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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The oral and written traditions of the Africans of South Africa have provided an understanding of their past and the way the past relates to the present. These traditions continue to shape the past by the present, and vice versa. From the time colonial forces first came to the region 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 how Africans used oral traditions as a means of survival against European domination.
Africans resisted colonial rule from the beginning. They participated in open insurrections and other subversive activities in order to withstand the daily humiliations of colonial rule. 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.