Writing women, gendering history: What would it mean to look at the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy from the perspective of Nokuthela Dube?

On 11 September 2014 the CIHABlog editorial team at UKZN joined the UKZN’s College of Humanities to celebrate and reflect on the first 20 years of the post-apartheid South Africa, and the implications thereof for its academic agenda, in this year’s annual John Langalibalele Dube Memorial lecture. The lecture sought to draw from the educational and activist legacy of Nokuthela Dube, not only to look back, but to also look forward as we grapple with our new struggles. The lecture was informed by the following critical questions: What can we learn from her legacy that can better inform efforts towards gender equity in a country currently beseeched with unparalleled violence against women and girls? How can we write women like her, not only into our history, but also into our ‘national development plans’ going forward?

Dr Gcina Mhlope – renowned activist, storyteller, poet, actor, playwright, director, author and Executive Director and founder of the Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust – grappled with these and more in her inspiring and poetic talk.

Writing women, gendering history

by Dr Gcina Mhlope

Dr Gcina Mhlope

Dr Gcina Mhlope

Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika
If you wake up very early in the morning and listen to the cool breeze at dawn,
You are sure to hear special messages that are meant just for you
All you have to do is take the time and just listen.
The door is round, it is open, some people stand up, go across the threshold and go back to sleep.
But please, do not go back to sleep.
The orange eastern sky has golden threads that that magically weave their way straight into your heart.
All you have to do is just listen and let the purpose of the day reveal itself to you. Continue reading

“Brave, Just Men” – Luthuli, Mandela, and South Africa’s Jericho Road (Part 3)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has launched an initiative to foster good governance through the memory and works of fervent liberation icons. Rev. Dr Allan Boesak recently spoke at the University’s annual Mzwandile Memorial Lecture, and The CIHA Blog is honored to post the text of his talk, in three parts. (Read Part 1 and Part 2)

Part 3 of “Brave, Just Men” – Luthuli, Mandela, and South Africa’s Jericho Road

by Allan Aubrey Boesak

Rev Dr Allan Boesak

Rev Dr Allan Boesak

We need to dig deeper. Luthuli, in insisting that Mandela and the others remained “brave, just men”, even in their decision for the use of violence, compels us, in following his logic, to ask a different question, all the more important because, besides being a political question, is also a moral question, namely: who created this dilemma? Who is really to blame for the decision to turn to violence? Certainly not the leaders of the ANC, whose patience, after years of nonviolent struggle, had finally worn out? And Luthuli knows where the blame lies: with the white government who refuses to abandon a policy of racist oppression, especially in the light of decades of extraordinary patience and endurance: “How easy it would have been,” Luthuli makes plain in his Nobel Lecture, “for the natural feelings of resentment at white domination to have been turned into feelings of hatred and a desire for revenge against the white community…”[i] But that did not happen. Continue reading

“Brave, Just Men” – Luthuli, Mandela, and South Africa’s Jericho Road (Part 2)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has launched an initiative to foster good governance through the memory and works of fervent liberation icons. Rev. Dr Allan Boesak recently spoke at the University’s annual Mzwandile Memorial Lecture, and The CIHA Blog is honored to post the text of his talk, in three parts. (Read Part 1 and Part 3)

Part 2 of “Brave, Just Men” – Luthuli, Mandela, and South Africa’s Jericho Road

by Allan Aubrey Boesak

In response [to Luthuli's ambiguity over pacifism], we should first turn to what seems to be the core of the debate. The debate centers almost exclusively on the question whether Luthuli would have called himself a pacifist. Luthuli, like King, counted many pacifists among his circle of friends and supporters, but never joined a pacifist organization. Defenders of the 1961 MK decision insist he was not pacifist and therefore must have supported the decision and the violent struggle. More than once, Couper points to Luthuli’s declaration, “I am not a pacifist, I am a realist.”[i] Yet he comes to the conclusion that Luthuli, both as a struggle activist, a leader of the movement, and as a Christian, could never have chosen for violence. His nonviolent stance throughout was too consistent. “He did not, as an individual, nor as the ANC president general, ever advocate or justify violence prior to or after the 1961 decision to form MK, to which he had been party.”[ii] Continue reading

“Brave, Just Men” – Luthuli, Mandela, and South Africa’s Jericho Road (Part 1)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has launched an initiative to foster good governance through the memory and works of fervent liberation icons. Rev. Dr Allan Boesak recently spoke at the University’s annual Mzwandile Memorial Lecture, and The CIHA Blog is honored to post the text of his talk, in three parts. (Read Part 2 and Part 3)

“Brave, Just Men” – Luthuli, Mandela, and South Africa’s Jericho Road

by Allan Aubrey Boesak

Rev Dr Allan Boesak

Rev Dr Allan Boesak

This talk is taken from a chapter in a book I am in the final stages of finishing. The larger argument is concerned with the meaning of Jesus’ parable in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, the story we universally know as the parable of the Good Samaritan. Pivotal to the story are three questions. Two from the lawyer: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life,” and: “Who is my neighbor?”; and Jesus’ counter question: “Who is the neighbor to the one…?” What could Jesus mean by telling this story? Jesus means, I believe, to tell us the true meaning of what I would call radical, combative love; of true, radical, revolutionary neighborliness. But what would that mean if applied to the situation in South Africa, specifically for the purposes of our discussion, that crucial period after Sharpeville when the ANC, a banned organization with a banned leader (Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli) took decisions that would have such momentous consequences for the struggle, the people, and the country. So in this paper (like I did with “reconciliation” elsewhere, I will speak of love as a political force for good. Continue reading

An Exploration of West African History Through Ghanaian Afro-funk

Highlife Legend Ebo Taylor in 2010 with his band Bonze Konkoma at Club W71.

Highlife Legend Ebo Taylor in 2010 with his band Bonze Konkoma at Club W71.

Check out this episode of Afropop Worldwide from Public Radio International about Ghanaian and other West African funk, hip-hop, and highlife music, their connections with U.S. artists, and their development through and after the colonial and missionary periods. It’s great listening, and it’s also important for  demonstrating the richness of Ghanaian cultural exports as well as how those with open ears can learn a lot from West Africa about the connections among music, politics, and religion.