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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

“I think another country is possible” – Sharlene Swartz’s Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution launched in Cape Town

“I think another country is possible” – Sharlene Swartz’s Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution launched in Cape Town“I think another country is possible” – Sharlene Swartz’s Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution launched in Cape Town


Another CountryThe Book Lounge recently played host to Sharlene Swartz and many guests at the Launch of Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution.

In conversation with struggle stalwart Denis Goldberg, an impassioned Swartz relayed her experiences as a white woman living in South Africa in relation to the other races in the country.

The Professor of Sociology began by sharing an anecdote of her experience in Zurich where as a 21-year-old white woman she for the first time experienced the hatred and anger of another white person because of apartheid. “He spat on my shoe and slammed the door,” she recalls. It was an eye opening moment for the author who went on to say, “The book is a spit on the shoes of white South Africa.”

Swartz explained that the book aims to restore humanity and to encourage dialogue between South Africans who wouldn’t generally speak to one another. She asked average, everyday South Africans what kind of South Africa they would like and summarised their responses: “Everyone wanted a country where they could feel like they belong.”

“I think another country is possible” – Sharlene Swartz’s Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution launched in Cape Town“I think another country is possible” – Sharlene Swartz’s Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution launched in Cape Town


According to the research Swartz carried out while writing the book, close to 70 per cent of South Africans say that “we should forget the past and move on”. The book asks: “How do we move on when so many black South Africans are living an inferior reality?”

After a detailed introduction to the book and the questions it seeks to answer, Swartz revealed the crux of the book, suggesting that “everyone can do something [about restitution], not just the government”. She proposes a working definition for social restitution as, “Acts and attitudes towards making things right for the past … to recognise human dignity.”

After Swartz’s brief introduction and summary of the book, she invited Goldberg to comment on the current social situation within the Country. The founder of the organisation, Community HEART reminded the audience that, “the apartheid regime killed between ten and twelve thousand people, yet people still talk about a bloodless revolution.” He argued that “this is one of the causes of anger today – saying black blood doesn’t matter”.

Further defining social restitution, Goldberg puts forward that “we know what our society ought to be and also what it is … we need to bridge the gap between is and ought through social action ie social restitution”. Goldberg describes the book as, “refreshing and remarkable” saying: “Sharlene has shown us how to speak frankly.”

Another Country recommends about 200 practical, financial, and symbolic ideas that regular South Africans can use towards social restitution. Swartz also introduced an app that allows one to find these numerous suggestions. The book synopsis concludes, “There is something for everyone to do – individuals and communities, alongside government and institutional efforts.”

Swartz closed off the evening saying, “I think another country is possible, that’s why I wrote the book.”

Kasuba Stuurman (‏@kasuba_sun) tweeted live from the event:


Book details

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Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold – Volume 1 launched at Newlands

Cricket and ConquestCricket South Africa recently (CSA) launched the first volume of a trilogy that represents the authentic history of cricket in South Africa: Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold, Volume 1: 1795-1914 by Andre Odendaal, Krish Reddy, Christopher Merrett and Jonty Winch.

The first volume spans the period from 1795, when the first references are made to cricket being played in this country, to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

The other two volumes will continue cricket’s story up to the present day.

“This magnificent work is the result of one of the many resolutions CSA enacted after the Transformation Indaba held in 2013,” commented CSA President, Chris Nenzani. “It is indeed more than a work on cricket as wherever the game was played it has played an important role in social cohesion and overcoming prejudices.

“This book contributes hugely to the rich history of the game we all love and will give everyone who has ever played the game in this country their rightful place in history.

“I would like to congratulate all the contributors to this important work, especially the Editor-in-chief, Professor Andre Odendaal, for this valuable book.”

Watch a video of the launch:

Book details

  • Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold, Volume 1: 1795-1914 by Andre Odendaal, Krish Reddy, Christopher Merrett and Jonty Winch
    EAN: 9781928246138
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Don’t miss the launch of Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution by Sharlene Swartz at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution

Another Country: Everyday Social RestitutionBest Red and The Book Lounge cordially invite you to the launch of Another Country: Everyday Social Restitution, the new book by Sharlene Swartz.

The event will take place in Cape Town on Wednesday, 23 November.

See you there!

A book Black and White South Africans must read together. Swartz has answered Steve Biko’s call for a new consciousness among Whites and Blacks alike. Read this and let’s have a conversation, our future depends on it. A major achievement!

- Xolela Mangcu, sociology professor

What a breath of sorely needed fresh air – a timely call to everyday, no-strings-attached restitution, guided by sustained, humble conversations with those dishonoured by apartheid.

- Wilhelm Verwoerd, peace builder

When last did we hear anybody talk about a just society, a better life for everybody, suggesting that enough was a feast? One of the most insightful suggestions is that inheritance should be more widely shared.

- Antjie Krog, author and poet

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 23 November 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge, 71 Roeland St, Cape Town | Map
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge,

Book Details

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Don’t miss the launch of Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold at Newlands

Invitation to the launch of Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold

Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold, Volume 1: 1795-1914HSRC Press and BestRed invite you to the launch of Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold, Volume 1: 1795-1914.

The book is authored by Andre Odendaal, Krish Reddy, Christopher Merrett and Jonty Winch.

The event takes place on Thursday, 10 November at Newlands Cricket Ground.

See you there!

Event Details

Book Details

  • Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold, Volume 1: 1795-1914 by Andre Odendaal, Krish Reddy, Christopher Merrett, Jonty Winch
    EAN: 9781928246138
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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“Shedding New Light on the Historical Development of the ANC” – The Congress Movement reviewed in The Journal of Southern African Studies

The Congress Movement Volume 1The Congress Movement Volume 2The Congress Movement Volume 3

Tom Lodge of the University of Limerick has written a review of The Congress Movement for The Journal of Southern African Studies.

The piece is titled “Shedding New Light on the Historical Development of the ANC” and focuses on all three volumes in Sylvia Neame’s series.

HSRC Press has shared an excerpt from the review with Books LIVE:

Sylvia Neame’s core argument is that South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) developed historically as a front or, as its own name would suggest, as a congress, not a political party. She draws her distinction between congresses and parties from Thomas Hodgkin’s pioneering book about African nationalism. Hodgkin, writing in the 1950s, maintained that congresses differed from parties in three ways. First, unlike parties they actively seek to represent total populations, to embody the national will. Secondly, they are not usually centralised organisations, but rather looser ‘amalgams’ of local and functional bodies. Thirdly, unlike parties, which are generally organised to compete against other parties in an electoral arena, congresses have an ultimately more ambitious or ‘aggressive’ strategy, directed at systemic change, and they employ a wide range of ‘techniques of popular pressure’. In failing to recognise this distinction, she maintains, earlier treatments of the ANC misrepresent the compulsions that prompted its historical development.

Neame borrows her conceptual distinction between parties and congresses from Hodgkin, but she builds upon his ideas. Neame, for example suggests that congresses ‘arise typically in situations in which the modern classes of the bourgeoisie and the working class have not been able to reach maturity’ (Volume 1, p. 2) and hence have been unable to develop their own narrower organisations. Hodgkin’s argument does, in fact, suggests that congresses break up quite quickly into parties – that in West Africa the formation of more sectional partylike organisations did not await the development of industrial classes. Hodgkin’s distinction is mainly about organisational structure, whereas Neame suggests that, at times, congresses themselves can be quite centralised organisations without losing their distinctive character. What is especially characteristic of congresses, she insists, is that they have a ‘non-class’ orientation, which predisposes them towards consensual politics. In the colonial settings in which they emerge, congresses are, ideologically speaking, movements of a ‘bourgeois-democratic type’. By this she means not that they promote bourgeois class interests (1, p. xxv) but rather that they strive for the rights associated with bourgeois democracy. In their efforts to incorporate a mass following, sometimes these rights may extend beyond individual liberties. In South Africa, she suggests, quite early in its history, the ANC could project at times a ‘kind of non-class-cum-left bourgeois-democratism’ (1, p. xx), and indeed, by the end of her history, this more ‘radical mass’ (1, p. xv) orientation had become its default predisposition – structurally determined, as it were. But even in the 1920s, the ANC leader Zacharius Mahabane’s combination of ‘bourgeois-democratism’ with African nationalism enabled him to grasp ‘the importance of worker organisation, though not in a class but rather in a civil rights sense’ (1, pp. 116–17).

These propositions do indeed prompt a fresh reading of the ANC’s history. Neame’s first volume focuses on developments between 1917 and mid 1926, a period that begins with black workers’ protests on the Witwatersrand in 1917 and ends with the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) moving its headquarters to Johannesburg, and, in so doing, decisively joining ‘an unfolding African nationalist movement, standing at the side of the ANC’ (1, p. 506).

Not geared to the conquering of state power (1, p. 18), Neame maintains, congresses’ own embodiment of an alliance or a united front predisposes them to a politics of negotiation with the government. Hence from an early stage in its history ‘the “round table” and national convention found a key place in the conceptions put forward by the ANC’ (1, p. xvii). Mahabane’s proposal in 1923 for a constitutional convention, and his bill of rights, put the ANC on a strategic pathway that it adhered to through its history. As she puts it, ‘by 1923, the ANC had found its political location, which it was to maintain effectively from then on’ (1, p. xxi), a location that would generally confine it to performing a particular ‘historical function’ (1, p. 11).

Given this orientation, the ANC leaders, including ICU principals, paid considerable attention to the political opportunities engendered by the ‘national framework’ of the state’s high politics, attempting to seek influence and alliances within this setting. In the 1920s, they did this at a time in which ruling group’s policy preferences remained inchoate: in particular, prime minister Herzog’s uncertainties about the developmental path South Africa should follow shaped the ‘vacillations’ in the strategic thinking by African leaders in the mid 1920s (1, p. 420). Because at this juncture, before 1926, Herzog was prepared to ‘take into account’ (1, p. 379) the views of ‘black Africanders’ (1, p. 265), both ICU and ANC leaders were ready to call on African voters to support the Pact coalition of Afrikaner nationalists and the Labour Party in the 1924 election. The structural looseness of this era was also evident in the behaviour of white labour. In her commentary on the 1922 strike, Neame argues that ‘white workers were not yet incorporated’, and that the ‘relationship between white and black was still largely open ended’. Even after the strike, possibilities remained for ‘the emergence of a united front between white and black’ against ‘big finance’ and mining capital (1, p. 244). A more competitive capitalist development oriented to domestic consumption, favoured at that time by the forces lining up behind Herzog, might have opened up opportunities for black political leverage, Neame suggests. In this setting, the ANC’s promotion of consensual politics was cannier than it is usually depicted.

The narrative in Volume 1 is mainly directed at unfolding the development of the ICU, which Neame insists should be considered as ‘a wing of the ANC itself’, notwithstanding its organisational autonomy. That was how it was perceived by its own leaders and the ANC’s, with the latter body viewing the ICU’s Clement Kadalie as a kind of ‘departmental head’ (1, p. 440). In fact, though, as she shows, through its early history the ICU was divided in its orientation and, as she later concedes, ‘existed in part outside the framework of nationalism’ (2, p. 12). Originating in the Cape and finding its base among relatively skilled and partially enfranchised black and coloured dockworkers, the ICU’s Cape-based leadership sought to build a ‘radical democratic’ workers’ organisation, resisting the ‘African nationalist thrust’ of Kadalie and Transvaal-based leaders, an ideology that would increasingly resonate with the ICU’s membership on the Rand, a constituency of migrant labourers and domestic workers, ‘“blanket Kaffirs” on the mine and farms’ (1, p. 511). The enlistment of this group as the mass base for African nationalism, she argues, was the ICU’s most important achievement, an achievement underrated by treatments of the ICU that underplay its urban activities, she thinks. It was important, she argues, because, in bringing to the ANC a popular constituency, it helped to counter-balance the influence on its leadership of a conservative right wing that might otherwise have enmeshed the ANC into narrow sectional ‘petit bourgeois’ reformism. Kadalie’s own background, Neame maintains, helped to foster egalitarian predispositions that made him stand out from the offspring of rural proprietors who generally predominated in Congress leadership, and he would retain ‘reservations about African nationalism’, despite the ICU’s ‘gravitation’ towards the ANC (2, p. 12). Neame is able to argue this with considerable authority, drawing upon her interviews conducted nearly 50 years ago with Kadalie’s contemporaries; in particular, she underlines the importance of Presbyterian evangelicalism in nurturing his outlook (1, p. 127). In contrast to historiography that projects the early ANC as an ‘elite or middle class organisation’, Neame maintains, the ANC, through the ICU, really did function as a mass movement for much of the 1920s.

The already stately chronology becomes very gradual indeed in the second volume. This is almost wholly focused on the ICU’s development between 1926 and 1929. Treatment of the ANC is quite cursory by comparison. For example, both organisations held important conferences in 1927. The ANC meeting in July elected J.T. Gumede, freshly returned from Moscow, and for a while appeared poised to shift leftwards. This event is discussed in a short paragraph. By contrast, the ICU’s conference that same year, interesting chiefly because of what it did not do, receives a 17-page analysis. Indeed the first three chapters, nearly half the volume, are about the ICU’s ‘vacillations’ as it is pulled towards ‘reformist’ moderation by the ‘Rand-based liberalism’ (2, p. 7) of the multiracial Joint Council movement and anti-Communist British social democracy. Just why these agencies were able to exercise such compelling influences in the late 1920s was a reflection of the way in which Herzog’s government oscillated between different interest groups. Until 1929, Neame explains, when he decisively shifted his strategic orientation ‘away from the small men of the towns to the farming community’ (2, p. 2), prospects remained for a ‘reform type trajectory’ as ‘even Herzog had not gone over to the camp of reaction’ (2, p. 101).

This setting helps to explain the ICU’s expulsion in 1927 of the 100 or so communists who had joined it, despite the apparently friendly relations the ICU’s leadership maintained with the Communist Party (CP), which indeed printed its newspaper for free. Expelling the communists was partly a reaction to the discontent within the ICU’s Johannesburg following over Kadalie’s venality: the ICU communists were concentrated in Johannesburg. But really, even without such sources of irritation, the ICU/CP break was inevitable. The party, itself undergoing ‘bolshevisation’, wanted the ICU to be something that it could not be: a structured workers’ entity. In resisting such prescriptions, Neame suggests, ICU leaders were more in tune with ‘actual historical conditions’ (2, p. 207), which favoured rather the ‘essential spontaneity of mass movement’ (2, p. 205).

This ‘essential spontaneity’ of the organisation’s following is very evident in Chapters 4 and 5 of Volume 2, when the organisation’s efforts to extend its support among farm workers triggered a near insurrectionary revolt among sharecroppers and labour tenants. The ICU’s rural agents tended to view these people as ‘workers not peasants’, misunderstanding their defensive resistance to the changes introduced by government and the farmers themselves. Neame’s argument was that this was not a proto-proletarian revolt but rather a ‘struggle for the land’, which was ‘directed against the consolidation of a modern capitalist segregation system’. In parts of Natal, in those areas adjacent to the Zulu reserves, the threat ‘to the existential basis of the tribe was a key to participation’ (2, p. 359). At the same time, though, it was hardly traditionalist, given the antipathy between the rebels and the senior chiefs (2, p. 348). Neame suggests that Kadalie, in his own egalitarian and communalist conception of ideal land relations, was intuitively closer to understanding its spirit than both the ANC’s sometimes ‘relatively substantial landowners’ (2, p. 396) and communist land nationalisers (2, p. 317).

The movement varied regionally, though, in its following and aspirations, and here Neame relies heavily on Helen Bradford’s work, though she is critical of Bradford’s assignment to the movement of ‘a certain socialist-cum-“class” colouring’ (1, p. 12), a misunderstanding, she insists, of its ‘historical function’ (1, p. 11). To be sure, the ICU’s rural mobilisation was radical, but it was ‘essential[ly] nationalist’, syndicalist maybe, but not really socialist. And in
the absence of any co-ordinated organisational framework, it fragmented quickly into personal fiefdoms, most tellingly in the Natal Midlands, where its networks became incorporated into the land purchase schemes launched by Kadalie’s powerful deputy, A.W. Champion. Kadalie’s visit to Europe in 1927 supplied the opportunity that Champion needed to try to impose upon the ICU his own ‘shopkeeper perspective’ (2, p. 402), a predisposition that put him at odds with the conservative ‘Kholwa’ gentry, who predominated in the provincial ANC, and with the promoters of any ‘radical democratic type of peasant democracy’. Neame’s treatment of Champion is an especially telling instance of her skilful incorporation into her argument of richly rendered biographical analysis of big men. ‘Historical personalities’ merit such attention when the social forces that shape movements are inchoate, she suggests, for in such settings they can exercise decisive influence (1, p. 17). But really, as she acknowledges, the ICU’s tragedy was predetermined by bigger considerations than the behaviour of its leaders, and its main achievement, she believes, was to serve as a historical signpost, its mythologised memory inspiring future mass rebellions of ‘an African nationalist kind’ (2, p. 535).

At that stage, though, any efforts at mass rebellions were being instigated by communists, not nationalists. In contrast to earlier analyses, Neame is less critical of Comintern’s treatment of the South African Communist Party leadership. It was ‘correct’, she thinks, for Moscow’s officials to emphasise the necessity for communists to work within the ANC and for Comintern to order the dissolution of the League of African Rights, which Bunting and his supporters viewed as a substitute for Congress. On the other hand, Comintern also fostered a ‘sectarianism’, which had the effect of alienating the Congress ‘centre’ and strengthening its right wing. The party’s alliance with the ANC’s president, J.T. Gumede, had the effect of ‘disembowelling’ the movement (3, p. 20). Any ‘provocatively radical’ (3, p. 43) efforts to construct a militant united front with the ANC were premature and failed ‘sufficiently to take into account the actual relation of forces’ (3, p. 43) within Congress. From 1930, in a broader political context in which the reduction of liberal space (3, p. 62) helped to weaken the Congress centre, conservative leadership would throw the movement ‘out of balance’ (3, p. 45). Under Seme’s presidency, predisposed to courtship of what Seme called the ‘ruling nobles’ (3, p. 67), the ANC ‘ceased to function as a national political body’ (3, p. 88) – indeed Sylvia Neame struggles through the 1930s to find much evidence of any ANC activity at all. She does discern a surprisingly wide spectrum of Congress politicians (3, p. 60) engaged in land purchases, a disposition that may have been encouraged by the ANC’s ‘strong tendency’ to ‘function within’ the terms of the 1936 land and franchise legislation (3, p. 122). In effect, through this decade the ANC made little progress in ‘establish[ing] its historic claim to leadership of the African people’ (3, p. 128).

Neame’s treatment of Alfred Xuma’s presidency is more favourable. She views the ANC’s adoption of the Atlantic Charter as a welcome return to ‘left wing bourgeois democratism’ (3, p. 164), and she believes that Xuma’s constitutional reforms facilitated the ANC’s later transformation into a popular movement in the 1950s. Xuma’s dislike of mass militancy was shared quite widely within Congress leadership – through the war, Congress centrists still believed that white liberals in politics and industry supplied pressure for reform, and indeed liberal agencies provided the ANC with funding. In a setting in which many communists preferred to ‘bypass the task of African national liberation’ (3, p. 299), Neame suggests that Xuma’s ‘basic anti-communism’ was explicable. She herself is critical of the party in this period, acknowledging that its leadership was ‘caught on the wrong foot’ (3, p. 206) by the mineworkers’ strike. She also supplies an illuminating discussion of the party’s disagreements about how black trade unions should be organised.

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The changing role of science councils in South Africa examined in Balancing multiple mandates

Balancing multiple mandatesHSRC Press is proud to present Balancing multiple mandates: The changing roles of science councils in South Africa by Glenda Kruss, Genevieve Haupt, Azinga Tele and Rushil Ranchod:

Science councils have been tasked with complex new mandates, to achieve these they have to interact with knowledge users in the private and public sectors and be of benefit to communities, particularly to those that are vulnerable and marginalised.

What are the diverse forms of interaction in science councils with distinct legacies, what are the diverse forms of partners and what are their outcomes? What are some of the successful strategic policy interventions, organisational structures and internal incentive mechanisms that science councils have created to channel and promote these interactions?

Questions such as these are addressed in this timely and groundbreaking research as it investigates how scientists interact with actors in the informal sector, social development and community spaces, alongside their role in technology development for industry and government actors. Balancing multiple mandates: The changing role of science councils in South Africa is an important study – building an evidence base to inform the contribution of science councils to innovation, poverty reduction and inclusive economic development in South Africa.

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Francis Nyamnjoh and Ingrid Brudvig present Mobilities, ICTs and marginality in Africa

Mobilities, ICTs and marginality in AfricaHSRC Press is proud to present Mobilities, ICTs and marginality in Africa: South Africa in comparative perspective, edited by Francis Nyamnjoh and Ingrid Brudvig:

Mobility has become a prominent feature in African societies: Populations all over Africa are both mobile and politically and economically marginal. Yet these populations are actively engaged in maintaining social networks across localities. Mobilities, ICTs and marginality in Africa looks at the dramatic changes brought about in socially marginal populations by new ICTs (information and communications technology) in general and mobile phones in particular.

The book aims to situate the cultural, social and, in some cases, transnational context of ICT appropriation and virtual connectivity so as to reposition Africans from various countries and contexts as active agents of social change. The intricacies of local ICT use and the dynamics of mobility in the African context enables us to better understand material cultures, relationships between people, new media and social networking. Equally explored in relation to ICTs are the social and spatial dynamics of communication, association and belonging across spaces – particularly physical borders, social boundaries and confines and possibilities informed by the habitus of bodies and practices.

Mobilities, ICTs and marginality in Africa is rich in theoretically informed case studies that lend themselves to comparative perspectives and to ethnographies from beyond Africa.

Book details

  • Mobilities, ICTs and marginality in Africa: South Africa in comparative perspective edited by Francis Nyamnjoh and Ingrid Brudvig
    EAN: 9780796925169
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Kopano Ratele examines culturally constructed gender in Liberating Masculinities

Liberating MasculinitiesComing in October from HSRC Press:

In Liberating Masculinities, Kopano Ratele posits that all masculinities are working models, and some models might be more unworkable given the prevailing structural conditions.

The more models of masculinity we have access to, the higher the likelihood that some will be workable, even liberating. Instead of a singular, ahistorical and property that comes with having a penis, the book opens up a view where masculinities are culturally constructed relational models.

Covering a range of topics, from clothes and violent death, through a better sexual life and tradition, to race and feminism, Liberating Masculinities presents ways to understand the contestations around masculinity and gender relations.

Ratele offers both theoretically rich and psychologically insightful analyses to liberate men, as well as those who are involved in the making of men, from oppressive and injurious models of masculinity.

About the author

Kopano Ratele is Professor in the Institute for Social and Health Sciences at the University of South Africa (Unisa) and researcher in the South African Medical Research Council-Unisa Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit. Best known for his work on men and masculinity – specifically in relation to violence, race, sexualities, and tradition – he has published a number of books, scholarly essays, research papers, and shorter pieces on a range of psychological, cultural and social topics. His list of publications includes the co-edited book From Boys to Men: Social Constructions of Masculinity in Contemporary Society; Inter-group Relations: South African Perspectives; and There was this Goat, co-authored with Nosisi Mpolweni and Antjie Krog. He is a past president of the Psychological Society of South Africa, and the incumbent chairperson of the board of Sonke Gender Justice.

1. Introduction: Men no longer rule over their families.
2. Ayashisa amateki
3. At risk of violent death
4. A better (sexual) life for all
5. Liberating masculinities
6. Masculinities without tradition
7. We black men
8. Of what value is feminism to men?

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Who is in charge of South Africa? The question explored at the launch of State of the Nation 2016

Professor Muxe Nkondo and Professor Crain Soudien

State of the Nation 2016At the recent launch of State of the Nation 2016: Who is in Charge? Mandates, Accountability and Contestations in South Africa, published HSRC Press, one could not help but feel an immense sense of awe.

HSRC Press CEO Professor Crain Soudien and Professor Muxe Nkondo, one of the editors of the book, were in conversation.


This is the eighth edition of The State of the Nation, coming at a time when South Africans are asking who is really running the country. The editors, Daniel Plaatjies, Muxe Nkondo, Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Charles Hongoro, and Francis Nyamnjoh, address issues surrounding authority, capability and accountability.

Professor Crain Soudien
In his welcome speech, Soudien expressed the danger of using social media as a benchmark as it is not “a true reflection of the state of the nation”. He continued by saying that “the book contributes to a considered reflection of the state of the nation.” Through the book, HSRC Press aims to raise the level of public discussion because, according to Soudien, “talking to the state of the nation allows possibilities of developing and interpreting what is going on.”

Next to speak was Nkondo, who opened with a hard-hitting question: “How long can the ANC bank on its credentials?” He continued after a brief pause saying, “No radical change can be considered unless we factor in the feminist perspective.”

Nkondo expanded on this, saying that in order to fully understand who is in charge: “We need to sophisticate our capacity to deal with issues – there are more complex configurations [beyond black and white] that shape our narrative.”

Professor Muxe Nkondo


Nkondo ended off by responding to questions of accountability, arguing that, “social cohesion, justice, prosperity” are all things we strive for in a democracy without considering that “we want to achieve utopian outcomes that can [only] be progressively realised, never obtaining their full course”.

Soudien tied it all together saying: “The task of this book is to validate and affirm what is in front of us – not to criticise.”

Kasuba Stuurman (@kasuba_sun) tweeted live from the event:

Facebook album


Book details

  • State of the Nation 2016: Who is in Charge? Mandates, Accountability and Contestations in South Africa edited by Daniel Plaatjies, Charles Hongoro, Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Muxe Nkondo, Francis Nyamnjoh
    EAN: 9780796925138
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Rethinking memory, the archive and the legacies of colonialism in Out of History

Out of HistoryComing in September from HSRC Press – Out of History: Re-imagining South Africans Pasts edited by Jung Ran Forte, Paolo Israel and Leslie Witz:

Out of History brings together exciting and innovative work in History and the Humanities. Drawing upon papers which have been presented at the South African Contemporary History and Humanities Seminar at the University of the Western Cape, the book reflects upon how this space fashioned new histories of the South African past over the last 20 years.

Written by leading scholars in fields of visual history, public history, heritage, linguistics, oral history and postcolonial studies, the contributions address critical questions about the production of academic knowledge and the status of the Humanities in the post-apartheid present.

Through offering a critique of nationalist narratives, the chapters explore the limits of historical representations, providing new paths to rethink memory, the archive, creative writing, disciplinary methodologies and the legacies of colonialism.


1. Leslie Witz, Jung Ran Forte and Paolo Israel – Epistemological Restlessness: Trajectories in and out of History

2. Gary Minkley and Leslie Witz – Sir Harry Smith and his Imbongi: Local and National Identities in the Eastern Cape, 1952

3. Nicky Rousseau – “Unpalatable Truths” and “Popular Hunger:” Reflections on Popular History in the 1980s

4. Susan Newton-King – Hilletje Smits and the Shadow of Death: Transgression in the Camdeboo

5. Isabel Hofmeyr – Reading Oral Texts: New Methodological Directions

6. Uma Mesthrie – Remembering Removals

7. Patricia Hayes – Northern Exposures. The Photography of C.H.L. Hahn, Native Commissioner of Ovamboland 1915–1946

8. Ciraj Rassool – “Taking the Nation to school:” I.B. Tabata and the Politics of Knowledge

9. Hlonipha Mokoena – What did this Life Mean? Magema Magwaza Fuze and the Problem of Writing a Kholwa Intellectual History

10. Fernando Rosa Ribeiro – Rethinking Multilingualism in South Africa

11. Premesh Lalu – The Absent Centre: Human Capital, Critique of Apartheid

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