Barry Gilder, South African folk singer and ex-ANC intelligence operative, is the author of Songs and Secrets: South Africa from Liberation to Governance. In the interview, he reflects on freedom songs, exile, and armed struggle. Gilder performs his “Matola Song,” about a friend killed by an apartheid death squad. He ends with thoughts on democratic governance and on the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, a think tank he co-founded in 2010.
Sekibakiba Peter Lekgoathi (U. Witwatersrand/Michigan) on radio, ethnicity and knowledge production in South Africa, both apartheid’s Bantu Radio and the liberation movement’s Radio Freedom, including broadcasts and audiences, idioms, songs and slogans. Also discusses formation of Ndebele ethnicity and role of popular radio in forging a strong ethnic consciousness, and histories of African interpreters and research assistants.
Adam Ashforth (Univ. of Michigan) on “witchcraft” in rural Central and urban Southern Africa. Discusses connections with colonial and postcolonial power and authority; gender; spiritual insecurity and religious enthusiasm; law, culture, and HIV/AIDS in Malawi; “anti-anti-witchcraft,” and the “serious laughter” of photographer Santu Mofokeng.
Sifiso Ndlovu (CEO, South African Democracy Education Trust) on the Soweto 1976 rising; personal and professional perspectives on challenges and contributions of African historians; writing and editing SADET’s The Road to Democracy in South Africa series; and the importance of orality and African languages in Zulu history and in rewriting South Africa’s past.
Alex Lichtenstein (History, Indiana U.) on the history of the struggles for class and racial justice in both South Africa and the U.S. The focus is on black trade unions and the apartheid state, the 2012 Marikana mine massacre, and labor in Jim Crow U.S. South, as well as an upcoming exhibition of Margaret Bourke-White‘s South African photographs of the apartheid era.
Peter Limb (Michigan State University) on the life and writings of Dr. Alfred Bitini Xuma, President-General of the African National Congress (1940-49) and first black physician in Johannesburg. Limb discusses his just published book bringing together Xuma’s autobiography, correspondence, essays and speeches on health, politics, crime, beer, the pass laws, and the rights of African women.
Jacob Dlamini, South African author, journalist, and historian, on his best-selling book Native Nostalgia, a memoir that challenges conventional struggle narratives. He also discusses the social and political history of Kruger National Park and a new research project on collaborators of the apartheid security forces.
Eddie Daniels and Christine Root on spending a lifetime working for African liberation; Daniels in South Africa, where he was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island (1964-79), and Root in the U.S. as Associate Director of the Washington Office on Africa in solidarity with such struggles. The African Activist Archive preserves records and memories of ordinary Americans’ support for Africans’ fight against colonialism and apartheid.
Heather Hughes (University of Lincoln) on her new biography of John Langalibalele Dube, founding president of the African National Congress of South Africa, which celebrates its centenary in 2012. Hughes focuses on Dube’s rich connections to the United States; his educational work and political beliefs; and the previously overlooked role of Nokutela Dube.
Hlonipha Mokoena (Anthropology, Columbia U.) on her new book: Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual (2011). Explains the rise of a black intelligentsia in 19th- and early 20th-century South Africa through the remarkable life of Fuze, the first Zulu-speaker to publish a book in the language: Abantu Abamnyama Lapa Bavela Ngakona / The Black People and Whence They Came.