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Research Development Workshops

2020

April | October

APC SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020 WORKSHOP: COLLATED ABSTRACTS

Precious Bikitsha: The voice of the poet:

Historically the voice of the poet has spoken to public life in a very particular way and Nontsizi Mgqwetho is not doing it in a way that is absolutely true to two centuries ago; she is manifesting adapting the voice of the poet to suit new circumstances but she is bringing some of the older understandings of the voice of the poet and how the voice of the poet brings forth issues to public life. Imbongi was one of the few people who would voice criticism of the way political life was going. Therefore, the translation of imbongi merely as poet is not quite accurate. Imibongo is an incredibly complex mix of praise and critique. Mgqwetho seems to be mobilising the voice in poetic form and putting complex propositions into public life, some of which are very critical. She exhorts the reader into action. Nontsizi Mgqwetho is reflecting on what a poet can and cannot do, through her poetry. Her understanding of what a poet is in the 1920s is important, and more than that a poet who is publishing in a newspaper called Umteteli wa Bantu. This paper forms part of my thesis and will contemplate what imbongi means in the 1920s and put forward some ideas of what the Historian makes of this.  


Precious Bikisha, Abdud-Dayyaan Badroodien and Wade Smit: Umlando weembali: a southern African history podcast

Forms and accessibility of historical knowledge (and academic knowledge in general) have been fundamentally shaped in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has heightened the schisms existent in a deeply unequal society grappling with legacies of colonial and apartheid pasts. This paper argues that great value can be gained from historical knowledge and consciousness in forms such as podcasts and other new media forms.    

The state of podcasting with a particular focus on history in Southern Africa is largely underrepresented. Some key podcasts have centered content around aspects of experiences of marginalised communities in South Africa, and experiences of African literature and history such as The Cheeky Natives. Podcasts are also a big feature of the radio broadcast industry in South Africa. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been interesting to see academia and larger organisations embrace podcasts for historical and academic knowledge. This 2020 boom has been fascinating to observe as young researchers. A key example is the WISER Podcast.    

The paper thus aims to give a brief overview of interventions made by three History graduate students in 2019, and our experiences with the form of podcast as a means of creating and/or representing historical knowledge. Our research interests are deeply aligned, and we center questions of alternative and decolonised modes of research into early 19th and 20th century black intellectuals, as well the colonial worlds of knowledge in Southern Africa. Being linked to APC and History Access these themes have been guiding features of our research journeys so far. 

Our podcast interventions so far have taken a “conversational approach” and we toyed with the idea of “umlando” and “imbali” (isiZulu and isiXhosa words we could roughly link to the word ‘history’) and sought to run with this as a key example of our multilingual, radical approach. Our podcast initiatives are aimed at finding new ways of accessing and representing historical knowledge, with the question of the archive, multilinguality and literature being key. 

In 2020, in podcast sessions run by the UCT Historical Studies Department’s History Access Program and also part of the Masters course, History and Public Life, graduate students across the Department were armed with skills around how to create a podcast.  

The purpose of our presentation is to grapple in a methodological, epistemological and conceptual manner with the form of podcast as a means of historical consciousness and knowledge. We will also provide examples of episodes constructed thus far and a content schedule. What does it mean to represent history through podcasts? What are the radical avenues, and limitations of this approach? How accessible is this knowledge in a deeply unequal society, and is it possible to bridge the digital divide?


Vanessa Chen

No abstract available.


Daniel Dix

I will be presenting an early version of the third, penultimate chapter of my MA dissertation. In the first chapter, which I presented at the April workshop, my aim was to begin the dissertation by exploring the colonial bureaucracy of Natal in the early 1890s through a focus on one series of correspondence concerning great coats. Since then, I have concentrated the dissertation around the question of the colonial state and the people and technology that comprised it at this particular moment. The chapter I will present at the upcoming workshop similarly focuses on a number of vignettes, each of which involve sprawling webs of correspondence generated by seemingly banal issues. The chapter’s focus is on hierarchy (and the various ways in which it is housed: race, gender, behaviour, technology, and so on) and bureaucratic power in the context of colonial Natal in the early 1890s.


Henry Fagan

In this paper I discuss the Mfecane Debate which broke out among historians and literary critics in southern Africa during the late 1980s and the 1990s from a historiographical perspective. Taking a long view, I examine how the premises of the Mfecane became established in the historiography over time. As I discuss, the Mfecane gradually came to be understood as a devastating revolutionary event which took place across much of south-east Africa during the first few decades of the nineteenth-century. The Zulu kingdom, headed by King Shaka, was accepted as the primary culprit in initiating the upheaval.  The central figure in disputing this view of Mfecane was Julian Cobbing, who forwarded his infamous ‘alibi’ argument in 1988. Cobbing’s challenge, however, had the effect of undermining the evidential basis of much of the KwaZulu-Natal region’s historiography. As I examine, by the early 1990s, in the wake of Cobbing’s arguments, scholars had begun to reassess not only the Mfecane, but also the colonial-era evidence itself. 


Angela Ferreira

In the late twentieth century, several scholars — guided by literary theory and postmodernism — thrust a high degree of uncertainty onto the writings of Henry Francis Fynn, rendering diary and memoir as a category of historical evidence questionable. Researchers including Julie Pridmore and Dan Wiley have since advised that Fynn’s writings be considered through a literary lens as a constituent of the broader genre of colonial travel writing. Advocates of the travel writing approach show how these writings shaped colonial imaginations and agendas regarding the other, ultimately forming regimes of truth. While these studies offer crucial new takes on Fynn and South African colonial writing in general, they do contain certain logical shortfalls necessitating revision. The arguments’ selective nature and their inclination to make sweeping assumptions allows for the disparate writings of various individuals across time to taper into determinism and discursive purity. In blending positivist concepts with interpretivism and considering the Rashomon Effect, this paper calls for a more nuanced rereading of Fynn’s narratives. This approach does not eschew the subjective nature of individuals’ narratives but uses it to uncover specific aspects about the authors who shared them including their sociocultural status and perceptions. Investigating the history of the subjective demands that historians look at autobiography, memoirs and diaries not as texts reflecting the objective past per se, but as an 'art of self'; as tools or technologies that authors use to construct and shape the self or identity in relation to place and people (as well as shape others along the way).

[Note: this is part of my masters writing]


Sizakele Gumede: Chapter 4 (draft 1) 

Harriette Colenso’s interlocution: an investigation of roles played from 1898 to 1906 

The chapter to be presented at the workshop is one out of five from the thesis that investigates Harriette’s interlocution by situating her at the centre of the discourse of interplay between events and her reactions within the context of a changing political landscape in Zululand and Natal, that aimed at learning more about her as a political individual. The study examines the roles that Harriette played during the politically active period of her life, which coincided with Dinuzulu’s reign from 1884 to 1913. They included the brokerage role on behalf of mainly Dinuzulu but also in aid of other Africans/Zulu people, the advisory role that influenced and sometimes redirected crucial Zulu affairs, the benefactor role that was conspicuously evident when she funded Dinuzulu’s defence during both of his treason trials in 1889 and 1909, the guardian role over Dinuzulu from his teenage years to adulthood, the intermediary role when conflicts or disagreements arose with anyone around Dinuzulu and, the advocacy role demonstrated when she championed defence of African/Zulu prisoners.

Chapter 4 investigates some of the roles that Harriette played from 1898 to 1906, which was the period from immediately after Dinuzulu’s return from exile up to the outbreak of the poll tax uprising. The advocacy role played out from 1898 to 1902 through the case of the Embo prisoners. Over the period 1904 to 1907 Harriette played the advisory role when she became embroiled in separate cases of Magema Fuze and Anthony Daniels who both sued Dinuzulu to recover debts. From 1905 Harriette played the intermediary role when a succession conflict erupted between Dinuzulu and his brother Manzolwandle. 


Carolyn Hamilton and John Wright: 

Political praxis in the KwaZulu-Natal region, 1750-1830: towards the introduction for a book

In the paper for the workshop, we put forward for comment a draft of the planned introduction for a book that we are currently working on. The period under discussion covers the time from the earliest reaches of evidence for a more or less connected political history of the region until the end of the reign of the Zulu king Shaka. Aspects of this history, particularly the emergence of the Zulu kingdom in the late 1810s and 1820s, have been covered in varying degrees of detail in an academic historiography that has its origins in the era of decolonization in Africa. For the most part it remains a historiography shaped by concerns with the politics of ‘state formation’. It has very little to say about the nature of political thought in this period beyond the notion that it flowed from long-established ‘custom’ or the proclivities of individual rulers. It is a historiography based on early travel accounts and on readings of oral histories recorded in the early twentieth century that take them as ‘oral traditions’ transmitted from the past. The assumption is that they can be read largely at face-value as sources of factual information on that past.

In the book we will draw on work that we have done, individually and jointly, since the 1980s on the making of political identities in the KwaZulu-Natal region in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. As source-materials we have used these same recorded oral histories. We see them in large measure as discursive political statements made under specific circumstances by narrators with a variety of backgrounds. We have developed a methodology of reading them for traces of evidence on political praxis – that is, the pragmatics of political thinking and political action – in the periods of the past to which they refer. We aim to deploy this methodology to examine what these histories can tell us about the diversity of political thought and of political action in the KwaZulu-Natal region in the period under discussion.


Heather Hughes: Madikane Cele in archive and memory

Madikane Cele was an important informant for more than one enquiring colonial official; he appears as two different ‘personas’ in the resulting sources (James Stuart’s archive, Robert Plant’s The Zulu in Three Tenses, and his application forms for exemption from ‘native law’).  Building on previous research as well as recent insights, this paper explores Cele’s life and contributions to public knowledge and the way in which different forms of enquiry shaped/framed the knowledge he imparted. In addition, the paper draws on a series of interviews conducted in Amatata, Inanda, in the late 1980s with those who had carried on his church work there. The paper thus also discusses the ways in which subsequent events shape the ways in which figures from the past take on new lives in popular memory. 


Tomohiro Kambayashi: Global Circulation of African American Educational Thoughts in the Age of Imperialism: Reception of Booker T. Washington in Japan and South Africa.

This paper uncovers the transnational influence of African American educational thoughts at the turn of the twentieth century through the examination of global circulation of the texts of Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute, Alabaman black college. By focusing on Japanese, Korean and South African reception of Washington and his school, this paper will explain why his ideas and methods attracted people with different political positions on colonialism.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Booker T. Washington became the most influential black leader in the United States by advocating the importance of self-help and interracial cooperation to fellow African Americans. His political influence expanded as he advised President Theodore Roosevelt on the political appointments. Previous studies on Booker T. Washington pointed out that Washington gained popularity by constructing different self-images for black and white Americans. While for the white audience he depicted himself as a conservative educator defending the importance of manual labor, for blacks he was a politician advancing the economic autonomy of his race. Though most studies on Booker T. Washington’s self-representation focuses on his domestic influence, this paper argues that this perspective on Washington’s duality applies not only to his domestic reputation but also to worldwide appeal of his educational thought. On the one hand, Japanese educators and colonized Africans in South Africa thought the methods of industrial training of Tuskegee Institute were ways to economic prosperity, which would be helpful in preventing Western economic invasion or in gaining independence. In Japan, Sasaki Hideichi (佐々木秀一), professor of education at Tokyo Imperial University, introduced the life of Washington by translating Washington’s autobiography. In the preface to his translation, Sasaki matched Washington’s success story to prewar Japan’s obsessive careerism (立身出世 ). In South Africa, John Dube, the first president of African National Congress established Ohlalange Institute, an industrial school for Africans by following the example of Tuskegee Institute. He maintained that all staff consist of African origins, with the intention of showing Africans’ ability to manage the modern organization by themselves. On the other hand, Japanese bureaucrats in colonial Korea and white South African officials shared their interests in Washington and his school as they regarded Washington’s influence beneficial in maintaining their dominance. They highly evaluated Washington’s opinion that it is much more important for African Americans to be economically useful to society than gaining political rights. They supposed that curriculum based on his idea help to create docile workers and collaborative leaders. While Educational Bureau of Government- General of Korea disseminated Washington’s educational methods in colonial Korea, Charles T. Loram, the chief inspector of Native Education in Natal Province in South Africa changed the curriculum for Africans with its emphasis on manual training. By tracing the global circulation of Washington’s idea, this paper explains the process in which African American education expanded its influence in the age of imperialism.


Alírio Karina: Ethnographic Heritage - the Politics of Ethnicity in the Nairobi National Museum

This paper examines the politics of ethnicity in Kenya. Reading the production of “heritage” in the Nairobi National Museum galleries alongside a hide portrait of former President Daniel Arap Moi, I explore how ideas of ethnicity are at once worked into and erased from the project of nation-building. Painted by the Ethiopian artist Lemma Guya onto an impala hide, and one of many such portraits that Guya has produced for African heads of state, this portrait and Moi’s presidential tenure together offer a useful stage from which to consider the ever-presence of the ethnographic as a site of aspiration (as the aesthetic to “Africa Rising”) and warning (as omen of Black Failure) in Africa, and how it comes delimit the terms of political life.


Billy Keniston: STILL UNDER COVER

White Radicals in the ANC in Botswana, 1977-1981

This is an excerpt from a rough first draft of my dissertation.

The dissertation primarily spans the years 1972 to 1984. That is, the dissertation begins with an in-depth analysis of the assassination of Jeannette (age 36) and Katryn Schoon (age 6), who were murdered by an apartheid parcel bomb, sent to their home in Lubango, Angola in June of 1984. The Schoons were a white ANC/SACP family, living in exile from 1977 onwards. My dissertation attempts to analyze this one moment of state-sanctioned murder within a broader context of repression by the apartheid state, particularly focused on the white left, of which Jeannette and Marius played a critical role. Therefore, 1972 is chosen as a critical moment, because of the Schlebusch Commission of Inquiry, which targeted the (primarily) white opposition, as it radicalized in the aftermath of the emergence of Black Consciousness. The Commission recommended the banning of eight white student leaders, and eight Black Consciousness leaders were banned within a couple weeks, in 1973. Among those banned was Jenny’s brother, Neville Curtis. Therefore, my dissertation traces the path of repression from the Commission of Inquiry, through a number of political trials, to the 1984 assassination.

This chapter will be called “Cover Stories & Undercover Stories” and is focused on the Schoons’ social and political world in Botswana, from 1977-1981. The beginning of the chapter deals with the phenomenon of “cover stories” amongst radicals living in exile. Then, the section included here is my first attempt to provide something like a coherent description and analysis of the actual substance of being a member of the ANC underground “structures,” and to tease apart where the lines are between the “political” underground and participation in Umkhonto we Sizwe, or assisting the armed struggle, in whatever form.

It is useful to understand where this chapter fits within the overall context of the dissertation.

I imagine this chapter working in concert, or parallel to, another chapter, which will also be entitled “Cover Stories & Undercover Stories.” This parallel chapter will address roughly the same period of years, when Craig Williamson lived in Geneva, working undercover for the apartheid Security Police, within the Social Democratic organization, the International University Exchange Fund. Williamson’s role as an undercover agent directly overlapped with the Schoons in Botswana, in multiple respects. Crucially, Williamson was the man responsible for sending the parcel bomb to Angola.

One of the other reasons that the section included here grapples so deeply with the lines between the armed struggle and the political underground is because a number of the Schoons’ comrades were indicted in 1981 and 1982, on charges of treason, and furthering the aims of the ANC. In these trials, Craig Williamson testified as an “expert” on the ANC, for the state, and argued extensively that *any* act of aid for the African National Congress (up to an including giving an ANC member a phonebook) constitutes violence, even if the person doing so is expressly opposed to violence, and is adamantly not a member of MK. These trials are addressed in-depth, in a later chapter.

Lastly, there will also be a chapter, later in the dissertation, which describes the process whereby the Schoons were forced out of Botswana, under “intolerable pressure” from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK government. It is notable that the FCO accused Marius Schoon of being a “terrorist,” actively involved in MK. The FCO’s evidence for this claim was based on now redacted/censored intelligence sent on from the South Africans.

Please note, as this is my first draft, I am *consciously* not making any attempt to address the prevailing literature on this topic, or on the armed struggle more broadly. Therefore, I am open to suggestions of further reading, but simply saying that I have failed to respond to other historians is not a valuable critique at this point, as I am merely trying to deal with my own primary source research, which in this case includes a series of interviews with close comrades of the Schoons. Therefore, any feedback regarding the strength of the narrative itself, or gaps in my own analysis, or places where I ought to be more explicit in my analysis, etc, would be much appreciated.


Steve Kotze: Unlikely hoard - The Bobby Radebe collection of metallurgical artefacts

Research I have previously presented at APC considered the vital importance of field hoes (amageja or amakhuba in isiZulu), used for subsistence crop production in southeast African homesteads prior to the 20th century, as well as the noteworthy lack of interpretation or contextual information in KwaZulu-Natal museum displays of locally forged agricultural tools. Although used by men and women for a variety of social and ritual functions beyond cultivation, late-19th and early-20th century antiquarians and museum curators mostly associated hoes with the female realm of gendered labour division in fields. Perhaps disparaged for their quite literal common-or-garden uses, or lack of military prestige, iron tools were not widely collected. Remarkably though, significant numbers of locally forged hoes remained in rural homesteads until the 21st century when a 2008 spike in the price of scrap metal amplified their monetary value. Fortuitously, metallurgical collector Bobby Radebe noticed this trend and rescued more than 70 such artefacts from scrap-yards and recycling centres around Empangeni, in Zululand, close to where he lives. Radebe thus preserved an unlikely hoard of these undervalued historical objects for posterity, and the constitution of this unique private collection or metallurgical archive provides a point of departure to examine changes in ways that hoes have been used and perceived during the past 100 years. This survey includes evidence of attitudes towards agriculture preserved in oral testimony from African sources and isiZulu idioms, and a more recent tendency which has seen the sale of amageja at prestigious art auctions, among other high value examples of 19th century domestic artefacts.


Kros, Cynthia: Representing the lineage of European sciences in Ethnographic/Art Museums?

I am seeking advice for how to go about a new project. My initial ideas have been informed by scholarly studies of relatively recent endeavours around the transformation of local ethnological museums, as well as my own previous research into the content and reception of several exhibitions mounted at the dazzling art museum on the Branly Quai of the Seine in Paris. The Branly Museum has excited huge controversy because it holds many collections of objects from Asia, Africa, the pre-conquest Americas and Oceana, often acquired under dubious circumstances.  I want to turn again to thinking about how curators at museums like Branly who are sensitive to charges of looting and appropriation, have chosen to re-examine and present the intellectual lineage of their institution and of related disciplines, principally history, anthropology, art history, archaeology and the natural sciences to their several publics.  I have been spurred on by a recent visit to the musée de l’homme (Museum of Mankind) at Trocadéro opposite the Eiffel Tower, made just before the global lockdown. 

The musée de l’homme was established in 1937 and, after several renovations in the interim was temporarily closed in 2009 so that it could catch its breath and refashion itself following the devastating loss of a major part of its collections to two new museums, including the one at Branly.  The musée de l’homme had been left only with the residue of the kind of science that, over the last couple of decades had given it a bad name. There was a sad irony to this, considering that it had been conceived by its founder, anthropology professor Paul Rivet as a phoenix that would rise out of the intellectually-spent ashes of the old Museum of Ethnography on the same site. 

Earlier, Rivet had publicly broken ties with mainstream academic colleagues because of his disenchantment with anthropometry.  He believed that through being exposed to the outcomes of current scientific research, the musée’s visitors would learn to be wary of, and reject the kinds of biologically-based racial theories being promulgated by the Third Reich in neighbouring Germany, and only too evident in France itself. The new, radically re-landscaped musée de l’homme, which finally opened again in 2015, attempts to reconnect with Rivet’s original vision of a science that is ‘for’ (pour), as he said, and not only of (‘de’) Mankind, while appealing to the youthful twenty-first century visitor.  It also uses its residual physical anthropology collections to acknowledge the mistakes European scientists made in their quest to understand what they perceived as racial difference.  In my first visit to the reincarnated musée de l’homme, I was both fascinated by, and drawn into its project, and left with a feeling that, for all its apparent candour about racial science its presentation was somehow incomplete, and certainly conveyed very little of Rivet’s pivotal confrontation with the Old Guard.


Ayanda Mahlaba

My MA thesis titled To the Black Women We All Know[1]: Three Women’s Contemporary Mobilizations of History in Relation to Questions of Status, Belonging, and Identity in Mpolweni Mission, KwaZulu-Natal, explores the oral historical narrations of three women of three different generations from my maternal family, namely Gogo MaHlubi, Mamkhulu Ntombenhle, and Mam Phindile, who are from and based in Mpolweni Mission. My analysis of these women’s narratives reveals that they mobilize the past to  strategically position themselves to lay claims to status, belonging, and identity in Mpolweni Mission at a time where the area they presently inhabit sees tensions between first-comers (themselves) and newcomers contesting belonging to the place. In the process of grappling with their narrations, we learn more about Mpolweni Mission, and its complex history from the perspectives of these women and the result of this is that the history of the area is rendered visible.  The oral narratives of these women are not relayed ‘oral tradition’ since they are fluid, imaginative and not patrilineal in nature: this is in stark contrast to the oral sources that are conventionally treated as ‘oral tradition’ and considered to be passed down from one generation to the other. Moreover, the fluidity of the women’s narratives also means that the narrators are aware of the kinds of work the content of their stories can do for them in different contexts. Individually and collectively, these narratives constitute what we might call a matri-archive. This matri-archive is constantly being made and remade by the women. In the thesis I also show how women of different generations are producers of history, and that historical production is not only the preserve of a certain generation of women or men. In this paper, I want to focus particularly on what is at the heart of the thesis: the matri-archive - its producers, its content, its mobilizers, its life, and its significance. In addition, I also want to use this paper to start thinking about the relationship this archive has with what I call the patri-archive. 

 

[1] I borrow the title from Kholofelo Maenetsha’s 2014 novel, To the Black Women We All Knew, Modjadji Press, 1-216. The book explores the realities of Black women in contemporary South Africa particularly the struggles they face at the hands of their partners.


Benathi Marufu: Re-thinking, re-presenting and reengaging precolonial Southern African Archive through a digital curation practice. 

Digital curation is recognised as the interdisciplinary field of knowledge and professional discourse with a growing impact to scholars and researchers across the lines of disciplinarity. Nevertheless, ambiguity persists as to the definition of digital curation is, standards and practices among academic researchers are also wide-ranging and vary greatly across disciplinary fields. While we observe an increase in research, education and training in the field, and different and contradictory uses of the term are abound. As with the term digital curation, the term ‘archive’ needs a clarification. On this basis, this study aims to explore the definitions of ‘archive’, ‘curation’ and ‘digital curation’, and examine how these concepts are defined and address in a digital project embarking on an archive curation project to understand the digital curation process. 

For this purpose, this dissertation will use a case-study approach to understand conceptual underpinnings shaping the processes to building a digital archive. Primary focus will be on the multi-institutional, cross-disciplinary digital archival exampler project, the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA), which seeks to convene materials isolated across institutions, and format, into a single searchable tool. Using an element of comparison to its collaborative partners in the African Digital Humanities Programme (Afridig), we will also focus our attention to the archive - curation process by the Centre for Curating the Archive (CCA); and Metsemegologolo - whose aim is to blends archive and the landscape, to form part of the study. By focusing on more than one case study, we hope this research will provide different models and ideas that projects in this field can take. 

A qualitative research method will be employed using content analysis of literature related to the projects, observation as the researcher participates in various workshops between the collaborative partners. We will also conduct interviews with the people engaged in the various projects.


Athambile Masola: Traversing the world and writing the world: Frieda Matthews and Rilda Marta’s travel letters in the The Bantu World

The Bantu World was a newspaper which was in conversation with the rest of the world while remaining particularly local as certain pages were written in the local African languages. This paper will analyse letters  which appeared in the women’s pages of The Bantu World in 1935 written by Rilda Marta and Frieda Matthews reflecting on their time in the United States of America and London (respectively) thus arguing for a more complex approach to understanding of black women’s lives in the inter-war period. The paper challenges the threads of transnational experiences of black women which have been marginalised by sexist and racist narratives which offer a myopic view of black women’s live. Using theories about black women’s publicness and locating this within transnationalism and internationalism, this paper will discuss the nexus of education, travel, class mobility and black womanhood and how it appeared in the pages of The Bantu World. The letters examined in this paper raise questions about black women’s ability to travel and the significance of their experiences in understanding their complex role and representation in early 20th century public discourse. 


Thokozani Mhlambi: Rethinking African past Regional Connections through Craft Specialist

In thinking about terms of regionalization, I am interested in tackling this question by looking at the long past in Africa. The question: how do we integrate far older views on land, and belonging (and the concomitant question of being ‘First People’) into the conversations we are having today about African ecologies—which also tend to victimize and trivialize off-the-land those with the strongest case of being the ‘First People’? It seems as though being ‘First People’ always intimidates those who are new arrivals, who are also looking to make claims to the land. What they usually then try to do, is to disremember the histories and connections of those who came before.

I would like to propose a comparative study of the precolonial craft specialists in Africa alongside the trade routes of iron, ivory, gold, spices, cloths, etc. (Tamari 1991, Vogel 2000, Blakely 2006). Such a study could show how technological skill, mastery of ritual were influential in the formation of regional blocs in ancient Africa. A historical understanding may be crucial to our present-day understanding of emergent processes of regionalization. The project as I envisage has scholarly and creatively performative possibilities.

The study began with an interest in the possibilities of precolonial technology and innovation in KwaZulu-Natal. I then came across the notion of ‘izinyanga,’ Today we associate the term -nyanga or ubunyanga with the healing arts. I came across an older definition of the term which describes izinyanga as a general category of a variety of craft/skilled practices. This would include the skill of healing, song composition, metalwork, thunder-herding, divination and stonemasonry, to mention a few. 

In my investigation, I then came across similar guilds of craft specialists located in different parts of the African continent, such as the Congo basin, West Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, to mention a few. The areas of expertise were similar across different regions, such as healing through plants, divination, metalworking, masterful (griots)storytelling, music and poetry, to mention a few. 

Given the fact that craft productions have existed on the African continent for a very long time (even prior to Arab and later European invasions) they provide a different corpus from which ideas on regionalization and boundary-making can be considered. 

The discussion is crucial for informing Africa’s current attempts to establish a continent-wide free trade area and reconceptualize regional blocs (ECOWAS). 


Mokwena, Lebogang:

This chapter critically assesses how the digital exhibition, Fabric, Fashion, and Identity: The Story of Isishweshwe,  constructed South African women in its representation of the history of isishweshswe. Specifically, the chapter interrogates how this format of the exhibition (as opposed to the travelling and the standing exhibitions) used particular objects to “feminize” isishweshwes history. In so doing, I show how the digital exhibition gave form to one of the three key epistemic agitations of Iziko’s presentation of isishweshwe’s story; namely,  a woman-centred or womanist history of South African history more broadly.


Molins Lliteras, Susana: Ahmad Baba of Timbuktu (1556-1627) - A Critical Introduction

Ahmad Baba (1556-1627) is one of the most, arguably the most, iconic scholars from Timbuktu. He is as well-known for his scholarship—having authored 56 works, many of which are ‘original’ compositions—as for his opposition to the Moroccan conquest of the city in 1591, which saw him imprisoned and exiled to Morocco, where his fame extended even further. In an often-recounted episode, his rich library of 1,600 volumes—which he stated was a small collection in comparison to other Timbuktu scholars’—and goods were pillaged by the Moroccans, and a caravan composed of men, women and children left Timbuktu in chains. Thus, over time, Ahmad Baba has come to signify the epitome of indigenous scholarship from Timbuktu and exemplify an African intellectual who ‘spoke truth to power.’ It should be no surprise then, that the state archive created in Timbuktu to house the region’s manuscripts would be named after him (the Ahmad Baba Institute, or more accurately, the Institute for Higher Studies and Research-Ahmad Baba, IHERI-AB).  

However, the only work dedicated exclusively to this figure is Mahmoud A. Zouber, Ahmad Baba de Tombouctou (1556-1627), Sa vie et son œuvre (Paris: G.P. Maisonneuve et Larose, 1977). Zouber was the first director of the IHERI-AB (then CEDRAB) and his important, comprehensive work is out of print and not easily accessible. Thus, I am translating his book from the original French—with his support and oversight—in an effort to make it widely available and to promote Malian/African scholarship on Timbuktu, which is often marginalised. In my “Critical Introduction” to the translation, I offer an analysis of the more recent scholarship on Ahmad Baba (since Zouber’s book was published in 1977), examining some of the salient themes around this crucial figure. Issues around Ahmad Baba’s race, his response to questions of slavery, and the relevance of his scholarship in the present—among others—will serve to delineate the parameters of current debates on Ahmad Baba. I argue that in themselves, these themes exemplify the concerns of contemporary scholarship on the Timbuktu manuscripts and ask what could be obscured through a focus on these lenses. 


Ettore Morelli: The World of the Highveld, c.1700-1853

Context 

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative. I finished my PhD thesis in 2018 and earned the Doctorate in 2019. I am now working on the book, and my paper for this Research Development Workshop is a book proposal.

Abstract

The history of the men and women who lived in the middle of Southern Africa before 1800 is still mysterious and untold. Some scholars have reconstructed local fragments of events, communities, and renowned figures. Others have advanced general interpretations of how things possibly unfolded, based on refined models that were each time popular in academia. Only more recently attempts at reaching a detailed understanding of the high lands of the interior have been made. This book narrates the political history of the Highveld, from the first confused news captured on paper on the coast of Good Hope and Mozambique in the seventeenth century, to the eyewitness accounts published in the late eighteenth century; from the stories of recent upheavals, invasions, and widespread violence heard in the 1830s, to the decades-long confrontation with colonialism that started during the 1840s. This book is about the men and women of the Highveld in the centuries before colonial conquest: about the landscape they inhabited and described, the settlements they founded and abandoned, the leaders they followed and forsook, and the battles they fought, with peaceful and martial means.


Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja: Hoeing through the Remnants of Onghili ya Nashima 

A PhD paper by Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja

This paper is a close and deep listening to the work of Nanghili Nashima, an Oshiwambo singer and performer who lived and performed in northern Namibia and southern Angola during and shortly after apartheid. I listen to 8 recordings of short songs (performed by herself and her ensemble of women singers) recorded by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation radio services. The listening also extends to social media video footage of one of her interviews and performances in her homestead in 1998. These units of analysis provide a lot of insight into her life and thought which mostly looked at migration, labour and sexuality. In this paper, I argue that her work be read as African queer feminist intellectual praxis because it feels and sounds like an imagination and practice of freedom. While her orature and embodied practice constitutes as theorizing and historicizing, she is not included in Namibia’s register of the liberation struggle. Contemporary Namibian academics (historiography and performance studies for example) have not studied her work. Her sonicgraphy is not just traditional Oudano, but rather suggests and performs transgression in her critique of Christianity, compulsory heterosexuality, patriarchal nationalism, slut shaming and black elitism. 


Camalita Naicker: 

No abstract available. 


Sibusiso Nkomo: Establishment of a ‘vernacular’ newspaper in Lesotho, 1822-1863. 

This chapter discusses the establishment of printing and publication in Lesotho from 1841 to 1863. It also takes into account the formation of Lesotho in 1822, the conflicts with neighbouring peoples, the arrival of the PEMS missionaries in 1830, and the formation of the Boer entities between 1854 and 1858. Another area is the loss of the western part of Lesotho and its attainment of protectorate status under the British Cape Colony. It also explores the political reasoning of the Sotho king, Moshoeshoe for welcoming the missionaries to his territory. It ends in 1863 with the publishing of Leselinyana la Lesotho at Morija. However, along the way we find a predecessor to Leselinyana

PEMS – _Paris Mission or Paris Evangelical Missionary Society or in French, Société des missions évangéliques de Paris (SMEP)


Himal Ramji : The early stories of the Xhosa Cattle-Killing, from J.A. Chalmers, W.W. Gqoba, W.M. Philips, and Charles Brownlee

The paper I will be presenting is a redrafting of the second chapter of my Phd. An earlier draft was presented some time ago at a previous APC workshop. The PhD follows the movement of (hi)stories concerned with the Xhosa (or Great) Cattle-Killing, which occurred in what is now the Eastern Cape in 1986-7. The shape of the PhD is very similar to my MA, where we begin with the formative texted document and propel ourselves gradually into the present. 

This chapter looks at the debate which began with John Aitkins Chalmers’ publication of a chapter in his biography of Tiyo Soga, entitled ‘The Cattle-Killing Delusion’ (1877). The debate was responded to, first, by the editor of the isiXhosa newspaper Isigidimi SamaXosa, William Wellington Gqoba (March and April 1888). Further responses followed from William Mbali Philips and Charles Brownlee (May to August 1888). Finally, two decades after Chalmers’ publication, it was edited and republished within Brownlee’s Reminiscences of Kafir Life and History (1896).

The PhD uses five analytics which suffuse the thesis: 1) the construction of the event as something historical (as both self-contained, but also attached to a greater linear set of happenings); 2) the articulation of the accumulation of knowledge as dialogical (in that the credibility of the information was produced through sets of constructed dialogues between often meticulously construction characters); 3) the constitution of genre in these stories, and how genre shapes these stories; 4) issues of translation and untranslatability, particularly between isiXhosa and English; and 5) notions of unbelievability

Chapter summary

The first chapter revolves around the staging of information about the cattle-killing, with particular interest in 1) the depositions of Xhosas that were carried out in 1858 by British officers like the Major Gawler and Colonel Maclean, especially that of Nongqawuse; and 2) the court trials of the chiefs that were carried out in the aftermath of the cattle-killing. Juxtaposed against this is the theatrical drama by H.I.E. Dhlomo, ‘The Girl Who Killed To Save’. 

The third chapter focuses on issues of translation. It moves to the abridgement of Gqoba’s work by Rubusana (1906/1911, and the translation of this abridgement by A.C. Jordan (1973), and then into more contemporary translations, including those of Helen Bradford and Masikole Qotole (2010) and Jeff Opland, Wandile Kuse and Pamela Maseko (2015). 

The fourth chapter looks to the work of some iimbongi, including Nontsizi Mgqwetho, S.E.K. Mqhayi and D.L.P. Yali-Manisi, particularly at how these Xhosa intellectuals used and represented the event – and what attitudes they held towards the characters of the history. 

The fifth shifts towards more contemporary interests, with the tussle between national(ist) and global(ist) reproductions of the history. This includes the globalisation of the event in Jennifer Wenzel’s Bulletproof, which attaches the Xhosa cattle-killing to various millenarian movements across the colonised world around the same time, as well as the focus on white liberal representations of the history in the work of Sheila Boniface-Davies. In more nationalised representations, we find Achille Mbembe’s articulation of ‘Nongqawuse Syndrome’ as South Africa’s national culture of implosion, and Helen Zille’s very recent tweets about government’s COVID-19 response leading us towards repeating the cattle-killing ‘catastrophe’. It also looks to (so far) 11 references to Nongqawuse in parliament since 2004, as well as (of course) Zakes Mda’s Heart of Redness (because I cannot seem to escape Mda, no matter how hard I try).   


Matthieu Rey: The matrix of borderlands through the lenses of Alexander Bailie 

In 1876, Alexander Bailie undertook a mission to Bulawayo to 'recruit' human power for the British South Africa Company. Traveling from Kimberley, he recorded information about the territories he crossed in an unpublished notebook. Writing down information in this way was common, but the description reveals both a spatial and temporal understanding of the recent changes in the region, detailing local histories collected along the way and a specific view on power relations in the northern independent part of Cape Colony. 

Taking a broader perspective on the phenomena of borderlands and frontiers, I would like to argue that Bailie drew in his notebook a matrix with several parameters in terms of space and time, to ascribe  coordinates to each actor and their territories. This kind of mathematical model helps to understand the relativity of each position. It also highlights an essential aspect of the relation between borderland and frontier, that is how social and political entities projected power over spaces following different temporalities. Several criteria define the latter, such as allegiance, infrastructure, the genealogy of power, acknowledgment, etc. Describing the intertwined temporalities underpinning a borderland's emergence gives insight into how in the second part of the 19th century, a worldwide phenomenon –frontier-isation - affected powers, societies, and territories outside of European settlement or imperial centers more broadly. 

From another perspective, the notebook also reveals a discourse on power. Bailie framed his narrative by writing about the road, determined by natural elements, the different powers, defined mainly through their relations with Great Britain, and the genealogy of the contemporary rulers, which changed in the recent past under European categories such as the continuity of power and, subsequently, the legitimacy by which power was claimed. This document therefore presents a frontier, but also starts to construct some categories to speak about the territory which it describes. 

The present paper is a work in progress around the edition of Bailie’s journal. 


Fabian Saptouw:

This research paper examines the notion of pilgrimage in relation to manuscript collections in libraries. The case study for this topic is the Digital Bleek and LLoyd and the notebook collection held at the University of Cape Town Libraries (UCT). This paper is part of a PhD research project that investigates the intellectual implications of the transfiguration of the archival object into the digital realm. Many publications position these two materialised states as oppositional, but I view it as a more nuanced relationship that should be investigated as a complex ontological mediation of the past. 


Wade Smit: uSobantu, uSomtsewu, and uManawami – British theological and imperialist forces and a the act of resistant articulations

The paper presented is the combination of two excerpted sections from my Master’s dissertation on the conceptual history of umbuso, which deal with the history of missionary intellectual politics in Natal and the articulations of African people that resisted British epistemological hegemony. In particular, the paper zones in on a moment in time, between about 1860 until about 1922, during which the political concept of umbuso was being interrogated between John Colenso (uSobantu), the first Bishop of Natal, his converts at his Ekukhanyeni mission station (the first amakholwa), and implemented by Theophilus Shepstone (uSomtsewu), then Commissioner of Native Affairs in Natal. Magema Fuze (uManawami) was a key influence in the production of umbuso as a political concept taking on new meanings in a post-Shaka, early British colonial world, and it is this maelstrom of conceptual politics that this paper attempts to analyse as a process by which umbuso developed new connotations, heavily informed by British notions of rule, sovereignty, and dominance, and how the older meanings of umbuso; of peace, wealth, prosperity, began to exist alongside the ‘new’ conceptualisations of umbuso, which they still do today.


Greer Valley: Save Our Berea – Whose place, Whose heritage?

The civic activist group Save Our Berea’s main organising principle seems to be focused on exactly that, saving the Berea – from what it does not specify. From the frequency the following phrases occur in the posts on the page, it appears that it is simultaneously fighting “developers”, “trojan buildings” and generally, “people who have zero respect for the heritage of our area”. The Berea is a largely residential area of the city of Ethekwini, made up of the suburbs Upper Glenwood, Musgrave, Essenwood and Morningside. Its mix of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, (many buildings are traced to the mid-1800s) are the remains of the city’s British Colonial period when   this part of the city housed Durban’s most affluent white families. Some of these grand manor houses now stand in ruins and while I empathise with the efforts of this group to protect the city’s heritage buildings, Save Our Berea seem to misunderstand that the heritage these buildings  represent is not held with the same regard by all Durbanites.

As a Capetonian who recently moved to Durban I am struck by how vastly different the socio- spatial dynamics of the two cities are. On the surface, Durban seems like it is at least making attempts at socialcohesiveness. Its central public spaces are representative of the demographics of the country - spaces like the Durban promenade and beachfront come to mind. However, upon deeper scrutiny, it becomes apparent that Durban struggles with the same complex issues in the aftermath of colonialism and apartheid that many post-colonial cities in the south are dealing with. For this paper, I will interview members of the Save Our Berea groupthat would act as the catalyst for an explorative textual and visual essay on the politics of heritage, ownership,nostalgia and race and its relationship to affect in the settler-colonial city. I will also interview the home ownerswho are accused by the group of ignoring the heritage bylaws and guidelines of bodies like AMAFA (KZN Heritage)as well as those who are reclaiming ‘heritage’ buildings to create independent community spaces outside ofdeveloper driven urban regeneration, such as the new Ikhomkulu Arts Space.


Chris Wingfield: The Archaeology and Heritage of Christian Missions in Southern Africa

Article Commissioned for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia in Africa History

For the workshop, I will submit an outline and introduction for this article, due in November. Although part of its function is to provide a narrative overview and history of the topic, it is also supposed to be a piece of original scholarship. The tension between these two purposes is something I hope to make a creative one. I will use ongoing work over the past five years at the Moffat Mission in Kuruman to make the case for a more expansive conception of archaeology, including the consideration of visual and textual products alongside archaeology’s more usual focus on the landscape as an artefact and on domestic artefacts. Finally, at my insistence, the article will grapple with the question of heritage. What are the different mechanisms by which the artefactual products of southern Africa’s missionary pasts have been encapsulated in the present, and how does this impact on their accessibility? For whom do these pasts actually ‘matter’ in the present, and how might they assume different significances in the future? 


Carine Zaayman: Making Visible; Concealing Absence: The Sutherland Reburial Project

Until 2019, eleven skeletons of people of San and Khoekhoe descent were held in the Anatomy collection of the University of Cape Town. In the 1920s, these skeletons were unethically procured for the university when a farm owner in Sutherland exhumed the remains of workers buried on his farm – without permission from their families – and donated them to UCT. Following pointed criticism levelled at the University, notably during the #FeesMustFall protests, nine of the skeletons were returned to Sutherland and reburied in an initiative headed by the university, in consultation with the community of Sutherland. Currently, DNA testing and facial reconstructions of the remains are being performed as a measure to respond to demands for “repatriation and restitution.”

Erica Lehrer, Cynthia Milton and Monica Patterson (2011: 4) suggest that such caring for “difficult” objects in the custody of a museum requires one to “attempt to bear witness, to give space and shape to absent people, objects and cultures, to present violent conflict without perpetuating its logic”. Crucially, they maintain that this work is necessary to “do justice to … the hauntings [of difficult pasts]” (ibid.). Ostensibly, the Sutherland Reburial Project purports to contribute to the decolonization of the university. However, contestations around the project surface some of the challenges faced by institutions such as the university in how to care for difficult objects, while attempting to decolonise themselves.

UCT, in collaboration with institutions across the globe, has opted to use facial reconstructions to “make visible” the features of those people whose remains were in its custody, but what are yet absent are the indignities suffered by the remains to be treated as
“specimens”, the pain of the community to live under the conditions that made their inhuman treatment commonplace and other, inexpressible traumas. Acknowledging these absences is crucial to bearing witness to the injustices the people and the community have
endured. That the absences remain unacknowledged can be argued to result in a resilencing, or even a re-enactment of the primary violence. In this exploratory text, I aim to identify some of the unacknowledged absences at play in the unfolding of the project. Then, I shall attempt to articulate the ways in which these absences haunt the efforts of project to enact restorative justice.

Lehrer, E, Milton, CE, & Patterson, ME (eds). 2011. Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in
Public Places. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan


APC APRIL 2020 WORKSHOP: COLLATED ABSTRACTS

Jess Auerbach: The Politics of Knowledge: Echoing the Cold War in contested Angolan Higher education spaces

This paper considers the impact of the Cold War on contemporary Angolan higher education. Based on ethnographic research at two universities in the province of Benguela, it looks at how individual biographies of study in either the “capitalist West” or the “socialist East” during the period of the cold war have informed both institutional and individual approaches to teaching, discourse and research. It suggests that in making sense of emergent higher education, careful attention is needed to these biographies. Through mentorship and career development of Angola’s next generation of “researchers at peace” , conflicting ideological dictates are imposed that significantly inform career decisions, the kinds of research undertaken, and the vehicles selected for academic expression. At stake is a tension between the individual and the state that is unusually visible in the Angolan context, and that will be clearly exacerbated in the post-Covid world. This article suggests there are lessons from this context for other countries in the region, particularly for South African universities in the post Covid, post decolonial moment.


Sarah-Jo Bagg: 

I will be submitting an early draft of my Honours research proposal concerning an exploration and tracing of how the terms ‘witches’, ‘witchcraft’ and ‘witchdoctor’ enter into colonial discourse and legislation within colonial Natal, c. 1890 up to Natal’s union with South Africa (1910), or possibly up to the 1920s. It will look at whether witchcraft concerns became a part of the legislative apparatus of the colony, and if so then when and how, looking into court proceedings and trials with an examination of any forms of violence enacted against witches. It will look closely at these trials, how they featured in colonial discourse, and whether they affected change in practices of colonial society, colonial administration, and witchcraft. What will also be touched on is the colonial imaginary in forming preconceived ideas about witches and witchcraft, how these feature in 21stcentury South Africa, and how this history shapes contemporary ideas on the matter, filling in this early period of entanglement between the Europeans, European legislations and Africans. 


Joanne Bloch

The liminal space occupied by partially sighted people is little understood and much misrepresented in our society. Inter-personally and more broadly, visually impaired South Africans face stigma, discrimination and numerous structural barriers to educational, social and economic opportunities. These obstacles remain largely invisible to those who never experience them.

In this paper, I discuss my conversations with four South Africans who, like me, are visually impaired. These conversations form part of my research for ‘Unseen’, a project that brings together my interests in life writing and in exploring different aspects of the experience of visual impairment. I weave substantial extracts from our dialogues together with my own insights so as to give a sense of the texture of participants’ reported understanding, ideas, feelings, and sensorial adaptations, and also to investigate the multiple and overlapping influences of class, race, gender, age, community and family on each individual’s subjective experience.  


Micheala Clark: A Burden of Care

Ontology and Ethics in the Medical Photographic ArchiveGlobal memory institutions have begun to address the difficult legacies of their historical collections through considered modes of display, the use of storytelling, and selective acts of repatriation. Yet repositories of the medical sciences remain uncertain territory, straddling both public knowledge and confidential data in a manner that challenges existing codes of practice (Keene & Parle 2015). Nowhere is this more acute than in the medical photographic archive, where the clinical and the private emerge in images of patients past.

This paper seeks to attend to the ontological and ethical considerations that plague a disused repository of this kind: the UCT Department of Surgery's Collection of 20th Century Clinical Photographs. Produced by the University of Cape Town between 1920 and 1980, this photographic collection was originally harnessed to serve the field of medicine. Today, however, these visual documents function as historical artefacts that offer a glimpse into the institutional and social history of Cape Town, its medical school, and its patient-population.

Whether used towards clinical or historical ends, photographs of this kind “carry a burden of care” (Biernoff 2012) – prompting simultaneous, yet contradictory, concerns of protective control (on the one hand) and the fear of censorship (on the other). By drawing on the disciplines of photography theory, medical ethics, and curatorial discourse, this paper addresses the dilemmas historical clinical photographs pose to conceptual definitions, existing codes of conduct, and thus institutional action in South Africa. Ultimately, I argue that – if best practices are to be established – the complex nature of the medical photographic archive requires careful transdisciplinary attention.


Daniel Dix: The great coat affair - exploring the everyday production of colonial order in 1893 Durban

I will be presenting a paper I am currently working on as part of my MA dissertation on the magisterial system in Durban during the 1890s. Writing in relation to the established historiography of colonial governance in Natal, I will discuss one archival case study from 1893 as a first step in developing an understanding of Durban and the colonial bureaucracy during the 1890s. I will similarly explore what value may lie in the as-yet-underutilised magistrate’s records of Natal in the nineteenth century.

Specifically, I will focus on a series of correspondence made up of fifty written exchanges between ten offices within the colonial bureaucracy over a period of three months, all of which concerns the procurement of new great coats for the Durban gaol’s European convict guards. Focusing on the central figure of the Durban magistrate, I will discuss the openings that this correspondence provides into various themes including the materiality of this particular archive, the ontology of the ‘great coat’ and the contestation it generates, the everyday production of colonial order at its most banal, and the expansion of the Natal bureaucracy into the responsible government period.

This paper reflects my earliest written attempt at conceptualising my overall dissertation, and any feedback concerning both historiography and methodology would be most appreciated. Please be aware that it is a work in progress that has been affected by library closures as a result of the current pandemic, and certain elements of the research have been delayed. I will do my best to indicate where this is the case.


Henry Fagan: James Stuart, the James Stuart Archive, and the reshaping of history  

In the following paper I examine how the James Stuart Archive (JSA), edited by John Wright and the late Colin Webb, has steadily reshaped scholarly engagement with the late independent era of the KwaZulu-Natal region. The JSA comprises orally transmitted data recorded by Stuart from his conversations with some 200 Africans. These interlocutors were predominantly elder men he identified as being knowledgeable on the history and the socio-political practices of the region’s African people. By examining some of the most prominent works in the literature dealing with the region’s late independent era history, this piece demonstrates how the publication of the JSA changed the course of the scholarship. At first, it did so by introducing a wealth of historical information which had previously been largely unknown. More recently, prompted largely by the work of Carolyn Hamilton, the JSA has become a site for the study of the ‘life’ of archives and the complex processes which underlie their production and the curating of their evidence across time.  


Angela Ferreira: Tribless - Historicising Khoisan Identity in KwaZulu-Natal, 1750-2020

In the years leading up to democracy in South Africa, the increasing appearance of a people believed to be on the edge of destruction, the Khoisan, took South Africa by surprise. This ‘Khoisan revivalism’, as it came to be known, comprised of the efforts of several communities — especially those regarded as ‘coloured’ under apartheid— seeking to assert their belonging in South Africa as well as to secure their rights to resources as the nation’s ‘First Peoples.’ Over the last two decades, the Khoisan resurgence has gained political influence and in 2019 reached its peak with the ratifying of the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill. The movement has since reached certain communities in KwaZulu-Natal including those in Wentworth and Harding. In examining several archival records — missionaries’ and travellers’ accounts, magisterial records, bodies of legislation and various periodicals — as well as using the oral accounts of several contemporary Khoisan community members and activists, this dissertation reveals the several processes that were responsible for the formation, shaping, preservation, contestation, erasure and resurgence of different versions of what we understand to be “Khoisan” in KwaZulu-Natal between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries. It considers the conditions that allowed for people to think, talk about and construct ‘Khoisan’ in specific ways, and how the receptors or subjects of these discourses have reacted to, taken part in or even challenged these processes in Natal.


Sizakele Gumede: Harriette Colenso - a part political biography, 1884-1913.

Prior scholarship focuses on detailing Harriette Colenso’s actions and then evaluating her performance, whether political objectives were achieved or not. The proposed study focuses on Harriette the person; the aim being to reveal her as a political individual. Among others, through this process will be illuminated and supplemented the end of the 19th to beginning of the 20th centuries’ history of Natal; for the colonial government, imperial government, the Zulu and, the missionaries. The proposed study also employs a different approach. It places Harriette at the centre of the discourse, and then studied the interplay between historical events and her actions on one side, and the ever-changing political contexts on the other side. From the analysis of this study emerges Harriette the political individual.

The thesis has five core chapters (chapters 2 to 6) that span three decades over the period of the reign of King Dinuzulu, from 1884 to 1913.

For the research workshop I will present Chapter 3 that covers the period 1890 to 1897, when Dinuzulu was in exile at St Helena. This period is dominated by Harriette’s campaigns in Natal and in Britain, for Dinuzulu to be repatriated and restored to a central and leading position in Zululand.

Chapter 3 is divided into six sections: Harriette Colenso’s campaign in Britain from February 1890 to August 1893, her interventions at St Helena over the period from 1890 to 1893, her involvement in the politics of Zululand and Natal from September 1893 to January 1895, her visit to St Helena during February to March 1895, the second leg of her campaign in Britain from April 1895 to August 1897 and, the repatriation of the exiles from St Helena to Zululand in December 1897.


Heather Hughes: Public history and contested heritage: archival memories of the bombing of Italy

This paper presents a case study of a collaborative public history project between participants in two countries, the United Kingdom and Italy. Its subject matter is the bombing war in Europe, 1939-1945, which is remembered and commemorated in very different ways in these two countries: the sensitivities involved thus constitute not only a case of public history conducted at the national level but also one involving contested heritage. An account of the ways in which public history has developed in the UK and Italy is presented. This is followed by an explanation of how the bombing war has been remembered in each country. In the UK, veterans of RAF Bomber Command have long felt a sense of neglect, largely because the deliberate targeting of civilians has not fitted comfortably into the dominant victor narrative. In Italy, recollections of being bombed have remained profoundly dissonant within the received liberation discourse. The International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive (or Archive) is then described as a case study that employs a public history approach, focusing on various aspects of its inclusive ethos, intended to preserve multiple perspectives. The Italian component of the project is highlighted, problematising the digitisation of contested heritage within the broader context of twentieth-century history.  Reflections on the use of digital archiving practices and working in partnership are offered, as well as a brief account of user analytics of the Archive through its first eighteen months online. 


Billy Keniston: Cover Stories & Undercover Stories - Part Two

Craig Williamson is not a shy man. Over the past forty years since Williamson was exposed as a spy, he has repeatedly shared his version of his undercover work for the apartheid state, in newspaper interviews, books, documentaries and television, even through a campaign for local election. Williamson is nothing if not proud of his career spent propping up a doomed regime, including his total lack of remorse for murdering Ruth First, Jeannette Schoon and her six-year-old daughter, Katryn. In short, Craig Williamson has spent decades blissfully imagining himself as “Our Man in Moscow,” as a “super spy.” In the midst of this flurry of boastful re-tellings of Williamson’s life as a spy, how can I write his story in a way that is both critical and constructive, and places his work within the broader context of the apartheid security services and their attempts to suppress the anti-apartheid struggle?

Perhaps the most important period of Craig Williamson’s work as an undercover agent was his years spent in Europe, from 1976-1980, working for the International University Exchange Fund (IUEF). Williamson gained credibility with the IUEF by working his way up within the National Union of South African Students, where he served as Vice President in 1976. From there, Williamson “fled” the country as a “refugee” radical and was immediately hired by the IUEF. Working within the IUEF allowed Williamson to substantially control a large portion of funding of the anti-apartheid movement, sourced from European Social Democrats and Scandinavian governments. In addition, working as the deputy director of the IUEF allowed Williamson to connect broadly with anti-apartheid activists, including the ANC’s exile communities in London, Lusaka and Botswana. 

This chapter of my dissertation will recount Williamson’s years at the IUEF and will provide a critical analysis of the various layers of damage to the anti-apartheid struggle that Williamson caused during this period. My research for this chapter draws on:

  • A Commission of Inquiry into Williamson’s espionage at the IUEF, conducted by the organization itself, in 1980-1981.
  • Extensive research into the IUEF archives, now housed at the Danish National Archives. This includes financial documents, press clippings, internal memos and letters between Williamson and other security policemen still operating inside South Africa.
  • An interview with Craig Williamson, which I conducted in April 2019.
  • A hand-written life narrative, written by Williamson during his detention in an Angolan jail in 1996, which includes a self-assessment of his role at the IUEF.
  • An Honours thesis, written by Williamson’s son-in-law, which relies heavily on a large cache of documents from Williamson’s personal archives, which the son-in-law was granted privileged access to.

This chapter is being called “part two,” as I also intend to write a chapter, which will run parallel to this one, which will also be entitled “Cover Stories and Undercover Stories.” However, the other chapter (which will appear first, chronologically in the dissertation) will outline the clandestine political work of Jeannette and Marius Schoon during roughly the same time period as Williamson’s time in Geneva (1976-1983). Marius Schoon was released from prison after serving twelve years for sabotage, in 1976. The following year, after marrying Jeannette, the couple went into exile in Botswana. In Botswana, the Schoons were active participants in the ANC’s political underground, including SACTU, the Solidarity News Service, the MEDU Arts Ensemble, as well as potentially providing some degree of support for MK. While submitting both chapters would be far too much for me to write in a couple of weeks, and far too much for the workshop to read, it is important to understand that this side of the story exists in parallel to my description and analysis of Craig Williamson. 

In addition, the two chapters that I have already written cover the period after Williamson was exposed as a spy. That is, one chapter details a series of political trials, in 1981 & 1982, where Williamson appeared as an “expert” witness for the state and argued that the ANC is an inherently violent organization, and that there is no such thing as a non-violent participant in the ANC. The other chapter that I have completed recounts the assassination of Jeannette and Katryn Schoon, on the 28th of June 1984, in Lubango, Angola. The parcel bomb that killed the Schoons was sent on orders from Williamson. 


Cynthia Kros:  In Search of a Conclusion for Ezakudala/Tsa Kgale - Exploring the Archive of Times Past

For some years I have been involved in editing a book with the provisional title Ezakudala/Tsa Kgale: Exploring the Archive of Times PastMy fellow editors are: John Wright, Helen Ludlow and Mbongiseni Buthelezi. The book, as we have described it in previous workshops and conferences is designed for undergraduates, educators, heritage professionals and interested non-specialists. It has mutated quite significantly from being a cautionary text to discourage common ethnic and racial stereotypes, through attempting to meet some of the demands generated by the call for decolonisation in the 2015-6 Fallist protests to its present form, in which 20 or so specialists from a range of disciplines tell the stories of their encounters with a particular archive of the ‘precolonial’. Of course, since it is a mutation, the manuscript still contains versions of its original DNA, but we have become much more concerned to excite our readers’ imagination, and to broaden their sense of what an archive is, and what adventures are to be had in interacting with one, than in trying to making sure, as we once were, that they grasp debates about culture or understand particular historiographical shifts. 

Our hope, notwithstanding what I have said above, is that through engaging with the authors’ accounts, readers will be inspired to make conceptual shifts, to endeavour to understand more about the making and subsequent lives of the archive, and to embark on their own archival work. Our book is nearly finished. Wits University Press has sent an indication of interest, and we need to be in a position to submit the manuscript soon. However, as yet we do not have a conclusion. I would like to use the opportunity offered by the APC Research Development Workshop to try to formulate one, which brings together the salient points that emerge from the quite diverse archival experiences recounted by our contributors, while at the same time giving readers a nudge to take the next step on their own journeys.   


Nessa Leibhammer

The topic of light as captured in two-dimensional images has intrigued me since my research at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey in the 1990s on how archaeologists construct knowledge through their visual imaging/imaginings. Of all the graphic conventions I studied, light has been for me the most interesting and appears to be the most under-researched.  This study potentially has a wide scope.  It encompasses the scientific principles and the mechanisms of vision through which, since ‘ancient’ times, commentators have understood how light is issued and perceived; the philosophical, psychological and ontological weight that light carries in different cultural and religious contexts; the ability to depict light technically through mediums that have their own opacity;  and the way light influences the attitudes of viewers to subject matter. As reading for my presentation, I will submit a paper that I have written for publication. My question to the APC group is how to begin shaping this for a PHD? Do I limit the topic to southern African examples only? What would the ramifications be if, instead of limiting the discussion to Western canons of representation, I attempted a cross-cultural analysis that included a study of how, for example, light is understood in Japanese, Babylonian or African contexts?


Ayanda Mahlaba: Chapter Three: Mamkhulu Ntombenhle 

Mobilizing the Paternal Family’s Kholwa Past, Marginalization and Sense-Making 

The third chapter of the thesis is on the second woman, Mamkhulu Ntombenhle, and her oral historical narrations. Following from the previous chapter on Gogo MaHlubi, this chapter is interested in what Mamkhulu Ntombenhle narrates about the past and how the way she tells stories helps her to think about the past in a particular manner. I argue that at the core of Mamkhulu Ntombenhle’s narratives is the history of the status of her maiden family, the Mahlabas as a prominent kholwa family in Mpolweni Mission. While she embraces this family’s status, she also shows how her immediate family – like Gogo MaHlubi’s – was subjected to a form of marginalization at the hands of this family. This marginalization was synonymous with women who married into the Mahlabas and their families. Mamkhulu Ntombenhle currently does not reside in Mpolweni Mission, but still has close connections to the area as her relatives still stay there and she visits often. To make sense of the present state of affairs in Mpolweni, she evokes an idyllic image of the past: orderly and peaceful, which is in stark contrast to the present that is characterized by societal ills that are caused by the newcomers, abantu bokufika, according to her. In this case, the past is mobilized to lament. Her narrative can be read in conjunction with Mkhulu Bongani Mahlaba whom I was referred to by her to provide the clan history of the Mahlabas that she felt she had limited knowledge on. Mamkhulu’s narrative was loosely structured and traversed multiple topics at once whereas Mkhulu Bongani’s was clearly structured and had a linear flow. Mkhulu Bongani’s narrative looks much more like what is conventionally expected of clan oral tradition – laden with genealogical information. 


Jacqueline Margard:  Colonial Film - Image Archives

This paper discusses a research project that is based primarily in the colonial film archive housed in the Bristol Archives and in the Wellcome Collection, London. The project also draws on related document, photographic and oral history holdings. I will sketch the shape and form of the project as it has evolved, identifying the research questions and possible outputs and outcomes. One arm of the project deploys practice-as-research as a key methodology, making short films using archival footage as a means of reinterpreting the source material. I will make available via Vimeo the project’s short film pilot, Weights and Measures (2018, 5 mins), for workshop participants. The project marks a return to my own earlier film work, primarily the short film, Uku hamba ’ze/To Walk Naked (1995), which was commissioned for an exhibition at the first Johannesburg Biennale, and was subsequently distributed worldwide. The film re-worked archival video footage of an event in which women in Soweto stripped off their clothes in protest against the demolition of their temporary homes. The film both spawned, and was drawn into, debates about the visual representation of black women’s bodies. Since making this film, I have worked on, and with, archival films about Africa and questions of identity and representation, such as for example, the silent, colonial films Siliva the Zulu (1927) and The Rose of Rhodesia(1918), both through public events and in academic journal articles. 

My paper for APC will contextualise the ‘Colonial Film: Image and Archive’ project in terms of earlier scholarship on colonial film (such as, for example, the special issue of Screening the Past on The Rose of Rhodesia [2009]; the Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire project, its online database and the two volumes attached to it [Grieveson and MacCabe, 2011]; and other practice-based and/or art projects [Akomfrah; Igwe; Kentridge/Miller]). I will attempt to locate the significance of the colonial film archive and demonstrate how working with these films and related film footage makes possible the excavation of crucially important histories in which the coloniser recorded his racialised and gendered gaze upon the colonised. I will explicate how the project aims to create visual re-interpretations of colonial films and film footage, coupled with sonic artistry, that produce new, critical meanings. 

My paper will draw on preliminary work I have done with a wider team to develop a research funding application that is to be submitted to the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  


Benathi Marufu

The proliferation of digital data and digital contents in the humanities has led to a lot of innovation, with researchers finding ways and tools to exploit technology to preserve and offer long-term access to both born-digital and digitally curated collections, public and private. On-going efforts to collaborate, cross disciplinary lines in research and scholarship, offers new opportunities and challenges. For the traditional archive, the principle of provenance and respect des fonds still dominate archival thought. Archivists see their role as twofold – to preserve cultural heritage for prosperity and to provide access to heritage artefacts and other resources. The transition to digitally oriented and reconfigured landscape has ushered new methods for this preservation and increased access to archival resources with minimal damage to the artefact. Digital curation standards and practices among academic researchers are of course wide-ranging and vary greatly across fields.

This paper will explore foundational definitions of archive and curation and examine how these concepts are defined and address in a digital project embarking on an archive curation project. For this purpose, this paper will use a case-study approach to understand conceptual underpinnings shaping the processes to building a digital archive. Primary focus will be on the multi-institutional, cross-disciplinary digital archival exampler project, the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA), which seeks to convene materials isolated across institutions, and format, into a single searchable tool. Using an element of comparison to its collaborative partners in the African Digital Humanities Programme (Afridig), we will also focus our attention to the archive - curation process by the Centre for Curating the Archive (CCA); and Metsemegologolo - whose aim is to blends archive and the landscape, to form part of the study. By focusing on more than one case study, we hope this research will provide different models and ideas for other archives. 


McNulty, Grant and Hamilton, Carolyn

We proposed and have had accepted, subject to review, a paper based on the conceptual thinking underpinning, and research that has gone into the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA), an experimental digital archival project in which we have been involved.

In the first part of the paper we present a summary of the kinds of evidence that have long enjoyed recognition as sources for s for enquiry into the history of southern Africa in the five hundred years or so before colonialism and in the early years of colonial rule. We pay attention to how some things came to be historical sources and others did not, and how both historical sources and other materials (such as those classified as “ethnographic”) became the focus of specialist disciplines and were subject to particular preservatory protocols.

In the second part of the paper we discuss the capacities of digital interventions to make these materials available in new ways, in many cases releasing them from the colonial knowledge apparatuses within which they have long been contained.

We thus look not only at the capacity of digital interventions to make available a vast array of materials but also to offer opportunities to move beyond colonial categorisations and modes of arranging materials; to correct misidentifications; to reconvene dispersed materials; to reinstate lost provenance; to foreground often ignored vernacular sources; to enable detailed searching and other computational methodologies across multiple collections and bodies of material; to support the design of new kinds of research tools; and finally, to place such sources and tools in richly populated research environments with direct links to relevant publications, useful adjunct materials and annotations of all kinds.

We further discuss how these kinds of digital interventions, by existing in a readily available form online, draw out all kinds of additional materials – from the manuscripts of community historians to a researcher’s long forgotten fieldnotes lurking in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. Throughout we draw attention to the way in which the digital format makes it possible to establish and keep a record of how these materials have been shaped and reshaped over time.

We go on to consider opportunities that an online archival project, like the FHYA, offers for public engagement beyond the concerns of academic researchers. Not only can it facilitate ready public consultation of materials held in multiple institutions, there is also the potential to showcase the holdings of these institutions, alongside non-institutional materials, in online curations, the presentation of educational materials and many other forms. It further offers opportunities for public contributions to, and input on, the source materials by, amongst others, mother tongue language speakers. In each case, we use examples from the Five Hundred Year Archive project to illustrate our discussion and to show what digital interventions might offer to researchers and non-researchers alike.


Thokozani Mhlambi: Ukunkenteza: Thoughts on Tonality

Tonality in music is the arrangement of pitches (tones) into a particular scale; and placed in a hierarchy of importance in relation to one another. It represents the most fundamental basis for most musical practices today. Consensus in the tuning of such pitches into ‘tempered’ intervals is a development which took place over a long period of time in the Western history of ideas. In fact it involved the cooperation of many civilizations both contemporaneously and accumulatively, based on how they understood the role of music. However this kind of relational approach to sounds, whether strummed or sung, has not been the only means through which music cultures are derived. Ukunkenteza, a Zulu term, which appears in the earliest dictionaries, defined as “to reverberate” suggests a different orientation to sound, emphasizing sound not so much at the moment of its articulation (ie: when the string is strummed), but rather at the moment of its reverberating consequence. As I continue my studies on the craft specializations of izinyanga, in this paper, I am trying to use this notion to unravel the procession of the history of musical tonality, as we know it today; which I feel seems to hinder us from understanding the practices of izinyanga (as composers, healers, thunder herders, metallurgists and other kinds of specializations) and their interlocking repertories. The greatest strides in this development of tuning systems and tonality were those made by the ancient Greeks; who tried to find certain symmetries in sounds serviceable to the music they produced and wrote extensively about the ‘laws’ of such sonic production. However it also appears the ancient Greeks had other ways of explaining the relational sequence of sounds outside of music as arts (pleasurability); which was the result of the Greeks’s highly interdisciplinary way of thinking. They understood music as belonging to the fields of mathematics and astronomics/cosmologies; something about objects in space, how things chime, and the significations of such resonances to their gods. Put in this way one may speak about ‘celestial harmonies’; a notion I find to be of closer resemblance to ukunkenteza. I want to propose this as a way in which we may conceive of sound/music of izinyanga. A derivation of ukuntekeza which I have heard people mention is umnkenenezo, which is the ringing sound produced in the act of ukunkenteza. The vocabulary seems to be quite different for me than the commonly used term for sound, umsindo—which suggests a heaviness in the atmosphere, noise (even annoyance). 


Susana Molins Lliteras: Book Project - Archive on the Margins: The Fondo Kati and the Production of History in Timbuktu

Chapter [X]: Authorising the Fondo Kati and the ‘Timbuktu archive’ 

The Fondo Kati, a private, ‘family’ manuscript collection from Timbuktu, has deliberately positioned itself apart from other libraries in the city.  In first place, it claims a unique genealogical heritage linked to medieval al-Andalus and by extension modern-day Spain.  Secondly, it ascribes a central role, and importance, to the marginalia of the collection—as opposed to the main texts of the manuscripts themselves.  The archive has achieved a degree of notoriety, both public and academic, mainly in Spain but also throughout global specialist manuscript circles and their heritage offshoots.  However, the success of this archive demonstrates the crucial role of ‘authorising’ entities—academic, financial and public—in the coproduction of the archive and their capacity for creating publics, recognition and legitimacy. This chapter concentrates on the ‘authorising’ entities fundamental in the story of the Fondo Kati’s success, which as I demonstrate, also played a fundamental role in the ‘authorising’ of the Timbuktu manuscript archive as a whole. Thus, this chapter constitutes another cornerstone of my larger argument that the archival biography of the Fondo Kati presented in my work embodies modalities of knowledge production in and about the greater ‘Timbuktu archive’  and demonstrates how historical knowledge in and about Timbuktu is continuously produced, reproduced and refashioned. 


Ettore Morelli:  A Diary for the Twenty-First Century - Abraham Aaron Moletsane, Ronald Stretton Webb and a Trip to the Land of the Ancestors, 1952.  

If the past is a foreign country, the historian is a traveller of sorts, treading a path that leads from familiar to strange, faraway places and times. The metaphor is cliché and overused, but contains more than a grain of truth. Sometimes, it even recaptures the empirical dimension of research. The paper discusses the journey into the past made by two Basotho and an Englishman, in central Southern Africa in 1952. In August that year, Ronald Stretton Webb, a geographer, commissioned Abraham Aaron Moletsane, descendant of a nineteenth-century war leader and ruler of the Highveld, to check the toponyms of the land where his grandfather had lived. The journey started from Lesotho and led Moletsane and his fellow traveller Nkata Moeketsi, descendant of another notable lineage, across a sizeable tract of the Orange Free State. The diary of this travel, written by Moletsane, recaptured both the itinerary of the two Basotho in rural Free State under apartheid, and the trajectory of a research fellowship that bound Moletsane and Webb for two decades, with the objective of claiming back a history for the precolonial Highveld. This paper analyses the ‘Diary’, a multi-layered text that kept being written for over ten years, providing a first step towards the understanding of some of the least known figures of Southern African history-writing.


Naicker, Camalita On the identity of migrant workers in South African Labour Historiography  

No Abstract available.


Sibusiso Nkomo: “Reading two decades of the newspaper, Leselinyana la Lesotho, 1900-1920”

The Basutoland/Lesotho newspaper, Leselinyana la Lesotho, was a missionary enterprise printed at Morija in Lesotho between 1863 and the 1980s. Its editors combined French-Swiss Protestantism, enlightenment through education and elements of political mission work to produce to the longest lasting vernacular newspaper in Southern Africa, possibly the continent. 

The newspaper made Sotho a literary language through publishing excerpts of the Bible in the vernacular and the first novels in Sotho. It also had a deliberate focus on the history of the Sotho people and made spapce debate and discussion within the Basutoland protectorate and across in the colonies in the region, and later the Union of South Africa about the issues of the day. 

Reading through the newspaper covering the first 20 years of the 20th century brings up questions on the proselytising of the Christian missionary, how contemporary reading of the newspaper is at odds with how the original readers may have read the text. It also makes one think hard about the technological leap the existence of such a newspaper made to its audience. The newspaper also goes through changes, mostly likely from competition and technology changes. It plays a role in politics through coverage and also through its letters section and utilises what in the contemporary, is the domain of television news - headlines. It also begs the reader to ask why the newspaper deemed history important and why it should be preserved. 

To enable the reader to understand the innovation and impact this newspaper had, a comparison is made of its first edition with other newspapers of South Africa within the period, 1850 to 1910. This helps to place its reason for existence and its tactics and what it wanted to achieve in a protectorate such as Basutoland. 


Sanele Ntshingana: Imbali yethu ngoku! Making sense of pre-colonial Xhosa-Khoi governance through the eyes of African intellectuals

AmaXhosa’s conceptualization of governance has “voyaged” through the turbulence of colonialism and apartheid South Africa. Although the event of colonialism, without doubt, undermined and attempted to taint these systems and ideas, there are remnants of these thoughts and practises that survived this vicious destruction. African “think-doers” have always been engaged in the process of discussing these ideas as they were trying to make sense of their identity in a changing society, with uneven power imbalances. The 19thcentury “think-doers” recorded these ideas in what is known as the Black press and debated them with so much rigor. They were making sense of their identity and their society. In the process they recalled the past and imagined in very interesting ways what their future would look like. They were also contesting the colonial and missionary historiography that was written in newspapers, missionary reports, journals and taught in schools. This paper, is working PhD proposal that is attempts to study how the African “think-doers” of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century deployed concepts related to governance such as ulawulo and ukubusa in their conceptualization of the pre-colonial Xhosa-khoi governance. Furthermore, I’m interested in how they deployed the very same concepts in their imagination of the future-- on how these can look like in a “just” and “inclusive” society.  


Tracey Randle: Preamble: an archive of irretrievable sound

Ethnomusicologist Percival Kirby conducted fieldwork across Southern Africa in the early 20th century, considered to be a pioneer in the field of South African musicology. A few of the musicians and performers he encountered were recorded on wax cylinders, which no longer carry retrievable sound (Nixon: 196). Many of the wax cylinders that form part of Kirby’s collection were given as now unknown donations to his project (Zimmer 2015 ref). As Michael Nixon notes what remains of Kirby’s fieldwork “is a list of field recordings drawn up in Kirby’s hand, transcriptions of whole parts of recordings, and a number of damaged wax cylinders” (ibid). Added to that are Kirby’s publications and the indigenous musical instruments he collected – but none of the sounds of the instruments or the music he encountered. Between 1921 and 1954 Kirby collected over 600 instruments, regarded as “the most important historical collection of musical instruments from southern Africa” (Nixon: 195). Due to the delicate nature and rarefied status as museum artefact rather than playable instrument, we cannot hear the sounds these instruments make. Part of the Solms-Delta music project sought to hear the sounds of the instruments that Kirby collected in hoping to represent the sonic spaces, musics and contribution of especially Khoi and San to the music of the Cape. It was an act of trying to retrieve the irretrievable, of imagining we might be able to hear what the eye could only see within the context of working with an inherently skewed colonial archive.


Nashilongweshipwe Sakaria: Ons Dala die ding by Odalate Naiteke -A PhD draft paper.

This paper is a transcript of the practice-as-research (PaR) intervention Operation Odalate Naiteke, a radical learning and culture programme curated in Katutura in 2018 and 2020. I describe several public culture projects that took place in multiple sites of the city and how they all employed rudiments of Oudano praxis such as vulnerability, holding, intimacy, desire, freestyling and relationship. The paper suggests ‘the curative’ as the operative gesture of organizing public art and education. In addition to the transcription, the paper makes a link between the events and the historical contexts of sites such as the Katutura Community Art Centre, Single Quarters, Old Location Memorial to unravel the archival potential of the intervention. More historical context of some cultural productions and personalities is provided to support the intention of the trans-historic intervention. The paper is working towards critically reflecting on how and why care work and the curative gesture are urgent for blurring the lines between the street and the stage; artist and curator; as well as tradition and transgression. 


Katleho Kano Shoro : 'The role of Serurubele and lipapali in creating a space for “offerings”, unintentional artistic research and collective knowledge

This paper is an exploration of how poetry and lipapali can be used to create spaces and moments where audience members and workshop participants access their relationships with games, songs and poetry as well as offer the artistic-researcher more insight into the themes and methods around which the poetry and lipapali centre. Furthermore, I make the case that although these moments of “offerings” cannot be planned for in any certain terms, through performing and playing, the soil for mutual exchange and collective knowledge production is made fertile. I use the case of Serurubele  - the concept of the butterfly, the poetry collection and the performance thereof - to reflect how “offerings” from audiences have stretched my understandings of serurubele to also encompass lipapali. 

Ntšihlele (2003) primarily describes lipapali as the songs Basotho children use while playing games - what she calls “play songs”. She asserts that lipapadi reveal historical data and have educational value. Notwithstanding her own focus on “play songs”, she notes that the term lipapali also refers to performances, drama, sports, and entertainment. What is more, pleasure, movement, and play are associated with the term. 

Through this paper, I would like to see how far I can theorise serurubele as lipapali - not simply as poetic inquiry - and how far lipapali - in its broadness - can be understood as an artistic research method. In making sense of and unpacking particular “offerings” - games and play songs - from audience members and poetry workshop participants, I also consider the possibilities and ethical implications of the artist initially, unintentionally becoming a researcher and archive for offerings and, subsequently, for the turned artistic-researcher using that which is produced collectively in meaningful ways. 


Wade Smith: Towards a precolonial history of oThongathi, 77ka to  ~1500

Research focus: The history of the imibuso of the uThongathi river

In writing a history of the oThongathi area (as defined by the uThongathi river as a constitutive force), there exists a great challenge which is the so-called ‘pre-colonial’ period. Archaeological evidence of human occupation, drawn from Sibudu cave along the uThongathi river, stretches as far back as 77,000 years ago and includes discovered tools, some of the earliest bedding, insect repellent, and symbolic behaviour in the world, and food remains. There are layers of this evidence for intermittent periods of occupation from this time until about 1500, which is a time for which we start to have more concrete oral and written evidence that speaks to names of people, societies, languages, etc. A challenge in writing this chapter of my thesis about the history of the oThongathi area is one of synthesising the scientific archaeological research with the narrative oral and written accounts in order to ‘tell the story’ of human lives and ‘umbuso’ in the area, especially in relation to the river itself as both an entity of power and a resource. In this synthesis it is imperative that I find a way of humanising the people about whose lives we are inevitably discussing when we think of these ‘ancient pasts’.  


Greer Valley: Chapter 2 - Goede Hoop: visualising colonial pasts 

In February 2017, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam opened the exhibition Goede Hoop, Zuid Afrika en Nederland vanaf 1600 (Good Hope: South Africa and the Netherlands from 1600). It was described as the “first major exhibition about the relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands” and sought to show “400 years of emotive history in 300 items, most of which come from South Africa” (Rijksmuseum, 2017). The exhibition ran until May 21, 2017, and formed part of the Rijkmuseum’s “Country Series” of exhibitions and publications. South Africa was one of the nine countries and former Dutch colonies identified by the museum’s History department to have a special historical relationship with the Netherlands in addition to Indonesia, Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Surinam and Brazil. Goede Hoop was the first exhibition on colonialism on show at the Rijksmuseum in two decades and the first in a series of three exhibitions that will delve into the colonial pasts of the Netherlands. With Goede Hoop, the Rijksmuseum’s History department had set out to show a “shared history” of the two countries. This chapter introduces Goede Hoop and examines its impact at a time when exhibitions on colonialism and decolonisation have become popular subjects in museums across Europe. Attention is given to the Rijkmuseum’s notion of shared heritage between the Netherlands and South Africa. The idea of shared heritage is particularly curious considering that Goede Hoop is centred on the Dutch perspective of colonialism. Expanding on this idea, this chapter seeks to show how the lack of proper framing in exhibitions can hinder the way museum publics understand and interact with colonial history in a meaningful way.


Patrick Y Whang : The Lesotho Liberation Army and Basotho Political Conflicts, 1974-1993

Context:  This paper is based on the limited research conducted to date and is targeted to eventually become a chapter within my PhD thesis.

Abstract:  Within the kaleidoscope of armed liberation struggle movements in southern Africa in the 1970s through the 1980s the Lebotho la Ntwa la Lesotho or Lebotho la Topollo ea Lesotho, or more broadly known as the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA), does not fall easily within the categories of the more well-known anti-colonial or anti-Apartheid armed movements, such as Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). Its association with Apartheid South Africa (at Vlakplaas), which was exposed during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, has stamped it as a pariah organization that was used as a pawn of South Africa’s brutal security services. The lack of publicity about the organization at the time meant that little was known about the motives and ideology of the movement beyond being just a group conducting a ‘guerilla war’. Recent scholarship on the LLA has been limited and the narratives that have been written have portrayed the organization within the broader backdrop of South Africa’s dominant position then (and still now) that reduced the agency of the LLA to being just a proxy to the Apartheid regime’s motivations against Lesotho at the time. Roger Southall attempted to move beyond this notional trope by raising the awareness that the LLA’s role ‘was far from insignificant’ in impacting Lesotho’s politics, as well as being more than just an Apartheid tool. While the late former British army officer turned scholar, Bernard Leeman, who directly supported the LLA, wrote about the discourses and failings of the leadership of the LLA in implementing a ‘people’s war’ in Lesotho within the background of Cold War politics. But the roots of the LLA’s formation stem from the political conflicts between Lesotho’s two main rival political parties in the early post-colonial period: the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) and the Basotho National Party (BNP). In 1970, the ruling BNP, led by J. Leabua Jonathan, lost the first national election after independence to the BCP. But instead of conceding, Jonathan suspended the constitution and declared a state of emergency. The BCP’s members were subject to state-directed harassment, with many being imprisoned or even killed. In 1974, the BCP leadership was forced into exile after initiating a failed uprising. Shortly afterwards the exiled BCP formed the LLA as its military wing.  The LLA’s purpose was to ‘destabilize’ the BNP government. But external pressure and military defeats forced Ntsu Mokhehle, leader of the BCP, to secretly join with the South African government for assistance. South Africa viewed this as an opportunity to undermine the anti-Apartheid, BNP-led government of Lesotho and so it began supplying weapons and training to LLA members. During the 1980s, the LLA conducted several guerilla attacks in Lesotho including bombings and assassinations of prominent BNP members. Ultimately, it was not the LLA that brought down Jonathan and his government but a military coup initiated by members of the Lesotho army in January 1986. It wasn’t until 1989 that former LLA members were allowed to return to Lesotho. Democratic governance returned to Lesotho with the 1993 national election which brought the BCP to power. But for LLA members, there would be no process of reconciliation and integration into the national army – as had happened with groups like the MK and APLA in South Africa – or even support to reenter society. Therefore, my study will attempt to move beyond the official accounts of the LLA to expose the deeper narratives of those who participated in the movement and what drove them to do so and how external actors reacted to the LLA’s activities and return to Lesotho. This will reveal the depths of the LLA’s contribution and impact on the evolution of political conflicts in Lesotho during the initial decades after independence. 

Key words: guerilla, Lesotho, liberation army, South Africa, political conflict


John Wright: Life with the James Stuart Archive

I have written this paper for a collection of essays provisionally title Ezakudala/Tsa Kgale: Exploring the Archive of Times Past, edited by Cynthia Kros, Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Helen Ludlow and me. Wits University Press has expressed interest in publishing it. ‘Times Past’ refers to the times before the era of European colonialism in southern Africa. The book will contain some twenty essays, ranging in length for the most part from 800 to 5000 words. Nine of the contributors are academic historians, seven are archaeologists, and one is a literary scholar. Most of them live in Gauteng or KwaZulu-Natal. The book is aimed at a non-specialist readership of senior undergraduates, teachers, educationists, practitioners in archives, museums, and the heritage sector, and interested members of the public. Most of our contributors have written personalized accounts of their engagements with, and explorations of, particular archives, published and unpublished. For the most part, these archives are pertinent to the history of the KwaZulu-Natal region and of the interior region extending from Limpopo Province to Northwest to Lesotho. Others of our contributors have written autobiographical accounts of how they became academic researchers.

In my own essay, I outline the story, still unfolding, of my involvement since the early 1970s in the making of the volumes of the James Stuart Archive of Recorded Oral Evidence Relating to the History of the Zulu and Neighbouring Peoples. I begin by explaining how I came to be involved in the Stuart Papers project set up by Colin Webb at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg in 1970. I go on to outline James Stuart’s career as a Natal colonial official in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the development of his researches into oral histories, and his production of a large corpus of written notes. I then discuss my initial explorations of Stuart’s notes, now lodged in the Killie Campbell Africana Library in Durban, and describe the process of selecting, editing and translating that Webb and I developed and redeveloped in the 1970s and 1980s. In a final section, I draw attention to new directions in thinking about the conversations between Stuart and his numerous interlocutors that scholars have taken in the last few years. The paper has benefitted from comments from Cynthia Kros and Helen Ludlow.


Carine Zaayman: Imprints of Absence: Refiguring Silences in the Archives Related to Krotoa 

This paper will be a preliminary draft of an article to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal to be determined. It is based on sections of my PhD thesis “Seeing What is Not There: Figuring the Anarchive” (2019), available at www.seeingwhatisnotthere.com.

As Verne Harris (2002: 65) contends, if archives are seen to be the repositories of memory, their slightness presents a problem. Absence troubles the generative function of archives: inasmuch as archives are places where material is both stored and ordered, they are also the sources that are repeatedly returned to in order to gain “knowledge” of the past. In the context of postcolonial scholarship, absence of archival presence has proven to be profoundly frustrating: When archives seem not merely to exclude a person or a group, but to be actively against them by preventing them from establishing a continuum with their ancestors, their only recourse may be found in the critiques of archival formation. But even after such important and valuable arguments have been digested, we are still left with the absences that the formation of colonial archives set in place. What then, are we to do with this loss, these absences? In this paper, I propose that positioning certain silences in archives as “imprints of absence” allows us to acknowledge the vast extent of absence that envelops archives. I do this via analyses of instances where Krotoa appears in the VOC records. The forms of silence that are conducive to being positioned in this way are those that rely in some way on traces of presence. Nevertheless, I argue that if approached in this way, they render sensible the slightness of archives in the face of all that necessarily escapes records, and creates the possibility of engaging productively with the negative space around archives. My move aims to centre absence conceptually in considerations of archives, especially when archives frustrate attempts to establish “knowledge” of the past. I suggest that such a move paradoxically establishes a means whereby connection to the past can be articulated, especially within a postcolonial framework, in terms of absence or loss, rather than despite it.

Harris, V. 2002. The Archival Sliver: Power, Memory, and Archives in South Africa, Archival Science, vol. 2, pp. 63–86.