APC Workshop 7 – 9 April 2015
Hakim Adi: Overcoming Eurocentrism and disinformation: The struggle for the history and heritage of the African Diaspora in Britain
On 24 July 2014 the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) opened its new centre in the Brixton, South London. The building had been transformed by grants of around £5m and hundreds of people were celebrating what seemed to be a notable victory. It was over 30 years since BCA's late founder, Len Garrison, had first initiated the work to launch the BCA and now Britain's first national Black
Heritage Centre and Archive had been established.
But although the opening of BCA's new premises was undoubtedly a major milestone it could not disguise the fact that the organisation was not treated like other major heritage centres and has, since the opening, spent a considerable time fundraising in order to maintain its staff and programme. Its very existence raises the question of why such an archive should be necessary in Britain? It points to the fact that other archives and heritage institutions pay only limited attention to 'Black History,' even those in the capital that were prompted to do more following the Delivery Shared Heritage report of the London Mayor's Commission on African and Asian Heritage in 2005.
There is therefore a problem not on in regard to the conservation but also the presentation of the history of those of African and Caribbean heritage in Britain. There are still significant omissions with regard to the history curriculum taught in schools and in many universities too. Amongst undergraduates of African and Caribbean heritage, History is the third most unpopular subject, only agricultural and veterinary science are more unpopular. There are few black history PhD students and even fewer academic historians. In the entire country there is only one history professor of African heritage.
This paper will aim to present the insight of that one history professor, who is also a trustee of the BCA, was a member of the London Mayor's Commission on African and Asian heritage and a founder member and former chair of the Black and Asian Studies Association. It will seek to reflect on the on-going struggle to put the history of Africa and its diaspora in its rightful place end disinformation and the falsification of history.
June Bam- Hutchison: Divergence and confluence: The ongoing presence of the precolonial in the present - towards a critical appraisal of contemporary Khoisan identities in the Western Cape and their link to campaigns for social justice
This paper is a redraft and updated version of my chapter published in Ntsebeza and Saunders (2014) which suggests that the questions around Khoisan 'heritage' and 'identity' remain ever wanting and in need of further research. For now, it appears that the current hybridised Khoisan self-identity has become the metaphor for organising campaigns for justice amongst apartheid defined communities finding themselves at the margins of contemporary South Africa. Connerton (2008) speaks of 'seven types of forgetting'; one being 'forgetting as humiliated silence'. In this paper, I argue that through the identity making process of divergence and confluence within the present political economy, 'forgetting as humiliated silence' has forged contemporary 'Khoisan identities' as voices for attaining social justice. These new identities are therefore not essentialist and fixed 'ethnic' or 'tribal' forms of self-identity but remain open, dynamic, negotiated, diverse, troublesome, precarious, and shifting within a post-apartheid South Africa.
Memory Biwa: Repossession of human bodies from Berlin to Windhoek
Since the inde endence of Namibia in 1990, Ovaherero and Nama leaders have demanded that Germany acknowledge its colonial responsibility and pay reparations for war atrocities. In spite of the German state's denial, two institutions in Germany conceded to the possession of human remains exported from Namibia during the colonial war in the early 19oos. The first repatriation of human remains from Germany to Namibia took place in September/October 2011. The essay explores the repatriation process in Berlin by framing it through alternatively inscribed public commemoration in central and particularly southern Namibia. These productions historicise various aspects of the war such as the rampant trade in human remains between Namibia and Europe in the early loth century, and attest to the centrality of reclaiming and caring for ancestors. They invert the particular dehumanising logic of genocidal acts, and through continual interrogation of colonial violence act as counter-narratives to the discourse on national reconciliation.
Jo-anne Bloch: From an angle: exploring a slantways approach
This paper discusses my work with some of the things making up the Manuscripts and Archives object collection, based in the Jagger Library. In the first section, I discuss the overarching oblique or 'slantways' approach I employed both for my research methodology as well as in the practice component of my PhD project, my exhibition, also named 'Slantways, held in September 2014. I then 'zoom in' to elaborate how this concept played out in three of the artworks on the show. This closer focus is undertaken in two steps: to gain a more rounded understanding of the things that provided starting points for the artworks under discussion, I undertake the writing of a short biography of each thing, before considering the artworks themselves.
Mbongiseni Buthelezi: “Praises do not die out”: Remembering Zwide kaLanga as Father of the Ndwandwe
Saturday, August 06, 2011; Msebe, Nongoma
Today is the second Zwide Heritage Day. It picks up where last year's one, called the Zwide Heritage Celebration, left off. Whereas last year's event was held in Mbazwana near the border between South Africa and Mozambique, today's is closer to the centre of Zulu power.
Msebe is in the Mandlakazi section of Nongoma. Mandlakazi is, of course, the section of the Zulu kingdom where Maphitha was put in charge of incorporating the Ndwandwe into the Zulu kingdom after the defeat of Zwide's forces. How many, if any, people know this piece of the history of the area is unclear. I have never heard it mentioned. What stands out is the historic tension in the Zulu royal house between the Mandlakazi house and the uSuthu, which today is led by Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. The tension derives from Maphitha's son, Zibhebhu's struggles against the uSuthu section in Cetshwayo and Dinuzulu's reigns in the 1870s and 1880s.1
Despite the reconciliation ceremonies between the two sections of the Zulu royal house arranged by the current Zulu king a few years ago, the historic split remains palpable. The holding of the Zwide Heritage event in Mandlakazi abounds in significance. It is perhaps unintended significance; but it is discernible nonetheless and the organisers of the event are well aware of it. The public explanation by the organisers is that the event could not be taken back to last year's venue as the area is still mourning the passing of inkosi Justice Nxumalo who hosted the celebration; he died soon after seeing through the successful inauguration of what is foreseen as an annual celebration of Zwide and Ndwandweness. The inkosi in Wasbank near Ladysmith felt he was not ready to host the event this year as had been the word that he would all along until a few weeks ago. Who knows what politics may have come into play to make him reluctant? And so we are here.
Erica de Greef: The ‘absent presence’ of colonial bodies in a South African dress/fashion collection: a case study at Iziko Museums
In this paper, I will present my initial findings on the notion of the 'absent bodies' in the dress/fashion collections of Iziko Museums. This work forms part of my PhD in African Studies. In 1999, iziko Museums was formed as a merger of five, previously independent institutions, forging together the historically segregated, ethnographic, fine arts and cultural history departments. I will reflect on the differentiated taxonomies, the politics and disposition of the classification systems, and the spaces of entanglement' of these divergent collections of dress, textiles, fashion and adornment that are currently being exposed, challenged and blurred, in the ongoing unpacking of the collections in a dedicated, shared 'Textile Store'.
This sartorial archive is most closely identified with the bodies of their now absent owners. Following Peter Stallybrass3, 'clothes receive a human imprint' (2012:69), and the human trace is witnessed in these artefacts through a crease, fold, scent, hole or stain. Through investigating the 'absent presence' in these garments, I aim to trace the nature of these past bodies, and in ways, I will endeavour to read their gendered, social, colonial, cultural, apartheid, or more recently, postcolonial identities, subjectivities, narratives and histories.
Garrey Dennie: Beneath the Stones of Memory: private stories public commemorations, and the many lives of Chatoyer
On 12 March 2012 dozens of scholars, activists, and interested observers gathered together in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a building commonly known on the island as Peace Mo to attend the first Garifuna International Conference. In the days leading up to the conference some had arrived in St. Vincent from the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Others had come from the United States, some from the universities on the East Coast and others from universities on the West Coast. Others came in from England, the former colonial master of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The colonial relationship had ended in 1979 giving St. Vincent a mere 33 years of life as an independent nation. The most important arrivals, however, were those from Central America — namely Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Belize, and Nicaragua. These were Garifuna, the descendants of the indigenous Garifuna people who in 1797 had been exiled from their homeland by the British and who after 200 years were now returning to the land they call Yurumei, The Garifuna themselves were a people born out of the union of Africans and the indigenous Amerindians of St. Vincent. These indigenous Amerindians called themselves the Kalinago people. The Europeans would call them Caribs.
Through social and political processes which are not yet fully known, the children born of the union of the Kalinago and the Africans would develop separate political and cultural identities and would call themselves the Garifuna. To distinguish the Garifuna from the indigenous Kalinago, the British would call the Kalinago the "Yellow" Caribs. They would call the Garifuna, the "Black" Caribs.
Jo-Anne Duggan: In and out of the archive, Jacqui Quin and Leon Mayer, Maseru, 20 December 1985, images and agency
“Let us stop thinking of photographs as nouns, and start treating them as verbs, transitive verbs. They do things. We need to ask not only what they are of, and what they are about, but also what they were created to do. And when they are preserved or digitised, published, or in other ways repurposed and re-circulated, we must ask how their material nature has been altered, and in the process, how the relationships embedded in them have changed, why, and to what end. Archival lessons from these alternative narratives teach us that we must … expand the range of questions we ask, so that we may better understand and account for the movement of photographs and changes in their meaning across temporal and spatial, discursive and institutional boundaries.” (Joan M Schwartz (2011), p. 105-106).
NOTE: This document is a work in progress towards refining and tightening the proposal for an MA in Historical Studies and for structuring the dissertation. I have chosen not to include reproductions of the images in this paper but will have them on hand to pass around at the APC Workshop, and to take responses to them in the discussion on Wednesday.
Carolyn Hamilton: A Provocation to Discussion: Rethinking Pre-coloniality
Saarah Jappie: The multiple temporalities of the grave of Shaykh Yusuf in Indonesia
In 1694, Shaykh Yusuf Taj al-Khalwati (1626-1699), revered Makassarese Sufi scholar and political advisor to the Sultan of Banten, West Java, was banished to the Cape of Good Hope as punishment for his anti-VOC activities in the archipelago. Following a period of confinement in the Castle of Good Hope, VOC authorities transferred the Shaykh along with his 49 followers to the farm of Zandvliet, just inland from False Bay. While documentation covering this period in the Shaykh’s life is thin, its is widely believed that he spent his time at the Cape practising and propagating Islam, as well as providing refuge to runaway slaves in the area. Most narratives of Muslims and slavery in South Africa paint Shaykh Yusuf as the founding father of Islam in the region, and increasingly as a kind of ethnic ancestor of the local ‘Malay’-Muslim community. Already 68 years old by the time of his arrival at the Cape, Shaykh Yusuf spent but five years in South Africa, passing away in 1699. As VOC records indicate, he was buried at Zandvliet. Over time the area surrounding his tomb came to be known as kramat, referring to the karamah (‘sanctity’) of Shaykh Yusuf as well as the area in which he spent the last part of his life. Furthermore, the wider region into which Kramat fits was renamed Macassar in reference to Shaykh Yusuf’s place of birth in Makassar, Indonesia. Today the grave is a site of pilgrimage for Muslims all over South Africa and is seen as a monument to the establishment of Islam in the country.
Yet, Zandvliet was not to be the only final resting place of the Shaykh. In 1704, following over almost a decade of requests for the repatriation of Shaykh Yusuf made by the King of Gowa – first in life and then, following 1699, in death – the Council of the Indies at Batavia granted permission for his return. In 1704, as VOC authorities turned a blind eye, a Makassarese official supposedly exhumed the remains, which were sent back to Makassar on the ship De Liefde. Arriving in 1705, the remains were deposited into a newly prepared grave in the precinct of Lakiung, within Gowa’s royal fort of Tamalate. As a Company official observed, the grave of ‘Sjeeg Joseph’ almost immediately became a site of pilgrimage, with people from all over the region coming to honour the Shaykh with scented oil, flowers and even money. According to the observations, clearly biased against native ‘superstitions,’ pilgrims believed in the power of the Shaykh to perform miracles even in death, and thus the gravesite became the centre of not only this spiritual potency but of honouring, observing and making requests of it. Today the grave at Lakiung is seen as one of the most important sites of pilgrimage in South Sulawesi.
My dissertation project is a history of the multiple graves of Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar. Using archival materials as well as oral history and fieldwork observations, I aim to piece together a multi-sited micro-history of these sites, using them as a means through which to understand one aspect of the movement of Islam (and Muslims) in the early modern Indian Ocean world, and the consequences such movements had on the local level, through the lens of sacred geographies, spiritual praxis and memory. I am currently mid-way through my dissertation research. At this stage it looks like my project will be broken into two parts: the first will explore multiple historical versions of how the graves came about and the second section will deal with the ongoing lives of the graves. To break this down, chapter one deals with the history of the gravesites using VOC archival sources, chapter two will look at the same story based on “native texts,” such as hagiographies and oral histories, chapter three will explore the history of the grave in Indonesia, chapter four will focus on the grave in South Africa and chapter five will investigate the reconnections between the two graves through heritage, politics and ‘emotional bonds’ in the post-colonial era.
Gesine Kruger: On Colonial Photography. Acts of Circulation, Redefinition and Appropriation
African historiography has constantly rediscovered photographs and wondered on an equally regular basis as to why such an obvious 'source' of historical knowledge obviously remains alien to historians' own centre of attention and reflection or why it is repeatedly reconsidered as being alien. The reason for this phenomenon may very well be rooted in the idea that visual sources ask for a particularly methodical or methodological approach which exceeds common textual criticism' because the written word and the visual picture are two different 'media' with their very own and specific characteristics. Especially photographs bear the danger to be understood as frozen moments in time made visible as an immediate perception of the past. By doing so they are used either as evidence to illustrate the already known — as in classical ethnographic texts — or to undertake such radical criticism of their
construction that the actual image disappears behind the theoretical (yet needed) deconstruction. When I speak of circulation, redefinition and injection of meaning, I am not using these words as given terms in media theory but as a supporting aid for contemplating what photographs do and what is done with them, how they seemingly move through time and space and yet are altering. As a historian, I am interested in what can be seen in the photographs and what they are as things. Both aspects are connected with questions of the photographs' production, circulation and usage; what we have to consider here is their materiality and mediality and eventually also their magic, which has a special significance in the colonial context.
George Mahashe: Subjectivity: subject–activity
The essay considers the question of subjectivity and its relationship to the PhD project, Mabare Bare. It considers what subjectivity means to me, as well as howit is related to, and alters my consideration of Reuter, the Lobedu delegation, the1898 visit to Berlin and the subsequent search for a dream related to this trip. It also prefaces my awareness of the recent waves of artists within the archive who
are charting new routes for engaging with archive. The text argues for a return to subjective thought and disillusionment with the idea of objectivity as impersonal thought, showing it (objectivity) to be nothing but a performance of time by those who have it. Overall, it adds to the call for more stories to be told and an acceptance of those stories on their own terms. Furthermore, the idea of interest becomes the key question of the essay.
Thokozani Mhlambi: Ukuxhentsa kwaMiriam, A Thought Paper
This is a thought paper of a forthcoming music work. I have been wrestling with traditional South African bow-music for some years now. More generally, because it seems to have been so central, at least in instrumental sense, in shaping Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Tswana and Khoi-San pre-colonial musical traditions. Personally, it has been a transimitter of indigenous knowledge to my own musical practice, as a composer trained in the Western classical discipline. It has been part of my own journey of finding who I am, where I
come from, where I am going.
I want to situate this experience, that is my experience, by deciphering two women: The first is Miriam Makeba, who needs no introduction. She took traditional Xhosa tunes to the world, and she made them come face-to-face with Harlem and its jazz music progeny. The other is Nofinishi Dwyili. A lesser known, but highly proficient Xhosa bow player (uhadi), who developed an intricate style playing and singing her own songs. She trained up a group of women in her community, to build a strong ensemble of singers in
In my mind, I am bringing these two women into conversation. Women who are unlikely to have met. The one, Nofinishi Dwyili, was born and lived in a rural setting in the Eastern Cape all her life. Her musical output was recorded by a German missionary, Dave Dargie from the late 1970s till her death in 2002. Miriam Makeba on the other hand was born in Johannesburg. While living there she picked up her
musical archive through the melting pot of cultures that happened in the city. Although her father was Xhosa (a Mpondo), Miriam never travelled to Mpondoland. And yet in how she frames her artistic pratice, being Xhosa (her Xhosaness) becomes a key driver of the image she creates of herself. Her life was disconnected from that tradition; but to many she was the 20th century carrier of Xhosa tradition in song. I am fascinated by the persistence of tradition in suggesting continuity with a pre-colonial past, I am also
fascinated by its ability to peg itself with relevant mediums who may convey its legitimacy, even when the lives of these individuals demonstrate precisely the opposite. That is how I have come up with Ukuxhentsa kwa Miriam.
Michael Nixon: Anubandhams of tānavarṇams
This article considers the anubandham, that uncommon section of the tanavarnam which is usually omitted in performance. It critically considers scholars' descriptions and opinions of the anubandham, identifies (and lists with sources) and examines a selection of tanavarnams with anubandhams by analysing the structure of these compositions, distinguishes different approaches to anubandham composition, and compares the tanavarnam with anubandham to other Carnatic music forms .
Amy Catlin describes 'the varnam as a study at the commencement of a concert, often in two different speeds. The composition contains three texted sections — pallavi, anupallavi, and caranam —and sometimes a fourth, concluding section called anubandham' (2000:216). I would qualify this as follows: a tanavarnam is a composed study of a raga performed as the first item of a Carnatic music concert;2 an anubandham (Sanskrit, supplement) in a tanavarnam is the portion of music and text which completes the caranam after the last ettugada svara is performed.3 In this article, I will refer to a tanavarnam with an anubandham by the abbreviation TVA.
Rehana Odendaal: Exploring identity formation in African universities
The recent protests at the University of Cape Town which have been focused around the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue have brought to the fore the contested nature of identity and knowledge production in institutions of higher learning, particularly in a South African context. Debates around the 're-writing of history' and 'forgetting the past' raise important question about how specific forms of
historical knowledge are embedded into structures and institutions and how these structures allow or disable different types of interactions with an increasingly diverse body of agents — students, academics and workers who operate within this space. The mobilization of students and media hype is a clear illustration of how public culture interacts with the past. I am currently trying to find a feasible way of linking these contemporary events to a historical question that can act as the basis for my Master's dissertation. In historicizing this contemporary moment, I hope to identify key themes along which contestation has happened and happens within the university. My intended point of departure is a comparison of anti-Rhodes protests on campus including protests in 1930s, 1970s and 2015. I would like input on potential research material/ archives or specific themes which would help focus the proposal.
John Wright: Working with South Africa’s Pasts 1400-1880: issues and engagements
We describe a group project that involves writing a popular book, provisionally entitled 'Working with South Africa's Pasts, 1500-1880: Issues and Engagements'. It is driven by a small editorial group of historians and archaeologists at the University of the Witwatersrand,
backed by a wider advisory group of scholars from the Universities of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and Cape Town. It will, we hope, comprise 12 or 15 short chapters written by authorities in the field. It is aimed at a readership of teachers, lecturers and students in
education, history and archaeology, heritage workers, textbook writers, and interested members of the public. The book explicitly does not aim at developing a new narrative of the period 1400-1880. Rather, it aims at taking stock of issues and problems involved in writing
the history of African societies in this period that have emerged over the last twenty years or so. Numbers of scholars are now challenging many of the ideas that have previously informed research into this history, but the issues involved are little known outside the
academy. The book is less about what we know of the past than about how we have come to have certain kinds of knowledge of it.
Research Interest Introductions and discussions: Lauren White, Kerusha Govender, Patrick Letsatsi and Sibusisiwe Nxongo
Patrick Letsatsi: History of Batho from 1846 to 2000s: liberation heritage
Historian, National Museum, Bloemfontein
Abstract: The introduction of Batho Community History Project to the people of Batho has yielded good results. Since the project started in 2007, many elderly people of Batho were able to share their stories. The project is based on oral history and the stories gathered cover number of topics; from personal history, social issues, crime, education, political background to current issues. The area of Batho township, outside Bloemfontein, has a rich history that is relevant to the everyday discussions taking place in this country. There is a forgotten history in Batho about places like Magasa Hall, Bantu Social Institute (BSI), and street names. The study will first give an overview on the success of Batho Community Project. A special attention will be given to the many stories given by the people of Batho as the recollect from their memories.
A second interpretation will be based on the Batho liberation heritage. Emphasis will be based on the stories about apartheid and the ordinary people of Batho who played important in the liberation struggle. There are two objectives of this initiative; to collect any available
information on the people of Batho and their liberation struggle stories by using oral history as the research methodology. This will include information on people, building and sites, and research will be conducted in the form of oral history. Secondly, to identify buildings and sites that has significant role or were part of the underground network for secret meetings and served as hiding places.
In the light of understanding what liberation heritage in the local context, oral history as a research method is a way of getting information that has never been recorded before. Focus of my presentation will be around people like Mrs Moloisane, Mr Tsie, Mrs Mongalo, Mrs
Masilo, Mr Dibe. It is important to know that some people joined liberation struggle unwillingly and unaware. Some of the people interviewed don't want to talk about their experiences. According Mrs Moloisane and Mrs Mongalo, some of the people joined the
struggle because they were harassed by the apartheid government.
Sibusisiwe Nxongo: FEMALE MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE:
A Story of Black South African Migrant Women
This study is based on the life histories of three middle-aged Black South African female ministers ordained in the church of the Nazarene during the 1990's. The women migrated from their respective rural areas in the 1980's to train as ministers at the Nazarene Bible College in Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu Natal, and have subsequently led longstanding churches in their respective townships in Johannesburg since the 1990's. The aim of the study is to analyse the forces which have shaped their experiences as young women growing up in traditionally patriarchal African communities and how these have influenced their decision to migrate. It will analyse how this has shaped their consciousness as black Christian women and their ideals on Christian morality and respectability, courtship, marriage and domesticity. With reference to context, I use their life histories to place them within historical narrative as a distinct group of black migrant women who have led quite uniquely defined lives under very stringent and dominant social, patriarchal, religious and economic structures of the second half of the twentieth century.