We have finally come to the end of an astonishing year. Many APC researchers have lost friends and family in the pandemic and we are saddened by these depredations. I hope that all the APC researchers, staff and students will make sure to plan some downtime for yourselves over the vacation break. We should not underestimate how demanding and difficult 2020 has been, and the toll that it has taken on everyone. Also, it seems that the next few weeks will be very difficult.
The APC has joined social media to reach out to similar initiatives and create an online community around the work we do. Part of being on social media is about enhancing our public engagement beyond the seminars and written material. We have decided to create two accounts, one on Twitter and another on Instagram. Both accounts have the same name: archive_apc.
“We have to read this [archive] suspiciously,” said Jacob Dlamini in the course of a discussion held by the Nelson Mandela Foundation under the title “Liberating the Archive”, aiming to investigate the archive, public deliberation and their relation to the social contract that underpins South African democracy. “You can never trust the archive,” said Dlamini.
The African Languages Literary Heritage Research Hub (ALLHerRes-Hub), one of the Humanities Hubs of the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS, https://nihss.ac.za/content/humanities-hubs) held its National Language Colloquium entitled “African Languages Literary Heritage: Its Collection, Preservation and Appreciation”, from 13 to 14 November 2020 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Port Elizabeth. The colloquium had to be postponed because of the Covid-19 crisis and was finally held as a combination of physically present and online participation, making it a pioneer experience in that regard.
As part of ongoing engagement with the recent publication, Babel Unbound: Rage, Reason and Rethinking Public Life (Wits University Press, 2020), APC Post-Doctoral Fellow Susana Molins Lliteras organised an “Author Meets Critic” panel at the 2020 African Studies Association (ASA)’s 63rd Virtual Annual Meeting, “The Hour of Decision: Power, Persistence, Purpose, and Possibility in African Studies” (19-21 November 2020).
In 2019, I had the chance to visit the ruins of the old Zulu capital of uMgungundlovu, where King Dingane lived in the 1830s. I was one of a group of investigators from the Archive & Public Culture Research Initiative, KwaZulu-Natal Museum and other institutions. (A full report can be read here.) From this exploration flowed my composition, “Ukudibana Kwezimpondo (Meeting of the Tusks)”; here I describe the links that were activated for me.
In 2020 I undertook a commission for SAVVY Contemporary, a non-profit art and performance space in Berlin. It was part of an ambitious project to take the measure of the archive of El Dabh’s sound pieces; it engages contemporary artists from around the world in a variety of responses, from radio commissions to book chapters and exhibitions — all of which will culminate in a live public program in Berlin in 2021.
The recent #ShutItAllDown protests emerged in October 2020 as a response to the pervasive crisis on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) and femicide in Namibia. This crisis is not new; in fact, it has been one of the biggest social ills in post-apartheid Namibia, one we have not successfully dealt with as a nation. Hence, many women and young people in urban areas around the country took to the streets from 8 October, starting in the capital city, Windhoek. This protest action was triggered by the daily reports of women and children going missing and being raped and murdered at the hands of patriarchal violence.
In this issue of the Gazette, we feature the Morija Museum & Archives in Lesotho, an important actor in the history of — and history-writing about — large parts of Southern Africa. Stephen GIll, the director, gives here his insight on the meaning and mission of this institution. Morija Museum & Archives (MMA) is situated at the base of Makhoarane Mountain and within the heart of historic Morija, a small town 45km south of Lesotho’s capital city Maseru. Formally established in 1956, MMA has roots going back to the 19th century, when the first Christian missionaries were placed here by Morena Moshoeshoe the Great as part of his nation-building enterprise, together with his two eldest sons and their maternal uncle and cohorts.