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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Launch: isiSheshwe by Juliette Leeb-du Toit (14 September)

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.

Isishweshwe

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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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Was Zimbawe’s economic and structural decline inevitable?

By the dawn of independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had one of the most structurally developed economies and state systems in Africa and was classified as a middle-income country.

In 1980, Zimbabwe’s GDP per capita was almost equal to that of China. More than 30 years later, Zimbabwe had regressed to a low-income country with a GDP per capita among the lowest in the world. With these dark economic conditions, discussions concerning structural problems of a country once cited as Africa’s best potential are reignited.

Shumba interrogates the ruling elite political reproduction, modes of accumulation across key economic sectors and implications for development outcomes.

The book raises some pressing questions in search of answers.

If Zimbabwe was the golden darling after independence, why did this happen? Was it inevitable? What were the crucial choices made that led to it? Did the ruling elite know that their choices would lead to Zimbabwe’s developmental decline?
 
 
Jabusile Shumba is a development and public policy graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand. He co-edited Zimbabwe: Mired in Transition (2012). He works with civil society, governments and international organisations in the fields of public policy analysis, governance and human rights, and he lectures part-time for Africa University, College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance.

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A collection of Zakes Mda’s non-fiction to be published in November

Justify the EnemyThis book is a collection of non-fiction by the prolific author Zakes Mda. It showcases his role as a public intellectual with the inclusion of public lectures, essays and media articles. Mda focuses on South Africa’s history and the present, identity and belonging, the art of writing, human rights, global warming and why he is unable to keep silent on abuses of power.

Some of his best-known novels include Ways of Dying (1995, MNet Book Prize); The Heart of Redness (2000, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Africa, and Sunday Times Fiction Prize); The Madonna of Excelsior (2002, one of the Top Ten South African books published in the Decade of Democracy); The Whale Caller (2005); Cion (2007); Black Diamond (2009); The Sculptors of Mapungubwe (2013); Rachel’s Blue (2014); and Little Suns (2015, Sunday Times Literary Award).

Zakes Mda was born in Herschel in the Eastern Cape in 1948 and studied in South Africa, Lesotho and the United States. He wrote his first short story at the age of fifteen and has since won major South African and British literary awards for his novels and plays. His writing has been translated into twenty languages. Mda is a professor of Creative Writing at Ohio University.

J.U. Jacobs is an emeritus professor and senior research associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is the co-editor of Ways of Writing: Critical Essays on Zakes Mda (2009) and author of Diaspora and Identity in South African Fiction (2016).

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Follow the routes of your favourite fictional characters, visit settings from stories, or track down a writer’s birthplace with A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal is culturally rich, offering a wide range of writers – writing mainly in English and Zulu – who are linked through their lives and their writing to this province of South Africa. The writers include, to name just a few, Alan Paton, Roy Campbell, Lewis Nkosi, Ronnie Govender, Wilbur Smith, Daphne Rooke, Credo Mutwa and Gcina Mhlophe. And how better to understand a writer than to know about the places they are linked to? For example, who, after reading the lyrical opening sentences of Paton’s famous book Cry, the Beloved Country (1948) has not wanted to see this scene in reality?

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.

A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal introduces you to the regions and writers through word and image, leading you imaginatively through this beautiful province.

This could include following the route a fictional character charts in a novel, visiting particular settings from a story or tracking down the places linked to a writer, whether a birthplace, home, burial site or significant setting. Literary tourists are interested in how places have influenced writing and at the same time how writing has created place.

This is also a way of reflecting upon and understanding historic and contemporary identities in a changing cultural and political South African landscape.

Niall McNulty is a digital publishing specialist who was involved in the Literary Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal research project for several years. Niall is currently the digital publishing manager at Cambridge University Press where he is at the forefront of researching and developing publishing technologies for the creation of interactive e-books.
 
 
Lindy Stiebel is Professor Emeritus of English Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her research interests are linked by a profound interest in the relationship between writers and place: these include the South African colonial and post-colonial novel; Indian Ocean studies, particularly literary interconnections between South Africa, India and Mauritius; and literary tourism. Her latest book published in 2016 is entitled Writing Home: Lewis Nkosi on South African Literature (with Michael Chapman, UKZN Press).

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Watch: Daniel Magaziner discusses The Art of Life in South Africa on SABC 2 Morning Live

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 on SABC2:
 
 

 

The Art of Life in South Africa

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Leonhard Praeg’s first novel “an impressive and carefully considered novel that takes some of Milan Kundera’s most enigmatic thoughts and modernises them” – Andrew Brown

Imitation is a strikingly original work of great subtlety, complexity, imagination, originality, and a clear homage to Milan Kundera’s Immortality. I have never read a novel quite like this.’ – JASON M. WIRTH, Commiserating with Devastated Things: Milan Kundera and the Entitlements of Thinking

‘Imitation is challenging, ambitious and intelligent. It is a fascinating and adventurous parallel to Immortality that is intriguingly and playfully managed; an impressive and carefully considered novel that takes some of Milan Kundera’s most enigmatic thoughts and modernises them.’ – ANDREW BROWN, 2006 recipient of the Sunday Times Fiction Prize for Coldsleep Lullaby

‘With stylistic virtuosity, Praeg successfully enacts the tempestuous relationship between philosophy and fiction while elegantly and eloquently exploring the relationship between coloniser and colonised subjects. It is a brilliant, sparkling novel that heralds a very thoughtful, new voice on the South African literary scene.’ – SAM NAIDU, Associate Professor of Literary Theory, World Literatures, and English Literature, Rhodes University

Imitation

 
Imitation happened when an unsuspecting philosopher one day found himself equally outraged by South African president Jacob Zuma’s Big Man building project in Nkandla; awed, all over again, by Milan Kundera’s Immortality; and numbed by the monument to hubris generally known as ‘the highest basilica in all of Christendom’, Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire.

Leonhard Praeg is head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pretoria. He has published a number of books on African philosophy, violence in the post-colony and African humanism. Imitation is his first novel.

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Hostels in South Africa examines the transformation of Durban’s KwaMashu Hostel from a single-sex men’s hostel to family accommodation in community residential units

Hostels in South AfricaThis book is about the transformation of KwaMashu Hostel in Durban in the twenty-first century – from a single-sex men’s hostel to family accommodation in community residential units.

It presents the continuities and discontinuities that take place as hostel-dwellers grapple with everyday livelihood struggles.

The broader South African labour market does not make it easy for rural-urban migrants, who continue to make the same journeys their grandfathers, fathers and uncles, and later their grandmothers, mothers and aunts took, in search of employment opportunities, although the context for these journeys has changed immeasurably.

Hostels in South Africa engages with challenges and triumphs of hostel-dwellers, as they both resist and embrace the process of transformation, the clashes between men and women and across generations, and feelings of nostalgia for the past.

Because the author spent time living at KwaMashu Hostel during the two years of her fieldwork, this book presents an intimate view of hostels from the inside.
 
 
Nomkhosi Xulu Gama is a researcher at the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology and a senior lecturer in General Education. Her main interests are in formerly single-sex workers’ hostels, rural-urban connections, and gender and livelihoods. She is a Fulbright Scholar and is currently the deputy chairperson for the South African Sociological Association.

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Three book discussions to attend at the Hilton Arts Festival

Emperor Shaka the Great: A Zulu Epic
Mazisi Kunene

Mazisi Kunene is the much-celebrated author of epics, such as Emperor Shaka the Great (UNodumehlezi KaMenzi) and Anthem of the Decades (Inhlokomo Yeminyaka), as well as numerous poems, short stories, nursery rhymes and proverbs that amount to a collection of more than 10 000 works.

He was born in aMahlongwa in 1930, a small rural village on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Notwithstanding his cultural duties as a young man born into Zulu tradition, his calling as an imbongi was taken very seriously by his father and grandfather who encouraged him to write. Professor Kunene described this ‘calling’ to write as ‘something [that] is not me, it is the power that rides me like a horse’.

Kunene lectured widely and was Professor in African Literature at Stanford University and in African Literature and Languages at the University of California, Los Angeles. On his return to South Africa, he was Professor in African Languages at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

He went into exile in the 1960s for more than 34 years, during which time he established and managed the African National Congress office in London and later moved to Los Angeles with his family to pursue his academic career. In UNodumehlezi KaMenzi (Emperor Shaka the Great), which he wrote during this exile period, he positions Shaka as a legendary thinker, who had great skill as a strategic and military genius.

This vision acknowledges and re-imagines Shaka as a unifying cultural and political force that defined the cohesive Zulu nation. Kunene projects Shaka into the mythical ancestral universe that affirms the deep cultural lineage of the African world view.

This reprinted English edition is published with the isiZulu edition on the tenth anniversary of his death, embracing Kunene’s original dream to have his work published as intended in the original isiZulu form.

The symbolic and cultural significance of these publications begins a process of re-evaluating and recontextualising Kunene’s writing oeuvre.

Follow Page_11 from Hilton Fest Programme Low Res for more on Kunene’s session.

Isishweshwe: A History of the Indigenisation of Blueprint in South Africa
Juliette Leeb-du Toit

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.

Follow Page 12 from Hilton Fest Programme Low Res-3 for more information.

Untitled: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa
Edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, Ben Cousins

A title deed = tenure security. Or does it?

This book challenges this simple equation and its apparently self-evident assumptions. It argues that two very different property paradigms characterise South Africa.

The first is the dominant paradigm of private property, referred to as an ‘edifice’, against which all other property regimes are measured and ranked. However, the majority of South Africans gain access to land and housing through very different processes, which this book calls social or off-register tenures. These tenures are poorly understood, a gap Untitled aims to address.

The book reveals that ‘informal’ and customary property systems can be well organised, often providing substantial tenure security, but lack official recognition and support. This makes them difficult to service and vulnerable to elite capture.

Policy interventions usually aim to formalise these arrangements by issuing title deeds. The case studies in this book, which span both rural and urban contexts in South Africa, examine these interventions and the unintended consequences they often give rise to. Interventions based on an understanding of locally embedded property relations are more likely to succeed than those that attempt to transform them into registered tenures. However, emerging practices hit intractable obstacles associated with the ‘edifice’, which only a substantial transformation of the legal paradigms can overcome.

Donna Hornby is an independent critical researcher for non-governmental organisations on rural land, tenure and agricultural issues.
Rosalie Kingwill is an independent policy and academic researcher specialising in land tenure and property rights.
Lauren Royston is a development planner and researcher who works on tenure security in southern Africa with a range of organisations.
Ben Cousins holds a DST/NRF chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

Follow Page 13 from Hilton Fest Programme Low Res-2 for the details on their conversation.

Emperor Shaka the Great

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Isishweshwe

 
 

Untitled

  • Untitled: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, Ben Cousins
    EAN: 9781869143503
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“Poverty does not know what shame is” – read two excerpts from Lesego Rampolokeng’s third novel, Bird-Monk Seding

This place is called SEDING, short for Leseding, place of light. Quite ironic given the darkness throbbing at its core and spilling out bubbling in the blackest rage when least expected. Surrounded by farmland in all directions, it is a settlement of about 700 households crammed in tiny structures. Average 7 souls per hovel. It used to be made up of ramshackle corrugated iron shacks that seemed tossed down regardless of aesthetics. Then the new administration’s housing programme kicked in.

Man in the bush in quest of Bosman’s ghost. Finding AWB rabidity. Tranquility so deep it kills. Hate-hounds. Beneath the surface quiet, such racist rotten-heartedness. & children dying. Starvation abounds. Raw sewage in the water supply. Crap in the taps. Skin matters. Ancient white beards sexing black teens for tins, food exchange. The soul’s impoverishment. The starved get their humanity halved. And weekends of sex-tourism. Alcoholic stares everywhere. Deep fear too.

Read two excerpts from Lesego Rampolokeng’s third novel, Bird-Monk Seding, here:

Bushveld dawn bird-orchestra. Deep growls, horses-n-trailers in the freeway distance, growling changing down. And then off into the Botswana-bound distance or back from there. They pull breath in and out, shake heads and in satisfaction, or bad mood, depending, go on eating up the asphalt. Road-graze. Predatory, still.

Tiny community, Seding. The country’s smallest municipality. But the regularity of graves opening up beats average middle-town. You see it in the expressions walking. Always on the verge of waking. And never doing it. Just going through. Doom walks here. Hangs on the shoulders, a monkey clinging tight. An air of resignation surrounds.

‘All we have here are our bodies, and they fade. First goes the elasticity under the constant pummelling, the hammering, the getting beat down. They shrivel up each day, get turned inside out until the red parts come out to the sun. Then no grip remains. And without that, what is woman? So you cannot earn by it, then… ’ She looks earth-beaten, jaded is not a description. Standing by the freeway roadside sticking her thumb out at passing motorcars, but only the ones with the sole male driver. Or the ones with no female occupants. She is going nowhere but to the end of a negotiation. And back. And then again. Just a ride to some sweat-laden rustling paper.

She is hitching flesh-sales, she tells me. Just open-faced. Poverty does not know what shame is, she lets me know. Morality is not edible. No destination except perhaps a pot on a stove. If that. ‘And the children shall eat.’ ‘I will shovel shit if it will feed my seed.’ That is the wish but often it is first, and then last, a frothing plastic mug brimming with potency’s brew. Then, perhaps… next the children will hunger-stare. & she will beat them, accusing them of being spoilt, they ate last night so why the tears. And then her man will beat her in turn. And sleep will come. For all.

***

Old socialist-communist-comrades gone capital is like THE YEARN. Ultra-straight man on crack cocaine sticking massive phallic objects up his rectum when the rush takes on. & Gael said: ‘It makes you know the truth about yourself. It is a serum. Gets you paranoid still, and you go scared of even yourself. Your shadow tails you, stalks you, talks menace to you…’ The sexual exhilaration is without outlet though. Builds up to explosion and then just peters out, leaves you whimpering, it is majangling electric-wired like the brain cells will explode, and you feel them, on the burn, the ends going to ash. The ultimate white-lit end of it just beyond your reach, and you grasp, your nails wanting to tear out even, if the need arise… and you try a hold on the nothing out there, just… outside your grasp… your arms not long enough… always just micrometres away, you never get to it. And know that for truth but no matter, you have to… so you hurry up and light up away before it disappears forever, you think… but inside you is knowledge of how vain it all is … and that even if it were not and you got to it, you would be smashed to bits, what smithereens means… and that will be the end to minuscule you in the universe floating up there before coming crash-landing on your being. And still you want it. And the hunger makes demands like starvation is your all…. and just one bite will be your salvation. IT IS MASTER, YOU ARE LESS THAN SLAVE NO RELATION MORE DEMEANING.

But you must obey because your genitals will it, the crotch reaches out, desiring deep. You want to fuck to the end of the tiniest crevice. And the biggest juice-dripping orifice beckons. And you want to squeeze the extent of your very self out of your body, it is a casing you don’t need anyway. You need your obliteration in the pleasure promise. So you stoke up white, open the coils. And the glass-pipe hums, mocking. And the rock sizzles and opens its legs for you to come in. Penetration time. You clutch the lighter tight. Don’t want it running away and gone. Need no loss now. And the seconds ticking seem centuries… and you flick and flame up, trembling in anticipation. You torch up, and solid turns liquid turns gaseous and your inhalation makes it shoot up your tunnels, seems running in and out all your holes. Like the hair is in shock standing up. Hold it in long as the lungs can withstand without collapsing, coming down hard. Joyous like nothing else ever since time. Hold, keep it in, still, blow out, sigh. & the wash comes. And baptises and blesses. And the warmth floods. And you grab your cock and pull. And it is to cry… it comes closer. & cums inside you. You pump harder. Fuck images flash, dance in your head behind your eyes and a million pussies yawn wet hot open and you sink your skull in them, all of them, same time. And you feel them wrap around you. You are your cock. And cunt. And arse. And sucking mouth. And sucked. Cunnilingused & fellated to all sevens. And still it calls you and you’re staggering. All the while you are running on your haunches though, like your legs amputated above the knees. Hard as you gallop can’t get there. Just on the point of coming it fades. & it is back to the beginning. Of your time, your existence. You tremble, shake, shiver, collapse into yourself again. Spent. And you did not even ejaculate. The call comes again. Seduces. And you realise your eyes are closed, so you open them and stare. And the black green yellow red stars exploding behind your eyelids retreat. You flop down defeated.

Lesego Rampolokeng is a poet and performance maestro, the author of 12 books, including two plays and three novels. He has collaborated with visual artists, playwrights, filmmakers, theatre and opera producers, poets and musicians. His no-holds-barred style, radical political-aesthetic perspective and instantly recognisable voice have brought him a unique place in South African literature.

Rampolokeng’s third novel Bird-Monk Seding is a stark picture of life in a rural township two decades into South Africa’s democracy. Listening and observing in the streets and taverns, narrator Bavino Sekete, often feeling desperate himself, is thrown back to his own violent childhood in Soweto. To get through, he turns to his pantheon of jazz innovators and radical writers.

 
Bird-Monk Seding

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