front cover of After the TRC
After the TRC
Reflections on Truth and Reconciliation
Wilmot James
Ohio University Press, 2001

Has South Africa dealt effectively with the past, and is the country ready to face the future? What are the challenges facing both government and civil society in the years ahead? These and other questions are explored in this collection of essays by international and local commentators on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

A range of perspectives on whether the TRC met its objectives of truth and reconciliation is presented. The areas of particular contention-the payment of reparation, the granting of amnesty, and memorialization-are also examined.

Finally, the major challenges facing South Africa are identified, and ways of meeting these challenges and developing the assets of the nation are explored.

Contributors: Haribert Adam, Kanya Adam, Alex Boraine, Colin Bundy, Mary Burton, John de Gruchy, Richard Goldstone, Willem Heath, Wilmot James, Jeffrey Lever, Mahmood Mamdani, Gary Minkley, Njabulo Ndebele, Dumisa Ntsebeza, Kaizer Nyatsumba, Grace Naledi Pandor, Mamphela Ramphele, Ciraj Rassool, Albie Sachs, Patricia Valdez, Linda van de Vijver, Jan van Eck, Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, Charles Villa-Vicencio, Francis Wilson, and Leslie Witz

[more]

front cover of Apartheid’s Leviathan
Apartheid’s Leviathan
Electricity and the Power of Technological Ambivalence
Faeeza Ballim
Ohio University Press, 2023
A fascinating study that shows how the intersection of technology and politics has shaped South African history since the 1960s. This book details the development of an interconnected technological system of a coal mine and of the Matimba and Medupi power stations in the Waterberg, a rural region of South Africa near the country’s border with Botswana. South Africa’s state steel manufacturing corporation, Iscor, which has since been privatized, developed a coal mine in the region in the 1970s. This set the stage for the national electricity provider, Eskom, to build coal-fueled power stations in the Waterberg. Faeeza Ballim follows the development of these technological systems from the late 1960s, a period of heightened repression as the apartheid government attempted to realize its vision of racial segregation, to the deeply fraught construction of the Medupi power station in postapartheid South Africa. The Medupi power station was planned toward the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century as a measure to alleviate the country’s electricity shortage, but the continued delay of its completion and the escalation of its costs meant that it failed to realize those ambitions while public frustration and electricity outages grew. By tracing this story, this book highlights the importance of technology to our understanding of South African history. This characterization challenges the idea that the technological state corporations were proxies for the apartheid government and highlights that their activities in the Waterberg did not necessarily accord with the government’s strategic purposes. While a part of the broader national modernization project under apartheid, they also set the stage for worker solidarity and trade union organization in the Waterberg and elsewhere in the country. This book also argues that the state corporations, their technology, and their engineers enjoyed ambivalent relationships with the governments of their time, relationships that can be characterized as both autonomous and immersive. In the era of democracy, while Eskom has been caught up in government corruption—a major scourge to the fortunes of South Africa—it has also retained a degree of organizational autonomy and offered a degree of resistance to those who sought to further corruption. The examination of the workings of these technological systems, and the state corporations responsible for them, complicates conventional understandings of the transition from the authoritarian rule of apartheid to democratic South Africa, which coincided with the transition from state-led development to neoliberalism. This book is an indispensable case study on the workings of industrial and political power in Africa and beyond.
[more]

logo for Pluto Press
Beyond Occupation
Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Edited by Virginia Tilley
Pluto Press, 2012

Beyond Occupation looks at three contentious terms that regularly arise in contemporary arguments about Israel's practices towards Palestinians in the occupied territories – occupation, colonialism and apartheid – and considers whether their meanings in international law truly apply to Israel's policies. This analysis is timely and urgent – colonialism and apartheid are serious breaches of human rights law and apartheid is a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The contributors present conclusive evidence that Israel’s administration of the Palestinian territories is consistent with colonialism and apartheid, as these regimes are defined in human rights law. Their analysis further shows that these practices are deliberate Israeli state policies, imposed on the Palestinian civilian population under military occupation.

These findings raise serious implications for the legality and legitimacy of Israel's continuing occupation of the Palestinian territories and the responsibility of the entire international community to challenge practices considered contrary to fundamental values of the international legal order.

[more]

front cover of Black Cultural Life in South Africa
Black Cultural Life in South Africa
Reception, Apartheid, and Ethics
Lily Saint
University of Michigan Press, 2018
Under apartheid, black South Africans experienced severe material and social disadvantages occasioned by the government’s policies, and they had limited time for entertainment. Still, they closely engaged with an array of textual and visual cultures in ways that shaped their responses to this period of ethical crisis. Marshaling forms of historical evidence that include passbooks, memoirs, American “B” movies, literary and genre fiction, magazines, and photocomics, Black Cultural Life in South Africa considers the importance of popular genres and audiences in the relationship between ethical consciousness and aesthetic engagement.

This study provocatively posits that states of oppression, including colonial and postcolonial rule, can elicit ethical responses to imaginative identification through encounters with popular culture, and it asks whether and how they carry over into ethical action. Its consideration of how globalized popular culture “travels” not just in material form, but also through the circuits of the imaginary, opens a new window for exploring the ethical and liberatory stakes of popular culture. Each chapter focuses on a separate genre, yet the overall interdisciplinary approach to the study of genre and argument for an expansion of ethical theory that draws on texts beyond the Western canon speak to growing concerns about studying genres and disciplines in isolation. Freed from oversimplified treatments of popular forms—common to cultural studies and ethical theory alike—this book demonstrates that people can do things with mass culture that reinvigorate ethical life.

Lily Saint’s new volume will interest Africanists across the humanities and the social sciences, and scholars of Anglophone literary, globalization, and cultural studies; race; ethical theories and philosophies; film studies; book history and material cultures; and the burgeoning field of comics and graphic novels.
[more]

front cover of A Burning Hunger
A Burning Hunger
One Family’s Struggle Against Apartheid
Lynda Schuster
Ohio University Press, 2006

If the Mandelas were the generals in the fight for black liberation, the Mashininis were the foot soldiers. Theirs is a story of exile, imprisonment, torture, and loss, but also of dignity, courage, and strength in the face of appalling adversity. Originally published in Great Britain to critical acclaim, A Burning Hunger: One Family’s Struggle Against Apartheid tells a deeply moving human story and is one of the seminal books about the struggle against apartheid.

This family, Joseph and Nomkhitha Mashinini and their thirteen children, became immersed in almost every facet of the liberation struggle—from guerrilla warfare to urban insurrection. Although Joseph and Nomkhitha were peaceful citizens who had never been involved in politics, five of their sons became leaders in the antiapartheid movement. When the students of Soweto rose up in 1976 to protest a new rule making Afrikaans the language of instruction, they were led by charismatic young Tsietsi Mashinini. Scores of students were shot down and hundreds were injured. Tsietsi’s actions on that day set in motion a chain of events that would forever change South Africa, define his family, and transform their lives.

A Burning Hunger shows the human catastrophe that plagued generations of black Africans in the powerful story of one religious and law-abiding Soweto family. Basing her narrative on extensive research and interviews, Lynda Schuster richly portrays this remarkable family and in so doing reveals black South Africa during a time of momentous change.

[more]

front cover of Complicities
Complicities
The Intellectual and Apartheid
Mark Sanders
Duke University Press, 2002
Complicities explores the complicated—even contradictory—position of the intellectual who takes a stand against political policies and ideologies. Mark Sanders argues that intellectuals cannot avoid some degree of complicity in what they oppose and that responsibility can only be achieved with their acknowledgment of this complicity. He examines the role of South African intellectuals by looking at the work of a number of key figures—both supporters and opponents of apartheid.

Sanders gives detailed analyses of widely divergent thinkers: Afrikaner nationalist poet N. P. van Wyk Louw, Drum writer Bloke Modisane, Xhosa novelist A. C. Jordan, Afrikaner dissident Breyten Breytenbach, and Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko. Drawing on theorists including Derrida, Sartre, and Fanon, and paying particular attention to the linguistic intricacy of the literary and political texts considered, Sanders shows how complicity emerges as a predicament for intellectuals across the ideological and social spectrum. Through discussions of the colonial intellectuals Olive Schreiner and Sol T. Plaatje and of post-apartheid feminist critiques of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Complicities reveals how sexual difference joins with race to further complicate issues of collusion.

Complicities sheds new light on the history and literature of twentieth-century South Africa as it weighs into debates about the role of the intellectual in public life.

[more]

front cover of Cracks in the Wall
Cracks in the Wall
Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel
Ben White
Pluto Press, 2018
After decades of occupation and creeping annexation, Israel has created an apartheid system in historic Palestine. Peace efforts have failed because of one hard truth: the best Israeli offers do not meet the minimum that a truly free Palestine would require—nor that international law would recognize. There are, however, widening cracks in Israel’s traditional pillars of support for this policy, and in this book Ben White lays them out. Opposition to Israeli policies, he shows, are growing within Jewish communities and among Western progressives, while the rise of populist movements around the world has confused traditional party lines on the question and the Palestinian-led boycott campaign continues to gain momentum. Now, White argues, is the time to plot a course to avoid the mistakes of the past—to create a real way forward, and beyond apartheid, in Palestine.
 
[more]

logo for University of Chicago Press
Green Lands for White Men
Desert Dystopias and the Environmental Origins of Apartheid
Meredith McKittrick
University of Chicago Press, 2024
How an audacious environmental engineering plan fanned white settlers’ visions for South Africa, stoked mistrust in scientific experts, and gave rise to the Apartheid state.
 
In 1918, South Africa’s climate seemed to be drying up. White farmers claimed that rainfall was dwindling, while nineteenth-century missionaries and explorers had found riverbeds, seashells, and other evidence of a verdant past deep in the Kalahari Desert. Government experts insisted, however, that the rains weren’t disappearing; the land, long susceptible to periodic drought, had been further degraded by settler farmers’ agricultural practices—an explanation that white South Africans rejected. So when the geologist Ernest Schwarz blamed the land itself, the farmers listened. Schwarz held that erosion and topography had created arid conditions, that rainfall was declining, and that agriculture was not to blame. As a solution, he proposed diverting two rivers to the Kalahari’s basins, creating a lush country where white South Africans could thrive. This plan, which became known as the Kalahari Thirstland Redemption Scheme, was rejected by most scientists. But it found support among white South Africans who worried that struggling farmers undermined an image of racial superiority.
 
Green Lands for White Men explores how white agriculturalists in southern Africa grappled with a parched and changing terrain as they sought to consolidate control over a Black population. Meredith McKittrick’s timely history of the Redemption Scheme reveals the environment to have been central to South African understandings of race. While Schwarz’s plan was never implemented, it enjoyed sufficient support to prompt government research into its feasibility, and years of debate. McKittrick shows how white farmers rallied around a plan that represented their interests over those of the South African state and delves into the reasons behind this schism between expert opinion and public perception. This backlash against the predominant scientific view, McKittrick argues, displayed the depth of popular mistrust in an expanding scientific elite.
 
A detailed look at the intersection of a settler society, climate change, white nationalism, and expert credibility, Green Lands for White Men examines the reverberations of a scheme that ultimately failed but influenced ideas about race and the environment in South Africa for decades to come.
[more]

front cover of I Write What I Like
I Write What I Like
Selected Writings
Steve Biko
University of Chicago Press, 2002
"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Like all of Steve Biko's writings, those words testify to the passion, courage, and keen insight that made him one of the most powerful figures in South Africa's struggle against apartheid. They also reflect his conviction that black people in South Africa could not be liberated until they united to break their chains of servitude, a key tenet of the Black Consciousness movement that he helped found.

I Write What I Like contains a selection of Biko's writings from 1969, when he became the president of the South African Students' Organization, to 1972, when he was prohibited from publishing. The collection also includes a preface by Archbishop Desmond Tutu; an introduction by Malusi and Thoko Mpumlwana, who were both involved with Biko in the Black Consciousness movement; a memoir of Biko by Father Aelred Stubbs, his longtime pastor and friend; and a new foreword by Professor Lewis Gordon.

Biko's writings will inspire and educate anyone concerned with issues of racism, postcolonialism, and black nationalism.

[more]

front cover of The Impossible Machine
The Impossible Machine
A Genealogy of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Adam Sitze
University of Michigan Press, 2016

Adam Sitze meticulously traces the origins of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission back to two well-established instruments of colonial and imperial governance: the jurisprudence of indemnity and the commission of inquiry. This genealogy provides a fresh, though counterintuitive, understanding of the TRC’s legal, political, and cultural importance. The TRC’s genius, Sitze contends, is not the substitution of “forgiving” restorative justice for “strict” legal justice but rather the innovative adaptation of colonial law, sovereignty, and government. However, this approach also contains a potential liability: if the TRC’s origins are forgotten, the very enterprise intended to overturn the jurisprudence of colonial rule may perpetuate it. In sum, Sitze proposes a provocative new means by which South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be understood and evaluated.

[more]

front cover of Incognegro
Incognegro
A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid
Frank B. Wilderson III
Duke University Press, 2008
In 1995, a South African journalist informed Frank Wilderson, one of only two American members of the African National Congress (ANC), that President Nelson Mandela considered him "a threat to national security." Wilderson was asked to comment. Incognegro is that "comment." It is also his response to a question posed five years later in a California university classroom: "How come you came back?" Although Wilderson recollects his turbulent life as an expatriate during the furious last gasps of apartheid, Incognegro is at heart a quintessentially American story. During South Africa's transition, Wilderson taught at universities in Johannesburg and Soweto by day. By night, he helped the ANC coordinate clandestine propaganda, launch psychological warfare, and more. In this mesmerizing political memoir, Wilderson's lyrical prose flows from unspeakable dilemmas in the red dust and ruin of South Africa to his return to political battles raging quietly on US campuses and in his intimate life. Readers will find themselves suddenly overtaken by the subtle but resolute force of Wilderson's biting wit, rare vulnerability, and insistence on bearing witness to history no matter the cost.
[more]

logo for Ohio University Press
Learning From Robben Island
Govan Mbeki’s Prison Writings
Govan Mbeki
Ohio University Press, 1991

In the late fifties and early sixties, Govan Mbeki was a central figure in the African National Congress and director of the ANC campaigns from underground. Born of a chief and the daughter of a Methodist minister in the Transkei of South Africa in 1910, he worked as a teacher, journalist, and tireless labor organizer in a lifetime of protest against the government policy of apartheid. Over two decades of imprisonment on Robben Island did not consign him to obscurity. Along with Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, his name has become a symbol of resistance, not only to the oppressed people of South Africa, but also to the international community who have conferred on him many honors and awards.

[more]

front cover of The Life of Madie Hall Xuma
The Life of Madie Hall Xuma
Black Women's Global Activism during Jim Crow and Apartheid
Wanda A. Hendricks
University of Illinois Press, 2022
Revered in South Africa as "An African American Mother of the Nation," Madie Beatrice Hall Xuma spent her extraordinary life immersed in global women's activism. Wanda A. Hendricks's biography follows Hall Xuma from her upbringing in the Jim Crow South to her leadership role in the African National Congress (ANC) and beyond. Hall Xuma was already known for her social welfare work when she married South African physician and ANC activist Alfred Bitini Xuma. Becoming president of the ANC Women’s League put Hall Xuma at the forefront of fighting racial discrimination as South Africa moved toward apartheid. Hendricks provides the long-overlooked context for the events that undergirded Hall Xuma’s life and work. As she shows, a confluence of history, ideas, and organizations both shaped Hall Xuma and centered her in the histories of Black women and women’s activism, and of South Africa and the United States.
[more]

front cover of Making Freedom
Making Freedom
Apartheid, Squatter Politics, and the Struggle for Home
Anne-Maria Makhulu
Duke University Press, 2015
In Making Freedom Anne-Maria Makhulu explores practices of squatting and illegal settlement on the outskirts of Cape Town during and immediately following the end of apartheid. Apartheid's paradoxical policies of prohibiting migrant Africans who worked in Cape Town from living permanently within the city led some black families to seek safe haven on the city's perimeters. Beginning in the 1970s families set up makeshift tents and shacks and built whole communities, defying the state through what Makhulu calls a "politics of presence." In the simple act of building homes, squatters, who Makhulu characterizes as urban militants, actively engaged in a politics of "the right to the city" that became vital in the broader struggles for liberation. Despite apartheid's end in 1994, Cape Town’s settlements have expanded, as new forms of dispossession associated with South African neoliberalism perpetuate relations of spatial exclusion, poverty, and racism. As Makhulu demonstrates, the efforts of black Capetonians to establish claims to a place in the city not only decisively reshaped Cape Town's geography but changed the course of history.
 
[more]

logo for Ohio University Press
Media and Dependency in South Africa
A Case Study of the Press and the Ciskei “Homeland”
Les Switzer
Ohio University Press, 1985
Switzer looks at how South Africa’s communications industry, the largest and most powerful on the continent, promotes dependency among the subject African populations. This study of the Ciskei “Homeland”, which has long been a fountainhead of African nationalism and a zone of conflict between blacks and whites, focuses on the privately owned, commercial press and its role in helping to frame a consensus in support of the political, economic and ideological values of the ruling alliance. The conceptual framework employed differs from that normally used in communications research. Further, Switzer offers an alternative methodology which attempts to show how researchers can conceptualize the purposes behind news, entertainment and advertising and to measure the extent to which mediated reality does and does not conform to the lives of the people. This work, then, is of interest to workers in communications as well as to those who are concerned with development in South Africa and, indeed, in the entire non-Western world.
[more]

front cover of Overcoming Apartheid
Overcoming Apartheid
Can Truth Reconcile a Divided Nation?
James L. Gibson
Russell Sage Foundation, 2004
Perhaps no country in history has so directly and thoroughly confronted its past in an effort to shape its future as has South Africa. Working from the belief that understanding the past will help build a more peaceful and democratic future, South Africa has made a concerted, institutionalized effort to come to grips with its history of apartheid through its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Overcoming Apartheid, James L. Gibson provides the first systematic assessment of whether South Africa's truth and reconciliation process has been successful. Has the process allowed South Africa to let go of its painful past and move on? Or has it exacerbated racial tensions by revisiting painful human rights violations and granting amnesty to their perpetrators? Overcoming Apartheid reports on the largest and most comprehensive study of post-apartheid attitudes in South Africa to date, involving a representative sample of all major racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups. Grounding his analysis of truth in theories of collective memory, Gibson discovers that the process has been most successful in creating a common understanding of the nature of apartheid. His analysis then demonstrates how this common understanding is helping to foster reconciliation, as defined by the acceptance of basic principles of human rights and political tolerance, rejection of racial prejudice, and acceptance of the institutions of a new political order. Gibson identifies key elements in the process—such as acknowledging shared responsibility for atrocities of the past—that are essential if reconciliation is to move forward. He concludes that without the truth and reconciliation process, the prospects for a reconciled, democratic South Africa would diminish considerably. Gibson also speculates about whether the South African experience provides any lessons for other countries around the globe trying to overcome their repressive pasts. A groundbreaking work of social science research, Overcoming Apartheid is also a primer for utilizing innovative conceptual and methodological tools in analyzing truth processes throughout the world. It is sure to be a valuable resource for political scientists, social scientists, group relations theorists, and students of transitional justice and human rights.
[more]

front cover of The Perversity of Gratitude
The Perversity of Gratitude
An Apartheid Education
Farred, Grant
Temple University Press, 2024
Apartheid, ironically, provided Grant Farred with the optimal conditions for thinking. He describes South Africa’s apartheid regime as an intellectual force that, “Made thinking apartheid, more than anything else, an absolute necessity.”  The Perversity of Gratitude is a provocative book in which Farred reflects on an upbringing resisting apartheid. Although he is still inclined to struggle viscerally against apartheid, he acknowledges, “It is me.”

Unsentimental about his education, Farred’s critique recognizes the impact of four exceptional teachers—all engaging pedagogical figures who cultivated a great sense of possibility in how thinking could be learned through a disenfranchised South African education.

The Perversity of Gratitude brings to bear the work of influential philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida. The book tackles broad philosophical concepts—transgression, withdrawal, and the dialectic. This leads to the creation of a new concept, “the diaspora-in-place,” which Farred explains, “is having left a place before one physically removes oneself from this place.”

Farred’s apartheid education in South Africa instilled in him a lifelong commitment to learning thinking. “And for that I am grateful,” Farred writes in The Perversity of Gratitude. His autopoiesis is sure to provoke and inspire readers.
[more]

front cover of Profiles in Diversity
Profiles in Diversity
Women in the New South Africa
Patricia Romero
Michigan State University Press, 1998

A revealing oral history collection, Profiles in Diversity contains in-depth interviews of twenty-six women in South Africa from different racial, class, and age backgrounds. Conducted in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Vryburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, Durban, and a rural section of Kwa-Zulu Natal, these life histories encompass diverse experiences ranging from a squatter in a township outside Cape Town to an ANC activist in Port Elizabeth, who lost three sons to the struggle for democracy and who herself was imprisoned several times during what many in South Africa now refer to as the "civil war."  
     Nearly all of these women describe their formative years spent growing up in South Africa's segregated society. Three young black students discuss the hardships they experienced in an unequal educational system as well as aspects of segregation in their childhood. They are joined in their memories and hopes for the future by two mature women—one now a high court judge in Durban and the other a linguist at the University of South Africa in Pretoria—both of whom studied at Harvard in the United States. Nancy Charton, the first woman ordained as an Anglican priest in South Africa, speaks about her past and what led her, in her early seventies, to a vocation in the church.  
      Three Afrikaner women, including one in her late twenties, speak about growing up in South Africa and articulate their concerns for a future that, in some respects, differs from the predictions of their English-speaking or black sisters. Two now-deceased members of the South African Communist Party provide disparate accounts of what led them to lives of active opposition to the discrimination that marked the lives of people of color, long before apartheid became embedded in South Africa's legal system. Also included is an account by Dr. Goonam, an Indian woman who grew up in relative comfort in the then province of Natal, while Ray Alexander discusses how she witnessed the tyranny visited on the Jews of her native Latvia before immigrating to the Cape.

[more]

front cover of Rhetorics of Resistance
Rhetorics of Resistance
Opposition Journalism in Apartheid South Africa
Bryan Trabold
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018
The period of apartheid was a perilous time in South Africa’s history. This book examines the tactics of resistance developed by those working for the Weekly Mail and New Nation, two opposition newspapers published in South Africa in the mid- and late 1980s. The government, in an attempt to crack down on the massive political resistance sweeping the country, had imposed martial law and imposed even greater restrictions on the press. Bryan Trabold examines the writing, legal, and political strategies developed by those working for these newspapers to challenge the censorship restrictions as much as possible—without getting banned. Despite the many steps taken by the government to silence them, including detaining the editor of New Nation for two years and temporarily closing both newspapers, the Weekly Mail and New Nation not only continued to publish but actually increased their circulations and obtained strong domestic and international support. New Nation ceased publication in 1994 after South Africa made the transition to democracy, but the Weekly Mail, now the Mail & Guardian, continues to publish and remains one of South Africa’s most respected newspapers.
[more]

front cover of Seeking Mandela
Seeking Mandela
Peacemaking Between Israelis And Palestinians
Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley
Temple University Press, 2005
The ongoing violence, despair and paralysis among Israelis and Palestinians resemble the gloomy period in South Africa during the late 1980s. Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley show that these analogies with South Africa can be applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for two purposes: to showcase South Africa as an inspiring model for a negotiated settlement and to label Israel a "colonial settler state" that should be confronted with strategies (sanctions, boycotts) similar to those applied against the apartheid regime. Because of the different historical and socio-political contexts, both assumptions are problematic. Whereas peacemaking resulted in an inclusive democracy in South Africa, the favored solution for Israel and the West Bank is territorial separation into two states. Adam and Moodley speculate on what would have happened in the Middle East had there been what they call "a Palestinian Mandela" providing unifying moral and strategic leadership in the ethnic conflict. A timely, relevant look at the issues of a polarized struggle, Seeking Mandela is an original comparison of South Africa and Israel, as well as an important critique on the nature of comparative politics.
[more]

front cover of Starring Mandela and Cosby
Starring Mandela and Cosby
Media and the End(s) of Apartheid
Ron Krabill
University of Chicago Press, 2010

During the worst years of apartheid, the most popular show on television in South Africa—among both Black and White South Africans—was The Cosby Show. Why did people living under a system built on the idea that Black people were inferior and threatening flock to a show that portrayed African Americans as comfortably mainstream? Starring Mandela and Cosby takes up this paradox, revealing the surprising impact of television on racial politics.

The South African government maintained a ban on television until 1976, and according to Ron Krabill, they were right to be wary of its potential power. The medium, he contends, created a shared space for communication in a deeply divided nation that seemed destined for civil war along racial lines. At a time when it was illegal to publish images of Nelson Mandela, Bill Cosby became the most recognizable Black man in the country, and, Krabill argues, his presence in the living rooms of white South Africans helped lay the groundwork for Mandela’s release and ascension to power.

Weaving together South Africa’s political history and a social history of television, Krabill challenges conventional understandings of globalization, offering up new insights into the relationship between politics and the media.

[more]

logo for University of Chicago Press
"Stay Out of Politics"
A Philosopher Views South Africa
Ronald Aronson
University of Chicago Press, 1990
As a lifelong radical and political activist, Ronald Aronson accepted an invitation to lecture in South Africa only after two years of deliberation. "Stay Out of Politics," which begins with the moral questions that Aronson confronted in his decision to go, is a reaffirmation of the necessity for majority rule and the abolition of apartheid. Amidst the pressure of widespread talk of an academic boycott of South Africa, Aronson decided to lecture there as a contribution to the struggle for majority rule. He decided to become mobilized as a philosopher and activist by engaging in the effort close at hand rather than settling for a distant and comfortable protest by avoidance.

Along with his visa, Aronson was given the following warning by a consular officer: "Stay out of politics!" Believing that philosophy not only has a role to play but that it can, and must, involve itself in the vital social and political issues of our time, Aronson equally discovered that in South Africa politics is everywhere and inescapable. The lectures Aronson delivered focused on the meaning of progress and hope, on the threat—and experience—of disaster today, and on our responsibility to join the struggle for a humane and rational world. Two of the most provocative lectures are included here, the first a discussion of the Holocaust that has direct and intentional applications to the current situation in South Africa. The second lecture, in memory of the assassinated political philosopher Richard Turner, is a sketch of Aronson's philosophy of hope as seen from within the South African context.

Despite the limitations of teaching under possible surveillance in a revolutionary situation, Aronson witnessed the social reality of apartheid and heard the voices of its victims. Aronson's love for the South African people motivated him to write this powerful account. He presents a lecturer's tour of South Africa: the experiences that both confirmed his belief in the urgent need for majority rule but also revealed the complexities of the society that seeks to continue apartheid through all reforms; and his philosopher's reflections upon returning to the United States on the irrationality of apartheid and the ambiguities of the struggle to end it.

"Stay Out of Politics" is not only a powerful encounter with South Africa today, it is a provocative statement about philosophy—its nature, its tasks, its duty to understand and change the world in which we live.
[more]

front cover of The Terrorist Album
The Terrorist Album
Apartheid’s Insurgents, Collaborators, and the Security Police
Jacob Dlamini
Harvard University Press, 2020

An award-winning historian and journalist tells the very human story of apartheid’s afterlife, tracing the fates of South African insurgents, collaborators, and the security police through the tale of the clandestine photo album used to target apartheid’s enemies.

From the 1960s until the early 1990s, the South African security police and counterinsurgency units collected over 7,000 photographs of apartheid’s enemies. The political rogue’s gallery was known as the “terrorist album,” copies of which were distributed covertly to police stations throughout the country. Many who appeared in the album were targeted for surveillance. Sometimes the security police tried to turn them; sometimes the goal was elimination.

All of the albums were ordered destroyed when apartheid’s violent collapse began. But three copies survived the memory purge. With full access to one of these surviving albums, award-winning South African historian and journalist Jacob Dlamini investigates the story behind these images: their origins, how they were used, and the lives they changed. Extensive interviews with former targets and their family members testify to the brutal and often careless work of the police. Although the police certainly hunted down resisters, the terrorist album also contains mug shots of bystanders and even regime supporters. Their inclusion is a stark reminder that apartheid’s guardians were not the efficient, if morally compromised, law enforcers of legend but rather blundering agents of racial panic.

With particular attentiveness to the afterlife of apartheid, Dlamini uncovers the stories of former insurgents disenchanted with today’s South Africa, former collaborators seeking forgiveness, and former security police reinventing themselves as South Africa’s newest export: “security consultants” serving as mercenaries for Western nations and multinational corporations. The Terrorist Album is a brilliant evocation of apartheid’s tragic caprice, ultimate failure, and grim legacy.

[more]

front cover of Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid
Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid
Belinda Bozzoli
Ohio University Press, 2004

A compelling study of the origins and trajectory of one of the legendary black uprisings against apartheid, Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid draws on insights gained from the literature on collective action and social movements. It delves into the Alexandra Rebellion of 1986 to reveal its inner workings.

Belinda Bozzoli’s aim is to examine how the residents of Alexandra, a poverty-stricken segregated township in Johannesburg, manipulated and overturned the meanings of space, time, and power in their sequestered world. She explains how they used political theater to convey, stage, and dramatize their struggle and how young and old residents generated differing ideologies and tactics, giving rise to a distinct form of generational politics.

Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid asks the reader to enter into the world of the rebels and to confront the moral complexity and social duress they experienced as they invented new social forms and violently attacked old ones. It is an important study of collective action that will be of great interest to sociologists and to scholars of Africa, particularly to those interested in the antiapartheid struggle.

[more]

front cover of The Tongue Is Fire
The Tongue Is Fire
South African Storytellers and Apartheid
Harold E. Scheub
University of Wisconsin Press, 1996
     In the years between the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 and the Soweto Uprising of 1976—a period that was both the height of the apartheid system in South Africa and, in retrospect, the beginning of its end—Harold Scheub went to Africa to collect stories.
     With tape-recorder and camera in hand, Scheub registered the testaments of Swati, Xhosa, Ndebele, and Zulu storytellers, farming people who lived in the remote reaches of rural South Africa. While young people fought in the streets of Soweto and South African writers made the world aware of apartheid’s evils, the rural storytellers resisted apartheid in their own way, using myth and metaphor to preserve their traditions and confront their oppressors. For more than 20 years, Scheub kept the promise he made to the storytellers to publish his translations of their stories only when freedom came to South Africa. The Tongue Is Fire  presents these voices of South African oral tradition—the historians, the poets, the epic-performers, the myth-makers—documenting their enduring faith in the power of the word to sustain tradition in the face of determined efforts to distort or eliminate it. These texts are a tribute to the storytellers who have always, in periods of crisis, exercised their art to inspire their own people.
[more]

front cover of The Uncoiling Python
The Uncoiling Python
South African Storytellers and Resistance
Harold Scheub
Ohio University Press, 2010

There are many collections of African oral traditions, but few as carefully organized as The Uncoiling Python. Harold Scheub, one of the world’s leading scholars of African oral traditions and folklore, explores the ways in which oral traditions have served to combat and subvert colonial domination in South Africa. From the time colonial forces first came to southern Africa in 1487, oral and written traditions have been a bulwark against what became 350 years of colonial rule, characterized by the racist policies of apartheid. The Uncoiling Python: South African Storytellers and Resistance is the first in-depth study of oral tradition as a means of survival.

In open insurrections and other subversive activities Africans resisted the daily humiliations of colonial rule, but perhaps the most effective and least apparent expression of subversion was through indigenous storytelling and poetic traditions. Harold Scheub has collected the stories and poetry of the Xhosa, Zulu, Swati, and Ndebele peoples to present a fascinating analysis of how the apparently harmless tellers of tales and creators of poetry acted as front-line soldiers.

[more]


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter