Ralph Bunche, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, traveled to South Africa for three months in 1937. His notes, which have been skillfully compiled and annotated by historian Robert R. Edgar, provide unique insights on a segregated society.
In recent years black South African music and dance have
become ever more popular in the West, where they are now
widely celebrated as expressions of opposition to
discrimination and repression. Less well known is the
rich history of these arts, which were shaped by several
generations of black artists and performers whose
struggles, visions, and aspirations did not differ fundamentally
from those of their present-day counterparts.
In five detailed case studies Veit Erlmann digs deep to expose the roots of the most important of these performance traditions. He relates the early history of isicathamiya, the a cappella vocal style made famous by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
In two chapters on Durban between the World Wars he charts the evolution of Zulu music and dance, studying in depth the transformation of ingoma, a dance form popular among migrant workers since the 1930s. He goes on to
record the colorful life and influential work of Reuben T. Caluza,
South Africa's first black ragtime composer. And Erlmann's reconstruction of the 1890s concert tours of an Afro-American vocal group, Orpheus M. McAdoo and the Virginia Jubilee Singers, documents the earliest link between the African and American performance traditions.
Numerous eyewitness reports, musicians' personal testimonies, and song texts enrich Erlmann's narratives and demonstrate that black performance evolved in response to the growing economic and racial segmentation of South African
society. Early ragtime, ingoma, and isicathamiya enabled the black urban population to comment on their precarious social position and to symbolically construct a secure space within a rapidly changing political world.
Today, South African workers, artists, and youth continue to build upon this performance tradition in their struggle for freedom and democracy. The early performers portrayed by Erlmann were guiding lights—African stars—by which the present and future course of South Africa is being determined.
Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Spacefocuses on a remarkable month in the modern history of Africa and in the global history of football. Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann are well-known experts on South African football, and they have assembled an impressive team of local and international journalists, academics, and football experts to reflect on the 2010 World Cup and its broader significance, its meanings, complexities, and contradictions.
The World Cup’s sounds, sights, and aesthetics are explored, along with questions of patriotism, nationalism, and spectatorship in Africa and around the world. Experts on urban design and communities write on how the presence of the World Cup worked to refashion urban spaces and negotiate the local struggles in the hosting cities. The volume is richly illustrated by authors’ photographs, and the essays in this volume feature chronicles of match day experiences; travelogues; ethnographies of fan cultures; analyses of print, broadcast, and electronic media coverage of the tournament; reflections on the World Cup’s private and public spaces; football exhibits in South African museums; and critiques of the World Cup’s processes of inclusion and exclusion, as well as its political and economic legacies.
The volume concludes with a forum on the World Cup, including Thabo Dladla, Director of Soccer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Mohlomi Kekeletso Maubane, a well-known Soweto-based writer and a soccer researcher, and Rodney Reiners, former professional footballer and current chief soccer writer for the Cape Argus newspaper in Cape Town. This collection will appeal to students, scholars, journalists, and fans.
Cover illustration: South African fan blowing his vuvuzela at South Africa vs. France, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, June 22, 2010. Photo by Chris Bolsmann.
Niq Mhlongo Ohio University Press, 2011 Library of Congress PR9369.4.M48A38 2011 | Dewey Decimal 823.92
Bafana Kuzwayo is a young man with a weight on his shoulders. After flunking his law studies at the University of Cape Town, he returns home to Soweto, where he must decide how to break the news to his family. But before he can confess, he is greeted as a hero by family and friends. His uncle calls him “Advo,” short for Advocate, and his mother wastes no time recruiting him to solve their legal problems. In a community that thrives on imagined realities, Bafana decides that it’s easiest to create a lie that allows him to put off the truth indefinitely. Soon he’s in business with Yomi, a Nigerian friend who promises to help him solve all his problems by purchasing a fake graduation document. One lie leads to another as Bafana navigates through a world that readers will find both funny and grim.
At the end of apartheid, under pressure from local and transnational capital and the hegemony of Western-style parliamentary democracy, South Africans felt called upon to normalize their conceptions of economics, politics, and culture in line with these Western models. In Against Normalization, however, Anthony O’Brien examines recent South African literature and theoretical debate which take a different line, resisting this neocolonial outcome, and investigating the role of culture in the formation of a more radically democratic society. O’Brien brings together an unusual array of contemporary South African writing: cultural theory and debate, worker poetry, black and white feminist writing, Black Consciousness drama, the letters of exiled writers, and postapartheid fiction and film. Paying subtle attention to well-known figures like Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, and Njabulo Ndebele, but also foregrounding less-studied writers like Ingrid de Kok, Nise Malange, Maishe Maponya, and the Zimbabwean Dambudzo Marechera, he reveals in their work the construction of a political aesthetic more radically democratic than the current normalization of nationalism, ballot-box democracy, and liberal humanism in culture could imagine. Juxtaposing his readings of these writers with the theoretical traditions of postcolonial thinkers about race, gender, and nation like Paul Gilroy, bell hooks, and Gayatri Spivak, and with others such as Samuel Beckett and Vaclav Havel, O’Brien adopts a uniquely comparatist and internationalist approach to understanding South African writing and its relationship to the cultural settlement after apartheid. With its appeal to specialists in South African fiction, poetry, history, and politics, to other Africanists, and to those in the fields of colonial, postcolonial, race, and gender studies, Against Normalization will make a significant intervention in the debates about cultural production in the postcolonial areas of global capitalism.
Robert Trent Vinson Ohio University Press, 2018 Library of Congress E184.H95V56 2018 | Dewey Decimal 968.05092
In an excellent addition to the Ohio Short Histories of Africa series, Robert Trent Vinson recovers the important but largely forgotten story of Albert Luthuli, Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner and president of the African National Congress from 1952 to 1967. One of the most respected African leaders, Luthuli linked South African antiapartheid politics with other movements, becoming South Africa’s leading advocate of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent civil disobedience techniques. He also framed apartheid as a crime against humanity and thus linked South African antiapartheid struggles with international human rights campaigns.
Unlike previous studies, this book places Luthuli and the South African antiapartheid struggle in new global contexts, and aspects of Luthuli’s leadership that were not previously publicly known: Vinson is the first to use new archival evidence, numerous oral interviews, and personal memoirs to reveal that Luthuli privately supported sabotage as an additional strategy to end apartheid. This multifaceted portrait will be indispensable to students of African history and politics and nonviolence movements worldwide.
For more than half a century before World War II, black South Africans and “American Negroes”—a group that included African Americans and black West Indians—established close institutional and personal relationships that laid the necessary groundwork for the successful South African and American antiapartheid movements. Though African Americans suffered under Jim Crow racial discrimination, oppressed Africans saw African Americans as free people who had risen from slavery to success and were role models and potential liberators.
Many African Americans, regarded initially by the South African government as “honorary whites” exempt from segregation, also saw their activities in South Africa as a divinely ordained mission to establish “Africa for Africans,” liberated from European empires. The Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, the largest black-led movement with two million members and supporters in forty-three countries at its height in the early 1920s, was the most anticipated source of liberation. Though these liberation prophecies went unfulfilled, black South Africans continued to view African Americans as inspirational models and as critical partners in the global antiapartheid struggle.
The Americans Are Coming! is a rare case study that places African history and American history in a global context and centers Africa in African Diaspora studies.
In 1993, white American Fulbright scholar Amy Biehl was killed in a racially motivated attack near Cape Town, after spending months working to promote democracy and women’s rights in South Africa. The ironic circumstances of her death generated enormous international publicity and yielded one of South Africa’s most heralded stories of postapartheid reconciliation. Amy’s parents not only established a humanitarian foundation to serve the black township where she was killed, but supported amnesty for her killers and hired two of the young men to work for the Amy Biehl Foundation. The Biehls were hailed as heroes by Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and many others in South Africa and the United States—but their path toward healing was neither quick nor easy.
Granted unrestricted access to the Biehl family’s papers, Steven Gish brings Amy and the Foundation to life in ways that have eluded previous authors. He is the first to place Biehl’s story in its full historical context, while also presenting a gripping portrait of this remarkable young woman and the aftermath of her death across two continents.
The late 1980s were a dismal time inside South Africa. Mandela's African National Congress was banned. Thousands of ANC supporters were jailed without charge. Government hit squads assassinated and terrorized opponents of white rule. Ordinary South Africans, black and white, lived in a perpetual state of dread. Journalist Patti Waldmeir evokes this era of uncertainty in Anatomy of a Miracle, her comprehensive new book about the stunning and-historically speaking-swift tranformation of South Africa from white minority oligarchy to black-ruled democracy. Much that Waldmeir documents in this carefully researched and elegantly written book has been well reported in the press and in previous books. But what distinguishes her work is a reporter's attention to detail and a historian's sense of sweep and relevance. . . .Waldmeir has written a deeply reasoned book, but one that also acknowledges the power of human will and the tug of shared destiny."-Philadelphia Inquirer
In 1998 David Kruiper, the leader of the ‡Khomani San who today live in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, lamented, “We have been made into nothing.” His comment applies equally to the fate of all the hunter-gatherer societies of the Cape Colony who were destroyed by the impact of European colonialism. Until relatively recently, the extermination of the Cape San peoples has been treated as little more than a footnote to South African narratives of colonial conquest.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Dutch-speaking pastoralists who infiltrated the Cape interior dispossessed its aboriginal inhabitants. In response to indigenous resistance, colonists formed mounted militia units known as commandos with the express purpose of destroying San bands. This ensured the virtual extinction of the Cape San peoples. In The Anatomy of a South African Genocide, Mohamed Adhikari examines the history of the San and persuasively presents the annihilation of Cape San society as genocide.
First formed in the early twentieth century, the ANC Women’s League has grown into a leading organization in the women’s movement in South Africa. The league has been at the forefront of the nation’s century-long transition from an authoritarian state to a democracy that espouses gender equality as a core constitutional value. It has, indeed, always regarded itself as the women’s movement, frequently asserting its primacy as a vanguard organization and as the only legitimate voice of the women of South Africa. But, as this deeply insightful book shows, the history of the league is a more complicated affair—it was neither the only women’s organization in the political field nor an easy ally for South African feminism.
The ANC Youth League
Clive Glaser Ohio University Press, 2012 Library of Congress DT1971.G55 2013 | Dewey Decimal 324.268083
This brilliant little book tells the story of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League from its origins in the 1940s to the present and the controversies over Julius Malema and his influence in contemporary youth politics. Glaser analyzes the ideology and tactics of its founders, some of whom (notably Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo) later became iconic figures in South African history as well as inspirational figures such as A. P. Mda (father of author Zakes Mda) and Anton Lembede. It shows how the early Youth League gave birth not only to the modern ANC but also to its rival, the Pan Africanist Congress. Dormant for many years, the Youth League reemerged in the transition era under the leadership of Peter Mokaba—infused with the tradition of the militant youth politics of the 1980s. Throughout its history the Youth League has tried to “dynamize” and criticize the ANC from within, while remaining devoted to the mother body and struggling to find a balance between loyalty and rebellion.
In the years since the end of apartheid, South Africans have enjoyed a progressive constitution, considerable access to social services for the poor and sick, and a booming economy that has made their nation into one of the wealthiest on the continent. At the same time, South Africa experiences extremely unequal income distribution, and its citizens suffer the highest prevalence of HIV in the world. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has noted, “AIDS is South Africa’s new apartheid.”
In Ancestors and Antiretrovirals, Claire Laurier Decoteau backs up Tutu’s assertion with powerful arguments about how this came to pass. Decoteau traces the historical shifts in health policy after apartheid and describes their effects, detailing, in particular, the changing relationship between biomedical and indigenous health care, both at the national and the local level. Decoteau tells this story from the perspective of those living with and dying from AIDS in Johannesburg’s squatter camps. At the same time, she exposes the complex and often contradictory ways that the South African government has failed to balance the demands of neoliberal capital with the considerable health needs of its population.
Archives and Justice
Verne Harris Society of American Archivists, 2007 Library of Congress CD2451.H36 2007 | Dewey Decimal 027.0968
ARCHIVES AND JUSTICE: A SOUTH AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE is collection of Verne Harris's best writing during the first decade of South Africa's post-apartheid democracy. Harris is the project director of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg. While South Africa is his immediate context, Harris always engages wider geographical and conceptual worlds.
The volume is organized into five sections. "Discourses" illuminates Harris's engagement with writings and discussions related to archives. "Narratives," the second section, "explores the stories that archivists tell in certain domains of professional work-appraisal, electronic recordmaking, and arrangement and description." The third and fourth sections, "Politics and Ethics" and "Pasts and Secrets," recount and reflect on events and issues with which Harris has wrestled as a South African archivist. The op-eds contained in the final section, "Actualities," provide evidence of Harris's "deliberate endeavors to bring awareness of archive to popular debates in South Africa."
Drawing on the energies of Derridean deconstruction, Harris suggests an ethics, and a politics, expressed in the maxim "memory for justice." And he portrays the work of archives as a work of critical importance to the building of democracy.
Archiving Sovereignty shows how courts use fiction in their treatment of sovereign violence. Law's complicity with imperial and neocolonial practices occurs when courts inscribe and repeat the fabulous tales that provide an alibi for archaic sovereign acts that persist in the present. The United Kingdom's depopulation of islands in the Indian Ocean to serve the United States' neoimperial interests, Australia's exile and abandonment of refugees on remote islands, the failure to acknowledge genocidal acts or colonial dispossession, and the memorial work of the South African Constitution after apartheid are all sustained by historical fictions. This history-work of law constitutes an archive where sovereign violence is mediated, dissimulated, and sustained. Stewart Motha extends the concept of the "archive," as site of origin and source of authority, to signifying what law does in preserving and disavowing the past at the same time.
Sovereignty is often cast as a limit-concept, constituent force, determining the boundary of law. Archiving Sovereignty reverses this to explain how judicial pronouncements inscribe and sustain extravagant claims to exceptionality and sovereign solitude. This wide-ranging, critical work distinguishes between myths that sustain neocolonial orders and fictions that generate new forms of political and ethical life.
From 1952 to 1981, South Africa’s apartheid government ran an art school for the training of African art teachers at Indaleni, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal. The Art of Life in South Africa is the story of the students, teachers, art, and politics that circulated through a small school, housed in a remote former mission station. It is the story of a community that made its way through the travails of white supremacist South Africa and demonstrates how the art students and teachers made together became the art of their lives.
Daniel Magaziner radically reframes apartheid-era South African history. Against the dominant narrative of apartheid oppression and black resistance, as well as recent scholarship that explores violence, criminality, and the hopeless entanglements of the apartheid state, this book focuses instead on a small group’s efforts to fashion more fulfilling lives for its members and their community through the ironic medium of the apartheid-era school.
There is no book like this in South African historiography. Lushly illustrated and poetically written, it gives us fully formed lives that offer remarkable insights into the now clichéd experience of black life under segregation and apartheid.