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Art and Activism

The other night, the KZN Society of the Arts Gallery invited me to share a panel with Thembinkosi Goniwe -- one of the foremost leading art curators in the country, to discuss art and activism in South Africa. It was an exciting exchange.

Below are some of the points that I argued around that night.

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Sub-Imperialism?

The term “sub-imperialism” is often used to describe the relation South Africa has with other African states. In other words, the term is used to describe the economic and military power South Africa has over other African states.

But does the term “sub-imperialism” capture that power relation? My philosophical education compels me to always want to understand issues conceptually. Meaning it is not important to know the names of a bird in different languages, nor does knowing how to spell the word bird help us understand what the bird does or what a bird is.

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“Bushmen” in Botswana

The UN Special Envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, is quoted in the Sunday Times as saying: “Although a case for a crime against humanity… might be difficult to sustain, the government of Zimbabwe clearly caused large sections of its population serious suffering.”

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World Social Forum and Africa

“Who was there to demand a change in vocabulary?’ – bell hooks

A while back, Trevor Ngwane (from the Anti-Privatisation Forum), wrote a piece entitled “10 Reasons – Why The WSF 2007 Should Not Come To South Africa”. In that article Ngwane argues that the WSF should rather be held in Kenya in 2007 instead of South Africa.

This article aims to assess the reasons given by Ngwane. However, I go further to argue that it does not matter where the WSF is held in Africa – as long as it is in Africa.

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Burundi and the media

The Mail and Guardian (M&G), a weekly South African newspaper, likes to present itself as one of the best investigative and critical newspapers in the country. This week, the newspaper reports that: “Burundians this week cast their ballots in a poll that should finally end decades of skewed ethnic politics….”

Compare that assessment with what the newspaper wrote about the Zimbabwe elections in March this year: “Leading European Union officials are warning that the general elections in Zimbabwe on Thursday will be a sham.”

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What’s wrong with the alternative media in South Africa?

Does the South African alternative media justifiably deserve the label “alternative”? Take for instance the two popular media outlets that can be described as alternative: Chimurenga and Laugh It Off (LIO). What is alternative about Chimurenga and LIO? Put differently, do these media outlets deserve the reputation of being “independent” that they seem to have?

Both outlets do not carry adverts. The one, LIO, claims to be the vehicle for South African youth culture, and the other, Chimurenga, has a Pan-Africanist slant.

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Why are we not winning?

At ZMI (Z Media Institute) this year, Michael Albert asked me a very important question that I couldn’t answer at the time. His question was (am paraphrasing it): why didn’t the African National Congress (ANC) win economically and politically as it had set out to do when it was formed in 1912?

Black people still do not own the land in South Africa. About 80 percent of arable land is still controlled by white farmers. And as things look, white farmers are not prepared to let go, even ten years after the liberation.

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Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe

The living standards of the Zimbabweans have plummeted as the country’s gross domestic product has shrunk by more than 40 percent in the past five years, so the mainstream media tells us.

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hello

My name is Mandisi Majavu, am joining up forces with with Justin Podur. I’m based in South Africa, Durban; and predictably my blog will focus mainly on African politics. As a philosophy student, I like to practise my philosophical skills from time to time, and so tend to ramble about nothing. So please bear with me.

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