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Archive for the ‘Academic’ Category

Join Naledi Pandor for the Launch of the First NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities at UWC

Invitation to the launch of the NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities

Becoming UWC: Reflections, Pathways and Unmaking Apartheid's LegacyHandspring Puppet Company (hardcover)The Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape invites you to the launch of the first NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities.

The event will take place on Wednesday, 2 September, in the School of Public Health at UWC. The colloquium on “The Humanities and its Publics” will run from 2 to 5:30 PM, and the public launch will take place from 6 to 9 PM.

The special guests of the evening are Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, acting CEO of the National Research Foundation Dr Beverley Damonse, and Vice Chancellor of UWC Professor Tyrone Pretorius.

There will also be performances by the Handspring Puppet Company, Ukwanda Puppet Company and the Reza Khota Quartet.

Read more about the NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities:

Located in the Centre for Humanities Research, the flagship is founded on three research thematics: Aesthetic Education, the Becoming Technical of the Human, and Migrating Violence. To enhance public engagement, the Flagship will convene a public lecture series in Athlone, Cape Town, and establish a Factory of the Arts in the former District Six, an area of forced removals in Cape Town.

In the podcast, Premesh Lalu explains what the NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities is and what it aims to do. Lalu is a professor of history at UWC and director of the Centre for Humanities Research. He is also editor of Becoming UWC: Reflections, Pathways and Unmaking Apartheid’s Legacy.

Listen to the podcast:

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Don’t miss the event!

Event Details

Book Details

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Gill Moore Reviews The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy by JM Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz

The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and PsychotherapyVerdict: carrot with criticism

If psychotherapy doggedly examines the dark ‘repressed’ energies of the individual’s story and psyche, then thinking about what it means to think about what these mean (and so on) can be an exhausting, endlessly speculative and fairly charmless enterprise. It’s heavy stuff, and much of the book ends up in this territory.

Book Details

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2015 Jozi Book Fair Programme Revealed (11 – 13 September)

Jozi Book Fair

Alert! The programme for the seventh annual Jozi Book Fair has been revealed.

The Jozi Book Fair takes place between 11 to 13 September at Wits University – and entrance to all events is free.

Featured authors at the festival include National Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile, Futhi Ntshingila, Zukiswa Wanner, Ekow Duker, Gcina Mhlophe, Zakes Mda, James Matthews, Edyth Bulbring, Harry Kalmer, Qaanitah Hunter, Kurt Ellis, Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Stevel Marc, Shafinaaz Hassim, Adam Habib and Xolela Mangcu – and many, many more.

Letters from AlainHi Zoleka!Azanian Love SongThe Party Is OverIf I Could SingThe Lahnee's Pleasure
A Frog in the BogRachel’s BlueRefilweArabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo NutDo Not Go GentleDying in New York
Nothing Left to StealBy Any MeansDiamond BoyDogtective William and the Diamond SmugglersThe Mark’n Duisend stories oor JohannesburgBoomkasteleDiary of a Guji Girl
nullThe Rise of the SecurocratsRecovering Democracy in South AfricaThe African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political PowerThe Arrogance of PowerSouth Africa's Suspended RevolutionSoPhia

Check out the programme, as shared by the Jozi Book Fair:

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Programme: 7th Jozi Book Fair

11-13 September, 2015

Wits University, Science Stadium, West Campus

Welcome to Jozi Book Fair!

This is a fair with many differences:

  • Jozi Book Fair creates readers and writers in all South Africa’s languages to read the word and the world!
  • Jozi Book Fair is a progressive movement from “below” linking up with different art forms to create a national culture!
  • To ensure democratic access for everyone, for people of all ages and all social classes, this fair is free!

Entrance is FREE on all days, for all events!

Partnership with Wits

This year we revived our partnership with Wits University from the 1980s to deepen the culture of reading and writing as part of deepening democracy and transformation and bring together all social classes to engage in debates, build tolerance and citizenship.

A Fair with a difference!

This year we have over 120 events and activities, with 50 percent of events hosted by the public: especially readers, writers, moderators created by the JBF and/or from the public. We have also been blessed with many writers: township children performing their poetry, students presenting their work (literature, film and theatre), book club members interviewing authors and some famous authors.

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Highlights of JBF 2015

Guests of the Fair

This year the JBF has two special guests:

International Guest: Cuban Enrique Perez Diaz

JBF’s International Guest is Cuban writer, critic, journalist and researcher of children’s literature Enrique Perez Diaz. Currently the Director of Gente Nueva Publishing House in Havana, Enrique was the founder of the first Cuban bookshop for children, with a socio cultural approach to community, children and teenagers. His books are known in many countries including Japan, Switzerland and the USA and he has worked with IBBY Cuba since 2007. For more information click here


  • Lessons for SA: Literacy and education in Cuba
  • Panel Discussion: Cuba: The impact of 50 years of US sanctions on culture, literacy and the arts
  • Making books accessible and affordable: libraries & publishing in Cuba
  • Panel Discussion: The role of children’s literature and building a progressive national culture

South African Guest: Gcina Mhlophe

Our Guest is Gcina Mhlophe, internationally acclaimed storyteller and author. Besides being an author of children’s books, Gcina is a great performer, wooing people of all ages.


  • Storytelling festival on Saturday and Sunday
  • Live Performances: Saturday and Sunday
  • Book Launch
  • State of Theatre in SA
  • Panel Discussion: The role of children’s literature and building a progressive national culture
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OCTO-GENUISES and a progressive national culture

No introduction necessary!


  • Live Poetry Performance: Activist Poets Don Mattera, James Matthews & Keorapetse Kgositsile
  • In Conversation on Art, Liberation and Struggle: Don Mattera, Ronnie Govender, James Matthews & Keorapetse Kgositsile
  • James Matthews: Poet in Conversation
  • Ronnie Govender Theatre veteran: The role of memoir in building a progressive culture
  • Joan Rankin: children’s author & illustrator: In conversation with Jenny Hatton; facilitating creativity workshops for children and adults
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Introducing Jozi Book Fair Mascots Penny and Puffy, and their dads, special guests Zakes Mda and Mpapa Mokhoane


  • Launch of Penny & Puffy in English and Sesotho
  • Storytelling Festival
  • Writing in indigenous languages
  • Writing for children: the making of Penny & Puffy
  • Children’s Literature & building a national culture
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Second book of poems for JBF Poetry Buddies

Jozi Book Fair Poetry Buddies perform their poems in English and mother tongue. The Buddies are children’s groups set up in Johannesburg and surrounding townships. This year they publish their second book of poems.

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Students at JBF

This year a number of students from different universities will present their work at the JBF.

  • Literature seminars: Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and A Man of the People with Danai Muputsa (Wits)
  • Conversation: Zakes Mda’s Rachels Blue with Polo Moji (Wits)
  • Conversation: Reading Fanon with Kgomotso Ramushi (UP)
  • Theatre: A play – Dead Roses by Searatoa van Driel (Wits)
  • Roundtable: Rhodes must fall – transformation and democracy in education (various students)
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  • Penny and Puffy – original paintings by Zakes Mda
  • JBF School poster competition on reading (105 posters)
  • Remember Marikana! Photographic Exhibition (by Pulitzer prize winner, Greg Marinovich and City Press)
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Katrine Harries Award for Illustrators

This year the Katrine Harries Award will be made at this year’s Jozi Book Fair. This award is the only and most prestigious award in South Africa that evaluates children’s book illustrations as an artform. The award in 2015 comes 100 years after the birth of Katrine Harries.

The Katrine Harries Award has previously been awarded to Niki Daly, Joan Rankin, Alida Bothma, Cora Coetzee, Jeremy Grimsdell, Jude Daly and Piet Grobler. The last award was made in 2008 and the current award will be presented for the illustrations in a South African children’s book published between 2009-2010, 2011-2012 and 2013-2014. This is an attempt to open the award to broad sections of the population and encourage both illustrations and books for children.

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Programme Overview

Friday, 11 September, 2015

1. Schools Programme

    Workshops, exhibitions, meeting authors and the guests

    7:30 AM – 2 PM – FULLY BOOKED!

    School youth can still attend events on Saturday and Sunday

2. Theatre Festival Opens

  • Qhawe (Cape Town) at 2:30 PM
  • Thula Thula (Johannesburg) at 3:30 PM

3. Film Festival Opens

  • Please Vote for me by Wejun Chen (China) at 2 PM
  • Shake the Dust by Adam Sjoberg (global music and dance) at 3.30pm

4. Roundtable discussion

    Crisis in our Schools – 3.00pm

    Panelists: Salim Vally (UJ), Bulelwa Ndodana (Dept of Education, Eastern Cape), Mugwena Maluleke (GS, SADTU) & Moderator: Siphelo Ngcwangu (Wits)

5. Book Launch & Reception: 4 – 5 PM

    Privatisation of Schools: Selling out the right to quality public education for all

    Panelists: Salim Vally, Carol Ann Spreen and Lauren Star

6. JBF Reception – By invitation only

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Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September, 2015


  • Storytelling Festival on Saturday and Sunday, featuring Gcina Mhlophe, Faith Busika, Beverly Benton, Joan Rankin, Zukiswa Wanner, Hamilton Wende, Reviva Schumacher
  • Ancient storytellers, Poem Mooney from Oudtshoorn
  • Introducing JBF mascots Penny & Puffy: based on book of same name by Zakes Mda and Mpapa Mokhoane
  • JBF Poetry Buddies perform their poetry
  • Kerry Jones’ Jul’hoan dictionary activities
  • National Children’s Theatre’s NACTIES Sing their songs

Jozi Book Fair theme: Children’s literature and childhood

A number of seminars and roundtables will take place related to the theme:

  • Conditions of Children in SA: with Save the Children, Children’s Law Project (UP) and Children’s Resource Centre (CT)
  • Children: Reading and the state of libraries in SA with Busi Dlamini Gauteng Education Department and Sally Currin
  • Children learn languages: case study, (Bulelwa Ndodana, Depart of Education, Eastern Cape)
  • Children’s literature and building a national reading culture
  • Cuba: literacy and children’s literature, lessons for SA (Enrique Perez Diaz)

Black Art Black Politics

  • Don Mattera: Commemorating the life of Steven Bantu Biko
  • Keorapetse Kgositsile (Poet Laureate): Reflections on the Black Art Movement in the US and its influence
  • Ronnie Govender, James Matthews, Warona Seane (Soweto), Gita Pather (Wits) and Itumeleng wa Lehulere (director): The State of theatre in South Africa Today
  • Kgomotso Ramushi: Reading Fanon
  • Zakes Mda, Keorapetse Kgositsile, James Matthews: Growing an indigenous South African culture

South African Fiction

Jozi Book Fair Book Club members converse with authors:

Authors in Conversation

South African Politics

This section includes a wide variety of issues and debates, in seminars and Roundtable discussion.

  • Media in SA: who owns and controls it? – Jane Duncan (UJ), Lumke Mtimde and Tawana Kupe (Wits)
  • What ANC after Zuma? – Aubrey Matshiqi, Mcebisi Ndletyana, Raymond Suttner and Susan Booysen
  • State of worker and union education – Crystal Dicks (Numsa), Mojalefa Musi (Independent analyst) and Luke Sinwell (UJ)
  • Corruption in SA – David Lewis, Karabo Ranjuli and Mzilikazi wa Afrika
  • The colour of our future: do colour or ‘race’ matter? – Xolela Mangcu, Joel Netshitenze and Adam Habib
  • Transformation & democracy in Education? – Adam Habib and student panel
  • Seminar: Everything you wanted to know about nuclear power! (Earthlife)
  • Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa – Mary Scholes (Wits)
  • Marikana Report: Do Black Lives Matter? – Rehad Desai, Bishop Seoka (TBC) and Nomsa Zondi (SERI)
  • Is intolerance in our DNA? Violence against women/girls, LGBTI and foreigners – Lisa Vetten and Virginia Tshedi and Paul Verryn
  • 20 years of the Labour Relations Act: a balance sheet – Oupa Lehulere


  • Politics of sexuality in everyday life – Shafinaaz Hassim
  • Diary of a Guji Girl – Qaanitah Hunter
  • Young women writers and their challenges – Futhi Ntshingila and Zukiswa Wanner
  • Feminism Today – Jackie Cock and panel

Workshops and Seminars

For different age groups: children, youth & adults on

  • Playback Theatre (Wits Drama for Life)
  • Importance of Reading for Children (Jenny Hatton)
  • Reading and Writing and Common Grammar Errors (L Pavlou, Wits Language School)
  • Philosophy for Teens (Theresa Giorgza, Education Dept, Wits)
  • History and Origins of Poetry (Brian Mabaso)
  • The Art of Radio (Voice of Wits)
  • Making Illustrations (Wesley Pepper, artist)
  • Unleash your Creativity (Joan Rankin)
  • Survivors of Stroke (Stroke society)

Book Launches

  • Refined Player: Sex, Lies and Dates by Stevel Marc [Jacana]
  • Freedom Charter: no cause to celebrate [Workers World Media Project]
  • Workplace Forums: 20 YEARS of the Labour Relations Act: A balance sheet, republished, by Oupa Lehulere
  • Seven Tried & Tested Triangles by Pearl Segel
  • Back to Africa by Beatrice Acheleke
  • Privatisation of Schools by Salim Vally, Carol Anne Spreen, Lauren Star

Theatre Stage

A selection of plays, some of which were at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown earlier this year, will be show-cased. This includes:

  • Qhawe (CT)
  • Thula Thula (Jhb)
  • Dead Roses (Wits)
  • Kafka’s Ape (Wits)
  • Merethetho ‘the rhythm, dance and poetry’ (Freedom Park)
  • Games we teach our children (Khanya College & HBC)
  • Metropolitan High School Play (JHB)
  • Music and Dance (Michael Williams) Itliziyo ‘the heart’ (CT)

These will include a brief Q&As afterwards

Live Jazz

Special Live Jazz will take place on Saturday, 12 September, from 4-8pm;and on Sunday, 13 September from 1-5pm.

This includes:

  • Soni Jazz Band
  • Dimpie Tshabalala
  • Feya Faku, Jazz poets
  • Baba Ndamase Band

Film Festival

Mini Film Festival ‘Youth in Adversity’ will be held in collaboration with our fraternal Steps (Cape Town) and select Q&As with Laurence Dworkin.

This will include:

Shake the Dust by Adam Sjoberg (Global) 83 min
From executive producer and rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones and journalist- turned-filmmaker Adam Sjöberg, Shake the Dust chronicles the influence of breakdancing, exploring how it strikes a resonant chord in the slums, favelas and ghettos of the world and far beyond. Showcasing some of the most jaw-dropping breakdancing moves ever committed to film, Shake the Dust is an inspiring tribute to the uplifting power of music and movement.

Coming of Age by Teboho Edkins (Lesotho) 63 min
Coming Of Age is a film that follows four teenagers over the course of two years as they grow up deep in the southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Very little happens in the village of Ha Sekake, but from their perspective, a lot is at stake.

Please Vote for Me by Weijun Chen (China) 52 min
Wuhan is a city in middle China about the size of London, and it is here that director Weijun Chen has conducted an experiment in democracy. A grade-3 class at Evergreen Primary School has their first encounter with this idea, by holding an election to select a Class Monitor. Eight-year olds compete against each other for the coveted position, abetted and egged on by teachers and doting parents.


Pumla, Dumisani Phakathi (South Africa) 18:18
Pumla is a bright, young girl, who was branded a rebel before anybody gave her a chance. She drinks, she smokes and likes to hang out with the guys in alleyways and on street corners. She also had a child at a very young age. Her behavior often gets her into trouble with the authorities and causes much pain and stress to her mother. Unable to deal with her demons and the perceptions of others. Pumla’s lifestyle leads her down a dark and dangerous road.

Love and Rubbish by Hanna Polak (Russia) 7:54
Set in a rubbish dump outside Moscow, this is the story of a young girl, Yula and her friends, told over years.

Girlhood, Participatory Film (South Africa) 3:48
We meet 5 teenagers sitting in a café in Cape Town, chatting, laughing, enjoying themselves as teenagers do. But these seemingly carefree young women have been through a lot. As each girl tells us her individual story we find out about broken families, teenage pregnancy, loss and abuse.

Miseducation by Nadine Cloete (South Africa) 4:15
An 11 year old girl is getting ready for school. Her walk takes her through gangland, across territories that have seen much blood, drugs and pain.

Coal Boy by Chandrasekhar Reddy Thumati (India) 4:40
In North East India ,near Jaintia, a young boy tunnels into the hills to find coal. The work is hard and dangerous. But this boy has a dream and this is only the first of many steps that he says will lead to London.

Marafiki, Participatory Film (Zanzibar) 12:41
Shot in Zanzibar, Marafiki (meaning friends) is a story about two girls dealing with their HIV+ status and the discrimination they face. With the help of friends, family and a support group, these two strong characters learn not to lose hope as they tell us their plans for the future.

Sea Gypsies by Elena Zervopoulou (Malaysia) 5:37
Struggling to survive with increasing fishing restrictions on a paradisiacal coral island of Eastern Malaysia, Indanina, a determined Sea Gypsy girl, sees her colorful, innocent world endangered. The cruel reality she discovers when she is forced to move to town with her family, marks her brutal transition to an uncaring modern world.

In addition:

  • Bheki Peterson’s Rights of Passage
  • Special Screening and Reception of Life in Progress by Irene Loebel during the Fair

There will be Q&As after selected film screenings

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Book details

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Melinda Harvey Reviews The Good Story by JM Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz

The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and PsychotherapyVerdict: carrot

Change input to change output: Kurtz’s harsher rejoinder helps them both to understand that Coetzee is “stuck” on the truth because of its ethical implications socio-politically. Like individuals, groups such as nations tell themselves stories about themselves. How can a country such as Australia come to terms with its violent past, begin the healing process and make wise and just policy decisions now when truth is something that is open to revision?

According to Coetzee, that Australians are able to hold simultaneously the views that “my great-grandparents were criminals complicit in an evil project” and “my great-grandparents suffered hardship so that their descendants could have a good life” ought to be “splitting people apart and making any kind of easy, happy life impossible”.

Book Details

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Don’t Miss Lauren Beukes, Penny Siopis and Other Phenomenal Women at the Creative Women Conference in Cape Town

Invitation to the Creative Women Conference

Broken MonstersPenny SiopisCape Town creatives! You are invited to join digital publishing company Between 10 and 5 for a one-day symposium on Saturday, 29 August. Ten phenomenal women, including Lauren Beukes and Penny Siopis, will be sharing their creative narratives during the conference titled “Creative Women”.

The Broken Monsters author will be talking about her career from journalism to kids cartoons to dark comics for grown-ups, writing Wonder Woman, and award-winning genre-bending novels that twist reality, where ideas come from and how critical research is to her process – as is giving back. Siopis will speak about her retorspective art exhibition, Time and Again, and reflecting on some of the issues involved in selecting work from a prolific and diverse creative production of painting, installation and film spanning a period of over 35 years..

Tickets cost R350 and includes an Uber voucher; coffee, a bite and goodie bag on arrival; Max Bagels for lunch; and rooftop drinks by Spier. The conference will be hosted by Inner City Ideas Cartel in Waterkant, Cape Town.

Don’t miss this!

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 29 August 2015
  • Time: 8.30 AM to 5 PM
  • Venue: Inner City Ideas Cartel,
    71 Waterkant Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • Speakers: Anja Venter, Dope Saint Jude, Penny Siopis, Filipa Domingues, Didintle Ntsie, Talia Sanhewe, Hannerie Visser, Sethembile Msezane, Nkuli Mlangeni and Lauren Beukes
  • Refreshments: Coffee and snacks, bagels and wine
  • Cover charge: R350
  • More info: Between 10 and 5
  • Buy Tickets: Between 10 and 5


Book Details

Images courtesy of Between 10 and 5

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JM Coetzee Presents a Seminar on Ivan Vladislavic and Zoe Wicomb at the National University of San Martin in Argentina

JM Coetzee and the Life of WritingThe Good StoryThree StoriesJM Coetzee: Two Screenplays
101 DetectivesThe FollyFlashback HotelPortrait with KeysDouble NegativeOctoberDavid's StoryYou Can't Get Lost in Cape Town

JM Coetzee is at the National University of San Martin (UNSAM) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to present a seminar on the works of Ivan Vladislavić and Zoë Wicomb.

The seminar – which is free – is part of the Chair Coetzee: South Literatures series at the university, which was launched in April this year with a “Literature of Australia” class, led by Coetzee, on the work of Nicholas Jose and Gail Jones.

UNSAM describes the series as “a forum for exchange between authors, literary critics, researchers and teachers from Africa, Australia and Latin America, as well as other southern regions”. As part of the seminar, which is taking place between 14 and 25 September, the UNSAM imprint Edita has published a book containing texts by Vladislavić and Wicomb, previously unpublished in Spanish.

From UNSAM (originally in Spanish, translated by Google):

The direction of the Chair Coetzee is linked to the ease with which the literature connects worlds, distant and unknown to be. Thus, their activities promoting the composition of a more real, more open to experience and background are by perhaps closer to us image, and constitute an experience of encounter between the worlds of the south. In this sense, it is an outstanding space of the university in their quest to establish a program of South-South cultural exchange, with other initiatives such as the Global South Program.

Related news:

Book details

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Militant Coconuts and the Complexity of Interracial Friendship: Panashe Chigumadzi and Sisonke Msimang Deliver the 2015 Ruth First Lectures

Voices of Liberation: Ruth FirstnullAskariDiepslootThe ANC Women's LeagueCould I Vote DA?South Africa's Suspended Revolution


Panashe Chigumadzi and Sisonke Msimang delivered the 14th annual Ruth First Memorial Lectures at Wits University last night, and by the end of the evening were trending on Twitter – and in many South Africans’ hearts.

Ruth First was a journalist and activist who was killed in exile by the apartheid government. The Ruth First Fellowship commemorates her contribution to critical, socially-engaged writing and research. The Memorial Lecture is hosted by Wits Journalism in partnership with the Wits Ruth First Committee and the African Studies Journal, and is held annually around the anniversary of her death on August 17, 1982.

The theme the year was “Race: Lived Experiences and Contemporary Conversations”, and this year’s Ruth First Committee was: Jacob Dlamini, Indra de Lanerolle, Anton Harber, Shireen Hassim, Eusebius McKaiser and Liza Key.

Listen to the entire evening here (press “play”):

Speaking Truth to Power

In his introduction, Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib said he could not think of a “more appropriate moment in history to host the Ruth First Lecture”, for two reasons.

“The first,” Habib said, “is that if there was any figure in the South African liberation movement that had the capacity to raise difficult questions and speak truth to power, then it was Ruth First.”

Habib said First “forsook the benefits of her privileged background” when she became politically active, and “took the side of the oppressed people”. She spoke truth to the apartheid state, and subsequently, in the liberation movement, to institutional power within the ANC and Communist Party.

“I can’t think of a more important moment in South African history where such truth to state power is required,” Habib said, adding that South Africans need the courage to do so at state, party and institutional levels: “Including to the Vice Chancellor at Wits!”

Second, Habib spoke about First’s dedication to conversations around race and lived experiences of race. 21 years after democratic transition, and in the context of movements such as Rhodes Must Fall at UCT and Wits Transform, Habib said students are “raising the question that we have not changed sufficiently, that we need to start asking hard questions about what we’ve done, what sacrifices we’ve made, what concessions we’ve made, and what trade-offs we’ve made, and whether those trade-offs are legitimate or not.

“I think there cannot be a more appropriate moment for a hard discussion on universities, on how well we’ve transformed, on the issue of race in our society,” he said.

“Coconuts Behaving Badly and Militantly”

Chigumadzi is currently completing a postgraduate degree in Development Studies at Wits, and is the founder and editor of Vanguard Magazine. Her debut novel, Sweet Medicine, will be published under Jacana Media’s new imprint BlackBird Books in September. Chigumadzi spoke about her research into why “coconuts” – privileged, young, black South Africans, “black on the outside but white on the inside” – have “become conscious and are joining their working class comrades in black anti-racist struggles”.

“[I]t is this very generation,” Chigumadzi said, “supposedly robed in the privileges of democracy, that is now ‘behaving badly’ and ‘militantly’. Instead of becoming the trusted go-betweens between black and white, we are turning to conceptions of blackness and mobilising anger at the very concept of the Rainbow Nation. The fantasy of a ‘colour-blind’, ‘post-race’ South Africa has been projected onto us Coconuts, but our lived experiences are far from free of racism.”

Can Black and White South Africans be Friends? Yes. And No.

Sisonke Msimang, The Daily Maverick columnist and former executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, based her research into the possibility of authentic interracial friendship. She performed her text along with poet Lebo Mashile.

“Can we be friends across these ‘racial’ boundaries?” Msimang asked. “Yes we can. And no we cannot. It’s that simple and that complex.’

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Download links (scroll down to view the lectures):

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Watch a video of Chigumadzi discussing the Ruth First Fellowship and her research:

YouTube Preview Image
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Watch a video of Msimang and Mashile performing some of Msimang’s research:

Sisonke Msimang and Lebo Mashile perform some of Msimang's research for the 2015 #RuthFirst fellowship.

Posted by Journalism South Africa on Monday, 17 August 2015

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See tweets from the event:

2015 Ruth First lecture: Panashe Chigumadzi by Books LIVE

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2015 Ruth First lecture: Sisonke Msimang by Books LIVE

Book details


Image courtesy of Wits Vuvuzela

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Reginald MJ Oduor Reviews Report on Ubuntu by Leonhard Praeg

Report on UbuntuVerdict: carrot

Praeg’s A Report on Ubuntu is highly commendable on at least five grounds.

First, in line with a genuine philosophical inquiry and in contrast to a number of publications on Ubuntu in particular and African philosophy in general, the author clearly indicates his self-assigned task (a critical evaluation of the contemporary discourse on Ubuntu), spells out his approach to the task at hand, gives clear definitions of key terms, provides useful background information, and offers cogent arguments for his claims, thereby encouraging African and Africanist scholars to move further away from the polemics on the existence and nature of African philosophy to the more worthwhile task of actually doing African philosophy.

Book Details

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“This is South Africa’s Major Disease: Instant Gratification” – See Zakes Mda’s Honorary Doctorate Acceptance Speech

Earlier this year the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State, honoured Professor Zakes Mda, one of South Africa’s greatest writers, with an Honorary Doctor of Technology Degree in Language Practice for his contribution to language practice in areas of contemporary literature and creative writing.

“It would be of great value to bestow an honorary doctorate on such an exemplary figure who has contributed much to South African society, as is evident from his CV. He serves as a living example to the students and staff of CUT as to what can be achieved if one dreams to be successful despite your circumstances,” Henk de Jager said.

Rachel’s BlueThe Sculptors of MapungubweFools, Bells and the Habit of EatingAnd the Girls in their Sunday DressesOur Lady of BenoniDance of LifeSometimes there is a VoidBlack DiamondCionThe Whale CallerThe Madonna of ExcelsiorWays of DyingThe Heart of RednessWays of Writing

Novelist, poet, painter, playwright, academic. These are but some of the words one could use to refer to Mda, who in his Twitter profile chooses to describe himself as a “professional dabbler”. He has written 28 novels, with his 29th – Malangana (“Little Suns”) – forthcoming from Umuzi later this year, and his work has been translated into 21 languages. An anthology of four of his plays, titled The Plays of Zakes Mda, was translated into nine of the official languages of South Africa, enlarging his readership even more.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony in Bloemfontein, Mda said:

What you have done is to defy popular wisdom as first enunciated by Jesus in Mark 6:4, and I quote: ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own home.’ Of course, I am not so conceited as to view myself as any kind of prophet, I am merely acknowledging and appreciating the fact that this university has become home since the last time I was fêted here two years ago, and established lasting friendships … the city of Bloemfontein is my own neighbourhood.

Mda continued to describe his special relationship with the city, expressing extreme gratitude for the recognition given to him by institution of CUT’s calibre. He addressed the staggering amount of fake degrees doing the rounds in South Africa, congratulating CUT on not being partisan to it. He explained why it is such a pity when someone to fakes a degree, especially when they are intellectually and financially capable to obtain it.

“This is South Africa’s major disease: instant gratification. Or let me say, it is one of the two major diseases, the other one being conspicuous consumption. We must not only have the fruit, we must be seen to posses it. These diseases go together, they are twins,” Mda said.

He referred to his friend Nadine Gordimer, who passed away last year, and remembers meeting her years ago. After the meeting she offered to give him a ride home, and he was taken aback to find that she drove what people from his neck of the woods refer to as a skorro skorro. A Nobel Prize laureate, married to a millionaire, who was not driving a fancy car – can you imagine? This stunned the author because, in South Africa, “We are the branded society”. He then gave a poignant lecture on why this is such a travesty, explaining why foreigners – who practice delayed gratification – are so successful in South Africa.

Watch the video to hear what the celebrated author had to say (his speech starts at 6:10):

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JM Coetzee Recommends Ivan Vladislavic in World Literature Today Interview

JM Coetzee Recommends Ivan Vladislavic in World Literature Today Interview

101 DetectivesThe Good StoryIn a short interview in the May/August 2015 edition of World Literature Today, JM Coetzee recommends the works of Ivan Vladislavić, calling him “a writer of great sophistication”.

The interview is part of a series celebrating the Puterbaugh legacy, Coetzee having been the 2003 Puterbaugh Fellow.

Coetzee’s most recent book is The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy, co-written with Arabella Kurtz.

As Coetzee states, Vladislavić has long been underappreciated outside South Africa. However, the landscape is beginning to change. Last year, Vladislavić had the audience “enraptured” at the Worlds Literature Festival in Norwich, England, and this year was awarded the 2015 Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction. His early novels are being released in Europe and North America, and his new collection of short stories, 101 Detectives, was published to critical acclaim this year. He is currently a Distinguished Professor at Wits University.

Long may the admiration continue.


* * * * *

Read the short interview with Coetzee:

J. M. Coetzee
The 2003 Puterbaugh Fellow

South African novelist, essayist, and translator J. M. Coetzee (b. 1940) was twice nominated for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature before winning the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature (see WLT, January 2004). Additional awards include two Booker Prizes and many other honors. He is currently Professor of Literature at the University of Adelaide. His newest book is a forthcoming collection of letters, The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy, with Arabella Kurtz.

What outside the realm of literature has drawn your attention of late?

Like many people in the non-Muslim world, I am trying to understand what it is about Islam that allows a certain sector of the Muslim community to feel that what they take to be insults to the Prophet have to be avenged, and avenged not just at a symbolic level but with physical violence. The topic of giving offense and taking offense has interested me for a long time (I published a book on the subject in the 1990s), but the outraged and offended mind-set remains largely closed to me.

What current writing projects do you have underway or on the horizon? [preferred not to answer]

Is there a South African writer who deserves to be better known on the world stage?

The writer Ivan Vladislavic (born 1957) has been largely unknown outside South Africa, though just recently that picture has begun to change. Vladislavic is a writer of great sophistication who specializes in short fiction (“stories”).

February 2015

Editorial note: Vladislavic was recently chosen as one of the winners of the 2015 Windham Campbell Prizes.

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