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Drama that shaped Ngũgĩ’s writing and activism comes home to Kenya

Drama that shaped Ngũgĩ’s writing and activism comes home to Kenya

AS Kenya marked its 59th anniversary of internal self-rule on 1 June 2022, a controversial play by the nation’s foremost author, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, was staged in sold-out shows. It had been 45 years since it was banned and the author detained. The performance offers a useful filter to illuminate how the nation has fared in recent years. Author PETER KIMANI, Professor of Practice, Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC) Democracy is gradually taking root, but corruption is still rife. This makes Kenya’s largely youthful population restive. Without a doubt, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When…
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New book unpacks the complexities of whiteness in South Africa

New book unpacks the complexities of whiteness in South Africa

IN his latest book sociologist Professor Roger Southall, a prolific researcher who has written extensively about political dynamics in Southern Africa, avoids the “negative and condemnatory” approach generally seen in writing on white South Africans, the creators and beneficiaries of apartheid. In the preface to the book, Whites and Democracy in South Africa, he explains that he’s done this to instead undertake a nuanced and constructive assessment of white people’s adjustment to post-apartheid democracy. Therefore, he enters the South African debate on critical race studies by setting his study apart from whiteness scholarship that assumes the homogeneity of white practices,…
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70 years-old takes poetry world by storm

70 years-old takes poetry world by storm

MANDY KANYEMBA, BIRD STORY AGENCY IF 70 is an age at which one can really slow down and look back on a life well-lived, someone forgot to inform Angela Chirenda Rugara. After a long career in health, as a nurse, midwife, and psychiatrist, she is about to launch her third anthology of poems, after publishing her first in 2019. A compilation of short stories in next on her list. "Age is just but a number. The sky should not limit anyone. One needs to be ambitious," said the woman who has managed torise to the top in everything she has…
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Antjie Krog and the role of the poet in South Africa’s public life

Antjie Krog and the role of the poet in South Africa’s public life

WHEN South African writer Antjie Krog was just 17, she wrote a poem for her school magazine which was shocking enough to upset Kroonstad High’s parents. The furore caught the attention of the Sunday newspapers, who descended on the town in the Free State province. The 17-year-old had expressed the desire to: build myself a land/where skin colour doesn’t count/only the inner brand/of self; where no goat face in parliament/can keep things permanently verkrampt/where I can love you,/can lie beside you in the grass/without saying ‘I do’/where black and white hand in hand/can bring peace and love/to my beautiful land.“…
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Can Themba: South Africa’s rebel journalist was a teacher at heart

Can Themba: South Africa’s rebel journalist was a teacher at heart

SIPHIWO MAHALA is well known as a South African short story writer, novelist, playwright and literary organiser. He is also an academic. In fact, his most recent book is a product of his PhD thesis, titled Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi. Can Themba was a journalist and short story writer who challenged the apartheid state by foregrounding the pain and the joy of black life. We asked Mahala to tell us more. Author SIPHIWO MAHALA, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Johannesburg Who was Can Themba and why does he matter? Can Themba was part of a…
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Reflecting on South African novelist K. Sello Duiker’s art of madness and social justice

Reflecting on South African novelist K. Sello Duiker’s art of madness and social justice

THE South African novelist K. Sello Duiker would have turned 48 on 13 April 2022. Since 2005, when he took his own life at the age of 30, his importance to the body of African literature has become even more evident. His works have been republished within and outside South Africa and continue to be the subject of both academic and social media discussions. Testament to his legacy, the South African Literary Awards gives a prize in his name every year to writers under 40. Author FEMI EROMOSELE, Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand Duiker is considered a key voice in…
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The 100-year-old story of South Africa’s first history book in the isiZulu language

The 100-year-old story of South Africa’s first history book in the isiZulu language

THIS year marks the centenary of the publication in 1922 of Abantu Abamnyama Lapa Bavela Ngakona (The Black People and Whence They Came), the first book-length history of black people written in isiZulu. Part of the Nguni language group, there are an estimated 12 million isiZulu speakers in South Africa. Its author was Magema Fuze, now seen as a major figure in the body of writings produced in African languages in South Africa, but one who remains too little known outside narrow scholarly circles. Author HLONIPHA MOKOENA, Associate Professor at the Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research, University of…
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Can we treat teachers better? A 12-year-old novelist thinks so

Can we treat teachers better? A 12-year-old novelist thinks so

HUMPHREY NJOKU, BIRD STORY AGENCY CHIMAMANDA Yvonne Anyagwa always wanted to be a teacher. Inspired by her mother, Carol Anyagwa, a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Lagos, Anyagwa grew up viewing the teaching profession as honourable and prestigious. But before Amanda, as she likes to be called, had finished primary school, that dream had come crashing down. From what she saw around her, teachers, despite their critical role in society, teachers were not accorded the respect they deserved. “I was observant. I usually observed teachers, how students treat them anyhow; and how parents just do anything they…
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How Comexposed is birthing a comics and animation ecosystem

How Comexposed is birthing a comics and animation ecosystem

TANATSWA TARUVINGA, BIRD STORY AGENCY ON April 25, 2015, more than 50 people gathered in Harare’s Goëthe Zentrum Institute to attend the country’s first-ever Comexposed convention. Apart from one dreadlocked attendee clad in a white short-sleeved T-shirt and jeans, cosplaying Kevin from the Ed, Edd, and Eddy comedy series, all the other patrons were dressed as anime characters from the anime and manga series, Bleach.  Organised by Tinotenda Zambe Makoni and Eugene Mapondera, the convention brought together creatives who wanted to grow this industry in Zimbabwe and make money from it.  ”It was exciting and thrilling; we were scared, hopeful, and…
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Imbokodo is a long overdue series of children’s books on South African women

Imbokodo is a long overdue series of children’s books on South African women

A new series of books called Imbokodo: Women Who Shape Us explores the neglected histories of South African women. Geared at younger readers, there are three books in the series: 10 Extraordinary Leaders, Activists & Protesters; 10 Inspiring Singers, Writers & Artists; and 10 Curious Inventors, Healers & Educators. The authors are Xolisa Guzula, an early literacy specialist and children’s author, and Athambile Masola, a historian and poet. We asked them about the project. Authors XOLISA GUZULA, PhD Candidate in Language and Literacy, University of Cape Town ATHAMBILE MASOLA, Lecturer, University of Cape Town What does Imbokodo mean? Xolisa Guzula:…
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