientation

Author: English
Charmaine Kendal: Miscast (Junkets Publisher, Cape Town) – for its sensitive exploration of the inner journey of a trans boy; probably the first South African teen novel about transgender

Translator: into Afrikaans
Kobus Geldenhuys: Hoe om jou draak te tem (Protea Boekhuis, Stellenbosch) translated from Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon – for capturing the spirit and sense of the fantastical in his translation

Translator: into isiXhosa
Sindiwe Magona: Umculo neentsomi zase-Afrika (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg) translated from Gcina Mhlophe’s Stories of Africa – for transmitting the magic of the original folktales so faithfully

Translator: into Sesotho
Selloane Khosi: Baile le Moketa (Jacana Media, Johannesburg), translated from Gerard Sekoto’s Shorty and Billy Boy – for a clear and lively version of the 1973 story of Sekoto’s, only recently published for the first time.

Illustrator:
Dale Blankenaar: Olinosters op die dak / Rhinocephants on the roof by Marita van der Vyver (NB Publishers, Cape Town) – for his rendering of the eerily atmospheric world of the writing

The above announcements were made at an event hosted by IBBY SA at the SASNEV building in Pinelands, Cape Town, on Thursday 17 September 2015.

The announcements were made by Lona Gericke, former children’s librarian, former chair and vice-chair of IBBY SA, and a former member of the international Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury. She holds the Awards portfolio on the Executive Committee of IBBY SA. IBBY SA’s current Chairperson Professor Genevieve Hart handed over the certificates.

Five of the six people nominated were able to attend the event and receive their IBBY SA certificates in person. Likewise, five of the six publishers involved were the happy recipients of IBBY SA certificates.

“We are really glad that the six categories were spread among six different publishers,” said Lona Gericke. “It means that more and more publishers are doing excellent work in the field of literature for children and young people.”

Is there anything especially noteworthy about this year’s Honour List nominees? “Isn’t it striking,” commented Genevieve Hart, “that the two ‘Author’-category nominees have both written books about sexual diversity? It is a very significant area of teenager experience, and one welcomes such careful and sensitive treatments.”

What lies ahead for these six books? Copies have been despatched to the head office of IBBY in Basle, Switzerland. At next year’s IBBY World Congress they will be on display, will appear in the Honour List of Books brochure, and will be the subject of a screened presentation in a plenary session of the Congress, after which they will move on to be displayed at the famous Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

So, the recognition and the exposure for these writers, translators and illustrators could be very significant for their careers.

Ends

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Nthikeng Mohlele Lists His Influences, from Rihanna to Jonathan Franzen, for Traveling Marla’s Book Club

Rusty BellNthikeng Mohlele’s latest novel Rusty Bell was featured in Traveling Marla’s Book Club in August, and in the accompanying Q&A the author fielded questions from readers from all over the United States.

Traveling Marla’s Book Club, created by Marla Sink Druzgal, focuses on African literature:

Each book is a unique story, told in a fresh, original voice, giving some insight on life in the places I’m traveling and living. Each book represents a piece of culture, history, or slice of life from a different part of the world.

Druzgal says she chose Rusty Bell because “I knew would challenge even the most avid readers to push through one of the most unreliable narrators I’ve ever read, and wow did they come up with some strong questions”.

Jessica Kinnison asked Mohlele about his influences, and the author’s answer indicates an impressive reading (and listening) list:

Clinton K the cat reminded me of Haruki Murakami’s story Kafka on the Shore, Michael’s relationship to Dr West reminded me of Tom Robbins’ novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and nearly every Woody Allen movie, and Columbus’ death by laughter reminds me of a stunt Gabriel Garcia Marquez might pull. What artists do you consider to be a part of your “tribe” as an author?

Mohlele: My fiction has, stylistically, a musical nature – emanating from poetry – rhythm, rhyme, metaphors. Naturally, recording artists plays an important role in my set tone and where I improvise with narrative and theme selections. So: Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita – and guess what, Rihanna too! But literature is also very much a cerebral occupation, bolted to the ground by many genres and sub genres – in other words, the mode of thinking and framing of ideas. Here, “kindred spirits” would include Wole Soyinka (who is a brilliant all rounder), Albert Camus for is masterful in tackling existentialism and the absurd, among other preoccupations, JM Coetzee for bone clean prose and word economy, Shakespeare for metaphor, Rainer Maria Rilke for the emotive and the profound, Javier Marias for narrative mapping and sentence complexity without loss of clarity, Dambudzo Marechera for pathos, Zadie Smith for humour, Jonathan Franzen for family dynamics, Milan Kundera for interpretative speculations, the Holy Bible for distilling the profane, and Zukiswa Wanner for the unexpected, Thando Mgqolozana for memorable characters, and George Orwell for narrative details. Artists I enjoy are many and varied and, evolve all the time. They include, musically; for instance, pianists, vocalists, drummers and guitarists: Jimmy Cobb, Larry Page, Jimmy Dludlu, Angus of ACDC, Jill Scott, Simphiwe Dana, and Sibongile Khumalo, amongst many others.

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Microfinance Doesn’t Work, According to London School of Economics Anthropologist Jason Hickel

Democracy as DeathJason Hickel, Anthropologist and author of Democracy as Death: The Moral Order of Anti-Liberal Politics in South Africa, recently wrote an article for The Guardian about microfinance in impoverished areas.

Microfinance is popularly heralded as a means of eradicating poverty from the bottom up. But evidence suggests that microfinance makes zero impact for the better. In fact, Hickel writes, “it turns out that microfinance usually ends up making poverty worse”.

Read the article:

I’m always amazed at how many students show up each year in the classrooms of the London School of Economics, where I teach, quivering with excitement about microfinance and other “bottom-of-the-pyramid” development strategies. Like eager young missionaries, they feel they’ve stumbled upon the One Idea that is sure to save the world.

Would that it were true. What’s so fascinating about the microfinance craze is that it persists in the face of one unfortunate fact: microfinance doesn’t work.

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Cahora Bassa Counter-Narrative: Allen and Barbara Isaacman Launch Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development at UCT

Barbara and Allen Isaacman

The Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town was the site of a fascinating presentation that took place earlier this month. Academics and readers joined to celebrate the launch of Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965 – 2007 by the award-winning husband and wife author team, Allen and Barbara Isaacman.

Adekey Adebajo, Allen Isaacman and Jaqui GoldinDams, Displacement and the Delusion of DevelopmentThe book was introduced by Extraordinary Professor Jaqui Goldin, of the University of the Western Cape’s Department of Earth Science. She set their work in a historical context and praised its scope, urgency and relevance. Their study explores the devastating social, ecological and economic consequences for Mozambique and other regions negatively affected by the Cahora Bassa, the largest hydroelectric scheme in southern Africa.

Goldin spoke about the 43 years the Isaacmans spent working on the Zambezi which profoundly enriched the book with their knowledge and attention to details.

Another fascinating aspect of this collaboration is the bringing together of a historian and a legal expert who have woven a story about the Zambezi from both these perspectives. Goldin referred to Allen’s 1972 publication, Mozambique: Africanization of a European Institution, the Zambezi Prazos, 1750-1902, which places this later work within a historical context. It shows how a power vacuum was created by Karanga and Malawian overlords who lost control over the peripheral areas of this great river valley when the Portuguese arrived in the 1700s.

Goldin said, “The Isaacmans expose the Cahora Bassa Dam history and the gloomy reality of violent, deliberate political manoeuvres to obstruct the advance of the ANC and Mozambique’s Frelimo; and the sinister underpinnings of the Aldeamentos where the intent was to isolate a local population from the liberation army.”

Goldin referred to the Yale academic, political scientist and anthropologist, James Scott, who reviewed Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: “… the Isaacmans brilliantly show how, all along the Zambezi below the Cahora Bassa Dam whole worlds of riparian life – fish, birds, human and other mammals – dependent on the annual inundation of the flood plain have been stifled.”

Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development highlights some 300 stories of those most affected by the scheme and their challenge of the authoritative voice of the state, whether Portuguese or Mozambican. It tells the story of those who are subjected to a powerful discourse set up to disguise destruction as development.

The seven chapters expose how the Cahora Bassa was a hydrological feat of control, conquering people, places and the environment, while wreaking havoc on the lives of many who gained very little in the grand scheme of things. The political and economic disparity wrought by the Cahora Bassa is highlighted by the heart-rendering image of impoverished villagers, who lost their fertile land in the dam’s construction, now living under giant power lines taking power to South Africa, while they are left still cooking on wood fires and reading by candle light.

“You capture well the consequences of diminished choice and attention is drawn to the casualties of having one’s world controlled by the outside,” Goldin said.

Allen recalled how in 1998, as he and his wife were finishing writing their book on runaway slaves Slavery and Beyond, they attended a conference where 300 people were in attendance to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of this “magnificent” structure. It was a love-fest. It was a celebration of like-minded people. There were engineers who talked about the technical challenges, like getting 2.5 million pounds of rocks out the mountains to build 500 foot walls. The Portuguese colonial administrators, the company who oversaw the construction said how magnificent the transformation of the river valley was. The Frelimo officials present celebrated the dam because it was going to allow – in the neoliberal Frelimo – the cheap labour that would bring in foreign investment. It went on, people talking about the fish, the ecological questions. Everyone but one person was in a most celebratory mood.

“A Catholic priest, named Cláudio Gremi, who had been there since the early 70s got up and said, ‘I find it so strange that there are no workers or peasants here, and their story is completely absent.’ He said it with much more passion. It reverberated with our thinking. Out of that we decided to write a counter-narrative to the developmentalist one, the celebration of this great physical showmanship of man’s capacity to dominate and control the biosphere,” Allen said.

The Isaacmans wanted to know what happened. “We wanted to learn about the daily lives and the lived experiences of the people who built the dam under harsh South African overseers speaking Fanagalo, the 25 000 people who were displaced and forced into strategic hamlets because of the war area that Frelimo was following; and also what happened to the 1.5 million people who no longer had a regular supply of water, to sustain the alluvial farm. Water went down the Zambezi when South Africa wanted energy, disrupting the entire ecological and agricultural system.

Allen explained how, in essence, Cahora Bassa became an outpost of empire over which the South African state, Eskom, and a South African dominated consortium (ZAMCO) exercised substantial economic and political power. Control over Cahora Bassa was part of the apartheid regime’s ambitious plan to integrate it and other dams in Lesotho, Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe into one centralised power grid. “The story told in Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development is not one of great celebration, but of economic, ecological and cultural devastation,” he said.

The event wrapped up with a question and answer session, followed by the authors signing copies of their books for those who queued to congratulate them. Seen in the queue was Albie Sachs, who expressed his enormous respect for the authors and their handling of the topic.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:


 

 

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http://ukznpress.bookslive.co.za/blog/

Posted by UKZN Press on Thursday, 26 March 2015

 

 
Book details

  • Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965 – 2007 by Allen and Barbara Isaacman
    EAN: 9780821420331
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Join Allen Isaacman and Barbara Isaacman for the Launch of Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development at UCT

Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965 - 2007University of KwaZulu-Natal Press and the Centre for African Studies invite you to the launch of Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965 – 2007 by Allen Isaacman and Barbara Isaacman.

The launch will take place in the Centre For African Studies Gallery at the University of Cape Town, on Tuesday, 10 March.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

Book Details

  • Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965 – 2007 by Allen Isaacman and Barbara Isaacman
    EAN: 9780821420331
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