AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

NELSON MANDELA

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Saturday, February 15th, 2014

What it is to be Winnie Mandela

I just finished reading a fascinating appetizer to John Carlin’s new book on Nelson Mandela, Knowing Mandela, and it set me wondering what might be the place of solitude in the narration of South African history. Some of the details of the failure of Nelson’s marriage to Winnie are public knowledge while others are revealed for

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Fighting Poverty, Environmental Activism, and Lessons from Madiba: An Interview with Kumi Naidoo

I recently had the opportunity to interview Kumi Naidoo, the first African head of Greenpeace International. Born in Durban, South Africa in 1965 Naidoo became an anti-apartheid activist at the early age of 15, something that eventually...

Friday, January 17th, 2014

The Prisoner and his Pin-up Girl

The National Geographic issue of July 1975 is as delightful a time capsule as you would expect from the magazine that dictated our understanding of the world. On the very first page is an advertisement for Iran...

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

To Be Young, Angry and Black

The face of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters in South Africa is young-ish and black. Their "redistribute now" missive has earned both valid and lazy criticism. Their tone is perceived by many to be "dangerous" and "irrational"....

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

To Come Back from Qunu

I do not have a background in the struggle. Unlike the many people who over the past week shared their stories of their personal interactions with Nelson Mandela during the struggle, my only brief meeting with Mandela...

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Mandela was the Last Founding Father in Africa’s Decolonization

The death of Nelson Mandela has provoked an outpouring of mourning, celebration, and commentary around the world that is unprecedented for an African leader. Glowing tributes have gushed from world leaders and major magazines and newspapers have...

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Playlist: South African Jazz for Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the man that so many South Africans have come to love, even those who grew up being taught that he was a communist and a terrorist when communism was portrayed as a great evil....

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Consuming Woolworths’ Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela presents a complex, complicated, even contradictory set of public images that have been cycled and recycled in ways that allow many stakeholders to appropriate and mobilise his legacy. Of course corporate entities do not have...

Friday, December 13th, 2013

The ‘Fake Interpreter’

A few days ago, when the story of the “fake interpreter” broke in the South African media, the ANC denied any knowledge of who he was and how he got to be on the podium, signing while...

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Why aren’t we discussing Mandela’s Politics?

Now that the first week after Mandela’s death is coming to a close, we’re finally beginning to see more critical obituaries, or at the very least nuanced accounts, and a gradual abandonment of hagiography. Of course, idealistic...

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Remember to call at my grave: Madiba and John Dube

This December marks the 14th year of my involvement with the history of South Africa, both as a researcher and as a frequent visitor to a land I fell deeply in love with on my first trip...

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Nelson Mandela Did Not Walk Alone

In the early 1990s I was teaching Economics in a fifth floor classroom at Khanya College in downtown Johannesburg. During one of my early lessons at Khanya I was in the middle of explaining supply curves when...

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The photographer who showed Nelson Mandela to the world

In 1994, the ANC commissioned South African photographer George Hallett to document the electoral process and first democratic government. During the year in which Hallett covered the electoral process, his images of Mandela were published in newspapers around...

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Malawian intellectual Thandika Mkandawire: The death of Mandela marks the triumphant end of Africa’s liberation struggle

It is difficult to write about Nelson Mandela without sounding sycophantic or as if engaged in uncritical hero worship. Mandela’s stature and personality left little room for other sentiments other than those of profound admiration and gratitude....

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Songs for Mandela: Weekend Music Break 64

This post combines Steffan’s wonderful playlist of South African tunes of and for Nelson Mandela and the international playlist we published when we first heard news of the great man’s death. When we sent around the AIAC...

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Nelson Mandela’s Humanity was a Political Education

If you became politically aware in the late 1970s, you became aware of a world in which no greater sustained evil existed than apartheid. There were other horrors, of course, but apartheid was insidious, entrenched, and total....

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Mandela had an Ethiopian passport under the name David Motsomayi. Where did he go?

We don't live in a world of heroes, but at rare moments we celebrate those who emerge from the shadows to push them further back. I don't know if Nelson Mandela had heroes. He must have done....

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Mandela and Hip-Hop

Two years ago, South African rapper and former frontman of The Volume, Tumi Molekane (stagename: Tumi) released ‘POWA’, a song which was as much a rally against women abuse as it was speculative banter in which the rapper imagined...

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Three Myths about Mandela Worth Busting

I sometimes feel Nelson Mandela is in need of rescuing, trapped in some pretty bizarre narratives that have nothing to do with his own story or politics. Full disclosure: I freely admit that Nelson Mandela is the...

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Tata Mandela

June 16 is a national holiday in South Africa – Youth Day, commemorating the June 16, 1976 Soweto student uprising and those who lost their lives in the violence that followed. This year, June 16 was also...

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Madiba: I remember

I remember not knowing what you looked like; at sunrise seeing the regime’s footmen erase your name from walls before the paint had dried. I remember, as a child, sitting on the back seat of the car...

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Songs for Mandela [South African Edition]

This is the South African edition of our selection of Songs for Nelson Mandela. Last night we posted the international edition and many of our readers asked if we’d forgotten about the many South African musicians who’d written...

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Songs for Mandela [International Edition]

When we sent around the AIAC “office” inviting our contributors to suggest songs for Nelson Mandela (both music about him and tracks that could stand as tributes to the man), the suggestions came flooding in. This is...

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Anthony Bourdain goes to South Africa

In a recent episode of his CNN "Parts Unknown," the American chef and writer Anthony Bourdain traveled to South Africa. In my mind at least, this episode was long overdue and in fact, I've even said so...

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Long Walk to Toronto

It is a warm and breezy Sunday afternoon in Toronto, just the kind of weather that makes us question whether we should be going into a dark movie house to catch one the “hottest” screenings at this year’s international...

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Mandela Day

Some families vacation in Disney World or Cape Cod. Not mine. Our destinations of choice when I was growing up were marches on Washington, picket lines, or protests at City Hall. As a six-year old, I got...

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Nelson Mandela is around like never before

If one believes media reports, Nelson Mandela is no longer with us. Yet, in more ways than one, he is. In the midst of the frenzy of soundbites and images that now circulate through the space left...

Friday, July 5th, 2013

3 Books on Nelson Mandela

The American public radio network, NPR, asked me to recommend 3 books its listeners could read on Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy. Of course I recommended Long Walk to Freedom and Conversations with Myself. I also included this small...

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

After Mandela

I returned home to South Africa a few days before Nelson Mandela was readmitted to hospital. This is the fourth and longest period he has been under observation by doctors since last December, and many here are...

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

When Nelson Mandela goes

Yesterday we tweeted my friend Herman Wasserman’s guide to the media on how to cover Nelson Mandela’s hospitalization (it’s good advice if you’re a journalist). This morning I asked Nathan Geffen, a South African media activist (and author) whether...

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