C is for culture. C is for civilisation. C is for colonialism

I’m currently reading Robert Young’s Colonial desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race and I’ve been taking pictures of interesting excerpts which are making me rethink culture. Thus far (I’m still reading the book) I’m beginning to wonder how Africans thought about difference amongst different groups of people before the catastrophe of Western/European colonialism.
These thoughts have led me back to Prof Archie Mafeje’s paper The ideology of tribalism where he makes an argument questioning the origins of the word tribe and how it came to be accepted that ‘tribalism’ is a part of the African experience (in anthropology in particular). He begins the paper with the statement: Few authors have been able to write on Africa without making constant reference to 'tribalism'. This suggests that tribalism has become to be an essential part of how we describe Africa and make sense of the differences amongst different people in Africa. Mafeje continues by posing the questions: Could t…

Imbalelwano Yasesidlangalaleni Ebhekiswe KuMama uWinnie Madikizela-Mandela

Kukho igama elincinci elidelekayo kodwa ligama elibaluleke kakhulu. Ngaphandle kwalo elo gama asikwazi ukuba nobuntu ngokupheleleyo: eli gama ndithetha ngalo lithi enkosi. Le mbhalelwano yeyokwenza umbulelo ongazenzisiyo kuwe ngenxaxheba yakho, nomsebenzi wakho, nokuzinikezela kwakho ngendlela engumangaliso kumsebenzi wokukhulula abantu abamnyama emakhamandeleni ocinzelelo. Ndikhule igama lakho lisemlonyeni ekhaya. Kodwa ukubaluleka kwakho nomsebenzi wakho ndakuqaphela mhla ndabuya esikolweni ndafika umama ethe ntsho kumabonakude ebukele iTRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission): imini yakho yokutshutshiswa. Kwakunzima nokuthetha ndlela le umama wayemamele ngayo. Ngalo mini ndayiqonda ukuba ukhona undonakele kweli lizwe. Yaye oku kuye kwagxininiswa mhla ndibukele umboniso bhanya-bhanya ngobomi bakho. Ndibamba ngazo zoz'bini ngokuzidina kwakho emva kwale minyaka ingaka wasibalisela elakho icala. Ndibukele ngomdla yaye ndayiqonda ukuba ngaphandle komboniso bhanya-bhanya obonisa ubomi…

Bantu women on the move: finding Ellen Pumla Ngozwana in 'The Bantu World'

Recently I was searching for clues about Noni Jabavu’s life and I stumbled upon the pages of the 1935 edition of The Bantu World. I became intrigued by the representation of black women in the newspaper through a series of articles under the title “Bantu women on the move”. By exploring the archives of The Bantu World black women’s multiple identities begin to emerge providing an answer to the question posed by Nomboniso Gasa in the book Women in South African History: “Where are black women, their multiple voices and multiple forms of self-representation, which are often far from the ‘heroic’ subject and more along the lines of fighting for survival and struggling for dignity and self-expression?”
It is important to contextualize The Bantu World and its significance during the 1930s. In Les Switzer’s Bantu World and the origins of a captive African commercial press in South Africa, hedescribes the context of a reading culture in the 1930s by stating that “literate Africans constituted…

Teacher timetables: the tyranny of time

I was preparing a lecture for a group of pre-service teachers earlier today (Bachelor of Education, fourth year). The module is related to professional studies. This module is supposed to prepare students for becoming professional teachers. Sections in the module include discussions about the context of the education system, looking at SACE policy (South Africa Council of Educators), time management and offering case studies from schools.

While preparing the section on time management I decided to include a section on the timetable. Each school operates based on the effectiveness of the timetable. Most 'good' schools aim to have the timetable ready by the end of each year so that teachers know at the onset of the new year which classes they'll be teaching; this is called deployment. There are also schools which only have their timetable ready at the beginning of the year once there's a sense of how many teachers are available or whatever other admin that needs to be de…

India diaries: Good bye India

I've been useless at blogging about this trip. Mostly because I was always too tired at the end of the day or I was mulling over the day and couldn't decide what to write about (it was easier just leaving a Facebook post in fact). But it's only fitting that I least write a final blog seeing as today is the last day of the trip.

India has been a lesson about many things and unfortunately I have very little original thoughts on my trip because I leave with the lessons I've seen been written about many times before: the inequality, the history, the traffic, the pollution etc etc. Of course this list runs the risk of framing India as the single story of what we mostly see on CNN or the media (perhaps excluding Bollywood). It's been an interesting 10 days which have left me with many questions. The trip spanned Pondicherry, Chennai and New Delhi (I would have loved to pass through Jaipur but after the New Delhi experience we decided against it).

The first mistake I made…

India Diaries: Day 2 in Pondicherry

What a day! After surviving a three hour drive from Chennai yesterday-- no streetlights, reckless overtaking, incessant hooting, robots I can count on one hand-- we arrived in Pondicherry. It was cooler and quieter than Chennai. Pondicherry is right by the coast of what used to be a French colony. Today we started the day with Sku talking to MA students at Pondicherry University. Pondicherry University is a mixture of both buildings and forest across the campus (or jungle;we saw a snake slither across the road) . It's a postgrad university with only Masters and PhD students. The class Sku addressed was dominated by women. There's very little I can say beyond my observations about the campus as I spoke to very few students. The class dynamic was very apparent within the university as the cleaners around the university were women who are visibly poor, gaunt and old. The university is so expansive we couldn't walk from the gate to the Humanities building when we arrived. We h…