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Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

Daniel Magaziner discusses The Art of Life in South Africa on SAfm

The Art of Life in South Africa From 1952 to 1981, South Africa’s apartheid government ran a school for the training of African art teachers at Indaleni, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal. The Art of Life in South Africa is about the students, teachers, art, ideas, and politics that led to the school’s founding, and which circulated during the years of its existence at a remote former mission station. It is a story of creativity, beauty, and community in twentieth-century South Africa.

Daniel Magaziner radically reframes apartheid-era South African history. Against the dominant narrative of apartheid oppression and black resistance, this book focuses instead on a small group’s efforts to fashion more fulfilling lives through the ironic medium of an apartheid-era school. Lushly illustrated with almost 100 images, this book gives us fully formed lives and remarkable insights into life under segregation and apartheid.

Daniel Magaziner is associate professor of history at Yale University. He is the author of The Law and the Prophets: Black Consciousness in South Africa, 1968–1977.

‘A richly suggestive and moving contribution to South African intellectual history.’
- Achille Mbembe, author of Critique of Black Reason

‘This book is as important for students of global modernism as it is for scholars of South African art, history, and politics.’
- Tamar Garb, author of Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography

‘A profoundly human story of the institutional and social constraints under which African artists operated and the different ways they sought to produce beauty in the midst of oppression.’
- Frederick Cooper, author of Africa in the World: Capitalism, Empire, Nation-State

‘A meditation on what happens if we examine a past that is shaped by broader historical forces (in this case apartheid) but that cannot be reduced to them.’
- Clifton Crais, coeditor of The South Africa Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Here Daniel discusses his remarkable book with Nancy Richards on SAfm Literature:

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Eusebius McKaiser discusses Tribing and Untribing the Archive on 702

Eusebius McKaiser recently discussed Carolyn Hamilton’s and Nessa Leibhammer’s Tribing and Untribing the Archive: Volume Two on Talk Radio 702.

The pernicious combination of tribe and tradition continues to tether modern South Africans to ideas about the region’s remote past as primitive, timeless and unchanging. Any hunger for knowledge or understanding of the past before European colonialism thus remains to a significant degree unsated, even denied, in the face of a narrowly prescribed archive and repugnant, but insidiously resilient stereotypes.

These volumes track how the domain of the tribal and traditional was marked out and came to be sharply distinguished from modernity, how it was denied a changing history and an archive and was endowed instead with a timeless culture. These volumes also offer strategies for engaging with the materials differently – from the interventions effected in contemporary artworks to the inserting of nameless, timeless objects of material culture into histories of individualised and politicised experience.

The central proposition of these volumes is to make the marooned archive of material culture more visible and more available for consideration as an archival resource than it is currently. They also seek to spring the identity trap, releasing the material from pre-assigned identity positions as tribal into settings that enable them to be used as resources for thinking critically about identity in the long past and in the present.

Professor Carolyn Hamilton is a South African anthropologist and historian who is a specialist in the history and uses of archives. She is National Research Foundation of South Africa chair in Archive and Public Culture at the University of Cape Town. Her publications include The Mfecane Aftermath (1995), Terrific Majesty (1998), and co-editorship of Refiguring the Archive (2002), the Cambridge History of South Africa (2012) and Uncertain Curature (2014).

Nessa Leibhammer is an independent scholar, curator and writer in heritage and material culture. She was previously the Curator of the Traditional Collections at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Exhibitions she has curated include the Jackson Hlungwane – A New Jerusalem retrospective exhibition (2014-15) and Dungamanzi: Stirring Waters where she was lead curator as well as editor of the accompanying catalogue (2005).

McKaiser explored the ‘re-intribing’ of cultures with John Wright, Research Fellow in the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town, and Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Research Manager at the Public Affairs Research Institute.

Listen to the podcast here:


Tribing and Untribing the Archive, Volume Two

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“Moaning is One of the Most Boring Art Forms”: Gcina Mhlophe Recommends Sharing Stories Instead

Umcelo Nezindaba Zase-AfrikaUmcelo Neentsomi Zase-AfrikaStories of AfricaHave You Seen Zandile?
Love ChildOur Story MagicHi Zoleka!Haai Zoleka!

Gcina Mhlophe, actress and storyteller, was recently featured on Thabiso Sikwane’s lunchtime radio show on Power FM to speak about the new Oral History Museum, which is opening in Durban.

The Oral History Museum, which also goes by the Story House, has been a dream of Mhlophe’s for a long time. Transferring knowledge to younger generations is an important means of culture.

Before discussing the museum, Sikwane and Mhlophe speak about the Fees Must Fall movement. Mhlophe’s emphasises the importance of education, saying “I’m right behind you, babies”.

Just as the student movements this year have allowed young people to make themselves heard, the Story House is a space for South Africans to tell their stories. For Mhlophe, this has been a long time coming: “It’s been 20 years of wishing and longing and praying for an oral history museum to be opened in this country, where ordinary South Africans can tell their stories.”

Mhlophe hopes that people will take this opportunity to tell their stories instead of complaining what a poor job the rest of the world is doing representing them. “Let’s just do it,” she says “moaning is one of the most boring art forms”.

Listen to the podcast:


Related Stories:

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Kerry Jones Shares the Story of Her Award Winning Book, Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture Dictionary

Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture DictionaryKerry Jones, co-author of Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture Dictionary, was recently interviewed about the book by Ilse Salzwedel on RSG.

Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture Dictionary recently won a 2015 ATKV-Woordveertjie for best dictionary.

Jones tells the story of how she came to write this book. She is trained as a linguist, and started learning the Ju|’hoan language when she shadowed a anthropologist who is fluent in the language, because she wanted to learn how to appropriately interact with people in minority groups.

As a linguist, Jones couldn’t help herself and soon started making a word list of the interesting language of the people she was living with. Because she is not Afrikaans, finding a lingua franca in order to translate the words was difficult, so the people showed her by means of pictures. “It became obvious” she said “that the book needed to include images”.

Listen to the podcast (interview begins at 27:18 – mixes English and Afrikaans):


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The Fixation on Education as a Cure-all is Diverting Us from Tackling Our Problems – Steven Friedman

Race, Class and PowerIn the midst of the raging #FeesMustFall campaign, the director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy Steven Friedman, who wrote Race, Class and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of Apartheid, reflected on the myth of education as a cure for all of South Africa’s problems.

“Just about everyone agrees that education is a solution to most of our — and everyone else’s — economic problems. Sadly, just about everyone is probably wrong,” Friedman writes in a recent Business Day column, which he shared as a post on his Facebook page, explaining why there are no miraculous powers hidden in education. He notes that this is not only a local myth but also popular abroad, as seen for example in British prime minister Tony Blair’s call for “education education education”.

“Not only is education not a miracle cure, but the fixation with its supposed healing powers may be diverting us from tackling our problems,” the political scientist says.

Read Friedman’s reflection for a completely different take on the current debate around education:

Education is not the cure-all it is made out to be

JUST about everyone agrees that education is a solution to most of our — and everyone else’s — economic problems. Sadly, just about everyone is probably wrong.

A week in which university students are resisting fee increases is a good time to reflect on a constant theme in our national debate — the wondrous healing powers of education.

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that whenever South Africans debate a problem someone will insist, to agreeing nods, that the solution is more and better education.

Nor is this response peculiarly South African: the former British prime minister Tony Blair once claimed that “education, education, education” would solve his country’s problems.

Visiting French economist Thomas Piketty also told us recently of education’s role in reducing inequality here.

Surely this is obvious?

Well, no. Not only is education not a miracle cure, but the fixation with its supposed healing powers may be diverting us from tackling our problems.

Before the accusations begin, the benefits of an education are obvious, particularly to those of us lucky enough to have one. But education is not the cure-all solution it is meant to be.

Recently, Ricardo Hausmann, a former Venezuelan cabinet minister and academic economist who is no wild-eyed radical, published an article showing that education is not on its own an engine of economic growth. His numbers show that huge growth in education levels over the past 50 years have not translated into equivalent growth in the economy.

Hausmann pointed out that China’s educational progress lags behind that of Tunisia, Mexico, Kenya and Iran — yet it grew much faster than any of them. He added that if education on its own produced growth, Albania, Armenia and Sri Lanka would not be poverty stricken: “Whatever is preventing these countries from becoming richer, it is not lack of education.”

Nor does evidence necessarily show that education is a fix for inequality: recent research by the Brookings Institution in the US shows that while, not surprisingly, poor people improve their situation if they receive an education, this does not reduce overall inequality.

It is also clear that education often produces inequality — the well-off attend the best schools and universities, while the poor make do with the education system’s crumbs. So it may well be that equality is needed to fix education, not that education is needed to fix inequality.

More than 20 years ago, sociologist Harold Wolpe argued against the idea that education alone could erode inequality if other measures were not taken to attend to the problem. The evidence supports him.
There are many debates about the link between education, on the one hand, and poverty and inequality on the other.

But what is clear is that it is simply not true that education on its own solves these problems — at the very least, other remedies are needed.

This is why harping on education can hold us back — by diverting our attention from other problems that need attention.

A frequent problem is that the education argument becomes a handy excuse for those who are doing well and do not want anything to change.

For them, the argument that “education is the answer” really means that “they” should stop complaining about “us”. Instead, “they” should realise that “we” are doing well because we know much more than them — if “they” want to be like “us”, they should learn how.

The handy thing about this argument is that it places all the blame on people at the bottom and requires no change at all from those at the top. Like the claim that voters need “education” whenever they behave in a way that elites dislike, this is more about making people at the top feel better than about solving problems.

Even where the purpose is not to shift blame on to the poor, focusing on education at the expense of other priorities can worsen problems — an oft-cited example in our region is Zimbabwe, which made substantial gains in education after majority rule, but did not fix the other problems that needed attention if it was to prosper.

Inequality remains our deepest problem — far too deep to be solved by one “fix” alone. It requires a range of solutions, all of which need to be negotiated among the major economic actors and all of which require all to change the way they do things and to give up some of what they have in the interests of a future that can work for all. Education may feature in that process — but it is no substitute for it.

On Friday, the day which saw masses gather at the Union Building in Pretoria to hear president Zuma announce a zero percent increase in tertiary education fees, Friedman spoke to CapeTalk’s John Maytham, saying he believes the campaign won’t hurt the ANC government.

With regards to the #FeesMustFall campaign, Friedman says, “It is important, but it is not as significant as many people think”.

Listen to the podcast to find out why he says so:


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“We Need a New Language”: Listen to the Third Annual Neville Alexander Seminar at UCT

Interviews with Neville AlexanderThe third annual Neville Alexander Seminar was hosted earlier this year by the Centre for African Studies (CAS) at the University of Cape Town.

The event was established at UCT in 2013 to commemorate the life and work of the legendary scholar, who died on 27 August 2012.

The topic of the seminar, “We need a new language: a dialogue with Neville Alexander on the language question”, was debated vigorously by panelists Xolisa Guzula, Blaq Pearl, Wandile Kasibe and Adam Haupt. The panel was moderated by Ana Deumert.

Read more about the seminar:

According to event organiser and CAS research fellow Nkululeko Mabandla, the first seminar was on multilingualism and the role of isiXhosa in higher education. “In 2014, we took stock of work on intellectualisation and language planning,” Mabandla says. “This third Neville Alexander Seminar brought together scholars and activists working on and with language. The theme took its cue from recent discussions around language at UCT, particularly the call for a ‘new language’ which will allow us to imagine and articulate a new, de-colonial world; a language which challenges, as Rhodes Must Fall has noted, ‘the pacifying logic of liberalism,’ Mabandla explains.

Deumert introduced the speakers and said in her introduction:

“An important aspect of Neville Alexander’s last oeuvre is that he always, long before many of us I have to say, recognised the ways in which language is not just a system of sounds and structures but is also always creative material.

“Neville Alexander wrote about the magic of words, the way language is not only a mirror of the world but also an instrument for change.”

Blaq Pearl kicked off the event with a poetry performance that was met with roaring applause. She told a story of when she met Alexander in 2010 and the support he showed towards her studies on Afrikaans language, heritage and identity and the “kind of Afrikaans we speak in the Cape”. She said that meeting him made her feel inspired and empowered to speak her language.

Kasibe spoke on five points: Language and culture; language, race and colonialism; the colour of our language; colonialism carrying the seeds of its own undoing and how a new language is formed by the evolution of politics.

Guzula was the next speaker and reminded everyone that “this was the day that Neville passed away”.

“He wouldn’t have wanted us to be sad; he would have wanted us to celebrate his life,” Guzula said in her opening remarks. “Neville was a pragmatist,” she continued, reflecting on her experience with language and education. “I have learnt through personal experience that people have very strong language ideologies which can be used to exclude, to prejudice and to stereotype others.”

Finally, Haupt, author of Static and Stealing Empire, spoke about his research into hip hop culture and the unorthodox use of English and Afrikaans. “Hip hop is about validating the negating signs of blackness,” Haupt explained. He carried on to speak about the fact that certain languages and dialects of those language have more social capital than others.

“The notion of what is orthodox and what is unorthodox is always contested,” Haupt said.

Listen to the recording of the third annual Neville Alexander Seminar:

Third Annual Neville Alexander Seminar (CAS UCT, 27 Aug 2015) by Adam Haupt on Mixcloud

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Listen to an Interview with Gcina Mhlophe – Writer, Storyteller and Cultural Ambassador

Gcina Mhlophe was a guest on The Forum@eight on SAfm recently where she spoke about the thing she loves most – storytelling.

Umcelo Nezindaba Zase-AfrikaHave You Seen Zandile?Love ChildOur Story MagicStories of AfricaSongs and Stories of Africa

Who is Gcina Mhlophe? “I’m a writer, I’m a storyteller and I see myself as a cultural ambassador wherever I travel. I’ve been travelling the world for 33 years, everywhere I go I try to represent my country or my continent in fact.”

In the podcast, Mhlophe muses on the meaning of Heritage Month and Heritage Day: “Heritage Day for me means that we must celebrate our history, where we come from, celebrate those who came before us. We celebrate what we remember so that we pass it on to future generations. It means that we not only look at dressing up in African attire one a year – we should do it as many times as possible and feel good in our skin.

“It means that we must wake up the pride in each and every one of us as citizens of this wonderful continent, the place of beginnings.

“We need to get back to celebrating who we are,” she says. “What on earth is Braai Day? If you want to braai go ahead and braai then. We want to celebrate our culture.”

Listen to the podcast for Mhlophe’s account of how she started telling stories in 1991:

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Nomalanga Mkhize: “The Dept of Education is Very Bureaucratic in Its Approach to Black Children’s Education”

The Fate of the Eastern CapeDr Nomalanga Mkhize, history lecturer at Rhodes University and contributor to The Fate of the Eastern Cape: History, Politics and Social Policy, recently spoke on Power FM about the problem with the quality of children’s and adult literature in African languages.

Mkhize, who has written numerous children’s stories published in newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal, says that it is very difficult to get published in African languages in South Africa.

When it comes to reading material taught in public schools at foundation phase level, Mkhize says: “The Department of Education is very bureaucratic in its approach to black children’s education, they don’t think innovatively or out of the box.

“The kind of stuff that the Department of Education give to black kids, no one who is middle class and sends their kid to a model C school or private school would expect their children to read that kind of rubbish in English.”

Mkhize continues: “It’s shocking how much of the materials that are produced in African languages are not written by African-language speakers, particularly in the children’s market.”

She says there’s nothing wrong with translation of English texts to indigenous languages, but it is important to build up an organic reading culture in children’s home languages.

Listen to the podcast:

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Antjie Krog’s Poetic Capital gives Her “A Certain Kind of Power” – Anthea Garman (Podcast)

Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public SphereAnthea Garman, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, recently spoke to Corina van der Spoel about her book, Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public Sphere: Speaking Poetry to Power.

Garman says the first time she encountered Antjie Krog was at a workshop set up for journalists on how to cover the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. At the time she was at odds with her news editor who didn’t think that the TRC was that important, while Garman viewed it as a watershed moment in our history.

When Country of My Skull was released, Garman interviewed Krog for the Rhodes Journalism Review and was struck by Krog’s freedom to ask questions that journalists were often unable to ask. “She was posing questions with a great deal of panache and authority.”

How was she able to do this? Garman, who’d never studied Krog at school, started to read all the media coverage of Krog since she was a 17-year-old poet in Kroonstad and was astounded by her long-established, extraordinary relationship with journalism, long before she became a producer of media.

“The media attention that she’s garnered over all those years of being a poet had actually given her a certain kind of capital, a certain kind of power.”

This power enables her to say things that create discomfort. Reflecting on Krog’s keynote speech at the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards, Garman says: “She is brave enough to say inappropriate things.”

Another factor that motivated the study was the question of who is allowed to speak in the current race debate. “How does an Afrikaans white woman of this particular age keep on speaking and keep on speaking and keep on speaking and people keep on paying attention?”

Garman discovered that Country of My Skull is a prescribed text on the post-apartheid space in history classrooms around the world: “She speaks for us as South Africans on a world stage.”

Listen to the podcast:

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South Africa Needs a Feminist President – Nomalanga Mkhize (Podcast)

The Fate of the Eastern CapeWould having a woman as president change the fundamental nature of our society?

This is the question that Stephen Grootes recently put to Dr Nomalanga Mkhize, a history lecturer at Rhodes University and contributor to The Fate of the Eastern Cape: History, Politics and Social Policy edited by Greg Ruiters.

“It would certainly go a long way in giving a different image of what leadership can be or should be,” Mkhize says, adding however that from the corporate sector one can see that the rise of female power does not “necessarily translate into the changing of traditionally masculine culture or approach to leadership”.

“We do need to see women physically rising up to the highest office of power in South Africa, but that woman will also then have to be quite feminist to advance anything.”

Mkhize continues: “It’s very important to see women doing things that were traditionally reserved for men, in particular on the African continent where there are very few high-profile women leaders.”

Listen to the podcast:

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