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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Book launch: The Art of Life in South Africa by Daniel R. Magaziner

University of KwaZulu-Natal Press and Adams Books cordially invite you to the launch of The Art of Life in South Africa by Daniel Magaziner.

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Read a feature on Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, the main editors and translators of the Jeff Opland Series on Xhosa writers

These features were published in The Sunday Independent.

A feature on Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, the main editors and translators of the Jeff Opland Series on Xhosa writers, recently appeared in the Sunday Independent.

Read an extract from the two pieces here:

It is common when thinking of a literary archive in the South African indigenous languages, to focus only on the knowledge of literary heritage of a few authors and their selected writings.

In particular, writings that were used at the point of the introduction of literacy for didactic purposes are the only considered as a literary canon of the language.

It is also common that these selected writings are studied and appreciated only for their literary attributes or as far as they are able to tell us about the biographies of their writers.

The meaningful value of a literary archive is embodied in a letter written in the newspaper Isigidimi, in 1887 by Wellington W. Gqoba. Writing in his capacity as an editor, he says, “But there are reasons for me not to remain idle but to deal briefly with minor aspects of … chronological stories of our national stories … motivated as I am by national envy in doing so. My fervent desire is that our history should be well known and brought into print because all nations who possess a history continue to live and do not die even if they are fragmented.

We are taught the events of the nations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, of the English and so on, who they were and what they are today. Thus, they are very much alive, because even we who never shared their experiences or saw them, at least today we know something about them. Through their historical books, we see them, we discuss them and make an example of some of their sayings and habits as reflected in their present day legacy.”

Gqoba argues that a literary heritage reflects and preserves the national, social and cultural identity of a nation. He posits that from these we can deduce the knowledge and intellectual thoughts of the society on whom the writings are based, knowledge that can be shared with other nations.

He is the author of the first volume in the Opland Xhosa Literature Collection Series. Most of his works, which appeared mainly in Isigidimi were copied and collected by Professor Jeffrey Opland and form part of Opland’s Library Collection.

The Gqoba volume was published in 2015 and was translated and co-edited by Opland, Maseko and Kuse. The works reflect, through various literary genres, the intellectual thought of the isiXhosa-speaking Nguni people of the Eastern Cape, reflecting the African ways of knowing.

As Series Editors, Opland and Maseko are driven by the possibilities that these works can add to the body of knowledge in various disciplines in the academy.

They say it is sad that the academy is silent about African intellectual thought when Africa is teeming in its presence. The right to speak your language, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, is not enough, if one cannot use it to understand, share and process knowledge in the context of one’s past experiences, and ways of knowing.

Continue reading the features on Opland and Maseko here:

Pamela Maseko Sunday Independent Article

 
 

DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange

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William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali

 
 


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IsiShweshwe traces the origins of the cloth, its early usage, and cultural adaptations

The cross-cultural usage of a particular cloth type – blueprint – is central to South African cultural history.

Known locally as seshoeshoe or isishweshwe, among many other localised names, South African blueprint originated in the Far East and East Asia.

Adapted and absorbed by the West, blueprint in Africa was originally associated with trade, coercion, colonisation, Westernisation, religious conversion and even slavery, but residing within its hues and patterns was a resonance that endured.

The cloth came to reflect histories of hardship, courage and survival, but it also conveyed the taste and aesthetic predilections of its users, preferences often shared across racial and cultural divides.

In its indigenisation, isishweshwe has subverted its former history and alien origins and has come to reflect the authority of its users and their culture, conveying resilience, innovation and adaptation and above all a distinctive South Africanness.

In this beautifully illustrated book Juliette Leeb-du Toit traces the origins of the cloth, its early usage and cultural adaptations, and its emerging regional, cultural and aesthetic significance.

In examining its usage and current national significance, she highlights some of the salient features associated with histories of indigenisation.

An art historian who has a particular interest in African and South African art, Juliette Leeb-du Toit has also had a lifelong interest in design and textiles. She is currently engaged in the recovery of modernisms in design history, the impact of German modernism in South Africa and the impact of China on the arts in South Africa.

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Book launch: The Illustrated Glossary of Southern African Architectural Terms

Franco Frescura, one of the authors of Illustrated Glossary of Southern African Architectural Terms will be giving talks on this book and its impact not only on architecture, but also on an inclusive account of cultural history in SA

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Breathing Spaces – a photographical exploration of the relationship between people and their neighborhoods in Durban


 

Breathing Spaces is a book of environmental portraits, composed of photographs taken in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a few years after South Africa’s democracy. It explores how photographic images can move us, can unlock personal and shared memories, can prompt public debate, can unsettle us and challenge us to think about alternative environmental futures. The photographs in Breathing Spaces explore the relationship between people and three neighbourhoods located south of Durban harbour: Wentworth, Merebank and Lamontville.

Durban’s densely populated southern basin is well known as a flashpoint of pollution perpetrated by South African industries and transnational petrochemical corporations. It is also known for the conflict over plans for further, dirty economic growth.

Breathing Spaces: Environmental Portraits of Durban’s Industrial South presents portraits of people and living spaces taken by social documentary photographer Jenny Gordon. These are interleaved with reproductions of images from family albums and are variously accompanied by extracts from Marijke du Toit’s conversations with the people portrayed, their friends, family and neighbours. A selection of photographs taken by local residents who participated in photographic workshops and exhibitions, held in the particular neighbourhoods, are also included. As a composite portrait, this book presents long histories of personal, communal and familial places in South Durban. It explores the possibilities of photography through conversation, and conversation through photography. It is about the struggle to take personal breath against social and environmental injustice.

Historian Marijke du Toit is based in the Faculty of Arts at the University of the Western Cape, where she works as a specialist for teaching and learning in Higher Education. Before moving to UWC she was based at the History Department of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

Photographer Jenny Gordon lectures photojournalism at the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Grahamstown.
 

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“Handle history with care – it might come back to bite you”: Stephen Coan on Tribing and Untribing the Archive


 

Former features writer for the Witness, writer-director in film and theatre, and freelance journalist, Stephen Coan, recently wrote an article on Tribing and Untribing the Archive, edited by Carolyn Hamilton and Nessa Leibhammer, discussing the significance of past events which has shaped the current political order. Read Coan’s insightful piece here:

Decolonisation. The use of the word is much in vogue at present; usually invoked to advocate a move away from a Eurocentric focus to one that is Afrocentric. If the concept is to be pursued with serious intent it could have quite unexpected implications for traditional leaders, not only in the province of KwaZulu-Natal but the whole of South Africa.

These implications are made clear in Tribing and Untribing the Archive – Identity and the Material Record in Southern KwaZulu-Natal in the Late Independent and Colonial Periods, edited by Carolyn Hamilton and Nessa Leibhammer, published in two slipcased volumes and consisting of twenty essays and an epilogue drawn from a multidisciplinary team of contributors, including archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, art historians, archivists and curators.

According to the editors the essays provide a window into “not only to see how archives give shape to history, but also how history gives shape to archives.”

But what exactly is “the archive”? On one level it is what has been written: what is found in state repositories, missionary records, personal papers, recorded oral testimony and newspapers. However Tribing and Untribing the Archive goes further, drawing attention “to the extent of the material culture record … little appreciated by researchers outside art history and archaeology.”

Consequently material objects such as snuff spoons, sticks, photographs and artworks are brought within the compass of the archive thus allowing scope for such essays as Nontobeko Ntombela’s Shifting contexts: Material, Process and Contemporary Art in Times of Change and Hlonipha Mokoena’s quirky and intriguing ‘Knobkerrie’: Some Preliminary Notes on the Transformation of a Weapon into a Swagger Stick, or Sometimes a Stick is Not Just a Stick which teases out out the meaning and complexities of a photograph (c.1890) depicting two policemen, one (white and seated) with a swagger stick and the other (black, barefoot, and standing) holding a knobkerrie.

Another group of essays, which include an aspect of Christoph Rippe’s pioneering work on the photographic collections at Mariannhill Monastery plus André Croucamp’s delving into tourism promotion by the Natal Government Railways, reveal how the image of “the Zulu” popularly assumed to be a product of the Zulu heartland north of the Thukela was in fact constructed much further south with paintings and photographs made within easy travelling distance (firstly by horse, then rail) of Durban.

Whatever a contributor’s particular focus all the essays coalesce under the umbrella of the title essay, Tribing and Untribing the Archive by Hamilton and Leibhammer, which elaborates on how “yoked together in the service of colonial and later apartheid rule, the pernicious combination of tribe and tradition continues to tether modern South Africans to ideas about the remote past as primitive, timeless and unchanging, despite substantial scholarly and public critical discussion of the fallacy of these notions.”

Speaking at the book’s launch in Johannesburg contributor John Wright said the most frequent response to its content was: “‘Well, if we can’t call them tribes, what can we call them?’”
“It’s the wrong question,” he countered. “The issue is not about finding new names for a category, but rethinking the nature of the category altogether. Historical work is showing that before the 19th century Africans lived not in bounded, relatively homogeneous ‘tribes’, but in polities, for which we have no word in English, that were fluid, relatively loosely structured groups, organized round the exigencies of making and remaking alliances, and incorporating newcomers.”

“Many people – black and white – today find it very difficult to think beyond Africans as ‘always’ having lived in tribes. They find it very difficult to think historically about African polities.”

While Tribing and Untribing the Archive has a specific regional focus – that of southern Kwazulu-Natal, bounded by the Thukela River in the north and the Mzimvubu in the south – the insights it contains have far wider application. “This area had a very distinctive colonial experience,” said Hamilton at the launch. “And it had a very distinctive experience before that, both before and after Shaka built up his power. What happened in this region has ramifications for the rest of the country.”

With the arrival of white settlers in significant numbers from the 1840s onwards southern KwaZulu-Natal became subject to colonial administration which saw Theophilus Shepstone, the Diplomatic Agent to the Native Tribes, devise a form of indirect rule which controlled African communities via the power of their chiefs. Non-compliant chiefs were either marginalised or, as in the case of the Hlubi leader Langalibalele kaMthimkhulu, designated rebels and violently subjugated. However, the great majority of chiefs recognised by Shepstone happily acquiesced in this system of government and turned it to their advantage. Thus by the end of the nineteenth century the concept of the “tribe” as the basic social and political unit of African society had become rooted in the minds of both the coloniser and the colonised.

Since 1994, as Grant McNulty details in his essay (Re)discovering the Correct History, numerous communities in KwaZulu-Natal have called for recognition of their pasts and identities both before their assimilation into the Zulu kingdom during the time of King Shaka kaSenzangakhona or their later status under colonial rule, “wrestling with how best to navigate these oppressed histories and how and what to present as evidence in support of their claims.”

This has seen frequent recourse to the archive, as the Campbell Collections in Durban and local state repositories can attest, in order “to strengthen and validate claims for traditional leadership submitted to the Nhlapo Commission and the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims.” The archive has also been used by lawyers investigating land claims while many members of the public have taken to researching their histories to try and re-establish their roots and identity.

According to McNulty the resultant re-emergence of the pre-Zulu history of the Hlubi, Ndwandwe, Quabe, and Nhlangwini represents “a direct threat to the authenticity and power of the Zulu king as a custodian and symbol of a unified Zulu nation.”

Post-1994 the liberation movements deliberately moved away from the tribal concept, a trajectory widely expected to continue. “Paradoxically, the opposite has happened,” according to Wright in Making Identities in the Thukela-Mzimvubu Region.

“National and provincial governments sought first to accommodate and then to win the support of ‘traditional leaders’ by recognising and augmenting the authority they exercised in terms of ‘customary law’ in ‘tribal areas’ based on those established in the eras of colonialism and apartheid.” Or, to put it another way, what is the decolonisation project to do with traditional leaders whose status came into being as the result of collaboration with the colonial regime or direct colonial appointment?

There are no easy answers to such questions and if nothing else, as Mbongiseni Buthelezi puts it in his perceptive epilogue: “These volumes show us that we know neither enough about the past before colonialism nor about the ways in which local institutions were reshaped in the early years of colonialism to suit a form of indirect colonial rule.”

“We need more investigation into the longer past because the more we know about the forms of social organisation, leadership, relations between neighbours and so on that existed prior to the advent of European settlement, the better we give back to the present and future their pasts.”

Tribing and Untribing the Archive marks both a beginning of that process and a challenge to the current political order.

 

Tribing and Untribing the Archive

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Living Together, Living Apart? explores social cohesion in South Africa

These ‘interventions’ are spurred by what in South Africa today is a buzz-phrase: social cohesion. The term, or concept, is bandied about with little reflection by leaders or spokespeople in politics, business, labour, education, sport, entertainment and the media.

Yet, who would not wish to live in a socially cohesive society? How, then, do we apply the ideal in the daily round when diversity of language, religion, culture, race and the economy too often supersedes our commitment to a common citizenry? How do we live together rather than live apart? Such questions provoke the purpose of these interventions.

The interventions – essays, which are short, incisive, at times provocative – tackle issues that are pertinent to both living together and living apart: equality/inequality, public pronouncement, xenophobia, safety, chieftaincy in modernity, gender-based abuse, healing, the law, education, identity, sport, new ‘national’ projects, the role of the arts, South Africa in the world.

In focusing on such issues, the essays point towards the making of a future, in which a critical citizenry is key to a healthy society.
 
 
 

Contributors include leading academics and public figures in South Africa today: Christopher Ballantine, Ahmed Bawa, Michael Chapman, Jacob Dlamini, Jackie Dugard, Kira Erwin, Nicole Fritz, Michael Gardiner, Gerhard Maré, Monique Marks, Rajend Mesthrie, Bonita Meyersfeld, Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Njabulo S. Ndebele, Kathryn Pillay, Faye Reagon, Brenda Schmahmann, Himla Soodyall, David Spurrett and Thuto Thipe.

Christopher Ballantine, Michael Chapman and Gerhard Maré are professors emeriti who are affiliated to the University of KwaZulu-Natal. They have all published prominently in areas of the humanities and social sciences in South Africa. Kira Erwin is a researcher at the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology. Her publications focus on race, space and urban identities.

Contents

Introduction
1 At Ease with Being ‘Citizen’ and ‘Human Being’
Njabulo S. Ndebele

2 Human Variation: What Can We Learn from Genetics?
Himla Soodyall and Faye Reagon

3 Agreeing to Disagree
David Spurrett

4 The Danger of Empty Words: from Rhetoric to Action
Kira Erwin

5 What Social Cohesion? Binding through Shared Austerity
Gerhard Maré

6 Where Walls Don’t Divide: Dreaming a Suburban Life
Monique Marks

7 Bound by Tradition: Chieftaincy in a ‘New’ South Africa
Thuto Thipe

8 ‘AmaNdiya, they’re not South Africans!’ Xenophobia and Citizenship
Kathryn Pillay

9 ‘Them’ and ‘Us’: Politics, Poetry and the Public Voice
Michael Chapman

10 ‘Urban Cool!’ Social Bridging in Language
Rajend Mesthrie

11 Sounds like a Better Future: Musicking for Social Change
Christopher Ballantine

12 Embroidering Controversy: The Politics of Visual Imaging
Brenda Schmahmann

13 Mothers, Children and Mathematics: Ways to a Better Society
Ahmed Bawa

14 Coercion or Cohesion? Educators in a Democracy
Michael Gardiner

15 Sexual Harassment and Violence: Higher Education as Social Microcosm
Jackie Dugard and Bonita Meyersfeld

16 The ‘Hidden’ Curriculum of South African Sport
Leigh-Ann Naidoo

17 The Global Obligations We Owe: A Source of Domestic Cohesion?
Nicole Fritz

18 The Death of Jacob Dlamini
Jacob Dlamini

Living Together, Living Apart?

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  • Living Together, Living Apart?: Social Cohesion in a Future South Africa by Christopher Ballantine, Kira Erwin, Gerhard Mare
    EAN: 9781869143329
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Durban book launch of Tribing and Untribing the Archive: Volumes 1 and 2

University of KwaZulu-Natal Press invites you to the launch of Tribing and Untribing the Archive. Dr Vukile Khumalo will be in conversation with editors Carolyn Hamilton and Nessa Leibhammer.

Both volumes of Tribing and Untribing the Archive will be sold as a single set.

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The Illustrated Glossary of Southern African Architectural Terms an insightful look at the culture of southern Africa’s rural builders

Since 1994 South Africa has undergone a steady erosion of its indigenous built environment, with a concomitant loss of indigenous building technology and its specialised terminology.

This glossary is based on the premise that you cannot understand the culture of a people unless you have a grasp of the nuances and hidden meanings of their language and brings together in one single volume the terminologies that are used by southern Africa’s rural builders. It covers the terminology used by indigenous builders as well as subsequent colonial white settlers including buildings of the so-called Cape Dutch, English Georgian, Victorian and Indian Traditions.

The text is set out in alphabetical order. It comprises each term in its original language, its translation where appropriate into isiZulu, and its definition in English and isiZulu. One of the strengths of this book is its visual component of accompanying sketches that expertly illustrate the terms.

This book is designed not only to assist in the teaching of architecture, but also to aid others who are interested in the field. Researchers and practitioners in disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology, culture studies and building science will find it a valuable addition to their libraries.
 

Franco Frescura was Professor and Chair of Architecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has published widely in the fields of indigenous architecture, colonial settlement and culture conservation. He has lectured in Europe, North America and South-East Asia. In 2010–2011 he was appointed Erasmus Mundus Scholar at the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

Joyce Myeza was a Fulbright Scholar at Simmons College, Boston. She is currently the Director of Libraries and Special Collections at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her current research interests include indigenous knowledge systems and enterprise architecture.

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NGOs and Social Justice in South Africa and Beyond invites careful reflection on the role of NGOs in SA

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are regarded by many as vital role players in improving the lives of the poor and bringing about social justice.

This book includes contributions from NGO workers, academics and social movement activists in order to provide varying perspectives on what possible role NGOs can rightly play in popular struggles. Consequently, the book does not have a single message about what role NGOs ought to play in struggles for social justice, but rather invites careful reflection and critical discussion on their role both in South Africa and further afield.

Sally Matthews teaches in the Department of Political and International Studies at Rhodes University. Her research and teaching focuses on the African continent, with particular interests in the politics of development and NGO work, the politics of teaching about Africa, and race and transformation in South African higher education.

Contributors: Kirk Helliker, Mazibuko Jara, Ayanda Kota, Injairu Kulundu, Tshepo Madlingozi, Firoze Manji, Sally Matthews, Koketso Moeti, Gladys Mpepho, Michael Neocosmos, Patronella Nqaba, Thapelo Tselapedi, Ashley Westaway.
 
 

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