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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Progressive Pan-Africanism and Karl Marx, the Non-Marxist: An Interview with Issa Shivji

UbuntuIssa Shivji, leftist scholar of postcolonialism and contributor to Ubuntu: Curating the Archive edited by Leonhard Praeg and Siphokazi Magadla, was recently interviewed by Sabatho Nyamsenda for Pambazuka News.

In the interview Shivji, who is a well-respected public academic based in Dar es Salaam, speaks about his life in the academy, with its fluctuating trends and heated ideological debates.

Nyamsenda asks Shivji about his opinion of Mwalimu Nyerere because Shivji had the Professorial Chair in Pan-African Studies named after the earlier Pan-Africanist. Shivji explains that although he identifies himself as a Marxist and Nyerere does not, he considers it a great honour “to keep Nyerere’s legacy alive”.

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IS: Nyerere was a radical nationalist. He was a progressive Pan-Africanist and broadly anti-imperialist. To be sure, his anti-imperialism was not grounded in radical political economy, as was Nkrumah’s. Yet, his pro-people stance was consistent; his anti-imperialist position supportable and his nationalism progressive.

In comparison to the neo-liberal political class that succeeded him, and mindful of the havoc that this class has created in our society, woe unto any progressive, even a Marxist, who wouldn’t want to recall Nyerere’s legacy and deploy it as an ideological resource in the struggle against the current rapacious phase of capitalism.

Nyerere was not a Marxist and he didn’t disguise himself as one. Marx himself when confronted with vulgar Marxism exclaimed: “I am not a Marxist!” As a head of state, it is true he came out against struggles from below. But does that mean that a progressive person should not celebrate Nyerere’s progressive legacy and draw lessons from its contradictory character? My friend, a Marxist is not a purist; s/he is political!

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How to Defamiliarise Fact to Cast it as Fiction: An Interview with Nthikeng Mohlele (Podcast)

Rusty BellNthikeng Mohlele, author of Rusty Bell, was recently interviewed by Nancy Richards on SAfm.

In the interview, Richards asks Mohlele about his Literary Crossroads talk with Helon Habila and The Brilliant Novel Opening Lines Facebook Page that he operates.

Mohlele starts off by speaking about how the facts of reality are “rewritten, recalibrated and realigned and given shades on unfamiliarity” in literature. All novels are based on some sort of reality, but Mohlele tries hard to avoid autobiographical work; he prefers “observation in social spaces.”

The interview with Mohlele starts at 24:17 of the podcast:

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Steven Friedman on Racism: South Africa Dropped the Ball in 1994 (Podcast)

Race, Class and PowerSteven Friedman, author of Race, Class and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of Apartheid and senior analyst at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, was interviewed by Xolani Gwala for Talk Radio 702 about the prevalence of race rows at present.

In the interview, Friedman comments on the recent spate of racist incidents on social media, and says he believes South Africa dropped the ball in 1994. The country overcame an enormous hurdle with the first democratic election, he says, but there is still a long way to go. He believes that racism has a great cost in economic and political spheres.

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Speaking to Xolani on 702 about the recent racially charged incidents such as Zelda la Grange’s twitter rant and the reaction that followed, Political Analyst, Steven Friedman said that the ‘rise’ in race related cases is not a rise at all but rather he has a hunch that the racially charged events have been happening all along.

Listen to the podcast:


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Christopher Ballantine and Goolam Vahed Reflect on the Prestigious UKZN Book Prize

Marabi NightsChatsworthChristopher Ballantine and Goolam Vahed recently spoke to Melissa Mungroo about being awarded the 2012/13 University of KwaZulu-Natal Book Prizes recently.

Ballantine said his book, Marabi Nights: Jazz, ‘Race’ and Society, which is prescribed by music departments at universities in South Africa, the United Kingdom and America, helps people “to become aware of the history and the social meanings of marabi-jazz”.

Vahed co-edited Chatsworth: The Making of a South African Township with Ashwin Desai, which includes essays by over 20 contributors. “This took a lot of hard work, including logistical and communication problems. The end result is a book that we are all proud of,” Vahed said.

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Academics Professor Christopher Ballantine of the School of Arts: Music and Professor Goolam Vahed of the School of Social Sciences, each received the coveted 2012/13 UKZN Press Book Prize for books they have had published.

Ballantine’s book is titled: Marabi Nights – Jazz, ‘Race’ and Society in Early Apartheid South Africa, while Vahed’s is titled: The Making of a South African Township.

Ballantine won the prize under Category A: Academic Book, and Vahed under Category B: Edited Book award. Both books were published by UKZN Press.

‘The UKZN Book Prize is a prestigious honour for our authors,’ said Ms Adele Branch of UKZN Press. ‘The number of submissions is huge, especially as there are a lot of academics who publish books via overseas or other local publishers or through departments and other avenues.

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Nthikeng Mohlele: I Do Not See Colour When I Create Characters

Rusty BellNthikeng Mohlele chatted to Nancy Richards on SAfm Literature about his newly released third novel, Rusty Bell.

The lead character of Rusty Bell is a lawyer, Michael, who despite his vocation is a philosophical figure. Mohlele says the influence there came from the French existentialist Albert Camus.

“Camus does that very well,” Mohlele says, “in writing about characters that reflect society to itself, in not playing to the norms of what would be expected of a person, or persons, or a group in similar circumstances.”

On his writing process, Mohlele says he believes very strongly that writers have a responsibility not to allow research to stifle their creativity.

“I’m fortunate in that I happen, for some reason – or at least I’ve got an illusion that I’m a very perceptive person, so I listen very intently or I observe things very closely, and I try as much as I can not to over-research my books, because I do not want to waste time reproducing research.

“You need a certain level of research, obviously, so that you’ve got well-drawn characters, and that the central impetus of the story rings true – because I’m not a lawyer, for one, and there are things that normally, as an artist, you wouldn’t be exposed to on a daily basis. But you have a duty as a creative person, from a literary point of view, to make sure that the research does not overwhelm the creative spark and your responsibilities as a writer.”

A discussion of character led Mohlele to outline his stance on the issue of writing across race or culture. He says he based the character of Columbus on a good friend of his, although his friend is black and the character happens to have blue eyes and curly hair: “that is immaterial to me; I do not see colour when I create things”.

“You hear, peripherally, debates saying ‘can white writers really convincingly write black characters?’, and vice versa; black writers, white characters,” Mohlele says. “I think it’s a dumb argument, it’s a false argument. People go through similar things. They might not have similar cultural registers, or interpretations, because each group of people or individuals have got their own peculiarities in how they relate to life, in their immediate circumstances, or how they respond to pressures that are coming from outside of their person as human beings.”

Listen to the full podcast:

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Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho Explains the Impetus Behind his Debut Novel The Violent Gestures of Life

The Violent Gestures of LifeTshifhiwa Given Mukwevho says his debut novel, The Violent Gestures of Life, is an attempt to create dialogue between the youth, their parents and the government.

The Violent Gestures of Life is Mukwevho’s debut novel, following his short story collection, A Traumatic Revenge, which was published in 2011.

In an interview with Zoutnet, Mukwevho says he was interested in family relationships, as well as the reasons that the youth in South Africa turn to crime.

According to Mukwevho, the content of his novel was articulated around his personal experiences. “I had the rough draft and title of this book in mind while I was still doing time at the Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre,” he said. “I am deeply obligated to the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC) who funded the manuscript development and writer’s residency, which enabled me to complete this book,” added Mukwevho.

He said he was living the kind of life that compelled his pen to write for social responsibility. He believes in the contemporary youth who do not merely sit down and let things happen for them. “We make things happen. We need healing in different areas of our lives, particularly when it comes to crime. Prisons are filled to capacity with young lives,” he said.

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Percy Zvomuya Interviews Nthikeng Mohlele, Author of Small Things

Small ThingsPercy Zvomuya chatted to Nthikeng Mohlele, author of Small Things, for the Mail & Guardian. Zvomuya mentions JM Coetzee’s “unrestrained praise” of the book, saying that it is easy to see why Coetzee says that, “The prose is rich in texture, the final effect melancholy and comic in equal proportions.”

Zvomuya found out what Mohlele is currently reading, what music he’s enjoying at the moment and other little snippets from his life:

“Behind this story of love, music and the eternal quest, lies an artistic sensibility as generous as it is complex. The prose is rich in texture, the final effect melancholy and comic in equal proportions,” the Nobel ­laureate wrote.

Unrestrained praise, but then, over the past few years, ­Coetzee has been generous in his praise of young South African writers.

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Sean Christie Interviews John Eppel About the Changing Reactions to His Work

TogetherSean Christie from the Mail & Guardian visited John Eppel at his home in Bulawayo. They discussed the changing reactions towards Eppel’s satire, which has been resonating with younger Zimbabwean writers.

Christie suggests that this may be partially because “the targets of Eppel’s satire — Zimbabwe’s rapacious ruling elite — had become such living grotesques that Eppel’s caricatures could not have failed to resonate widely”.

Given the exotic flowers in his oeuvre, especially in the poems, it is surprising to find John Eppel’s garden in the crackle-dry suburb of Hillside, Bulawayo, dominated by the indigenous Portulaca hereroensis. This fast-growing fleshy plant has all but devoured the property’s steel strand perimeter fence, and seems bent on taking Eppel’s ramshackle (his word) home too.

That’s a mild exaggeration. The effect of the portulaca is more insulation than threat — protection from the outside world. And one soon learns not to make light of botanical matters in Eppel’s company. The 65-year-old writer was in his kitchen breaking a chocolate bar into a bowl when I brought up a controversial new book on white identity in Zimbabwe by the American anthropologist David Hughes.

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Video: Lance Samuels Chats to Expresso About the Audience Choice Award for Fanie Fourie’s Lobola

Fanie Fourieâ��s LobolaExpresso interviewed Lance Samuels, producer of the film adaptation of Fanie Fourie’s Lobola by Nape ‘A Motana, shortly after the movie won the Audience Choice Award for Best Comedy at the 19th Annual Sedona International Film Festival.

As it takes a lot of time, effort and dedication to make a film in South Africa, an excited Samuels said that the international recognition Fanie Fourie’s Lobola received was a “huge result” for them.

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