Culture And Liberation Struggle In South Africa: From Colonialism To Apartheid (Edited By Lebogang Lance Nawa)
The richness of this tome is in the diversity of the writers and their subjects. It will certainly be very useful, not only to social science and humanities teachers and scholars, but to artists and cultural activists themselves who will be inspired by the activism, creativity, achievements, trials and tribulations of those who came before them. The editor, Dr Lebogang Lance Nawa, has done a commendable job bringing these writers together to share all this wealth.
The history in this book is crucial. Post-apartheid young South Africans need to know that they did not emerge in a vacuum and miraculously become the greatness they are, without the foundation and building blocks laid by activists of the past.
I am reminded of Bonang Matheba’s appearance on the Breakfast Club, a popular Power 105.1 radio programme in the USA. She told the interviewer, Lenard Larry McKelvey, whose pseudonym is Charlamagne the God, that: “I am a first of many, they say so in my country … South Africa was born in 1994 and our entertainment industry is not even 20 years of age. It’s still very fresh, right at the beginning.”
Bonang Matheba is a young woman of great entrepreneurial achievement. She, and many other young South Africans such as Trevor Noah, Black Coffee, Nomzamo Mbatha, Thuso Mbedu etc. have competed with the best of the world on their own terms and came up on top. But they would not have existed if the events chronicled in this book had not occurred, or if the personalities whose stories are told here had not lived. Young achievers cannot enhance their significance by erasing Dolly Rathebe, Caiphus Semenya, Miriam Makeba, Lucky Dube, Zakes Mokae, Letta Mbulu, Hugh Masekela and a host of other South African artists who were the toast of the world for decades before 1994. They must remember the Sesotho proverb: thebe e sehelwa holim’a enngwe – a new shield is stencilled from an older one. Indeed, the book is also meant to pay homage to artists and intellectuals who were the precursors of this golden age – “golden” in the production and enjoyment of art, though nothing in the political and economic development of South Africa can be called “golden” at this juncture.
According to the editors the objective of this book is to “throw the spotlight on culture as a weapon of struggle.” With 40-plus articles, it is impossible to mention each one of the writers. The best that a reviewer can do is to sample a few from each of the thematic areas; namely, Politics of the Arts from Colonial Exemption (1916-1956); The King Kong Musical and its Impact in the Arts and Society (1950-90); Cinema, Print, Broadcast Media and the Enterprise of Black Struggle (1916-2016); Cultural Boycott and International Isolation of South Africa (1960-2000); Three Decades of Fire (1960-1990); Politics and the Arts in a Post-Apartheid South Arica (1994-2020). Each section or thematic area has its gems, but it also has its own deficiencies.
As would be expected for a book with articles as varying as these, it is bathetic in that the quality ranges from the sublime to the trivial and ludicrous. Sam Mathe’s article on “The Appropriation and Use of English as a Weapon of Struggle against Colonialism and Apartheid” (page 180) is a gem. It is well-researched and therefore very informative and enlightening. So are articles by Ndwamato George Mugovhani (page 17) and Vukile Pokwana (page 37).
Mugovhani’s “Waves of Subtle Dissent, Passive Resistance, Black Consciousness and Cultural Nationalism in South African Black Choral Music: A Chronicle through Selected Compositions” is a brilliant article. Right from the start he makes a telling observation that South Africa’s outlook is more Eurocentric than Afrocentric. He says, “Its historical narratives have presented Eurocentric perspectives and perceptions for decades.” This is accurate because the colonial project successfully erased African history in southern Africa to the extent that to this day African students are taught that history on the subcontinent begins with the arrival of the Europeans. In other words, there is no such thing as African history, only the history of the Whiteman in southern Africa. African scholarship has been very slow in correcting that false notion.
I find his discussion of those choral songs that have “struggle or liberation rhetoric” very interesting. I am glad he included Vukani Mawethu a rousing song, a truly beautiful and emotive masterpiece, by Hamilton Mkhonza Masiza.
It is ironic that my own personal experience of this song has always been that of disgust at the self-pity in its political rhetoric, while glorying in its aesthetic. It seemed to blame the victim for being oppressed. The words senzentoni ityala likuthi – what have we done, the fault lies with us – reverberated in those choral music halls. It was, of course, the age of protest, decades before the advent of the Black Consciousness movement (lower case ‘m’) which propelled the politics of South Africa from a self-pity protest mode to the resistance stance that rallied the people to fight against oppression, to challenge it in a more militant manner, rather than to appeal to the oppressor to feel sorry for them and loosen their chains a bit. It didn’t help that Masiza was telling me that the solution to my oppression lies in prayer.
I would have liked to see Michael Mosoeu Moerane and Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa included in this article. Their contribution to choral music is immense and some of their works resonate with the issues Mugovhani raises here.
Pokwana’s “Xhosa Music Odyssey: A Cultural Experience from Colonialism and Globalization to Post-Apartheid South Africa” is a discussion of the various genres of isiXhosa music. This is another superb chapter, well-researched and well-written. It is very informative, especially on the history of jazz in South Africa. Here we can see the deep culture that has produced such legacy musicians as the Ngcukanas, the Matshikizas and other Cape Province (as it then was) families whose contribution to jazz and classical music continues from one generation to the next. In this article we see the power of organic scholarship, the kind of scholarship that does not emanate from the academy and has no institutional support but has its origins from grassroot sources and ground-up intellectual traditions. It is the kind of scholarship that is reminiscent of organic intellectuals like Joel Augustus Rogers, who wrote the ground-breaking history and sociology of race and slavery in the USA while working as a tram conductor in Chicago, and Achmat Davids, the Bokaap scholar who researched the origins of the Afrikaans language and its first writings in an Arabic script. The organic intellectuals have contributed to knowledge in a unique manner that eluded the academy. Pokwana, in my view, is an organic intellectual of similar import.
He mentions a wonderful isiXhosa word in his article: inxilalengoma (page 37) which he correctly translates as “music connoisseur.” In fact, its meaning is much richer in its transliteration than in the translation. It transliterates as a “song-drunkard” or “the one who is intoxicated by the song.” In translation this isiXhosa word tells us nothing about the brilliance of the metaphor, and the poetry of the isiXhosa language.
On the other end of the scale is Sandile Memela’s article, “Gobblization of the Media in the Post-Apartheid South Africa: The End of Black Journalism as we Know It” (page 552). In his biographical notes Memela characterizes himself as “provocative.”
I think that is what he is trying to do in this chapter. But he is saying nothing of substance here beyond repeating slogans, homilies, platitudes and banalities. His opening salvo in his war against Black journalists and editors is that since the advent of democracy in 1994 they have been “gobbled up by capitalist-controlled media conglomerates in South Africa,” and for their own advancement they have internalized racism. My question is: when were South African journalists not part of the capitalist-controlled media conglomerates?
In the pre-1994 environment the print media were just as capitalist-controlled as they are today. Some of the giant media houses like the Argus Group and SAAN (South African Associated Newspapers) even had mining monopolies as their shareholders. As a newspaper reporter and columnist himself before 1994 Memela worked for such capitalist conglomerates because indeed South Africa was a capitalist country then, just as it is today, despite the empty socialist rhetoric of its ruling elite.
Memela misuses “gobblization” which he wrongly claims is of jazzman Zim Ngqawana’s coinage and means “a phenomenon where Black people become part of the system they fought against.” (page 555) I suspect he first heard of this word from Ngqawana and thought it was a product of his genius. In reality the word in its original coinage by Dr Mahathir bin Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia, ridiculed globalization and IMF remedies, and was part of the wicked threesome: globaloney, gobbledygook and gobblization. Globalization, therefore, is now viewed by this school of thought as “gobblization of other people’s resources by a greedy corporate elite protected by the might of imperial powers.”Fischer-Lichte et all (eds) Theatrical Speech Acts: Performing Language: Politics, Translations; Embodiments. (Taylor & Francis Routledge 2020)
In his concocted re-definition of “gobblization” Memela fails to state how this process manifests itself in the body-politic of Black journalism and how it accomplishes its mission. For instance, what are its sources of power? He simply makes broad sweeping statements without supporting them with evidence and clear examples. The courageous journalists he lists on page 554 who had been detained or banned by the apartheid regime, all worked for capitalist-owned or capitalist-supported media houses. And yet according to him Black journalists in post-apartheid are all complicit solely on the basis of working for capitalist-controlled media.
I am not absolving media of any shortcomings. I noted recently that our media are like politicians – they only “visit” the marginalized rural areas of South Africa at election time. There is a lot that the South African media in general and Black journalists in particular can be criticized for. But in this instance Memela has failed to make a coherent case against them.
In his Introduction the editor, Dr Lebogang Lance Nawa, makes an important observation that national liberation is a cultural act, and that the Black Consciousness (BC) philosophy “singularly stands out as flag bearer of the cultural revolution inside South Africa; filling the void left by the banning and the exile of political organisations.” He is quite correct. I may add that in fact South Africa owes the new political mindset towards culture to BC. The first political movement to harness culture as an active part of the liberation struggle, or even as a weapon of struggle, was BC.
Indeed, for BC national liberation was an act of culture.
No political movement had done that before. The last time culture was viewed by the liberation movement as important was in the 1940s when AP Mda wrote in support of the idea advanced by the editor of Inkundla ya Bantu in 1947 for the formation of the African Academy of Arts. Mda wrote: “In the struggle for national freedom the African people must make a many-sided advance. The cultural aspect of their lives should not be neglected in our efforts to effect their political and economic emancipation.” Mda, A.P. “African Academy of Arts.” Robert Edgar & Luyanda ka Msumza (eds) Africa’s Cause Must Triumph: The Collected Writings of A.P. Mda (Cape Town: Best Reads HSRC Press, 2018, page 174)
Another credit the editor or any of the writers could have given to the BC movement (note the distinction I am making here between the Black Consciousness movement, which was a philosophy-driven cause or an ideology-centred undertaking, as opposed Black Consciousness Movement, a political party) was the progression of art from espousing the politics of protest to practicing the politics of resistance or challenge, as I intimated earlier.
Protest art by its very nature appeals to the oppressor with the view of portraying to the oppressor the pain and suffering he is causing. The intention, of course, is to influence the mind of the oppressor, so that he changes his oppressive ways. The proponents of the BC philosophy felt, and actually articulated, that this was an art of self-pity. It disempowered the oppressed people rather than equipped them with intellectual tools to fight against oppression. The change from protest to challenge meant that the artist was no longer addressing herself to the oppressor, but to the oppressed, with the view of sharing insights among the oppressed and rallying the oppressed to fight against oppression. That is why in the theatre world, for instance, protest theatre was spurned as activists now produced a theatre of resistance.
Another exciting article for me was Styles Lucas Ledwaba’s “Diturupa Expose the Hidden History of African Soldiers in the World Wars through Song and Dance.” Here he writes of traditional performance modes that draw from the military experience. The pathos comes out clearly when he writes of the South African men dispatched to the war zones only to work as labourers: “They had marched and sang like soldiers. They had learnt the discipline of the army and the rigours of marching and parading as a unit. These they passed onto their kin who celebrated their return with song and dance.” (page 61)
They had seen these soldiers marching from a distance. They could not become them, so they created their own parody of them. A new exuberant culture was born from pathos, and it is reported engagingly in this article with an accompanying photographic essay (it is a pity about the poor quality, not of the photographs themselves, but of their reproduction.)
As I read the article I yearned for its theorization. Of course, it does not pretend to be a theorized academic paper, but it would be interesting to some of us who are scholars of traditional performance modes if someone were to undertake to study diturupa further and theorize these performances in the context of the carnivalesque and of how parody and satire functions in them. Ledwaba’s content lends itself well to such a study. For instance, on page 66 he writes of a deeper meaning contained in these performances. A theorized study would elicit how that deeper meaning is achieved. I am talking here of scholarship that goes beyond ethnographic descriptions of performance traditions.
He ends his article with these words: “Theirs remains a history untold, their stories forever muted. Yet this, the carnival, seeks to paint them with glory and restore unto them the human dignity they were denied in the past simply because of the colour of their skins, like their African counterparts elsewhere in the continent and the Diaspora.” This is an effective passage with great resonance.
A good number of the articles are either memoiristic or autobiographical. There is nothing wrong with subjective narratives that present the situation as experienced by the narrator, without any pretence of scholarship. In fact, for most readers, including me, this is much more engaging as it often tells us how it felt to be inside these events rather than a mere chronicle of the events themselves. Of course, some readers may have a problem with an article that confines itself to the author’s experience if it does not explore other similar or contrary perspectives, and therefore lacks balance.
The reader will be edified by autobiographical pieces by Fatima Dike, her journey into the performing arts as a playwright; Vusi Mahlasela as a soldier of peace who sang against apartheid; Nape a Motana, the veteran literary activist; Aubrey Sekgabi on the life journey in the world of theatre; and Ali Khangela Hlongwane on his personal reflections as one of the leaders of the Windybrow Centre for the Arts.
Thabang Chiloane on “How Music Fanned the Flames of the Struggle Against Colonialism and Apartheid” (page 362) is an example of a memoiristic article whose subjectivity makes it more compelling. He notes in his opening that “protest songs and music have always been an integral part of the South African struggle for liberation.”
This is true for the music that the masses sang in protest marches, at funerals and at other political and commemorative events. It is also true for exiled South African professional musicians some of whom recorded music that indicted the apartheid regime and its evils. Or for exiled groups such as the Amandla Ensemble under the baton of Jonas Gwangwa. But it is not true for professional musicians inside South Africa – mordantly referred to as inxile musicians.
South African professional musicians only began to use their music in the service of the struggle when they got to exile. Professional musicians inside the country always treaded lightly for fear of upsetting the apartheid regime. Nothing ever came from the inxile musicians that could compare in the directness of its lyrics to Peter Gabriel’s Biko,
the song that rallied millions in the western world for the cultural and sports boycott and economic divestment and disinvestment. Whereas Chiloane himself “threw the proverbial caution to the wind” by defiantly playing Makeba when he was in his teens, the inxile professional musicians never threw caution to the wind – except for the cited Johnny Clegg’s song on page 375 and the timid Yvonne Chaka-Chaka’s song whose meaning is oblique and wouldn’t offend any self-respecting apartheid security officer. Inxile professional musicians never confronted apartheid directly in the manner that theatre practitioners like Matsemela Manaka, Mzwandile Maqina, Maishe Maponya, Mbongeni Ngema, Percy Mthwa, Duma kaNdlovu and a host of others did.
Performance poets like Nise Milange, Alfred Qabule, Malo Poets, Medupe, Mzwakhe Mbuli, Ingoapele Madingoane, and Mapalakanye Maropodi Hlabirwa, and Jaki Seroke, were never oblique in their challenge of the system but were direct. They did not recite of Manelo who only becomes Mandela after liberation. When they wanted to say Mandela, they said Mandela. They suffered dire consequences as a result – harassment, imprisonment, and the banning of their work. It was just part of the occupational hazards.
Chiloane writes of the heroic act of Chicco Twala who came up with the song We Miss You Manelo accompanied by an innocuous video that told the story of a teenage girl who got pregnant and ran away from home.
Only after liberation did he claim that in fact the Manelo he was singing about was Mandela. And the runaway pregnant teen? This is gross opportunism. Theatre practitioners at that very time and other verbal and visual artists were not performing any such survivalist tricks. They didn’t evade censors but confronted them. Their objectives were transparent: to communicate with the masses in clear terms, to rally them to fight against apartheid.
I want to repeat here so that you don’t get me wrong: my indictment is not just on any person who sang but on professional musicians inside South Africa at the height of apartheid who had achieved national or even international prominence and profile and would therefore have been highly impactful if they had used their music as a “weapon for the struggle” – which is the subject of this book – in the same way that artists in the verbal and visual arts used their art to rally the masses, as they were then called, to fight for freedom. And in the same way that South African professional musicians did when they were in exile.
I am aware that there were one or two exceptions. One was Clegg who is mentioned by Chiloane for his Asimbonanga which was released in 1987.
Another was Vusi Mahlasela who was cut from a different cloth altogether in that he was more of the school of the poets of the time in his orientation, kept their company, and used their poetry as his lyrics. Do not mention Blondie Makhene, because he only sang his mzabalazo songs in the safety of the 1990s.
The reasons for the lack of “committed music” from professional musicians inside South Africa are beyond the scope of my review. But it would be interesting to research that issue and enlighten us why many of them could sing a pro-apartheid song paid for by the Department of Information of the apartheid government and never attempted to use their art as a “weapon for the struggle” as artists in other fields of the arts were doing.
Eugene Skeef’s article, “Exiled South African Cultural Activists Advance the Liberation Struggle in Foreign Lands: The London Experiences,” (page 257) is also autobiographical and is accompanied by priceless photographs that will be of great interest to researchers. Unlike many articles in this collection that are ANC-centric, he does mention the involvement of Black South Africans from other political formations in his discussion of PITSO, a “broadly based non-sectarian, supra-politico cultural movement of (mainly) Black South African artists” in London. He notes that “PITSO membership came from the broad spectrum of liberation movements, including the African National Congress (ANC), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM).”
Skeef is the only one who mentions the Graceland saga in his discussion of the cultural boycott, though he gives it a cursory treatment. This is the singular event that problematised and complicated the cultural boycott that had been straightforward until then. It pitted brother and sister against brother and sister; comrade against comrade, as each side of the conflict campaigned for its stance to prevail.
Skeef says “when Simon’s visit to South Africa was exposed, he redeemed himself through Graceland, his 1986 globally successful Grammy award-winning album that featured a list of South African musicians, and which has often been cited as one of the best albums of all time.” Some of this is urban legend among anti-apartheid cultural workers.
It is a fact that Graceland revived many flagging careers, including that of Simon himself, and of Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. But it is not true that Simon produced the album because his visit to South Africa was exposed. Right from the beginning it was his intention to create some music with the musicians on the bootleg tape. His trip to South Africa was not a secret mission. Even before he left for South Africa we knew about his planned trip and some of us (for instance, Dennis Brutus and I) warned him against breaking the cultural boycott. But he was stubborn. Even when he was in South Africa his presence was known by the music industry and he was even invited to stage a show at Sun City, an offer which he turned down. Therefore, his visit to South Africa couldn’t have been “exposed”.
Skeef says “It is a known fact that the Graceland album and concerts did a lot to reposition key South African musicians in terms of their global recognition.” Also “Paul Simon is reputed to have paid his band and supporting artists more handsomely than any other act at the time.” Both of these were Hugh Masekela’s arguments when he defied picket lines against Graceland to perform with Paul Simon. Jonas Gwangwa was on the opposite side. He and Trevor Huddleston, the president of the Anti-Apartheid Movement at the time, led the demonstrations against the Graceland tour. They insisted there would be no exception; no acts from the international community could perform in South Africa, and no South African acts could perform abroad. This was a big public rift between Huddleston and Gwangwa on one hand, and Hugh Masekela (and Miriam Makeba) on the other hand. It saddened many of us. Until then the two giants had been like twins. They were in the Huddleston Band together, played together in Sophiatown, continued their close association in New York, formed the Union of South Africa together, and caroused and got wild together.
One famous South African production that escaped the cultural boycott in London was King Kong. It’s fortune was that it was exported there before the liberation movement and its international anti-apartheid allies had started actively campaigning for the cultural boycott of South Africa.
In “The Politics of Apolitical King Kong Musical” (page 97) Fhumulani Kenneth Mathivha writes in vivid language of a memorable opening night of the landmark musical. The article is well-written and makes many interesting and revealing points. King Kong influenced the future, he says, and spurred a new theatre industry in the townships. He mentions producer/playwright/directors like Gibson Kente and Sam Mhangwane who owe their existence to the success (at least in South Africa) of King Kong. He should have added Boikie Mohlamme with his Mahloma which ran for years touring the townships of South Africa and neighbouring countries, and Buick Tshabalala with Ifindo: One Must Die, Durban’s contribution to the trend. These Black-created pieces distinguished themselves by using all-Black actors and crews. None had the multi-racial resources and facilities that were afforded King Kong because of the involvement of whites in its development and financing. Like King Kong all these plays were apolitical, until Mzwandile Maqina came along from Port Elizabeth with Give Us this Day. This was the first overtly political musical play of that ilk – in my view, the biggest omission in any of these articles.
Give Us This Day was as much of a landmark piece as King Kong in that it changed the face of so-called township theatre from safe, tame, apolitical musicals to a militant trend of theatre-for-resistance.
Mathivha writes that “The play’s [King Kong’s] apolitical nature and dearth of critiques of Apartheid made it a potentially attractive public relations coup for the Apartheid state though it also meant risking a public relations disaster if the African participants defected abroad…” (page 103) And indeed, many of them did.
I must add that in later years this applied to a number of musicals that were exported to Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America; for instance, Ipi Tombi (a corruption of Iphi Intombi) by Bertha Egnos, and Welcome Msomi’s Umabatha. By this time the international anti-apartheid movement was active, and the cultural boycott was in force. These productions were paralysed by demonstrations and boycotts. I wish some of the articles had addressed these events.
One landmark intercultural and interracial musical that is omitted though it was a landmark production that came five years after King Kong and was highly influenced by that production was Sponono in 1964, created by Alan Paton and Krishna Shah.
It was based on the experiences of Alan Paton as a principal of what the New York Times (April 3, 1964) called “a prison school for black boys.” It featured Cocky Tlhotlhalemaje as Sponono. Though not overtly political, it was not apolitical like King Kong. It gave telling blows, albeit in the liberal fashion of Cry the Beloved Country rather than a revolutionary one, by portraying the life of the Black child under apartheid.
Another strength of the book is that most articles are written by the practitioners themselves. When Mugovhani writes about composers and compositions it is not only because he is an academy-based scholar, but he is himself a composer and conductor in that genre of music, or when Mongane Wally Serote writes on the formation of the Medu Arts Ensemble or of the cultural boycott he is writing as an activist who was involved in those events both as a cultural and political leader. That is why his article on, for instance, the cultural boycott, “No Middle Ground in Times of War: International Solidarity and Cultural Boycott Against Apartheid South Africa” (page 241), is very informative. He is an insider rather than a scholar who observed events from the periphery of the action. The advantage of this is that he is able to share with the reader first-hand information.
The disadvantage is that his biases become apparent sometimes. For instance, in his article South Africa exists only in the prism of the African National Congress – nothing else exists outside the world shaped by that vision. Reading the article, you would believe that no social, cultural, economic, or political movement has existed outside that partisan perspective.
But that view would not be accurate. I myself have participated in cultural action in Sweden representing ANC and Anti-Apartheid Movement interests in the company of ANC cultural workers. But even as we toured Europe, we came across numerous South African artists of different ideological strains, many espousing Black Consciousness or Pan Africanism, who were involved in different cultural and political struggles. It is a pity that we don’t see any account of their efforts in such anthologies.
Unfortunately, none of the articles treating the cultural boycott complicate it. They treat it glowingly as an accomplished event rather than a process that had its contradictions – hence the conflict engendered by the Graceland Tour that I have already mentioned in my discussion of Skeef. The title of Serote’s article mentions the absence of a middle ground. The Graceland artists and their supporters insisted on a middle ground. Today they are seen as having prevailed.
Writing on the formation of Medu Arts Ensemble, a highly influential arts organization founded by South Africans and their allies in Botswana, “The Formation of Medu Art Ensemble” (page 340), Serote opens with a misrepresentation of the reality of the majority of South Africans: “The subject at hand must have as its reference in the fact that South Africans have lived in a country of their dreams for over two decades.” No! This is not a country of their dreams. The country of their dreams was betrayed by the ruling elite who broke what Serote calls the “national contract”.
It cannot be a South Africa of anyone’s dream when it is so riddled with rampant decay and gutted state-owned entities, electricity rationing and constant blackouts and power outages that cripple both commerce and industry and individual initiative and creativity, unbridled private sector greed, sewerage running in the streets of some towns, 35% jobless rate, runaway crime, femicide and sundry gender-based violence, all a result of the corruption, carelessness and gross incompetence of the ruling elite both inside and outside the governing party.
Medu achieved great success that spilled over to other southern African countries. For instance, Swedish activists who had been based in Botswana used the Medu experience to promote theatre in Lesotho. Serote notes that “Medu Arts Ensemble is also a history about two countries: South Africa and Sweden.” Sweden features a lot in a number of articles in this book. Indeed, Sweden played a critical role in the international support of South Africa. There is a whole article on that support by Bertil Högberg titled “Sweden Solidarity Organizations Support the Struggle Against Apartheid.” (page 270)
There are many articles that I highly recommend in this book, but time and space do not allow me to go into detail about them. Nakedi Ribane’s “Cultural Hegemony in the Beauty Industry: South African Black Beauty Pageants and Models Challenge Whiteness” (page 139) is a gem. So is “Four Generations of Conscientious Cultural Activists: Tribute to the Kgasi Clan of Kgabalatsane” by Suzan Skhosana. The former’s title speaks for itself, and the subject is handled with aplomb by someone who was a ground-breaker in the beauty industry. The latter explores a less traversed terrain. The article pays tribute to four generations of the Kgasi clan who have contributed to the liberation struggle.
Cultural policy is crucial, and not surprisingly it is not neglected in this collection. We have Lebogang Lance Nawa’s interview with Mike Van Graan in “Evolution of National Cultural Policy in South Africa: Interview with Mike van Graan” (page 523). Both the interviewer and the interviewee are gurus of arts and cultural policy. Don’t miss this article and follow it with Akhona Ndzuta’s take in “Cultural Policy as Political Canvas for Post-Apartheid South Africa” (page 445) and “Rupture and Power Struggles in South African National Cultural Policy Discourse” (page 530).
In conclusion I recommend this book for the reason stated in my opening paragraphs. However, I would not be doing my job properly if I don’t express my hope that the next reprint will not just be a routine reprint but a revamp so that the editors do a better job of editing and proofreading. The current edition is riddled with careless errors, including the misspelling of names. For instance, more than once Tyamzashe becomes Tyamsashe, Nathan Mdledle four times becomes Nathan Mdlele, Patience Gcwabe becomes Patience Gowabe, and Reproductions becomes Feproductions.
When editing is done vigilantly other nations will not “tremble” on us as they do on page 22 but will “trample” on us. Such malapropisms and spelling errors are found in almost every article and are annoying.
|1.||↑||Fischer-Lichte et all (eds) Theatrical Speech Acts: Performing Language: Politics, Translations; Embodiments. (Taylor & Francis Routledge 2020)|
|2.||↑||Mda, A.P. “African Academy of Arts.” Robert Edgar & Luyanda ka Msumza (eds) Africa’s Cause Must Triumph: The Collected Writings of A.P. Mda (Cape Town: Best Reads HSRC Press, 2018, page 174)|