Emperor Shaka the Great: A Zulu Epic
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.
- Untitled: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, Ben Cousins
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