3034
3 minutes read

Elizabeth Barrett’s house on Harrington Street, Cape Town

I find Nicholas Eppel’s photographs of Elizabeth Barrett striking because it reveals the intimate details of the on-going, ordinary life of a woman in urban Cape Town. That she dedicated herself and her meagre resources to philanthropic work of caring for orphaned children makes her story particularly heart-warming. But it’s the way the images bring home the frailty and sensitivity of her world, of her home, that quietly stood as a buffer against apartheid and later, the grand schemes of ‘improvement through creative design’ that is the vogue in contemporary Cape Town, that make for compelling viewing. Having been incinerated, raised tragically before Christmas, the images hark hauntingly to a world, a home that is no longer there.

3725
3 minutes read

“Happy Africans”

It’s unclear how big the Gun Owners of America are (the NRA predominates in the numbers and in terms of influence), but it’s important enough that the organization’s lobbyists write…..

3346
5 minutes read

Nelson Mandela and the Dutch

Shortly after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela embarked on a six week tour across Europe. As the Dutch newspaper NRC mentioned last week, he initially declined the invitation to…..

3913
4 minutes read

Posters that Challenged Apartheid

Many of us who were active in the international anti-apartheid movement are recalling our shared history as we reflect on Nelson Mandela’s passing. Here are some of our favorite graphic…..

4799
6 minutes read

Confronting Afrikaners’ cultural masochism

South African artist Richardt Strydom’s photography is beautiful to me – albeit it in a perverse, guilty kind of way. Through self-observation and re-positioning, his art challenges ideas of power,…..

5040
6 minutes read

How we tell stories about cities

A few weeks ago, Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole was the guest of the Troyeville Hotel book club in Johannesburg. Observing that the one constant in cities is that they change,…..

4092
5 minutes read

A History of Violence

While South African men seem to increasingly realize that it is their responsibility to do something about the endemic levels of violence against girls and women, the resulting initiatives have…..

2477
7 minutes read

The Voortrekker Monument and “the many mistakes” of the Afrikaner past

On a recent trip to South Africa, I managed to fit in a visit to the Voortrekker Monument, the enormous mausoleum on a hilltop just outside the capital Pretoria. The monument, which celebrates Afrikaner nationalism, was begun in 1938 on the centenary of the Great Trek, and inaugurated by the recently installed National Party eleven years later on December 16, 1949 (the anniversary of the Boers’ triumph over the Zulu at Blood River).