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An Unnatural History: Hedley Twidle Reviews Henrietta Rose-Innes' Green Lion

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

“Reinventing Pan-Africanism in the Age of Xenophobia” – Join the International Symposium at WiSER

Reinventing Pan-Africanism in the Age of Xenophobia

The Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) invites you to an international symposium entitled “Reinventing Pan-Africanism in the Age of Xenophobia”.

The event is being hosted with the generous support of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the French Institute of South Africa and will take place on Wednesday, 3 June and Thursday, 4 June 2015. The symposium will start at 9 AM on both days.

Advocates for Change: How to Overcome Africa's ChallengesSouth Africa's Suspended RevolutionThe Arrogance of PowerWomen in South African HistoryOn the PostcolonyCould I Vote DA?The Texture of Shadows
AffluenzaPeace vs Justice?Biometric StateBeautiful/Ugly

Various scholars and intellectuals will reflect on the myriad complex and changing relationships between South Africa and the rest of the continent. These authors include: Adam Habib (South Africa’s Suspended Revolution), Moeletsi Mbeki (Advocates for Change), Xolela Mangcu (The Arrogance of Power), Nomboniso Gasa (Women in South African History), Achille Mbembe (On the Postcolony), Eusebius McKaiser (Could I Vote DA?), Mandla Langa (The Texture of Shadows), Niq Mhlongo (Affluenza), Suren Pillay (Peace vs Justice?), Keith Breckenridge (Biometric State) and Sarah Nuttall (Beautiful/Ugly). Visit the WiSER website to download the complete programme.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 3 June to Thursday, 4 June 2015
  • Time: 9 AM to 7:30 PM; 9 AM to 5 PM
  • Venue: WiSER Seminar Room
    6th Floor
    Richard Ward Building
    East Campus
    Wits University | Map
  • Speakers: Adam Habib, Moeletsi Mbeki, Xolela Mangcu, Nomboniso Gasa,
    Achille Mbembe, Eusebius McKaiser, Mandla Langa, Niq Mhlongo, Shose Kessi,
    Adekeye Adebajo, Suren Pillay, Michael Neocosmos, Gilbert Khadiagala, Lucy Corkin,
    Tawana Kupe, Anthony Bizos, Andre Zaaiman, Aurélie Kalenga, Khadija Patel, Ingrid Palmary, Raimi Gbadamosi, Claudia Gastrow, Joshua Walker, Keith Breckenridge, Sarah Nuttall, Pamila Gupta and Catherine Burns.
  • RSVP: Keith Breckenridge,, 011 717 4272

Book Details

  • Women in South African History: Basus’iimbokodo, Bawel’imilambo, They Remove Boulders and Cross Rivers edited by Nomboniso Gasa
    EAN: 9780796921741
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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J Brooks Spector Reviews How Long Will South Africa Survive? The Looming Crisis by RW Johnson

How Long Will South Africa Survive?: The Looming CrisisVerdict: carrot

In a way, RW Johnson’s new book, How Long Can South Africa Survive? – the looming crisis (hereinafter HLCSAS), is a kind of literary Ted Striker. A widely experienced, veteran reporter, political commentator and analyst, in this book Johnson takes on the role of a kind of contemporary South African Cassandra, telling all who will listen or read his predictions, repeatedly, that South Africa, as it is presently constituted and governed, is headed down a seriously steep, nearly inevitable downward trajectory to a very bad end, ever-accelerating, as it heads ever-downward. In a way, Johnson is also recapitulating Ernest Hemingway’s often-quoted exchange from his novel, The Sun Also Rises, but for the nation as a whole, when one Hemingway character, Bill, concerned about his friend, Mike, says to him, “ ‘How did you go bankrupt?’ ” And his interlocutor, Mike, then replies there are “ ‘Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.’ ”

Book Details

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President Jacob Zuma Doesn’t Have to Pay Back the Money – Police Minister Nathi Nhleko Releases Nkandla Report

State of the Nation: South Africa 1994-2014Still an Inconvenient YouthBrain PornThe Fall of the ANCTafelberg Short – Nkandla: The end of Zuma?Ragged Glory

Thursday, 28 May 2015 was earmarked as D-Day for President Jacob Zuma. Today Police Minister Nathi Nhleko released his report in response to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s investigation into Zuma’s spending of public money on his private homestead, Nkandla.

The Democratic Alliance’s leader, Mmusi Maimane, tweeted a page from the Nkandla report and said: “As expected the minister of police who works for President Zuma has determined that He does not owe us a cent.”

Rand Daily Mail reported that Maimane sent out the tweet before the Minister completed his findings:

Maimane’s tweet included a picture of a paragraph which stated: “therefore the State President is therefore not liable to pay for any of these security features.”

It was unclear whether this referred to all the features that Zuma was asked to pay for by Madonsela.


Rand Daily Mail editor and Ragged Glory author, Ray Hartley, live tweeted the unveiling of the report:


eNCA has been live streaming the event. Watch the video:

YouTube Preview Image

Opposition parties have been putting pressure on the presidency for some time to #PayBackTheMoney which escalated in an open brawl at this year’s State of the Nation Address.

Here are several articles in response to SONA2015:


Follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NkandlaReport. This tag trended nationally, even making an appearance on the top trending topics around the world, with everyone sharing their (shocked) reactions to the report:



Book details

  • State of the Nation: South Africa 1994-2014: A twenty-year review of freedom and democracy by Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Muxe Nkondo, Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, Moses Sithole, Francis Nyamnjoh
    Book homepage
    EAN: 9780796924612
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Join Jason Hickel for the Launch of Democracy as Death at WiSER

Democracy as Death: The Moral Order of Anti-Liberal Politics in South AfricaWiSER would like to invite you to the launch of Democracy as Death: The Moral Order of Anti-Liberal Politics in South Africa by Jason Hickel.

Hickel will be speaking about his book, which is a deliberation of culture and politics in contemporary South Africa, with Hylton White and the conversation will be chaired by Catherine Burns.

The launch is on Monday, 1 June, at 6 PM in the Wiser Seminar Room at Wits University.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Monday, 1 June 2015
  • Time: 6 PM
  • Venue: WiSER Seminar Room
    6th Floor
    Richard Ward Building
    East Campus
    Wits University | Map
  • Interviewers: Catherine Burns (chair) and Hylton White

Book Details

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21 of Our Favourite Quotes from 2015 Franschhoek Literary Festival

We’ve collected the best of the quotes we can remember hearing at the 2015 Franschhoek Literary Festival.

If you recall one that we’ve overlooked – or if you are an author who said something really witty and wants to be acknowledged – share your pearls of wisdom in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Tales of the Metric System
“What’s the biggest mistake I see in my writing students? That they didn’t choose accountancy.” – Imraan Coovadia
Don't Film Yourself Having Sex
“If you don’t want your mom to see it, don’t put it online.” – Emma Sadleir
101 Detectives
“After I submit the book I have some hellish weeks. What have I done? I should have kept this to myself.” – Ivan Vladislavić
“Life doesn’t do what stories do. Life continues. Stories end.” – Christopher Hope
Green Lion
“If we choose not to write African stories we are impoverishing our literature.” – Henrietta Rose-Innes
A History of Loneliness
“I’d like to think my sexuality is one of the least interesting things about me, much like my head of hair.” – John Boyne
The Paying Guests
“Only now can we start writing about miserable lesbians, as it is no longer necessary to create positive images.” – Sarah Waters
Dying in New York
“There’s swagger to Nigerian attitude which is great – see their soccer World Cup confidence. We need more swagger as SA authors.” – Ekow Duker
Rusty Bell
“I see a lot of sentences that could have been written better in my books. But then I would never publish anything.” – Nthikeng Mohlele
“Non-fiction as a category is like calling all the clothes in your wardrobe ‘non-socks’.” – Hedley Twidle
The Reactive
“Writing is more than a compulsion.” – Masande Ntshanga
“Banging your head against a wall because it’s so nice to stop. Writing is like that.” – Deon Meyer
“Writers do half the job. The reader who picks up the book does the rest.” – Thando Mgqolozana
Literary Landscapes
“Nobody cares what people in Nigeria think about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels. Value is created elsewhere.” – Harry Garuba
One Midlife Crisis and a Speedo
“When you’re young you hear people say ‘everybody dies’ and you hear in your head ‘everybody else dies’.” – Darrel Bristow-Bovey
Could I Vote DA?
“Many black professionals, including the few who are here, are actually secretly indebted – we’re not genuinely middle class.” – Eusebius McKaiser
Arctic Summer
“The only way you can be universal is to be sure you are very specifically local.” – Damon Galgut
“Julius Malema is a mixture of Hitler, Idi Amin, Mobutu Sese Seko and many other dictators together.” – Kenny Kunene
Dare We Hope?
“If soup kitchens are there to cleanse guilt and not to restore dignity then there’s a challenge.” – Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
What Will People Say: A Novel
“Once people have been free to express themselves in racist, antisemitic, senile ways … then we can klap them.” – Rehana Rossouw
Still Grazing
“All my experiences removed geography from my world.” – Hugh Masekela
Book details

  • Literary Landscapes: From Modernism to Postcolonialism by Harry Garuba, Ina Grabe, Merry M Pawlowski, Carrol Clarkson, Johan Geertsema
    EAN: 9780230553163
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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FLF 2015: Why the Question “What is an African?” is Inherently Flawed

This year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival left no stone unturned as speakers and authors dove head-first into the contentious issues plaguing the South African literary landscape:

Jonathan Jansen, Moeletsi Mbeki and GG Alcock participated in a discussion on race, culture and identity chaired by Richard Poplak, and from the outset the panelists questioned the validity of the title of the event, “What is an African?”

How to Fix South Africa's SchoolsWe Need to ActUntil Julius ComesAdvocates for ChangeArchitects of PovertyThird World Child

Jansen, author of How to Fix South Africa’s Schools: Lessons from Schools that Work and We Need to Act, and Rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State, said he believes “What is an African?” is a dangerous question, as it is rooted in exclusion: “I’m very worried about the shallowness of the discourse around African identity and blackness.”

Mbeki (Advocates for Change: How to Overcome Africa’s Challenges and Architects of Poverty: Why Africa’s Capitalism needs Changing) concurred, and admitted to being wary of providing an answer to the question. Born in the pre-apartheid era, Mbeki said he and his brother, former President Thabo Mbeki, grew up as Xhosa men with their identities being largely shaped by the frontier wars and the Xhosa poets’ accounts of these wars.

Poplak (Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle) remarked that “What is an African?” doesn’t take into account the hybrid identities of South Africans.

Alcock (Third World Child: Born white, Zulu bred) explained how growing up as a Zulu child in a mud hut in rural Msinga shaped his perception of culture and identity. “I’ve been commercially successful because of understanding culture,” Alcock said. He is the owner of Minanawe Marketing, an events company that started the Soweto Beach Party. Reflecting on the recent spate of xenophobic attacks Alcock, who views himself as a migrant worker, said: “The tragedy of xenophobia is that we’re all migrants.”

Jansen said the UFS has spent a significant amount of time and resources to address the issue of what it means to be a human being. He said that the recent attacks on statues and memorials show a “massive failure of education” and says he has seen a trend emerging in which people are turning against each other. He believes the question “What is an African?” enables these exclusionary practices. “I’ve been told I’m not a real coloured,” he offered as an example.

Mbeki said: “We live in different South Africas. To me the debate has really yet to start about the future of our country.” The author and economist said that South Africa has been run by nationalist parties for a very long time and argued that the National Party made the issue of identity problematic for themselves because on the one hand the Afrikaners hated the English and on the other they wanted to be included in colonial society.

Ending the discussion on a positive note Jansen said that he has seen incredible optimism among the youth of South Africa. He warned that talk of transformation should be a fluid discussion and not one that only occurs in times of crisis.


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Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw) tweeted from the discussion using #FLF15:


Facebook gallery


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Die Stem is “A Direct Assault on African Unity” – EFF in Africa Day Statement

In a statement commemorating Africa Day‚ the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have called for “the eradication of Die Stem from the South African national anthem”.

Still an Inconvenient YouthThe Coming RevolutionUntil Julius Comes

The EFF‚ acknowledging the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)‚ said Die Stem “represents a direct conscious assault on African Unity”.

“This is because Die Stem celebrates the apartheid regime which killed and massacred black people‚ not in South Africa only‚ but also in Southern Africa as a whole in promotion of white supremacy and white minority rule‚” EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

“The EFF calls for the national anthem to only be Nkosi Sikelela as it was sang in the liberation struggle‚ also because it mobilised our people’s consciousness on a continental as opposed to narrow nationalist grounds.”

The OAU has since been replaced by the African Union which now hosts 54 African nations‚ the party said‚ “amongst them Swaziland remains under the dictatorial and parasitic leadership of King Mswati III”.

This‚ the EFF held‚ “undermines the freedoms of ordinary people and their democracy on a continuous basis”.

“We further call on the non-negotiable democratisation of Swaziland; the South African government must play a leading role in pressuring Mswati’s government to concede to demands for democracy‚” he said.

He also uged the AU to isolate Morocco until it “ends its colonial occupation of Western Sahara and allow them the freedom to self-determination and sovereignty”.

The EFF also used its Africa Day statement to raise concern about challenges the continent faces in Islamic fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabaab.

“These terror groups have chosen to cowardly use innocent civilians in fighting for their demands‚” Ndlozi said‚ recalling the 147 students killed at Kenya’s Garissa Universtyand the 276 Chibok girls in Nigeria who were kidnaped by Boko Haram.

“The rise of Islamic fundamentalism together with its associated violence represents the continuing weakness of African states and the AU in that they are unable to protect ordinary and defenceless citizens and secure the gains of sovereignty and self-determination in the continent.

“A continental effort is urgent in undoing Boko Haram and Al Shabaab as they continue to threaten African unity‚ its peace‚ security and the human freedoms of its people.”

Source: RDM News Wire

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Jean Meiring resenseer Recovering Democracy in South Africa deur Raymond Suttner

Recovering Democracy in South AfricaUitspraak: stokkie

Onder die boek se sewe hofies verskyn stukke wat jare uitmekaar vir ’n betrokke dag se koerantpubliek geskryf is – ’n lesersgroep wat die betrokke stuk sou lees en dan grotendeels vergeet. Waar daardie einste stukke nou neffens mekaar in ’n boek staangemaak is, kom die temas wat vir Suttner na aan die hart lê, soms nogal herhalend voor.

Ook word die toeganklikheid van die boek ironies gou sy grootste Achilleshiel. Ná vyf of ses uiters toeganklike koeranterige stukke, smag hierdie leser na iets wat dieper gaan, wat wyer soek na antwoorde.

Op die keper beskou, maak die boek lus sonder om daardie lus te bevredig.


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Don’t Miss the Black Sash’s 60th Anniversary Celebration and Launch of Sheena Duncan at Constitution Hill

Sheena Duncan Launch

Sheena DuncanThe Black Sash, the South African History Archive and Constitution Hill would like to invite you to the launch of Annemarie Hendrikz’s biography Sheena Duncan and the celebration of the Black Sash’s 60th Anniversary.

The event will feature a panel discussion by Bongi Mkhabela, Thandiwe Zulu, Judith Hawarden, Ish Mkhabela, Adele Kirsten, Gille de Vlieg and Marj Brown.

For the launch, Hendrickz will read selections from the biography of Sheena Duncan, and Duncan’s daughters, Lindsay McTeague and Carey Duncan, will share personal reflections about their mother.

Don’t miss out!

Event Details

Book Details

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“The Violence of the White Audience” – Malaika wa Azania and TO Molefe Add to the White Literary System Debate

Memoirs of a Born FreeBlack Anger and White ObliviousnessQueer Africa

Authors and public intellectuals Malaika Mahlatsi, aka Malaika wa Azania, and TO Molefe have responded to the heated debate around the “white literary system” which was sparked by Thando Mgqolozana this past weekend at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

The author of Memoirs of a Born Free: Reflections on the Rainbow Nation writes in an article for Times LIVE that the FLF has shown her for the first time in her 23 years what it means to “suffocate in a pool of white privilege”.

Azania reflects on her experience at literary festivals as a first-time writer and their elitist and exclusionary nature towards people who cannot afford to attend these spaces.

Read the article for the author’s view on the violence of the white audience in Franschhoek:

The violence that I was subjected to by the white audience in Franschhoek left me shaken, more so because in that space few are aware of their privilege.

In both sessions that I attended as a panellist, I endured disapproving stares and shaking heads every time I made mention of the legitimacy of black rage and how it is birthed by white privilege.

In that space, I came to understand that literary festivals exist to create a platform for white privilege to anthropologise black thought.

Molefe, the author of Black Anger and White Obliviousness and contributor to Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction, wrote a post on his blog, the repository, in which he shares the experience of declining the invitation to appear at the FLF.

The author writes that he said no to the FLF a few times but at the time he was too “threadbare and too afraid for a fight” to voice his reasons.

Read the article in which Molefe gives thanks to the people who started the debate:

I was cowardly. Unlike Siphiwo Mahala or Thando Mgqolozana, I said no quietly, and without much of a fuss, to participating in the Franschhoek Literary Festival when I was invited last year, in 2014. To be clear my reasons were exactly the same as theirs. Just like Thando, I’d felt like an anthropological exhibit the year before when I stood on stage in front of an old, white audience and retold the story of how I was affected by witnessing my dad being humiliated in the late 1980s by an Afrikaans-speaking policeman.

Today Siya Skota shared a link on his Facebook page to a story by Karin Schimke in which she shares her her take on the sessions where Mgqolozana raised the issue of the lack of transformation in SA’s literary circles.

Mgqolozana responded to Skota and shared his harrowing experience of being shouted at during a panel discussion:

Read the Facebook post:

On Saturday, at the session chaired by Victor Dlamini, Andrea Nattrass of Pan McMillan shouted rudely while I was speaking. Nobody reacted. People simply looked at her and then quickly back at me. I paused. Not even the chair protected me while being abused by Andrea. So I spoke and told her to shut up when I’m talking, which, ironically, shocked every single person in the room—perhaps because a black man cannot tell a rude white woman off, but a white woman can do the reverse on a black man who is simply articulating his views.

I was told that Andrea was crying outside afterwards. She came back to me while I was still chatting to members of the audience and, still visibly furious, apologised for the rudeness, and then went on to say something I didn’t quite hear. I think she was saying as (white) publishers in SA they DO look for talent, which is supposed to be a rebuttal to my “anthropological subject” argument. Then she walked off.


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Related links:


Book Details

  • Black Anger and White Obliviousness by TO Molefe
    EAN: 9780992190231

Images courtesy of Zazi and Afronline

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